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

Read Time: 7 Minutes

  • There have been at least 4,005,414 cases of coronavirus in the United States since the start of the pandemic, and at least 143,820 people have died across the country, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
  • The CDC projects more than 164,000 coronavirus deaths in the United States by August 15. The new projections have a possible range of 158,490 to 173,431 deaths.
  • White House coronavirus task force coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx told a group of state and local health officials about a concerning rise in coronavirus cases in 12 cities as President Donald Trump continues to tout progress amid the coronavirus pandemic at scripted, on-message briefings this week.

“There are cities that are lagging behind and we have new increases in Miami, New Orleans, Las Vegas, San Jose, St. Louis, Indianapolis, Minneapolis, Cleveland, Nashville, Pittsburgh, Columbus and Baltimore, so we’re tracking this very closely. We’re working with the state officials to make sure we’re responding together, but when you first see that increased test positivity, that is when to start the mitigation efforts,” Birx said during the call.

  • More than 150 prominent US medical experts, scientists, teachers, nurses and others have signed a letter to political leaders urging them to shut down the country and start over to contain the surging coronavirus pandemic.

“Right now we are on a path to lose more than 200,000 American lives by November 1st. Yet, in many states people can drink in bars, get a haircut, eat inside a restaurant, get a tattoo, get a massage, and do myriad other normal, pleasant, but non-essential activities,” the letter said.

  • Cloth face coverings should have at least two layers, preferably three, to be most effective, according to new research.
  • 41% of U.S. adults have at least one underlying medical condition that may put them at a higher risk for severe Covid-19 outcomes, according to a new report published Thursday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Morbidity and Mortality Weekly report, looked at five conditions that put people at risk for more severe disease from the coronavirus: chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic kidney disease and obesity.

  • New CDC guidelines favor opening schools, saying children don’t suffer much from coronavirus, are less likely than adults to spread it, and suffer from being out of school.

The new guidelines, which come after demands from President Trump that the agency alter its recommendations, do recommend that local officials should consider closing schools, or keeping them closed, if there is substantial, uncontrolled transmission of the virus.

Testing of students is not recommended. 

  • President Trump called on Congress to allocate $105 billion for schools as part of the next coronavirus relief bill.

He said the money would be used to support measures like smaller class sizes, teachers aides, rearranging spaces for social distancing and masks.

Trump said “If schools do not reopen, the funding should go to parents to send their child to public, private, charter, religious or home school of their choice.”

  • A study published in The New England Journal of Medicine found that the use of hydroxychloroquine – given either alone or in combination with the antibiotic azithromycin – did not improve the conditions of hospitalized patients with mild-to-moderate Covid-19.
  • U.S. Senate Republican leaders and White House officials tried to hammer out a proposal for a fresh round of coronavirus aid on Thursday, which officials said will not include a payroll tax cut and could reduce an enhanced unemployment benefit. The text of the GOP proposal is expected to be released Monday.
  • President Trump sought to blame Democrats after Senate Republicans rejected a payroll-tax cut in the coronavirus relief package that they’re crafting with the White House. Trump has been pushing for a payroll-tax cut throughout the coronavirus pandemic, and said in a recent Fox News interview that he might not sign a relief package that doesn’t include one.

“The Democrats have stated strongly that they won’t approve a Payroll Tax Cut (too bad!). It would be great for workers.”

  • By unanimous consent, the Senate passed bipartisan legislation that would protect coronavirus relief payments from being garnished by banks and debt collectors.
  • A Politico/Morning Consult poll found that 53 percent of registered voters who participated in the survey strongly supported statewide mask mandates that would fine or even jail individuals who refused to wear a mask to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
  • Anthony Fauci revealed that he and his family, including his wife and daughters, have received “serious threats.”

“As much as people inappropriately, I think, make me somewhat of a hero… there are people who get really angry at thinking I’m interfering with their life because I’m pushing a public health agenda,” Fauci said in a new interview.

  • A resurgence in infections and a rollback of reopening plans in several states is making it difficult for people to re-enter the labor force following the pandemic lockdown. 

Thursday’s Department of Labor report indicates the jobless crisis is still at critical levels. Another 1.4 million Americans filed for first-time unemployment benefits last week, marking the first increase in initial claims in 16 weeks.

  • AMC Theatres, the world’s biggest movie theater chain, is delaying its opening once to “mid-to-late August,” the company said.
  • New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said the state is monitoring rising coronavirus rates among younger people. 

A graphic presented during his press conference showed a 13.2% test positivity rate for individuals between the ages of 21 to 30, compared to 9.9% a week earlier. Cuomo called the statistic “a significant increase in a short period of time.”

Channeling The Beasties Boys, Cuomo said, “This is not the time to fight for your right to party.”

  • NJ had 344 new cases and 23 deaths. The positivity rate is at a comfortable 2.88%.
  • At least 20 teenagers in New Jersey have tested positive for coronavirus after they allegedly attended a house party earlier this month.

The Middletown Township Department of Health and Human Services is investigating the cluster of cases linked to a group of teens between the ages of 15 and 19.

  • New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) announced a $6 million lease emergency assistance grant program to assist small businesses with up to $10,000 in direct help to pay their rents.
  • Georgia reported 4,286 new cases and 25 new coronavirus-related deaths. 3,360. Georgians have now succumbed to the virus. Hospitalizations grew by 431.
  • Florida reported 10,249 new cases and 173 additional deaths, breaking the previous record of 156 deaths on July 16
  • The City of Miami issued 115 tickets for face mask violations this week, Miami Mayor Francis Suarez said. “We have written 115 tickets,” Suarez said. 

The breakdown for tickets issues includes, “59 warnings, 41 $50 tickets, 15 $100 tickets and we have closed 15 businesses, 10 for 24 hours and five for 10 hours,” Suarez added.

  • Tennessee reported 37 new coronavirus deaths, a record single-day total for the state. The state also added 2,570 new coronavirus cases. Its highest one-day total in 10 days.
  • Arkansas reported 1,013 new positive cases.
  • Ten hospitals in Mississippi have no ICU beds available, Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves (R) said. 
  • Louisiana reported 2,408 new coronavirus cases, bringing the state total to over 100,000 cases for the pandemic. There were 16 new fatalities.
  • Louisiana hospitals have paused elective surgeries as Covid-19 hospitalizations increase.
  • Mayor Joe Hogsett (D) mandated bars and nightclubs in Indianapolis to close through August 12.

Social gatherings, including wedding receptions, banquets, and club meetings, won’t be allowed to exceed 50 individuals.

  • Illinois announced 1,624 new cases – the highest daily total of cases since May 25. The state’s seven-day positivity rate of 3.4% remains promising.

There were 20 new deaths. The state also reported that 1,473 people are hospitalized with 309 in intensive care units and 135 on ventilators – below concerning levels.

