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

Read Time: 7 Minutes

  • The Maryland-based company, Novavax, received $1.6 billion from ‘Operation Warp Speed’ the federal government’s official COVID-19 vaccine program, making it the largest government COVID-19 vaccine contract to date. The program also awarded a $450 million contract to Regeneron to manufacture and supply its antibody-drug.
  • New model predicts more than 208,000 will die in the US from Covid-19 by November, according to the University of Washington. 

But if 95% of the population wears a mask in public, that number would drop to 162,808.

  • “It’s a false narrative to take comfort in a lower rate of death. There’s so many other things that are very dangerous and bad about this virus. Don’t get yourself into false complacency.” – Dr. Fauci
  • President Trump publicly broke with Anthony Fauci after the nation’s top infectious disease expert and a key member of the White House coronavirus task force warned that the U.S. was “still knee-deep in the first wave” of the coronavirus outbreak. Trump claimed that the U.S. was in a “good place” despite the growing virus cases in the country.
  • Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, said cases are spiking in some parts of the country, specifically in the south, because states “stepped on the gas” while reopening.

“A lot of individuals and a lot of businesses, instead of driving 25 in a 25 mile an hour zone, stepped on the gas and started going 65, and it’s really evident now in the spread of cases across most age groups.”

  • Birx touted U.S. investment in global public health and praised international efforts to contain the COVID-19 pandemic just as the Trump administration officially withdrew from the WHO.
  • The Environmental Protection Agency announced that it has approved two Lysol disinfectant sprays – Lysol Disinfectant Spray (EPA Reg No. 777-99) and Lysol Disinfectant Max Cover Mist (EPA Reg No. 777-127) – as effective tools for killing the novel coronavirus on surfaces.
  • There’s “emerging evidence” around airborne transmission, according to the World Health Organization.
  • Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Tuesday told the country’s governors in a conference call that she expects schools to be “fully operational” come the fall, regardless of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Ultimately, it’s not a matter of if schools need to open, it’s a matter of how,” DeVos told governors, The Associated Press reports. “School[s] must reopen, they must be fully operational. And how that happens is best left to education and community leaders.”

  • President Trump said the White House would put pressure on governors to get schools opened in the fall amid rising coronavirus cases in the United States.

“We don’t want people to make political statements or do it for political reasons. They think it’s going to be good for them politically, so they keep the schools closed. No way,” Trump said during a White House event with government officials and school administrators.

“We’re very much going to put pressure on governors and everyone else to open the schools,” Trump added, after again claiming that the increase in cases is a result of increased testing.

  • The U.S. government delivered far less food aid than it had pledged by the end of June, according to food bank managers and data from the agriculture department sent to Reuters, after it hired inexperienced companies to box food during the pandemic.
  • Mitt Romney (R-UT), Susan Collins (R-ME) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) are also skipping the Republican National Convention. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) previously announced they are not attending.
  • Using a racially charged tone, the president Tweeted: “BREAKING NEWS: The Mortality Rate for the China Virus in the U.S. is just about the LOWEST IN THE WORLD! Also, Deaths in the U.S. are way down, a tenfold decrease since the Pandemic height (and, our Economy is coming back strong!).”

NOTE: The Case Mortality Rate for the U.S. 4.4%, which ranks 39th best in the world. The U.S. Deaths/100,000 is 39.82 and ranks as 7th worst out of major nations and 9th worst overall.

  • The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the United States pushed past 3 million on Tuesday.
  • California, Hawaii, Idaho, Missouri, Montana, Oklahoma and Texas on Tuesday shattered their previous daily record highs for new cases. The biggest jumps occurred in Texas and California with more than 10,000 each. About 24 states have reported disturbingly high infection rates as a percentage of diagnostic tests conducted over the past week.
  • The U.S. government is creating short-term “surge” testing sites for the novel coronavirus in three metropolitan areas in Florida, Louisiana and Texas to meet demand from rising COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. The program adds testing for 5,000 people per day for a five- to 12-day period.
  • New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy Tweeted: “UPDATE: If you’re traveling to New Jersey from the following states, you should self-quarantine for 14 days: AL, AR, AZ, CA, DE, FL, GA, IA, ID, KS, LA, MS, NC, OK, NV, SC, TN, TX, UT”

Governor Cuomo of NY and Governor Lamont of CT made similar Tweets. 

  • For the first time since March, Connecticut had no COVID-19 deaths to report on Tuesday, said Gov. Ned Lamont.
  • Officials in New Jersey and Pennsylvania are reporting coronavirus cases in their states linked to trips to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. 

The “small spike” in New Jersey is linked to people who went to a wedding in Myrtle Beach, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said.

  • With Ohio’s spike of coronavirus cases showing no signs of easing, Gov. Mike DeWine required residents of the seven worst-hit counties, including Franklin County, to begin wearing face coverings.

