Putin proposes seven-way online summit to avoid ‘confrontation’ over Iran: Kremlin

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday proposed holding a seven-way online summit of the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council together with Germany and Iran, to outline steps aimed at avoiding a confrontation over the Iran arms embargo.

In a Kremlin statement, Putin said discussions were becoming increasingly tense over the Iranian issue at the Security Council, which began voting on Thursday on a U.S. proposal to extend an arms embargo on Iran, which is opposed by veto-wielding Russia and China.

“The situation is escalating. Unfounded accusations against Iran are being put forward,” said Putin, adding that Russia remained fully committed to the Iran nuclear deal.

The 13-year-old arms embargo is due to expire in October under a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran, Germany, Russia, China, Britain, France and the United States that prevents Tehran from developing nuclear weapons in return for sanctions relief.

Russia suggested an online video conference to avoid aggravating the situation at the U.N. Security Council.

Putin described the matter as urgent and urged the other nations to carefully consider Russia’s offer, saying the alternative was further escalation of tensions and a growing risk of conflict.

(Reporting by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber; Writing by Alexander Marrow; Editing by Toby Chopra and Hugh Lawson)

U.S. will do utmost to renew Iran arms embargo: Pompeo

By Kirsti Knolle

VIENNA (Reuters) – The United States will do everything in its power to renew the international arms embargo on Iran under review at the United Nations, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Friday.

The U.N. Security Council has started voting on a U.S. bid to renew the embargo, expiring in mid-October. Veto-powers Russia and China are opposed, and results are due within hours.

Visiting Austria as part of a tour of central Europe, Pompeo said Iran must also provide full and immediate cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) nuclear watchdog, whose head he met in Vienna.

“It makes no sense to permit the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism to purchase and sell weapons systems,” Pompeo told a news conference. “I mean, that’s just nuts.”

Iran denies promoting terrorism.

Pompeo said Washington would “do everything that we can within our diplomatic tool set to ensure that arms embargo doesn’t expire”.

“The voting will be in the next handful of hours and we are hoping that we will be successful. When we see the results, we will make the decision about how to move forward.

“We have been unambiguous about the fact we have no intention of allowing this arms embargo to expire. None whatsoever.”

The embargo is set to end mid-October under Tehran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, which U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration quit in 2018.

IAEA head Rafael Grossi, whose agency is policing Iran’s nuclear deal with major powers, told reporters after meeting Pompeo that talks with Tehran on full access to all sites continued.

“We have requested Iran to grant access. That hasn’t happened yet. We are working on that,” he said.

“Our objective is to get access to continue the verification work which is essential for the international community.”

(Reporting by Kirsti Knolle, Writing by John Revill; Editing by Michael Shields)

Iran says U.S. arms embargo push at U.N. will fail – TV

DUBAI (Reuters) – U.S. efforts to get the U.N. Security Council to extend an arms embargo on Tehran would fail, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said in a televised speech on Wednesday, a day after U.S. officials circulated a revised proposal.

Washington streamlined its bid on Tuesday to win more support in the 15-member Security Council but it is unlikely to overcome opposition by veto powers Russia and China to extending the weapons embargo that ends in October under Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with six world powers.

“Until today, the U.S. has failed politically, and it will fail again…if such a resolution is passed…Its initiators will be responsible for the consequences,” said Rouhani, without elaborating on what Tehran’s reaction could be.

The new U.S. resolution would extend Iran’s arms ban “until the Security Council decides otherwise,” stating it is “essential to the maintenance of international peace and security”.

The previous U.S. draft resolution was described by diplomats and analysts as “maximalist.” It would have required countries to inspect cargo going to or coming from Iran and included an annex of individuals and entities for targeted sanctions.

Separately, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said the revised U.S. draft was a “very illegal” resolution.

“I am certain that the Security Council will reject (it).”

Although U.S. President Donald Trump exited the nuclear deal in 2018, Washington has threatened to use a provision in the accord to trigger a return of all U.N. sanctions on Iran if the Security Council does not extend the arms embargo indefinitely.

Renewed sanctions – a move known as “snapback” – would likely kill the nuclear deal, under which Iran agreed to curb its sensitive uranium enrichment program in exchange for lifting most sanctions on Tehran.

