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

Read TIme: 4 Minutes

  • The U.S. reported 40,458 new cases and 1,195 additional deaths.
  • More than 22 million coronavirus cases have now been recorded globally, including nearly 800,000 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
  • The CDC launched a new program that will help monitor the spread of Covid-19 using sewage testing.
  • Testing is “still not completely fixed” across the entire nation, Dr. Anthony Fauci said during a town hall with Healthline.com.

“The other thing that’s a problem – still not completely fixed, but fixed in many areas of the country, but not all – is the delay between the time you do the test and you get the result back,” he said. 

  • In the Early stages of the pandemic, the U.S. forced major manufacturers to build ventilators. Now they’re piling up unused in a strategic reserve. Months into a $3 billion U.S. effort, the vast majority of ventilators are going unused. The Department of Health and Human Services said it had handed out 15,057 ventilators by Friday, and there were 95,713 ventilators in the federal stockpile. Of those, 94,352 came from contracts signed since the beginning of the pandemic.
  • New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern hit back at President Trump’s comments calling her country’s surge in Covid-19 cases “terrible.”

“I don’t think there’s any comparison between New Zealand’s current cluster and the tens of thousands of cases that are being seen daily in the United States,” Ardern told reporters.

  • CNN’s Anderson Cooper got into a heated on-air clash with MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, an ardent President Trump supporter, for pushing an unproven therapeutic treatment for coronavirus.

“You really are a snake oil salesman. I mean, you could be in the Old West standing on a box telling people to drink your amazing elixir that there’s no proof,” Cooper told Lindel.

“I do what Jesus has me do,” he told Cooper.

  • MLB announced that Tuesday’s Cincinnati Reds game against the Royals in Kansas City, Missouri, has been postponed. The Reds previously said a player on the team had tested positive for Covid-19, forcing the postponement of two weekend games.
  • The Chicago Bears will not play home games in front of fans when the 2020 NFL season begins.
  • Eight members of the Greek life system have tested positive for Covid-19 at North Carolina State University. 
  • The University of Notre Dame suspended in-person classes for two weeks, eight days after the school’s fall semester began and after 146 students and a staff member tested positive for the coronavirus. 
  • Michigan State University will conduct the fall semester as online-only instruction, its president announced Tuesday afternoon, days before students were set to move in for the fall.
  • Iowa State University said in a news release that 175 students living in residence halls and campus apartments have tested positive for Covid-19.
  • Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) said that all sports will go forward this fall.
  • The University of Alabama announced that spectators will be allowed at home football games.

Approximately 20% of the seating capacity at Bryant-Denny Stadium (approximately 20,000 fans) could be filled, but school officials have prohibited tailgating on campus.

  • New York City’s public schools plan to open their doors to students for some in-person learning when the school year starts in just a few weeks, but more than 300,000 students are opting to stay home for all online learning instead.
  • Pennsylvania will roll out a Covid-19 contact tracing app for residents in September, Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine announced Tuesday. 

The app, COVID Alert PA, will use Bluetooth technology and notify Pennsylvanians if they spent 15 minutes or more in close proximity to another person who later tested positive for the virus.

  • Florida reported 3,838 new cases and 219 additional deaths.
  • On a phone call with school district superintendents, Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran told them not to close a school without calling state officials first to discuss it.

“Before you get to that point of closing a classroom or closing a school, we want to have that communication with you because we want to be as surgical as possible,” Corcoran said.

One district leader, who was on the call and who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of fear of reprisal from the state, said some district leaders would now be reluctant to shut down a school and send all students home for remote learning.

  • The board of directors of the Florida High School Athletic Association voted late last week to allow schools to start fall sports Aug. 24 — a decision that ignores a recommendation from the organization’s own medical advisory panel, which had called for delaying fall sports until at least the end of September.
  • Louisiana reported 664 new cases and 28 additional deaths. 
  • The positivity rate in Louisiana has dropped below 10%, Gov. John Bel Edwards said at a news conference.

The positivity rate for the state is 9.4%, Edwards said, dropping the state to the “yellow zone” as classified by the White House coronavirus task force.

