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

Read Time: 8 Minutes

  • The United States on Friday reached 60,000 new cases for the first time, and then the number soared to more than 68,000 — setting a single-day record for the seventh time in 11 days. 
  • The daily number of deaths from the coronavirus has risen recently in some of the nation’s most populous states, signaling a possible end to months of declining death totals nationally.

The seven-day death average in the United States reached 608 on Thursday, up from 471 earlier in July, but still a fraction of the more than 2,200 deaths the country averaged each day in mid-April, when the situation in the Northeast was at its worst.

  • Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, is warning that she expects to see an increase in coronavirus-related deaths after the number of cases in the U.S. has been trending upward over the past several weeks.
  • As European nations have cut their number of reported cases to a few hundred a day, in the United States the spread of the virus is accelerating alarmingly: The nation reported more than 59,880 cases on Thursday, setting a single-day record for the sixth time in 10 days.
  • Two-thirds of Americans disapprove of how President Trump has handled the coronavirus pandemic, the latest ABC/Ipsos poll reveals. 67 percent of respondents said that they disapproved of how the president has handled the pandemic, which has killed more than 130,000 people across the country.
  • White House trade adviser Peter Navarro is leading an effort to demand the FDA reverse course and grant a second emergency authorization for hydroxychloroquine to treat covid-19.
  • A federal judge in Boston said on Friday that a challenge to new Trump administration rules stripping visas from foreign students who planned to study entirely online in the fall was likely to succeed. But she put off any decision until next week. Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology seeking a court order to protect foreign students from losing their visas.

After the hearing, President Trump said he was ordering a review of universities’ tax-exempt status.

  • Mr. Trump said in a speech on July 4. “We show cases, 99 percent of which are totally harmless.”

In an interview with The Financial Times that was published Friday, Dr. Fauci said he was not sure of the source of the data the president was referencing.

“I’m trying to figure out where the president got that number,” Dr. Fauci said. “What I think happened is that someone told him that the general mortality is about 1 percent. And he interpreted, therefore, that 99 percent is not a problem, when that’s obviously not the case.”

“Even if it doesn’t kill you, even if it doesn’t put you in the hospital, it can make you seriously ill,” Dr. Fauci said. And he called the pandemic “the big one.”

  • Dr. Fauci revealed he last saw Trump in person at the White House on June 2 — and said he has not briefed the president for at least two months.
  • In a joint statement, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association and The School Superintendents Association, said that schools in places with a high community spread of the virus should not be pushed to reopen, especially if local public health officials have advised otherwise.
  • White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow told reporters that it was important for schools to reopen in the fall despite risks.

Kudlow told reporters. “Just go back to school, we can do that.” “And you know, you can social distance, you can get your temperature taken, you can be tested, you can have distancing — come on, it’s not that hard.”

  • House Education and Labor Committee Chairman Bobby Scott is calling on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield to testify before the committee later this month on how teachers, staff and students can safely return to classrooms across the country amid the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Scientists warn of a potential wave of coronavirus-related brain damage as new evidence suggests COVID-19 can lead to severe neurological complications, including inflammation, psychosis and delirium.
  • Autopsies of patients who have died from COVID-19 have shown a “dramatic” increase in the number of blood clots affecting major and minor blood vessels as well as “almost every organ” in the human body, according to a top New York pathologist.
  • In one month, cases in the U.S. military have more than doubled, according to Pentagon data, a disturbing surge that mirrors a similar trend seen across the country.
  • At least six states reported single-day records for new cases: Georgia, Utah, Montana, North Carolina, Iowa and Ohio.
  • Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (D) announced the state will require all residents to wear masks in public for 30 days, citing an “explosion” of cases of COVID-19. The mask mandate will apply to most forward-facing businesses such as retailers and restaurants, and as outdoor spaces where social distancing is impossible.
  • South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster said that the sale of all alcoholic drinks in restaurants and bars would be banned beginning Saturday night, saying he was concerned about spread among young people. 
  • Alabama state Sen. Del Marsh (R) told reporters that he would “like to see more people” contract COVID-19 in order to create herd immunity in the state. Marsh made the comment when asked about Alabama setting a new daily record for COVID-19 cases after the state reported 2,164 cases on Thursday.

“I’m not as concerned as much as the number of cases — and in fact, quite honestly — I want to see more people, because we start reaching an immunity as more people have it and get through it.”

  • Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announced she’s rolling back her city’s reopening, saying the state, “reopened in a reckless manner and the people of our city and state are suffering the consequences.”
  • Florida officials on Friday announced 11,433 new cases, nearing the single-day record for new cases the state reported on July 4. The state also reported on Friday that there were 93 new deaths, a day after setting a single-day reporting record with 120 deaths.
  • Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) disagreed with Dr. Anthony Fauci, saying he doesn’t think his state reopened too early.

“I think there was really no justification to not move forward,” DeSantis said according to The South Florida Sun Sentinel while discussing reopening phases of the state.

His defense comes amid criticism of the state as it sees climbing coronavirus cases, and also follows Fauci saying on FiveThirtyEight’s weekly “PODCAST-19” that he thought the state rushed through reopening phases.

“Despite the guidelines and the recommendations to open up carefully and prudently, some states skipped over those and just opened up too quickly,” Fauci said on the podcast. “Certainly Florida … I think, jumped over a couple of checkpoints.”

  • Louisiana has been seeing an average of more than 1,000 new cases a day this month for the first time since April.
  • On Friday, Ohio reported 1,525 new cases, exceeding the previous single-day record it had set back in April.

Gov. Mike DeWine (R) called the state’s recent increase in cases and hospitalizations “significant” and ordered people in hard-hit counties to wear masks. The average number of new cases a day in the state this month is twice what it was last month.

  • Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) signed an order requiring people in the state to wear masks in indoor public spaces and in crowded outdoor areas, and requiring businesses to turn away people without masks. It is punishable by a $500 fine.
  • Iowa is reporting an average of more than 400 cases a day this month for the first time since May.
  • In a move that could set up a clash with Gov. Kristi Noem (R) who has fought against coronavirus checkpoints on tribal lands, The Oglala Sioux tribe is locking down its South Dakota reservation for a 72-hour period as it seeks to prevent spikes in coronavirus cases.
  • Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) signaled that he might impose a new economic “lockdown” if the state is unable to reverse the caseloads and hospitalizations that have made it a leading U.S. hot spot in the pandemic.

Mr. Abbott bluntly predicted that “things will get worse” and said that he may take steps even more drastic than his statewide face-mask requirement, which has angered members of his own party.