Washington has reimposed harsh economic and financial sanctions on the Islamic Republic since 2018. In retaliation, Iran has gradually scaled back its commitments set by the nuclear deal.

(Writing by Parisa Hafezi; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

Hiroshima marks 75 years since atomic bombing in scaled-back ceremony

By Elaine Lies

TOKYO (Reuters) – Bells tolled in Hiroshima on Thursday for the 75th anniversary of the world’s first atomic bombing, with ceremonies downsized due to the coronavirus and the city’s mayor urging nations to reject selfish nationalism and unite to fight all threats.

Though thousands usually pack the Peace Park in the center of the Japanese city to pray, sing and offer paper cranes as a symbol of peace, entrance was sharply limited and only survivors and their families could attend the memorial ceremony.

The city said the significance of the anniversary of the bombing that killed 140,000 people before the end of 1945 had prompted its decision to hold the ceremony despite the spread of the virus, but taking strict precautions.

“On August 6, 1945, a single atomic bomb destroyed our city. Rumor at the time had it that ‘Nothing will grow here for 75 years,'” said mayor Kazumi Matsui.

“And yet, Hiroshima recovered, becoming a symbol of peace.”

At 8:15 a.m. on Aug 6, 1945, U.S. B-29 warplane Enola Gay dropped a bomb nicknamed “Little Boy” and obliterated the city with an estimated population of 350,000, where thousands more died later from injuries and radiation-related illnesses.

On Thursday, as cicadas shrilled in the heavy summer heat and the Peace Bell sounded, the crowd stood to observe a moment of silence at the exact time the bomb exploded.

“When the 1918 flu pandemic attacked a century ago, it took tens of millions of lives and terrorized the world because nations fighting World War I were unable to meet the threat together,” Matsui added.

“A subsequent upsurge in nationalism led to World War Two and the atomic bombings. We must never allow this painful past to repeat itself. Civil society must reject self-centered nationalism and unite against all threats.”

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe attended as usual, but the number of foreign visitors was down. Overall attendance was scaled back to less than a tenth of the usual figure, with chairs spaced far apart and most people wearing masks.

Matsui urged Japan to ratify a 2017 United Nations pact banning nuclear arms, but Abe avoided any direct reference, saying Japan would “work as a bridge between nations” to abolish nuclear weapons.

Keiko Ogura, who was eight when the bomb blast knocked her off her feet, has dedicated her life to working for peace.

“The nuclear danger is spreading around the world, and under that mushroom cloud, no one can escape,” she told a recent news conference.

The anniversary was a top trending topic on Japanese Twitter as most users offered prayers for world peace, although one drew a parallel with this week’s huge blast that killed at least 135 in Beirut, the Lebanese capital.

“I really hadn’t been able to imagine it before, but looking at the damage from the Beirut explosion and imagining something several times more powerful, I was struck with a huge sense of fear,” wrote the commenter, identified as “Sato-san.”

The bombing of Hiroshima was followed by the bombing of Nagasaki on Aug. 9, instantly killing more than 75,000 people. Japan surrendered six days later, ending World War Two.

(Reporting by Elaine Lies; Additional reporting by Linda Sieg; Editing by Michael Perry and Clarence Fernandez)

Exclusive: More than 40 countries accuse North Korea of breaching U.N. sanctions

By Michelle Nichols

NEW YORK (Reuters) – More than 40 countries accused North Korea on Friday of illicitly breaching a United Nations cap on refined petroleum imports and called for an immediate halt to deliveries until the end of the year, according to a complaint seen by Reuters.

The 15-member U.N. Security Council imposed an annual cap of 500,000 barrels in December 2017 in a bid to cut off fuel for North Korea’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs.

But in a complaint to the U.N. Security Council North Korea sanctions committee, 43 countries – including the United States, Britain and France – said they estimated that in the first five months of this year Pyongyang had imported more than 1.6 million barrels of refined petroleum via 56 illicit tanker deliveries.

The complaint said North Korean vessels continue to conduct ship-to-ship transfers at sea “on a regular basis as the DPRK’s primary means of importing refined petroleum.” North Korea’s formal name is the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).

The countries asked the Security Council sanctions committee to make an official determination that North Korea had exceeded the cap and “inform member states that they must immediately cease selling, supplying, or transferring refined petroleum products to the DPRK for the remainder of the year.”

