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

Read Time: 5 Minutes

  • The U.S. reported 51,998 new cases and 1,181 additional deaths. 
  • Adm. Brett Giroir, a member of the White House coronavirus task force, said people should not get “hung up on a number,” when asked if there were a number of tests that the U.S. should be doing.

“We are doing the appropriate amount of testing now to reduce the spread, flatten the curve, save lives – because it’s not the number,” Giroir said.

  • Dr. Anthony Fauci said Americans need to think about returning to some sort of normalcy as the coronavirus pandemic continues.

It is a challenge, but “you can’t interrupt your life, totally, indefinitely. You’ve got to try to safely get back to normal,” he said.

  • Fauci said, “You can’t run away from the numbers of people who’ve died, the number of people getting hospitalized, the surges we’re seeing.”

“How long we’re going to have to be doing this depends totally on us.”

  • Regarding the state of the pandemic, Fauci said, “Bottom line is, I’m not pleased with how things are going.”
  • CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield asked Americans to do “four simple things” for “their country right now and for the war that we’re in against” coronavirus:

Wear a mask

Social distance

Wash your hands

Be smart about crowds

“I’m not asking some of America to do it,” Redfield said. “We all gotta do it.”

  • Joe Biden advocated that a mask mandate be instituted nationwide. 

“Every single American should be wearing a mask when they’re outside for the next three months, at a minimum. Every governor should mandate mandatory mask wearing,” Biden said, adding that experts advised it could save over 40,000 lives over the same time span. 

Biden said, “It’s about your responsibilities as an American. Be a patriot. Protect your fellow citizens.”

  • A new survey by the CDC found that almost 41% of respondents are struggling with mental health issues stemming from the coronavirus pandemic – both related to the pandemic itself and the measures put in place to contain it, including physical distancing and stay-at-home orders.
  • The Senate left Washington, D.C. on Thursday until September — the latest sign that a deal on a fifth coronavirus relief package is, at least, weeks away.
  • Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA.) said that talks between the White House and Democrats on coronavirus relief will resume only when Republicans come to the table with at least $2 trillion.

“When they’re ready to do that, we’ll sit down,” Pelosi told reporters in the Capitol.

  • Another 963,000 Americans filed for first-time unemployment benefits last week on a seasonally adjusted basis – the first time in five months that fewer than 1 million have filed for first-time jobless benefits.
  • Since the Trump administration directed hospitals to report its data directly to the Department of Health and Human Services, the Covid Tracking Project has found the data to be “erratic,” “spotty and difficult to interpret.”
  • Bill Gates predicted in an interview that the first coronavirus vaccine “won’t be ideal in terms of its effectiveness against sickness and transmission. It may not have a long duration, and it will mainly be used in rich countries as a stopgap measure.”
  • Dr. Francis Collins, the director of the National Institutes of Health, said the United States should not expect to see an approved vaccine by October – a reference to speculation that President Trump could prematurely rush a vaccine through the regulatory process prior to Election Day.
  • Russian officials in Moscow said they have offered “unprecedented cooperation” with the U.S. to accelerate access to effective Covid-19 vaccines and treatments. But the officials said that the “U.S. is not currently open” to the Russian medical advances.
  • The World Health Organization said there is not “sufficient information at this point to make a judgement” on the Russian vaccine that was announced this week.
  • Confronted on Fox News with polling showing public support slipping for in-person school amid the coronavirus pandemic, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos pushed a conspiracy theory: “Well, we know that it’s a coordinated effort and a campaign to sow fear.”
  • A group of parents are suing California Gov. Gavin Newsom over in-person school restrictions. Christine Ruiz has two sons with autism, and she said that without specialized learning, they are falling behind.

The lawsuit alleges that students will not receive equal access to education.

  • 47-year-old Yolanda Yarbrough was arrested this week after she allegedly hit an American Airlines employee at an airport in Arizona after she was barred from boarding for refusing to comply with the airline’s mask policy.
  • New York City’s “Tribute in Light” that honors victims of the September 11, 2001, attacks has been canceled due to coronavirus concerns, the 9/11 Memorial & Museum announced Thursday. “The health risks during the pandemic were far too great for the large crew required to produce the annual Tribute in Light.”
  • Stanford University is canceling almost all in-person classes this fall.
  • East Carolina University police have already had to shut down 20 student parties, one of which was packed with about 400 students. Classes started at ECU on Monday.
  • Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) is withdrawing his lawsuit against Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms (D) and the City Council regarding restrictions Atlanta put in place over coronavirus, including a citywide mask mandate.
  • Illinois has surpassed 200,000 total Covid-19 positive cases, with an additional 1,834 new cases being reported Thursday.
  • Kansas City mayor Quinton Lucas (D) is extending the city’s coronavirus state of emergency until at least Jan. 16, 2021, requiring most people to continue wearing face coverings while in public places and capping crowds at bars to 50% capacity.
  • St. Louis’ order that limits capacity of bars, restaurants and nightclubs to 50% occupancy and institutes an 11:00 p.m. closing time went into effect Thursday. There were no previous restrictions.
  • Shelby County, TN health officials say they won’t recommend closing schools or returning to a stay-at-home order until 25% of coronavirus tests in the community come back positive — a threshold dramatically higher than other cities across the nation.

By contrast, New York City’s mayor has said school buildings must shutter if the positivity rate exceeds 3%, and other school districts have vowed to limit in-person learning when the rate hits 5%.

  • Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D) is extending the state’s mask order. 
  • California’s coronavirus case count topped 600,000 on Thursday, the first state in the country to reach the grim milestone.
  • The number of people dying from Covid-19 every day in California remains high, despite a decline in cases and hospitalizations. The 14-day positivity rate has also dropped to under 6% for the first time since June 28. The state reported another 160 fatalities Thursday. 
  • A Los Angeles megachurch that has remained open, despite state guidelines ordering indoor worship services closed, is suing the state over what they believe are unfair Covid-19 restrictions. The suit accuses the state government officials of selectively restricting gatherings and interfering with their religious freedom.
  • Hawaii reported its highest single-day case count of Covid-19 with 355 cases.

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

The Past 24 Hours or So – Coronavirus, Racial & Social Justice, Trump Administration, and Presidential Campaign Updates

Read Time 7 Minutes

Coronavirus/COVID-19 Update

  • The U.S. reported 55,742 new cases and 1,485 additional deaths – the highest single day total for deaths since May.
  • The World Health Organization has issued new guidance advising people to postpone routine dental cleanings amid the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Nearly three dozen current and former government health experts warn in a previously unpublished letter that the Trump administration’s new coronavirus database is placing an undue burden on hospitals and will have “serious consequences on data integrity.”
  • Based on a Duke University research, these are the types of masks that work best:

N95 masks, three-layer surgical masks, cotton masks, 

And these are the types that do not work as well:

Neck fleeces (gaiter masks), bandanas, knitted masks

  • The White House released new recommendations for schools as they prepare to reopen, however the recommendations are little more than basic hygiene tips and don’t outline what schools should do if they face coronavirus cases. 

The use of masks is recommended but not required for students, teachers or staff. They also “require students, teachers and staff to socially distance around high-risk individuals,” however it’s unclear how schools will go about doing that.

  • President Donald Trump announced a plan to send 125 million reusable masks to school districts throughout the country and deploy CDC teams to those that need help reopening for in-person learning.
  • Trump continued to push the false narrative that several states are in “fantastic shape” when it comes to the coronavirus.

“If you look at some of the states that had a flare-up recently, they’re all doing very well,” the president said. “Florida is going down. Arizona is going down, way down. They’ve done a fantastic job. California, as you know, is going down.”

NOTE: While new cases in Florida and Arizona are trending downward, they are not back to pre-June levels. California did experience some periods of brief decline in new cases but currently the average number of daily new cases is again on the rise.

  • Trump said: “I want to make it unmistakably clear that I am protecting people from evictions.

NOTE: His executive order does not prevent anyone from being evicted. It simply directs administration officials to “consider” whether “any measures temporarily halting residential evictions of any tenants for failure to pay rent are reasonably necessary to prevent the further spread of COVID-19.”

  • President Trump’s senior aides acknowledged that they are providing less financial assistance for the unemployed than the president initially claimed. Senior White House officials said publicly that the maneuver only guarantees an extra $300 per week for unemployed Americans — with states not required to add anything to their existing state benefit programs to qualify for the federal benefit.
  • Fusion Health and Vitality, which operates under the name Pharm Origins, sold a product called the “Immune Drug”, which was advertised as lowering the risk of COVID-19 infection by 50 percent. The man behind the company is now charged with falsely promoting and selling the drug.
  • The Big East Conference postponed its fall sports and will assess the options to stage fall sports contests in the spring of 2021.
  • Churchill Downs racetrack has announced that the rescheduled Kentucky Derby will limit attendance to fewer than 23,000 spectators.

