President Trump meets with Republican leaders today to discuss the next coronavirus relief package as expiration of the crucial $600 in weekly unemployment benefits boost draws near.
The National Football League is inching toward its return, with rookies reporting to training camps amid hopes the pro game can be a thing this fall. Some college football conferences have already thrown in the towel for the season.
“You might need to see these (NFL) football players go to the ICU or end up dying for them to step back and cancel games," said Ravina Kuller, an infectious disease expert. Some players are wary, and we know stars are not exempt.
Add golfing legend Jack Nicklaus to the growing number of rich and famous – from Tom Hanks to Placido Domingo – who could not duck the dangerous infection that continues to set ominous records around the world.
Florida continues to experience gigantic numbers of new cases. And state leaders continue to push for in-classroom education in the new school year, just three weeks away for some districts. California is another state with starkly booming numbers, and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said his city is "on the brink" of closing again.
In Britain, the government has purchased "early access" to 90 million doses of at least one vaccine candidate. In Russia, Bloomberg News reports that some corporate leaders have been vaccinated with an experimental drug.
Some recent developments:
A fall without football is a real possibility because of COVID-19 as NFL players, others raise questions.
UK’s Oxford University coronavirus vaccine candidate is safe and effective with few side effects, early trial results show.
Moment of truth: Some homeowners expect to struggle to pay mortgage when extra unemployment ends.
📈 Today's stats: The U.S. has 3.8 million cases and more than 140,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. Globally, there have been 14.6 million cases and more than 608,000 deaths.
📰 What we're reading: Houses of worship are figuring out how to safely practice their faith after religious gatherings have been repeatedly linked to outbreaks. Practices traditional to some religions, such as shaking hands, taking Communion and dipping the host in a chalice with wine, are ideal breeding grounds for the virus.
'We can’t support this' RNC plan, Jacksonville sheriff says while raising security concerns
The sheriff of Jacksonville, Florida, said Monday his office can't keep the Republican National Convention safe when it comes to his city next month, another sign of disorder as Republicans scramble to put on a "celebration" for President Donald Trump to accept the GOP nomination.
Sheriff Mike Williams, a Republican, raised concerns about funding for sufficient security for the four-day convention, which is expected to bring thousands of people to Jacksonville.
“Where we are today is we can’t support this plan,” Williams said in an interview with Jacksonville media. "Where do we go from here is a good question. But where we are today, we can’t support it.”
– Dan Scanlan and Joey Garrison
Disney World tightens face mask requirement: No eating while walking
Disney World visitors will no longer be able to eat or drink while walking, according to the theme park's updated face mask policy.
Since the park reopened on July 11, visitors have been required to wear a face mask at all times, except while eating or swimming. According to the policy, which has been updated since the park reopened, visitors must be stationary while eating or drinking and must maintain appropriate social distancing.
– Curtis Tate
Dollar Tree, Family Dollar reverse decision to require masks, but 'request' customers wear them
The two retailers, both part of Dollar Tree, Inc., had initially started requiring shoppers wear masks along with vendors and employees in stores, according to a July 8 update on its coronavirus updates page.
But the company updated its mask policy last week to "request" face coverings in stores where state and local ordinances are not in effect at the same time the nation's largest retailers were announcing new mask mandates, including Walmart, Target, CVS, Walgreens and Kroger. Dollar Tree and Family General stores will still require face coverings where required by state or local ordinance, the current policy reads.
– Kelly Tyko
Trump talks stimulus package as $600 unemployment bump nears expiration
President Donald Trump was set to lay out his demands Monday for the next coronavirus stimulus package in a meeting with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. The president also said he plans to resume daily coronavirus briefings at the White House, in part because of the recent spike in cases.
House Democrats have already passed a $3 trillion bill that includes an extension of the $600 increase in unemployment benefits, a second $1,200 stimulus check for individuals and families, about $1 trillion for state and local governments, additional worker protections and increased funds for testing and contact tracing. Senate Republicans have rejected the House bill and are expected to release their own proposal this week.
– Christal Hayes
Cruise ship passengers don't stop infecting others when they disembark
Tightly packed cruise ships increase the risk of spreading infectious diseases – and the risk doesn't stop when passengers disembark. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which has suspended sailings through the end of September, issued a wide-ranging report revealing the breadth of contact tracing that was done after some 11,000 passengers and crew members left ships that experienced outbreaks. The report also confirmed port officials' concerns that cruise ships pose a danger to the shoreside public once the cruise is over. Passengers and crew leave the ship and potentially take the virus back to their own communities and any others they visit while in transit.
"Now the virus is amplified ... and scattered," explained Dr. Martin Cetron, director for the division of global migration and quarantine for the CDC. "It's quite clear this is a formula for accelerated introduction, transmission and then accelerated spread."
