BY: WILLIAM MANSELL AND ELLA TORRES, ABC NEWS
Over 14.1 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 3.6 million diagnosed cases and at least 139,266 deaths.
Here is how the news is developed Friday. All times Eastern. Check back for updates.
5:51 p.m.: ‘Dangerous times,’ Kentucky governor says
Kentucky reported 583 new cases, the state’s second-highest single-day total, as 22,184 overall now have been recorded.
“That means this is a dangerous time, and it can’t be explained away by our increase in tests,” Gov. Andy Beshear said in a statement. “We’ve got to be careful. We’ve got to make sure that we are wearing our facial coverings, because today’s cases are a reflection of 14 days ago before we mandated those. This is what it’s going to take if we want to save our economy and save lives and get our kids back in school, it’s really that simple.”
Kentucky reported nine more deaths, including a 93-year-old Jefferson County woman, and now has lost at least 667 to the virus.
At least 529,481 tests have been administered and 6,824 people have recovered, according to state health officials.
5:04 p.m.: Texas reports new high for hospitalizations as Oklahoma governor in good spirits
Hospitalizations in Texas reached 10,658 on Saturday, marking a new high for the state during the pandemic.
There were 10,158 new cases reported, the fifth day in a row new cases surpassed 10,000 in the Lone Star State.
Over the last 24 hours, 130 more deaths were reporters, pushing that total to 3,865.
Nearby, in Oklahoma, Gov. Kevin Stitt shared more uplifting news that he was “feeling 100%” after testing positive for COVID-19 earlier this week.
Stitt shared the message on Twitter: “I was a little achy on Tuesday, but feeling really really good. I had zoom calls all week. I’ll be back after it again on Monday.”
4:28 p.m.: Indianapolis delays start date for public schools
The Indianapolis Public Schools Board of School Commissioners voted on Saturday to delay the start of the school year by two weeks, to Aug. 17.
Superintendent Aleesia Johnson said in a statement the decision was made to give the city more time “to ensure we are turning the tide on the number of positive COVID-19 cases and confirm we are doing the right thing.”
Earlier this week, Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb and State Health Commissioner Kristina Box shared that COVID-19 cases were rising in the state.
When school does start, the current plan is that there will be both in-person learning and full-time remote learning options for families.
2:23 p.m.: Trump putting indoor rallies on hold until COVID ‘gets solved’
Donald Trump said Friday night he will be putting on hold any large indoor events “until [COVID-19] gets solved,” a sharp turn for the president who, for months, has been adamant about hosting rallies despite the pandemic.
Trump made the comments during his first “tele-rally,” a 23-minute call that began streaming around 7 p.m.
It was billed as the president speaking to Wisconsin, but the call was only streamed on Facebook, a Trump campaign official said.
Trump said he was thrilled to be holding the “tele-rally,” before saying, “We have a COVID problem, COVID-19 problem, as you know.”
The president made familiar remarks regrading the coronavirus, touted his actions on ventilators and progress on therapeutics. Trump also reiterated his misleading talking point that cases were going up because there is more testing, which does not completely account for the spikes in positive cases around the country.
The “tele-rally,” in which Trump also criticized Joe Biden, ended before news broke that Rep. John Robert Lewis, a Georgia democrat and civil rights icon, had died.
Trump, about 14 hours later, tweeted his condolences.
Saddened to hear the news of civil rights hero John Lewis passing. Melania and I send our prayers to he and his family.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 18, 2020
1:55 p.m.: DeSantis not worried about virus affecting his kids
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis called the risk of his children getting infected with COVID-19 “incredibly low,” adding that he does not “fear this virus’ effect on my kids.”
The governor said he came to this conclusion after looking at the data in the U.S., Florida and across the world. His comments come as many states are struggling with if and how to offer in-person schooling this fall in the absence of any meaningful federally issued guidelines.
He also updated the public on the state’s handling of the virus, including that hospitals in Florida will receive 30,000 more bottles of remdesivir, an antiviral COVID-19 drug candidate, within the next two days.
1:12 p.m.: FDA approves 1st emergency use authorization for pool testing
The Food and Drug Administration has issued the first emergency use authorization for pooled testing for COVID-19, according to a statement from the agency.
The sample pooling will allow up to four people to be tested at once, which is “an important public health tool because it allows for more people to be tested quickly using fewer testing resources,” the agency said.
Samples collected from the pool are tested using one test, the FDA said. If the pool is positive, it means one or more people tested positive so then each sample is tested again individually. This testing method still requires individual nasal swab specimens.
