California’s COVID Curfew to Begin, As US Cases Hit 12-Million Mark

In an effort to stem an increase in coronavirus infections, California is to initiate a night-time curfew on Saturday, reports Reuters.

The western state's current numbers are currently worse than the previous high in August, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Across the US, for the first time since May, the regular death toll related to Covid-19 has exceeded 2,000.

The country now has more than 12 million confirmed infections, and more than 255,000 deaths, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University.

This is by far the world's highest death toll.

About 187,000 new infections have been reported nationally in the latest figures-released on Friday for the previous day-which is an all-time record.

Several states have implemented new mask mandates and restrictions to attempt to curb the increase, and in Texas the National Guard is assigned to the city of El Paso to assist in morgue operations there.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also advised Americans to stop flying on Thanksgiving holidays on 26 November to deter increased spread.

Thanksgiving typically heralds the busiest week for travel in the US. Last year, an estimated 26 million people passed through the country's airports in the week surrounding the holiday.

On Friday, it was revealed that President Donald Trump's oldest son, Donald Trump Jr, had tested positive for coronavirus. "Apparently I got the 'rona," he said in a video on social media, adding that he was asymptomatic so far and quarantining.

Much of California faces stay-at-home order

California registered a total of one million cases last week, making it the second country to do so after Texas.

The latest daily curfew, from 22:00 local time on Saturday (06:00 GMT Sunday) until 5:00 p.m., will last until 21 December, with a potential extension, if necessary, according to the authorities.

Restaurants will be able to offer takeout and delivery outside these hours.

The stay-at-home order involves 41 out of 58 counties in California, accounting for more than 94 per cent of the population of the county. About 40 million people live in California, the most populous state in the United States.

Some counties have already cautioned that a more serious lockdown could result. The new sanctions are not as stringent as the limits placed between March and May, where all non-essential business and transport has been banned.

Other places, including New York City, are also operating a night-time curfew. Bars, restaurants and gyms are allowed to open until 22:00, but schools have been closed.

The Californian curfew was announced by Governor Gavin Newsom.

"The virus is spreading at a pace we haven't seen since the start of this pandemic, and the next several days and weeks will be critical to stop the surge," he wrote in a statement.

Hospital admissions are up 61% statewide in the last two weeks, according to the Los Angeles Times newspaper.

"The data looks really bad right now," said Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer on Friday.

Americans urged to avoid Thanksgiving travel

The CDC has recommended that Americans "consider" avoiding Thanksgiving travel and gatherings.

"It's not a requirement. It's a recommendation," said Dr Henry Walke, the CDC's Covid-19 incident manager, on Thursday.

The following day, President Donald Trump re-tweeted the words of Republican Congressman Jim Jordan: "Don't lockdown the country. Don't impose curfews. Don't close schools. Let Americans decide for themselves. And celebrate Thanksgiving."

President and President-elect Joe Biden also said they were against implementing a nationwide lockdown, and they were in support of enabling states to come up with their own laws.

On Thursday, the White House Coronavirus Task Force held its first public meeting in months. Members, including Vice-President Mike Pence, observed an uptick in coronavirus cases.

The task force said indoor gatherings should be limited over the next couple of weeks.

However, on Saturday, US media noted that Mr. Pence's wife, Karen, had sent out an invitation for a "Christmas craft" get-together at their home on 9 December for Congressional Club members.

The White House has also so far declined to engage with Joe Biden and his incoming administration on policy, as Mr. Trump refuses to concede the presidential contest.

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