  • Hawaii reported 134 new cases on Tuesday, with most in Oahu. The rate of daily new cases is seven times higher than it was a month ago.
  • Honolulu tightened its restrictions on public gatherings as coronavirus cases surge in Hawaii.

“There can be no social gatherings — indoors or outdoors — on the island of Oahu,” Mayor Kirk Caldwell announced in a news briefing Tuesday.

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: 5 Minutes

  • The U.S. reported 37,996 new cases and 408 additional deaths. Test positivity rates have increased in 34 states.
  • COVID-19 is now the third leading cause of death in the U.S., eight months after the first case of coronavirus was confirmed in the country. The coronavirus is behind only heart disease and cancer among causes of death in the U.S., according to the CDC. 
  • The U.S. has had the worst response to Covid-19 of any major country, Dr. Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Institute of Health, said.

“I think it’s pretty fair to say we may have the worst response of any major country,” Jha said during a Center for American Progress webinar. While he said that it could be argued that Brazil’s response has been as bad or worse, competing with Brazil for that title is “not where you want to be.” 

“We didn’t get here overnight. This has really been one mishap after another,” Jha said. “The single factor that really differentiates us from everybody else is denialism that has pervaded our entire approach.”

  • Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus task force coordinator, said that she wished the US shutdown had looked like Italy’s, which was under a total lockdown.

“I wish that when we went into lockdown, we looked like Italy. When Italy locked down, I mean, people weren’t allowed out of their houses,” she said.

  • Dr. Anthony Fauci, “We’d better be careful when we say ‘Young people who don’t wind up in the hospital are fine, let them get infected, it’s OK.’ No, it’s not OK.”

“They have residual symptoms for weeks and sometimes months,” he said.

Fauci said subsequent check-ups show that many “have a substantially high proportion of cardiovascular abnormalities, evidence of myocarditis by MRI and PET scans, evidence of emerging cardiomyopathies.”

  • Novavax announced it would proceed with Phase 2 clinical trials to determine if its coronavirus vaccine candidate showed positive results for patients.
  • President Trump has expressed enthusiasm for the FDA to permit an extract from the oleander plant to be marketed as a dietary supplement or, alternatively, approved as a drug to cure COVID-19, despite lack of proof that it works.

Oleandrin was promoted to Trump during an Oval Office meeting in July. It’s embraced by HUD Secretary Ben Carson and MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, a big Trump backer, who recently took a financial stake in the company that develops the product.

  • “Big surge in New Zealand,” Trump said. The country reported seventy-one cases in August. The U.S. reported 43,000 cases and 619 deaths Sunday. 
  • The nation’s two largest drugstore chains, Walgreens and CVS, plan to check patient temperatures and wear face shields for the first time when administering flu vaccines.
  • Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) cast doubt on whether negotiators would be able to break the impasse on a fifth coronavirus package, though he said that he thinks there needs to be another bill.
  • FHA mortgages have the highest delinquency rate in four decades. New Jersey had the highest FHA delinquency rate, at 20%. The state also had the biggest increase in the overall late-payments.
  • A Kansas high school teacher created what is believed to be the first national database tracking the effects of COVID-19 in K-12 schools.

The Google spreadsheet – which is updated every five minutes – chronicles total known cases, suspected cases, quarantined individuals, and deaths at every school reported by officials or covered by local news outlets. https://bit.ly/schoolscovid

  • Jimbo Jackson, principal of Fort Braden School in Tallahassee who survived Covid-19, is urging parents to opt for virtual learning for their kids.
  • Just a week into the fall semester, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill said it would shift to remote learning for undergraduates after a number of coronavirus cases emerged.
  • 155 Colorado College students have been placed under quarantine for two weeks after a new student arrived on campus last Friday and tested positive for Covid-19.

The quarantined students have been told not to leave their rooms except to go to the restroom and only while wearing a mask.