“We continue to have a great concern about Franklin County as well as the other red counties,” DeWine said, calling the limited mask order a “surgical, precise approach…we hope is going to have a big impact.”

He called following mask and health orders a “matter of life and death.”

  • The University System of Georgia said Monday it will require everyone to wear face coverings while inside campus facilities and buildings at all 26 of its public institutions where 6 feet of social distancing may not always be possible.

The new policy will take effect July 15 and will be in addition to — not a substitute for — social distancing.

  • The Florida  Department of Health confirmed 7,347 new cases in the state, for a total of 213,794, and set a new record for the percentage of tests coming back positive, at 16.3 percent, on Monday.

Miami-Dade County, which includes Miami, has a positivity rate of 21%. In Lee County, which includes Fort Myers, the positivity rate stands at 24.6%.

  • In Florida, fifty-six hospital ICU’s in twenty-five counties have hit capacity and show zero ICU beds available, including eight in Miami-Dade, three in Broward, three in Hillsborough and four in Orange counties, according to data released by the Agency for Health Care Administration.
  • One day after announcing gym closures, Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez reversed course on Tuesday and said fitness centers can remain open.
  • Walt Disney Co will stick to its plans to reopen its Walt Disney World theme parks in Orlando, Florida, to a limited number of guests on Saturday
  • Texas reported another record high with 10,028 new cases and a positivity rate of 17% .
  • Texas officials are reportedly ordering schools to offer in-person classes in order to receive state funding. The state laid out a plan that would allow parents to choose to continue remote learning or in-person learning for their students, but the schools must offer in-person classes as an option.
  • Organizers canceled the State Fair of Texas because of the coronavirus. This marks the first time the 24-day affair honoring the area’s largest pigs and best fried food won’t be held since World War II.
  • As coronavirus cases in Arizona surge, the state is dealing with major gaps in testing. 

“Unfortunately, what’s happening in Arizona is a microcosm … of the direction that President Trump has led us in,” Tucson Mayor Regina Romero says. “We’re in crisis,”

  • A woman in her 60s has lost her job at a California school district after police said she deliberately coughed on a mother and her 1-year-old baby during a dispute about social distancing at a local Yogurtland, an interaction that was caught on camera and went viral.
  • Fourteen flight attendants who recently attended a Hawaiian Airlines training in Honolulu tested positive for COVID-19, the airline said Tuesday.
  • Mexico’s health ministry on Tuesday reported 6,258 new confirmed coronavirus infections and 895 additional fatalities, bringing the total in the country to 268,008 cases and 32,014 deaths.
  • Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro announced Tuesday that he had tested positive for coronavirus after being hospitalized.
  • Britain’s daily death toll from confirmed COVID-19 cases has risen by 155 to 44,391, the government said on Tuesday.
  • The number of people who have died from coronavirus infection in France rose by 13 to 29,933 on Tuesday while the increase in new confirmed cases was below the daily average of the last seven days.
  • Iran has recorded its highest number of deaths from COVID-19 within a 24-hour period.

The 200 deaths reported on Tuesday exceed the previous record from Sunday, when the health ministry reported 163 deaths in a day.

  • Hundreds of police officers and soldiers are being deployed to enforce the closure of the busy and highly porous border between Australia’s two most populous states, New South Wales and Victoria, as officials grapple to contain a new coronavirus outbreak.
  • China on Wednesday reported seven new coronavirus cases in the mainland for July 7.
  • India’s death toll from the coronavirus pandemic surpassed 20,000 on Tuesday and case numbers surged as the south Asian nation pushed ahead with relaxations to its almost two-month lockdown.

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

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

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

Read Time: 9 Minutes

  • GOP South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem said that residents attending the state’s Independence Day event at Mount Rushmore will have the option to not wear masks despite the renewed surge of the coronavirus pandemic across the country.

“We told those folks that have concerns that they can stay home, but those who want to come and join us, we’ll be giving out free face masks, if they choose to wear one. But we will not be social distancing.”

  • The European Union will open its borders to visitors from 15 countries as of Wednesday, but not to travelers from the United States, Brazil or Russia.
  • The United States saw a 46% increase in new cases of COVID-19 in the week ended June 28 compared to the previous seven days, with 21 states reporting positivity test rates above the level that the World Health Organization has flagged as concerning.

Nationally, 7% of diagnostic tests came back positive last week, up from 5% the prior week, according to a Reuters analysis of data from The COVID Tracking Project, a volunteer-run effort to track the outbreak.

The World Health Organization considers a positivity rate above 5% to be a cause for concern because it suggests there are more cases in the community that have not yet been uncovered.

Arizona’s positivity test rate was 24% last week, Florida’s was 16%, and Nevada, South Carolina and Texas’ were all 15%, according to the analysis.

  • Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), told The Journal of the American Medical Association, “We are not even beginning to be over this,” Schuchat said, saying there are a lot of worrisome factors about the surge of the outbreak over the past week or so. 

“What we hope is that we can take it seriously and slow the transmission,” Schuchat said in the interview. 

“We’re not in the situation of New Zealand or Singapore or Korea where a new case is rapidly identified and all the contacts are traced and people are isolated who are sick and people who are exposed are quarantined and they can keep things under control,” she said.

“We have way too much virus across the country for that right now, so it’s very discouraging,” she added. 

Schuchat said there was a lot of “wishful thinking” around the country that the pandemic would be over by summer.

  • Officials in Wildwood have canceled one of New Jersey’s biggest July 4 fireworks shows over concerns the large crowds wouldn’t follow social distancing guidelines.
  • More than 46,000 coronavirus cases were announced across the U.S. on Tuesday, the most of any day of the pandemic.

Alaska, Arizona, California, Georgia, Idaho, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Texas announced single-day highs.

  • Savannah, GA Mayor Van Johnson said Tuesday he’s issuing an executive order to require face masks in public.

“Savannah is experiencing thousands of visitors on our streets, in our establishments and most of them are not wearing face coverings,” Johnson said in a letter Tuesday to Gov. Brian Kemp.

  • In Alabama, more than 10,000 new cases of the coronavirus have been confirmed just in the last two weeks, state health officer Dr. Scott Harris said Tuesday.

Alabama’s safer-at-home order was set to expire on July 3, but Gov. Kay Ivey said Tuesday she is extending the order to July 31.

The state is not “overwhelmed yet,” but “we are still in the thick of this virus,” Ivey warned.

She pleaded with residents to wear masks and said social distancing must apply to 4th of July celebrations.

  • Donald Trump’s campaign has reportedly cancelled plans for the president to appear at a rally in Alabama next week after local officials expressed concerns about a mass gathering in the state amid soaring coronavirus infections.
  • New Jersey, New York and Connecticut are asking travelers from 16 states with high coronavirus numbers to self-quarantine when they arrive back in the tri-state.

The states on the list are: Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Nevada, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Utah.

  • Florida has topped 150,000 cases of the coronavirus  according to the state’s Department of Health. That marks an increase of 6,012 cases in one day — and an increased positivity rate to 14%.
  • “The minute that we opened, it was like COVID didn’t exist and people just forgot and, in some cases, are still forgetting,” Miami, FL Mayor Francis Suarez told ABC News chief anchor George Stephanopoulos in an interview Tuesday on “Good Morning America.”

Miami, the hardest-hit city in Florida, has now made it mandatory for people to wear face masks in public at all times.

  • Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis vetoed the budget for a package of online education programs that have played key roles for students and educators during the coronavirus pandemic. 
  • Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said that his state is “not going back” on reopening as thousands of new COVID-19 cases continue to be reported every day. 

DeSantis told reporters that the state will not follow Texas’ move to pause reopening. 

“We’re not going back, closing things,” he said. “I don’t think that that’s really what’s driving it. People going to a business is not what’s driving it. I think when you see the younger folks — I think a lot of it is more just social interactions, so that’s natural.”

  • The woman seen in a viral video intentionally coughing into the face of a Jacksonville cancer patient has been identified by police as Debra Hunter, 52, of Fernandina Beachand, FL and has been charged with battery.
  • Texas breaks record with nearly 7,000 coronavirus cases in one day.
  • Leaders of Texas’ most populous counties have been imploring Gov. Greg Abbott to allow them to issue stay-at-home orders amid the rapidly spreading outbreak.
  • Local union officials have asked General Motors to close its plant in Arlington, Texas, to protect workers until the surge in virus cases in the state subsidies.
  • Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said that he will not listen to the advice of Dr. Anthony Fauci after the health expert warned Congress that the rate of new infections could more than double if current outbreaks in the South and West are not contained
  • California breaks daily record with over 8,000 new coronavirus cases.
  • California Gov. Gavin Newsom warned during a press conference today that additional statewide coronavirus restrictions could be coming ahead of the holiday.

Newsom said. “If you’re not gonna stay home and you’re not gonna wear masks in public, we have to enforce.”

  • Current hospitalizations due to the coronavirus in the state of Georgia have risen by 223 in the last 48 hours which is an increase of 18.04%. Current hospitalizations are at 1459 which is the highest since May 1st.
  • Savannah became the first major city in Georgia to require the use of masks, setting up a potential showdown with Gov. Brian Kemp over whether local officials can take more sweeping steps than the state to contain the coronavirus.

Mayor Van Johnson’s emergency order requires people to don masks when in many public places starting at 8 a.m. Wednesday. Violators will be offered a face covering before they are cited, Johnson said, and fined $500 if they disregard the requirement.

