Europe, U.S. watch case totals grow, debate new restrictions

Beer is poured on the floor in Rome during a protest against government restrictive measures to contain the spread of COVID-19 on Saturday October 24, 2020. Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has imposed severe restrictions on staying at home, citizens have left regional governors to impose restrictions like overnight curfews in this current surge in infections, including in places like Rome, Milan and Naples. (Mauro Scrobogna / LaPresse via AP)

Confirmed coronavirus infections continued to surge in many parts of the United States and Europe on Saturday. In some cases, it was also angry about the restrictions that governments had put in place to contain the tide.

Oklahoma, Illinois, New Mexico and Michigan were among the states that announced new record highs in daily confirmed cases on Saturday, one day after a national daily record of more than 83,000 reported infections, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, Michigan’s chief medical officer, said it was “now more important than ever that people take this seriously.” The state’s 3,338 new COVID-19 cases beat the old record by more than 1,300.

German authorities reported a record total of one day of new coronavirus cases this weekend, while leaders in Spain and Italy debated how to fight the resurgent virus, despite the public curfew despite a global death toll of 1.1 million was pushed back.

In Italy, officials on Saturday teamed up with regional authorities to determine what new restrictions could be put in place if confirmed cases exceed half a million.

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has said he does not want to strongly block Italy again, as he did at the beginning of the pandemic. Over the past few days, several governors in their regions have ordered overnight curfews to prevent people from gathering outside bars and other venues at night.

Europe, US watch case sums grow, debate new restrictions
People wear face masks when they watch a street performer in Montreal on Saturday, October 24, 2020 as the coronavirus pandemic continues. (Graham Hughes / The Canadian Press via AP)

Such a curfew fueled anger in Naples and sparked a violent clash between protesters and police. Italian media said protesters hurled stones, broken ceramic tiles and smoke bombs at police while they fought back with tear gas. Elsewhere in Europe, police in Warsaw, Poland used tear gas and pepper spray to disperse protesters angry about new virus restrictions and anti-lockdown protesters gathered in London’s Trafalgar Square.

Interior Minister Luciana Lamorgese on Saturday classified the protests in Naples as “unacceptable” and the public prosecutor is investigating.

According to the Ministry of Health, Italy’s one-day new number of confirmed infections rose to 20,000 on Saturday, a slightly larger daily increase than on Friday. The nation’s confirmed death rate, the second highest in Europe after the UK, rose to 37,210 after 151 more deaths.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez plans to meet with his cabinet in Madrid on Sunday morning to prepare for a new state of emergency, a strategy that has been used twice since the pandemic began.

Europe, US watch case sums grow, debate new restrictions
Police arrest a man during a coronavirus anti-lockdown protest on Westminster Bridge in London on Saturday October 24, 2020. (AP Photo / Alberto Pezzali)

The first in March ordered strict housing restrictions across the country, closed shops, and recruited private industry into the national fight against public health. The second came into force two weeks ago and focused on transit restrictions in the Madrid region.

In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel again urged citizens to reduce their number of social contacts as the nation recorded a new daily high for infections.

The 14,714 cases reported on Saturday include cases from Friday and Thursday due to a three-hour data blackout with the country’s disease control agency on Thursday. Forty-nine more people died, bringing the death toll to over 10,000.

The Chancellor said on her weekly podcast, “If we all obey (social distancing) we will all together survive this enormous challenge posed by the virus.”

Other European countries have tightened restrictions in hopes of dealing with their own rising case numbers.

Europe, US watch case sums grow, debate new restrictions
Protesters gather in Trafalgar Square on Saturday 24 October 2020 during a coronavirus protest against the lockdown in London. (AP Photo / Alberto Pezzali)

Slovenia closed hotels, shopping malls and other non-essential businesses as authorities reported a record high in daily new infections and deaths in the small country of 2 million people. Greece has introduced a mask requirement and a mandatory night curfew for Athens and other high risk areas.

In South America, Colombia was eight countries to have reached 1 million confirmed coronavirus cases on Saturday, according to the Colombian Ministry of Health. Two of the others are also in Latin America: Argentina, which hit that mark on Monday, and Brazil, which has more than 5 million confirmed cases.

In the US, the virus has claimed around 240,000 lives, according to the COVID-19 dashboard published by Johns Hopkins. The total number of U.S. cases reported on Friday was 83,757, surpassing the 77,362 cases reported on July 16.

Many rural communities bear the brunt of the burden. In Columbia, Tennessee, the Maury Regional Medical Center announced Friday it will be suspending elective surgery that will require an overnight stay for two weeks starting Monday. The Daily Herald reported that 50 inpatients were treated for COVID-19, 20 of whom were in the medical center’s 26-bed intensive care unit.

  • Europe, US watch case sums grow, debate new restrictions
    Polish police faced protesters in Warsaw, Poland on Saturday 24 October 2020 angry about new restrictions to fight the coronavirus pandemic. The demonstrators included entrepreneurs, right-wing extremist politicians, football fans and anti-vaccination campaigners. The clashes come amid mounting social tensions and as new restrictions came into effect shortly before a full lockdown on Saturday. (AP Photo / Czarek Sokolowski)
  • Europe, US watch case sums grow, debate new restrictions
    Carabinieri police, wearing helmets in the foreground, clash with protesters throwing torches in Naples, southern Italy, late Friday, October 23, 2020. Protesters in Naples, upset by a just-imposed curfew from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. and by the local governor’s vow to lock down the region in an attempt to tame the growing COVID-19 infections, clashed with police on Friday evening. (Alessandro Pone / LaPresse via AP)

Martin Chaney, Maury Regional’s chief medical officer, said small house gatherings had become the emerging threat that is spreading the disease in the six-county region that the medical center covers.

“We all let go of our watch in our homes,” said Chaney. “You think it’s safe not to be socially distant and you take off your masks. That spreads the disease very quickly.”

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