  • Nevada’s governor Steve Sisolak (D) said that as of 11:59 p.m. on Friday, the state will close bars in some counties. Bars in Las Vegas and Reno that don’t serve food will be affected by the restrictions.
  • The Arizona Department of Health Services announced the state broke another daily coronavirus case record on Friday with more than 4,200 more cases reported, with health officials also revealing that 89 percent of intensive care units in the state are full.
  • As coronavirus cases spike in Arizona, morgues are reporting that they are nearing capacity and some are even requesting refrigerated trucks.
  • The Los Angeles teachers union called on the Los Angeles Unified School District on Friday to keep campuses closed when the semester begins on Aug. 18 and to focus on preparing for distance learning in the fall, the union said in a statement.
  • The New York Times tracked over 200 ICE deportation flights from March to June — and confirmed that hundreds of detainees with Covid-19 were returned to 11 countries around the world.
  • Hong Kong, which has been lauded for its aggressive handling of the outbreak, is confronting a third wave of infections, and on Friday shut down its school system.
  • A large takeout order from a KFC in Australia led the police to more than a dozen people hiding at a house party and more than 26,000 Australian dollars in Covid-19 fines, the authorities said Friday.

Chief Commissioner Shane Patton of the Victoria police announced the hefty fine at a news conference, saying that 16 people had broken coronavirus restrictions by attending a surprise birthday at a home in Dandenong, a suburb of Melbourne.

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

  • After President Trump criticized the CDC’s guidelines on reopening schools, Vice President Pence suggested the agency would release new guidance. But in a tense exchange with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos on Thursday, the CDC’s director said new guidance would not be “a revision of the guidelines.”
  • Keeping schools closed in the coming academic year is a greater risk to children’s health than reopening them, even amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Robert Redfield, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.
  • Education Secretary Betsy DeVos encouraged school districts to “think creatively” about how to reopen: “This doesn’t have to look like exactly like it did a year or two ago. Think creatively about how you do it, but do it. This has to happen.”
  • Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she is “very confident” Democrats and Republicans in Congress will agree on strong new coronavirus relief legislation after lawmakers return from their July break.
  • The World Health Organization released new guidelines on the transmission of the coronavirus that acknowledge reports of airborne transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19, but stopped short of confirming that the virus spreads through the air.
  • In an emotional address World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus Tedros urged nations to unify in the fight against the coronavirus. “We must come together in a global conversation to take these hard-won lessons and turn them into action. My friends, make no mistake, the greatest threat we face now is not the virus itself, rather, it’s the lack of leadership and solidarity at the global and national levels.” 
  • U.S. states that have driven a record surge in coronavirus cases may now be slipping backward in their economic recovery, as cell phone data shows retail visits in high case-growth locations falling below the rest of the country.
  • Trump complained on Hannity tonight that the media keeps reporting on coronavirus cases. He said, “All the time, ‘cases.’ And those cases get better. In most — most cases — in almost — I mean, literally, in most cases, they automatically cure. They automatically get better.”
  • Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert and a key member of the White House coronavirus task force, called on U.S. states experiencing a surge in coronavirus infections to “seriously look at shutting down.”

“We’ve got to tighten things up,” Fauci said.

  • Later, Fauci walked back his statement, saying instead that states like California, Arizona, Texas and Florida should think about “pausing their opening process… I don’t think we need to go back to an extreme of shutting down.”
  • A reporter who works at the White House has tested positive for the coronavirus, in the first known case among the White House press corps.
  • More than 1,000 employees of the TSA have tested positive for the coronavirus, about 900 of those are airport screeners. More than 640 of the employees have recovered while six have died. 
  • The surge in coronavirus cases, which as of Wednesday had set new daily-case records five times in nine days, is being driven largely by states that were among the first to ease virus restrictions as they moved to reopen their economies.

Epidemiologists had warned that reopening could lead to waves of new infections if it was done before the virus was contained, and before contact tracing was sufficiently ramped up enough to contain future outbreaks.

  • Hospitals across the South and West are being flooded with virus patients, forcing them to cancel elective surgeries and discharge patients early as they try to keep beds available.

“When hospitals and health care assistants talk about surge capacity, they’re often talking about a single event,” said John Sinnott, chief epidemiologist at Tampa General Hospital. “But what we’re having now is the equivalent of a bus accident a day, every day, and it just keeps adding.”

  • At least five states set single-day records for new cases on Thursday: Alabama with 2,200, Idaho with 527, Missouri with 950, Montana with 95, and Oregon with 371.
  • Average daily cases in New York are down 52 percent since the state began to reopen in late May.
  • Mayor Bill de Blasio extended New York City’s prohibition on large public gatherings through Sept. 30, adding the West Indian American Day Parade, the Dominican Day Parade and the Feast of San Gennaro will be canceled.
  • Cases in Massachusetts are down 83 percent.
  • Gov. Andy Beshear announced that Kentuckians will be required to wear face coverings in many public settings, including any indoor space in which it is difficult to maintain six-foot social distancing.
  • South Carolina, one of the first states to let retail stores reopen, has seen its average daily case count rise to 1,570, up from 143 from when the state began to reopen in late April, a 999 percent increase.
  • In South Carolina, National Guard troops are being called in soon to help insert intravenous lines and check blood pressure. At the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, patients can wait as long as four hours before being seen in emergency rooms.
  • Tennessee recorded its highest single-day death toll on Thursday, with 22.
  • In Georgia, where the governor’s moves to reopen swiftly in late April were criticized as too aggressive by Mr. Trump — who had generally been pushing states to move faster to reopen — cases have risen by 245 percent.
  • Florida coronavirus death toll hit 4,000 and set a record for single day deaths with 120. More than 8,900 new cases were confirmed, bringing total positive cases to 232,718.
  • When asked about the rising numbers of cases in Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis said, “There’s no need to be panicked. There’s no need to be fearful.” 
  • Florida Gov. DeSantis: “If you can do Home Depot, if you can do Walmart, you can definitely do the schools.”

NOTE: Most people don’t spend 7 hours a day, 5 days a week in retail establishments.