  • Tennessee reported more than 3,000 new #COVIDー19 cases in the past 3 days.

Hospitalizations are also at an all-time high with an average of 47 patients each day admitted.

  • Massachusetts reports zero new coronavirus deaths for the first time in months.
  • Hospitals in Arizona are reaching capacity amid a surge in coronavirus cases.

A FEMA memo states that both Flagstaff Medical Center and Little Colorado Medical Center have had zero “medical-surge availability” since June 24. Patients are being directed to hospitals in Yavapai and Maricopa counties.

  • Colorado Gov. Jared Polis is ordering bars across the state to close their doors amid a surge in coronavirus cases among the state’s younger population: “There is not a way that we have found for them to be a reasonably safe part of people’s lives during the month of July.”
  • Joe Biden repeated his call for all Americans to wear masks during COVID-19 pandemic: “Wear a mask. It’s not just about you. It’s about your family… it’s about keeping other people safe.” “We absolutely need a clear message from the very top of our federal government that everyone needs to wear a mask in public. Period.”
  • Donald Trump Jr. said that masks should be worn during the Republican National Convention in Jacksonville, FL.
  • Surgeon General Jerome Adams implored young Americans in particular, to wear masks as lawmakers and public health officials increasingly seek to break down partisan barriers about the use of face coverings.

“Wear a face covering when you go out in public. It is not an inconvenience. It is not a suppression of your freedom. It actually Is a vehicle to achieve our goals,” Adams said.

  • Testifying before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said, “We can’t just focus on those areas that are having the surge, it puts the entire country at risk.” “We’re now having 40-plus thousand new cases a day. I would not be surprised if we go up to 100,000 a day if this does not turn around and so I’m very concerned.”

Fauci also warned, “What we saw were a lot of people who maybe felt that because they think they are invulnerable, and we know many young people are not because they’re getting serious disease, that therefore they’re getting infected has nothing at all to do with anyone else, when in fact it does.”

  • Airbus says it may be 2025 before air travel rebounds from the coronavirus pandemic. To survive the thin years ahead, the European aircraft manufacturer is eliminating 15,000 jobs.
  • The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention expressed “substantial disappointment” with a decision by American Airlines to start booking its flights to their capacity. “We don’t think it’s the right message, as you have pointed out.”
  • The Minor League Baseball season has been canceled.
  • The United States is at risk of losing its COVID-19 testing capacity.

The American testing supply chain is stretched to the limit, and the ongoing outbreak in the South and West could overwhelm it, according to epidemiologists and testing-company executives. Demand for tests is outpacing supply.

Any plan to contain the virus depends on fast and accurate testing, which can identify newly infectious people before they set off new outbreaks. Without it, the U.S. is in the dark.

  • Tuesday evening the president Tweeted: “As I watch the Pandemic spread its ugly face all across the world, including the tremendous damage it has done to the USA, I become more and more angry at China. People can see it, and I can feel it!”
  • The Senate cleared legislation to extend the deadline for businesses to apply for coronavirus aid under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which will expire at the end of Tuesday.

There’s approximately $130 billion in unspent money under the Paycheck Protection Program.

  • The Economist reported that when mass protests against police brutality broke out earlier this month, public-health experts worried they would lead to a surge in infections. Anthony Fauci called the protests “the perfect set-up” for the spread of the virus.

But the available evidence suggests that this month’s Black Lives Matter protests have not contributed to a surge in COVID-19 cases. Researchers from Bentley University, the University of Colorado, and San Diego State University used mobile-phone data and COVID-19 case data from the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention to determine whether the protests were associated with less social-distancing behaviour and more covid-19 cases. They found that the protests had no significant effect one way or the other on the incidence of covid-19.

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

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

Read Time: 7 Minutes

Coronavirus/COVID-19

  • Austin, Texas Mayor Steve Adler on Friday panned Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s order to pause the reopening of the state’s economy, arguing that additional mitigation measures need to be imposed to stamp out a spike in coronavirus cases.

“Pausing will not make things better,” Adler, a Democrat, told CNN’s “New Day.”

“The path we’re on right now is the path that right now has us in danger,” he said. “We need to do something that’s different than that. We need our people in our community here to act differently. The status quo will not protect us.”

  • Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Friday morning ordered bars to close once again in an effort to stop the spread of the coronavirus as the number of infections mount across the state. Abbott initially allowed bars to reopen at limited capacity on May 22.
  • California Gov. Gavin Newsom said that if need be, the state will pause its reopening in a bid to quell the coronavirus spread. 

“To the extent we do not see progress being made, and we’re not advancing the cause of public health and public safety, then we certainly reserve the right to put a pause in terms of advancing into the subsequent phase,” Newsom warned.