  • At least 24 people tested positive for coronavirus in connection with a wedding reception in Millinocket, Maine. 
  • For the third consecutive week, the National Hockey League announced that it has received no new positive Covid-19 test results during the past week inside the league’s two hub cities of Toronto and Edmonton.
  • New Jersey reported 316 new cases and four additional deaths. The state’s rate of transmission climbed back above the key benchmark of 1 that indicates the outbreak is expanding.
  • Newark’s school district, the largest in New Jersey, will reopen the academic year with all-remote classes and no in-person instruction through at least the first marking period.
  • Gyms can open as soon as August 24 with 33% capacity and mask mandates, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said. 
  • Maryland established a hotline to report potential Covid-19 violations. 
  • About 6 million Americans plan to fly this Labor Day Weekend, according to data from travel management app TripIt. Approximately one million of those who have decided to fly over the holiday are headed to Florida which is struggling to rein in the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • At least five students and two teachers from Bradford County School District in Florida have been placed on quarantine due to exposure to Covid-19. 
  • University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, notified the community of potential COVID-19 exposures at Kappa Sigma Fraternity House. 
  • A state agency says it is working to fix a data error on Iowa’s coronavirus website that lowers the number of new confirmed cases and therefore downplays the severity of the current outbreak, just as schools are deciding whether to reopen.

The glitch means the Iowa Department of Public Health has inadvertently been reporting fewer new infections and a smaller percentage of daily positive tests than is truly the case.

  • A Nebraska community theatre decided to go on with their summer production of “Mamma Mia” despite the current health crisis and now more than 20 of the show’s cast and crew have tested positive for COVID-19.
  • Texas reported 51 new Covid-19 related deaths, bringing the total number of coronavirus related deaths to 10,034 in the state.

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

Coronavirus/COVID-19

  • The U.S. reported 43,008 new cases and 619 additional deaths.
  • The multibillion-dollar effort to get a coronavirus vaccine on the market could see delays because researchers haven’t recruited sufficient numbers of minorities to join the clinical trials.
  • A school district in Arizona canceled its Monday classes after a “high volume of staff absences” created insufficient staffing levels.

The J.O. Combs Unified School District in San Tan Valley, Arizona, previously announced last week it would resume in-person instruction on Monday, but since that announcement, the district “received an overwhelming response from staff indicating that they do not feel safe returning to classrooms with students.”

  • For the ninth straight day, New York state’s Covid-19 positivity rate is under 1%. 
  • New York City’s “Tribute in Light” that honors victims of the September 11 attacks will go on, organizers said Saturday, after concerns about workers’ safety during the pandemic threatened to cancel the tribute.
  • A fourth coronavirus cluster has been identified by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
  • South Carolina reported 537 new cases and nine additional deaths. The state’s positivity rate as of Saturday is 11%. 
  • A White House task force report warns that the coronavirus spread in Georgia is “widespread and expanding” and “strongly recommends” a statewide mask mandate. 

Georgia remains without a statewide mask mandate. Gov. Brian Kemp (R) on Saturday said residents are urged to wear face coverings and take other precautions. The order would allow local governments to mandate masks, but only on their publicly-owned property, not at private businesses.

  • A third Cherokee County school will temporarily end in-person learning after more than a quarter of its students were quarantined and 25 people at the school tested positive. 

Creekview High School now has 500 of its 1,800 students under precautionary quarantine.

  • Ohio reported 40 deaths on Saturday, marking the state’s highest number of deaths reported since July 31.
  • More than 30 Nashville police officers enforcing mask requirements issued nearly 3,000 warnings, 25 citations and arrested one person this weekend.

Officers were in Nashville’s famed entertainment district over the weekend as part of the department’s enhanced mask enforcement initiative.

  • Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves (R) insisted that his state’s Covid-19 cases are under control despite a 23% positivity rate.
  • School officials in Oklahoma say a student knowingly attended classes with the coronavirus on the first day of school, thinking it was safe to do so because he was asymptomatic.

Officials announced that another student also tested positive for the virus, and 22 students who came in contact with the two students are now quarantining.

Trump Administration

  • President Trump has told aides he’d like to hold an in-person meeting with Russian President Putin before the November election.
  • Democratic leaders announce they are scheduling an emergency Aug. 24 hearing for top U.S. Postal Service officials to testify before Congress after the agency sounded the alarm about its ability to handle increased mail-in-voting.
  • Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) told CNN that he and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) “are looking at having a standalone bill” to provide funding to the U.S. Postal Service.
  • Pelosi said she is calling the House back into session this week to vote on a bill prohibiting the U.S. Postal Service from implementing any changes to operations or level of service.
  • White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows told CNN that he would be open to the idea of a standalone bill that contains only funding for the U.S. Postal Service. 