  • Missouri reported 1,637 new cases, a record single-day increase, and  20 new deaths. 
  • Texas reported 9,507 new cases and 173 deaths.
  • New Mexico recorded an all-time high number of 343 new cases.
  • New Mexico will delay in-person classes through at least Labor Day, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) said.

Schools may begin online learning in August. After Labor Day, New Mexico will phase in a hybrid model bringing the youngest students back to school first.

  • Arizona reported at least 89 new Covid-19 related deaths. The state has now lost over 3,000 people to Covid-19.

Arizona is currently seeing a 42.61 death rate per 100,000 people and an alarmingly high 12.5% positivity rate.

  • Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) signed an order extending the closure of bars, gyms and water parks for another two weeks.
  • Ducey said classes need to begin on time this year, even if they start with learning from home.
  • Arizona emergency rooms are rationing coronavirus tests as cases surge. Dr. Frank LoVecchio, an ER physician, said doctors are rationing Covid-19 tests due to testing problems.  

“We’re overwhelmed with regard to testing.” Many labs have a nine-day wait for testing results, which is “kind of ridiculous,” he said. 

“Sometimes there’s no swabs, sometimes there’s no reagent, sometimes the lab is backed up.”  “…Our country did not prioritize testing; our country did not streamline this. Other countries that streamlined testing did a little bit better.”

  • California reported its highest single-day death toll since the pandemic began with 157 deaths. The state added 12,040 more confirmed cases. This is the second highest daily uptick, following only yesterday’s reported high of 12,807.

The positivity rate in the Golden State over the past two weeks stands at 7.6% – over 50% higher than desired. 

  • A Claremont, CA 13-year-old boy, who had tested negative and had been isolating in his room after experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, died. An autopsy report to determine Maxx’s cause of death, and whether he had COVID-19, is expected

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. recorded 1,042 deaths Tuesday, the first time deaths exceeded 1,000 since June 2.
  • A study published in the journal, PLoS Medicine, determined that if people washed their hands regularly, wore masks, and kept their social distance from each other, these three simple behaviors could stop most all of the Covid-19 pandemic, even without a vaccine or additional treatments.
  • According to Kate Bingham, chair of the UK Vaccine Taskforce, a vaccine may not become widely available before 2021.

“I would not assume there are any vaccines before next year. There will be some vaccines, if everything goes right, potentially at the end of this year, but that is not something I’d be going to the bank on in terms of everyone can get vaccinated by Christmas,” Bingham said.

  • President Trump receives multiple coronavirus tests every day, the White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said.
  • President Trump said he doesn’t know of a time he’s taken more than one coronavirus test in a day, directly contradicting his press secretary in the first question of his press briefing Tuesday. 
  • Trump appeared by himself in the first White House coronavirus update in three months.

Trump struck a more concerned tone about the virus. His remarks represented a notable shift in tone. Until Tuesday, he had largely downplayed the rise in cases in states like Florida, Arizona, Texas and California, and for weeks he had declined to urge the use of face masks. “It will probably, unfortunately, get worse before it gets better,” he said.

He urged Americans to wear masks, practice physical distancing and wash their hands, and he instructed young Americans to avoid bars.

“We’re asking everybody that when you are not able to socially distance, wear a mask,” Trump said. “Whether you like the mask or not, they have an impact. They’ll have an effect, and we need everything we can get.”

He also called the virus “the China virus” and repeated his false claim that the United States has one of the lowest mortality rates in the world. He said again that the virus “will disappear,” which there is no scientific evidence for, even if there is a vaccine.

He refused to acknowledge widespread problems with testing in the United States, like test shortages and slow turnaround times for results.

“We’ll be doing these quite often,” Trump said on his way out the door. 

  • Researchers at the MIT and Brigham and Women’s Hospital have designed a face mask they say is as effective as the N95 respirator. 

A typical N95 mask can be worn no more than five times in hospital settings. But the researchers announced earlier this month that the newly-designed mask could be “easily sterilized and used many times.”

  • Representatives from various pharmaceutical and biotech companies were asked during a congressional hearing whether their companies plan to sell their vaccines at cost.

– Stephen Hoge, president of Moderna, “We will not sell it at cost.” 

NOTE: Moderna received $483 million in federal funding to produce a coronavirus vaccine.

– Mene Pangalos, executive vice president for AstraZeneca, said that “under the agreement we have with BARDA for the 300 million doses, we are selling that to the government at no profit.” 

NOTE: AstraZeneca Received $1 billion from the U.S. government to produce a coronavirus vaccine.

– Julie Gerberding, executive vice president at Merck, “No, we will not be selling vaccine at cost”

NOTE: Merck received $38 million from the U.S. government to produce a coronavirus vaccine.

– Macaya Douoguih, head of clinical development for Johnson & Johnson, “We will be providing vaccine at a not-for-profit price during the emergency pandemic phase.”

NOTE: Johnson & Johnson received $456 million from the U.S. government to produce a coronavirus vaccine.

  • Only a tiny fraction of the population in the United States have antibodies to the coronavirus, indicating most people remain highly susceptible to the pathogen, according to new data from the CDC.

The agency also said the number of actual coronavirus infections is probably 10 times higher than reported cases. There are about 3.8 million reported cases. CDC data suggests the actual number of infections could be 38 million.

  • The CDC had previously recommended people who test positive isolate until they had two negative swabs for the coronavirus — but that turned out to be impractical given the shortage of tests. It now advises most people with active cases of covid-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, to isolate for 10 days after symptoms begin and 24 hours after their fever has broken. After that, they are free to leave isolation.
  • NYC public health official, Jennifer Rakeman, said that the lack of a national coronavirus testing strategy amid supply shortages and increasing demand for testing has contributed to the delay in test results across the nation.

“[A] test that takes two weeks to get a result back was a test that shouldn’t have been done,” said Rakeman. “Really anything much longer than outwards of 48 hours is not a useful test.”

  • Anthony Fauci responded to President Trump’s characterization of him as “a little bit of an alarmist” on the coronavirus pandemic, saying, “I consider myself a realist, as opposed to an alarmist.”
  • Republican Reps. Matt Gaetz, Jim Jordan and Chip Roy clashed with House Republican Conference Chairwoman Liz Cheney at a closed-door GOP meeting described by one source in the room as “a war zone” over her public support of Anthony Fauci and for previously backing a primary challenger to Republican Rep. Thomas Massie.
  • Lawmakers discussed the next stimulus bill with many Republicans raising concerns about the debt and deficit, Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-ND) said.

Specifically, some Republicans pushed back on including direct stimulus checks in the next bill.

According to Cramer, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) also made it clear it’s still his goal to keep this GOP proposal under $1 trillion.

  • US Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams said that the country needs to lower the transmission rate of Covid-19 in order to reopen schools.
  • Vice President Mike Pence said he “wouldn’t hesitate” to send his kids back to school if they were younger. 