The authorization for the testing method was granted to Quest Diagnostics.
11:59 a.m.: Arizona reports record number of deaths
In Arizona, 147 people died over the last 24 hours, according to the state’s health department, marking the highest number of daily deaths to date.
The previous record was 117 on on July 7. At least 2,730 in the state have now died.
The daily positivity rate was particularly high, at 35%, in part because the number of new tests was half of what was reported Friday.
Hospitalizations, however, did drop by more than 200 — the most significant decline all summer.
10:46 a.m.: Florida deaths surpass 5,000
The Florida Department of Health reported that 90 people died in the last 24 hours, bringing the total number of deaths to 5,002.
The number of cases increased by 10,328, with the total reaching 337,569. This positivity rate clocked in at 12.17%, according to the department.
Hospitalizations rose 441 from Friday.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is expected to address the media in his daily briefing later this afternoon.
9:14 a.m.: Miami Beach establishes 8 p.m. curfew
Miami Beach residents are now under an 8 p.m. curfew amid rising cases in Florida.
The curfew which went into effect Saturday at 12:01 a.m., is two hours before the countywide curfew and will run through July 24.
All businesses in the area, including commercial, entertainment and restaurants, must close by 8 p.m. Take-out will also be prohibited from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m., but kitchens can remain open during those times if they are providing delivery services.
8:37 a.m.: 25 million infected in Iran, president says
Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said that a startling 25 million Iranians have been infected with the coronavirus, a figure that is much higher than the official toll of some 271,000 and surpasses the current confirmed cases globally.
Rouhani said the 25 million was based off a new Health Ministry report, but did not detail why there was such a discrepancy.
The president also said that another 35 million people “will be at risk.” Iran has a population of more than 80 million.
“Our estimate is that as of now 25 million Iranians have been infected with this virus and about 14,000 have lost their dear lives,” Rouhani said in a televised speech.
Iran’s official toll of confirmed cases is 271,606, according to Johns Hopkins data, putting them in the top 10 countries hardest hit. Globally, there are more than 14 million confirmed cases.
The 25 million infected would make Iran the hardest-hit country. The United States currently holds that position, with more than 3.6 million.
7:02 a.m.: Florida Sheriff uses chopper to break up ‘COVID-19 parties’
The Osceola County Sheriff’s Office in Florida announced it is using helicopters to patrol and break up “COVID-19 parties.”
The sheriff’s office released aerial footage from the helicopter Friday showing a large gathering happening in the street and then deputies pulling up to the gathering to break it up.
Gibson said his department plans to increase its patrols this weekend and focus on three subdivisions in the west side of the county where he said people are renting homes for the weekend and having large groups over for house parties, according to WFTV.
The large gatherings come at a time when Florida is seeing a sharp surge in coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and deaths.
Florida has more than 327,000 diagnosed cases, with at least 4,805 deaths.
The Sunshine state added 11,548 new cases on Friday, the third consecutive day the state has had a single-day case total over 10,000. Friday also marks the third consecutive day where the state reported over 120 deaths. Over 9,000 patients are also currently hospitalized, nearly 1,900 of them in Miami-Dade county.
4:51 a.m.: US death count up 19%
The number of new coronavirus cases is up 19.7% from last week and the national death count is up 19% during the same period, according to an internal Federal Emergency Management Agency memo obtained by ABC News.
Those figures aren’t the only increases. The national fatality rate is now 3.8% and the test positivity rate saw a slight increase in the last seven days, coming in at 10.1%. It was 9.8% during the week prior, according to the FEMA. memo.
Other concerning rises include that 13% of COVID-19 inpatients are on a ventilator, which is the first weekly rise in this stat since early June. Also, 32% of in-use ventilators across the U.S. are occupied by COVID-19 patients. At the coronavirus peak in April, it was 45%. In early June, it was 17%, according to FEMA.
The number of available ICU beds also continues to be a problem. The memo said that 19% of all medical facilities in the U.S. have more than 80% of their ICU beds filled.
Two of the hardest-hit states, Florida and Texas, are still not seeing a slowdown in cases. From July 8-14, Florida had its highest test-positivity rate to date at 17.9%. It also had a record daily death toll of 156 on July 16. Hospitalizations in the sunshine state, according to the FEMA memo, are expected to peak in 10 days.
Meanwhile in Texas, the state had record highs of cases and deaths on July 15.
This grim news is not exclusive to the U.S., COVID-19 cases reached 14 million across the globe Friday. The world hit 10 million on June 28 — a 40% increase in less than three weeks.
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