Meadows told CNN on Sunday that the U.S. Postal Service will not dismantle any mail sorting machines between now and Election Day.

  • The U.S. Postal Service announced it would stop removing mail boxes through late November following complaints about how some had been taken away.
  • Pentagon officials working on Defense Secretary Mark Esper’s cost-cutting review of the department have proposed slashing military health care by $2.2 billion, a reduction that some defense officials say could effectively gut the Pentagon’s health care system during a nationwide pandemic.
  • Republican and Democratic leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee reportedly told federal prosecutors last year that they believed President Trump’s son Donald Trump Jr. and son-in-law and White House adviser Jared Kushner may have presented misleading testimony during the panel’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Trump Jr.’s and Kushner’s accounts of a meeting with a Russian lawyer during the 2016 campaign reportedly conflicted with the testimony of former deputy campaign chairman Rick Gates. 

The committee also reportedly accused the president’s former chief strategist Stephen Bannon, former campaign co-chairman Sam Clovis and private security contractor Erik Prince of lying to Congress, which potentially carries a felony charge.

Protests/Racial & Social Justice

  • Leslie David Baker, the actor best known for playing Stanley Hudson on “The Office,” shared some of the racist online abuse he says he has received since announcing his plans to star in a spinoff series to show the “great deal of work that needs to be done here in America regarding racism.”

“For those of you who don’t believe racism is still alive in the world… here’s the proof,” Baker wrote on Instagram on Wednesday, alongside screenshots of messages he says he’s recently received. “Our goal has simply been to entertain and give the fans a quality series.”

Presidential Campaign

  • Joe Biden and Kamala Harris tweeted condolences to President Trump on the loss of his brother: “Mr. President, Jill and I are sad to learn of your younger brother Robert’s passing. I know the tremendous pain of losing a loved one — and I know how important family is in moments like these. I hope you know that our prayers are with you all.”

Harris tweeted: “Doug and I join the Biden family in sending our deepest condolences and prayers to the entire Trump family during this difficult time. Losing a loved one is never easy but know that we are thinking of you.”

  • Kamala Harris has support from a nontraditional corner as she seeks to become the country’s next vice president: Her sorority sisters.

Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, the nation’s oldest African American Greek-lettered sorority, say they plan to help get Joe Biden elected after he named their sorority sister as his running mate.

  • President Trump is planning to deliver remarks on “a half century of Joe Biden failing America” in Old Forge, PA on the same day Joe Biden is set to give his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention.

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, Protests/Racial & Social Justice, Trump Administration, and Presidential Campaign Updates

Read Time: 7 Minutes

Coronavirus/COVID-19

  • The U.S. reported 56,729 new cases and 1,229 additional deaths.
  • The WHO reported 294,237 new Covid-19 cases and 9,985 additional deaths worldwide.
  • President Trump said he disagreed with an assessment from CDC Director Robert Redfield that the United States could face the “worst fall” from a public health perspective if Americans do not follow guidelines to ease the spread of the novel coronavirus.
  • Leaders at the CDC were blindsided this week when President Trump announced that the agency could deploy teams to assist schools with safely reopening in the fall.

The announcement left CDC officials scrambling this week to train staff to be able to deploy if they are called upon, a senior official said. 

The surprise statement by Trump was reminiscent of early on in the pandemic when the CDC Task Force regularly learned about assignments during presidential briefings, finding out in real time along with the public, a senior official said.

The CDC official said the agency is expected to come up with a vaccine plan for schools in at least four states by October, even though there is no realistic expectation that a vaccine would be ready by then.

  • The FDA has granted emergency use authorization to a Covid-19 diagnostic test that uses a new, inexpensive method of processing saliva samples. 

The molecular diagnostic test can yield results in under three hours, researchers said, and up to 92 samples can be tested at once.

  • Covid-19 rates in children are “steadily increasing,” according to nCDC. Children make up more than 7% of all coronavirus cases in the U.S. with the number and rate of child cases “steadily increasing” from March to July.
  • Russia has started manufacturing its new vaccine for COVID-19, the Interfax news agency reported. 
  • The American Heart Association recently warned that coronavirus can cause “devastating” and lasting cardiac complications. 

