The United States shattered its own record Wednesday for the most reported COVID-19 cases in a 24-hour period – 67,600 according to Johns Hopkins University.
With nearly 3.5 million confirmed cases and more than 137,358 deaths, the United States leads the world in both counts. Brazil trails the U.S. with some 1.9 million confirmed cases and 75,366 deaths.
States that had been easing lockdowns and restrictions are starting to reimpose them as health officials blame the coronavirus resurgence on people who refuse to wear masks or ignore social distancing rules.
The country’s two largest brick-and-mortar retailers – Walmart department stores and Kroger supermarkets said Wednesday that all customers walking through their doors will be required to wear face masks starting next week.
About 35 percent of all Walmart stores are in cities and towns where local governments have no face covering mandates. Walmart has more than 5,000 stores in the United States and Puerto Rico, according to its corporate website.
“Walmart has a great deal of influence in this regard,” Walton College of Business Professor Alan Ellstrand told the cable news network CNN. “It may signal to the public that if a large retailer like Walmart supports requiring customers to wear a mask, it is good for Americans to do so more broadly as well.”
Walmart says it will station what it calls “heath ambassadors” at the front doors of its stores to remind customers to cover their mouths and noses. Shoppers at Walmart’s Sam’s Club warehouse stores will be given face masks if they don’t have one.
The United States has no nationwide mandate for people to wear face masks in public leaving that up to the states. But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the practice.
Other countries facing rising case numbers are reimposing lifted restrictions or adding new ones.
All visitors to Greece must show border guards a negative COVID-19 test result that is no more than 72 hours old.
Romania was extended its nationwide state of alert for another 30 days.
Israel is threatening to reimpose a complete nationwide lockdown if its coronavirus case numbers don’t start falling in the next few days.
South Africa revived a ban on the sale of alcohol, saying its doctors and hospitals have no time or facilities to deal with injuries related to heavy drinking.
That country had more than 311,000 confirmed cases on Wednesday – Africa’s highest and the world’s eighth highest, according to Johns Hopkins. South Africa’s COVID-19 death toll is 4,453 people.
Kenyan officials say the coronavirus killed four health workers and sickened 450 others in the country’s biggest maternity hospital.
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who spent months minimizing COVID-19 as nothing more than a “little flu” and mocking those who take the virus seriously, said Wednesday he has tested positive again.
He first tested positive last week and said he will be tested again before this week is over.