“Children without a serious underlying condition have a very low risk of serious outcome of the coronavirus,” Pence said.

  • Senator Rick Scott (R-FL) wants schools open, but said that his grandchildren will be distance learning. 

“My daughters are going to be more focused on distance learning right now to make sure their children are safe,” Scott said. He said “some parents are going to do it because it’s a way for their children to get a subsidized meal, things like that.”

  • Marriott Hotels will require guests to use facial coverings in its 7,300 hotels worldwide, chief executive Arne Sorenson announced.
  • Maine reported the first death in the state of someone in his 20s.
  • New Jersey state health officials reported 22 new confirmed deaths and 424 new cases.
  • New Jersey and New York added 10 states and removed Minnesota from their coronavirus quarantine travel advisory, bringing the list to 31 states that qualify as COVID-19 hotspots.

People traveling from those states — including New Jersey and New York residents returning home — are being asked to voluntarily self-quarantine for two weeks and to seek a coronavirus test in an effort to prevent a resurgence.

  • The daily Covid-19 indicators are all under desired thresholds, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said.

The daily number of people admitted to hospitals is at 52, under the 200 threshold. 

The daily number of people in ICUs is at 297, under the 375 threshold. 

The percent of people who tested positive is at 2% under the 15% threshold.

  • Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) said a surge of coronavirus infections in the central part of the state does not justify rolling back his reopening plan, despite mounting pressure from local officials to do so.
  • Georgia reported 3,413 new cases and 78 new deaths.
  • Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) reiterated a recommendation that residents “commit to wearing a mask,” even as he sues Atlanta officials for mandating them.
  • Florida reported 9,440 new cases of Covid-19 and 134 additional deaths.
  • Miami Mayor Francis Suarez (R) said that the city would assign 39 police officers to a new unit that enforces mask violations.
  • City of Miami summer camps will close this week after at least three children contracted Covid-19.
  • Less than 16% of Florida’s ICU beds are available. 54 hospitals in 27 different counties are now at 0% capacity — meaning they have no ICU beds available.
  • Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (D) blasted the state’s Republican attorney general for his attempts to block the governor’s coronavirus emergency orders, including a mask mandate. 

“Our entire business community supports this facial covering requirement, and sadly, our attorney general isn’t just opposing that — he recently went to court to try to overturn every single rule and restriction that we have, and to prevent me from putting any into place in the future,” Beshear said.

  • A Missouri high school has reported that 19 students and two guests have tested positive after attending a recent outdoor graduation and off-site prom.
  • Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) reported Tuesday a new high of 488 total patients hospitalized because of coronavirus. The state reported 728 new cases.
  • Mississippi reported 1,635 new cases, a record number for the second day in a row. 
  • Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) said, because of the resurgence of coronavirus, the state will remain in its phase two plan for another two weeks.
  • All public schools in New Orleans will begin the school year with virtual learning.
  • Texas reported 9,305 new Covid-19 cases and 131 new Covid-19-related fatalities.
  • 509 inmates and 3 staff members at a federal prison in Fort Worth, Texas, have tested positive for Covid-19, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons.
  • A Clay County nine-month-old has died from the novel coronavirus, the first death of anyone under 20 due to COVID-19 in Minnesota and among the youngest people dead due to the virus in the U.S.
  • California reported at least 9,231 new coronavirus cases. The hospitalization rate of 1.9% and 0.7% of patients in the ICU are reaching concerning highs.
  • The University of California, Berkeley will begin fall semester with “fully remote instruction.

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

  • A total of 56,750 cases of Covid-19 and 372 virus-related deaths were recorded in the United States on Monday. On Sunday, there were 61,487 new cases and reported 415 new fatalities.
  • President Trump told reporters at the White house Monday that he plans to resume his daily coronavirus press briefings sometime this week, “probably starting” Tuesday.
  • President Trump tweeted a photo of himself wearing a mask and said: “We are United in our effort to defeat the Invisible China Virus, and many people say that it is Patriotic to wear a face mask when you can’t socially distance. There is nobody more Patriotic than me, your favorite President!”
  • At the beginning of Vice President Mike Pence’s call with the nation’s governors, he endorsed mask-wearing in public and social distancing as ways to reduce the spread of coronavirus.

“What we have found is that masks, closing indoor bars, decreasing indoor dining capacity to 25%, continued social distancing and personal hygiene messaging are, according to the modeling, dramatically decreasing the rate of community spread,” he said.

  • Senate Republicans are clashing with the White House over whether to include new money for coronavirus testing in the next relief package. The administration is balking at including another $25 billion for COVID-19 testing. 
  • Top administration officials signaled on Monday night that a payroll-tax cut, a top priority for President Trump, is in the forthcoming Republican coronavirus aid proposal, at least for now.
  • A coronavirus vaccine being developed by Oxford University showed positive results in early trials, triggering an immune response, researchers said Monday. 
  • Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said the Trump administration hopes to pass a phase four stimulus package before the end of the month, and said that negotiations for the package will start with “another trillion dollars.”
  • Surgeon General Jerome Adams echoed President Trump, saying he does not think a national mask mandate is necessary, but at the same time urged all Americans to continue to wear face coverings.
  • Six members of US Forces Korea and four dependants have tested positive for coronavirus after arriving in South Korea from the US, bringing the total number of USFK-affiliated individuals with Covid-19 to 98.
  • The American Bankers Association, which represents large and small banks, joined other business groups in calling for its members to adopt national mask mandates “to protect the health of bank employees and customers.” 
  • Southeastern Grocers, parent company of Winn-Dixie, BI-LO and Harveys Supermarkets, is reversing course and says it will require that shoppers wear masks in its hundreds of stores throughout the Southern states.
  • The Washington Nationals have announced that Dr. Anthony Fauci will throw out the ceremonial first pitch on Opening Day on Thursday.
  • The NBA and the players union have jointly announced that there have been zero positive Covid-19 test results from the 346 players tested since July 13.
  • The National Football League and the players union have agreed on a daily Covid-19 testing protocol that will commence at the start of training camps and last for two weeks.
  • The Southwestern Athletic Conference announced Monday the postponement of all scheduled fall sports
  • In New York, hospitalizations continue to hit new lows since March 18, now at 716. The state added 519 positive tests, with a positivity rate at 1.05%, and 8 deaths.
  • New York City entered Phase 4, with caveats. Zoos and botanical gardens can open, but museums and indoor dining, permitted elsewhere in the state with limitations, will still be banned.
  • New York Gov. Cuomo (D) said it was a mistake for other state governments to listen to the President’s calls to open up during the pandemic. 

Cuomo said the federal government has been “incompetent” and “in denial” on the situation and has “pressured” states “to reopen recklessly, which they did.”

“Liberate, liberate, liberate,” he said, in reference to the President’s tweets on the matter. 

“Their mistake was they listened to the President,” he added.

  • Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) warned against the idea of the White House sidelining Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious diseases expert, saying Fauci had been more responsive to the state’s coronavirus needs than President Trump or Vice President Pence. “Dr. Fauci never let me or the people of Maryland down. I shudder to think where our country would be today without him.”
  • The Baltimore Police Department (BPD) has temporarily suspended in-service training after four trainees and two staff members tested positive for Covid-19 since Friday.
  • Georgia reported 3,243 new cases and five deaths on Sunday. The state registered 2,452 new cases and three deaths on Monday.
  • Athens, Georgia Mayor Kelly Girtz (D) said, “We are maintaining our mask mandate. The courts have not issued any cease and desist. And we believe we’re well within our rights and in fact, well within the health care guidance that we’ve been receiving nationally and internationally.”
  • Morehouse and Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia, announced that students will not be returning to campus for the Fall 2020 semester.
  • The largest school district in Georgia, Gwinnett County Public Schools, said that classes will begin on Aug. 12 with online-only instruction.
  • Florida reported at least 10,347 new cases of Covid-19 and 90 additional deaths on Monday.
  • Ten of the twenty-four ICUs in Miami-Dade County, the epicenter of Florida’s coronavirus pandemic, have no beds available.
  • There are now 53 hospitals in Florida without any ICU beds.
  • Florida educators have filed a lawsuit seeking to overturn the state’s emergency order that forces schools to open for in-person instruction next month.
  • The Miami-Dade Police Department issued 115 (67 individual citations and 48 business citations).

Individual citations are $100 and $500 for businesses.citations for noncompliance of county mask and social distancing orders.

  • West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice (R) reported multiple Covid-19 outbreaks in seven churches across seven counties in the state. 75 cases were reported .

He warned churchgoers to be cautious, “Please, please know that a church setting is the ideal setting to spread this virus.”

  • Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said on Monday that the city would re-tighten some restrictions on businesses, including bars and personal services, in an effort to curb recent community spread of the novel coronavirus.
  • Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (D) announced the largest single-day total of new Covid-19 cases in the state, with 979 newly reported cases.

According to the governor’s office, 30 cases were from children 5 years old and younger.

  • In the wake of Kentucky’s rising COVID-19 infections, Beshear has limited social gatherings to 10 people.
  • Missouri Gov. Mike Parson (R) in a radio interview stated, “These kids have got to get back to school.” “They’re at the lowest risk possible. And if they do get COVID-19, which they will — and they will when they go to school — they’re not going to the hospitals. They’re not going to have to sit in doctor’s offices. They’re going to go home and they’re going to get over it.”
  • Minnesota, which on Monday reported 900 new cases, a single-day record, also reported its first virus-related death of a child, according to the state’s health department. The department said the child was 5 years old or younger, but did not list the exact age.
  • Kansas announced on Monday more than 1,000 new cases, a single-day record.
  • Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly (D) signed an order mandating all students, teachers, faculty and visitors to public or private K-12 school buildings or facilities wear face coverings.
  • New COVID-19 cases in Texas dipped for the fourth straight day to 7,153. The statewide total on Monday went from 334,586 to 341,739. Another 64 deaths makes a total of 4,055 statewide.
  • Hidalgo County Texas’ emergency health director ordered residents to shelter-in-place and follow a 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew. The order officially goes into effect Wednesday at 12:01 a.m. and is scheduled to last until Aug. 5 at 11:59 p.m.
  • California reported a record increase of more than 11,800 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday.
  • Los Angeles County has surpassed its record for daily hospitalizations for the fourth time in the past week. There are 2,232 patients currently hospitalized with 26% of them in the intensive care units and 19% on ventilators.
  • California Interscholastic Federation announced that high school sports will not begin until December or January.
  • Bahamas Prime Minister Hubert Minnis announced that the country will block American tourists from entry as U.S. coronavirus numbers continue to surge.
  • France’s nationwide mask mandate includes fines for individuals who fail to wear a face-covering in public indoor settings. People can be fined 135 euros, or $154, if they are cited for not wearing a face mask in settings such as supermarkets, banks and other shops.

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

Coronavirus/COVID 19 Update

  • 75,821 new cases were reported in the U.S. on Friday – another new single day record.
  • President Trump says he will not issue a national mandate requiring Americans to wear masks in order to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.

“I want people to have a certain freedom and I don’t believe in that, no,” Trump said in a new Fox News interview. “I don’t agree with the statement that if everyone wore a mask, everything disappears,” he added referencing the CDC director saying the virus could be under control in 4-6 weeks if everyone wore masks.

  • The Business Roundtable, a top corporate lobbying group renewed calls for a “consistent federal and state guidelines on safety measures, including face coverings.”  

The group, chaired by Walmart CEO Doug McMillon which represents the CEOs of America’s biggest companies, said it has been lobbying for those mandates since April. 

  • Dr. Anthony Fauci said the U.S.needs to concentrate on what’s happening right now with coronavirus cases instead of a possible second wave in the fall.

“People keep talking about the possibility of a second wave in the fall — that’s a historic terminology related to another time and another outbreak. I think we need to concentrate on where we are right now.”

Fauci said the US is “essentially still in the first wave.”

  • Lagging test results are hampering US efforts to battle Covid-19. Many labs’ test backlog are causing delays of seven to twelve days. 
  • The White House is blocking CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield and other officials from the agency from testifying before a House Education and Labor Committee hearing on reopening schools next week.
  • A new forecast published by the CDC projects more than 157,000 coronavirus deaths in the United States by August 8.
  • Former Trump administration economist Tomas Philipson said that his team alerted the White House about the dangers of a looming pandemic about three months before Covid-19 is believed to have made its way into the United States.
  • Lowes and Home Depot will require customers to wear masks in their stores. The mask order begins on Monday at Lowes and Wednesday at Home Depot.
  • A new daily record of  237,743 new Covid-19 cases were reported to the World Health Organization. 
  • An unpublished document prepared for the White House coronavirus task force and obtained by the Center for Public Integrity recommends that 18 states in the coronavirus “red zone” for cases should roll back reopening measures amid surging cases.

The following states are in the red zone for cases:

Alabama, Arkansas. Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Nevada, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Utah.

  • The top three per capita states, based on the 7-day average of new cases, are:

Florida – 55.24 cases per 100,000 people

Louisiana – 44.30 cases per 100,000 people

Arizona – 43.06 cases per 100,000 people

  • Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker said that he supports local municipalities creating additional restrictions as long as they don’t negate the guidance issued by the state.
  • In Ohio, more than 1,600 new cases were reported on Friday, a single-day record.
  • A coronavirus outbreak has spread through a federal law enforcement training facility in South Carolina, prompting the national employees union to call for a halt to training.

At least 23 students and faculty have tested positive at Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Charleston

  • Georgia Public Health Commissioner Dr. Kathleen Toomey reported an increase of coronavirus cases across Georgia, “not just in urban Atlanta, but also suburban and rural areas.”

