As US COVID-19 cases soar, Trump says economy is ‘roaring back’


The US has reported more than 128,000 coronavirus-related deaths, nearly a quarter of the global total.

On Thursday, Trump celebrated a report showing the economy created jobs at a record clip in June as more restaurants, bars and retail businesses resumed operations.

“Today’s announcement proves that our economy is roaring back,” Trump said at the White House, while touting his administration’s efforts to beat back the virus as “a historic thing”.

“We’ve implemented an aggressive strategy to vanquish and kill the virus and protect Americans at the highest risk, while allowing those at lower risk to return safely to work,” Trump said. “That’s what’s happening.”

“In many cases, we’ve done an incredible job.”

The data showing a gain of 4.8 million jobs does not reflect that governors of states hit hardest by the new infections have halted or reversed moves to reopen in recent days, however.

The latest batch of high-frequency data assembled by Federal Reserve officials, economists, mobile phone tracking companies, and employee time management firms suggests economic activity stalled in recent days.

“More than ever, we’re concerned about the worsening health situation and its impact on the burgeoning recovery. Rebounding mobility and poor use of protective equipment will make for a dangerous summer cocktail,” Oxford Economics analyst Gregory Daco wrote.

Employment remains 14.7 million jobs below pre-pandemic levels.

The surge in cases comes as Americans head into a Fourth of July holiday weekend that health officials warn could add fuel to the virus by drawing big crowds. Many municipalities have cancelled fireworks displays. Beaches up and down California and Florida have been closed.

Florida reported more than 10,000 new confirmed coronavirus cases for the first time on Thursday. That is six times higher than the daily count of less than a month ago. The state also reported 67 deaths for the second time in a week. Deaths per day are up about 30 per cent from two weeks ago.

‘Act. Lead. Or get out of the way’

A strong economy is an important plank of Trump’s campaign for re-election in November. Joe Biden, his expected Democratic opponent, slammed Trump’s comments on Thursday.

“Quit claiming victory with almost 15 million Americans still out of work because of the crisis. Quit ignoring the reality of this pandemic and the horrifying loss of American life,” Biden said in a speech. “Act. Lead. Or get out of the way so others can, Mr President.”

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said it was appropriate that some states are “pausing certain things” due to the rise in COVID-19 cases.

Asked if the White House regretted encouraging states to reopen quickly, and if the move had backfired, Mnuchin said: “Absolutely not… There is a safe way to reopen the economy and we are going to do that carefully.”

India passes 600,000 COVID-19 cases

India’s number of coronavirus cases passed 600,000 on Thursday with the nation’s infection curve rising and its testing capacity being increased.

The 19,148 new cases reported in the past 24 hours raised the national total to 604,641, with nearly 100,000 of them in the past four days.

A total of 17,834 people have died so far due to the virus, according to India’s Health Ministry.

More than 60 per cent of the cases are in the worst-hit Maharashtra state, Tamil Nadu state, and the capital territory of New Delhi.

However, the western beach of state of Goa, a popular backpacking destination, opened for tourism on Thursday with the state government allowing 250 hotels to reopen after more than three months. Tourists will either have to carry COVID-19 negative certificates or get tested on arrival.

The state has reported 1387 positive cases with four deaths.

Outbreak spreads in Tokyo

Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike warned on Thursday that the spread of the coronavirus is beginning to accelerate again in Japan’s capital as daily confirmed new infections jumped to a two-month high of 107.

She urged residents to take more precautions and stay away from nightlife districts.

Yuriko Koike, the Governor of Tokyo, where new coronavirus cases have jumped to a two-month high.

Yuriko Koike, the Governor of Tokyo, where new coronavirus cases have jumped to a two-month high.Credit:AP

Thursday’s rise in new cases spiked from 67 the day before and is the highest since 154 on May 2, when Japan was under a state of emergency for the pandemic. The number tripled from 31 in just over a week.

Tokyo now has 6399 cases with 325 deaths, accounting for about one-third of Japan’s national total.

Koike said, however, that she had no plans to ask for business closures across Tokyo.

“Nobody wants to go back to that situation,” she said. “We are now in the phase of living with the coronavirus. Our policy is to balance the economy and social activity with disease prevention.” The majority of recent cases were younger people in their 20s and 30s, and about 40 per cent were linked to nightlife establishments, Koike said.

Just three new cases in China

China reported three new cases of coronavirus, including just one case of local transmission in the capital Beijing, appearing to put the country where the virus was first detected late last year on course to eradicating it domestically, at least temporarily.

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The other two cases were brought from outside the country, according to the National Health Commission.

China credits strict quarantine, social distancing and case tracing policies with reducing its cases. Masks are require for entry into many buildings, sometimes along with proof on a mobile phone app that the person is healthy.

Reuters, AP, with staff reporters

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