The new crowd figure represents less than 14% of the attendance record set in 2015. The Derby says 170,513 people attended that year.

  • November’s Masters golf tournament will be held without spectators.
  • New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) signed an executive order that allows schools and universities to reopen for the upcoming academic year. 

Social distancing and other protections would have to be strictly adhered to, he said, and students that want to continue remote learning must be accommodated.

  • North Paulding High School, the Georgia high school seen in a viral photo of crowded hallways, plans to move to a hybrid schedule. 
  • Cherokee County School District is temporarily closed for in-person learning at Georgia’s Woodstock High School with the reopening tentatively scheduled for Aug. 31.
  • One day after the Martin County School District in southeast Florida reopened for in-person instruction, an entire elementary school classroom was placed under quarantine, after a student began exhibiting symptoms of Covid-19.
  • Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (D) announced 1,163 new positive cases, the single highest number of new positive cases the state has recorded since the start of the pandemic.
  • A Kansas prison is on lockdown due to Covid-19 outbreak. 84 residents and 10 staff tested positive this week.
  • As Texas soars past 500,000 Covid-19 cases, state officials are redoubling their efforts to get residents to wear masks and practice social distancing.
  • Queen Creek School Board in suburban Phoenix voted to resume school with 100% in-person learning starting Aug. 17.
  • John MacArthur, the pastor of Grace Community Church, a megachurch in Los Angeles, defended the church’s decision to allow over six thousand people in for services Sunday, with no social distancing and no masks – defying California state orders amid the coronavirus outbreak. 

Asked about his disregard of coronavirus restrictions, MacArthur dismissed the responsibility for him to follow such guidelines.

Trump Administration

  • Channeling decades of racist attacks, President Trump claimed that his decision to scrap an Obama-era rule meant to quash racial discrimination would win the support of suburban women afraid of living near low-income housing projects.

Trump tweeted: “The “suburban housewife” will be voting for me. They want safety & are thrilled that I ended the long running program where low income housing would invade their neighborhood. Biden would reinstall it, in a bigger form, with Corey Booker in charge! @foxandfriends @MariaBartiromo”

  • President Donald Trump congratulated Marjorie Taylor Greene on her congressional primary victory, endorsing a Republican candidate with a history of racist, Islamophobic and anti-Semitic remarks and who has embraced QAnon conspiracy theories.

“Congratulations to future Republican Star Marjorie Taylor Greene on a big Congressional primary win in Georgia against a very tough and smart opponent,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “Marjorie is strong on everything and never gives up — a real WINNER!”

  • President Trump went off on Bill Maher on Twitter, attacking him as “totally SHOT, looks terrible, exhausted, gaunt, and weak,” after the host of HBO’s “Real Time” delivered a mock eulogy for Trump’s funeral that said: “Some men look at the world and ask, ‘Why?’ Donald Trump looked at the world and asked, ‘What’s in it for me?’”
  • An Air Force helicopter was shot at from the ground and forced to make an emergency landing in Virginia, injuring at least one crew member, according to Pentagon officials. The helicopter had just left Joint Base Andrews, the home to the presidential aircraft Air Force One.
  • The State Department’s Office of Inspector General concluded that  billionaire New York Jets co-owner Woody Johnson, President Trump’s ambassador to the United Kingdom, made offensive remarks to staff at the U.S. Embassy in London.

The inspector general’s office “learned, through employee questionnaires and interviews, that the Ambassador sometimes made inappropriate or insensitive comments on topics generally considered Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO)-sensitive, such as religion, sex, or color.”

Such “offensive or derogatory comments, based on an individual’s race, color, sex, or religion, can create an offensive working environment and could potentially rise to a violation of EEO laws,” the IG report states, deeming that a “more thorough review by the Department is warranted.”

  • A Native American tribe with ancestral roots in the regions surrounding the U.S.-Mexico border is suing the Trump administration to halt construction on a new piece of the border wall, alleging that the development will trample over the tribe’s sacred burial grounds.
  • Trump once again falsely said that the money from his tariffs on Chinese products is being paid by China. Americans are bearing most of the cost of the tariffs, and American importers make the actual payments to the government.

Protests/Racial & Social Justice

  • The family of a dead woman whose breasts were allegedly fondled by the Los Angeles Police Department officer David Rojas who discovered her body is suing the officer and the city, the family’s attorney Gloria Allred announced this week.

“It is not only against the law, but it is also against all sense of human decency.”

While he was alone in the room with the corpse as his partner returned to their squad car, Rojas allegedly fondled the woman’s breasts.

The officer had reportedly attempted to deactivate his body camera, but was still caught on video due to a delay between the deactivation and when the device actually turns off.

  • Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced this week that the city will assess memorials, monuments and art as part of a racial healing and historical reckoning project, with the intent to analyze which figures may have a racist history, catalog the monuments, and, if needed, recommend their removal.

Presidential Campaign

  • The president’s son-in-law and senior advisor Jared Kushner met recently with hip hop artist Kanye West. West has stepped up his efforts to be on the November ballot as part of an independent bid for the White House. The meeting comes as West has acknowledged his bid for president could siphon votes away from Joe Biden.
  • President Trump and allies in the Republican Party and on Fox News have quickly begun sexist and personal attacks against Kamala Harris, from Trump demeaning her as “angry” and “horrible” to commentators mocking her first name to comparing her to “payday lenders.”

Trump described her as “nasty” or “nastier” four times — terms he often uses for female opponents. After Joe Biden and Harris held their first joint appearance, Trump claimed without evidence that Harris was furious when she left the Democratic primary race after falling in the polls.

“She left angry, she left mad,” he said. “There was nobody more insulting to Biden than she was.”

Right-wing commentator, Dinesh D’Souza, appeared on Fox News and questioned whether Harris could truly claim she was Black.Tuesday night, Tucker Carlson, the Fox News host, mispronounced her first name and grew angry when corrected.

Eric Trump favorited a tweet, which was later deleted, that referred to Ms. Harris as a “whorendous pick.” Jenna Ellis, a senior legal adviser to the Trump campaign, posted during Ms. Harris’s first speech as Mr. Biden’s running mate on Wednesday, “Kamala sounds like Marge Simpson.”

  • Twitter said Wednesday it plans to expand its rules against misleading information about mail-in ballots and early voting, a move that could have major implications for the social media platform’s handling of tweets by President Donald Trump and his allies.

Sources:  ABC News, Associated Press, The Atlantic, Axios, Bloomberg, CBS News, CNN, Chicago Tribune, Financial Times, Fox News,The Hill, Independent, NBC News, 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

  • The U.S. reported 55,594 new cases and 1,326 additional deaths – breaking the 1,000 death mark after two consecutive days below that threshold. .
  • The number of confirmed coronavirus cases worldwide topped 20 million on Tuesday, more than half of them from the U.S., India, and Brazil.

Health officials believe the actual number is much higher than that tally kept by Johns Hopkins University, given testing limitations and the fact that as many as 40% of those who are infected have no symptoms.

It took six months or so to get to 10 million cases after the virus first appeared in central China late last year. It took just over six weeks for that number to double.

  • The American Medical Association and other health organizations urged US Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar to update Covid-19 testing prioritization guidelines, as resources are still limited and many patients are still waiting over a week to receive their results.
  • Obesity is linked with higher odds of having severe Covid-19 symptoms that require hospitalization –– and the higher the body mass index, the higher that risk of hospitalization, according to a new study. 
  • The Trump administration is considering a measure to block U.S. citizens and permanent residents from returning home if they are suspected of being infected with the coronavirus.
  • Researchers from Harvard University and University College London found that every state in the U.S. that enacted at least one physical distancing measure in March in an effort to slow the spread of the pandemic were successful..

Policies were so effective, physical distancing resulted in the reduction of more than 600,000 cases within just three weeks, according to the study.

  • The U.S. has entered into an agreement with drugmaker Moderna Inc to acquire 100 million doses of its potential COVID-19 vaccine for around $1.5 billion, the company and White House said.
  • Johnson & Johnson could produce 1 billion doses of its potential COVID-19 vaccine next year if it proves successful and would consider injecting healthy volunteers with the novel coronavirus if there are not enough patients for final trials, a company executive said.
  • President Putin said Russia had become the first country to grant regulatory approval to a COVID-19 vaccine after less than two months of human testing, a move Moscow likened to its success in the Cold War-era space race.