The test positivity rate in the state is on average 13.6% and hospitalizations have increased 39% over the past week.

  • The Georgia Department of Public Health reported 3,908 new confirmed casesm 28 new coronavirus-related deaths, and 301 additional hospitalizations.
  • Florida reported 11,466 new cases and 128 new deaths  The state has reported more than 100 deaths for four straight days.
  • Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) said he won’t close the state’s gyms, claiming a healthy lifestyle will put people at lower risk for developing severe cases of coronavirus.

“If you are good shape you have a very, very low likelihood of ending up in significant condition as a result of the coronavirus,” DeSantis said

  • Miami Dade Mayor Carlos Giménez (R) said that the county has not exceeded the ICU capacity, although the county’s dashboard showed that the capacity is at 107%.

He explained that hospitals have the ability to add hundreds of ICU beds by converting recovery rooms into ICU rooms.

  • People in Miami, Florida, will no longer get a warning when they fail to wear a mask in public starting Monday. 

Mayor Francis Suarez (R) said the new order will require a fine for the first offense of the city’s mask order. The fine starts at $50 and increases with every additional offense.

  • Miami Beach announced a curfew beginning Saturday for most of its entertainment district, running each night from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m.
  • Broward County, Florida enacted a curfew for the entire county to help mitigate the spread of Covid-19.

The nightly curfew is from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. and will last through August 1.

  • There are 140 Miami Police employees and 41 Miami Beach Police officers currently under quarantine.
  • Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves (R)  said that unless coronavirus conditions change dramatically over the weekend, the state may add 11 counties to its mask requirement. 

Thirteen counties are already under the more restrictive order.

  • Chicago proposed reopening schools this fall with a hybrid learning model. About 50% of the student population would attend school in-person on any given day. Most high school juniors and seniors will do at-home learning full time.
  • Missouri plans to spend $15 million in federal coronavirus aid on promoting tourism in the state, Gov. Mike Parson (R) announced. 
  • Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) said that it’s critical to bring Iowa’s children back to the classroom, and schools will not be allowed to provide more than half of instruction through remote learning unless she authorizes it.
  • Texas reported 174 new Covid-19 related deaths on Friday, surpassing Thursday’s record of 129 deaths in a single day.
  • Corpus Christi Nueces County Director of Public Health Annette Rodriguez said Friday that 85 babies under the age of one have tested positive for Covid-19 there.
  • 10,120 new cases were reported in California on Friday – the state’s second highest single day total.
  • People who do not wear face coverings on California’s Manhattan Beach may face citations of up to $350.

Maskless first offenders in the Southern California beach town will be fined $100, followed by $200 and $350 citations for the second and third violations.

  • The majority of schools in California will not be reopening for in-person education this fall, Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) announced.

Schools can start in-person instruction if they are in counties that have not been on the state’s monitoring list for 14 days

  • San Francisco has joined more than 30 other counties on California’s “watch list” due to a rise in Covid-19 hospitalizations, Mayor London Breed (D) said.

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/CVOID-19 Update

Read Time: 8 Minutes

  • The United States shattered its single-day record for new cases with more than 75,000 recorded. This marks the 11th time in the past month that the daily record has been broken.
  • Over 60 percent of voters say they trust Anthony Fauci but not President Trump when it comes to information on the coronavirus.
  • The antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine did not benefit non-hospitalized patients with mild symptoms according to a study in the medical journal Annals of Internal Medicine.
  • Travel bans meant to stop coronavirus from getting to the US from China came too late, according to a new analysis from the CDC.
  • The CDC abruptly removed a slew of previously public data on coronavirus hospitalizations from their website, then restored some of the data, as President Trump has announced it is sidestepping the organization and changing how hospitals report data to the federal government.
  • Dr. Anthony Fauci warned young Americans, “Not only [are] you propagating the outbreak, but you’re actually putting other people in danger.”
  • President Trump does not want to issue a nationwide mask mandate to combat the coronavirus and instead wants local governments to make their own choices, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said during a Thursday press briefing. 

“We leave it to localities to make the decisions with regard to face coverings. “Guidelines remain the same today: recommended but not required,” McEnany said.

  • “When he [the president] says open, he means open in in full, kids being able to attend each and every day at their school,” White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters at a press briefing. “The science should not stand in the way of this.” 

“The science is on our side here,” she later added.

  • Countries that reopened schools were able to do so because they first got their coronavirus cases under control.

“We have fairly reassuring data from other countries that have gone about the work of reopening schools,” Dr. Jennifer Nuzzo, senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, said.

Nuzzo said countries like Austria, Denmark, Germany and Norway have been able to open their schools because they have been “taking measures to maximize safety in the school setting.’

“The key is, they have all started from a place of having low transmission and low level of illness in the surrounding communities,” Nuzzo said.

Simply put, “each of these countries had their epidemic under control,” Nuzzo added.

  • As the nation debates how to safely reopen schools, one of the main concerns is  children who may become infected at school and carry the virus back home. New data released by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that about 3.3 million older adults in the US live in a household with a school-age child.

About 7% of children, or 4.1 million, between the ages of 5 and 18 live in a household with adults 65 and older – a population that is more vulnerable to the virus.

  • Former game show host Chuck Woolery announced his son has tested positive for COVID-19.

“To further clarify and add perspective, Covid-19 is real and it is here. My son tested positive for the virus, and I feel for those suffering and especially for those who have lost loved ones,” Woolery tweeted before his account disappeared. 

On Monday, Woolery had tweeted: “The most outrageous lies are the ones about Covid 19. Everyone is lying. The CDC, Media, Democrats, our Doctors, not all but most, that we are told to trust. I think it’s all about the election and keeping the economy from coming back, which is about the election. I’m sick of it.”

  • Due to impacts from the ongoing coronavirus, NASA has delayed the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope until Halloween 2021. 
  • 72 NFL players have tested positive for Covid-19 as of July 10.
  • The Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference will suspend all fall sports competition. 
  • NCAA president Mark Emmert offered a sobering statement on the state of fall sports saying, “Today, sadly, the data point in the wrong direction. If there is to be college sports in the fall, we need to get a much better handle on the pandemic.”
  • Grocery store chain Publix will require all customers to wear face coverings when entering any of their stores throughout the United States beginning July 21.

Publix joins other national retailers Target, CVS, Walmart, Kroger, Kohl’s, Starbucks, Best Buy, and Costco in requiring face coverings for shoppers.

  • Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein is calling for the upcoming coronavirus relief bill to include an amendment that would bar states that do not implement mask mandates from receiving stimulus funding.

“Wearing masks in public should be mandatory. Period.”

  • Vermont and Alaska are the only two states that did not record a death in the past week.
  • New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy announced his roughly $115 million plan to close the digital divide for all students in the state as remote learning remains part of the experience for students in the fall due to the pandemic.

