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Texas vote-by-mail expansion rejected by 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals

A federal appeals court shot down a push to expand mail-in voting in Texas during coronavirus, erasing a lower court ruling, eviscerating the judge for a shoddy opinion, and saying it’s up to states, not courts, to set voting rules. The decision is the most forceful rejection yet of expanded mail-in voting, and it’s based…

Texas vote-by-mail expansion rejected by 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals

A federal appeals court shot down a push to expand mail-in voting in Texas during coronavirus, erasing a lower court ruling, eviscerating the judge for a shoddy opinion, and saying it’s up to states, not courts, to set voting rules.

The decision is the most forceful rejection yet of expanded mail-in voting, and it’s based at least in part on the belief that voting by mail is more susceptible to fraud — a point President Trump has made in his vociferous opposition to the practice.

In this case the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, in a 3-0 decision, said fear of contracting the coronavirus is not likely to be a valid disability for purposes of voting absentee in Texas.

The appeals court also blasted District Judge Samuel F. Biery Jr., a Clinton appointee who had ordered state officials to expand mail voting, saying his decision would be “remembered more for audacity than legal reasoning.”

“It was not for the district judge to disparage Texas’s response to the Virus and constitutionalize his favored version of the Election Code,” wrote Judge Jerry E. Smith, a Reagan appointee, in the main opinion.

Judge James C. Ho was even sterner in his concurring opinion.

“We do not suspend the Constitution during a pandemic. That includes our constitutional structure of government,” wrote Judge Ho, a Trump appointee.

He said Texas has a valid interest in limiting mail-in voting because of a heightened risk of voter fraud, citing a 2008 Supreme Court case for backup on that point.

“There is no suggestion that these widely held concerns about voter fraud will not be present during the pandemic,” he wrote. “So if there is to be expansion of mail- in voting notwithstanding these findings, our Constitution and precedents remind us that it must be done by legislators, not judges.”

While most states now allow for absentee, or mail-in, voting, Texas is one of those that still requires a specific reason. The law allows for those who will be away from home on election day, or those who have a disability, to vote absentee.

The Texas Democratic Party argued that fear of contracting COVID-19 constituted a disability, so everyone should be allowed to vote absentee.

Judge Biery had agreed in a ruling last month, issuing an order that the state permit that — and seeing all sorts of nefarious motives behind state leaders’ refusal to see things his way.

“The court finds the Grim Reaper’s scepter of pandemic disease and death is far more serious than an unsupported fear of voter fraud,” he wrote.

He pointed out Texas law allows those over age 65 to vote absentee without a specific disability, and said not to allow others to do so would be unconstitutional age discrimination against the younger voters.

The appeals court, in its withering dissection of Judge Biery’s opinion, repeatedly pointed out where he bungled his grammar, mocked him for “rank speculation, and said he ignored the key case that punctured his ruling.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton hailed the ruling, saying it “puts a stop to this blatant violation of Texas law.”

But Rep. Sylvia Garcia, Texas Democrat, said not allowing more vote-by-mail is handing President Trump a political victory,

“We cannot stand for any actions that would purposefully limit the right to vote of any eligible voter, and unfortunately this is exactly what Republican officials are attempting to do,” she said.

She said she wants the U.S. Supreme Court to take the case.

The Texas Supreme Court has already ruled on another version of the case.

In a unanimous opinion the state high court sided with Mr. Paxton and the state, saying coronavirus fear is not a disability — though the justices also said it’s up to each voter to decide whether he or she has a disability, and there’s no mechanism for election officials to question that.

Federal Circuit Judge Gregg Costa, the third judge in Thursday’s ruling, said Judge Biery should have let that Supreme Court case guide him, rather than jump to intervene — though Judge Costa also criticized his two fellow appeals judges, who he said also jumped into the case too deeply.

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In Texas, Trump warns that Biden will demolish state’s energy industry

President Trump traveled to up-for-grabs Texas on Wednesday to warn voters that Democrat Joseph R. Biden’s “radical” green energy plans would destroy the state’s oil and gas industry. “If these far-left politicians ever get into power, they will demolish not only your industry, but the entire U.S. economy,” Mr. Trump told an audience at an…

In Texas, Trump warns that Biden will demolish state’s energy industry

President Trump traveled to up-for-grabs Texas on Wednesday to warn voters that Democrat Joseph R. Biden’s “radical” green energy plans would destroy the state’s oil and gas industry.