NOTE: Russia has yet to conduct large-scale trials that would produce data to show whether it works – something immunologists and infectious disease experts say could be a ‘reckless’ step.

  • U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar reacted to the announcement from Russia that it has approved a “world first” Covid-19 vaccine.

“The point is not to be first with the vaccine,” Azar said on ABC’s “Good Morning America” today. “The point is to have a vaccine that is safe and effective for the American people and the people of the world.”

  • Facebook said it removed seven million posts in the second quarter for sharing false information about the novel coronavirus, including content that promoted fake preventative measures and exaggerated cures.
  • President Trump insisted once again that colleges should play football and made the dubious claim that student athletes are strong enough to withstand coronavirus.
  • Florida governor Ron DeSantis (R) advocated for college sports to play in the fall. 
  • The Big 10 conference canceled its fall football season. It hopes to play in the spring.
  • The Pac-12 conference canceled the fall sports season including football. The conference says it would consider a “return to competition for impacted sports after January 1, 2021.”
  • Old Dominion University canceled all of its fall athletic season. 
  • The University of Massachusetts canceled the school’s 2020 football season.
  • New Zealand announced it was shutting down its largest city, Auckland, after four new cases of COVID-19 were discovered in the city, the first evidence of domestic transmission after being coronavirus-free for 102 days.
  • Many U.S. universities are revamping campuses to resume in-person classes despite COVID-19, requiring students to be tested, wear masks and socially distance, but some college town residents and critics say schools are putting profits before public safety.
  • Anyone attending a gathering of more than 100 people in New Hampshire will be required to wear a face covering, Gov. Chris Sununu (R) announced.
  • Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont (D) pushed for schools to reopen for in-person learning during a news conference, saying he knows the state can bring students back safely.

“If Connecticut can’t get their kids back into the classroom safely, no state can,” the governor said, citing the state’s diligence in wearing masks and social distancing.

  • The Bellmawr, NJ borough council voted to rescind the business license of Atilis Gym that has repeatedly defied a state order to close its doors under coronavirus restrictions.
  • North Carolina reported their first case in a dog in the state. On Aug. 3, an owner took their pet to the NC State Veterinary Hospital. The dog had signs of respiratory distress and died from his illness.
  • Cherokee County School District in Georgia is temporarily closing Etowah High School to in-person learning after 14 students tested positive for Covid-19.
  • The North Georgia State Fair scheduled for Sept. 23 to Oct. 3 has been canceled. 
  • Florida reported  5,831 new cases and 276 additional deaths – a record number of coronavirus-related deaths for the state.
  • There has been a 137% increase in the number of Covid-19 cases in children in the past month in Florida.

On July 9, Florida reported 16,797 cases in children. By August 9, that number increased to 39,735 infections. 

  • Marion County, FL Sheriff Billy Woods prohibited his deputies from wearing masks at work.

“We can debate and argue all day of why and why not. The fact is, the amount of professionals that give the reason why we should, I can find the exact same amount of professionals that say why we shouldn’t,” Woods wrote in an email.

The city council plans to meet Wednesday to consider overriding the veto.

  • Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) announced that 325 of Ohio’s school districts are planning to return to full-time in-person learning, making up about 590,000, or 38%, of public school students.
  • Roughly 100 students were sent home from a southern Mississippi high school on Tuesday after coming into contact with a teacher who was exhibiting mild COVID-19 symptoms. The only time students did not have their faces covered was during lunch, otherwise, they were required to wear masks in classes.
  • Tony Green, from Texas, thought coronavirus was a hoax and just a “rebranded flu” until a small gathering in June resulted in 14 of his family members becoming ill.

“It seems that the White House, the communication was really broken down … It seemed like it was being downplayed, ‘don’t panic, don’t worry,’ to the point where you just think, ‘OK, well, you know, if the President is not worried, if the White House isn’t worried … let’s go on with life,’” Green said.

  • California reported 12,807 new cases and 109 additional deaths. The high number of cases is due in part to a backlog caused by issues with the state’s electronic laboratory system. 
  • A California fitness trainer who had coronavirus and needed to be hospitalized and put into a medically induced coma for five days says he at first dismissed the virus and was skeptical of its severity. “I didn’t think it was real. I thought it was something that was made up.” 

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

The Past 24 Hours or So

Read Time: 8 minutes

Coronavirus/COVID-19 Update

  • The U.S. reported 42,003 new cases and 427 additional deaths.
  • President Trump repeated his false assertion that children are “essentially immune” from COVID-19 while downplaying a new report showing nearly 100,000 children tested positive for COVID-19 at the end of July, and said he does not think it means schools should stay closed.

“There may be a case, a tiny, a tiny fraction of death, tiny fraction, and they get better very quickly,” Trump said at a press briefing at the White House.

  • According to a report by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association, there were 179,990 new Covid-19 cases among US children between July 9 and August 6.
  • President Trump lashed out at Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) after he criticized the president’s executive action over the weekend.

“RINO Ben Sasse, who needed my support and endorsement in order to get the Republican nomination for Senate from the GREAT State of Nebraska, has, now that he’s got it (Thank you President T), gone rogue, again,” Trump tweeted.

  • Sasse defended his opposition and indicated he would rather have the discussion privately with Trump – “since you moved our conversation from private to public, here we are.”

“On the topic that had you mad this weekend: No president — whether named Obama or Trump or Biden or AOC — has unilateral power to rewrite immigration law or to cut taxes or to raise taxes. This is because America doesn’t have kings,” Sasse wrote.

  • President Trump revealed that he is considering a capital gains tax cut in an effort to create more jobs.

NOTE: Studies have shown that reducing taxes on capital gains cannot be expected to generate significant new investment or jobs.

  • Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said the administration is “prepared to put more money on the table” as stalled stimulus negotiations continue on Capitol Hill.
  • Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) denied President Trump’s claim that Democrats called him to resume negotiations, and said he has not seen any evidence that the President is personally involved in the negotiations for the next coronavirus relief bill.

“Fables from Donald Trump,” Schumer said in an interview on MSNBC.

  • Actress Alyssa Milano revealed that she was hospitalized for complications due to COVID-19 in April and that she still had symptoms of the disease months later.
  • Actor Antonio Banderas disclosed on Monday, his 60th birthday, that he has tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
  • The Mountain West Conference postponed all fall sports. 
  • President Trump is calling on college sports leaders to allow the student athletes to play this season.
  • The NHL announced no new positive test results during the past week inside the league’s two hub cities of Toronto and Edmonton.
  • 107 school districts in New York state haven’t submitted plans for reopening.

“How you didn’t submit a plan is beyond me,” Gov. Cuomo said. “If they don’t submit a plan by this Friday, they can’t open.”

  • A Cedar Knolls, NJ QuickChek cashier suffered burns when John Dedolce, 42, of Randolph, threw his hot coffee on her after she asked him to readjust his face mask.

Dedolce refused to fix his mask, prompting the cashier to cancel his order and ask him to leave.

Dedolce then threw the food he was attempting to purchase onto the floor and threw hot coffee at the cashier before leaving the store, authorities said.

  • A teen employee at Sesame Place had to undergo surgery after being punched by a man he told to wear a face mask. Police are still searching for the suspect.

The employee asked a man to wear a face mask, noting they are required in the park. Police say the man later confronted the teen at a ride and punched him in the face.

Park security chased the man, but he and a woman fled and reportedly were last seen driving away in a vehicle registered in New York.

  • The Cherokee County School District in Georgia reported that 826 students and 42 staff members are in quarantine due to possible exposure to Covid-19.
  • Florida reported 4,155 new cases and 91 additional deaths. The number of new infections is the lowest increase since June 23. 
  • More than 40 members of a family tested positive for coronavirus after an infected relative from another state attended a funeral in West Virginia. 

Several received medical treatment due to worsening conditions. The latest, a 2-year-old girl, was diagnosed Sunday night after being taken to a Huntington hospital with a high fever.

  • Twenty-two schools in Mississippi are reporting positive Covid-19 cases. There have been nineteen cases reported among students and fifteen cases among staff.
  • In Kansas, fifteen counties with mask mandates reduced coronavirus case numbers, Lee Norman, the secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, told the Kansas City Star.

“Some counties have been the control group with no mask and some counties have been the experimental group where masks are worn, and the experimental group is winning the battle. All of the improvement in the case development comes from those counties wearing masks,” Norman told the Kansas City Star.

