Georgia governor sues Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms over mask mandate
Savannah's mayor also took issue with the governor on Thursday.
The novel coronavirus pandemic has now killed more than 589,000 people worldwide.
Over 13.7 million people across the globe have been diagnosed with COVID-19, the disease caused by the new respiratory virus, according to data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. The actual numbers are believed to be much higher due to testing shortages, many unreported cases and suspicions that some governments are hiding or downplaying the scope of their nations' outbreaks.
The United States has become the worst-affected country, with more than 3.5 million diagnosed cases and at least 138,291 deaths.
Here is how the news is developing today. All times Eastern. Check back for updates.
9:05 p.m.: Democrats tell members of Congress, delegates not to travel for convention
Democratic National Convention organizers have informed members of Congress and party delegates not to travel to Milwaukee next month due to concerns over the coronavirus.
"We have been working closely with state and local public health officials, as well epidemiologists, and have come to the hard decision that Members of Congress should not plan to travel to Milwaukee," Chasseny Lewis, a senior adviser to the convention committee, wrote in an email obtained by ABC News Thursday. "No delegates will travel to Milwaukee and Caucus and Council meetings will take place virtually."
The letter was first reported by The New York Times.
Most of the convention is expected to take place virtually amid safety concerns. Organizers informed state delegations last month that they should no longer plan to travel to Wisconsin. Last week, the secretary of the Democratic National Committee outlined how delegates would partake in remote voting from Aug. 3 to 15, before the in-person portion of the gathering began Aug. 17. Presumptive nominee Joe Biden intends to accept the nomination in person, organizers announced last month.
Following reports of the letter Thursday, a spokesperson for the convention committee released a statement saying "this communication reiterates our guidance from several weeks ago that all members of state delegations -- including elected leaders -- should plan to conduct their official business remotely."
The Republican National Committee has also scaled down plans for its convention next month in Jacksonville, Florida, according to a letter obtained by ABC News sent to party members Thursday morning.
8:40 p.m.: LA County hits record high of new cases
Los Angeles County broke the record set two days ago for new COVID-19 cases.
On Thursday, the county health department reported a high of 4,592 new daily cases, for a total of 147,468 confirmed cases.
There were also 59 new deaths reported, for a total of 3,988.
People between the ages of 18 to 40 are being hospitalized at a higher rate than ever seen during the pandemic, the health department said, comprising 20% of the current 2,173 COVID-19 hospitalizations.
6:56 p.m.: Georgia governor sues Atlanta mayor over mask mandate, coronavirus restrictions
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp’s office filed a lawsuit against Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms' recent mask mandate and coronavirus restrictions. Members of the city council are also named as defendants in the lawsuit.
The suit challenges recent executive orders by Bottoms that mandate facial coverings in public and prohibit gatherings on city property due to increasing COVID-19 cases.
"This lawsuit is on behalf of the Atlanta business owners and their hardworking employees who are struggling to survive during these difficult times," Kemp said in a statement. "These men and women are doing their very best to put food on the table for their families while local elected officials shutter businesses and undermine economic growth."
"We will fight to stop these reckless actions and put people over pandemic politics," he added.
Attorney General Chris Carr, whose office the lawsuit was filed, said on Twitter the state still urges citizens to wear masks, and that the lawsuit "is about the rule of law." Kemp has executive power for the state, he said, and Atlanta "cannot continue to knowingly enter orders that are unenforceable and void."
The court filing states that Bottoms' executive orders on July 8, 10 and 13 "purport to impose more restrictive terms" than Kemp's executive order.
Bottoms responded to the lawsuit on Twitter, saying, "3104 Georgians have died and I and my family are amongst the 106k who have tested positive for COVID-19. ... A better use of tax payer money would be to expand testing and contact tracing."
There have been at least 333 deaths in Fulton County, which includes the city of Atlanta.
Kemp had previously issued an executive order banning cities and counties in the state from issuing mask orders, a move the mayor of Savannah said Thursday was "reckless."
6:39 p.m.: US records new daily record for COVID-19 cases
The U.S. saw a record 71,229 new cases on Thursday, according to the COVID Tracking Project.
