California was on the brink of 1 million coronavirus cases Thursday, just a day after Texas became the first state to reach the sad marker.
The country’s most populous state has recorded over 18,000 deaths during the pandemic, and 11 counties were ordered this week to drop a notch on the state’s tiered reopening schedule. Los Angeles and San Diego counties are both on the lowest rung of the four-step ladder, where restrictions include no indoor dining or indoor church services.
Meanwhile, starting Thursday, indoor dining at restaurants and bars must close by 10 p.m. in New Jersey. Instead, restaurants can continue outdoor dining operations and create “dining bubbles” that must be cleaned between uses.
As states continue to impose COVID-19 restrictions amid a surge in cases, one South Dakota mayor voted against a face mask mandate. Sioux Falls Mayor Paul TenHaken stepped in to break a 4-4 tie with the city council and cited the city of Fargo, North Dakota’s mask mandate, which he said has “made little to no impact.”
📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has reported close to 10.4 million cases and more than 241,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The global totals: 52 million cases and 1.28 million deaths.
🗺️ Mapping coronavirus: Track the U.S. outbreak in your state.
California close to becoming second state with 1M cases of coronavirus
California will soon become the second state in the U.S. to surpass 1 million cases of the coronavirus.
As cases continue to surge, some of the state’s largest counties have paused reopening plans. San Francisco, which has the lowest virus case rates among California’s major cities, voluntarily imposed new restrictions, including a ban on indoor dining.
Meanwhile, in Los Angeles, city officials issued a public safety emergency alert to residents’ cell phones warning of a rise in cases and urging people to get tested for COVID-19.
“We are certainly seeing, almost all across the state, an upward trajectory,” said Dr. Mark Ghaly, the state’s secretary of health and human services. If trends don’t ease by next week, he said, “over half of California counties will have moved into a more restrictive tier.”
Ticketmaster plans to require proof of COVID vaccine, test from customers
In preparation for a COVID-19 vaccine, Ticketmaster is working on a plan to safely allow people to return to concerts in 2021 by verifying if they tested negative for COVID-19 or have been vaccinated, Billboard reported.
While the plan is still in the development phase, the company told Billboard customers will be required to provide proof of vaccination or a negative test result approximately 24 to 72 hours, depending on local government requirements, before a concert. Customers would then authorize vaccine distribution providers, like Labcorp or CVS Minute Clinic, to send their results to a health pass company, like CLEAR or IBM.
If the test result is negative, the lab will notify Ticketmaster, who then will grant the customer access to their tickets. If they test positive or haven’t shown proof of vaccination, they won’t be allowed to attend the event.
“Ticketmaster’s goal is to provide enough flexibility and options that venues and fans have multiple paths to return to events, and is working to create integrations to our API and leading digital ticketing technology as we will look to tap into the top solutions based on what’s green-lit by officials and desired by clients,” Ticketmaster president Mark Yovich told Billboard.
Vanuatu, a remote Pacific island nation, reports first COVID case
A small Pacific island nation has recorded its first case of the novel coronavirus, shortening the list of places untouched by the global pandemic.
Vanuatu, a country of just under 300,000 people located in the south Pacific Ocean, according to the CIA, reported its first COVID-19 case on Tuesday. The positive test was recorded in a Vanuatu citizen who returned to the nation from a “higher-risk location” in the United States, the country’s health ministry reported.
There are few remaining places in the world that haven’t reported positive COVID-19 cases, according to the World Health Organization in its “Situation by Country, Territory & Area” table on its website. They are almost all remote locations, including the Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Samoa and Tonga.
– Jordan Culver
There’s a black market for negative COVID test results
With COVID-19 tests becoming a common entry requirement for countries and states, a black market has popped up to serve travelers who need test results taken within a few days of departure.
Last week, French police arrested seven people for selling falsified negative test results at Paris’ Charles de Gaulle International Airport, which is Europe’s largest. Prosecutors said the suspects were charging between $180-360 for fake certificates.
The practice of falsifying COVID test results has also popped up in South America. Last month, police arrested four Brazilian tourists for presenting altered testing documents when they arrived via private plane in Fernando de Noronha, an island chain off that country’s northern coast that requires negative COVID-19 test results no older than 24 hours.
Thanks to more readily available testing, COVID-19 test forgery does not appear to be widespread in the U.S. However, early on in the pandemic, the FBI and Federal Trade Commission warned of fake pop-up testing sites being used to steal unsuspecting customers’ social security numbers and credit card information.
– Jayme Deerwester
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine threatens to close businesses, imposes mask order
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine took action to curtail the exploding COVID-19 epidemic on Wednesday, threatening to close restaurants, bars and fitness centers, imposing a revised mask order that could briefly close businesses for violations and cracking down on post-event gatherings.
The governor said during a statewide address that bars, restaurants and fitness centers could be ordered closed a week from Thursday “if the current trend continues and cases keep increasing.”
“This surge is much more intense, widespread, and dangerous. As of today, every single one of our 88 counties has a high rate of virus spread, and areas of our state that were previously untouched — our rural areas — are being hit especially hard,” DeWine said.
DeWine also said retailers and other businesses will be held responsible, and potentially closed for 24 hours, if they allow employees to go without masks and permit customers to enter without face coverings. The revised mask order will be issued by Thursday morning, the governor’s office said.
– Randy Ludlow, The Columbus Dispatch
COVID-19 resources from USA TODAY
Contributing: The Associated Press