July 24, 2020: The coronavirus pandemic hit grim new milestones Thursday, with cases topping four million in the United States and three million in Europe as fresh spikes from Belgium to Tokyo to Melbourne forced new restrictions on citizens.
While EU lawmakers combed through a huge aid package for their economies, the UN called for a basic income for the world's poorest to help slow the spread of COVID-19, and the Red Cross warned of “massive” new migration caused by the economic devastation.
The United States, the hardest-hit country by the virus, added one million new cases in just over two weeks, according to a tracker maintained by Johns Hopkins University. In the previous 24 hours alone, the country notched more than 76,000 new cases.
Having recorded more than 144,000 total fatalities, the United States has seen a coronavirus surge, particularly in southern and western states, as Texas, California, Alabama, Idaho and Florida all announced record one-day death tolls.
Nevertheless, the rate of new cases is now showing signs of easing off in some of the worst-hit zones.
Against a backdrop of mass unemployment and sagging approval ratings, President Donald Trump announced he was scrapping next month's Republican nominating convention in Florida, stating that it was not the right time to hold a “big, crowded” event.
Meanwhile, the European continent now accounts for a fifth of the world's more than 15 million cases and remains the hardest hit in terms of deaths, with 206,633 out of 627,307 worldwide.
A 750-billion-euro post-coronavirus recovery plan was hammered out at an EU summit this week, where fiscally rigid nations butted heads with hard-hit countries like Spain and Italy that have called for huge aid grants.
EU chief Charles Michel said the total stimulus would eventually reach 1.8 trillion euros ($2.2 trillion).
“This moment, it's my conviction, is pivotal in European history. We acted fast and with urgency,” Michel told the bloc's parliament in Brussels.
“Many people who are losing livelihoods, once the borders start opening, will feel compelled to move,” he told AFP.
“We should not be surprised if there is a massive impact on migration in the coming months and years.”