Miami rolls back restaurant dining as U.S. coronavirus deaths top
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[July 07, 2020]
By Lisa Shumaker and Zachary Fagenson
(Reuters) - Florida's greater Miami area
became the latest U.S. coronavirus hot spot to roll back its reopening,
ordering restaurant dining closed on Monday as COVID-19 cases surged
nationwide by the tens of thousands and the U.S. death toll topped
Restaurants also were targeted for a weekend crackdown on coronavirus
enforcement in California, where hospitalizations for COVID-19 have
jumped 50% over the past two weeks and the state capitol building in
Sacramento was temporarily closed for deep cleaning.
For an eighth straight day, Texas registered an all-time high in the
number of people hospitalized at any one moment with the highly
contagious respiratory illness, up more than 500 admissions from the day
before to nearly 8,700.
The U.S. military said it would deploy a special 50-member medical team,
including emergency room and critical-care nurses and respiratory
specialists, to a hard-hit area in and around San Antonio.
California, Texas and Florida are all among two dozen states reporting
high infection rates as a percentage of diagnostic tests conducted over
the past week, an alarming sign of a virus still spreading largely
unchecked throughout much of the country.
"It's a serious situation that we have to address immediately," Dr.
Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease specialist and member
of the White House coronavirus task force, said during a live internet
interview on Monday.
The Miami-Dade County emergency restaurant closure was ordered on Monday
by Mayor Carlos Gimenez, the top official in a metropolitan area that
has reported some 48,000 COVID-19 infections to date among its 2.8
An updated statement late on Monday said the forthcoming emergency order
will allow outdoor dining to continue, wherever possible, with tables of
no more than four patrons, and music at a level that does not require
shouting to prevent the emission of potentially dangerous airborne
The move reimposing rules to permit carry-out and delivery service only,
just weeks after eateries began welcoming customers back to their
favorite tables, booths and patios, left struggling restaurateurs even
more worried about the survival of their businesses.
"We're burned out emotionally, we're burned out financially, and we're
burned out from the trauma of seeing everything that's happening," said
Karina Iglesias, a partner at the popular Spanish restaurants Niu
Kitchen and Arson in downtown Miami.
Michael Beltran, chef-partner at Ariete Hospitality Group, which owns a
handful of other popular Miami restaurants, was struggling with having
to tell most of his 80 employees - many of them just rehired for
reopening - that they would again be unemployed.
"From what they told me, I did the proper things (to reopen), and now
we're at this point," Beltran said.
RISING CASES AND 'POSITIVITY'
COVID-19 infections are on the rise in 39 states, according to a Reuters
analysis of cases over the past two weeks, with the country as a whole
averaging some 50,000 new cases nearly every 24 hours in recent days.
Sixteen states have posted record daily case counts so far this month.
More states are also reporting a troubling increase in the percentage of
COVID-19 diagnostic tests that come back positive - a key indicator of
community spread that experts refer to as the rate of "positivity."
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A host hands out hand sanitizer to customers entering Old's Havana
Cuban Bar & Cocina ahead of Miami-Dade County's July 8 planned
closures due to coronavirus disease (COVID-19) restrictions, in the
Little Havana neighborhood of Miami, Florida, U.S. July 6, 2020.
Two dozen states, mostly in the South and West, have averaged
positivity rates over the past week exceeding 5%, a level the World
Health Organization considers to be concerning, data collected by
Several states were averaging double-digit rates and climbing,
including Arizona at 26%, Florida at 19% and Mississippi at 17%.
California's positivity rate has also risen over the past two weeks.
But Governor Gavin Newsom on Monday cited a 50% two-week spike in
hospitalizations - with 5,790 COVID-19 patients currently admitted -
as an impetus for beefed-up enforcement actions during the Fourth of
ENFORCEMENT AND ROLLBACKS
He said state regulators visited nearly 6,000 bars and restaurants
over the weekend to ensure compliance with rules barring indoor
seating or the reopening of any establishment that serves alcohol
The nationwide loss of life from COVID-19 surpassed 130,000 on
Monday, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
forecast that the death toll could reach 160,000 later this month.
The disquieting surge in new cases has prompted many local leaders
to slow down or roll back business reopenings in hopes of curbing
infection rates that have started to overwhelm hospitals in some
"We can tamp down the spread if everyone follows the rules, wears
masks and stays at least six feet (2 m) apart from others," the
Miami mayor said in a statement announcing his emergency order,
which also closed ballrooms, banquet halls, fitness centers and
short-term housing rentals.
Colleges and universities have likewise been forced to adjust
reopening plans. Harvard University said on Monday all undergraduate
fall semester classes would be taught online and only 40% of the
undergraduate student body would be permitted to live on campus.
Also on Monday, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, one of several
politicians reported under consideration by presumptive Democratic
presidential nominee Joe Biden as a running mate for the Nov. 3
election, joined a growing list of well-known U.S. public figures
diagnosed with COVID-19.
In an MSNBC interview, Bottoms, 50, said she had not developed
severe symptoms, adding she and her family wear face coverings in
public and are mindful about social distancing and washing their
"I'm still processing all of this. I'm shocked," she said.
(Reporting by Lisa Shumaker, Doina Chiacu, Peter Szekely, Maria
Caspani, Gabriella Borter, Zachary Fagenson, Sharon Bernstein,
Caroline Humer, Idrees Ali and Kanishka Singh; Writing by Gabriella
Borter and Steve Gorman; Editing by Howard Goller, Bill Berkrot,
Peter Cooney and Michael Perry)
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