The U.S. death toll from COVID-19 was nearing 150,000 on Tuesday as several states set weekly fatality records and Florida reported a one-day record for deaths. Further confirming the Sunshine State's troubles with the coronavirus, the Miami Marlins' season was temporarily suspended after 15 players and two staff members tested positive.
Dr. Anthony Fauci of the president's coronavirus task force said the Marlins’ outbreak could endanger the Major League Baseball season, although he told ABC’s “Good Morning America” he doesn’t believe games need to stop now.
Florida's 186 deaths raised the toll there to more than 6,000. Gov. Ron DeSantis, who three weeks ago ordered in-classroom learning when schools reopen next month, has eased his rhetoric in recent days. He now wants schools to ensure parents have "the choice between in-person and distance learning" for their kids.
In Tennessee, Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House's coronavirus response coordinator, urged Gov. Bill Lee to shut down bars and limit indoor restaurant dining to help curb an explosion of infections among young people. Lee said no.
Several states on Monday set seven-day records for virus deaths; others set records for new cases. Tennessee set records for both.
Here are some significant developments:
Senate Republicans unveiled a $1 trillion coronavirus stimulus package Monday that includes another round of $1,200 payments -- and a proposed sharp decrease in the $600 weekly unemployment bonus.
The head of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention says he has been injected with an experimental COVID-19 vaccine in an attempt to persuade the public to follow suit when one is approved.
The U.N. says coronavirus-linked hunger is leading to the deaths of 10,000 children a month because of fears of contamination and movement restrictions.
📰 What we're reading: Another coronavirus stimulus check: How much would they be? When would I get it? Who qualifies? What we know about the next round of payments.
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Hundreds asked to quarantine as virus case is linked to Florida graduation ceremony
Nearly 300 recent Florida high school graduates and their guests have been asked to quarantine after health officials said an attendee at Saturday's Bayside High School commencement ceremony had COVID-19. Families were notified about the case Monday in a letter from the Florida Department of Health in Brevard County.
The individual tested positive for the virus "shortly after attending," said Anita Stremmel, the department's assistant county health director, in an email to FLORIDA TODAY. "The Florida Department of Health was notified about the positive case by Brevard Public Schools and we confirmed the positive result in our lab reporting system," Stremmel said.
"We are advising anyone who attended the graduation ceremony to self-quarantine and monitor their symptoms for 14 days," she said. Brevard Public Schools spokeswoman Nicki Hensley said an exact count of how many people have been impacted was not immediately available. Nearly 300 students and at least 30 staff members were at the ceremony, and each student was allowed to bring up to two guests, Hensley said.
– Eric Rogers, Florida Today
Tennessee governor calls for schools to reopen
Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee announced Tuesday that reopening schools in-person is the “medically sound, preferred option,” but he said it’s dependent on quickly isolating those who are sick and quarantining their close contacts. Lee rolled out his K-12 school reopening plan the same week as the state has been warned by the White House that Tennessee is at a precipice of reaching new levels of infection.
“Our state is doing everything we can to work with local school districts and ensure that in-person learning is made available in a way that protects the health and safety of our students and educators, and this plan helps us accomplish that goal,” Lee said in a statement.
According to Lee’s new school guidelines, anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 must isolate for 10 days from the onset of their symptoms or isolate 10 days from the date they were tested for the virus. Those who were within 6 feet of anyone who has COVID-19 for 10 minutes or longer must also quarantine for at least 14 days.
– The Associated Press
Biden proposes economic aid to women, people of color
Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee to challenge President Donald Trump, proposed Tuesday to triple federal contracting for racial minorities by 2025 and reduce college costs to ensure women and people of color benefit from his economic recovery plans.
Biden noted that with 18 million out of work, the economic crisis resulting from the coronavirus pandemic has hit Black and Latino communities especially hard, with unemployment rates of 15.4% and 14.5% respectively. Biden said his goal is to rebuild a more inclusive society.
