Washington, May 25 (IANS) Memorial Day gatherings have put local plans around the US to ease coronavirus lockdown restrictions to the test as various states allowed the public to visit beaches and enjoy other outdoor activities while continuing to adhere to social distancing and other protective measures.
At a time when the country is approaching the grim milestone of 100,000 COVID-19 deaths, Americans were preparing for the summer season, which is traditionally marked by the Memorial Day holiday to honour the country's war dead, reports Efe news.
On Sunday, President Donald Trump and several of his officials once again fired off verbal salvoes at the Chinese government over its handling of the pandemic.
Trump appeared on the TV program “Full Measure” where he said that the coronavirus emerged in China and insisted that Beijing could have halted its spread then and there but incompetently failed to do so.
Also, White House National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien mentioned the issue in an interview with NBC News, saying – without any apparent evidence – that China had unleashed the virus and then hid that fact.
“The cover-up that they did of the virus is going to go down in history, along with Chernobyl. We'll see an HBO special about it 10 or 15 years from now,” he added, apparently suggesting that a television miniseries would be made about the matter.
Deborah Birx, one of the leaders of the White House working group on the coronavirus, insisted on Sunday that people must maintain social distancing, warning about the danger of the “asymptomatic spread” of the virus and recommending the use of facemasks in cases where social distancing could not be maintained.
Birx, who has appeared wearing a facemasks at some of the coronavirus press conferences held by Trump did not suggest that new quarantines would be imposed in the US, saying that it's difficult to know whether they would be necessary.
This weekend, California's Los Angeles County took various measures to ease confinement restrictions, including opening up bike paths on local beaches, where since May 13 people have been allowed to swim, surf, run and walk, although gatherings and other events involving larger numbers of people have not been authorized.
Local authorities around the US also have been allowing stores located in shopping centers and malls to resume their activities, although often only for pickup services in established areas to guarantee that people maintain social distancing.
Meanwhile, Los Angeles County on Saturday reported 41 new Covid-19 deaths and 1,032 newly confirmed coronavirus cases.
The Washington Post on Sunday posted a video on Twitter in which can be seen a large group of people congregating outdoors at the Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri without adhering to social distancing recommendations.
It also reported remarks by Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson, a Republican, who said Saurday that a group of people participating in a high school's pool party ended up becoming infected with the coronavirus although they evidently thought that they were taking part in an inoffensive activity.
He told “Fox News Sunday” that positive virus cases resulted directly from the pool party and recommended that people better manage the risk of such activities.
Currently, the US has the world's highest number of cases and deaths at 1,643,098 and 97,711, respectively, according to the Johns Hopkins University.