  • In Florida, more than 40 intensive care units in 21 counties have hit capacity and have no beds available.
  • At Miami television station, WPLG Local 10, at least nine employees, including a news anchor, have come down with Covid-19 or tested positive, and another 150 people linked to the station were awaiting test results.
  • Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves (R) issued an executive order for 13 counties in the state to require face masks and put limits on businesses as coronavirus cases climb. The order bans indoor social gatherings larger than 10 people, and outdoor gatherings of more than 20 people, among other restrictions on businesses. As of Thursday, Mississippi health officials have confirmed 33,591 cases of coronavirus and 1,204 deaths.
  • In Mississippi, five of the state’s largest hospitals have already run out of I.C.U. beds for critical patients.
  • Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is threatening to impose stricter mask laws amid a spike in coronavirus cases and mounting evidence that some residents aren’t taking precautions seriously.
  • The state of Wisconsin reported 754 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, its highest number of reported cases in one day since the pandemic began.
  • On Wednesday, Texas recorded 119 deaths from the virus, the most in a single day in the state. Thursday the state added another 105 deaths. Texas has recorded more than 235,000 cases and more than 2,990 deaths.
  • Nearly 9,700 people were in Texas hospitals on Thursday, the highest number since the pandemic began.
  • Dr. Diego Maselli Caceres at University Hospital in San Antonio, Texas, said he had watched a sevenfold increase in Covid-19 patients needing intensive care over the past month, filling up three floors of the hospital instead of one.
  • In an effort to free up hospital bed space, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott extended a ban on elective procedures to new sections of the state.
  • A state judge on Thursday declined to reverse Houston’s decision to cancel the Texas Republican convention’s in-person events because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Judge Larry Weiman rejected the state GOP’s request for a temporary restraining order.

  • California, once seen as a model for how to contain the virus, has seen an alarming increase in new cases, which are up 275 percent since May 25.
  • California reported an average of 8,077 new cases a day for the past week, as of Wednesday, according to a NY Times database. The state’s positivity rate has been 7.3 percent per day, on average over the past week.
  • The top Republican in New Hampshire – where Mr. Trump is scheduled to hold a rally on Saturday –  has already said he would skip the large gathering as a health precaution.

“I’m not going to put myself in the middle of a crowd of thousands of people,” Gov. Chris Sununu of New Hampshire said.

  • One day after Harvard and MIT sued to stop the policy change from Immigration and Customs Enforcement, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced they intend to file a lawsuit against the Trump administration to block it from forcing out international students whose schools in the U.S. move their courses online because of the coronavirus pandemic.
  • The Big Ten will adopt a conference-only scheduling model for the 2020 college football season stemming from concerns of playing amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Starbucks said it would require face masks inside all U.S. locations beginning July 15. It said that in some locations not under government mandates, customers without masks would be able to place orders at drive-throughs or with curbside pickup.
  • The intensive care unit at the Papa Giovanni XXIII hospital in Bergamo, one of the Italian provinces most affected by the virus, hit a milestone this week: It had no Covid-19 cases, for the first time in 137 days.
  • Since the pandemic began, aid groups warned that the virus might prove devastating for a rebel-held Syrian province packed with displaced people and hampered by battered medical facilities.

On Thursday, medics there reported the first confirmed case.

  • Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Thursday that Israel had reopened parts of its economy too early, as virus cases in the country have continued to rise sharply.

“I take responsibility for this measure and I take responsibility for fixing it.”

  • India recorded nearly 25,000 new infections on Thursday, its highest single-day total.

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

  •  Of the 3-million COVID-19 cases recorded in The United States, one million of those cases have been reported in the last 30 days.

The U.S. has 4% of the world’s population, but 25% of the world’s coronavirus cases.

  • More than 60,000 new cases of COVID-19 were identified in the United States on Tuesday, according to a count kept by Johns Hopkins University.

It’s the first time the U.S. has reached or crossed the 60,000 threshold of newly diagnosed cases in a 24-hour reporting period.

  • Researchers at the University College London are calling attention to a potential link between COVID-19 and brain damage after a study released Wednesday found more evidence to suggest that the virus can cause neurological issues.
  • Gilead Sciences Inc said on Wednesday it has started an early-stage study of its antiviral COVID-19 treatment remdesivir that can be inhaled, for use outside of hospitals.
  • Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau praised his country’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, saying that its response proved better than many of its allies, including the United States.

“We were able to control the virus better than many of our allies, particularly including our neighbor,” Trudeau said one just days after formally denying an invitation to a summit with Trump over the virus in the US as well as tariff threats.

  • President Trump threatened to cut off federal funding for schools if they do not resume in-person learning this fall and criticized a top government health agency for being too tough with its guidelines to aid that process.

Trump Tweeted: “In Germany, Denmark, Norway,  Sweden and many other countries, SCHOOLS ARE OPEN WITH NO PROBLEMS. The Dems think it would be bad for them politically if U.S. schools open before the November Election, but is important for the children & families. May cut off funding if not open!”

NOTE: New cases on Tuesday: Germany 298, Denmark 10, Norway 11, Sweden 57, United States 55,442

“I disagree with @CDCgov on their very tough & expensive guidelines for opening schools. While they want them open, they are asking schools to do very impractical things. I will be meeting with them!!!” Trump wrote in a Tweet.

  • Vice President Mike Pence, appearing with the White House coronavirus task force, announced the CDC would issue new recommendations next week, saying they don’t want the guidance to be a reason why schools don’t open.
  • The president of the nation’s largest teachers’ union hit back at President Trump over his demand that schools resume in-person classes this fall, saying reopening cannot take place without guaranteeing the safety of students and staff.

“I double dog dare Donald Trump to sit in a class of 39 sixth graders and breathe that air without any preparation for how we’re going to bring our kids back safely.”

  • Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology sued the Trump administration in federal court on Wednesday, seeking to block a directive that would strip foreign college students of their visas if their coursework was entirely online.
  • Brooks Brothers filed for bankruptcy on Wednesday, as the brand buckled under the pressure of the pandemic.
  • United Airlines said that it could furlough as many as 36,000 workers, or nearly 40 percent of its staff, starting Oct. 1 if travel remained weak and if too few employees accept buyout or early retirement packages.
  • Golf’s 2020 Ryder Cup has been postponed due to coronavirus.
  • The Ivy League has canceled all fall sports and will reevaluate whether to play sports after Jan. 1, 2021. 
  • Stanford University is eliminating 11 of its varsity sports after the 2020-21 season, citing a financial deficit that became significantly more problematic due to the coronavirus pandemic.
  • As cases surge across the country, PPE is again in short supply.
  • New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy issued an executive order requiring face coverings outdoors when social distancing is not possible. When asked if people would receive tickets for disobeying the rules on a Jersey Shore boardwalk, he said it was not likely.
  • New Jersey restaurants with seating areas under fixed roofs can reopen those spaces to diners as long as there are two open sides and there is only 50 percent wall space.
  • New York City public schools will not fully reopen in September, Mayor Bill de Blasio said. In-person classes will be limited to one to three days a week in an effort to continue to curb the coronavirus outbreak.
  • New York will now allow malls to reopen in Phase 4, a stage of reopening that the entire state except for New York City has entered. Malls must put in enhanced air filtration systems and those that meet requirements can reopen as soon as Friday.
  • Nino Vitale, a GOP state lawmaker in Ohio urged constituents to “STOP GETTING TESTED” for COVID-19 in a Facebook post.