KTLA reports that the state’s positivity rate has risen to 5.1 percent over the past two weeks, and 5.6 percent during the last week. 

Hospitalizations due to coronavirus infections have similarly risen by 32 percent over the last two weeks.

“We’ve got Fourth of July coming up,” Newsom said. “We have rules of the road — expectations — that we believe need to be met, and cannot impress upon people more important at this critical juncture, when we are experiencing an increase in cases that we had not experienced in the past, to take seriously this moment.”

  • President Trump on Thursday night said that he was merely joking when he said over the weekend that less testing would mean fewer confirmed cases of the coronavirus.

“Sometimes I jokingly say, or sarcastically say, if we didn’t do tests we would look great,” Trump told Sean Hannity during a televised Fox News town hall event. “But you know what? It’s not the right thing to do.”

  • Chuck E Cheese announced that it will file for bankruptcy as the coronavirus pandemic has limited dine-in restaurant service and children’s birthday parties at the entertainment chain. At one point during the outbreak, several locations took to offering food delivery through apps under the name “Pasqually’s Pizza & Wings.”
  • Florida is shutting down bars in an effort to slow the spread of coronavirus, after the state reported a single-day record of new infections.

Halsey Beshears, the secretary of the agency that regulates Florida bars, announced that on-premise alcohol consumption will stop immediately. 

Florida shattered its single-day record of new coronavirus cases reported on Friday, adding an additional 8,942 cases, according to the Department of Health.

  • Before Tuesday of this week, New York was the only state to ever report more than 5,000 new Covid cases in one day.

Since then, California, Texas, and Florida have all seen several 5,000+ case days each. And Florida is rapidly nearing 10k per day.

  • The Florida Department of Health reported 8,942 new cases of Covid-19 today. That’s a huge spike and the highest single day reporting of coronavirus cases since the start of the pandemic.
  • Vice President Pence claimed on reopening that “all 50 states and territories are moving forward.” 

NOTE: Texas and Florida just announced new restrictions in the wake of surging case numbers.

  • “Arizona is in a state of crisis right now,” Tucson Mayor Regina Romero said about the rise in coronavirus cases. She says the city only has ten ICU beds available.
  • New daily coronavirus cases are now rising in 29 states, an NPR analysis shows. 

The Top 10 states with increased cases: 

Idaho 160 new cases/day +310%

Oklahoma 370 new cases/day +259%

Florida 4,013 new cases/day +216%

Texas 4,757 new cases/day +175%

West Virginia 39 new cases/day +144%

Arizona 2,834 new cases/day +137%

Kansas 193 new cases/day +105%

Mississippi 554 new cases/day +101%

Nevada 384 new cases/day +100%

Georgia 1,455 new cases/day +99%

  • President Donald Trump on Friday morning canceled his scheduled weekend trip to his private golf club in Bedminster, N.J.

The trip had drawn criticism as Trump said he would not follow New Jersey guidelines and would ignore a mandatory 14-day quarantine for travelers coming from states with coronavirus spikes. Trump visited Arizona on Tuesday amid a rapid rise in cases there.

  • President Trump said in a Twitter post Friday that he’s staying in Washington, D.C., instead of going to his golf club in New Jersey over the weekend “to make sure LAW & ORDER is enforced” in the nation’s capital. 

“I was going to go to Bedminster, New Jersey, this weekend, but wanted to stay in Washington, D.C. to make sure LAW & ORDER is enforced,” he said in a tweet. “The arsonists, anarchists, looters, and agitators have been largely stopped. I am doing what is necessary to keep our communities safe — and these people will be brought to Justice!”

  • During the coronavirus press briefing, a reporter asked Vice President Pence,  “Can you tell me…why the campaign continues to hold these rallies?”

Pence replied, “The freedom of speech. The right to peacefully assemble is enshrined in the Constitution of the United States and we have an election coming up this fall.”

  • Dr. Deborah Birx said Orlando, Tampa and Miami are among the metro areas the federal government is watching. She also noted that the counties that are showing the largest daily case increases in the state are Miami Dade, Broward and Palm Beach.
  • “We are facing a serious problem in certain areas,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease doctor, said. “So what goes on in one area of the country ultimately could have an effect on other areas of the country.”
  • Fauci said, “You have an individual responsibility to yourself but you have a societal responsibility, because if we want to end this outbreak — really end it, and then hopefully when a vaccine comes and puts the nail in the coffin — we’ve got to realize that we are part of the process.”
  • The Trump administration will grant five community-based coronavirus testing sites in Texas a 14-day funding extension, after pushback from federal and local officials who criticized the end of funding as the state sees skyrocketing cases.
  • The E.U. will bar most travelers from the U.S., Russia and Brazil, which have been excluded from a list of countries deemed to have curbed the coronavirus.

