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Coronavirus morning brief: Republican leaders now urging masks as cases climb in South, West
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Coronavirus morning brief: Republican leaders now urging masks as cases climb in South, West

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In Republican circles — with the notable exception of the man who leads the party — the debate about masks is over: It’s time to put one on.

As a surge of infections hammers the South and West, GOP officials are pushing back against the notion that masks are about politics, as President Donald Trump suggests, and telling Americans they can help save lives.

Sen. Lamar Alexander, a Tennessee Republican, on Tuesday bluntly called on Trump to start wearing a mask, at least some of the time, to set a good example.

"Unfortunately, this simple, lifesaving practice has become part of a political debate that says: If you’re for Trump, you don’t wear a mask. If you’re against Trump, you do,” Alexander said.

It’s a rare break for Republicans from Trump, who earlier this month told the Wall Street Journal that some people wear masks simply to show that they disapprove of him. And the Republican nudges for the public — and the president — to embrace mask-wearing are coming from all corners of Trump’s party and even from friendly conservative media. Read the full story here:

Here's an update on all developments. Scroll or swipe further for in-depth coverage.

  • The Trump administration was slow to comprehend the scale of COVID-19's impact on nursing homes and a disjointed federal response has only compounded the devastating toll, according to a report from Senate Democrats.
  • As Florida enters the height of summer tourist season, the state's largest cities and counties are closing beaches, mandating masks and halting business reopenings, hoping the measures will slow a steep resurgence of coronavirus cases.
  • Arizona hospitals are hiring out-of-state nurses, squeezing in more beds and preparing for the possibility of making life-and-death decisions about how to ration care as they get ready for an expected surge of coronavirus patients in one of the nation's worst hot spots.
  • Gov. Gavin Newsom is hinting that he will tighten coronavirus restrictions for California’s nearly 40 million residents as a COVID-19 surge has counties rushing to close down bars and beaches ahead of the Fourth of July weekend.
  • Beirut’s airport is partially reopening after a three-month shutdown and Lebanon’s cash-strapped government is hoping that thousands of Lebanese expatriates will return for the summer, injecting dollars into the country’s sinking economy.
  • There are no commercial flights to Timbuktu, whose remote location in the Sahara Desert has long made the town's name synonymous with the ends of the Earth. Health officials say the global pandemic has managed to reach here all the same. Already there are more than 500 cases including at least nine deaths, making it Mali’s largest outbreak outside the capital.
  • Tom Hanks is urging people to "do your part" to help stop the spread of the coronavirus. "There's really only three things we can do in order to get to tomorrow: Wear a mask, social distance, wash our hands," he was quoted as saying.

For more summaries and full reports, please select from the articles below. Scroll further for maps and charts tracking the spread.

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