There were 977 new deaths nationwide, the highest number since May 29. More than 500 were reported in the South, a new high for the region, according to the project.
There are 57,369 patients currently hospitalized, a level not seen since April 23, it reported.
5:55 p.m.: Texas sees record death toll
Texas reported its highest number of deaths from COVID-19 yet on Thursday.
There were 129 new fatalities, for a total of 3,561, according to state data. It's previous record was set just yesterday.
The state reported 10,291 new cases, for a total of 292,656. The test positivity rate was 16.89% as of Wednesday, tying the previous record.
There are 10,457 people currently hospitalized, with 865 ICU beds remaining statewide.
4:40 p.m.: CDC extends no-sail order until end of September
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has extended its no-sail order for cruises until Sept. 30. The order was previously set to expire at the end of July.
Most major cruise lines previously said they would suspend trips until the fall.
4:20 p.m.: Savannah mayor fires back after governor bans cities from requiring masks
The mayor of Savannah, Georgia, is firing back after Gov. Brian Kemp issued an executive order banning cities and counties in the state from issuing mask orders to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
"Governor Kemp is overstepping his authority," Mayor Van Johnson said at a news conference Thursday, calling his actions "reckless and irresponsible."
Masks will be provided for free to anyone in Savannah who wants them, Johnson said.
"We will continue to wear them," he said, adding, "We will continue to require them in our city."
"We want to be consistent. So the difference between yesterday and today is nothing in Savannah," Johnson said.
The Savannah area saw more COVID-19 cases in the first 13 days of July than all of March, April, May and June combined, Johnson said.
"Masks are not a political statement -- masks are a public health tool," said Johnson, a Democrat.
"I do not care about politics, perceptions, opinions, beliefs or emotions," Johnson went on. "I am solely concerned and obsessed at this point with keeping Savannah and Savannahians safe."
Wednesday night's executive order from Kemp, a Republican, outlawed mask mandates but "strongly" encouraged all residents and visitors in Georgia to "wear face coverings as practicable while outside their homes or place of residence, except when eating, drinking or exercising outdoors."
3:45 p.m.: US borders with Canada, Mexico remaining closed to non-essential travel through Aug. 21
The U.S. borders with Canada and Mexico will remain closed to non-essential travel through Aug. 21, Canadian officials confirmed Thursday. Mexico confirmed on Tuesday.
The closure was first enacted in late March. There have been multiple extensions and the latest agreement was set to expire on July 21.
"We're going to keep working closely with our American neighbors to keep people safe on both sides of the border," Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Thursday.
Mexico has 317,635 coronavirus cases while Canada has just 110,911 cases.
3:15 p.m.: Parents without masks pack meeting on mask rules
In Utah County, Utah, parents rallying for the right to send their children to school without masks packed into a county commission meeting side-by-side Wednesday, ignoring social distancing and face covering rules, The Salt Lake Tribune reported.
When the meeting began, Commissioner Tanner Ainge told the crowd, "This is the exact opposite of what we need to be doing."
"We are supposed to be physically distancing, wearing masks," Ainge said, which was met by boos from the residents.
"All of our medical experts, our Department of Health, everyone is encouraging us to do that," Ainge continued, as the crowd interrupted and yelled.
Ainge made a motion to continue the meeting to another day, and when another member voted in his favor, Ainge walked out, The Tribune reported.
Utah County has 5,637 people who have been diagnosed with coronavirus, including 30 residents who have died.
1 p.m.: Dog in South Carolina had COVID-19
A dog in Charleston County, South Carolina, is confirmed to have SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, according to Clemson University's Public Service and Agriculture.
The dog -- an 8- or 9-year-old shepherd mix with a chronic health condition -- was tested by a private veterinarian after one of its owners was confirmed to have coronavirus, Clemson said.
The dog was euthanized because of his chronic condition, state veterinarian Dr. Boyd Parr said.
12:45 p.m.: Arizona reports 24.5% positivity rate
Coronavirus cases are surging in Arizona, where the positivity rate stands at 24.5%, the state's Department of Health Services said Thursday.