Europe will allow outsiders to begin entering again on July 1, but the U.S. and Russia are among the nations considered too risky because they have not controlled the coronavirus outbreak.

  • AstraZeneca’s experimental COVID-19 vaccine is probably the world’s leading candidate and most advanced in terms of development, the World Health Organization’s chief scientist said on Friday.

The British drugmaker has already begun large-scale, mid-stage human trials of the vaccine, which was developed by researchers at University of Oxford.

  • Tomas Philipson, who said this week he will resign as acting chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, confirmed in an email to The Wall Street Journal that he tested positive for the coronavirus earlier this month. He said he experienced a “very mild case of one day of fever” and that the White House had a “very capable medical team that managed my case exceptionally well during the infection.”
  • A federal judge has ruled that the Trump administration must release immigrant children being detained with their parents in U.S. immigration jails during the coronavirus pandemic.

In the order, U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee swiped at the administration for detaining families during the pandemic and said that all children held for more than 20 days at detention centers in Texas and Pennsylvania operated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement must be released.

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has added three new possible symptoms for COVID-19. 

The new symptoms are congestion or runny nose, nausea, and diarrhea. These symptoms join the federal agency’s list that already included fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, and loss of taste or smell and sore throat.

  • Paul Monies, a reporter for Oklahoma Watch, who covered President Trump’s rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma last week, announced Friday he has tested positive for the coronavirus.

Monies was in the BOK Center last Saturday to cover Trump’s rally and said he wore a mask and practiced social distancing. He was never close to the president.

  • Speaker Nancy Pelosi accused President Trump of being “cowardly” for not wearing a mask amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, and said she would support a policy to make wearing the face coverings mandatory in public. 

“I totally agree with Joe Biden. As long as we’re faced with this crisis, masks should be mandatory,” Pelosi said Friday on NPR’s “All Things Considered.

  • Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich (R) on Friday sent cease and desist letters to Glendale-based Clean Air EXP and Phoenix-based Dream City Church, the megachurch  where President Trump held a campaign rally earlier this week, demanding that they stop claiming that Clean Air EXP’s air filtration systems can purify air of 99 percent of the virus that causes COVID-19.
  • An uptick in in-restaurant spending can predict an increase in COVID-19 cases over three weeks, according to a research note from J.P. Morgan.

“Looking across categories of card spending, we find that the level of spending in restaurants three weeks ago was the strongest predictor of the rise in new virus cases over the subsequent three weeks,” wrote Jesse Edgerton, of the bank’s economic and research department.

Restaurant purchases with cards presented in person, rather than online, were particularly predictive.

The opposite was true for supermarket spending, where an increase in credit card purchases was associated with a decline of the virus.

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

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

Read Time: 5 Minutes

Coronavirus/COVID-19

  • Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Tuesday pubs, restaurants and hotels could reopen in England early next month, easing the coronavirus lockdown that has all but shut the economy.
  • A Brazilian federal judge ordered President Jair Bolsonaro to comply with local rules to wear a face mask whenever he is outdoors in the capital of Brasilia.
  • New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he is “seriously considering” implementing a quarantine for out-state-visitors to New York as the number of cases in The Empire State drop while elsewhere cases are spiking.
  • Dr. Anthony Fauci said he’s “cautiously optimistic”  a COVD-19 vaccine could be ready by the end of this year.
  • Fauci: “Everyone agrees, in the public health sector, that wearing of masks is beneficial…It is always better to have a mask on than to not have a mask on”
  • Fauci says he hasn’t “directly recommended” that President Trump wear a mask in public, and he won’t comment on the “multiple factors” that go into the president’s refusal to do so.
  • The Trump administration will stop providing money and support for 13 sites for local COVID-19 testing sites around the country this month, as cases and hospitalizations are skyrocketing in many states.

Texas will be particularly hard hit by the decision. The federal government gives much-needed testing kits and laboratory access to seven testing sites around Texas. But in the state, which is seeing new peaks in cases, people still face long lines for testing that continues to fail to meet overwhelming demand. 

In addition to Texas, Illinois, New Jersey, Colorado and Pennsylvania will be affected. 