“If these far-left politicians ever get into power, they will demolish not only your industry, but the entire U.S. economy,” Mr. Trump told an audience at an oil-drilling operation in Midland. “You will have no more energy coming out of the great state of Texas.”

The president said of his rival, “I don’t think Biden’s going to do too well in Texas. He’s already written it off.”

But public polling shows the race in Texas, historically a red state, as a statistical tie. It was Mr. Trump’s 16th trip to Texas, and he also attended a fundraiser in Odessa that brought in about $7 million for his reelection campaign and the GOP.

Texas is in the grip of a resurgence of the coronavirus, and the president urged residents to “remain vigilant.” He cited a broad range of help from the federal government, including medicines and protective gear for healthcare workers.

Underscoring the rise in cases, Rep. Louis Gohmert, Texas Republican, tested positive for COVID-19 at the White House on Wednesday morning and did not fly on Air Force One with the president to Texas, as planned. And the GOP candidate for Texas’ 7th Congressional District, Wesley Hunt, reported on Twitter that he, too, tested positive on his way to the president’s events and returned home.

The president highlighted his policies that have spurred an increase of U.S. oil and gas production by 3.1 million barrels per day, including a doubling of production in the Permian Basin in West Texas.

Mr. Trump said the Democrats would impose “impossible” zero-carbon-emissions targets that would “mean the death of American prosperity and the end of the American middle class.”

“They want to destroy our country. These people are sick,” Mr. Trump said. “There’s no respect for the American way of life. They want to wipe away every trace of religion from national life, they want to indoctrinate our children, defund our police, abolish the suburbs, incite riots, and leave every city at the mercy of the radical left.”

He predicted, “The proud people of Texas will never bow, kneel or surrender to the left-wing mob. We are telling the Washington politicians trying to abolish American energy: Don’t mess with Texas.”

Mr. Biden said Texas families are “suffering because President Trump’s inability to lead this country and combat the spread of COVID-19.”

“The pandemic has claimed the lives of more than 5,700 Texans, positive COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continue to climb, and hotspots are becoming harder and harder to contain,” Mr. Biden said in a campaign statement.

The Texas Oil and Gas Association said the industry directly employed 428,234 Texans in 2019. The state’s natural gas and oil industry generated $16.3 billion in taxes and state royalties in 2019.

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In reversal, Texas orders face masks in public: Coronavirus live |NationalTribune.com

Britain will end coronavirus quarantines for people arriving in England from more than 50 countries, including Germany, France, Spain and Italy – but not the United States  India reported a single-day record for new COVID-19 cases with more than 20,903 infections, taking its total tally to over 625,000.  The United Nations Security Council has unanimously…

In reversal, Texas orders face masks in public: Coronavirus live |NationalTribune.com

Britain will end coronavirus quarantines for people arriving in England from more than 50 countries, including Germany, France, Spain and Italy – but not the United States 
India reported a single-day record for new COVID-19 cases with more than 20,903 infections, taking its total tally to over 625,000. 
The United Nations Security Council has unanimously adopted a resolution demanding an “immediate cessation of hostilities” for at least 90 days in key conflicts including those in Syria, Yemen, Libya, South Sudan and the Republic of Congo to tackle the coronavirus pandemic.
Some 10.8 million people around the world have been diagnosed with the coronavirus, about 5.7 million have recovered, and more than 520,000 have died, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.
Here are the latest updates.
Friday, July 3
10:10 GMT – Airlines begin legal challenge to UK quarantine policy
Three of Europe’s biggest airlines began a legal challenge to the British government’s quarantine rules for travellers, saying they should be struck down as the rule was disproportionate and been introduced without consultation.
The legal action by British Airways, easyJet and Ryanair proceeded came despite the government saying the policy would be ended for English holidaymakers to countries such as France, Spain and Italy, but not the United States.

The government introduced a blanket rule that all travellers arriving from abroad must self-isolate for 14-days after on June 8, arguing it was a crucial step to avoid a second wave of COVID-19 [File: Simon Dawso/Reuters]

09:45 GMT – Nigeria’s Kano lifts virus lockdown
Authorities in northern Nigeria’s biggest city Kano have lifted a three-month lockdown imposed to contain a coronavirus outbreak linked to hundreds of deaths.
State governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje announced the lifting of the curfew in a broadcast, insisting the key trading hub had seen a sharp drop in infections.