– Morgan Hines
NFL, players close to deal for season, but COVID holds power of veto
The NFL and NFL Players Association are closing in on a deal to play the 2020 season that would culminate with Super Bowl LV on Feb. 7 in Tampa Bay. The league and players have continued to negotiate terms such as the number of preseason games and the frequency of COVID-19 testing. But infectious disease expert Ravina Kuller warns the plan could result in tragedy — the death of an NFL player.
“I’m a huge football lover," Kuller said. “Steelers fan. I bleed yellow and black. And it pains me to see that football might not happen until next year. But those players’ health is at stake here."
– Josh Peter
Report: Russian elite getting doses of experimental vaccine
Scores of Russia’s business and political elite have been given early access to an experimental vaccine against COVID-19, Bloomberg News is reporting. Bloomberg, citing people familiar with the effort, said top corporate executives, billionaire tycoons and government officials began getting shots developed by the state-run Gamaleya Institute in Moscow as early as April. The Gamaleya vaccine, financed by the state-run Russian Direct Investment Fund, last week completed a phase 1 trial involving military personnel. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, who was hospitalized with the virus in May, said he wasn't aware of any officials having received the vaccine - including President Vladimir Putin.
“It probably wouldn’t be a good idea to use an uncertified vaccine on the head of state,” Peskov said on a conference call with reporters.
Two vaccine candidates show promise in early trials
Two candidate vaccines showed positive trial results Monday against the virus that causes COVID-19, making it more likely that a safe, effective vaccine can be developed quickly. There are currently about 17 candidate vaccines being tested in people around the world. The new results showed Oxford University and drug company Astra Zeneca's candidate vaccine, AZD-1222, led to strong immune responses for nearly two months in a trial that continues to track more than 1,000 healthy adults, according to a paper published Monday in the Lancet. The second study published Monday in The Lancet showed 95% of volunteers who received a high dose of a Chinese vaccine candidate and 91% of those who received a low dose showed an immune response 28 days after the shot.
– Karen Weintraub
Record number of lawsuits setting ground rules for 2020 election
A record number of lawsuits are setting the ground rules for this year's election as COVID-19 concerns discourage traditional, walk-up voting. Democrats have fought to ensure mail-in ballots include postage, to count ballots postmarked – rather than received – by Election Day, to provide voters a way to remedy discrepancies in signatures that are rejected, and to allow community organizations to collect and deliver sealed ballots. Republicans are opposed to mailing ballots to all voters and group collection of absentee ballots.
“The ease of our ability to cast a vote that will be fairly counted depends in part on where you live,” said Richard Hasen, a law professor at University of California, Irvine and expert on election law.
– Bart Jansen
No Summer Olympics this week. Will they really happen next year?
The Olympics will not be conducting opening ceremonies Friday in Tokyo, and it's not really certain that they will take place next summer, either. The Games have been delayed a year, but whether they can take place then, and what they might look like if they do, is very much up in the air. Current ideas include traveling "bubbles" of athletes from different nations competing in the same sport. Would there be spectators? Can they work financially if tourists can't fill Tokyo hotels and fill stadiums and arenas?
“My own view is that they probably will be able to do it," said Dr. Dermot Phelan, Director of Sports Cardiology at Atrium Health in Charlotte, North Carolina. "But I think it will look very different compared to any other Olympics."
– Christine Brennan
Britain signs deals with Pfizer, others for 90M doses of vaccine candidates
The British government has secured "early access" to 90 million vaccine doses from the a corporate alliance of BioNTech and Pfizer and other companies, the government said in a statement Monday. The deals, along with more "in the pipeline," are part of the country's strategy to build a portfolio of promising new vaccines, the statement said.
Treatments containing COVID-19-neutralizing antibodies have also been secured from AstraZeneca to protect those who cannot receive vaccines. The statement also unveiled a new national website for volunteers to sign up to test drugs and vaccines. The aim is to get 500,000 signed up by October. The U.S. has a similar site - you can sign up here.
Loss of $600 weekly unemployment benefit could fuel foreclosures
The expiration of enhanced unemployment benefits comes at a critical time for mortgage borrowers. Policymakers return to Washington this week to debate whether the extra $600 in weekly unemployment payments will be extended beyond July to help shore up jobless people’s finances. Roughly half of millennial and Gen X mortgage borrowers say either they or someone in their household are receiving unemployment benefits, and many are concerned about paying their mortgage once the extra weekly benefits end, according to a new report from LendingTree. In Chicago, Simona Roganovic fears slipping into foreclosure on their family home.
“This argument that people don’t want to go back to work because they’re making more money on unemployment is ludicrous,” Roganovic, 39, says. “We don’t have work to go back to and we won’t for a long time.”
– Jessica Menton
Sign me up: 100,000 Americans volunteer to test vaccines
At a time when some Americans are concerned about the safety of COVID-19 vaccines, tens of thousands have already volunteered to help bring them into existence. As of last week, more than 107,000 people had signed up to take part in testing. More are still needed but the initial surge will go a long way toward filling the requirement for at least 30,000 volunteers each for the four companies that plan to launch Phase 3 clinical trials of their potential vaccines by early fall. You can sign up here.