"We need to make bold, practical investments to recover from the economic mess we’re in, and to rebuild for the economic future our country deserves,” Biden said at the William “Hicks” Anderson Community Center in Wilmington, Delaware. “Today I’m here to explain how the Build Back Better plan will deal with systemic racism and advance racial equity in our economy.”
– Bart Jansen
Marlins season on hold because of outbreak
A handful of days into the truncated baseball season, its viability has come into serious question with an outbreak of COVID-19 cases among the Miami Marlins, who have had 15 players and two staff members test positive.
Major League Baseball has postponed the Marlins' season through Sunday, which almost certainly means they won't play their scheduled 60 games, and possibly neither will their upcoming opponents.
The Marlins' outbreak had already resulted in a handful of postponements Monday and Tuesday: two Miami home games against the Baltimore Orioles and a pair of Phillies-New York Yankees games in Philadelphia, where the Marlins had played a three-game weekend series. Now, the Marlins would have seven games to make up.
Still, Commissioner Rob Manfred told MLB Network on Monday that positive tests were expected at some point, which is why rosters were expanded, and that the Marlins' rash of cases are not enough for baseball to consider shutting down the season. In a news release Tuesday, MLB said there have been no new positive results among 6,400 tests conducted of on-field personnel from the other 29 teams since Friday.
Hiding from COVID-19? Don't miss those cancer screenings
More than a third of Americans have missed cancer screenings because of COVID-19, concerning health experts who warn this could be another fatal consequence of the coronavirus pandemic. Prevent Cancer Foundation released survey results of more than 1,000 respondents that found about 35% of Americans have missed routine cancer screenings because of COVID-19 fears. And 43% have missed medical appointments.
“People should understand that they are more likely to die from cancer that has progressed as they sit at home to prevent COVID-19 ... than they are to die from COVID-19,” said Dr. Therese Bevers, medical director of the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.
– Adrianna Rodriguez
North Carolina limits drinking at restaurants
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper, whose state set a record with nearly 1,250 current hospitalizations because of the coronavirus, said he’s curbing alcohol sales hours at restaurants to discourage late-night gatherings.
Starting Friday, eateries and other establishments offering drinks by the glass like distilleries and breweries will have to cut off sales at 11 p.m. State law usually allows sales until 2 a.m. Standalone bars have been shuttered since March.
“We know that the ‘bar scene’ has been a place where we have seen increased transmission,” Cooper said.
-- The Associated Press
British PM Johnson wary of second wave
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who initially downplayed coronavirus concerns and wound up spending a week in a London hospital fighting COVID-19, warned of a second wave of the virus in Europe while defending his country's 14-day quarantine of travelers from Spain.
"Let's be absolutely clear about what's happening in Europe, amongst some of our European friends, I'm afraid you are starting to see in some places the signs of a second wave of the pandemic," Johnson said Tuesday.
Spain, one of the hardest-hit European countries, has seen a resurgence of cases. That prompted the UK to remove Spain from its list of countries except from quarantine and to advise against non-essential travel to its mainland or islands, a decision Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez deemed "unjust.''
Germany has also warned against visiting Spain but limited its advisory to the regions of Catalonia, Aragon and Navarra.
-- BBC News
Twitter removes 'cure' tweets from Trump, Trump Jr.
Twitter has removed a post that President Donald Trump had retweeted in which a doctor proclaims, without evidence, that "there is a cure" for the coronavirus. The president's re-tweet "was in violation of our COVID-19 misinformation policy," Twitter said in statement. The social media giant also restricted the account of Donald Trump Jr. after removing a post in which doctors touted the alleged benefits of "hydroxychloroquine" in fighting the coronavirus. The president's son was blocked from tweeting for 12 hours.
"Big Tech is intent on killing free expression online and is another instance of them committing election interference to stifle Republican voices," Trump Jr. spokesman Andrew Surabian said Tuesday.
