• The CDC said organizers should encourage attendees to use cloth masks to stem the spread of coronavirus
  • 17,000 new cases a day still are being recorded across the country, down from a peak of 38,000 a day
  • Florida reported nearly 2,000 new cases Friday while North Carolina reported 1,768

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday recommended organizers of large gatherings encourage attendees to wear cloth face coverings to help reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus.

The recommendations followed nearly three weeks of sometimes massive racial justice protests that have swept the country and plans by President Trump to resume conducting large rallies indoors, sparking fears among public health officials of a second wave of coronavirus infections.

By midafternoon Friday, more than 2.03 million coronavirus infections had been confirmed in the U.S. with at least 114,195 deaths. Texas, North Carolina and Florida reported record high single-day infection increases this week while California hit a record last week.

“The more people an individual interacts with at a gathering and the longer that interaction lasts, the higher the potential risk of becoming infected with COVID-19 and COVID-19 spreading,” the CDC warned, adding, “Large in-person gatherings where it is difficult for individuals to remain spaced at least 6 feet apart and attendees travel from outside the local area” represent the highest risk of contagion.

The CDC urged event organizers to consult with state and local health officials about implementing measures to enhance protection.

“Encourage attendees ahead of the event to bring and use cloth face coverings at the event,” the CDC advised.

States have been easing stay-at-home orders gradually, with some states eliminating restrictions altogether. More than 17,000 new cases were confirmed Thursday, down from more than 38,000 on April 25.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown delayed the state’s reopening by a week because of increasing hospitalizations.

“This is essentially a statewide yellow light that will give public health officials time to determine what is driving the increases,” Brown told a news conference Friday.

Texas reported more than 2,000 new cases on Wednesday and again on Thursday, with the Houston and Dallas areas reporting their biggest increases yet. Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson blamed the increase on people not wearing masks. Texas has recorded 81,583 cases, with 1,920 deaths.

Florida reported nearly 2,000 new cases Friday, bringing the state total to 70,971 along with 2,967 deaths. Gov. Ron DeSantis blamed the increase in the number of new cases on increased testing and the way farmworkers are forced to work and live. He also blamed younger people for ignoring social distancing recommendations.

North Carolina reported its single highest daily increase in cases Friday at 1,768. North Carolina has confirmed 41,097 cases with 1,092 deaths.