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Covid-19 Cases Top 20 Million Worldwide

The Wall Street Journal. logo The Wall Street Journal. 8/11/2020 Allison Prang, David Hall
a little girl standing in a room © Bill Graham/The Meridian Star/Associated Press

Confirmed cases of the new coronavirus surpassed 20 million globally, while the U.S. reported its lowest number of new cases in about a week, as new infections in some parts of the country trended down.

Fewer than 47,000 new cases were reported Sunday in the U.S., while the total number of confirmed cases exceeded five million, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

Thirteen states—Arkansas, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota, Texas, Vermont and Virginia—have higher seven-day averages of new confirmed cases than two-week averages as of Aug. 9, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of Johns Hopkins data. That held true for 42 states and Washington, D.C., a month earlier, reflecting a decline in reported cases in many parts of the country.

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The accumulation of five million cases shows how the U.S. has handled the pandemic less efficiently than elsewhere around the world, said Jeff Morris, professor and director of biostatistics at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.

“Our focus this summer should have been to get our viral levels down as low as possible by the end of summer” for schools to open safely, Mr. Morris said. “That really hasn’t happened.”

President Trump has defended his response to the pandemic, saying, “I think we’re just doing very well.”

Issues over reopening schools during the pandemic have split Americans, and superintendents face hard decisions as they try to educate children while navigating an array of opposing forces.

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said Monday the state was recommending that schools wait to begin in-person classes until Sept. 28, citing a rise in cases over the past five to six weeks and an increasing number of infections in children, among other things.

“To send tens of thousands of our kids back into in-person classes when we don’t have control on this virus isn’t the right thing to do for our kids. It’s not the right thing to do for their faculty,” the Democrat said, even as he acknowledged the difficulty of the decision.

Decisions about reopenings can affect the economy, determining whether parents can head back to work at a time when many Americans are struggling financially.

In Washington on Monday, Democratic negotiators and Trump administration officials pushed each other to restart negotiations on the next package of coronavrius-relief legislation. On Saturday, after talks stalled, Mr. Trump signed several executive actions related to payroll taxes, student-loan payments and jobless benefits. Some Democratic governors on Monday expressed concerns over Mr. Trump’s actions, saying the actions weren’t workable from a state standpoint in their current form.

Nationally, the seven-day average for new cases has been generally trending down for more than two weeks, from more than 67,000 on July 22 to 53,813 on Sunday. Since July 26, the seven-day average has been less than the 14-day average, a signal that case counts have broadly been ticking down. Comparing the one- and two-week averages of new cases helps smooth out anomalies in the data, such as lags in reporting.

Still, the drop in confirmed cases could be tied partly to a drop in testing. In 27 states and the nation’s capital, the seven-day average number of tests per 1,000 people was down Monday compared with a week earlier, according to Johns Hopkins data. Demand for testing has outstripped supply, even though testing and contact tracing are considered essential by health experts to curb the virus.

On Sunday, Sonia Angell, California’s Department of Public Health director and state public health officer, said she was resigning. Her resignation came after the state ran into problems reporting data related to Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

“We’re all accountable in our respective roles for what happens underneath us,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said Monday, adding that they accept resignations “if we feel it appropriate.”

California’s seven-day average of new cases on Sunday was about 6,796, lower than its 14-day average of almost 7,676, which suggests new cases are falling.

The state is one of 16 where deaths related to the coronavirus are still trending up, according to the Journal analysis of Johns Hopkins data. U.S. deaths appear to be holding steady, with the seven-day daily death tally average at 1,053, compared with a two-week average of 1,092, the analysis shows.

More than 163,000 confirmed deaths have been reported in the U.S. since the pandemic began.

Black, Latino and Native American populations are among the hardest hit in the U.S. by Covid-19, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Health officials and activists have faced challenges making information, testing and treatment available to these communities, where many community members work in essential jobs like farming, food processing and construction.

While local groups, health agencies and hospitals said they are taking action to overcome the hurdles, their challenges add to difficulties tackling the fast-spreading virus.

New research also suggests that children are more vulnerable to Covid-19 than initially thought.

About 97,000 confirmed infections among children were reported in the two weeks ended July 30, a 40% increase from the total number of cases before the period began, according to a report published last month by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association.

World-wide, the virus continued to spread, pushing the total number of confirmed cases globally past 20 million, with nearly 734,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins.

India reported more than 60,000 new cases for the fourth day in a row as the country’s total surpassed 2.2 million, according to the Health Ministry. The country’s death toll rose by more than 1,000 to 44,386.

Russia reported more than 5,000 new cases Monday, pushing its tally to over 892,000. Japan said 1,492 cases were reported nationwide on Sunday, in line with recent days.

In France, it is now compulsory to wear a face mask on dozens of Paris’s busiest streets as infection rates climb in and around the city. The order took effect at 8 a.m. Monday, and includes popular streets with open-air markets and numerous bars and cafes. More open areas, such as the space around the Eiffel Tower, aren’t included.

Corrections & Amplifications California’s seven-day average of new cases was about 6,796 on Sunday. An earlier version of this article incorrectly said the figure was reported on Monday. (Corrected on Aug. 10)

Write to Allison Prang at allison.prang@wsj.com and David Hall at david.hall@wsj.com

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