“These aren’t the patients that are elderly and immunocompromised. They’re patients that are surviving this virus, but now they’re going to have a new chronic medical condition related to surviving this virus that we need to recognize and treat.”

  • President Trump said that Clemson University quarterback Trevor Lawrence told him that players do not want to see the football season cancelled or postponed, after two major athletic conferences have done so already amid the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Three women were arrested in connection with an attack on a 17-year-old Baton Rouge, Louisiana Chili’s hostess after the employee refused to seat a party of 13 diners together, citing company COVID-19 social distancing policy.
  • Conservative pundit Bill Mitchell has been permanently suspended from Twitter, the social media platform.

“[Mitchell] has been permanently suspended for violating the Twitter Rules by using one account to evade the suspension of another account,” a Twitter spokesperson said in an email.

Mitchell confirmed the suspension in a post on the social media app Parler, though he asserted he was booted from Twitter over his stance on wearing a mask amid the coronavirus pandemic.

  • MLB postponed two games between the Cincinnati Reds and Pittsburgh Pirates this weekend after a player on the Reds tested positive.
  • The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has identified a third cluster of coronavirus cases since students returned to campus for the fall semester.
  • Georgia Gov. Brian P. Kemp (R) issued a new Covid-19 executive order extending the shelter-in-place order for the medically fragile, continuing the ban on large gatherings and maintaining health and safety protocols for Georgia businesses.

The order says local governments “who choose to impose a Local Option Face Covering Requirement” must not fine businesses, fine violators more than $50, or enforce masks at polling places.

  • A 15-year-old boy from metro Atlanta became the second youngest person to die due to complications from Covid-19 in Georgia. 
  • Florida reported 6,352 new cases and 204 additional deaths – the 53rd consecutive day Florida has reported more than 4,000 cases in a single day.
  • 7,234 children have tested positive in Alabama. Three children have died. 
  • The Wabash, IL County Health Department is looking for people who attended a “mini-prom”  on August 4 and may have been exposed to multiple confirmed cases of coronavirus.
  • Nine Oklahoma Sooners football players tested positive for COVID-19 after returning from a break that began on August 8. “A relatively small number” of other players are also being isolated because of contact tracing.
  • An Oklahoma State University sorority is being quarantined after 23 sisters tested positive for COVID-19.

Officials were alerted Friday night and immediately put the house in quarantine, prohibiting anyone from leaving the facility, which is located off-campus

  • Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has convened a team of public health experts, bioscience executives, government leaders and philanthropists to push for accelerated research, development and production of low-cost, do-it-yourself diagnostic kits based on paper-strip designs that can be used frequently and produce results in minutes, similar to home pregnancy tests. No lab equipment or special instruments would be required.

Trump Administration

  • Trump expressed support for actions taken by his new Postmaster General Louis DeJoy and denied that his administration was seeking to create delays in mail ahead of the November election and attempted to shift blame to Democrats for a lack of funding for the Postal Service.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and House Democratic leadership are considering returning from August recess as early as next week to consider legislation addressing issues at the U.S. Postal Service. 

  • Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs (D), the state’s top election official, has accused President Trump of trying to derail November’s general election by hamstringing the United States Postal Service.

“In Arizona, it’s against the law to ‘delay the delivery of a ballot.’ I’ve asked [Arizona] Attorney General [Mark] Brnovich to investigate recent changes at USPS, and whether or not the Trump administration has committed a crime,” Hobbs tweeted.

  • A small group of demonstrators held a noisy protest outside the Washington condo of Postmaster General Louis DeJoy amid growing concerns that he is gutting the U.S. Postal Service to help President Donald Trump win reelection in November.
  • President Trump will withdraw William Perry Pendley’s nomination to lead the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Land Management, a White House official confirmed to The Hill.

Pendley was a controversial choice for the role because he has previously advocated for selling off public lands. He has also been criticized for comments he made about Islam, the Black Lives Matter movement and undocumented immigrants as well as skepticism about climate change.

  • Following a catastrophic chemicals explosion in Beirut, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs David Hale said Lebanon will only receive financial support when its leaders enact reforms to finally respond to their people’s demands for good governance and to end corruption.
  • The U.S. is tracking the situation in Belarus after last weekend’s disputed election then a crackdown on protests, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said.
  • The White House said President Trump’s younger brother, Robert Trump, died on Saturday.