Arizona has 3,454 patients in hospitals. The state's ICUs are 89% full, the health department said.
Over 134,000 people in Arizona have tested positive and at least 2,492 people have died.
12 p.m.: California's spike 'more than we anticipated,' Lt. Gov. says
In California, the recent spike in cases has been "more than we anticipated," Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis told ABC News on Thursday.
"We expected that there would be some increase when we started to loosen that stay at home order. What's happened, however, is that the spike is more than we anticipated, and it's too much," she said.
It appeared "the culprit for the resurgence is that people aren't taking those precautions seriously enough," Kounalakis said.
As cases rose, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Monday he was closing all bars and all indoor restaurants statewide. Also among the indoor businesses ordered to close were wineries, movie theaters, zoos, museums, family entertainment centers and card rooms.
Those closures will remain "until we can basically flatten that curve again," Kounalakis said.
California has 347,634 diagnosed cases and at least 7,227 fatalities.
But Kounalakis said she's confident in the hospital systems' capacities.
In the first few months of the pandemic, California added 50,000 more hospital beds and now has 250 million masks in storage, she said.
"Parts of the state are now more impacted than others. So we have been moving patients around from Imperial County for instance, down on our border, we're bringing patients up to Northern California where there are fewer cases," she said.
And as students gear up for the new school year, Kounalakis said each of California's 1,000 school districts is working on its own back-to-school plan.
"Several of the largest have said, you know, 'we're just going to do the fall in distance learning, because trying to bring students back is not looking feasible for us,'" she said. "Other school districts have a different approach. So every one of those school districts has to work it out."
Kounalakis added the state has worked hard to close the "digital divide" and providing students with the computers, iPads and internet access they need to learn at home.
11:15 a.m.: Florida has 54 hospitals with no ICU beds
Of 309 facilities being tracked, Florida has 54 hospitals with no available ICU beds and 32 hospitals with just one available ICU bed, according to the state's Agency for Healthcare Administration. These numbers will fluctuate throughout the day.
Florida's positivity rate stands at 12.94%, according to data released from the state's Department of Health Thursday. The national average is 9%.
The Department of Health reported 156 new deaths Thursday -- a daily record. Florida's death toll now stands at 4,782.
At least 315,775 Florida residents have been diagnosed with COVID-19.
Among the hardest hit areas are Miami-Dade County, which includes Miami, and Broward County, home to Fort Lauderdale.
Miami-Dade's positivity rate stands at 18.5% while Broward County's is at 16.6%, the Department of Health said Thursday.
10:50 a.m.: At least 24 coronavirus cases linked to church in West Virginia
At least 24 coronavirus cases have been linked to the North Charleston Apostolic Church in Charleston, West Virginia, according to the local health department. Congregants are asked to isolate, the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department said.
The church will be closed for three weeks for deep cleaning, the department said.
"Please consider attending services electronically, especially if you’re at high risk for complications from COVID-19," Dr. Sherri Young, health officer and executive director of the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department, said in a statement.
10:08 a.m.: Dozens of Miami cops have coronavirus
In hard-hit Miami, there's a surge of COVID-19 within the city's police department, with 79 officers testing positive, ABC Miami affiliate WPLG reported.
"In the first few months, we had about 30 officers that were COVID positive throughout that entire time. In the last few weeks – a month or so – we have 68 officers that are COVID positive and about 11 civilian employees,” Chief Jorge Colina told WPLG.
Colina tested positive for COVID-19 in April, WPLG reported.
As a precaution, 151 officers are quarantining at home, the chief said.
9:30 a.m.: Republican convention in Jacksonville will be scaled back
Next month's Republican National Convention in Jacksonville, Florida, will be scaled back, according to a letter obtained by ABC News.
Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel sent a letter to party members Thursday morning informing them of the new plans.
Regular delegates are the only ones allowed to attend the first three days of the convention, the letter said, according to a Republican familiar with planning.