Trump Administration

  • President Trump said he has asked that the G7 meeting be postponed until after the election in November, after a previous delay due to Covid-19 concerns.
  • The deficit climbed to a record $2.8 trillion during the first 10 months of fiscal 2020, roughly doubling the biggest annual deficit, according to figures released by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.
  • The EPA is set to end requirements this week that force gas and oil producers to find methane leaks, meaning some leaks could go unaddressed even as methane is 25 times more impactful than carbon dioxide and a major contributor to human-linked climate change. The rules will roll back requirements on smog as well.
  • Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar met with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-Wen in the highest-level meeting between officials of the two nations in decades. China, which considers Taiwan a part of the country, condemned Azar’s visit.
  • China sanctioned eleven U.S. politicians and heads of organizations promoting democratic causes after the Trump administration leveled sanctions against eleven individuals last week over Beijing’s crackdown in Hong Kong.

Presidential Campaign

  • In a tweet, the president announced the two locations being considered for his acceptance speech: ”The Great Battlefield of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, and the White House, Washington, D.C. We will announce the decision soon!”
  • The Sierra Club, one of the nation’s most influential environmental groups, endorsed Joe Biden for president on Monday saying that “No president has been worse for our environment or our nation’s public health than Donald Trump,” and they are “confident” in Biden’s work for climate justice.
  • Trump campaign senior legal adviser Jenna Ellis tweeted a link to an article in which Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Rachel Levine, a transgender woman, asked people to stop misgendering her. Ellis wrote in the tweet: “This guy is making decisions about your health.”
  • Federal Elections Commission Commissioner Ellen Weintraub warned that a shift to mail-in ballots during the coronavirus pandemic means there is a “substantial chance” that the results of the presidential and down-ballot races may not be called on election night.

“Let me just tell everybody, we’re all going to need to take a deep breath and be patient this year because there’s a substantial chance we are not going to know on election night what the results are.”

Protests/Racial and Social Justice

  • Hundreds of people swept through downtown Chicago early Monday, smashing windows, looting stores, confronting police and at one point exchanging gunfire with officers, authorities said.

More than 100 people were arrested according to Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown. Thirteen officers were injured, including a sergeant who was hit by a bottle. A civilian and private security guard were shot and wounded.

City officials said the seeds for the violent crime spree were sown on social media Sunday afternoon following an officer involved shooting in the Englewood neighborhood. Officers shot and wounded a 20-year-old man Sunday after he fired shots at them while being chased, authorities said.

“This was not an organized protest,” Brown said. “Rather this was an incident of pure criminality. This was an act of violence against our police officers and against our city.”

  • Portland police declared another riot on Sunday night after fireworks injured two officers during demonstrations around the Portland Police Association office. Police said protesters barricaded streets with dumpsters and fencing and a fire was lit on the sidewalk outside the police association office. 
  • The Seattle City Council approved proposals that would reduce the police department by as many as 100 officers through layoffs and attrition — an action supported by demonstrators who have marched in the city following the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis but strongly opposed by the mayor and police chief.
  • Multiple police officers in Santa Clarita Valley, CA are under scrutiny after footage went viral showing them pointing guns at a group of Black teenagers shortly after the teens were attacked at a bus stop. 

In footage, three officers could be seen pointing guns at the teens, who had their hands raised, as people could be heard repeatedly yelling to them off-camera “It’s not them” and “It’s the other guy.”

The mother of one of the boys said the police arrived on the scene shortly after her son and his friends had been attacked by a homeless man. The man had initially approached her son and his friends to ask them “if they had any crack, then tried to take their things.” 

The man allegedly became aggressive, removed his shirt, and “pulled out a knife and whip,” attempting to stab the group.

  • Opponents of the Black Lives Matter movement have shared a viral video of the protesters interrupting a church service in New York, blasting them for protesting at a church, but an investigation reveals the video was shared without the context that its pastor has a history of racist and inflammatory comments.

The church’s pastor, John Koletas, is a self-proclaimed “bigot,” subscribes to the “Curse of Ham,” a fringe Christian belief that Black people are the descendants of Noah’s son Ham and cursed by God.

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

The Past 24 Hours or So

Read Time: 5 Minutes

8/10

Coronavirus/COVID-19 Update

  • The U.S. reported 54,590 new cases and 1,064 additional deaths.
  • Microsoft founder Bill Gates lamented the United States’ coronavirus “testing insanity,” which he said had caused the country to fall behind the rest of the world, much of which has begun reopening after flattening infection growth.

“A variety of early missteps by the U.S. and then the political atmosphere meant that we didn’t get our testing going,” Gates said. “It’s nonsense that any sort of travel ban we did was at all beneficial. That doesn’t pass the common sense test… and now we’ve executed our lockdowns nationwide with less fidelity than other countries.”

  • Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) blasted the unemployment benefits included in President Trump’s coronavirus executive actions, calling it an insufficient “country club fix” that will cut payments for millions of Americans. He added that it’s an “urban lie” to suggest that people receiving benefits are choosing not to work.
  • White House trade adviser Peter Navarro defended President Trump’s recent executive actions when pressed about why the president wasn’t present for negotiations with Congress and instead at his golf club. Navarro claimed that Trump is the “hardest working president in history and he “works 24/7 in Bedminster, Mar-a-lago, the Oval Office or anywhere in between.”
  • Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin defended President Trump’s coronavirus executive actions, claiming that Democrats would be responsible for delaying assistance to Americans if they challenged them in court: “If the Democrats want to challenge us in court and hold up unemployment benefits to those hard working Americans that are out of a job because of COVID, they’re going to have a lot of explaining to do.”
  • Dollar Tree and Family Dollar, in a policy reversal, are now requiring customers to wear masks inside stores.
  • Eighty-two percent of K-12 teachers said in a new poll that they are concerned about holding in-person classes in the new school year, and 66 percent would rather teach their classes remotely.
  • North Paulding High School, the high school in Georgia that gained viral attention last week after photos emerged showing students, many without masks, in packed hallways says it will temporarily move to online learning after it was discovered multiple students and faculty contracted COVID-19 following its first week of classes.
  • MLB has postponed the St. Louis Cardinals’ three-game series against the Pittsburgh Pirates, scheduled to begin Monday, due to recent positive Covid-19 test results. The Cardinals have now had 13 consecutive games postponed.
  • New York had the lowest one day positive infection rate since the start of the pandemic. New York had an infection rate of 0.78%.
  • Over 353 cars were stopped at New York City “quarantine checkpoints” in the first three days after being established. Approximately 1,100 masks were distributed as well.
  • Georgia reported 3,177 new cases and 13 additional deaths.
  • South Carolina reported 1,011  new cases and additional 18 deaths.
  • Florida reported 6,190 new cases and 77 additional deaths. This marks the thirteenth consecutive day the state has reported more than 6,000 cases in a single day.
  • Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) pleaded with residents to wear masks during a press conference Sunday, calling it “common sense.”  His statement comes after announcing new rules on Friday designed to better enforce mask requirements and give local authority guidelines to enforce compliance.
  • Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot (D) tweeted a picture of a crowded beach Sunday, saying that the crowds and “reckless behavior” will make the city shut down parks and the lakefront.
  • Texas reported 4,789 new coronavirus cases and 116 additional deaths.
  • Nevada reported 811 new coronavirus cases and 8 new deaths. A concerning 11.3% daily positivity rate was reported
  • California’s Department of Corrections reported a San Quentin State Prison employee is the eighth to die from Covid-19.

Trump Administration

  • President Trump denied reports the White House had reached out to South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem about adding his face to Mount Rushmore, but he said “based on all of the many things accomplished during the first 3 1/2 years, perhaps more than any other Presidency, sounds like a good idea to me!”

Presidential Campaign

  • White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said he wants President Trump to deliver his nomination speech “miles and miles away” from the White House grounds in a recent interview.

The White House chief of staff’s remarks come after the president indicated last week that he might deliver his nomination speech from the White House after he had backtracked from plans to give the speech in Jacksonville. 

  • White House national security adviser Robert O’Brien said that the U.S. is aware of efforts from foreign adversaries to interfere in the U.S. 2020 elections, claiming that “there will be severe consequences for any country that attempts to interfere with our free and fair elections.” The comments came after a U.S. intel official said China, Russia and Iran were actively working to meddle in the election.
  • President Trump has used official White House travel to visit swing states and give de facto campaign speeches in front of friendly audiences in recent weeks, as he blurs the lines between governing and campaigning during a pandemic that has halted large-scale rallies.
  • Former first lady Michelle Obama, Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Ohio Republican Gov. John Kasich will reportedly be featured speakers on the first night of the Democratic National Convention, representing a broad ideological cross-section that looks to symbolize presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s push for unity in his race against President Trump.

