The Past 24 Hours or So – Coronavirus/COVID-19 Update

Read Time: 7 Minutes

Coronavirus/COVID-19

  • Over the first five days of July, the United States reported its three largest daily case totals. Fourteen states recorded single-day highs. In all, more than 250,000 new cases were announced nationwide.
  • Forty lobbyists who either worked on President Trump’s campaign, inaugural committee, transition team or in the administration reportedly secured over $10 billion in coronavirus relief aid from the Trump administration.
  • Fifty-seven former government scientists and public health officials of both parties called for a science-based approach to the coronavirus pandemic and criticized the Trump administration for marginalizing science and expertise in its response.
  • U.S. health official Anthony Fauci said on Monday that the current state of the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States “is really not good” and a “serious situation that we have to address immediately.”
  • Dr. Fauci compared the United States unfavorably with Europe, which he said was now merely handling “blips” as countries move to reopen. “We went up, never came down to baseline, and now it’s surging back up.”

“If you’re going to have a social function, maybe a single couple or two — do it outside if you’re going to do it. Those are fundamental, and everybody can do that right now.”

  • White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows shot down the possibility of a national mandate requiring Americans to wear masks as coronavirus cases surge across the country, saying such a plan is not among the executive orders President Trump is preparing to sign.
  • Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell signaled he is supportive of some additional, direct stimulus payments but would want to change the salary threshold of those who get aid.
  • Three leading health organizations urged Americans to wear masks when they leave their homes in an open letter published Monday.

“Covid-19 is not behind us and we must resist confusing reopening with returning to normalcy.”

  • The drug manufacturer Regeneron said that it would begin late-stage clinical trials of its experimental treatment for Covid-19 after an initial safety study showed good results.
  • The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has granted emergency use authorization to Becton Dickinson and Co for a COVID-19 antigen test that can be administered at the point of care and produce results within 15 minutes.
  • Rutgers University will remain mostly remote for the fall semester, citing ongoing concerns about the coronavirus pandemic. A limited number of on-campus classes will be offered.

The majority of classes will continue to be remote, while classes that “benefit from direct access to campus facilities” will take place in-person, including lab work, clinical, and some arts instruction.

  • Princeton University will bring back about half of its undergraduates for each semester and most teaching will take place online, school officials said on Monday.

The university will discount the full-year undergraduate tuition by ten percent for this academic year.

  • Harvard University announced Monday that only up to 40 percent of its undergraduates would be allowed on campus at a time during the next academic year, but that tuition and fees would remain the same.

The university said that all first-year students would be invited to campus for the fall semester, but would be sent home in the spring to allow seniors to return before they graduate.

  • ICE says international students whose universities move to online-only this fall must transfer or leave the US. 

As colleges debate how to safely reopen during the COVID-19 pandemic, Immigration and Customs Enforcement gave foreign students an ultimatum on Monday: transfer to a school with in-person classes or depart the country.

  • President Trump said that schools “must” reopen in the fall and asserted without proof that Democrats, including his presidential rival Joseph R. Biden Jr., wanted them to stay shuttered “for political reasons.”  
  • The 7-day averages for coronavirus cases in 12 states hit new highs, with the biggest increases in West Virginia, Tennessee and Montana.
  • Gov. Phil Murphy said he’s pumping the brakes on New Jersey’s gradual reopening as the state’s rate of transmission has risen above the key mark 1 for the first time in 10 weeks.

Murphy did not say he is rolling back any steps the Garden State has already taken, but he said “we’re not gonna be jumping the gun on a whole lot more opening-up steps right now.”

  • New York City has entered Phase 3 of its reopening. Nail salons, tattoo parlors and some outdoor recreation opportunities are back, but there is still no indoor dining.
  • Gov. Jim Justice of West Virginia issued an order Monday requiring people nine years of age and over to wear masks in indoor public places where social distancing cannot be maintained.
  • After Governor Bill Lee announced counties in Tennessee can enforce the mandatory wearing of masks or face coverings in public, Williamson County has opted to require residents to wear them when social distancing is not possible.

The order will go into effect in Williamson County Tuesday at 11:59 p.m. It is expected to expire at 11:59 p.m. on Aug. 3, unless sooner cancelled or unless extended.