This effort will include providing devices and increasing connectivity for all public school students.

  • After numerous reports of compliance issues, bars and restaurants in New York City that receive three “strikes” for failing to enforce social distancing will be forced to close, Governor Andrew Cuomo said.

In addition, bars and restaurants across the state will be allowed to serve alcohol only to patrons also ordering food, and walk-up bar service will not be allowed.

  • Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine’s (R) mask mandate for all Red Alert Level 3 counties goes into effect Friday. Nearly 60% of the state will be required to wear masks in public.

The governor said some of Ohio’s counties seemed to be understanding the seriousness of the spread of the virus in their communities.

“What we’re starting to see, for example in Hamilton County, some in Butler County, other counties, as they’re starting to get it and say ‘okay, we do have a problem, we don’t want to be Florida in three weeks, or four weeks,’” DeWine said.

  • Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY)  stressed he is not getting involved with the state Gov. Andy Beshear’s battle to mandate mask-wearing.

“I know there’s an argument going on here in the state over whether the governor can or cannot make you wear a mask,” he said. “I’m not in that fight. But, I’m here to tell you, put it on.”

  • North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis (R) suggested the high rates of coronavirus cases and deaths among Hispanics in NC are attributed to “less consistent adherence to social distancing and wearing a mask” by the Hispanic community.

That statement stands in direct contrast to a Pew Research study that shows Hispanics are more likely than white people to wear a mask by nearly 10 percentage points, even despite the fear that they will be considered suspicious and targeted for wearing masks.

  • South Carolina reported its most Covid-19-related deaths in a single day with 69 confirmed and three probable deaths.
  • Atlanta’s mask order remains in effect, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms’ office said, despite Georgia’s governor’s earlier executive order suspending all local government mask mandates.
  • Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) is suing Atlanta’s Mayor, Keisha Lance Bottoms because she refused to abide by his new law that bans municipalities from enacting mask mandates.
  • Savannah, GA  Mayor Van Johnson said he was “furious” and “at a loss for words” when he heard Gov. Kemp was suspending all local government mask mandates despite the rise in Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations in the state.

He said he will continue to enforce the mask mandate in the city saying, “our order still stands.”

  • Florida’s health department reported 156 coronavirus deaths on Thursday, surpassing a record the state set just days before. The new deaths bring the state’s total to 4,677.
  • Florida reported 13,965 new cases, its second-highest daily total. At least 8,626 people are currently hospitalized due to the coronavirus across the state.
  • More than 50 Florida  hospitals have reached intensive care unit capacity and show zero beds available. In Miami, hospitals have reached 95% capacity.
  • Coronavirus cases in Florida’s nursing homes have soared 74% in the past month. Gov. Ron DeSantis’ plan to isolate the ill elderly isn’t stopping the spread.
  • Miami Mayor Francis Suarez (R) said that he is “very, very close” to issuing a new stay-at-home order.
  • Officials in Florida were forced to shutter the Division of Emergency Management’s operations center due to an outbreak of coronavirus.
  • The largest public school district in Alabama will be teaching remotely for at least the first nine weeks of the school year, the Mobile County superintendent announced
  • Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) announced Arkansas will require face coverings in public.
  • Wichita, Kansas area hospitals are scrambling to convert rooms into makeshift ICUs as a spike in coronavirus cases leads to a 170 percent increase in bed use.

“If these numbers continue at the same rate our hospitals will reach capacity in 2-3 weeks (sooner if we have a 4th of July bump),” Mayor Brandon Whipple (D) tweeted. “Please wear your mask.”

  • Tulsa, Oklahoma, Mayor G.T. Bynum (R) signed a new mask ordinance.
  • Some Texas counties are bringing in refrigerated trucks as morgues reach capacity.
  • The health director in Dallas County, Texas, announced that he will be issuing an order to delay in-person instruction for all local public and private schools until September 8.
  • Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner (D) thanked New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) and his state for sending teams to help set up Covid-19 testing sites in Houston.
  • Hospitals in Laredo are full and the federal government is converting a hotel into a healthcare facility.
  • Colorado will require residents to wear masks when they are visiting public indoor spaces and are not able to social distance, Gov. Jared Polis (D) said.
  • Arizona morgues are filling up: In Maricopa County, which has the most Covid-19 cases in the state, the medical examiner’s office has ordered four portable coolers to serve as morgues.
  • Arizona state health officials have announced they’re bringing nearly 600 critical care and medical-surgical nurses from out of state to help as they enhance their internal surge plans to fill staffing gaps.
  • California reported 8,544 new cases of coronavirus and 118 additional deaths on Thursday. The country’s most populous state set two more records with highs for hospitalizations and ICU admissions.
  • Los Angeles County public health director warned another stay-at-home order is likely: “We can’t take anything off the table — there’s absolutely no certainty of what exactly is going to happen next,” Dr. Barbara Ferrer said.
  • Three northern California churches are suing Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) and other public health officials over a ban on singing and chanting in houses of worship during the coronavirus crisis, as public health officials say singing is one of the most high-risk ways to spread the virus.
  • University of California, San Francisco epidemiologist Dr. George Rutherford said California lacks the necessary contact tracing to adequately combat the virus.

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 United States saw a record number of new cases Tuesday with 67,417. Wednesday registered 60,971 new diagnoses and 773 U.S. deaths.
  • A Gallup survey found mask wearing remains a political issue, with 94 percent of Democrats stating that they “always” or “very often” wear masks when outside their homes, compared to 46 percent of Republicans who said the same. 

36 percent of Republicans said they “rarely” or “never” wear a mask when going out, a position shared by only 2 percent of Democrats.

  • Young people throwing “Covid parties” in the United States has been making Dr. Anthony Fauci’s “head spin,” he said.

“When I hear about these Covid parties, it just makes my head spin. Because when you get infected, what you’re doing is you’re not in a vacuum. You are part of the propagation of the outbreak.”

  • Moderna’s chief medical officer said Wednesday that he’s “cautiously optimistic” about the biotechnology company’s Covid-19 vaccine developed in partnership with the National Institutes of Health.
  • President Trump said his trade adviser Peter Navarro made a misstep by publishing an op-ed critical of Dr. Anthony Fauci.

“He made a statement representing himself,” Trump said when questioned about the article while departing the White House. “He shouldn’t be doing that. I have a very good relationship with Anthony.”

  • The Los Angeles Times reported that President Donald Trump personally “authorized” and “encouraged” an op-ed by White House trade adviser Peter Navarro attacking Dr. Anthony Fauci.
  • Fauci said the government’s attempt to discredit him “is a bit bizarre. I don’t really fully understand it.”
  • Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said he has “total” confidence in Dr. Fauci.
  • White House trade adviser Peter Navarro’s battle with Anthony Fauci is intensifying, putting the White House in a difficult position as it struggles to downplay evidence of a rift between President Trump and one of the nation’s most trusted health experts during the coronavirus pandemic.