Protests/Racial and Social Justice

  • A blistering letter from DC Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton demands answers from the Trump administration about the Secret Service’s treatment of two Black moms at the National Mall who say they were handcuffed, separated from their young crying babies, and that an officer pointed a rifle at the head of one of the women for roughly 45 minutes before officers eventually let them go.
  • The Louisville Metro Police Department has announced it will be clamping down on protest caravans as demonstrations have continued in the city over the past few months following the police killing of Breonna Taylor.

The department said all “pedestrians must stay out of the streets” going forward and that “cars and pedestrians will not be allowed to block intersections for any length of time.”

  • NBCUniversal has parted ways with NBC Entertainment Chairman Paul Telegdy after allegations of homophobic, sexist and racist behavior that also included claims Telegdy cultivated a toxic work environment.

Sources:  ABC News, Associated Press, The Atlantic, Axios, Bloomberg, CBS News, CNN, Financial Times, Fox News,The Hill, Independent, NBC News, 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 U.S. reported 61,520 new cases and 1,333 additional deaths.
  • The U.S. response to the novel coronavirus ranked as 31st out of 36 ranked countries in the world as assessed by Foreign Policy Magazine.

The U.S. got the lowest score for “fact-based communication” as the magazine specifically noted President Trump for “amplifying misinformation and conspiracy theories about the virus” while highlighting his remarks during the July 4 celebration in which he claimed 99% of the cases are “harmless.”  

The US also got low marks for its lack of testing and for how little it has spent on emergency healthcare, compared to other countries.

  • Mobility data collected from cell phones shows people in many parts of the country are moving around as much as they did before the pandemic started. More movement predicts more spread of the virus.

“We’re almost back to pre-Covid levels of mobility, so we’re just not being as cautious as other people are in other countries,” said Dr. Christopher Murray, director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington. 

Murray said that when cases start to come down, people tend to start interacting more, resulting in the up and down phenomenon many states have experienced with Covid-19 cases.

  • Consistently wearing masks could save the lives of nearly 70,000 people projected to die of the virus by December 1.

“It’s rare that you see something so simple, so inexpensive, so easy for everybody to participate in can have such an extraordinary impact in the US and also all over the world,” Murray said.

  • Dr. Anthony Fauci said states should look closely at their percent positive rates to gauge how their state is doing.

“When you have a percent positive that clicks up even [slightly], it almost never turns around spontaneously, unless you do something different than you’re doing,” Fauci said.

  • The Covid-19 pandemic is moving into younger populations with cases skyrocketing among children, teens and young adults.
  • The CDC has closed several buildings it leases because Legionella bacteria, the bacteria that causes Legionnaires disease, have been found in their water systems.

The plumbing in buildings that have been closed for months could provide a perfect breeding ground for Legionella and other waterborne pathogens. 

  • Negotiations over the next stimulus package stalled on Capitol Hill with Democrats and Trump administration officials walking away after talks broke down on Friday and devolved into partisan finger-pointing. 

Lead White House negotiators Mark Meadows and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said they were recommending Trump move ahead with a series of executive orders.

Democrats warn that executive action taken will be insufficient to address the extent of the economic and public health crisis faced by Americans during the pandemic.

  • The economic downturn could accelerate the Social Security and Medicare trust funds running out of money. According to the Bipartisan Policy Center, in 2029 beneficiaries could see retirement payments cut by a third.

Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, the program’s trustees had projected funds would be depleted in 2035.

President Trump’s push for a payroll tax suspension could leave Social Security and Medicare on shakier ground.

  • The U.S. economy added another 1.8 million jobs in July, a sharp slowdown from June and a small step for an economy that’s still down 12.9 million jobs during the pandemic.
  • Dozens of mostly maskless guests gathered at President Trump’s private club in Bedminster, NJ to watch his Friday evening news conference, flouting the state’s coronavirus restrictions.
  • Princeton University will not offer on-campus learning for its undergraduates for the fall semester. The university had previously said it would stagger its semesters, with freshmen and juniors returning in the fall and sophomores and seniors in the spring.
  • Howard University President Dr. Wayne Frederick said in a statement that the upcoming fall semester will be fully online.
  • Six football players, including three starters from last season, at the University of Maryland have opted out of the upcoming season.
  • Vermont Gov. Phil Scott (R) said his administration is working with the Vermont Principals Association, the Superintendent’s Association of School Athletic Directors and Coaches, “with a goal that will allow for all [high school and rec] sports to move forward in some fashion.”
  • Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R) indefinitely postponed the state’s reopening plan and decreased the limits on gatherings after a “slight uptick in positive cases.”. He also authorized state and local police to enforce shutdown orders. 
  • Schools in New York can reopen for in-person instruction this fall, Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said Friday. It is now up to local politicians and superintendents to decide whether to reopen, and how to do so. Their in-person reopening plans must also be approved by the state’s education and health departments in the coming weeks.
  • Georgia reported 4,177 new cases and 92 additional deaths. 
  • At least 260 students and eight teachers from a suburban school district in Atlanta, Georgia, were quarantined after multiple students and teachers tested positive for Covid-19 during the first week of school.
  • Florida reported 7,686 new cases and 180 additional deaths.
  • Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) announced new rules designed to better enforce mask requirements and give local authorities guidelines for issuing warnings and fines for non-compliance. 
  • Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) signed an executive order that will allow people with “COVID-related concerns about going to the polls in November” to qualify for absentee ballots.
  • Las Vegas fined the Ahern Hotel for hosting a religious campaign event for President Trump that broke Nevada’s restrictions on large gatherings amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Gatherings of more than 50 people in either indoor and outdoor areas are prohibited. 

The group, Evangelicals for Trump, held an event, headlined by the president’s personal pastor Paula White, with more than 500 attendees.

  • California reported 142 new coronavirus deaths, bringing the statewide total to 10,011. 
  • California colleges and universities reopening this fall will need to follow guidelines issued by the California Department of Public Health, which include the use of face coverings, social distancing, and cleaning protocols.

While indoor lectures are currently prohibited in counties on the state’s monitoring list, courses offered in specialized indoor settings like labs and studio arts will be permitted as long as substantial physical distancing measures are in place.

Many campuses in the state have announced they will start the school year with mostly online classes.

  • Public schools on the Hawaiian island of Oahu will move to distance learning for the first four weeks of the academic year.

Sources:  ABC News, Associated Press, The Atlantic, Axios, Bloomberg, CBS News, CNN, Financial Times, Fox News,The Hill, Independent, NBC News, 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

  • The U.S. recorded 54,184 new cases and 1,251 additional deaths on Thursday. 
  •  The U.S. recorded 52,810 new cases and 1,388 additional deaths on Wednesday. 
  • Masks continue to be one of the most effective ways to prevent Covid-19 transmission and there are many different types that serve this purpose, Dr. Sanjay Gupta explained.

“There was a great study out of Lancet which basically said the likelihood of me transmitting the virus if I didn’t have a mask on was 17% or 18%. If I did have a mask on, it was closer to 3%. You are talking about a sixfold difference, potentially. It is not perfect but it can really help,” Gupta said.

  • The CDC does not recommend people use masks with valves or vents during the Covid-19 pandemic, according to new mask recommendations.

The valves may provide the wearer more comfort, since the valves allow air to escape from the mask and can keep people cooler, but the valves also allow the virus to escape from the mask. Taping over the vents is recommended.

  • Dr. Anthony Fauci,said goggles  or a face shield can serve as an extra degree of protection for teachers who are in close contact with children.

Fauci said that if he were in a classroom with children who often don’t cover their sneeze or cough, he “might very well” wear goggles.

  • Fauci said he wishes testing for Covid-19 in the country had worked out better. When asked about people waiting to get a test result back five or seven days later – he said it’s been “very difficult” to defend the government’s efforts on testing.
  • Fauci warned that if the United States does not have a unified response against Covid-19, the country is at risk of continuing to “smolder.”
  • Contradicting President Trump’s repeated claims it will “go away,” Fauci said the world may never eradicate coronavirus.
  • Researchers behind an influential model at the University of Washington are now projecting that the US death toll could reach nearly 300,000 by December 1 – but that can be changed if consistent mask-wearing occurs.
  • Gilead Sciences, the company that makes remdesivir, said it has increased its manufacturing capabilities of the antiviral drug “to meet real-time global demand starting in October.”
  • A potential coronavirus vaccine should not have any “political spin attached to it,” Dr. Francis Collins, the director of the National Institutes of Health said. 
  • President Trump said he was “optimistic” a potential coronavirus vaccine could be ready by Nov. 3, noting that, while “It wouldn’t hurt” his chances for reelection, he was doing it “to save a lot of lives.”
  • The State Department lifted its global level 4 travel “Do Not Travel” advisory after more than four months of warning US citizens against traveling abroad.