COVID-19 in Africa: Virus spreading from urban to rural areas

09:14 GMT – Virus hands Japan pension fund worst loss since 2008 crisis
Japan’s huge public pension fund, the world’s biggest, said Friday it had suffered its largest annual loss since the global financial crisis, as markets tumbled amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The Government Pension Investment Fund (GPIF) said it recorded losses amounting to 8.28 trillion yen ($77 billion) for the fiscal year that ended in March.
“Stocks plunged in Japan and overseas due to risk-off investor sentiment,” the GPIF said in its annual investment report.

The loss was the most the fund had shed since its eye-watering 9.3-trillion-yen loss in the year that ended March 2009, as world financial markets plunged after Lehman Brothers collapsed in September 2008 [File:Issei Kato/Reuters]

08:48 GMT – Kazakhstan to lock down two more cities
Kazakhstan will lock down the eastern cities of Oskemen and Semey from July 5 to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus, the governor of the Eastern Kazakhstan province said.
The Central Asian nation bordering Russia and China will impose a second nationwide lockdown from the same date, but it will be softer than the first one and will allow some movement of people between provinces.
08:25 GMT – Coronavirus mortality in Italy is highest among poor, study shows
Poor Italians are significantly more likely to die of the coronavirus than higher-income groups, the country’s first significant study into the disease’s disproportionate social impact showed.
Low-income groups were also more likely to be forced to work during lockdown, in sectors such as agriculture, public transport and assistance for the elderly, ISTAT said, concluding that COVID-19 had “accentuated pre-existing inequalities”.
08:05 GMT – Steroid drug purchased for COVID patients in poor countries – UN
An initial purchase of the steroid dexamethasone, shown to be effective in treating severe or critical COVID-19 patients, will be made for up to 4.5 million people in low- and middle-income countries, agencies said.
The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is negotiating the advance purchase under the deal led by UNITAID and Wellcome, as part of the World Health Organization’s plan to accelerate access to therapeutics, a joint statement said.

Researchers estimated that the drug would prevent one death for every eight patients treated while on breathing machines and one for every 25 patients on extra oxygen alone [File: Yves Herman/Reuters]

07:45 GMT – Croatia to hold election amid virus, political uncertainty
Croatia is holding a parliamentary election this weekend amid a coronavirus outbreak and with no clear winner in sight as none of the main contenders appears set to garner a majority of votes.
The ballot on Sunday will take place as Croatia, like other parts of Europe, contends with a renewed spike in reported virus cases that followed the reopening of borders and easing of lockdown rules.
07:20 GMT – Tokyo records over 120 new virus cases
Tokyo reported 124 new cases of the coronavirus, Governor Yuriko Koike said, amid concerns that recent spikes in the Japanese capital could escalate.
On Thursday, Tokyo reported 107 new cases, which was the highest since May 2 when Japan was still under a pandemic state of emergency.
At its peak, Tokyo’s daily new cases exceeded 200.
07:00 GMT – England puts United States on ‘red-list’, will quarantine arrivals
Passengers arriving into England from the United States will not be exempted from quarantine rules, Britain’s transport minister Grant Shapps said.
Asked whether the United States would be on a ‘red-list’ of countries to which a 14-day quarantine period will apply, Shapps said: “I’m afraid it will be.”

Millions of US jobs lost amid pandemic may never return

06:35 GMT – South Korea has 63 newly confirmed virus cases
South Korea has reported 63 newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 as health authorities scramble to mobilize public health tools to the southwestern city of Gwangju, where more than 50 people were found sickened over the past week.
The figures announced by the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention brought the national caseload to 12,967 infections, including 282 deaths.
Hello, this is Usaid Siddiqui in Doha taking over from my collegue Zaheena Rasheed.

05:29 GMT – In new record, India adds 20,000 virus cases
India reported another single-day record for new virus cases on Friday – 20,903.
The figure took the national total to 625,544. The Ministry of Health also reported an additional 379 deaths in the past 24 hours, taking fatalities up to 18,213.
With the current rate of infections, India is expected to surpass Russia’s 660,000 cases in coming days and become the third worst-hit country after the United States and Brazil.