Protests/Racial and Social Justice

  • A rally by the far-right group Proud Boys turned violent in downtown Kalamazoo, MI. The chanting, mostly mask-less Proud Boys marched toward Arcadia Creek Festival Place waving American, Trump, and Gadsden flags and other symbols. Violence broke out soon after, with Proud Boys attacking counter-protesters with pepper spray, fists, kicks, and shoves.
  • At Stone Mountain, Georgia, police in riot gear dispersed right-wing demonstrators, some waving the Confederate battle flag and many wearing military gear, and groups supporting the Black Lives Matter movement, after fights erupted between the groups, some of whose members were armed.
  • A Georgia state trooper was arrested and charged with murder on Friday after he fatally shot a 60-year-old Black man who allegedly tried to flee during a rural traffic stop.

Jacob Gordon Thompson, 27, was booked on felony murder and aggravated assault charges stemming from the Aug. 7 death of Julian Edward Roosevelt Lewis.

Presidential Campaign

  • In a move that marks a shift from previous nominating events when candidates are showcased and make a speech on the final night, President Trump will have a role in each day of the Republican National Convention later this month, the Wall Street Journal and Washington Post reported.

The president has also said he plans to accept the nomination from the White House, another unusual move for a party convention.

  • Newsweek has apologized after an op-ed it published about Sen. Kamala Harris drew an avalanche of criticism that it perpetuated a racist conspiracy theory about her eligibility to be vice president.

In the editorial, Chapman University law professor John Eastman suggested Harris, who was born in Oakland, was not a natural-born citizen because her parents were immigrants.

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: 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 – 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: 6 Minutes

  • The U.S. recorded 55,134 new cases and 1,059 additional deaths. 
  • After weeks of sharp increases, there are some signs that new coronavirus cases in the United States may be plateauing at a high daily rate.

Though still alarmingly high, the seven-day daily average of new confirmed cases was just under 66,000 – the lowest it has been in the U.S. in 10 days.

  • The global coronavirus death toll surpassed 650,000.
  • A developmental vaccine created by drugmaker Moderna and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases began phase three trials.

About 30,000 adult volunteers will receive two 100 microgram injections of the candidate vaccine while a control group receives a placebo, both about four weeks apart.

  • The FDA announced, “Based on continued review of scientific data, FDA has determined that chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine are unlikely to be effective in treating #COVID19 and therefore we are revoking the emergency use authorization for these drugs.” 
  • Vice President Mike Pence assured that any coronavirus vaccine that makes it to market will be safe. “There’ll be no shortcuts,” Pence said. “There’ll be no cutting corners on safety in the development of this vaccine.”
  • The Senate Republican proposal will cut enhanced federal unemployment benefits from the current $600 to $200. 
  • President Trump’s attempts to project more somber messaging on the COVID-19 pandemic were motivated in part by data showing death rates rising in states critical to his reelection chances, the Washington Post reported

“In the past couple of weeks, senior advisors began presenting Trump with maps and data showing spikes in coronavirus cases among ‘our people’ in Republican states,” a senior administration official said. “They also shared projections predicting that virus surges could soon hit politically important states in the Midwest — including Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin.”

  • President Trump said he hasn’t seen National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien, who has tested positive for COVID-19, recently.
  • As members of his administration encourage some states to reverse their reopenings, President Trump said that governors need to loosen restrictions.

“I really do believe a lot of the governors should be opening up states that they’re not opening,” Trump said, without specifying which states should be opening.

  • During President Trump’s tour of a Fujifilm vaccine lab facility in North Carolina, he wore a mask, which is required at the facility.
  • White House Advisor Larry Kudlow wore a mask while talking to reporters. Asked why he finally decided to wear one, the 72 year old said seeing reporters wearing masks influenced his decision. He is now encouraging masks as a way to help the economy recover.
  • In a new Harvard CAPS/Harris poll, 79 percent of respondents said they support a national face mask mandate amid skyrocketing coronavirus cases in parts of the United States that have the nation going in the wrong direction compared to many other countries.