Similar requests to the committee in 2018 and 2019 were blocked by North Korean allies Russia and China. They are also the only two countries to have formally reported deliveries of refined petroleum to the Security Council sanctions committee.

“China and Russia collectively have reported 106,094.17 barrels of refined petroleum product transfers … January through May,” the complaint said. “The official accounting of the DPRK’s imports vastly under represents the volume of refined petroleum products that actually enter the DPRK.”

The 43 countries also urged the committee to call on states to “immediately exercise enhanced vigilance regarding the DPRK attempting to procure additional refined petroleum products and to prevent illicit ship-to-ship transfers of refined petroleum products to vessels owned, controlled, or acting on behalf of or working in cooperation with the DPRK.”

North Korea has been subjected to U.N. sanctions since 2006 over its nuclear and ballistic missile programs. While the Security Council has steadily strengthened sanctions, U.N. monitors reported this year that North Korea continued to enhance its programs last year.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump have met three times since 2018, but failed to make progress on U.S. calls for Pyongyang to give up its nuclear weapons and North Korea’s demands for an end to sanctions.

The complaint to the Security Council committee said: “If the DPRK is able to flagrantly evade international sanctions, it will have little incentive to engage in serious negotiations.”

The North Korean mission to the United Nations in New York did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

(Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by David Gregorio)

China launches its first unmanned mission to Mars

By Ryan Woo

WENCHANG, China (Reuters) – China successfully launched an unmanned probe to Mars on Thursday in its first independent mission to another planet, in a display of its technological prowess and ambition to join an elite club of space-faring nations.

China’s largest carrier rocket, the Long March 5 Y-4, blasted off with the probe at 12:41 p.m. (0441 GMT) from Wenchang Space Launch Center on the southern island of Hainan.

In 2020, Mars is at its closest to Earth, at a distance of about 55 million km (34 million miles), in a window of about a month that opens once every 26 months.

The probe is expected to reach Mars in February where it will attempt to land in Utopia Planitia, a vast plain in the northern hemisphere, and deploy a rover to explore the planet for 90 days.

If successful, the Tianwen-1, or “Questions to Heaven”, the name of a poem written two millennia ago, will make China the first country to orbit, land and deploy a rover in its inaugural mission.

There will be challenges ahead as the craft nears Mars, Liu Tongjie, spokesman for the mission, told reporters ahead of the launch.

“When arriving in the vicinity of Mars, it is very critical to decelerate,” he warned.

Liu said the probe would orbit Mars for about two and a half months and look for an opportunity to enter its atmosphere and make a soft landing.

“Entering, deceleration and landing (EDL) is a very difficult (process),” he said.

Since 1960, half of all the 50-plus missions to Mars including flybys failed, due to technical problems.

China previously made a Mars bid in 2011 with Russia, but the Russian spacecraft carrying the probe failed to exit the Earth’s orbit and disintegrated over the Pacific Ocean.

Eight spacecraft – American, European and Indian – are either orbiting Mars or on its surface with other missions underway or planned.

The United Arab Emirates launched a mission to Mars on Monday, an orbiter that will study the planet’s atmosphere.

NEW SINO-U.S. FRICTIONS?

The United States may launch a probe as soon as end-July to Mars. It will deploy a rover called Perseverance, the biggest, heaviest, most advanced vehicle sent to the Red Planet by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

NASA’s InSight is currently probing the interior of Mars on a plain called Elysium Planitia. Curiosity, a car-sized rover deployed by NASA, is studying soil and rocks in Gale Crater, searching for the building blocks of life.

Asked if Tianwen-1 would present new frictions with the United States, Liu told Reuters the Chinese mission is a scientific exploration project not to compete with anyone but cooperate with each other.

“From our point of view, Mars is large enough for multiple countries to explore and carry out missions,” Liu said in an interview, when asked if there was a chance the Chinese rover would meet with Curiosity and InSight.

Liu declined to give a cost estimate for China’s mission.

China’s probe will carry 13 scientific instruments to observe the planet’s atmosphere and surface, searching for signs of water and ice.

“Scientists believe there was an ancient ocean in the southern Utopia Planitia. At a place where an ancient ocean and land meet, scientists hope to make a lot of discoveries,” Liu said.