  • The president Tweeted: “We did a great job on CoronaVirus, including the very early ban on China, Ventilator production, and Testing, which is by far the most, and best, in the World. We saved millions of U.S. lives.! Yet the Fake News refuses to acknowledge this in a positive way. But they do give….Dr. Anthony Fauci, who is with us in all ways, a very high 72% Approval Rating. So, if he is in charge along with V.P. etc., and with us doing all of these really good things, why doesn’t the Lamestream Media treat us as they should? Answer: Because they are Fake News!”
  • European countries are prepared to block Americans from entering because the United States has failed to control the pandemic, according to draft lists of acceptable travelers seen by The New York Times.
  • World number one Novak Djokovic is the latest professional tennis player to test positive for COVID-19. Grigor Dimitrov, Borna Coric and Viktor Troicki also tested positive after recently playing at Djokovic’s Adria Tour. Djokovic’s wife Jelena is also confirmed to have the virus.
  • China National Biotec Group has won approval to run a large-scale “Phase 3” clinical trial of its novel coronavirus vaccine candidate in the United Arab Emirates.
  • The Oklahoma State Department of Health says there are now 1,653 confirmed coronavirus cases in Tulsa County since the pandemic began.

There were 89 new cases reported in the county since Sunday. This is the largest single-day increase since the state’s first positive case was reported on March 6.

  • In Missouri, two hair stylists who tested positive for COVID-19 after working in close contact with 140 clients and six coworkers. Local health officials feared it would be the start of a major outbreak.

But it wasn’t. The reason? Employees and patrons at the Great Clips salon were required to wear masks, health officials said.

The result appears to be one of the clearest real-world examples of the ability of masks to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

  • The state of Utah faces a “complete shutdown” as cases of COVID-19 continue to rise, the state epidemiologist warned in a memo shared with FOX 13.

“We are in the acceleration phase of the COVID-19 outbreak in Utah,” Dr. Angela Dunn said in the memo.

  • Nevada reported the highest number of new coronavirus in a single day on Tuesday, breaking a record the state had set just a few days earlier.
  • The COVID-19 spike in California’s agricultural breadbasket is so steep that a hospital in Lodi is not accepting some patients who have other illnesses, as infections mount at nearly four times the rate called for in state guidelines for reopening the economy.
  • More than a dozen Ohio teens tested positive for the coronavirus after returning from a trip to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, according to a report.

Fourteen students from Belmont County schools tested positive after coming home June 14 from the beach spot, The Sun News reported.

  • A new study suggests the number of coronavirus cases in the U.S. in March could have been 80 times greater and doubled nearly twice as fast than originally reported, amounting to more than 8.7 million coronavirus cases that went undiagnosed. 

The report, led by researchers from Penn State University, analyzed surveillance data on influenza-like illnesses from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that were never diagnosed as coronavirus, influenza or any other viruses over a three-week period in March, according to the study published in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

“The findings support a scenario where more than 8.7 million new SARS-CoV-2 infections appeared in the U.S. during March and estimate that more than 80% of these cases remained unidentified as the outbreak rapidly spread,” Justin Silverman of Penn State, Alex Washburne of Montana State University and colleagues at Cornell University and elsewhere wrote, CNN reported. 

Only about 100,000 coronavirus cases were reported during that period in March, as there was a shortage of testing kits at the time.

  • Missouri’s Republican Sen. Roy Blunt blocked an attempt by Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar to push legislation through the Senate that would promote mail-in voting and expand early voting during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I just don’t think this is the time to make this kind of fundamental change,” Blunt said.

  • Five graduating seniors at a Virginia high school who attended a modified commencement ceremony at the school have tested positive for the coronavirus.

Fredericksburg City Schools Superintendent Marceline Catlett said Friday that the five students at James Monroe High School tested positive for COVID-19, and all five attended graduation ceremonies at the school on Monday.

  • Senate Republicans and President Trump are facing off over a new round of COVID-19 stimulus checks, with GOP senators warning Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Tuesday to mind the mounting federal deficit.

Trump views the $1,200 “economic impact payment” checks that featured his name prominently as a political and economic winner. Many GOP senators, on the other hand, think a second round would be a huge waste of money.

Sources:  ABC News, Axios, Bloomberg, CBS News, CNN, ESPN, Financial Times, Fox News,The Hill, KTUL, NBC News, NPR, NY Times, Politico, Reuters, Salon, Slate, Vanity Fair, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post

The Past 24 Hours or So

Read Time: 5 minutes

Coronavirus/COVID-19 Updates

  • Anthony Fauci said there is no evidence that shows the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine is effective at treating COVID-19. The sharp rebuke puts the nation’s top infectious disease doctor at odds with President Trump, who has embraced the drug as a “game changer” and a “miracle.”

Fauci said evidence also shows the likelihood that the drug can cause severe irregular heart rhythms.