Another 70 percent said they supported the idea of local governments imposing fees on individuals who do not wear masks.

  • George Washington University in Washington, DC, announced that undergraduate courses will be given online for the fall 2020 semester.
  • The University of Notre Dame announced Monday it will withdraw from hosting the first presidential debate in September due to concerns about the coronavirus pandemic.

The debate, scheduled for Sept. 29, will now take place at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland.

  • Staples will require all customers to wear face coverings when entering any of their US stores.
  • Four more players on MLB’s Miami Marlins tested positive, bringing the total to fifteen infections for players and staff. 
  • After an outbreak of the coronavirus among Miami Marlins players and staff who occupied the visitor’s locker room in Philadelphia over the weekend, Monday night’s game schedule there between the Phillies and Yankees was postponed.
  • Following Monday’s postponement of two games due to Covid-19 threat, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred did not discuss canceling the season with the league’s team owners.
  • The Minnesota Vikings announced that along with head athletic trainer Eric Sugarman tested positive for COVID-19 four players were place on the reserve/COVID-19 list.
  • Daryl Ross, an Alabama pastor, said that more than 40 people who attended a revival event at his church have tested positive for the coronavirus in recent days.
  • The NCAA will allow schools to reduce their fall sports schedules, other than football, to half of a season. 
  • Monmouth University in New Jersey is cancelling all fall sports due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference will cancel all fall sports.
  • The NHL announced that of the 4,256 COVID tests administered to players from July 18th-25th, there were zero positive tests.
  • New York reported 608 new cases and 11 deaths.
  • New York state issued 132 violations to bars and restaurants for not following coronavirus-related regulations over the weekend. 
  • New Jersey reported 446 new cases and17 new confirmed deaths. The rate of transmission jumped back above the key benchmark of 1, meaning the outbreak is increasing again.
  • New Jersey has started deploying saliva-based coronavirus tests developed at Rutgers University to the state’s broad testing initiatives, allowing the state to increase its testing capacity by 30,000 a day with results within 48 hours, Gov. Phil Murphy announced.
  • The owners of the Atilis Gym in Bellmawr, NJ were arrested and subsequently released on Monday morning after they opened their facility despite a judge ruling that the state could force the gym to close. 
  • Police spent nearly five hours breaking up a mansion party in Jackson Township that grew to over 700 people Sunday night. Three people have been charged with violating the governor’s executive order limiting gatherings.
  • Pennsylvania reported 839 new cases and 4 new deaths.
  • South Carolina reported 1,226 new cases and 17 new deaths.
  • After being ordered to mediation last week, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp (R)  has withdrawn an emergency lawsuit hearing against Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms (D) and City Council over conflicting mask mandates.
  • Florida reported 8,892 new cases of and 77 new deaths.
  • In a letter, Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber (D) called out Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) for the “unprepared” and “failed” contact tracing response to Covid-19 which led to the “unconstrained growth of the virus” in Miami-Dade County.
  • Just weeks before schools must open across Florida, the numbers of new cases among children 17 and under are surging.

From July 16 to July 24, cases among children increased 8,000 – a 34% increase.

  • Coronavirus hospitalizations among children in Florida rose by more than 20 percent over a period of eight days in July.

Florida health authorities released data showing that 303 children below the age of 18 were hospitalized with COVID-19 as of July 24.

  • At least 17 anesthesiologist residents and a fellow at University of Florida Health, one of the premier university hospital systems in Florida, contracted COVID-19 earlier this month after attending a private party together.
  • Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (D) announced additional steps to combat the coronavirus pandemic, including closing bars and limiting indoor restaurant capacity to 25%
  • In a joint press conference, White House coronavirus task force coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx said that Tennessee could see rapid and widespread growth of coronavirus unless the state acts quickly to turn things around. She recommended shutting down bars and limiting indoor dining.
  • Shortly after Birx spoke, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee (R) shot down White House adviser Deborah Birx’s recommendation to close bars and limit indoor seating at restaurants. 
  • Oklahoma reported 1,401 new cases and zero new deaths.
  • At least 123 visitors to Nevada have tested positive for the coronavirus in the weeks following their trip and returning home. 
  • California reported 6,891 new cases and 29 additional deaths.

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