A healthcare worker checks the temperature of a Mumbai slum resident during a medical campaign for COVID-19 [Francis Mascarenhas/ Reuters]

05:08 GMT – Monkeys infected with coronavirus developed short-term immunity
Test monkeys infected with the novel coronavirus responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic were protected from reinfection for up to 28 days later, according to a Chinese study published in the journal Science.    
Scientists from Peking Union Medical College infected six rhesus macaques in their trachea with a dose of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. They developed mild to moderate symptoms, and took about two weeks to recover.  
Twenty-eight days after the first infection, four of the six monkeys received another dose of virus, but this time, despite a brief rise in temperature, they showed no sign of reinfection, the study authors wrote.
While the monkeys displayed initial immunity, it is not clear how long such immunity will last in humans – it will be necessary to wait for months, or even years, to know if the millions of people infected at the start of the pandemic are protected from reinfection. 
04:39 GMT – Kim Jong Un hails North Korea’s ‘shining success’ against COVID-19
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has praised what he described as his country’s “shining success” in holding off the new coronavirus, according to the state-run KCNA news agency.
“We have thoroughly prevented the inroad of the malignant virus and maintained a stable anti-epidemic situation despite the worldwide health crisis, which is a shining success achieved,” Kim told a meeting of the politburo of the ruling Workers Party on Thursday.
While Pyongyang has not confirmed any infections, its Ministry of Public Health has reported all 922 people checked so far have tested negative. Hundreds of people, mostly cargo handlers at seaports and land borders, are regularly quarantined for monitoring.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at a meeting of the Central Committee of WPK in this undated photo released on July 2, 2020 by Central News Agency in Pyongyang [KCNA via Reuters]

03:01 GMT – Portuguese government raises its stake in TAP
Portugal’s government announced it sealed a final deal with private shareholders of ailing flag carrier TAP to take a controlling stake in the airline while avoiding nationalisation.
“TAP is too important for the country for us to accept the risk of letting such a company fall,” Infrastructure Minister Pedro Nuno Santos told a news conference. “Fortunately, we avoided TAP’s nationalisation.”
According to the government, the state will increase its stake in TAP to 72.5 percent from the current 50 percent. Like other airlines, TAP asked for help in April after a collapse in demand for travel due to the coronavirus pandemic. The European Commission approved the rescue loan earlier this month.
02:14 GMT – Peru surpasses 10,000 coronavirus deaths
Peru’s COVID-19 death toll rose to 10,045 on Thursday, the health ministry said, a day after the Latin American nation began easing a lockdown in a bid to revive the economy.
The number of deaths rose by 185 in the last 24 hours, while the number of people infected rose to 292,004, the ministry said. Peru is Latin-America’s worst-hit country after Brazil.
Among the latest victims is the leader of the Awajun Indigenous people, Santiago Manuin, who died on Wednesday aged 63.

“Crear escuelas para que los Awajún seamos profesores, seamos dirigentes, seamos sujetos de nuestro mismo desarrollo”. Lamentamos el fallecimiento del apu Santiago Manuin. Su sabiduría y entrega a los derechos del pueblo awajún deben persistir más que nunca. pic.twitter.com/xy0hYZBV5t
— Lugar de la Memoria 🇵🇪 (@LUMoficial) July 2, 2020

Manuin was recognised with Spain’s Queen Sofia Prize for his crusade in defence of the Amazon and indigenous rights.
02:01 GMT – UK to end quarantine rules for travellers from ‘low-risk’ countries
The British government said it is scrapping a 14-day quarantine rule for arrivals from a number of countries deemed “lower risk” for the coronavirus, including France, Spain, Germany and Italy.
The change takes effect on July 10, just more than a month after the United Kingdom began requiring international arrivals to self-isolate for two weeks. The full list of exempted countries will be announced later on Friday, the government said.
On Saturday, the government will also exempt several countries from its advice against overseas travel, meaning UK tourists can once again head abroad on vacation.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the changes are “good news for British people and great news for British businesses”. But he stressed that the government could reimpose quarantine restrictions “in countries we are reconnecting with”.
The changes announced apply only to England, as the devolved governments of other parts of the UK – Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – would “set out their own approach to exemptions”, the government said.
01:43 GMT – US coronavirus cases hit new global record
The United States reported more than 55,000 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, the largest single-day increase any country has ever reported, according to a Reuters tally.
The daily US tally stood at 55,274 late on Thursday, topping the previous single-day record of 54,771 set by Brazil on June 19.
Just two weeks ago, the US was reporting about 22,000 new cases a day. It has now reported more than 40,000 cases for seven straight days and broken records for new cases three days in a row, according to the tally.

