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US states slow reopenings ahead of holiday

By ANDREW COHEN in New York | China Daily Global | Updated: 2020-06-30 11:06

A customer collects his drinks from a bar amid the global outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Austin, Texas, US, June 28, 2020. [Photo/Agencies]

As of Monday, 14 states have announced that they are pausing or rolling back plans to reopen their economies as the number of reported cases of the novel coronavirus continues to rise.

With scenes of crowded bars, beaches and pools from Memorial Day weekend still fresh in memory, state officials are mindful of the coming Fourth of July weekend, hoping to avoid the same sort of heedless public gatherings without face masks or social distancing that many say explain the current surge in infections.

Florida and Texas have ordered all bars to close. California is closing bars in seven counties, including Los Angeles County.

Beaches in Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach will be closed to the public during the holiday weekend.

Arizona Governor Doug Ducey ordered bars, gyms, movie theaters and water parks to close for at least 30 days on Monday, following steady increases in infections in the state. School reopenings in the state will be delayed until at least Aug 17.

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy said Monday indoor dining will no longer resume on Thursday as previously planned, but will be postponed "indefinitely".

"After #COVID19 spikes in other states driven by, in part, the return of indoor dining, we have decided to postpone indoor dining indefinitely," Murphy said.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said a decision on whether New York City could resume indoor dining would be made by Wednesday.

The dangers of premature reopening were exemplified by cases like a Planet Fitness gym in Morgantown, West Virginia, where some 200 patrons who visited last Wednesday were instructed to quarantine after a client tested positive for the coronavirus.

Similarly, 85 patrons at a bar in East Lansing, Michigan, contracted the virus earlier this month.

Nearby Lansing, Michigan's capital, was the site of memorable demonstration back in April when hundreds of protesters, some heavily armed, demanding an end to the governor's stay-at-home orders.

The new directives come after an especially difficult week on the disease front for the US.

Several states broke one-day records for new confirmed cases, and on Friday the US recorded the highest number of new coronavirus cases in a single day: 40,173.

The wave of new infections are particularly pronounced in the South and the West and among younger people.

The US, with 4 percent of the world's population, accounts for about 25 percent of the world's reported cases (10.1 million) and deaths (503,000), according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Gilead Sciences, the maker of the antiviral drug remdesevir, which has been shown to help those with severe cases of COVID-19, announced Monday that it had set a price of $390 per vial for US government hospitals.

That means a typical five-day course of treatment, six vials, would cost about $2,340 per patient, said the company.

Gilead, which had been donating the drug to hospitals with very ill COVID-19 patients, agreed to send nearly all of its supply of the drug to the US over the next three months.

Gilead said it would charge a higher price for private insurers in the US: $520 per vial, or $3,120 for a full course of treatment.

Uninsured patients also would be charged that price.

Reuters contributed to this story.

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