However, there are currently only nine countries that allow U.S. citizens to enter freely and twenty-three that have restrictions. All other countries ban U.S. citizens entry. 

  • Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization, said that he hopes the US will reconsider its decision to withdraw from WHO – and that the problem the withdrawal creates is not financial, but the lack of solidarity between global leaders.
  • Another 1.2 million Americans filed for first-time jobless benefits last week, down from the prior week’s 1.4 million claims.
  • President Trump tweeted that his staff is working on a possible executive order addressing some of the components of the stimulus negotiations.

“Upon departing the Oval Office for Ohio, I’ve notified my staff to continue working on an Executive Order with respect to Payroll Tax Cut, Eviction Protections, Unemployment Extensions, and Student Loan Repayment Options.” 

  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said she remains optimistic that despite hard negotiations, “we will” find a solution and come to an agreement on a new relief bill.
  • Twitter restricted President Trump’s campaign from tweeting after its account shared a video containing false claims about the coronavirus.

The tweet, a video of Trump’s interview with Fox News in which he said children are “almost immune” to the virus, “is in violation of the Twitter Rules on Covid-19 misinformation.”

  • 62 of the largest school districts accounting for nearly 7 million students will start with full online learning.
  • Major League Baseball has made several strict changes to its health and safety protocols in the wake of recent Covid-19 outbreaks.

Coronavirus-related postponements started after 21 members in the Marlins, including 18 players, tested positive for the virus. Earlier this week, an outbreak among Cardinals’ players and staff raised further questions about MLB’s plans to safely hold the season amid the pandemic.

  • Out of a total of 2,880 players in the National Football League, there are 66 who have opted out of the upcoming season due to the coronavirus pandemic. 
  • More than 1,000 Big Ten college football players released a letter, writing that the NCAA “has had ample time to prepare for the safe return of its athletes to competition, yet it has done nothing.”
  • President Trump agreed to continue paying for the full cost of National Guard troops deployed to help with the coronavirus response in just two states — Texas and Florida — after their Republican governors appealed directly to him.

Other states will now have to pay a quarter of the cost of National Guard deployments in their states, despite their governors also requesting the federal government continue to foot the entire bill.

  • Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont (D) said the state is committing $266 million to school reopening efforts
  • Pennsylvania’s health and education departments jointly recommended that pre-K-12 school and recreational youth sports be postponed until at least Jan. 1 “to protect children and teens from Covid-19,” according to a release from Gov. Tom Wolf’s (D) office.
  • Georgia reported 3,250 new cases and 42 additional deaths – raising the state total to over 4,000. 
  • Four students from three Georgia high schools who attended classes in person this week have tested positive.
  • At least two high school students at North Paulding High School in Dallas, GA have been suspended after sharing video and photo of how congested their hallways were during the pandemic with mostly maskless students. 
  • Florida reported 7,650 news cases and 120 additional deaths.
  • At least 53 Florida Hospitals have reached intensive care unit capacity and show zero ICU beds available. Another 33 hospitals have 10% or less ICU capacity available.
  • Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) said shutting down youth sports if athletes tested positive for Covid-19 was “not an option.”

DeSantis wants to “give the fans what they want” when it comes to sports returning to schools and college campuses this upcoming school year.

“If they bring something back to the house, I mean, as much as I wouldn’t want that, I would rather take that risk,” DeSantis siad.

  • Hillsborough County Schools in Florida voted to start the school year with four weeks of remote learning.
  • Hours after he tested positive for the coronavirus, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) announced a second test had come back negative.
  • Ninety-one people in Ohio were infected with coronavirus after an infected man attended church services. 
  • Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (D) has extended the state’s mask mandate for another 30 days.
  • With Michigan experiencing outbreaks at child care centers and camps, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) has signed an executive order requiring face coverings to be worn at these locations.
  • Illinois reported 1,953 new cases – the highest single-day count since May 24. There were 21 additional deaths.
  • The president of the South Dakota State Medical Association says he is “concerned” about the upcoming City of Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.

About 500,000 people are estimated to have attended the rally last year, and the city’s mayor said there won’t be mask requirements or travel restrictions for out-of state visitors this year.

  • Texas reported  7,598 new cases and 306 additional deaths and a jump in the positive infection rate to above 17%.

Hospitalizations decreased for the third day in a row.

The positivity rate continues to climb, at 17.05% as of Aug. 5. The positivity rate was just 12.09% one week ago.

  • Hidalgo County, Texas’ shelter-at-home order has been extended another two weeks.

Sources:  ABC News, Associated Press, The Atlantic, Axios, Bloomberg, CBS News, CNN, Financial Times, Fox News,The Hill, Independent, NBC News, 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

  • The United States reported 67,023 new coronavirus cases and 1,259 new deaths. The eleventh time in twelve days over 1,000 deaths have been reported. 
  • A forecast published by the CDC projects more than 173,000 coronavirus deaths in the United States by August 22.
  • The World Health Organization reported 292,527 new Covid-19 cases, another record for daily cases reported to WHO. 
  • Researchers published harsh critiques of a study President Trump repeatedly touted on Twitter. That study by the Henry Ford Health System, claimed to show that hydroxychloroquine saved lives. The researchers dispute the validity of the study, citing multiple errors, flaws and biases in the process. 

For example, the patients in the Henry Ford study who were given hydroxychloroquine had fewer risk factors for heart disease, researchers at the University at Albany wrote.

Also, the hydroxychloroquine patients were more than twice as likely to be given steroids, a treatment known to be effective against Covid-19.

The Detroit study was not a randomized clinical trial, which helps avoid potential biases. In such trials, patients are randomly assigned to take a drug or not take it, which means the two groups should be very similar.

  • Widespread disinformation about the coronavirus pandemic fueled by the internet “has resulted in difficulties in discerning truth from fiction” and is a growing problem, The Lancet wrote in an editorial. 

The disinformation is causing a “growing mistrust in science and experts” and “poor and confusing responses by political and government leaders,” the journal wrote. The problem is compounded by some people’s use of social media as their only source of information.

The publication described those spreading misinformation on Covid-19 as “highly organized political or pseudoscientific bodies that are experienced at using nefarious techniques to propagate their narratives” and warned that they’re targeting vulnerable populations.

  • In a tweet, the president once again made the false claim that the U.S. has more cases because the nation does more testing. “Somebody please tell Congressman Clyburn, who doesn’t have a clue, that the chart he put up indicating more CASES for the U.S. than Europe, is because we do MUCH MORE testing than any other country in the World. If we had no testing, or bad testing, we would show very few CASES..”

NOTE: The percentage of people testing positive, a key measure of the true spread of the virus, has spiked.

  • The University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation warned there are not nearly enough Americans using masks to bend the curve on the coronavirus infection rate.
  • Analysts say the Trump administration’s new online COVID-19 data system that bypasses the old platform managed by the CDC contains errors and inconsistencies that lead to delays and misinformation.

The delays leave the exact numbers of available hospital beds, ventilators and other vital equipment for treating COVID-19 somewhat unknown.

Lisa Lee, a former chief science officer for public health surveillance at the CDC, told NPR, “If the information is not accurate, it could cost time — and lives.”

  • The U.S. government will pay $2.1 billion to Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline for COVID-19 vaccines to cover 50 million people and to underwrite the drug makers’ testing and manufacturing.
  • A report from the House Oversight and Reform Committee found that the Trump administration overpaid by as much as $500 million for ventilators and was slow to respond to an offer to accelerate shipments in the early days of the coronavirus outbreak. 

The Trump administration paid the manufacturer Philips $15,000 per ventilator, more than any other American purchaser. Some purchasers buying as few as just one ventilator negotiated prices down to as low as $9,327 per ventilator.

  • Dr. Fauci today reiterated his belief that a vaccine will be developed by the end of the year. “I don’t think it’s dreaming … I believe it’s a reality.”
  • A study of a Coronavirus outbreak at an overnight camp in Georgia released on Friday raises questions about the safety of students and staff in U.S. schools, as it showed a large percentage of those between the ages of six and 17 years old being infected.

A YMCA camp in Georgia saw 260 of 597 campers and staff test positive. 

The CDC found the virus “spread efficiently in a youth-centric overnight setting, resulting in high attack rates among persons in all age groups, despite efforts by camp officials to implement most recommended strategies to prevent transmission.” 

The camp required tests for all guests and staff 12 days or fewer before arriving. Masks were required for staff but not the young campers. 51% of the children 6-10 years old and 44% of children 11-17 contracted the virus.

