Coronavirus latest: Record increase for Texas propels daily US case count above 44,000

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Robert Redfield, head of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, called on Americans to wear face masks as states from Florida to Arizona record surges in Covid-19 cases. “It is critical that we all take the personal responsibility … and embrace the universal use of face coverings,” Dr Redfield told a Senate health committee hearing.

A national face mask mandate in the US could act as a substitute to renewed lockdowns that would otherwise deduct about 5 per cent from gross domestic product, Goldman Sachs analysts argued in a report, as a number of states have paused or reversed easing measures in response to growth in coronavirus cases.

Parcel delivery company FedEx reported better than expected results in a quarter “severely affected” by the pandemic, helped by a surge in ecommerce as people worked from home. FedEx, a bellwether for global economic activity, said revenues slid 2 per cent from a year ago to $17.4bn in the fourth quarter, exceeding analysts’ forecasts of $16.4bn.

US medical officials questioned American Airlines’ move to fill all seats as the carrier tries to increase passenger loads. “That is something that is of concern,” said Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Robert Redfield, head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said he was disappointed with the airline.

The rate of daily coronavirus cases has at least doubled during June for nearly one-third of US states, prompting some governors to reverse or pause economic reopening plans, according to FT analysis of Covid Tracking Project data. Florida experienced the biggest increase and is averaging about 6,600 new cases a day, compared with 760 a month ago.

Greece re-opens its 27 airports to direct international flights on Wednesday. Tourists from EU member states and 15 other countries, including Australia, New Zealand, Japan and South Korea, will be welcome, but visitors from Sweden, the UK and Turkey will be excluded at least until July 15, he added. US, Russian and Chinese tourists cannot yet enter Greece.

Budget airline easyJet has outlined plans to cut as many as 727 pilot jobs in the UK as well as potentially closing its bases at Stansted, Southend and Newcastle airports. The airline on Tuesday started a formal consultation with its unions, Unite and Balpa, over plans to cut up to 1,900 jobs in the UK. It could axe up to 4,500 jobs across its 15,000-strong workforce.

The Swedish government will investigate its handling of the coronavirus pandemic amid mounting criticism of its liberal approach and higher fatality rate compared with its Nordic neighbours. Prime minister Stefan Lofven launched the inquiry on Tuesday. Public opinion has begun to turn against Sweden’s light-touch restrictions as its death toll climbed.

The UK economy is recovering much faster than the Bank of England had expected, casting doubt on the need for further stimulus. The recovery is “so far, so-V (shaped)”, BoE chief economist Andy Haldane said on Tuesday, explaining that he voted against pumping another £100bn of newly created money into the economy.

The mayor of the English city of Leicester has urged fellow residents to stay at home and demanded government help as the city comes under “special restrictions” due to a revived coronavirus outbreak. Peter Soulsby said local authorities will need to discover where the virus is concentrated in the city and take measures to stop the spread of the virus.