– David Jackson
ACT site crashes, delays registration for exam
Parents and students who have dealt with repeated cancellations of the ACT college-entrance exam because of the coronavirus found more frustration Monday and Tuesday when they tried to register for upcoming tests.
ACT opened registration for September and October tests Monday, but shut down its registration site shortly after opening it "due to high demand," according to a statement from the organization posted on Twitter. The testing group said it would have an update on Tuesday, only to move the announcement to Wednesday at noon Central Time.
Parents were not pleased. "Tests cancelled in April, June and July; non-functioning website on Fall test registration day," Deidre Appel tweeted at the ACT account. "You’re messing with children’s lives!"
-- Elinor Aspegren
States with many new cases a month ago now seeing high death tolls
The record numbers of new weekly coronavirus cases that Arizona, Florida, Texas and California experienced a month ago are now playing out as record numbers of deaths in those states. Texas' death toll continues to rise, and the state had a record 1,607 deaths in the week ending Monday, a USA TODAY analysis of Johns Hopkins University data shows.
That translates into a Texan dying every 6 minutes, 16 seconds, and no sign of any relief. Texas' weekly death toll is more than seven times its worst week through April.
Arizona's is now more than five times worse than its worst week in the spring, while Florida is well over double. California is about 24% above its worst spring death toll.
An analysis of Johns Hopkins data released late Monday show eight state set records for new coronavirus counts – and eight set records for deaths. Many states that were seeing cases surge several weeks ago have stopped breaking records for new cases, including Alabama, Georgia, Nevada and South Carolina. But all of those states broke records for deaths on Monday night.
The U.S. has more than 4.3 million confirmed cases and over 148,000 deaths.
Worldwide, there have been more than 16.5 million cases and 655,000 deaths.
– Mike Stucka
Two more JetBlue employees die
JetBlue revealed Tuesday that two of its employees in Florida died of COVID-19 complications July 16, bringing to eight the number of known workers from the airline killed by the disease.
"Losing two beloved members of our JetBlue family on the same day is a painful reminder of this pandemic’s reach and severity,'' CEO Robin Hayes said at the start of JetBlue's earnings conference call with Wall Street analysts and reporters.
Hayes paid his respects to Brittney Jones, an airport operations employee, and Orlando Tavarez, a quality control inspector. Both were most recently based in Fort Lauderdale. On a similar call in May, Hayes had asked for a moment of silence for six JetBlue employees killed by the virus. Most airlines have not publicly revealed the names of workers who died because of COVID-19, and Hayes' gestures have drawn praise.
-- Dawn Gilbertson
Homeschool pods gain traction as pandemic hinders in-class education
Some families will pay several hundred dollars a month to hire teachers and tutors for small-group learning "pods" while awaiting an end to the pandemic that has brought upheaval to their kids' schools. The parents hope to create a stable structure for their children amid fears that a second COVID-19 wave could lead to more school shutdowns. Pods also allow their children to socialize with a small group of peers and provide parents with more stable work schedules.
Shauna Hill, 42, a single parent of twin 7-year-olds in Burlington, Vermont, is in discussions with other parents about setting up a pod. The goal, she said, "really is to build a little village.”
– Aimee Picchi
Baltimore ICU chief who led battle against COVID-19 dies from it
The head of critical care who worked on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic at a Baltimore hospital has died from the virus he helped fight. Dr. Joseph Costa, chief of the Division of Critical Care at Mercy Medical Center, died at age 56. The Washington Post and The Baltimore Sun reported Costa died Saturday from COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.
"I have profound admiration and the deepest respect for Joe as a clinician, colleague and friend," hospital President and CEO Dr. David Maine said in a statement. "Mercy Medical Center and the Mercy family richly benefited from Joe's wisdom, compassion, insight and thought, ethical approach to his work and the families he served."
