US cases in record increase; France, India, Australia step up testing efforts


The Atlantic Council’s Coronavirus Alert is a regular summary of policy, economic, and business events around the emergency. To stay updated, sign up to the Coronavirus Alert here.

In top stories today:

  • States hardest hit by coronavirus eased off on reopening plans as the United States posted a record daily increase in cases. From France to India and Australia, officials took steps to boost testing to contain the spread of the virus including localized cases.
  • Businesses and state governors eased off on reopening plans after the United States recorded its biggest daily increase in new cases since the start of the pandemic, marked by record numbers in Texas, California and Florida, the Financial Times reported. New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut imposed a two-week quarantine on arrivals from states most affected, the newspaper added.
  • Hundreds of former prime ministers, presidents, Nobel prize winners, and lawmakers warned that the coronavirus pandemic has led to a spike in authoritarian behavior by governments worldwide, posing an increasing threat to democracy, Reuters said, citing an open letter organized by the Stockholm-based Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance. Sixty ex-leaders were among the five hundred signatories, the news service added.
  • “Pandemic politics: What leaders should—and shouldn’t—learn from Napoleon” reads the headline to an opinion piece on news service Stat.
  • QUOTE: “Leaders should not exploit epidemics to push their own agendas, but some will surely try to do that,” Robert Klitzman, a professor of psychiatry, wrote on news service Stat.If they cannot resist, they should at least realize they can do so in ways that can help people as much as possible and that advance science rather than ignore it.”
  • QUOTE: “The U-turn regarding masks and the subsequent political divide over them has come to symbolize the chaos of the US response to the still-raging pandemic,” Adam Taylor wrote in a Washington Post analysis piece. “It also may be particularly damaging for America’s global standing, as it has drawn in not just political leaders like Trump but also widely respected public health experts who did not initially back the wearing of face masks.”
  • France is offering coronavirus tests to almost 1.3 million people in the Paris region as it boosts efforts to root out asymptomatic infections, The Associated Press reported, citing an interview with Olivier Véran, the health minister, in Le Monde newspaper. France is also readying itself for a possible second wave of the outbreak, the newspaper quoted him as saying, The Associated Press added.
  • Health workers will go door-to-door in the suburbs of Melbourne, Australia, to test more than 100,000 people for coronavirus in efforts to contain a possible re-emergence of the virus, The Washington Post reported. New infections in Victoria, the state that includes Melbourne, make up most of Australia’s 270 cases, the newspaper added.
  • Four billion doses of coronavirus vaccines a year. The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovation (CEPI), an influential foundation that focuses on preparation for and response to epidemics, has identified that capacity, Reuters said in an exclusive report, citing James Robinson, a manufacturing expert at CEPI. The foundation, which is backing nine vaccine candidates, plans to have two or three manufacturing plants for each one, Robinson said, Reuters reported.


  • QUOTE: “The IMF has provided a stark warning that the damage coronavirus has done to the global economy is worsening,” wrote the editorial board of the Financial Times. “With the downturn deepening, it is vital that policymakers redouble efforts to avoid further economic collapse.”
  • The approval of new coal-fired projects championed by regional governments in China, part of efforts to stimulate the economy following the coronavirus pandemic, is damaging a shift to cleaner energy, the Financial Times reported. That will add to concerns that global emissions may surpass pre-pandemic levels, the newspaper added.
  • An extra 1.48 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week, the second week in a row that numbers came in higher than analyst expectations, CNBC reported, citing the Labor Department. Economic recovery is showing signs of weakness in some US states where the number of cases is increasing, Bloomberg reported, citing data including restaurant bookings.
  • Swissport, which handles air cargo and provides airport ground services, plans to cut four thousand jobs in the United Kingdom and Ireland as it readies for years of lower demand for air travel, CNN Business reported. That is half of Swissport’s workforce in those countries, CNN added.
  • UK postal service Royal Mail plans to cut two thousand managerial jobs in part because of coronavirus as it aims to save 330 million pounds over two years, The Associated Press reported.


  • Differences in DNA suggest why some people suffer more severely from COVID-19, the disease caused by coronavirus, the Financial Times reported, citing research by analytics firm PrecisionLife, which used data from UK Biobank. Scientists identified sixty-eight genes associated with a high risk of developing a severe form of the disease, added the newspaper, leading its world coverage with the story.
  • Orders for dexamethasone, the steroid treatment that UK researchers said on June 16 reduces death in very sick COVID-19 sufferers, topped 2.8 million last week, compared with almost 397,500 the week before, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing Vizient, among the largest group-purchasing organizations for US hospitals.


  • Agreeing on so-called travel corridors with other European countries, allowing people to avoid quarantine restrictions, is a “massive priority” for the United Kingdom, the Financial Times cited transport secretary Grant Shapps as saying on June 24. An announcement is scheduled for June 29, with France, Spain, Greece, Belgium, and Denmark expected to be included, the newspaper added.
  • EVENT: Frances Burwell and Kenneth Propp, co-authors of the Future Europe Initiative’s issue brief on European Union digital sovereignty, discuss with experts and policymakers on how this drive impacts the transatlantic partnership regarding digital policy and economy, in an event at 10:30 am ET on Thursday, June 25. Details are here.
  • The Eiffel Tower in Paris has reopened after three months, although visitors need to climb 674 steps to reach the second floor, the highest point open to visitors, as the elevators are out of action until July 1, the BBC reported.
  • Officials in India are recording health details of all 29 million residents of New Delhi and testing everyone with symptoms by July 6, an announcement that came on June 24 after cases in the sprawling capital city overtook those in Mumbai, the financial capital, The Associated Press said.
  • Almost half of all coronavirus cases worldwide are in the Americas, with numbers continuing to increase, Reuters said, citing the World Health Organization’s regional director for the Americas, Carissa Etienne. In Latin America and the Caribbean alone, the number of cases has tripled to two million from 690,000 a month ago, the newswire added.  
  • Deaths from the virus in Latin America are forecast to reach almost 390,000 by October, led by Brazil and Mexico, Reuters said in a separate article, citing the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.
  • EVENT: The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) enters into force on July 1, ushering in a new era for commerce across North America. Join the Atlantic Council’s Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center and the Monterrey Chapter of the American Chamber of Commerce of Mexico for a timely discussion on the road ahead for USMCA. Details of the event, at 10:00 am ET on Thursday, June 25, are here.
  • Scores of migrants arriving at the border in Somalia every day tell monitors for the International Organization for Migration, a United Nations agency, that they are unaware of the coronavirus pandemic, The Associated Press reported. Some 51 percent of the 3,471 people interviewed in the week ending June 20 said they had never heard of the disease, the news agency added. The interviewees are often young men from neighboring Ethiopia, most of whom have no education, with some from areas where internet access is low, The Associated Press said.
  • Coronavirus is sweeping through Afghanistan’s security services, and a lack of testing has forced many into weeks of isolation, stretching deployable forces thin, The Washington Post reported. The newspaper cited senior Afghan security officials from four provinces, who report suspected infection rates of between 60 and 90 percent in their units.