“That’s why we’re optimistic that we’re going to be able to get the trials enrolled in an expeditious way," said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. "I think we can do what we need to do."
– Elizabeth Weise
Jack Nicklaus reveals he, wife had COVID in March
In a moment of weather-forced downtime at the Memorial Tournament on Sunday, tournament host Jack Nicklaus revealed in a conversation with Jim Nantz on the CBS broadcast that both he and wife Barbara Nicklaus had contracted COVID-19 earlier in the spring. Jack, who said he suffered from a cough and sore throat, tested positive four times while Barbara, who was asymptomatic, had three positive tests.
The Nicklauses tested positive for COVID-19 on March 13 and stayed in their southern Florida home until April 20. As of Sunday, both had taken tests that showed they had the antibodies. “Theoretically we can’t get it and can’t give it, and that’s a nice position to be in,” Nicklaus said.
– Julie Williams, Golfweek
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'We are at war': Kentucky reports largest single-day increase
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear announced Sunday the commonwealth had 979 new cases of the coronavirus — the state's largest single-day increase yet in the pandemic. The Bluegrass State now has at least 23,161 total cases. An additional three Kentuckians died due to COVID-19, Beshear said, bringing the statewide death total to 670. Thirty of Sunday's new cases were in children aged 5 or younger, the governor's office said.
“We have got to defeat this virus. We are at war, and we are in the trenches,” said Beshear, a Democrat, in a statement. “I have faith and I have trust in the people of Kentucky. But today and in the days ahead we’ve got to do a whole lot better. We’re going to have to take some more action.”
– Ben Tobin, Louisville Courier-Journal
Los Angeles mayor says city is 'on the brink' of new stay-at-home orders
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said Sunday the city reopened too quickly and warned it is "on the brink" of new stay-at-home orders as coronavirus cases continued to spike in California. Garcetti said he agreed with a Los Angeles Times editorial that criticized the rapid reopening of California. Reopening decisions were made at the state and county levels, he said. When asked about issuing a second stay-at-home order, Garcetti said: "We're on the brink of that." California on Saturday reported its fourth-highest daily total of new confirmed cases.
Las Vegas hospitals add beds, staff as COVID-19 cases spike
Las Vegas hospitals are adding beds and staff to accommodate the increasing number of COVID-19 patients. The Clark County fire chief says hospital occupancy isn’t high enough to activate a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plan to use the Las Vegas Convention Center for up to 900 patients. But hospitals in Clark County added 441 staffed beds as of Thursday, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports, and the Nevada Hospital Association says another 49 have been added in other parts of the state.
The intensive care unit at the state’s only public hospital was 95% occupied as of Wednesday, with about 1 in 3 of those patients diagnosed with COVID-19. State health officials report 35,765 people have tested positive for the virus statewide and at least 647 have died.
Barcelona shuts down beaches amid new coronavirus wave
Police in Barcelona closed down access to a large area of the city’s beaches over the weekend after too many sunbathers ignored authorities’ request to stay at home amid a new wave of surging coronavirus infections. Police blocked more people from entering the beach and used loudspeakers to recommend the crowds already on the sand disperse because they were too closely packed and could increase the contagion risk.
Barcelona and other areas of Spain’s northeastern Catalonia region have experienced the largest outbreaks in the country since the European country ended a strict three-month nationwide lockdown. Overall, Spain's once-savage outbreak has claimed more than 28,400 lives.
What we're reading
COVID-19 relief policies: Companies are switching to payment plans, extending relief
Separated by the pandemic, an elderly Florida couple meets for one final farewell
24 hours in a COVID-19 hot spot leaves no walk of life unscathed
Can kids spread the coronavirus? 'Without a doubt – yes,' experts say
Shootings are on the rise amid the pandemic, and children are paying the price
So much for a summer with less COVID-19: Hot weather is no barrier to COVID-19
More on the coronavirus from USA TODAY
Where a face mask is required: Many governors are instituting or renewing orders requiring people to wear face coverings in public as cases continue to rise. Is your state on the list? See it here.
Coronavirus Watch: We have a few ways for you to stay informed. Sign up for our daily coronavirus newsletter here, and come together and share the latest information about the coronavirus, coping with lifestyle changes and more by joining our Facebook group.
Where are states on reopening? More than half of all states, including California and Michigan, have paused reopening plans or are taking steps to halt the spread of COVID-19. Here's the list.
What went wrong in Florida? Two months after Gov. Ron DeSantis boasted about proving the experts wrong by flattening the curve and getting COVID-19 under control, Florida has become the state that other states don’t want to become.
Contributing: The Associated Press
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Coronavirus updates: Los Angeles may reclose; Bahamas bans U.S. travel