(Reporting by Ryan Woo in Wenchang; Additional reporting by Liangping Gao in Beijing; Writing by Jane Wardell and Gabriel Crossley; Editing by Neil Fullick, Robert Birsel, William Maclean)

Germany urges WHO to hasten review of its handling of pandemic

BRUSSELS/BERLIN (Reuters) – Germany’s health minister urged the World Health Organisation (WHO) to speed up its review of how it handled the pandemic, apparently signalling Europe’s tougher line on the United Nations body.

Berlin, which holds the rotating presidency of the European Union, has so far largely shielded the organization from the most intense criticism by Washington, which wants to leave the WHO because of its alleged excessive closeness to China.

But now Germany seems to be taking a more assertive position.

Spahn told reporters he had discussed the review of the WHO’s management of the crisis with its chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus twice over the last 20 days.

“In both conversations I encouraged him very clearly to launch this independent commission of experts and to expedite its launch,” Spahn said.

The WHO said last week it was setting up an independent panel to review its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and the response by governments.

U.S. President Donald Trump has accused the WHO of being too close to China and not doing enough to question Beijing’s actions at the start of the crisis. Tedros has dismissed the suggestions and said his agency kept the world informed.

Tedros has said the panel will provide an interim report to an annual meeting of health ministers in November and present a “substantive report” next May.

Spahn said the review was important now, even if the pandemic is still raging across the world, because “we can already draw conclusions.”

This could lead to quick actions over the body’s governance and to improve “cooperation between the political and the scientific level” of the organisation, Spahn added.

EU governments have said the review should be followed by a reform of the organisation, a possibility already being discussed with the United States and other members of the G7 group of rich countries, officials told Reuters.

One official had said the aim was to ensure WHO’s independence.

(Reporting by Francesco Guarascio @fraguarascio in Brussles, Joseph Nasr and Andeas Rinke in Berlin, Editing by William Maclean)

New U.S. health crisis looms as patients without COVID-19 delay care

By Sharon Bernstein

(Reuters) – A Texas man who waited until his brain tumor was softball-sized; a baby who suffered an ear infection for six days; a heart patient who died: The resurgence of COVID-19 is creating another health crisis as hospitals fill and patients are fearful or unable to get non-emergency care.

With U.S. coronavirus infections reaching new heights, doctors and hospitals say they are also seeing sharp declines in patients seeking routine medical care and screenings – and a rise in those who have delayed care for so long they are far sicker than they otherwise would be.

“I had one lady who had delayed for five days coming in with abdominal pain that was getting worse and worse,” said Dr. Diana Fite, who practices emergency medicine in Houston. “When she finally came in, she had a ruptured appendix.”

After the pandemic was declared a national emergency in March, many states banned non-essential medical procedures, and the number of patients seeking care for other ailments took a nosedive. Hospitals and medical practices were hit hard financially.

Emergency department use dropped by 42% during the first 10 weeks of the pandemic despite a rise in patients presenting with symptoms of the coronavirus, data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show. In the same period, patients seeking care for heart attacks dropped by 23% and stroke care by 20%.

As the initial outbreak leveled off in the weeks that followed, healthcare experts planned to handle primary care differently should infections rise again, making sure minor procedures like cancer screenings were still allowed and assuring patients that hospitals and clinics were safe.

But the recent surge in cases has swamped hospitals in many states, including Texas, Arizona, Florida and parts of California.

CANCER MORTALITY RATES

Texas has again banned many non-emergency procedures, though cancer surgeries are still allowed, and a hospital in California’s San Joaquin Valley for several days admitted only COVID-19 patients.

Patients without COVID-19 – either out of fear, confusion or because of difficulty in obtaining the care they need – are again staying home.

The result is a healthcare crisis in the making, said Austin oncologist Dr. Debra Patt, who said she expects mortality rates from cancer to skyrocket in the years after the pandemic because patients have delayed their care.

“They’re scared to go in the hospital unless they absolutely have to,” said Patt. “And even when the patients are willing, it’s hard to get things done.”

Patt in recent days treated a man who waited to come in for headaches and dizziness until he had lost 35 pounds and had a softball-sized tumor in his head.

Fite, who is president of the Texas Medical Association, cared for a baby whose parents waited six days before bringing him in with a severe ear infection.