“This is the sort of thing that would get you fired in any other White House,” a former official said.

  • Infectious disease expert Dr. Colleen Kraft said the United States doesn’t have a handle on coronavirus, largely due to people’s behavior. 

“I’m not really sure at this point…what to say differently, except that we may be more at a toddler status, where we have to sort of learn ourselves by putting our hand over a fire to actually learn that there’s a problem.”

  • Coronavirus cases are surging in the South because states reopened too soon, not because northerners traveled to Southern destinations over Memorial Day, the Harvard Global Health Institute asserted in a statement.

“Northerners are not the cause of big outbreaks in the south,” the Institute said in a statement. “What the states that are seeing large outbreaks have in common is that they relaxed COVID-19 regulations around the same time in May.”

  • The reported death rates of patients being treated for coronavirus in intensive care units has improved since the beginning of the pandemic from 60% of patients dying to 42% at the end of May. 
  • A majority of voters oppose the Trump administration’s demand that K-12 schools and day care centers be fully opened for in-person instruction during the coming academic year.
  • Walmart will require customers to wear face coverings at all of its namesake and Sam’s Club stores, making it the largest retailer to introduce such a policy that has otherwise proven difficult to enforce without state and federal requirements.
  • Kroger, the largest U.S. supermarket chain, will require customers to wear a mask or face covering to shop in their stores.
  • Thirty-eight states reported an increase in the number of new cases from the week before.
  • Twenty-seven states have paused or rolled back plans to reopen their economies.
  • Pennsylvania, Gov. Tom Wolf (D) warned of “an unsettling climb” in new cases and moved to reduce seating capacity in restaurants and limit the size of gatherings.
  • Philadelphia plans to reopen schools in September with a hybrid of in-person and online learning, with most students physically attending school two days per week.
  • Gov. Mike DeWine (R) called for Ohioans to show unity and take action against the rapid spread of Covid-19 in the state.

At the beginning of the pandemic, it took Ohio 20 days to reach its first 1,500 total Covid-19 cases, DeWine said during a briefing. Last week, Ohio saw over 1,500 cases in a single day.

DeWine emphasized that the number of new cases is not just the result of increased testing.

“I know some say that our case numbers are increasing because we are simply doing more testing. Yes, our testing has gone up by 87%. But our number of positive cases has skyrocketed by almost 200%,” the governor said.

He encouraged Ohioans to wear masks.

  • Officials in Prince George’s County, Md., announced that students would be distance-learning through at least February.
  • Richmond, Virginia will make K-12 classes fully virtual in the fall due to the coronavirus pandemic. The school board cited research showing the illness is airborne and “highly contagious, especially indoors” for the decision.
  • Washington, DC, Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) said the district’s state of emergency will be extended — likely through October.
  • South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster (R) is calling on all public school districts in the state to submit plans for reopening that give parents the option to either send their children back to school, or keep them home for distance learning.
  • Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) is extending the state’s emergency coronavirus restrictions, but is not requiring citizens to wear a mask.

The order also explicitly bans Georgia’s cities and counties from ordering people to wear masks in public places. He voided orders that at least 15 local governments across the state had adopted even though Kemp had earlier said cities and counties had no power to order masks.

  • Florida reported another 10,181 cases of coronavirus.
  • Florida has hit another troubling milestone in its fight against the coronavirus: a record number of daily hospitalizations related to coronavirus infections.

WFLA 8 Florida reports that the state has recorded 453 patients as new hospital admittances on July 15.

  • Florida’s largest public health system has seen a 226% increase in coronavirus patients since June 14. 

“The biggest issue is we have a lot of aggressive noncompliant people, people that just do not believe that masking is the right thing to do,”Jackson Health System President and CEO Carlos Migoya said. 

  • Fifty-four Florida hospital ICUs have reached capacity as Miami-Dade county reports Covid-19 ventilator use is up 92%
  • Florida health officials have identified a troubling trend: approximately 33 percent, or one third, of children in Florida tested for COVID-19 yield positive results.
  • Alabama reported a record 47 COVID deaths, more per capita than Florida. 
  • Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (R) announced a mandatory statewide mask order, citing a 50 percent increase in new coronavirus cases over the past two weeks.
  • The International Grand Isle Tarpon Rodeo, the oldest fishing tournament in the United States, has been canceled due to COVID-19 restrictions.
  • More than 30 students from Lake Zurich High School, Illinois have tested positive for coronavirus. 
  • Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly (D) announced that she would delay the opening of schools until after Labor Day, saying that schools needed time to get masks, thermometers, hand sanitizer and other supplies. “I can’t in good conscience open schools when Kansas has numerous hot spots where cases are at an all-time high & continuing to rapidly rise,” she wrote on Twitter.
  • Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) has tested positive for coronavirus as cases in his state hit record levels just a month after he hosted Trump’s first campaign rally amid the pandemic.
  • Oklahoma has reported a record-high number of new cases. The State Department of Health said that there are at least 22,813 total cases, up at least 1,075 new cases from Tuesday.
  • Texas has set grim records for single-day deaths and new COVID-19 cases as the Lone Star State continues to get rocked by the pandemic.

The state reported 110 deaths and 10,791 new cases of the virus on Wednesday, bringing its total number of cases during the pandemic to 282,365. It was the second consecutive day that Texas broke its record for daily number of new cases.

  • TexasGov. Greg Abbott (R) issued an order mandating that most people wear face masks in public.
  • The Houston Independent School District, the seventh-largest in the country, said it would start the year virtually on Sept. 8. Students will have at least six weeks of online instruction, with a tentative plan to start in-person classes on Oct. 19.
  • Idaho experienced its deadliest day since the coronavirus pandemic began and hit a new record for cases. Eight Idohans succumbed to the disease and 550 were newly diagnosed. 
  • Montana Gov. Steve Bullock (D) issued a statewide order requiring the use of a face covering in many indoor and outdoor settings.
  • New Mexico reported its second-largest single-day Covid-19 case increase with 330 new cases.
  • Arizona has led the nation for over a month with the highest 7-day average of new coronavirus cases per 100,000 people.
  • Hospitalizations and ICU admissions for Covid-19 patients in California continue to rise in the state, setting a new record with a total of 6,745 hospitalizations and 1,886 ICU admissions.
  • Sacramento County students will not return to public school campuses in the fall, joining several other California counties that will start the academic year with online distance learning only.
  • Public school students in San Francisco will start the fall semester with classes completely online.
  • The iconic Tournament of Roses Parade, scheduled for New Year’s Day 2021  has been canceled. 

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

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/COVD-19 Update

Read Time: 7 Minutes

  • Gilead Sciences, the maker of the drug, remdesivir, that has been shown to shorten recovery time for severely ill COVID-19 patients says it will charge $2,340 for a typical treatment course for people covered by government health programs in the United States and other developed countries.