“Are you tired of living in a dictatorship yet?” Vitale asked. Testing for COVID-19 gave “the government an excuse to claim something is happening that is not happening at the magnitude they say it is happening,” he claimed.

Ohio is one of several states currently seeing a spike in new coronavirus infections.

  • Officials have identified at least 16 people who tested positive for COVID-19 after attending Marvin Ridge High School’s graduation ceremony on June 24 in Waxhaw, North Carolina. 
  • Officials in Tennessee reported more than 2,100 new cases and 21 new deaths on Wednesday, single-day records in both categories.
  • Florida reported 9,989 more cases since Tuesday, bringing the state to a total of 223,793.
  • At least 56 Florida hospitals in 25 different counties have hit 100% ICU capacity, according to overall hospital data released by the state. Another 35 only have 10% or less capacity remaining. In all, the state has just 962 out of a total of 5,023 ICU beds available

As coronavirus cases surge in Florida, the state had 41 hospitals with no available beds as of Wednesday morning.

  • In Miami-Dade County, which includes the city of Miami, the positivity rate has jumped to 21.9%.
  • Osceola County is reporting a positivity rate of 19.5%, while in Hillsborough County, which includes Tampa, the positivity rate stands at 16.4%.
  • Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) said city and county officials do not have the authority to require residents to wear masks in public.
  • Bruce Dart, the Tulsa City-County Health Department director, said in a press conference that the city has seen a spike in coronavirus cases and believes big events like President Trump’s rally are “likely” responsible for the growing cases.
  • The gains the people of Louisiana made against Covid-19 in June have been wiped out over the past three weeks, Gov. John Bel Edwards said Wednesday.

“We have a statewide pandemic. It’s no longer one or two regions,” Edwards told reporters.

  • Texas’ new cases now make up 14% of the U.S. total. Since July 1, the U.S. has reported 358,027 new infections. Of those, 50,599 were in Texas.
  • Houston officials are canceling next week’s in-person Texas Republican convention as coronavirus cases surge across the state, Mayor Sylvester Turner (D) said Wednesday. 
  • More than 680 cases were announced Wednesday in Utah, a single-day record.
  • Arizona reported 354 new cases per 100,000 population in the past week, compared to a national average of 100 per 100,000.
  • In Arizona hospitals, 91% of ICU beds are in use. A record 2,008 suspected or confirmed COVID-19 patients visited emergency rooms in the state on Tuesday.
  • 137 out of 300 employees at the Eloy Detention Center in Arizona have tested positive for coronavirus.
  • California reported 11,694 new coronavirus cases Wednesday, but stressed that this number includes a backlog of data from Los Angeles County labs.
  • In California, hospitalization rates and ICU admissions are on the rise.

Gov. Gavin Newsom attributed the growth to a number of factors: not enough people wearing face coverings and social distancing; increased mixing outside of households; outbreaks in prisons and jails; and outbreaks within essential workplaces.

  • Mexico on Wednesday posted a new record for coronavirus cases reported on a single day, with 6,995 infections.
  • Russia confirmed 6,562 new coronavirus infections Wednesday, bringing the country’s official number of cases to 700,792.
  • Dozens of demonstrators and police were injured in overnight rioting in Belgrade, triggered when a crowd stormed Serbia’s parliament in protest at plans to reimpose a lockdown following a surge in coronavirus cases.
  • Five million Australians in the country’s second largest city Melbourne woke up under strict stay-at-home rules on Thursday as authorities struggled to contain a coronavirus outbreak in the city.
  • A New Zealand man who tested positive will face criminal charges after he sneaked out of a hotel quarantine site, the public broadcaster RNZ reported. He ventured out into central Auckland on Tuesday night for a little over an hour and visited a supermarket.

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

  • 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: 6 Minutes

  • A group of 239 scientists representing 32 countries is reportedly preparing to ask the World Health Organization to revise its recommendations for the novel coronavirus due to evidence that they say supports the claim the disease is airborne.

The scientists are expected to publish an open letter making the request in a scientific journal next week, according to The New York Times. The letter is set to offer evidence that supports the position that smaller particles of the coronavirus can travel through the air and infect people.

  • Stephen Hahn, the Food and Drug Administration commissioner, said on Sunday it was not clear whether it will be safe to hold the Republican National Convention in Jacksonville next month, as Florida sees record numbers of coronavirus cases.
  • The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Sunday reported 2,841,906 cases of new coronavirus, an increase of 52,228 cases from its previous count, and said the number of deaths had risen by 271 to 129,576.
  • Public health experts and officials on Sunday disputed President’s Trump’s characterization of the seriousness of the coronavirus.

In an Independence Day speech on Saturday at the White House, Mr. Trump sought to dismiss widespread criticism of his administration’s slow and ineffective response to the virus. He repeated his false claim that an abundance of testing made the country’s cases look worse than they were, and he asserted that 99 percent of the nation’s cases were “totally harmless.”

  • Mr. Trump and other administration officials have also highlighted the country’s declining death rate.

Dr. Ashish Jha, the director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, said improvements in care may have caused the decline, but also described deaths as a “lagging indicator.”

“By the time somebody gets infected, it takes a couple weeks before they get hospitalized and get really sick, and another week or 10 days before they die, ” he said.

  • Broadway star Nick Cordero died on Sunday at age 41 after battling coronavirus and subsequent health problems for several months, his family said Sunday.
  • Penn State University announced 21-year-old student Juan Garcia died of respiratory failure from coronavirus complications last month.

The university is now contact tracing anyone who may have been around Garcia while he was sick.

  • Houston’s mayor, Sylvester Turner, issued the same two-week warning in an appearance on the CBS program “Face the Nation,” noting that roughly one in four virus tests in the city was now positive and that the demand for testing was exceeding capacity.
  • Austin, Texas Mayor Steve Adler on CNN on infection numbers in his city: “If we don’t change the trajectory, then I am within two weeks of having our hospitals overrun. And in our ICUs, I think we could be ten days away from that.”
  • Mr. Adler said that the most important thing about the order Governor Abbott signed on Thursday making masks mandatory in most counties was that people would now be getting the same guidance from both state and local officials.