Patt said screening mammograms are down by 90% in Austin, where she specializes in breast cancer and serves as executive vice president of Texas Oncology. That means some tumors will be missed, and women who develop aggressive cancers might not know about it until the disease is more advanced and more likely to be deadly.

“It’s an impact we will see on cancer survival for years to come,” she said.

Dr. David Fleeger, a colorectal surgeon in Austin and a past president of the Texas Medical Association, said he has had numerous patients cancel colonoscopies in recent days.

“The delays in colonoscopies that are occurring right now ultimately will lead to more cancers and more deaths,” he said.

‘IN A HOLDING PATTERN’

Patt’s patient Helen Knost had to put off surgery for breast cancer in early spring because it was considered non-emergency in Texas and barred at the time, and she was treated instead with the medication Tamoxifen.

“It’s very strange to know you have cancer and you’re just hanging out with it, just in a holding pattern,” said Knost, who did ultimately undergo successful surgery.

In California, doctors at the 150-bed Adventist Lodi Memorial Hospital in the San Joaquin Valley were determined that a second surge in coronavirus cases would not bring a repeat of the pandemic’s early days, when emergency room visits dropped in half. Emergency medical technicians also reported a 45% rise in the number of heart patients who died before they could be brought to the hospital.

Hospital CEO Daniel Wolcott led a campaign to inform the community that the medical center was open and safe, even speaking to people about it in the grocery store.

But with new COVID-19 cases swamping the hospital, sickening nearly 30 staff members and forcing it to divert non-coronavirus cases to other facilities for several days, Wolcott fears that again patients with heart conditions and other illnesses will stay away.

“We won’t know for years how many people lost their lives or lost good years of their lives for fear of coronavirus,” he said.

(Reporting by Sharon Bernstein in Sacramento, California; editing by Bill Tarrant and Cynthia Osterman)

Explainer: Fraud is rare in U.S. mail-in voting. Here are the methods that prevent it

By Andy Sullivan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – With the number of Americans voting by mail on Nov. 3 expected to nearly double due to COVID-19, election experts see little reason to expect an increase in ballot fraud, despite President Donald Trump’s repeated claims.

Voting by mail is not new in the United States — nearly 1 in 4 voters cast 2016 presidential ballots that way. Routine methods and the decentralized nature of U.S. elections make it very hard to interfere with mailed ballots, experts say.

While mail balloting has its drawbacks, it can help minimize the long lines, faulty voting machines and COVID-19-induced staffing shortages that have plagued some elections this year.

HOW SECURE IS IT?

Election experts say it would be nearly impossible for foreign actors to disrupt an election by mailing out fake ballots, a scenario floated by Attorney General William Barr.

For one thing, voters won’t just be selecting a president: They might be choosing candidates for city council, school board and weighing in on ballot initiatives. That can require hundreds of different ballot designs in a single county and the United States has more than 3,000 counties.

Ballots aren’t counted if they aren’t printed on the proper type of paper and don’t include specific technical markings.

States also require voters to sign the outside of their envelope, which they match to a signature on file.

Some 29 states and the District of Columbia allow voters to track their ballots to ensure they are received, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Fourteen states and D.C. also allow voters to return their ballots by hand if they don’t trust the mail.

Those envelopes are typically opened by a different group of workers than those who scan the ballots. Outside observers are allowed to monitor the process to ensure voter privacy.

IS FRAUD A PROBLEM?

As with other forms of voting, documented cases of mail-ballot fraud are extremely rare.

The conservative Heritage Foundation, which has warned of the risks of mail voting, found 14 cases of attempted mail fraud out of roughly 15.5 million ballots cast in Oregon since that state started conducting elections by mail in 1998.

The most prominent cases of mail fraud have involved campaigns, not voters. North Carolina invalidated the results of a 2018 congressional election after state officials found that a Republican campaign operative had orchestrated a ballot fraud scheme.

Experts say those scenarios can be minimized by nixing requirements — currently in place in 11 states — which instruct voters to get at least one witness to sign their return envelopes.

“All of these policies remove the need to hand over your ballot to someone you don’t know,” said Tammy Patrick, a former election official in Maricopa County, Arizona.

DOES IT HELP TURNOUT?

Turnout rates tend to be higher in states that conduct elections by mail. A Stanford University study found that participation increased by roughly 2 percentage points in three states that rolled out universal voting by mail from 1996 to 2018. It had no effect on partisan outcome and did not appear to give an advantage to any particular racial, economic or age group.