  • In one of the largest public efforts from medical professionals to shape Tennessee’s response to the coronavirus, 39 doctors called on Gov. Bill Lee to enact a statewide requirement that all residents wear masks when outside their homes.

The doctors also urged the governor to require businesses to begin using masks and distancing customers to slow the spread of the virus.

  • Atlanta mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announced that she has tested positive for COVID-19. She said she has had no symptoms.
  • South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem flew with President Trump on Air Force One on Friday after having close interactions with Kimberly Guilfoyle, a senior adviser for the president’s campaign and the girlfriend of Donald Trump Jr., who has tested positive for COVID-19.
  • Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said he will not attend the Republican National Convention next month in Florida due to coronavirus concerns.

“I’m not going to go. And I’m not going to go because of the virus situation,” Grassley, 86, said on a conference call with Iowa reporters

  • Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez announced he will be signing an emergency order issuing more closures across the county.

The order closes restaurant dining rooms, ballrooms, banquet facilities, party venues, gyms and fitness centers, and short-term rentals.

Restaurants will still be allowed to operate for takeout and delivery services.

  • Even as Miami’s nightclubs closed in March, the party scene in some residential neighborhoods has raged on. Local health officials have said these mostly maskless all-nighters have contributed to the increase of cases in Florida, one of the most troubling infection spots in the country.
  • Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran has issued an executive order requiring all of Florida’s public K-12 schools to reopen in August.

As part of the executive order issued Monday, school districts and charter school governing boards must open brick and mortar schools at least five days per week for all students in August.

  • In Mississippi, where nearly every county has reported an uptick in cases, the speaker of the State House of Representatives was among several lawmakers to test positive.
  • Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves said he is isolating as he waits on the results of a coronavirus test.

Governor Reeves posted on Twitter he took the test after being exposed to a member of the legislature who tested positive for the virus.

  • In Missouri, a summer camp shut down after more than 40 people, including campers and employees, tested positive.
  • More than 8,800 new cases were announced across Texas, the largest single-day total of the pandemic.
  • At least two Texas sheriffs say that they won’t enforce the order that Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas issued last week requiring Texans to wear face masks in public.

The sheriffs of Gillespie County, west of Austin, and suburban Montgomery County, north of Houston, announced that their departments did not intend to comply.

  • “The situation is that we are experiencing rampant community spread,” said Clay Jenkins, the top elected official in Dallas County, Texas, where more than 2,000 new cases were announced over the weekend. Mr. Jenkins pleaded with residents to “move from selfishness to sacrifice” and wear a mask in public.
  • In Starr County, Texas, along the Mexican border, cases were being identified by the hundreds and hospitals were running out of room.

“The local and valley hospitals are at full capacity and have no more beds available,” Eloy Vera, the top official in Starr County, said in a Facebook post. “I urge all of our residents to please shelter-in-place, wear face coverings, practice social distancing and AVOID GATHERINGS.”

  • Arizona has become the eighth state to top 100,000 total coronavirus cases as hospitalizations in the state continue to rise and the number of new cases in the U.S. continues to surge.
  • The Louvre, the world’s most-visited museum, reopened on Monday, ending a 16-week coronavirus shutdown that resulted in a loss of about $45 million in ticket sales. On Monday, about 7,000 visitors had booked tickets, compared with the 30,000 daily visitors who toured the Louvre before the pandemic.
  • About 270,000 people in Spain have re-entered lockdown, after the country officially ended its state of emergency on June 21. Emergency measures went into effect over the weekend.
  • Officials in India postponed the reopening of the Taj Mahal this week. The number of cases in the country started to rapidly rise several weeks ago after the government began lifting a lockdown imposed in March, and some cities have already reinstated tough rules to keep their caseloads down.
  • With the virus roaring back and positive test results reaching new heights, the Israeli government on Monday ratcheted up its restrictions, closing bars, gyms and public swimming pools, curtailing gatherings in restaurants, synagogues and buses and canceling summer camps for all but the youngest children.

Sources:  ABC News, The Atlantic, Axios, Bloomberg, CBS News, CNN, Financial Times, Fox News,The Hill, NBC News, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, NJ.com, NPR, NY Times, Politico, Reuters, Salon, Slate, Vanity Fair, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post

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