The Memorial Day weekend marking the unofficial start of summer in the US meant big crowds at beaches and warnings from authorities about people disregarding the coronavirus social-distancing rules and risking a resurgence of the scourge that has killed nearly 100,000 Americans.

Sheriff’s deputies and beach patrols tried to make sure people kept their distance from others as they soaked up the rays on the sand and at parks and other recreation sites around the country.

Dr Deborah Birx, co-ordinator of the White House coronavirus task force, said she was “very concerned” about scenes of people crowding together at the weekend.

“We really want to be clear all the time that social distancing is absolutely critical. And if you can’t social distance and you’re outside, you must wear a mask,” she said on ABC talk show This Week.

In Missouri, people packed bars and restaurants at the Lake of the Ozarks at the weekend. One video showed a crammed pool where holidaymakers lounged close together without masks, St Louis station KMOV-TV reported.

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The US is on track to surpass 100,000 coronavirus deaths in the next few days, while Europe has more than 169,000 dead, according to Johns Hopkins University. Worldwide, more than 5.3 million people have been infected and 342,000 have died.

The New York Times marked the horror by devoting Sunday’s entire front page to a long list of names of those who have died in the United States. The headline: “An Incalculable Loss”.

Meanwhile, President Donald Trump, who went golfing for the second day in a row after not playing for weeks, told Sinclair Television he was feeling fine after taking a two-week course of the unproven drug hydroxychloroquine, can have deadly side effects, and a zinc supplement.

Trump has spent weeks pushing the drug against the advice of many of his administration’s top medical professionals.

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The issue of wearing masks in public and staying apart has become fraught politically, with some Americans taking to the streets to protest such rules as a violation of their rights.

Republican Governor Mike DeWine of Ohio, who has been targeted by such demonstrations, insisted the precautions should not be a partisan issue, telling NBC’s Meet the Press: “Its been very clear what the studies have shown, you wear the mask not to protect yourself so much as to protect others.”

AAP

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