“It’s the messaging,” he said. “It’s the singular voice from both parties saying to our community, ‘This is important, you have to do it, it works.’”

  • The State of Arizona added few deaths – four – to its total on Sunday morning, July 5, compared to its previous and regular double digits, but 3,536 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus edged the state ever closer to the 100,000 mark, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services website.
  • Mayor Kate Gallego of Phoenix said on Sunday that with cases and death counts soaring in Arizona, testing sites in her city and surrounding Maricopa County are overwhelmed, but the Federal Emergency Management Agency has rebuffed her pleas for help.

She raised the issue on the ABC program “This Week,” saying that it “feels like they’re declaring victory while we’re in crisis mode.”

  • Ms. Gallego also said that the pace of Arizona’s reopening indicated to some residents that the coronavirus crisis was over and, in turn, spurred a record number of new cases.

“We opened way too early in Arizona. We were one of the last states to go to stay at home and one of the first to reemerge, and we reemerged at zero to 60,” Gallego said “We had crowded nightclubs handing out free champagne, no masks. Our 20- to 44-year-olds, which is my own demographic, really led the explosion, and we’ve seen such growth in that area. We’re seeing a lot of people go to large family gatherings and infect their family members.”

  • Tokyo confirmed 111 new coronavirus infections on Sunday, the fourth straight day that the tally of fresh cases has exceeded 100
  • Visitors to the Taj Mahal will have to wear masks at all times, keep their distance and not touch its glistening marble surfaces when India’s 17th-century monument to love reopens on Monday after a three-month COVID-19 shutdown.
  • Indonesia reported 82 new coronavirus deaths on Sunday in its highest daily tally.
  • The Philippines reported its biggest single-day jump in new coronavirus cases on Sunday, adding 2,434 confirmed infections and taking the total count to 44,254.
  • Russia on Sunday reported 6,736 new cases of the novel coronavirus, raising the nationwide tally to 681,251.
  • The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 239 to 196,335.
  • The northwestern Spanish region of Galicia imposed restrictions on about 70,000 people on Sunday following a COVID-19 outbreak, a day after Catalonia also introduced a local lockdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
  • Britain is putting 8.4 million pounds ($10.49 million) into a new study to examine the long-term effects of COVID-19 on patients.
  • Britain will invest nearly $2 billion in cultural institutions and the arts to help a sector that has been crippled by the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Sunday.
  • People in England appear to have broadly behaved themselves as pubs reopened this weekend, Britain’s health minister Matt Hancock said on Sunday after the latest step towards a return to normality from the coronavirus lockdown.
  • Ireland will ease quarantine restrictions on people travelling from abroad on July 20, with people arriving from a “green list” of countries with low COVID-19 rates to be exempt from isolating themselves for 14 days.
  • Greece will not allow Serbian visitors to enter from July 6 until July 15, the government said on Sunday, as it moved to contain the spread of coronavirus during its peak tourism season.
  • Britain’s death toll from confirmed COVID-19 cases has risen by 22 to 44,220, the department of health said on Sunday.
  • A military plane carrying Canadian troops to Latvia as part of a NATO mission turned around midflight after the military learned that someone who might have come in contact with the passengers tested had positive for the virus.
  • Iran recorded its highest number of deaths from COVID-19 within a 24-hour period, official health ministry figures showed on Sunday.

The 163 deaths reported on Sunday exceed the previous record from last Monday.

  • Saudi Arabia’s coronavirus infections have passed 200,000 and neighbouring United Arab Emirates passed 50,000, with the number of new cases climbing after the Arab world’s two largest economies fully lifted curfews last month.
  • Bolivia’s Health Minister María Eidy Roca has tested positive for COVID-19.
  • Coronavirus cases and deaths are surging along Colombia’s Caribbean coast as the region becomes the epicenter of the pandemic in the Andean country, with doctors warning many deaths are going undetected.
  • Chilean President Sebastian Pinera announced on Sunday a new $1.5 billion package of measures to help keep the country’s ailing middle class afloat as the coronavirus pandemic continues to ravage the economy of the world’s top copper producer.
  • El Salvador’s presidential office on Sunday postponed the second phase of the economy’s reopening by two weeks, citing a still-rising number of coronavirus infections.

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: 5 Minutes

  • The World Health Organization reported a record increase in global coronavirus cases on Saturday, with the total rising by 212,326 in 24 hours.
  • The World Health Organization said on Saturday that it was discontinuing its trials of the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine and combination HIV drug lopinavir/ritonavir in hospitalised patients with COVID-19 after they failed to reduce mortality.
  • The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Saturday reported 2,785,023 cases of coronavirus, an increase of 52,492 cases from its previous count, and said that the number of deaths had risen by 749 to 129,397.
  • Florida set another state record in the number of new coronavirus cases in a single day with 11,458. There have been 190,052 total cases of COVID-19 and 3,702 deaths in Florida since the outbreak began.
  • Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee, a Republican, has signed an executive order allowing mayors in 89 of the state’s 95 counties to issue local mask requirements if they experience a spike in COVID-19 cases.
  • “Stop yelling at these young girls. Stop slamming doors. Stop swearing at them and making a scene. STOP!!!” reads a dire call from an Ohio ice cream shop owner for customers to stop harassing the teenage girls who work there and have had to enforce the store’s mask requirement amid the pandemic.

“Does it feel good to make a 16 year old girl cry in the bathroom? Or sob on her way home from work? Does that make you feel better about Covid?”

  • Texas reported 8,258 new coronavirus cases on Saturday, setting a record for the second time this week and bringing its total number of cases to 191,790. The climb comes as many worry Fourth of July celebrations will cause an even further spike.
  • Texas reported a record level of hospitalized Covid-19 patients — 7,890, with an increase of 238 from the previous day.
  • A number of hospitals in Houston have seen a steep rise in caseloads, filling intensive care units, overburdening staff, and straining testing capacity and the availability of other medical services. Protective gear, and other medical devices for testing and treating patients have been scarce.

“What’s been disheartening over the past week or two has been that it feels like we’re back at square one,” Dr. Mir M. Alikhan, a pulmonary and critical care specialist, said to his medical team before rounds. “It’s really a terrible kind of sinking feeling. But we’re not truly back at square one, right? Because we have the last three months of expertise that we’ve developed.”

