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Americans flock to beaches despite lockdown

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UNITED STATES: Many Americans flocked to beaches on Saturday as one Florida county expanded access and California experienced a heat wave.

This even as the US recorded 2,494 more coronavirus deaths in the past 24 hours, according to figures reported on Saturday night by Johns Hopkins University. The country had an overall death toll of 53,511, with 936,293 confirmed infected.

Hair salons and other shops in Georgia, Oklahoma, and some other states opened for a second day as pockets of the country sought to restart their economies following a month of lockdowns.

The tentative steps toward restarting life run against the warnings of many public health experts, who say the increased human interaction could spark a new wave of cases of Covid-19.

Volusia County, home to the famed Daytona Beach, opened lots at its coastal parks on Saturday to handicapped visitors, one step in a phased reopening that has so far limited its beaches to those wanting to walk, surf, bike or swim.

In a briefing on Friday, County Manager George Recktenwald had portrayed the relaxed parking provision as an incremental step and warned against gathering in groups. But one resident said many beachgoers were not heeding the advice.

NOT LISTENING

"I know they have rules and restrictions, but people aren't listening," said Mr John Overchuck, 45, an attorney who lives in a beachfront home with his wife and toddler daughter just south of Daytona Beach in New Smyrna Beach.

"I walked on the beach 10 minutes ago and it's packed. That wasn't supposed to happen."

A heat wave brought thousands of Californians to the open beaches in Newport Beach and Huntington Beach on Friday despite stay-at-home orders and similarly large crowds hit the beaches on Saturday. California Governor Gavin Newsom has pleaded for those who visit the shore to practice social distancing.

Meanwhile, New York City's Poison Control Centre saw a spike in the number of people ingesting household cleaners after President Donald Trump raised the possibility of using disinfectant inside people's bodies to fight the coronavirus. National Public Radio reported that the centre registered 30 cases in an 18-hour period ending at 3pm Friday. - REUTERS

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