01:20 GMT – US issues guidelines but no new rules for air travel
Federal agencies in the US said airlines should consider limiting capacity on planes to promote social distancing, but stopped short of requiring them to do so.
In a new report, the Transportation, Homeland Security, and Health and Human Services departments also recommended – but did not move to require – that travellers wear face coverings in airports and on planes. All leading US airlines now require passengers to wear masks, but regulators have refused a request by the airlines to make it a federal rule.
The agencies said airlines and airports should take steps to increase social distancing, clean surfaces touched by passengers, give specialised training to airline crews, and provide more information to help with contact tracing if passengers test positive for the virus.

00:34 GMT – In stark reversal, Texas issues statewide mask order
Greg Abbott, the governor of the US state of Texas, ordered that face coverings must be worn in public across most of the state.
The order requires “all Texans to wear a face covering over the nose and mouth in public spaces in counties with 20 or more positive COVID-19 cases, with few exceptions”.
He also banned gatherings of more than 10 people, and mandated social distancing of six feet (about two metres). 
The Republican governor, who had pushed Texas’s aggressive reopening of the state economy in May, had previously said the government could not order individuals to wear masks. His prior virus-related orders had undercut efforts by local governments to enforce mask requirements.

00:11 GMT – Coronavirus outbreak hits Africa health workers
The World Health Organization (WHO) said more than 6,000 health workers have been infected with the coronavirus in 38 countries across its Africa region since the pandemic began.
Hundreds of health workers have already been infected in the latest hotspot of South Africa’s Gauteng province, which includes Johannesburg and the capital, Pretoria. Across South Africa, more than 2,000 health workers have been infected. In Nigeria, nearly 1,000 have been sickened.
The WHO’s 47-country Africa region has the most severe health workforce shortage in the world, and concerns about adequate personal protective gear against the coronavirus are widespread.
Already a handful of countries have seen more than 10 percent of their health workers infected as of Tuesday: Guinea-Bissau, Sierra Leone, Niger, Mozambique and Burundi.
Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. I’m Zaheena Rasheed in Male, Maldives. 
You can find all the key developments from yesterday, July 2, here. 
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Greg Abbott, Texas governor, issues sweeping mask requirement

Gov. Greg Abbott imposed a mask requirement on most of Texas, and Gov. Ron DeSantis pleaded with Floridians to avoid tight spaces and crowds Thursday as their states contended with an explosion of COVID-19 cases ahead of the July Fourth weekend. Mr. Abbott, a Republican who resisted a statewide mandate, said Texans living in counties…

Greg Abbott, Texas governor, issues sweeping mask requirement

Gov. Greg Abbott imposed a mask requirement on most of Texas, and Gov. Ron DeSantis pleaded with Floridians to avoid tight spaces and crowds Thursday as their states contended with an explosion of COVID-19 cases ahead of the July Fourth weekend.

Mr. Abbott, a Republican who resisted a statewide mandate, said Texans living in counties with 20 or more cases must cover their mouths and noses in public spaces. There are exceptions for children younger than 10, those with medical conditions and those who are eating or exercising.

Violators will get a verbal warning the first time and a $250 fine the second time.

Also, the governor said cities and counties may ban gatherings of 10 or more people. The order takes effect at noon Friday.

Mr. Abbott said cases have quadrupled to over 6,000 per day compared with an average of 1,500 in late May. The percentage of tests coming back positive and hospitalizations are soaring, too.

“We are now at a point where the virus is spreading so fast there is little margin for error,” he said. “If we want to avoid lockdowns, if we want to protect those we care about, we need all Texas to join this effort.”

Mr. DeSantis, meanwhile, used a high-profile visit from Vice President Mike Pence to warn residents about the three C’s: avoid “closed spaces,” “crowds” and “close contact.”

“In Florida, when it’s hot, people retreat to the AC. They get close together, they have a party,” the Republican governor said. “You’re much better being in the 95-degree heat than being in that closed space with poor ventilation.

“We’re also saying avoid large crowds. The smaller the group, the better,” said Mr. DeSantis.

Mr. Abbott and Mr. DeSantis were eager to reopen businesses and institutions after President Trump asked Americans to work and learn at home and to avoid large gatherings from mid-March to the end of April.

Now, their states are consistently posting single-day highs for COVID-19 cases and showing upticks in hospital visits, leading to charges that they were too hasty.