  • Hospitals in at least two counties in Texas are at full capacity and have no more beds available as the Lone Star State struggles with an alarming spike in coronavirus cases.
  • Residents in New Mexico who decide to flout the state law mandating facial masks in public areas could face a $100 fine. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s decision to implement more aggressive measures to enforce public health mandates comes as new cases are rising across the state, hitting a record high as of July 1.
  • The Arizona Department of Health Services on Friday reported that ICU’s are at 91 percent capacity after nearly a quarter of coronavirus tests conducted in the state returned positive.

Almost 25 percent of the state’s tests for coronavirus returned positive on Thursday, reported Axios. According to the DHS’ website, 1,520 ICU beds were occupied, leaving only 156 beds still available.

  • “Cases, Cases, Cases! If we didn’t test so much and so successfully, we would have very few cases,” President Trump tweeted on July Fourth. “In a certain way, our tremendous Testing success gives the Fake News Media all they want, CASES.”
  • Trump said the US has now tested almost 40 million people for coronavirus, and added: “By so doing, we show cases – 99% of which are totally harmless.” 
  • Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh on Saturday rejected a request from Illinois Republicans to allow large political gatherings, including a Fourth of July picnic, leaving them without a reprieve from an order from the state’s governor barring most gatherings of more than 50 people.
  • “How on earth can airlines—in the middle of pandemic—fly their planes at full capacity?” Sen. Bernie Sanders wrote on Twitter sharing a letter demanding federal action to prevent coronavirus from spreading on airplanes. “I am demanding federal action to require social distancing, mask-wearing, and disinfection in planes and airports.”
  • Kroger is giving employees access to free at-home coronavirus tests. A health care professional will guide patients through the nasal swab collection process at home through two-way video chats.
  • President Trump on Saturday signed legislation that extends the deadline for businesses to apply for aid under the Paycheck Protection Program. The program, set up to help assist businesses impacted by closures related to the coronavirus pandemic, had expired on Tuesday night with roughly $130 billion left unused.
  • A pair of Excelsior, Minn. residents have been fined $1,000 apiece for not complying with mandatory self-quarantine rules after crossing into Canada.
  • The United Kingdom’s death toll from confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus has risen by 67 to 44,198 in the last day.
  • Spain’s north-eastern region of Catalonia enforced a new lockdown on more than 200,000 people on Saturday, after several new outbreaks of the coronavirus were detected.
  • India recorded its highest single-day spike of coronavirus cases on Saturday, with over 22,000 new cases and 442 deaths, as infections rose in the western and southern parts of the country amid heavy monsoon rains.
  • Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike urged residents of the Japanese capital not to travel beyond its borders on Saturday as new coronavirus infections topped 100 for a third day.
  • Authorities ordered a new lockdown for 200,000 people in Lleida province of northeastern Spain due to outbreaks of Covid-19 there, the first confinement order since the nation’s state of emergency was lifted on June 21.
  • Malawi’s new President Lazarus Chakwera on Saturday ordered his inauguration ceremony be scaled down amid a surge of coronavirus cases, dampening excitement around his election win.
  • Iraq’s caseload has increased eightfold in the last month, rising from about 250 new cases daily to 2,000 at the end of June. Deaths have increased as well, with about 100 people dying daily compared to fewer than 50 daily a month ago.

And signs are piling up that the country’s health care system is on the verge of breaking down.

  • Iranians who do not wear masks will be denied state services and workplaces that fail to comply with health protocols will be shut for a week, President Hassan Rouhani said on Saturday as he launched new measures to try to curb the coronavirus.
  • Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo will self-isolate for 14 days on the advice of doctors after a person in his close circle tested positive for coronavirus.
  • Brazil recorded 37,923 new confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in the past 24 hours as well as 1,091 deaths.

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

  • The number of confirmed U.S. deaths due to the coronavirus is substantially lower than the true tally, according to a study published Wednesday in JAMA Internal Medicine.
  • Under the Senate bill unveiled Wednesday, the additional $600 a week that jobless workers have been receiving during the economic crisis would be phased out in stages in each state as its unemployment rate drops below 11 percent.
  • The House on Wednesday unanimously passed an extension to the $660 billion Paycheck Protection Program less than a day after the program expired. 

The Senate passed the extension on Tuesday, and the House vote sends the bill to President Trump’s desk.

  • House Majority Whip, Congressman Jim Clyburn said that his Republican colleagues on the House Select Committee must show up wearing masks for the meeting on Thursday or they won’t be allowed in.
  • President Trump said Wednesday that he believed the virus was “going to sort of just disappear,” even as cases are rapidly rising nationwide — and added that he was “all for masks,” even though he has rarely worn one himself, mocked people who do, and has questioned the benefits and even the political meaning of face coverings.

“I think we’re going to be very good with the coronavirus. I think that at some point, that’s going to sort of just disappear, I hope,” Mr. Trump said in an interview on Wednesday with the Fox Business Network.

  • Asked whether Americans should be required to wear masks, Mr. Trump said: “Well, I don’t know if you need mandatory because you have many places in the country where people stay very long distance. You talk about social distancing. But I’m all for masks. I think masks are good. I would wear one if I were in a group of people and I was close.”
  • After long resisting wearing a mask in public, President Donald Trump said Wednesday he thinks it makes him look like the Lone Ranger — and he likes it.

“I’m all for masks. I think masks are good,” Trump told Fox Business in an interview. “People have seen me wearing one.”

  • House republicans are calling for the White House to support a new policy that would require the Transportation Security Administration to check the temperatures of all airline passengers at security checkpoints.
  • The main TSA checkpoint closed at Atlanta’s airport for cleaning because of coronavirus after an employee tested positive.
  • Congress is investigating about a dozen medical laboratories and emergency rooms for potential virus test price gouging.
  • The Trump administration plans to adopt a decades-old testing strategy that will vastly increase the number of coronavirus tests performed in the United States and permit widespread tracking of the virus as it surges across the country.

The method, called pooled testing, signals a paradigm shift. Instead of carefully rationing tests to only those with symptoms, pooled testing would enable frequent surveillance of asymptomatic people. Mass identification of coronavirus infections could hasten the reopening of schools, offices and factories.

Adm. Brett Giroir, deputy secretary of health and human services, said he expected the program to be up and running by the end of the summer.

  • Adm. Brett Giroir, the coronavirus testing czar, said Wednesday that the United States’ coronavirus testing capacity is at risk of being overwhelmed in some states by a surge in new infections and increased surveillance efforts in nursing homes and jails.

