U.S. COVID-19 Cases Surge, Worldwide Deaths Near 500,000

Jun 28, 2020
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LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

Ten million people have been infected worldwide with the coronavirus. About 500,000 have died. And the United States is the epicenter as the pandemic continues its rampage here. There were 45,000 new confirmed coronavirus cases in just one day, a record. Florida, Georgia, Arizona, South Carolina and Texas are being hit especially hard after lifting restrictions early, despite public health officials' recommendations.

Vice President Mike Pence acknowledged the spikes but downplayed the questions of a second surge when he spoke Friday at the first coronavirus task force briefing in two months.

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VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE: We slowed the spread. We flattened the curve. We saved lives.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: And yet Pence said campaign events in both Florida and Arizona this week were canceled out of, quote, "an abundance of caution." Florida, one of the first states to reopen, shattered its own record on Saturday - nearly 10,000 new cases in just one day. Republican Governor Ron DeSantis said that that dramatic increase was due only to widespread testing, something doctors say is only partially true.

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RON DESANTIS: Keep in mind, you know, you are seeing the positivity rate grow. Some of what you're seeing, though, is the fact that this is mass testing regardless of symptoms.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Miami has now closed its beaches for the Fourth of July weekend. Meanwhile, in Texas, Republican Governor Greg Abbott says his state, which was in its third phase of reopening, is also seeing a surge of cases.

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GREG ABBOTT: If I could go back and redo anything, it probably would have been to slow down the opening of bars, now seeing in the aftermath of how quickly it spread in the bar setting.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: And many Americans are refusing to wear face masks, saying requirements to do so violate their constitutional rights after misinformation spreads online. Here is one person in Fort Pierce, Fla.

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UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: We are being lied to. Our freedoms are being taken forever. And I will not be muzzled like a mad dog.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: As cases here spiral and measures are left up to state and local officials, Dr. Anthony Fauci of the federal coronavirus task force was left pleading for everyone to wear masks and practice social distancing.

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ANTHONY FAUCI: You have an individual responsibility to yourself, but you have a societal responsibility because if we want to end this outbreak, we've got to realize that we are part of the process. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.