Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp bans cities, counties from requiring masks

The novel coronavirus pandemic has now killed more than 584,000 people worldwide.

Over 13.5 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 3.4 million diagnosed cases and at least 137,420 deaths.

Florida has 54 hospitals with no ICU beds Republican convention in Jacksonville will be scaled back ‘Absolutely no way’ to open schools safely in high virus areas: Former CDC director

Here is how the news is developing today. All times Eastern. Check back for updates.

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.

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. 

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.

MORE: Inside the grueling front lines of COVID first responders

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.

PHOTO: The Intensive Care unit at the empty St. Vincent Medical Center building near downtown Los Angeles is being leased by the State of California to operate as a healthcare facility during the COVID-19 outbreak in Los Angeles County. (Damian Dovarganes/AP, File)

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.

MORE: Too little too late: The story of how Florida shattered the country’s single-day COVID record

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%.

PHOTO: A woman receives a swab test at the COVID-19 walk-up testing service provided by the National Guard, partnered with the City of Miami Beach and the Florida Department of Health, at Miami Beach Convention Center in Miami Beach, Fla., July 15, 2020. (Cristobal Herrera-Ulashkevich/EPA via Shuttertock)

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.

PHOTO: Two women enter the coronavirus walk-up testing service run by the National Guard, partnered with the City of Miami Beach and the Florida Department of Health, at the testing Location at Miami Beach Convention Center in Florida, July 15, 2020. (Cristobal Herrera-Ulashkevich/EPA via Shutterstock)

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.

MORE: Can you get COVID-19 twice? What the experts say

“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.

PHOTO: Miami Beach Police officer talks to a shop owner during patrol on Ocean Drive on in Miami Beach, Fla., July 15, 2020. (Johnny Louis/Getty Images)

“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.

MORE: Union officials warn of ‘dire’ situations at South Florida federal prisons from Coronavirus

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.

MORE: Republican National Convention in Florida to be scaled back

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.

MORE: Asymptomatic and presymptomatic people transmit most COVID-19 infections: Study

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 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (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.”

PHOTO: Social distancing dividers for students have been placed in a classroom at St. Benedict School, amid the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Montebello, near Los Angeles, July 14, 2020. (Lucy Nicholson/Reuters)

PHOTO: Instructor Chablis Torres reads to children in a pre-school class, wearing masks at desks spaced apart per coronavirus guidelines, during summer school sessions at Happy Day School in Monterey Park, Calif., July 9, 2020. (Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images)

“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.”

PHOTO: Amid concerns of the spread of COVID-19, Alma Odong wears a mask as she cleans a classroom at Wylie High School in Wylie, Texas, July 14, 2020. (Lm Otero/AP)

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.”

MORE: Some hospitals see rise in younger admissions for COVID-19, raising doctors’ concerns

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.”

PHOTO: An exterior view of Elizabeth Nursing and Rehab Center on April 16, 2020 in Elizabeth, N.J. (Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images, FILE)

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:

5:42 a.m.: Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp bans local mask rules

Georgia Republican Gov. Brian Kemp issued an executive order Wednesday night, which outright banned cities and counties in the state from issuing mask orders to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

PHOTO:COVID-19 safety information signs are seen along the Atlanta Beltline pedestrian and bike trail in Atlanta, July 1, 2020. (Erik S Lesser/EPA via Shutterstock)

The move, despite neighboring states like Alabama requiring masks in public, voided mask mandates in 15 local jurisdictions in the Peach State where they had been implemented.

While outlawing mask mandates, Kemp’s executive order “strongly” encourages 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.”

Kemp’s order comes after Atlanta Mayor Keisha Bottom issued an executive order requiring masks or face coverings in the city on July 8.

The state, according to an internal Federal Emergency Management Agency memo obtained by ABC News, has a test-positivity rate greater than 10%, with record numbers of new cases in rural, urban and suburban areas alike.

Georgia has had more than 127,838 diagnosed cases of coronavirus, with at least 3,091 deaths.

ABC News’ Matt Fuhrman, Ahmad Hemingway, Rachel Katz, Josh Margolin,Victoria Moll Ramirez, Darren Reynolds, Lataya Rothmiller, Will Steakin and Scott Withers contributed to this report.

Coronavirus live updates: Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp bans cities, counties from requiring masks originally appeared on

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