“It is absolutely correct that some labs across the country are reaching or near capacity,” Giroir said. “Recent data from several states indicate rising infections and now an uptick in hospitalizations and death, even as other states and the great majority of counties are maintaining a low infection burden.”

  • The US reported more than 52,000 new COVID-19 cases in 24 hours Wednesday, a tally by Johns Hopkins University showed, a new one-day record as infections surge around the country.
  • Pfizer announced that they have seen success in the early stages of human trials for a coronavirus vaccine. 

If the vaccine proves effective, the pharmaceutical company said they could manufacture 100 million doses by the end of 2020 and another 1.2 billion doses by the end of 2021.

  • Myrtle Beach, SC has been linked to hundreds of coronavirus cases across several states, as it braces for a stream of July Fourth tourists this weekend.

Scores of people have flocked to  as the area reopened in mid-May, packing hotels, the beach and the boardwalk, with few wearing face masks or practicing social distancing. 

The recent uptick has prompted the governors of West Virginia and Kentucky to publicly warn residents to avoid the popular beach destination.

  • New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio says he is delaying the planned resumption of indoor dining at restaurants in the city out of fear it would ignite a spike in coronavirus infections.
  • Officials in New York’s Rockland County said Wednesday they are being forced to issue subpoenas to compel people to speak to contact tracers about a coronavirus outbreak because they are not speaking voluntarily.
  • Coronavirus cases in Arizona continue to skyrocket as the state set another new record for daily cases on Wednesday with 4,878 new cases. The state also  reported 88 COVID deaths – another record. The percent positive rate of tests was 28.3%.
  • Arizona has requested 500 additional medical personnel from the federal government to assist with a surge in coronavirus cases, Vice President Pence said Wednesday.

Pence flew to Arizona to meet with Gov. Doug Ducey (R) and state health officials as coronavirus cases and positivity rates spike in the state.

  • Alabama officials will extend the state’s “safer at home” order amid reports that Tuscaloosa students have attended parties in the area despite knowing they had the novel coronavirus.

Tuscaloosa council on Tuesday unanimously approved an ordinance requiring face masks in public spaces, set to take effect July 6 with a fine of $25 for violations.

  • Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.) urged Alabamians to wear masks to stem the spread of the coronavirus in a campaign ad released Wednesday.
  • Pennsylvania’s highest court found in favor of Gov. Tom Wolf Wednesday, ruling the Republican-controlled state legislature did not have the power to end his coronavirus disaster declaration for the state.
  • In Pennsylvania, the governor announced Wednesday that the state would now require people to wear masks whenever they leave home, taking effect immediately.
  • A group of four Palm Beach County residents on Wednesday filed a lawsuit challenging a county policy that requires people to wear masks in public to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.

The suit, filed in Florida state court, alleges that the county policy infringes on the plaintiffs’ constitutionally protected rights by forcing them to wear “harmful medical devices like masks” and asks the court to issue an injunction blocking its enforcement.

  • As Florida coronavirus cases have been surging, the governor just claimed “by and large, the virus does not like sunshine, heat, and humidity.”
  • Miami-Dade county Mayor Carlos Gimenez announced Wednesday night that facial coverings are now mandatory in all public spaces, inside and out.
  • More than 8,000 new cases were announced across Texas on Wednesday, surpassing the previous daily record set on Tuesday.
  • A record-high 2946 new cases of coronavirus were reported in the last 24 hours in the state of Georgia.
  • Current hospitalizations due to coronavirus in the state of Georgia are now at their highest since this data was made available to the public.
  • More than 1,500 new cases were announced Wednesday in Tennessee, a single-day record.
  • Gov. Gavin Newsom of California announced that he was closing down bars and indoor dining in 19 counties in California, pulling back reopening for more than 70 percent of the population in the state. He also ordered closed indoor operations in wineries and tasting rooms, zoos, museums and card rooms. The closures, he said, would remain in place for at least three weeks.
  • More than 40 school principals in the South Bay are in quarantine after being exposed to COVID-19 during an in-person meeting held by the Santa Clara County California Unified School District.

A pre-symptomatic individual at the school reopening planning meeting on June 19 tested positive for the coronavirus just a few days after school administrators congregated.

  • A month after announcing a return to an in-person fall semester, the University of Southern California has reverted back to mostly online classes.

Undergraduate students will primarily take courses online come August and on-campus housing and activities will be limited

  • A wedding that took place on June 15 has been called a COVID-19 “super-spreader” after at least 80 guests tested positive for the virus following the event in Patna, India. The groom, who was displaying symptoms at the wedding, died two days later.
  • On Wednesday, as infections surged, hospitals filled and the death toll climbed, Iranian officials announced new shutdown measures in cities across 11 provinces.
  • In Israel, the Health Ministry announced that it recorded 773 cases on Tuesday — the highest daily case count since the virus first emerged in Israel.

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

Read Time: 7 Minutes

Coronavirus/COVID-19

  • The death toll from COVID-19 reached half a million people on Sunday.
  • Vice President Mike Pence said new outbreaks of the coronavirus may be arising because younger Americans aren’t abiding by federal guidance.

Pence said people “should wear masks whenever social distancing is not possible” and “wherever it is indicated by state or local authorities.”

  • A choir of more than 100 people performed without masks at an event in Texas at the First Baptist Church on Sunday that featured a speech by Vice President Mike Pence.

Nearly 2,200 people attended the “Celebrate Freedom Rally,” according to rally organizers. The venue capacity for the indoor event was close to 3,000 attendees, organizers say. Face masks at the event were “strongly encouraged,” with signs posted around the venue. According to reports, at least half of the crowd was wearing a face covering. 

Throughout the service, the members of the choir sang at full volume, behind an orchestra. Between songs, the choir members put their masks back on when they sat down.

  • Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Sunday a nationwide mandate to wear face coverings to prevent the spread of coronavirus is “definitely long overdue.”

The speaker called on President Trump to “be an example” to the U.S. and wear a face covering, saying “real men wear masks.”

  • Vice President Pence said the federal government would extend support for coronavirus testing in Texas as long as necessary amid a dangerous surge in new cases. U.S. health officials had originally moved to end supporting sites at the end of the month..
  • Florida Gov. DeSantis says his state’s rise in coronavirus cases is being “driven by a big increase over the last three weeks in individuals testing positive throughout the state of Florida in younger age groups.”
  • California Governor. Gavin Newsom ordered bars in several counties to close due to the spread of COVID-19, including Los Angeles County.

