Deaths reflect toll of earlier surge in cases

Officials across the United States reported at least 1,470 deaths on Wednesday, the highest single-day total yet in August, according to a New York Times database, and a reflection of the continued toll of the early-summer case surge in Sun Belt states. More than half the deaths reported on Wednesday were spread across five states that saw some of the most dramatic case spikes in June and July. Texas reported more than 300 deaths Wednesday. Florida more than 200. And Arizona, California and Georgia all reported more than 100 each. Even as the number of new cases has fallen from its late July peak, deaths have remained persistently high. For more than two weeks, the country has averaged more than 1,000 deaths a day, more than twice as many as in early July. The last six weeks have marked a tragic reversal of months of progress in reducing deaths. By early summer, deaths had declined to fewer than 500 per day, far below the peak of more than 2,000 daily in April. But even as death reports reached their nadir, the rebound was already being predicted because of the Sun Belt outbreaks. Because some people do not die until weeks after contracting the virus, reports of additional deaths can remain high even after new case reports start falling. Arizona, where case numbers have been falling for weeks, posted one of its highest daily death totals on Wednesday. Though new cases are showing sustained growth in only two states, deaths are trending upward in 14.

Biden calls for mask mandate for months

Joe Biden is calling for a nationwide protective mask mandate, citing health experts’ predictions that it could save 40,000 lives from coronavirus over the next three months. “Every single American should be wearing a mask when they’re outside for the next three months at a minimum — every governor should mandate mandatory mask wearing,” Biden said. “Wearing the mask is less about you contracting the virus. It’s about preventing other people from getting sick.” The Democratic presidential candidate also responded to those who push back against such mandates. “This is America. Be a patriot. Protect your fellow citizens. Step up, do the right thing,” he said. From inside the White House briefing room, President Donald Trump accused Biden of “playing politics from the sidelines” and called the former vice president’s plan “regressive,” “anti-scientific” and “very defeatist.” Trump added: “I trust the American people and their governors very much. I trust the American people and the governors want to do the right thing to make the smart decisions. Joe doesn’t, Joe doesn’t. Joe doesn’t know too much.”

Ga. governor drops suit against Atlanta

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp says he’s dropping a lawsuit against the city of Atlanta in a dispute over the city’s requirement to wear masks in public and other restrictions related to the corona­virus pandemic. The Republican governor sued Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and the City Council in July to block them from implementing restrictions at the local level, even as case counts and hospitalizations in the state soared. Kemp argued that local governments can’t impose measures that are more or less restrictive than those in his statewide executive orders, which have strongly urged people to wear masks but not required them. He has sought to block local governments from issuing orders requiring that masks be worn, but several cities, including Atlanta, have done it anyway.

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