  • Fauci said that a second wave of coronavirus infections is “not inevitable” if people are vigilant about proper mitigation efforts.
  • Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is vowing that she will make public schools share their federal coronavirus relief funds with private schools as they face financial ruin.
  • More than 100,000 Americans have died from the coronavirus, a staggering wave of death that has brought the world’s largest economy to its knees as the federal government struggles even now to mount a concerted, nationwide response.
  • A dire new report from the Federal Reserve found that economic activity across the United States dropped “sharply” in May, leaving businesses large and small “highly uncertain” about their futures and “pessimistic about the potential pace of recovery” as the coronavirus pandemic continues to send shockwaves through American industries.
  • A study of dozens of COVID-19 patients in China found that those who were asymptomatic were contagious for shorter periods of time than symptomatic patients.
  • A group of Republican senators is asking the Trump administration not to restrict temporary work-based visas amid the coronavirus pandemic. Some conservative lawmakers have called for the suspension of work visas amid widespread unemployment, but other Republicans warn: “The temporary and seasonal nature of the work, it is exceedingly difficult to find American workers, even now, who wish to work only on a temporary basis.”
  • Concerns about the ongoing coronavirus pandemic have led U.S. officials to accelerate the drawdown of troops in Afghanistan ahead of a deadline agreed upon by the U.S. and the Taliban earlier this year.

Reuters reported that a U.S. plan to reduce the number of troops in the country to around 8,600 by mid-July will now be completed in June, due mostly to concerns about spreading the virus among U.S. service members.

Other Administration News 

  • The Justice Department said that it opposes House-proposed changes to surveillance reform legislation and will urge President Trump to veto the bill if it reaches his desk. The threat is a marked shift from March when Attorney General Bill Barr helped negotiate the initial version of the bill with House leadership.
  • President Trump yet again raised a conspiracy theory about the death of an aide to former Rep. Joe Scarborough, despite a barrage of criticism about his earlier tweets from lawmakers, the media and the widower of the woman who died.

Trump tweeted about Scarborough minutes before today’s showing of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” concluded, underscoring how the topic is on his mind, and on his refusal to back down on the subject in the face of criticism. 

“Psycho Joe Scarborough is rattled, not only by his bad ratings but all of the things and facts that are coming out on the internet about opening a Cold Case,” the president tweeted. “He knows what is happening!”

  • President Trump on Wednesday morning ratcheted up his feud with social media platforms, threatening to “close them down” one day after Twitter fact-checked a pair of the president’s tweets on mail-in voting: “Republicans feel that Social Media Platforms totally silence conservatives voices. We will strongly regulate, or close them down, before we can ever allow this to happen.”
  • A coalition of 23 states have sued the Trump administration over its rollback of a key Obama-era climate measure that required automakers to meet ambitious fuel efficiency standards. The new Trump standards are considered particularly vulnerable in court because they cost consumers some $13 billion more than they would save.
  • President Trump’s press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, who has defended President Trump’s attacks on mail-in voting, has voted by mail 11 times since 2010. The information on her voting record comes as Trump has alleged mail-in voting leads to widespread fraud.
  • On the flight back from Florida, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters on Air Force One that Trump plans to sign an executive order aimed at social media companies. White House says the executive order will be signed Thursday.
  • In a related story, a federal appeals court is rejecting claims that tech companies like Facebook, Google, Twitter and Apple have conspired to suppress conservative viewpoints on their platforms.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit on Wednesday affirmed the dismissal of a lawsuit that was filed by the conservative legal organization Freedom Watch and far-right activist Laura Loomer. Freedom Watch and Loomer alleged that the Silicon Valley giants were coordinating together to silence conservative viewpoints and that they were violating the First Amendment and antitrust policies.

  • President Trump is threatening to veto legislation reauthorizing expired government surveillance tools if it passes in the House, citing “massive abuse” of the government powers in the Russia investigation. Trump and conservatives have continued to allege wrongdoing by Obama officials in the wiretapping former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page as part of the bureau’s investigation into Russia’s interference.
  • President Trump says he asked the Justice Department and FBI to expedite an investigation into the death of George Floyd, who was killed in custody of Minneapolis police earlier this week.

“I have asked for this investigation to be expedited and greatly appreciate all of the work done by local law enforcement. My heart goes out to George’s family and friends. Justice will be served!”

  • The Trump administration is preparing to end the last remaining sanctions waivers enshrined in the Obama-era Iran nuclear deal, which President Trump has been working to withdraw from since 2018.
  • Former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein will testify next week as part of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s probe into the origins of the FBI’s Russia investigation, Sen. Lindsey Graham announced on Wednesday.

The hearing, scheduled for June 3, marks the first public hearing Graham will hold as part of his deep dive into “Crossfire Hurricane,” the name for the investigation into Russia’s 2016 election interference and the Trump campaign.

  • The Trump administration is making it easier for renewable energy projects to take advantage of certain tax credits amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

The Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service issued a notice Wednesday that said it would give some companies that started construction in 2016 or 2017 an extra year before they have to put their projects in service.

Sources:  ABC News, Axios, CBS News, CNN, Financial Times, Fox News,The Hill, NBC News, NPR, NY Times, Politico, Reuters, Salon, Slate, Vanity Fair, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post