Newsom tweeted the order around Noon on Sunday, which also affects Fresno, Imperial, Kern, Kings, Los Angeles, San Joaquin, and Tulare counties.

The governor also recommended bars close in Contra Costa, Riverside, Sacramento, San Bernardino, Santa Barbara, Santa Clara, Stanislaus and Ventura counties.

  • Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar warned Sunday that “the window is closing” to take action to curb the spread of the coronavirus as cases across the southern United States continue “surging.”

In an interview with “Meet the Press,” Azar said that the country has “more tools than we had months ago” to fight the virus and the disease it causes, including new treatments and more personal protective equipment. But he stressed that America is facing a “very serious situation.”

  • A CBS News poll shows record numbers saying efforts against the outbreak are going badly (including new highs saying efforts are going very badly); President Trump receives his lowest marks for handling the pandemic since it began; and the outlook for the summer is grim. Twice as many expect the outbreak to worsen, rather than improve.

In addition to coronavirus concerns, overall, views of how things are generally going in the country are decidedly negative. Seventy-six percent of Americans say things are going badly compared to 56% who felt that way in December 2019.

  • Allegheny County, PA officials say they are banning on-site consumption of alcohol following a recent surge of new Coronavirus cases.

“For the first time since COVID-19 cases were confirmed in the state, Allegheny County led the state in the number of new COVID-19 cases,” said County Executive Rich Fitzgerald. “We’re going the wrong direction.”

  • The United Kingdom reported a weekly total of 6,820 coronavirus infections, that’s a decrease of 19.2% over last week and 80.9% since the week of April 19th.
  • Brazil tallied 38,693 new coronavirus cases in 24 hours and 1,109 additional deaths. The number of COVID19 infections stands at 1,313,667 and the death toll at 57,070 as of Saturday night, with no sign of policy changes by the Bolsonaro government.
  • The University of Tennessee will require students to have both flu and, when available,  COVID-19 vaccines.
  • Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Sunday New York State’s lowest death toll and hospitalizations due to COVID-19 since the pandemic began. Saturday, there were five deaths and 869 hospitalizations in New York State.

Of the 61,906 tests conducted in New York State Saturday, 616, or 0.99 percent, were positive.

  • Oklahoma (478), South Carolina (1,384), Louisiana (1,454),  North Carolina (1,576), Georgia (2,225), and Arizona (3,857) all set records for new coronavirus cases.

Protest/Race Relations News

  • Two street murals, one reading, “All Black Lives Matter” and the other “Abolish White Supremacy” were painted on two streets in Newark, NJ by artists with the support of the city.
  • The Mississippi state legislature — both the House and Senate — passed a bill on Sunday to change the state’s flag in a historic step toward removing the flag’s Confederate battle emblem.

The bill will now go to Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves, who has said he would sign legislation that state lawmakers send him to remove the Confederate insignia. The legislation cleared the state House in a 91-23 vote and the state Senate with a 37-14 vote

  • New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy Tweeted: “Today, Mississippi lawmakers voted to remove the Confederate symbol from its state flag.

We replaced the MS flag with the American flag at Liberty State Park last year due to its hateful imagery. We look forward to raising a new MS flag soon.”

Administration News

  • United States intelligence officers and Special Operations forces in Afghanistan alerted their superiors as early as January to a Russian plot to pay bounties to the Taliban to kill American troops in Afghanistan, according to officials briefed on the matter.

Interrogations of captured militants and criminals played a central role in making the intelligence community confident in its assessment that the Russians had offered and paid bounties in 2019, another official has said.

Officials briefed on the matter said the assessment had been treated as a closely held secret but that the administration expanded briefings about it over the last week — including sharing information about it with the British government, whose forces were among those said to have been targeted.

In addition to saying he was never “briefed or told” about the intelligence report, Mr. Trump also cast doubt on the assessment’s credibility. He described the intelligence report as being about “so-called attacks on our troops in Afghanistan by Russians.” The report described bounties paid to Taliban militants by Russian military intelligence officers, not direct attacks. Mr. Trump also suggested that the developments could be a “hoax” and questioned whether The Times’s sources existed.

  • Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the third-ranking House Republican, said in a Twitter message on Sunday: “If reporting about Russian bounties on U.S. forces is true, the White House must explain: 1. Why weren’t the president or vice president briefed? Was the info in the [Presidential Daily Briefing]? 2. Who did know and when? 3. What has been done in response to protect our forces & hold Putin accountable?”
  • Russian bounties offered to Taliban-linked militants to kill coalition forces in Afghanistan are believed to have resulted in the deaths of several U.S. service members, according to intelligence gleaned from U.S. military interrogations of captured militants in recent months.

Several people familiar with the matter said it was unclear exactly how many Americans or coalition troops from other countries may have been killed. U.S. forces in Afghanistan suffered a total 26 deaths from 2018-2019.

  • British security officials have confirmed to Sky News that the reports about the Russian bounty plot are true.
  • The president Tweeted late Sunday night: “Intel just reported to me that they did not find this info credible, and therefore did not report it to me or @VP . Possibly another fabricated Russia Hoax, maybe by the Fake News @nytimesbooks, wanting to make Republicans look bad!!!

Presidential Campaign

  • 5% of Americans say they feel things in America today, generally speaking, are going “very well” according to a new CBS poll.
  • Following pressure to disclose the number of minorities on their staffs, the campaigns for former Vice President Joe Biden and President Donald Trump released diversity statistics.

In a summary of staff data obtained by NBC News, the Biden campaign disclosed that 35 percent of the full-time staff and 36 percent of senior advisors are people of color.

After the Biden campaign revealed its numbers, the Trump campaign followed, announcing that 25 percent of its senior staff are people of color but declining to provide information for all full-time staff.

  • Fox News Senior Correspondent Charles Gasparino Tweeted: “BREAKING— (thread)GOP operatives are for the first time raising the possibility that @realDonaldTrump  could drop out of the race if his poll numbers don’t rebound. Over the weekend I spoke to a sample of major players; one described Trumps current psyche as “fragile.”

“I’m not convinced yet; he’s got time and he’s running against an opponent who is literally hiding in his basement. Plus the public isn’t focusing yet on just how left wing @JoeBiden has become, so much so, he can bring himself to denounce rioting.

“That said the speculation indicates how tense  GOP operatives are about Trump losing and the party losing the senate and having their entire agenda abolished in a leftist wave election. Again lots of time and Trump has endured a horrible couple of months but that’s the snap [shot]”

Sources:  ABC News, 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