  • House Democrats introduced a bill that would require passengers to wear masks on commercial planes and in airports in an attempt to combat the coronavirus pandemic. It also calls for a study on how the virus is transmitted in airplane cabins.
  • Microsoft’s U.S. workforce will have the option of working from home at least through January 19.
  • Blood plasma taken from coronavirus survivors and infused into hospitalized patients reduced their mortality rate by about 57%, a team of researchers reported. 
  • “Breaking Bad” star Bryan Cranston appealed to his fans to “keep wearing the damn mask,” after revealing that he contracted Covid-19.

“I was pretty strict in adhering to the protocols and still… I contracted the virus. Yep. it sounds daunting now that over 150,000 Americans are dead because of it. I was one of the lucky ones.” 

“We can prevail – but ONLY if we follow the rules together. Be well – Stay well. BC”

Cranston also shared a video of himself at the UCLA Donation Center, where he had gone to donate plasma. Scientists say people who test positive for the virus may have antibodies in their plasma that could help other coronavirus patients.

  • MLB commissioner Rob Manfred told MLBPA executive director Tony Clark that if the sport doesn’t do a better job of managing the coronavirus, it could shut down for the season as soon as Monday.
  • The Miami Marlins have eighteen players and three coaches who have tested positive for Covid-19 over the last week.
  • Friday’s game between the Cardinals and the Milwaukee Brewers was postponed because members of the St. Louis Cardinals tested positive for Covid-19.
  • Georgia Governor Brian Kemp (R)  signed two executive orders extending existing Covid-19 safety measures and extending the Public Health State of Emergency through Sept. 10.
  • Florida reported 8,983 cases and 257 new deaths, the fourth day in a row that the state has reported a record number of deaths.
  • The Sun Sentinel, a prominent South Florida newspaper, urged Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) to issue a statewide mask mandate and take other actions to stop the spread of the coronavirus across the Sunshine State.

“Far better that you require people to wear masks in public than to continue fostering conditions that will force another shutdown,” the board wrote. “Your refusal to impose a mask order — a requirement now in effect in 32 other states — is out-of-touch with the mainstream.”

  • The Alabama Department of Public Health is asking doctors to focus testing on the most vulnerable populations as a surge of coronavirus testing has resulted in a seven-day turnaround time.
  • Arkansas reported  752 new cases and 11 new deaths.

Arkansas reported a 10% positivity rate for new coronavirus cases Friday, Gov. Asa Hutchinson *R) said during an afternoon news conference.

“In terms of our positivity rate, this is not good,” Hutchinson said. “We have a lot of work to do here. We’re right at the 10% level, which is CDC recommendation, but that’s too high, we want it lower.”

  • As an Indiana school district opened, one of their students who had attended part of the school day at Greenfield-Central Junior High School tested positive for Covid-19 on the first day of class, according to a letter sent to parents.
  • Illinois reported 1,941 new cases and 21 new deaths.
  • Missouri reported 1,489 new cases and 10 new deaths.
  • Oklahoma reported 747 new cases, the lowest total of daily cases in a week, and 5 new deaths. 
  • Texas reported 8,839 new cases and 295 deaths. 
  • The Salt Lake City School District will begin the school year with remote instruction. 
  • California’s health department confirmed the first Covid-19-related death of a teenager in the state on Friday.

Sources:  ABC News, Associated Press, The Atlantic, Axios, Bloomberg, CBS News, CNN, Financial Times, Fox News,The Hill, Independent, NBC News, 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 U.S. reported 69,917 new cases and 1,291 new deaths – the tenth time in eleven days of over 1,000 deaths 
  • Arizona, Mississippi and Florida each recorded a record one-day increase in COVID-19 deaths
  • House members are complying with Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s mask mandate. During Thursday night’s votes, republicans all appeared to be wearing masks, although a couple members, including Rep. Jim Jordan, have worn them incorrectly, under their noses.
  • FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn said there is no evidence that people can contract Covid-19 from wearing masks, after Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) suggested as much.
  • President Trump took the extraordinary step Thursday morning of openly suggesting in a tweet the possibility that the 2020 election, set for November 3 should be delayed amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“With Universal Mail-In Voting (not Absentee Voting, which is good), 2020 will be the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history. It will be a great embarrassment to the USA. Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???” Trump tweeted. 

NOTE: There is little risk of voter fraud using mail-in ballots. 

  • “Never in the history of the Congress, through wars, depressions and the Civil War have we ever not had a federally scheduled election on time and we’ll find a way to do that again this Nov. 3rd,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said shutting down President Trump’s suggestion to delay the election.
  • Federal Elections Commission Commissioner Ellen Weintraub flatly stated that the executive branch does not have the power to delay a presidential election after President Trump stirred an uproar by raising the idea on Twitter.

“States and localities are asking you and Congress for funds so they can properly run the safe and secure elections all Americans want,” she added. “Why don’t you work on that?”

  • President Trump says he wants the next coronavirus relief package to be “very generous” with direct stimulus payments to Americans that are potentially more than $1,200.

Trump said his priorities for this next relief measure are those payments and an eviction moratorium. He said Congress can take care of other issues “later,” acknowledging that Republicans and Democrats are “so far apart” on other major issues.

  • President Trump said he supports a “temporary extension of unemployment benefits.” 
  • President Trump said shutting down the economy “to achieve a temporary reduction in cases is certainly not a viable long-term strategy for any country” as coronavirus continues to spread across the country.

“The scientific path forward is to protect those at highest risk while allowing those at lower risk to carefully return to work and to school with appropriate precautions.”

  • White House chief of staff Mark Meadows told reporters he is “not very optimistic that we will have any kind of an agreement on a comprehensive bill in the near future.”

Asked to clarify, he replied, “I’m not even optimistic about next week.”

  • Dr. Anthony Fauci suggested it is impossible to know whether the US is nearing the end of the pandemic or still in the early stages, and that the outcome depends very much on Americans’ behavior going forward.

“It’s impossible to predict because when we were looking at the increase and then going down, if it had gone all the way down to baseline… then you could say ‘if we hold tight, we may be in the 7th or 8th inning,’ but that didn’t happen.”

  • Fauci said “we should try as best as we possibly can to get the children back to school.”

“Because we know the consequences on the children when they’re kept out of school, as well as the downstream deleterious, unintended consequences on families, of parents who have to get off work to take care of their kids.”

  • Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, said, there is “no evidence” that hydroxychloroquine works for treating Covid-19.
  • Birx called on state and local officials “to mandate masks for their communities” to slow the spread of Covid-19.
  • Trump and Fauci encouraged plasma donations from people who have recovered from coronavirus.
  • Operation Warp Speed, the federal government’s multi-billion effort to develop a vaccine against Covid-19, will fund eight vaccines. 
  • Just two weeks of social distancing policies cut the spread of coronavirus by 65% globally, preventing more than 1.5 million new cases, Texas researchers estimated.
  • The University System of Maryland  is making Covid-19 testing mandatory for all on-campus students and employees.

Anyone returning has to be tested within 14 days prior to arriving and will need to provide university officials with confirmation of a negative test result.

  • The backlog on coronavirus testing “shouldn’t be acceptable” Adm. Brett Giroir, Assistant Secretary for Health at the US Department of Health and Human Services said. 
  • Bill Gates said other nations had better coronavirus responses than the U.S. 

“If you score the U.S., our domestic response has been weak. It can improve,” he said. “Our (research and development) response — funding vaccines and therapeutics — has been the best in the world.”

Ramping up testing has been slow, Gates said. “The US is now starting, you know, to say hey, the testing turnaround can’t be long like this.”

  • The University of Washington now projects there will be 230,822 U.S. deaths from Covid-19 by November – raising their projection from July 22 by 11,000 additional deaths.
  • Because of limited capacity at AT&T Stadium, the Dallas Cowboys announced season tickets will be unavailable for the 2020 season. Season ticket holders will have the first opportunity to purchase a limited number of single-game tickets for a limited number of games.
  • The NFL’s Buffalo Bills have sent their rookies home from the team’s facility following five positive Covid-19 tests in the last week. 
  • Nineteen players and coaches for the Miami Marlins tested positive for coronavirus.
  • The Philadelphia Phillies announced that no players on the team tested positive, but two staff members did, a coach and a clubhouse worker. All activities at Citizens Bank Park, where the team plays, have been cancelled until further notice. 
  • Toronto Blue Jays Manager Charlie Montoyo confirmed this weekend’s series between the Philadelphia Phillies and Toronto Blue Jays has been postponed.
  • The Southeastern Conference announced teams will on;y play conference games in the fall. 
  • The Advocare Classic, one of college football’s marquee opening weekend games that Alabama vs USC were to play in, has been cancelled. 
  • Vermont had its first Covid-19-related death in 43 days. 
  • Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont (D) said the state has seen infection rates double among 10 to 19 year olds.
  • Virginia Beach’s schools will start remotely in September. The plan includes guidelines for when students can begin returning to school for in-person classes and will also allow families to choose to continue with remote learning even when the district decides it is safe enough for in-person classes.
  • Washington, DC, announced that public school students will have virtual learning for the year’s first term.
  • Georgia reported 4,045 new cases and 30 new deaths. 87% of the state’s ICU beds are in use. 
  • Florida reported 9,956 new cases and 253 deaths – the third consecutive day of record high fatalities.
  • Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) advocated for parents to be able to choose either in-person or distance learning as districts in the state weigh their options for the upcoming school year.
  • Wayne County (MI) announced that at least five people who attended a wedding reception at a banquet hall in Southgate now have COVID-19. 

