CHICAGO (AP) – Confirmed coronavirus infections continued to surge Saturday in many parts of the US and Europe. In some cases, so has anger over restrictions imposed by governments to try to stem the tide.
Oklahoma, Illinois, New Mexico and Michigan were among the states announcing new record highs in confirmed cases every Saturday, a day after the national daily record of more than 83,000 reported infections, according to Johns Hopkins University.
Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, Michigan’s chief medical executive, said “it is more important now than ever that people take this seriously.” 3,338 new COVID-19 cases in his state topped the old record of more than 1,300.
German authorities reported a record one-day total of new coronavirus cases this weekend, while leaders in Spain and Italy debate how to control a resurgent virus amid public pressure on curfews despite the global death toll of 1.1 million.
In Italy, officials gathered with regional authorities on Saturday to determine what new limits could be imposed as confirmed cases exceed half a million.
Premier Giuseppe Conte has said he does not want to put Italy under such a severe lockdown, as he did at the start of the pandemic. In previous days, some governors ordered curfews in their areas to prohibit people from gathering at night outside of bars and other places.
One of these curfews sparked outrage in Naples, sparking violent clashes between protesters and police. Italian media said protesters threw stones, broken ceramic tiles and smoke bombs at police as they fought back with tear gas. Elsewhere in Europe, police in Warsaw, Poland, used tear gas and pepper spray to disperse protesters angry at the new virus’ restrictions, and anti-lockdown demonstrators gathered at London’s Trafalgar Square.
Interior Minister Luciana Lamorgese on Saturday labeled the Napoli protests “unacceptable” and said prosecutors were investigating.
According to Health Ministry figures, Italy’s one-day new case load of confirmed infections crept close to 20,000 on Saturday, a slightly larger daily increase than Friday. The country’s confirmed death toll, the second highest in Europe after Britain, rose to 37,210 after 151 more deaths.
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez plans to meet with his Cabinet on Sunday morning in Madrid to prepare for a new state of emergency, a strategy used twice since the start of the pandemic.
The first in March ordered strict country-wide lockdowns, closed shops and recruited private industry for the national public health struggle. The second one came into effect two weeks ago, focusing on transit boundaries in the Madrid area.
In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel urged its citizens again to reduce their number of social contacts as the country records the highest daily infections.
The 14,714 cases reported on Saturday included cases from Friday and Thursday due to a three-hour blackout at the country’s disease control agency on Thursday. Forty-nine more people died, bringing the overall death toll to over 10,000.
The chancellor said in his weekly podcast “if we all comply (on social distancing) we will all survive together to survive the great challenge this virus poses.”
Other European countries have tightened restrictions in hopes of coping with an increasing number of cases on their own.
Slovenia is closing hotels, shopping malls and other non-essential shops as authorities report a record high of new daily infections and deaths in the tiny country of 2 million people. Greece launched a mandatory nightly mask and curfew requirement for Athens and other areas deemed high risk.
In South America, Colombia is the eighth country to have 1 million confirmed coronavirus cases as of Saturday, according to Colombia’s Ministry of Health. Two of the others are also in Latin America: Argentina, which reached that figure on Monday, and Brazil, which has more than 5 million confirmed cases.
In the US, the virus has claimed about 240,000 lives, according to the COVID-19 Dashboard published by Johns Hopkins. The total US caseload reported on Friday was 83,757, surpassing the 77,362 cases reported on July 16.
Many rural communities bear the burden. In Columbia, Tennessee, the Maury Regional Medical Center said on Friday it was suspending elective surgical procedures requiring a two-week stay, starting Monday. The Daily Herald reports that it is treating 50 COVID-19 inpatients, 20 of whom are in the medical center’s 26-bed intensive care unit.
Martin Chaney, Maury Regional chief medical officer, said small gatherings at home had become an emerging threat through the spread of the disease in the six counties covered by the medical center.
“At our house, we all let our guard down,” said Chaney. “You think it’s safe not to distance yourself socially, and you take off your mask. It spreads disease very quickly. “