Worldwide confirmed coronavirus infections hit the 10 million mark Sunday as voters in Poland and France went to the polls for virus-delayed elections. Vice President Mike Pence called off campaign events in Florida and Arizona after surges in infections prompted worries that the U.S. has lost control of its outbreak.
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New clusters of cases at a Swiss nightclub and in the central English city of Leicester showed the virus is still circulating widely in Europe, though not at the exponential rate of growth seen in parts of the U.S., Latin America and India.
Wearing mandatory masks, social distancing in lines and carrying their own pens to sign voting registers, French voters cast ballots in a second round of municipal elections. Poles also wore masks and used hand sanitizers, and some in virus-hit areas were told to mail in their votes to avoid further contagion.
“I didn’t go and vote the first time around because I am elderly and I got scared,” said Fanny Barouh as she voted in a Paris school.
While much of the concern in the U.S. has been on big states including Texas, Arizona and Florida reporting thousands of new cases a day, rural states are also seeing surges of infections, including in Kansas, where livestock outnumber people.
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The coronavirus resurgence in the U.S. has drawn concern from abroad. The European Union seems almost certain to bar Americans from traveling to the bloc in the short term as it draws up new travel rules to be announced shortly.
The surges of infections prompted Pence to call off campaign events in Florida and Arizona, though he will still travel to those states and to Texas this week to meet with their Republican governors. Those three governors have come under criticism for aggressively reopening their economies after virus-related lockdowns despite increasing infections in their states.
After confirmed daily infections in the U.S. surged to an all-time high of 40,000 on Friday, Texas and Florida reversed course and closed down bars again.
Globally, confirmed COVID-19 cases passed the 10 million mark and confirmed deaths neared half a million, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University, with the U.S., Brazil, Russia and India having the most cases. The U.S. also has the highest virus death toll in the world at more than 125,000. Experts say all those figures significantly undercount the true toll of the pandemic, due to limited testing and missed mild cases. U.S. government experts last week estimated the U.S. alone could have had 10 million cases.
Britain’s government is pledging to support local officials in the central English city of Leicester amid reports that a spike in COVID-19 cases could prompt authorities to lock down the city. So far, Britain has not targeted a specific region for a lockdown.
“We have seen flare-ups across the country in recent weeks, in just the last three or four weeks in particular,” Home Secretary Priti Patel told BBC One on Sunday.
Pressed on the Leicester lockdown, she added: “With local flare-ups, it is right we have a localized solution in terms of infection control, social distancing, testing and many of the tools ... to control the virus, to stop the spread.”
Polish voters were casting ballots, in person and by mail, for a presidential election that was supposed to have taken place in May but was postponed amid a chaotic political battle because of the pandemic. President Andrzej Duda, a 48-year-old conservative backed by the nationalist ruling Law and Justice party, is running against 10 other candidates as he seeks a second 5-year term.
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