Florida posted over 10,000 cases midweek — a record — as the country as a whole reported its biggest daily caseload since the start of the pandemic, with over 50,000.

So far, over 128,000 people in the U.S. have died from the disease, which was discovered in Wuhan, China, in December.

The surge in known infections of the coronavirus is concentrated in Sun Belt states, including California. Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, mandated wearing masks statewide as counties closed beaches and other gathering spots.

Mr. Abbott had left the decision to mandate masks up to local officials but shifted course Thursday.

“Wearing a face covering in public is proven to be one of the most effective ways we have to slow the spread of COVID-19,” Mr. Abbott said. “Likewise, large gatherings are a clear contributor to the rise in COVID-19 cases. Restricting the size of groups’ gatherings will strengthen Texas’ ability to corral this virus.”

Experts say states should have a positive rate of 10% or less as they test for the virus to be sure they are catching enough infections within the community. Yet rates have soared well into the double digits in hot spots across the South and West, leading experts to worry that the disease is spreading rapidly and not just showing up because of increased testing.

Mr. Trump said Thursday that his administration is executing a solid pandemic response but acknowledged flare-ups in parts of the country.

“We haven’t totally succeeded yet. We will soon,” Mr. Trump said. “But we haven’t killed all of the virus yet.”

Presumed Democratic presidential nominee Joseph R. Biden said Mr. Trump has already failed. He said the outbreaks are so bad that other nations view the U.S. as a “global health risk.”

He was referring to the European Union’s decision to begin admitting visitors from some countries but did not include the U.S., Brazil and Russia, which have high caseloads.

“While other nations took steps to get control over COVID-19, Trump took no responsibility,” Mr. Biden said. “And now, a president who started his term by writing hateful travel bans is responsible for getting the American people banned from traveling. His presidency is an outrage from start to finish.”

The president said his own travel bans protected the U.S. from deeper misery. He also cast the U.S. as a scientific leader in the COVID-19 fight.

“We’re speeding the delivery of new treatments, including anti-viral steroids, convalescent plasma, and other therapies. We have therapeutics that are really, really looking good,” Mr. Trump said.

He also said three vaccine candidates are “really looking good” as companies report early clinical data. Administration officials have said a vaccine probably won’t be available for widespread use until early next year.

In the meantime, officials are pleading with Americans to wear face coverings, maintain physical distance from others and wash their hands regularly.

Mr. Pence said young people must do their part. Many of those testing positive in Florida are in their 30s, leading to fears that younger people are crowding into bars and other tight spaces without taking precautions.

“I have three 20-somethings in my family, and I know the strong independent streak of young people. I know the desire of young people to socialize as we approach this Independence Day weekend,” Mr. Pence said. Heed “the guidance of practicing social distancing. Wear a mask if you’re not able to practice social distancing, or wear a mask if state and local authorities direct you to do so in the situation that you’re in.”

The disease is less deadly among younger people, a point that Mr. DeSantis has highlighted repeatedly, as Florida’s death toll remains far lower than places like New York.

Yet officials say young people might pass the virus to vulnerable people.

“No young person would ever want to unintentionally infect a mom, a dad, a grandmother, a grandfather or an elderly friend,” Mr. Pence said.

Some in Congress say Mr. Trump could set an example for everyone by wearing a mask more frequently. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, and Mr. Biden have said a nationwide mandate to wear masks in public is overdue.

Lawrence Gostin, a global health law professor at Georgetown University, said that while he is “not sure the federal government has that power … every state should require masks when in contact with others, especially in indoor spaces.”

The Myrtle Beach City Council in South Carolina on Thursday mandated the wearing of masks in retailers, eateries and other enclosed spaces because of fears that the virus was spreading rapidly in the vacation hot spot. The mandate is scheduled to last through Labor Day.

Some beaches in Florida and California will be closed for the holiday weekend. Nebraska health officials told people holding July Fourth gatherings to keep lists of guests for potential contact-tracing.

The Oregon Health Authority is instructing residents to “evaluate before you celebrate.”

“The safest choice this holiday is to celebrate at home,” the agency said. “If you choose to celebrate in other ways, activities that take place outdoors, allow for enough room to maintain physical distancing and involve fewer people are lower risk than activities that take place indoors, don’t allow for physical distancing and involve more people.”

⦁ Seth McLaughlin, Lauren Meier and Shen Wu Tan contributed to this report.

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