The price would be $3,120 for patients with private insurance. The amount that patients pay out of pocket depends on insurance, income and other factors.

  • In a May report, Public Citizen, a non-profit consumer rights advocacy group, estimated that U.S. taxpayers contributed at least $70.5 million to the development of remdesivir.
  • The Trump administration has secured 500,000 doses of remdesivir, the first drug shown to be effective at treating hospitalized coronavirus patients.
  • Global monitoring of the coronavirus shows that it has not mutated, a good sign for vaccine research and development.
  • A new University of Virginia School of Medicine study has shown that doctors can identify, via blood samples, those at greater risk of severe illness after being diagnosed with coronavirus, including those who may need a ventilator.
  • The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)  has come out with a strong statement in favor of bringing children back to the classroom this fall wherever and whenever they can do so safely. AAP “strongly advocates that all policy considerations for the coming school year should start with a goal of having students physically present in school.”

AAP argues that remote learning is likely to result in severe learning loss and increased social isolation. Social isolation, in turn, can breed serious social, emotional and health issues: “child and adolescent physical or sexual abuse, substance use, depression, and suicidal ideation.” Furthermore, these impacts will be visited more severely on Black and brown children, as well as low-income children and those with learning disabilities.

  • Coronavirus cases linked to crowds who visited a Michigan bar after it reopened have risen to 85, according to health officials.

The Ingham County Health Department is asking anyone who visited Harper’s Restaurant & Brewpub, outside of Michigan State University in East Lansing, between June 12 and 20, to self-quarantine for two weeks.

  • Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar on Monday appeared to blame a rise in coronavirus cases across several U.S. states on a lack of “personal responsibility” during an appearance on “CBS This Morning.”

Azar, in a response to a question over whether some U.S. states reopened too quickly, said that Americans must practice smart procedures to stop the virus from spreading, including social distancing and wearing masks.

  • Health officials in Allegheny County, PA, say a surge in novel coronavirus cases recently reported around Pittsburgh has been tied to bars, not protests. 
  • The Broadway League has announced that all productions will remain closed through at least January 3, 2021.
  • “We must have no stigma — none — about wearing masks when we leave our homes and come near other people,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said calling people to wear face masks as outbreaks spread. “Wearing simple face coverings is not about protecting ourselves. It is about protecting everyone we encounter.”
  • More than 10 million people across the globe have tested positive for the coronavirus, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Monday, nearly 180,000 of whom tested positive in the last 24 hours.

“The reality is this is not close to being over,” Tedros told reporters. “Globally, the pandemic is actually speeding up.”

About half the cases, and nearly half the deaths across the globe, have come in the Americas. The United States, which accounts for about 4 percent of the global population, has nearly a quarter of the total confirmed cases, 2.4 million.

  • India reported close to 20,000 fresh novel coronavirus cases for the second day running on Monday, as the financial hub of Mumbai extended its lockdown by a month.
  • Prime Minister Boris Johnson acknowledged Monday that the coronavirus pandemic has been a “disaster” for Britain. “This has been a disaster,” Johnson acknowledged Monday. “Let’s not mince our words. I mean, this has been an absolute nightmare for the country and the country’s gone through a profound shock.” 
  • Scotland has recorded no new deaths from coronavirus for the fourth day running.
  • The coronavirus is spreading too rapidly and too broadly for the U.S. to bring it under control, Dr. Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Monday.

The U.S. has set records for daily new infections in recent days as outbreaks surge mostly across the South and West.

  • GOP Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey has ordered the closure of bars and gyms, a ban on mass gatherings and has delayed the start of in-person schooling as the state faces record-breaking cases in coronavirus ahead of the Fourth of July weekend.
  • A group of bar owners in Texas is suing after the governor ordered closures to prevent the spread of coronavirus in the state, which is facing one of the toughest outbreaks in the country. In the lawsuit, restaurants accuse Gov. Greg Abbott of acting “like a king,” and “unilaterally destroying our economy and trampling on our constitutional rights.”
  • Just minutes after the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors closed local beaches for the long holiday weekend, a somber Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti took to his podium.

He then announced that, along with the beach closures, Fourth of July firework displays would be prohibited in hope of keeping Angelenos from gathering in groups.

Also, he said, “Gatherings of people you do not live with are not allowed.”

  • Effective Tuesday, Riverside County, CA is ordering all bars to close down again to help slow a new surge in coronavirus cases.
  • Officials warn hospital beds in Los Angeles County may not meet demand in coming weeks as coronavirus cases surge.
  • Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly says she will issue an executive order mandating the use of masks in public spaces starting Friday to stop the spread of COVID-19.

“The evidence could not be clearer — wearing a mask is not only safe, but it is necessary to avoid another shutdown.

  • The Monongalia County (West Virginia) Health Department warned more than 200 Planet Fitness users that they could have been exposed to the coronavirus if they visited the gym last Wednesday.
  • In a statement, Oregon Governor Kate Brown said, “Keeping Oregonians safe is my top priority. Over the last month, COVID-19 spread at an alarming rate in both urban and rural counties. That’s why I’m requiring face coverings in indoor public places in ALL counties, effective 7/1. We can and must reduce the spread of this disease.”
  • Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf Tweeted: “Masks are required in Pennsylvania businesses. No mask = no service.

The importance of mask-wearing to reduce the spread of #COVID19 and protect people and businesses cannot be overstated.”

  • Jacksonville, Florida created rules requiring face masks both indoors and in public as the coronavirus spreads rapidly throughout the state, creating a serious question as to whether President Trump and GOP voters will wear a mask and follow guidelines when the Republican convention is held in the city in August.

Trump has specifically expressed a desire to hold the convention without masks or social distancing.

  • Experts and officials in Florida are warning that house parties are the “largest problem” driving the spike in coronavirus cases in the greater metropolitan area of Miami, with private gatherings leading to the rapid spreading of the virus.

“The law does not enable us to enforce the rules we use on public spaces on private property. So, our current option is to appeal to the common sense and decency of our citizens. This danger comes directly from within.”

  • An IRS watchdog says in a new report that coronavirus has led to major delays in the processing of tax filings this year, warning there is a backlog of 4.7 million paper filings that could result in those who filed paper tax returns waiting a considerable amount of time for their refunds. The report also reveals a slew of other problems facing taxpayers due to coronavirus-related delays and errors.
  • Americans say they trust information on the coronavirus pandemic from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention the most — and President Trump the least — according to a Pew Research Center survey released Monday. 

The majority of respondents to the survey, 64 percent, said the CDC and other public health organizations get the facts right almost or most of the time regarding COVID-19. Only 30 percent said the same about Trump and his administration.

  • A strain of flu that has become prevalent in pigs in China that can be passed to humans could become another pandemic and needs to be closely monitored, according to researchers behind a new study.

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