On the final day, when President Donald Trump gives a speech and accepts the nomination, "each delegate, their guest, and alternate delegates will be permitted to attend," the letter said.
The convention will be held Aug. 24 to Aug. 27. Health protocols like on-site temperature checks, personal protective equipment and available COVID-19 testing will be implemented, according to the letter.
"We expect there to be evening programming each night, along with some daytime events and festivities," the letter said. "We plan to utilize a number of indoor and outdoor venues."
9 a.m.: 'Absolutely no way' to open schools safely in high virus areas: Former CDC director
Dr. Richard Besser, former acting director of the CDC and ABC News' former chief health and medical editor, spoke to "Good Morning America" Thursday about the reopening of schools and the possibility of long-term health effects on children with COVID-19.
"As a pediatrician and parent I know that children need to be in school ... but it has to be done safely. Not just for the children," Besser said, "but teachers and staff have to be safe."
"And we have to make sure that every school is safe -- not just those in wealthy neighborhoods that have the money to retrofit classrooms and hire staff to do cleaning and hire staff to do screening," Besser said.
He went on, "If you have widespread transmission in the community, like what is going in on in so many places, there's absolutely no way to safely open schools. You have to get it under control in the community first and then get your schools open ready to open."
Besser also addressed the possibility of long-term impacts on children who have COVID-19.
While most children with COVID-19 will do well, that's not the case for every child, Besser said, and the possible future health effects are "one of the big concerns when there is a new infectious disease."
Many adults who had COVID-19 still have fatigue and trouble breathing two months out, Besser said.
"There are a number of infections. If you get them in childhood, you get on into adulthood [and] they can have consequences," he said.
8:15 a.m.: NJ nursing homes allowing visitors
Family members, legal guardians and support people can now visit residents at New Jersey's long-term care facilities, the state's Department of Health announced Wednesday.
“I understand how stressful and heartbreaking it has been for so many families not to be able to visit their loved ones in person for more than three months now,” Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said in a statement. “Reuniting families with their loved ones in these facilities is a critical step for the mental, physical, social and emotional well-being of these residents.”
Visitors must wear masks, be screened for symptoms, get their temperature checked and maintain social distancing from other residents and staff.
The long-term care facilities can only allow visitors if no COVID-19 cases have been reported on site for 28 days (two incubation periods), the department said.
6:58 a.m.: Tulsa City Council passes mandatory mask ordinance
The Tulsa City Council in Oklahoma has issued a mask mandate less than a month after President Donald Trump held a reelection rally at an arena in the city.
The ordinance was passed with a 7-2 vote and is expected to be signed by Mayor G. T. Bynum on Thursday.
"I am very grateful for the broad support of the City Council in approving this important ordinance. Our local health care leaders made clear how important this is, and the City of Tulsa listened,” Bynum said in a statement Wednesday night. "This pandemic continues to present us with difficult decisions that no elected official would ever want to make, but we will continue to do what we have to do to protect our local health care system."
The ordinance requires anyone over the age of 18 who will be in public places where social distancing is challenging to wear a mask.
“The science is clear that the use of cloth face coverings are most likely to reduce the spread of COVID-19 when they are widely used by people in public settings," Tulsa Health Department Executive Director Dr. Bruce Dart said in a statement. "Wearing a mask not only considers others, but also allows us the freedom to go about our day during this new normal.”
Tulsa's face-covering mandate comes just a day after Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt, who attended Trump's rally without wearing a mask, announced he has tested positive for the coronavirus.
Oklahoma has more than 22,000 diagnosed COVID-19 cases, with at least 432 deaths.
What to know about coronavirus:
- How it started and how to protect yourself: Coronavirus explained
- What to do if you have symptoms: Coronavirus symptoms
- Tracking the spread in the U.S. and worldwide: Coronavirus map
ABC News' Jamie Aranoff, Jesse Convertino, Matt Fuhrman, Ahmad Hemingway, Kendall Karson, Rachel Katz, Mina Kaji, Amanda Maile, Josh Margolin, Kirit Radia, Darren Reynolds, Lataya Rothmiller, Will Steakin and Scott Withers contributed to this report.
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