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US dips under 50,000 new Coronavirus cases

St Pete Beach: The United States has dipped under 50,000 new daily infections for the first time in four days, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University, but experts fear celebrations for the July 4th weekend will act like rocket fuel for the nation's surging Coronavirus outbreak.

Johns Hopkins on Sunday counted 45,300 new Coronavirus infections reported Saturday in the US after three days in which the daily count reached as high as 54,500 new cases. The lower figure does not mean the situation in the U.S. is improving, it could be due to reduced reporting on a national holiday.

The United States has the most infections and virus-related deaths in the world, with 2.8 million cases and nearly 130,000 dead, according to the university. Experts say the true toll of the pandemic is significantly higher, due to people who died before they were tested and missed mild cases.

Worldwide, nearly 11.3 million people have been infected and over 531,000 have died, with outbreaks surging in India, South Africa, Pakistan, Brazil and several other Latin American countries. In a first, South Africa on Sunday reported more than 10,000 new confirmed cases in a single day.

To show just how steep the US infection curve is, authorities were reporting under 20,000 new infections a day as recently as June 15. On Saturday, Florida and Texas reported more record daily increases in confirmed cases and virus-related deaths have begun to rise.

Despite warnings by health experts to limit gatherings, President Donald Trump went ahead with a speech at Mount Rushmore in South Dakota on Friday and an evening of tribute and fireworks Saturday on the National Mall in Washington.

Trump used the nation's Independence Day as an occasion to assail those who do not support him and did not mention the horrific death toll from the pandemic.

Pat Lee of Upper Dublin, Pennsylvania, and two friends, none in masks, gathered near the event in Washington.

POTUS said it would go away, Lee said of the pandemic, using an acronym for president of the United States. Masks, I think, are like a hoax.

In another worrying sign, the World Health Organization said member states reported more than 212,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 around the world on Saturday, the highest single-day increase since the start of the pandemic. The Geneva-based organization said more than 60% of the confirmed cases reports it received were in the Americas, which includes the United States and Brazil.

Faced with rising infections, many U.S. communities canceled parades and fireworks and cautioned people against hosting large gatherings.

Texas, which reported a record daily increase of 8,258 confirmed Coronavirus cases Saturday, is retreating from what had been one of the country's swiftest reopenings. Much of the state began mandating face coverings Friday, with a USD 250 fine for scofflaws.

In Florida, which reported 11,445 confirmed infections on Saturday, bars statewide are shut down and some regional attractions, such as Zoo Miami and Jungle Island, have closed. Officials in South Florida including in Miami-Dade County and the Florida Keys also closed beaches through the weekend.

Other beaches remained open. At St. Pete Beach on the Gulf of Mexico, parking spaces were scarce and hundreds clustered under umbrellas and in cabanas on the sand.

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