Between 100-125 guests attended the indoor reception in violation of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s executive order, which limits gatherings to no more than 10 people indoors and 100 people outdoors.

  • Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) said his state could be headed to a “reversal” in the state’s reopening plan if the positive cases of coronavirus continue to climb.
  • Louisiana reported 1,769 new cases and 69 new deaths.
  • Louisiana has the highest number of Covid-19 cases per capita in the nation. 
  • Missouri reported a record 2,084 daily Covid-19 cases and 13 new deaths.
  • Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) encouraged in-person learning, and added that in order to request online-only learning, schools must have a positivity rate of at least 15% in their county. 

Reynolds said 93 of Iowa’s 99 counties meet the less than 10% positivity threshold that the Centers for Disease Control recommends. 

  • Iowa teachers are sending mock obituaries to Reynolds in hopes she will reconsider her school plans for the fall. Teachers are demanding Reynolds declare a statewide school mask mandate.
  • Texas reported 8,800 new cases and 84 new deaths. The state now has a higher case count than New York.
  • Fort Worth, Texas schools moved the beginning of its school year back by three weeks and will begin the school year with the first four weeks being all-digital.
  • Arizona reported 2,525 new cases and 172 new deaths.
  • Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) said, “We are headed in the right direction.” There has been a downward trend in Covid-19 cases since early July, Ducey said.
  • California reported 10,197 new cases and 194 deaths. 
  • A coronavirus outbreak has been confirmed at four Costco locations in the Bay Area.

A total of 31 cases have been confirmed within the past two weeks at four Costco stores in Gilroy, Mountain View, San Jose, and Sunnyvale.

  • A San Diego gym that was shut down after operating in defiance of the county’s health order to close last week has experienced an outbreak of coronavirus.
  • Hawaii reported 124 new cases, a record high number for the second day in a row. It marks the state’s fifth record day in the past week.

Sources:  ABC News, Associated Press, The Atlantic, Axios, Bloomberg, CBS News, CNN, Financial Times, Fox News,The Hill, Independent, NBC News, 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 U.S. reported 75,193 new cases and 1,178 new deaths. An 8.09% test positivity rate. 
  • There were a record 284,196 new cases reported to the WHO. 9,753 additional Covid-19 deaths occurred worldwide. 
  • Covid-19 can be a prolonged illness, even among young adults without underlying chronic medical conditions, the CDC reported.

Of those surveyed, 35% said they still weren’t back to normal two to three weeks after testing positive.

  • Dr. Anthony Fauci said he quickly reviewed the CDC’s new guidelines on reopening schools and found them to be “a sound set of guidelines.” 

Fauci also said that it’s not a good idea to force all teachers to come back and teach in person. “So, I think when you talk about forcing teachers to come back to school, you better be careful about that and make sure you pay attention to keeping them safe, and keeping them healthy.”

As many people as possible should get vaccinated for influenza this year, as Covid-19 will complicate flu season according to Fauci.

Fauci said a Covid-19 vaccine likely won’t be “widely available” to people in the U.S. until “several months” into next year.

Another nationwide lockdown is not necessary, Fauci said. To avoid the need for one, he said that there are fundamental things that can be done by everybody – wearing a mask, avoiding crowded places, continuing to practice social distancing, closing bars and practicing good hand hygiene.

  • Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) criticized President Trump in a new interview with The Hill, accusing him of not taking the coronavirus pandemic seriously enough in its early days and calling the administration’s national testing strategy a “big failure.”
  • US Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced that newly enrolled international students won’t be allowed to enter the United States if their classes are offered online only.
  • McDonald’s will require customers to wear face masks at all of its more than 14,000 U.S.  restaurants. The policy takes effect on Aug. 1.
  • Chipotle announced they will require customers to wear masks or other face coverings.
  • Universal Studios announced it has canceled this year’s Halloween Horror Nights at its Orlando and Hollywood theme parks. 
  • St. Andrew’s Episcopal School, the private school in the Maryland suburbs attended by Barron Trump, said it was considering either a hybrid part-time plan or going back to entirely online classes.
  • The entire Michigan State University football team has been placed under a 14-day quarantine after a second staff member and student-athlete tested positive. 
  • Vermont Gov. Phil Scott (R) announced a mask mandate starting Aug. 1 for both indoor and outdoor activities where social distancing is not possible.
  • Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R) announced the state will require residents returning from out of state as well as other travelers to the Pilgrim State to quarantine for 14 days unless they can provide a negative test result for Covid-19. 
  • New York reported 650 hospitalizations – its lowest number of hospitalizations since March 18. There were nine fatalities.
  • New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) said eighty-four bars and restaurants face fines of up to $10,000 per incident for violating Covid-19 rules following compliance checks executed from July 21-23.
  • A New Jersey gym that publicly challenged statewide shutdown restrictions faces fines after being found in contempt of court Friday.

On Monday, Superior Court Judge Robert Lougy declined to find Atilis Gym of Bellmawr in contempt, but warned the owners to follow health department guidelines. The state attorney general’s office returned to court Thursday with new evidence the gym was violating the governor’s orders, and this time the judge agreed.

Gym owner Ian Smith said they will do “whatever we possibly can” to fight the decision. The gym’s doors were removed to prevent officials from padlocking them closed, and Smith said he and others would remain in the gym all day, every day.

“We will not leave this building under any circumstances unless they take us out in handcuffs.”

The gym owners also face criminal charges for remaining open during the pandemic.

  • Officials on Long Beach Island say 24 lifeguards have tested positive for the coronavirus after being together at a recent event.
  • Georgia reported 4,813 new cases – the highest number of new cases reported in a 24-hour period by the department since the pandemic began. There were 82 new deaths.
  • Florida reported 12,329 new cases and 135 additional deaths.
  • On July 4, Florida reported 5,022 Covid-19 hospitalized patients.Today, that number stands at 9,215 – an increase of 84.5%. 
  • Regarding schools opening as scheduled, Miami Mayor Francis Suarez (R) said, “I don’t know how much improvement we can make within two to four weeks, to be honest with you, and I don’t think it looks good for day one opening right now.”
  • Suarez  is urging residents to wear masks or face coverings while in their own homes to help stop the spread of COVID-19 within families. He said transmission between family members is currently the most common way for the virus to spread.
  • At least 19 people contracted Covid-19 after attending the Pickaway County Fair in Ohio, the county’s public health agency said.
  • Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) said the state is working to decrease the positivity rate from 8% currently to 5% as recommended by the CDC for reopening schools. 

“We’ve got a lot of work to do over the next 30 days.”

Hutchinson said that schools should be prepared to go back to online learning during the school year if needed.

  • Texas also reported 8,701 new cases and 196 new deaths, the second highest number of coronavirus-related deaths in a single day.
  • Harris Country, Texas is requiring all public and non-religious private schools in the county to remain closed to in-person instruction until at least Sept. 8.
  • Starr County, Texas, has issued a shelter-at-home order for residents of the county, effective until 11:59 p.m. local time on August 10. 
  • Doctors at Starr County Memorial Hospital in Rio Grande City may decide to send coronavirus patients “home to die by their loved ones” due to limited resources, officials say.
  • The Texas Testicle Festival plans to move forward with its August 1 start date. Claire Ball, an organizer with the event, said the fest was hoping to build on the 150 attendees who showed up in January.
  • Oregon recorded nine new deaths, its highest number since the outbreak began.  396  new cases were reported.
  • Arizona reported 3,349 new cases and 79 new deaths.
  • The US Supreme Court denied a petition from a church in Nevada that argued a policy limiting in-person church attendance to 50 during the coronavirus pandemic violated the Constitution.
  • California reported 9,718 new cases and 159 additional deaths, the highest number of fatalities in a single day since the start of the pandemic.

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