– Jordan Culver
Tennessee rejects White House recommendation to shut down bars
Dr. Deborah Birx, a White House adviser who is among the top coronavirus officials in the nation, said Monday that Tennessee should close bars and limit indoor restaurant dining to prevent a looming escalation of the outbreak among young people. Moments later, Gov. Bill Lee said he "appreciates their recommendations" but won't follow them or give county mayors the authority to do so locally.
"I’ve said from the very beginning of this pandemic that there’s nothing off the table," Lee said. "I’ve also said that we are not going to close the economy back down, and we are not going to.”
Tennessee on Monday broke records for new coronavirus cases and deaths over a seven-day period, a USA TODAY analysis of Johns Hopkins data shows. New cases for the week leaped to 16,735 – more than five times the worst week seen in the spring. And deaths rose to 131, more than double the worst week of the spring.
– Brett Kelman and Mike Stucka
Head of China CDC gets injected with experimental vaccine
The head of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention says he has been injected with an experimental coronavirus vaccine in an attempt to persuade the public to follow suit when one is approved.
“I’m going to reveal something undercover: I am injected with one of the vaccines,” Gao Fu said in a webinar Sunday hosted by Alibaba Health, an arm of the Chinese e-commerce giant, and Cell Press, an American publisher of scientific journals. “I hope it will work.”
The Associated Press reported earlier this month that a state-owned Chinese company injected employees with experimental shots in March, even before the government-approved testing in people – a move that raised ethical concerns among some experts. Gao did not say when or how he took the vaccine candidate, leaving it unclear whether he was injected as part of a government-approved human trial.
'Large majority' of employees at some Las Vegas casinos will be fired, MGM says
Las Vegas casinos have notified their staff that if they're not recalled from furlough by Aug. 31, they would subsequently be fired. Major employers are required under the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN Act) to notify their workers when there are expected to be mass firings. MGM Resorts, Wynn Resorts, Tropicana and other casino operators sent out such notifications.
MGM told its employees that it had originally hoped the casino closures would be brief and full operations could be restored. But the pandemic has progressed, and based on currently available data, it doesn't look like "it will be safe to restart shows prior to Aug. 31, 2020." That means the "large majority" of employees in the entertainment and sports division will be fired on that date.
– Rich Duprey, The Motley Fool
FDA issues new warning to avoid nearly 90 hand sanitizers
The Food and Drug Administration issued another warning Monday not to use certain hand sanitizers that may contain methanol or wood alcohol, a toxic substance when absorbed through skin or ingested. The FDA is continuing to update its "do-not-use list of dangerous hand sanitizer products," which included 87 varieties of hand sanitizer that should be avoided, some of which have already been recalled, and other products being recommended for recalls as they may contain the potentially fatal ingredient.
“Practicing good hand hygiene, which includes using alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not readily available, is an important public health tool for all Americans to employ," FDA Commissioner Stephen M. Hahn said in a statement. "Consumers must also be vigilant about which hand sanitizers they use, and for their health and safety we urge consumers to immediately stop using all hand sanitizers on the FDA’s list of dangerous hand sanitizer products.”
– Kelly Tyko
GOP relief package, with stimulus checks, panned by both sides
Negotiations for a pandemic-relief plan began with both sides far apart as Senate Republicans unveiled a $1 trillion package – $2 trillion less than the proposal announced by House Democrats in May.
Almost immediately, the GOP package was criticized by conservative lawmakers as misguided and expensive and by Democrats as a late effort that falls short of the nation's needs to weather the economic damage inflicted by a virus that has infected nearly 4.3 million Americans and killed more than 147,000.
The bill would include another round of $1,200 direct checks to millions of Americans, more help for small businesses and money to help reopen schools, but it would also reduce the $600 unemployment supplement that expires at the end of the month.
– Ledyard King and Nicholas Wu
More COVID-19 resources from USA TODAY
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Contributing: The Associated Press
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: COVID updates: Florida record; Marlins paused; Tenn. won't close bars