In Colorado, 77% of voting age citizens cast ballots in the 2016 presidential election, the highest figure in the country, according to the U.S. Election Assistance Commission. In Oregon, that figure was 72% and in Washington it was 68%, well above the national rate of 63%.

ARE THERE BARRIERS?

Like any other voting method, mail balloting has its drawbacks.

States rejected 1% of returned ballots in 2016 for arriving too late, missing signatures or other problems, according to EAC figures — though that figure was as high as 5% in some states. It can be more difficult to fix errors on mail ballots than on those cast in person, experts say.

Mail ballots can pose additional barriers to those who don’t speak English or have disabilities, and delivery can be problematic on Native American reservations, where residents sometimes don’t have street addresses.

In California, which started transitioning to mail ballots in 2018, Black and Hispanic voters were twice as likely to cast their ballots in person, according to David Becker, head of the Center for Election Innovation and Research.

(Reporting by Andy Sullivan; Editing by Scott Malone and Aurora Ellis)

U.S. coronavirus cases rise by 47,000, biggest one-day spike of pandemic

By Paul Simao and Carl O’Donnell

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – New U.S. COVID-19 cases rose by more than 47,000 on Tuesday according to a Reuters tally, the biggest one-day spike since the start of the pandemic, as the government’s top infectious disease expert warned that number could soon double.

California, Texas and Arizona have emerged as new U.S. epicenters of the pandemic, reporting record increases in COVID-19 cases.

“Clearly we are not in total control right now,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told a U.S. Senate committee. “I am very concerned because it could get very bad.”

Fauci said the daily increase in new cases could reach 100,000 unless a nationwide push was made to tamp down the resurgent virus.

“We can’t just focus on those areas that are having the surge. It puts the entire country at risk,” he said.

Fauci said there was no guarantee of a vaccine, although early data had been promising: “Hopefully there will be doses available by the beginning of next year,” he said.

COVID-19 cases more than doubled in June in at least 10 states, including Texas and Florida, a Reuters tally showed. In parts of Texas and Arizona, hospital intensive care beds for COVID-19 patients are in short supply.

More than 126,000 Americans have died from COVID-19 and millions have lost their jobs as states and major cities ordered residents to stay home and businesses closed. The economy contracted sharply in the first quarter and is expected to crater in the second.

‘TRUMP FAILED US’

The European Union has excluded Americans from its “safe list” of countries from which the block will allow non-essential travel beginning on Wednesday.

The fresh rise in cases and hospitalizations has dimmed hopes that the worst of the human and economic pain had passed, prompting renewed criticism of U.S. President Donald Trump as he seeks re-election on Nov. 3.

His rival, Democrat Joe Biden, on Tuesday said that Trump’s “historic mismanagement” of the pandemic cost lives and inflicted more damage than necessary to the U.S. economy.

“It didn’t have to be this way. Donald Trump failed us,” the 77-year-old former vice president said in a speech in Delaware, where he unveiled an updated plan to tackle the pandemic calling for more testing and the hiring of 100,000 contract tracers.

In the past week California, Texas and Florida have moved to close recently reopened bars, which public health officials believe are likely one of the larger contributors to the recent spikes.

On Tuesday, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut added travelers from California and seven other states to those who must self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival. Texas and Florida were named last week.

South Carolina also has also emerged as a hot spot, reporting a record single-day increase of 1,755 cases on Tuesday.

In Texas, where the number of new cases jumped to a one-day record of 6,975 on Tuesday, Houston hospitals said beds were quickly filling up with COVID-19 patients.

Dr. Marc Boom, chief executive of Houston Methodist Hospital, told CNN on Tuesday that his hospital beds have seen a “very significant” increase in COVID-19 patients, although the death rate has lowered.

Boom said he was worried about Independence Day celebrations this weekend, when Americans traditionally flock to beaches and campgrounds to watch fireworks displays.

“Frankly it scares me,” he said.

 

(Reporting by Carl O’Donnell, Trevor Hunnicutt, Simon Lewis, Saumya Joseph, Brad Brooks, Susan Heavey, Maria Caspani and Paul Simao; Writing by Nathan Layne and Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Bill Berkrot and Richard Pullin)