(CNN)The United States on Wednesday surpassed 150,000 recorded Covid-19 deaths — a milestone that comes as the country’s rate of daily coronavirus deaths is the highest it’s been since the spring.
(CNN)The United States on Wednesday surpassed 150,000 recorded Covid-19 deaths — a milestone that comes as the country’s rate of daily coronavirus deaths is the highest it’s been since the spring.
This was originally published as the July 8 edition of CNN’s Meanwhile in America, the daily email about US politics for global readers. Click here to read past editions and subscribe.
(CNN)They might not admit it, but America’s kids need to go back to school. As the pandemic spirals out of control, the longest summer vacation on record is now threatening to become a lost year.
A key architect of the nation’s first coronavirus shelter-in-place order is criticizing California’s increasingly fast pace of lifting stay-at-home restrictions.
In particular, Dr. Sara Cody, health officer for Santa Clara County — home to Silicon Valley and Northern California’s most populous county — said she was concerned by the decision to allow gatherings of up to 100 people for religious, political and cultural reasons.
“This announcement to authorize county health officers to allow religious, cultural and political gatherings of 100 people poses a very serious risk of the spread of COVID-19,” Cody told the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday.
Even if just one infected person showed up to such an event, the virus could easily be transmitted to many people and overwhelm local health officials’ ability to investigate all related cases, she warned.
Cody has been credited with helping to spearhead the San Francisco Bay Area’s regional shelter-in-place order. Issued March 16, the mandate that affected 6.6 million people in six counties initially stunned the nation. But it quickly became a model for the rest of California and other states, with Gov. Gavin Newsom enacting a statewide stay-at-home order March 19 and New York state following suit three days later.
Santa Clara County, with a population of 1.9 million people, is not required to relax its order — among the strictest in California — to the state standard. When local and state orders differ, the stricter standard applies. But Cody expressed concerns that California risks a surge in cases if it reopens too many sectors of society too quickly.
Since early May, “the state has shifted away from the stay-at-home model and has made significant modifications with increasing frequency,” Cody said. “The pace at which the state has made these modifications is concerning to me.”
Cody said it’s important to wait at least 14 days — the time it can take for an infected person to show symptoms — after easing restrictions to see what effects the relaxed policy has on increased coronavirus illnesses. It would be even better to wait 21 days, she added.
Reopening so fast, she said, means there isn’t enough time to implement new procedures to make reopened activities safe.
Within hours of Newsom’s announcement Tuesday allowing counties to reopen hair salons and barbershops, some stylists already had customers in their chairs.
“Making changes too frequently leaves us blind. We can’t see the effect of what we just did,” Cody said. “Our social and economic well-being are best served by a more phased approach that allows activities to resume in a manner that allows people to actually be relatively safe while engaging in the newly open activity.”
Experts say the Bay Area’s early action dramatically slowed the spread of the highly infectious coronavirus in the region, which had been one of the nation’s earliest hot spots of the virus.
As of Tuesday night, the six Bay Area counties had reported a coronavirus death rate of six fatalities per 100,000 residents; Los Angeles County has a death rate of 21 fatalities per 100,000 residents. Statewide, California has a death rate of about 10 fatalities per 100,000 residents. Across the nation, New Jersey’s rate is 126 fatalities per 100,000 residents, while New York’s is 149 fatalities per 100,000 residents.
The latest rules issued by the California Department of Public Health this week say churches that choose to reopen and in-person political protests must limit attendance to 25% of building capacity or a maximum of 100 attendees, whichever is lower.
Newsom said Tuesday that he understood he would be criticized in deciding to allow religious gatherings to resume on a restricted basis.
“I know some people think that’s too much too fast too soon. Others think, frankly, that it didn’t go far enough,” the governor said. “But suffice it to say, at a statewide level, we now are affording this opportunity again with a deep realization of the fact that people will start to mix … and that is incumbent upon us to practice that physical distancing within these places of worship.”
Newsom has come under political pressure to allow churches to reopen. On May 18, he said rules to allow church congregations to meet were “a few weeks away … if everything holds.” Later that week, the U.S. Department of Justice sent a letter to the Newsom administration warning that the state’s stay-at-home order may discriminate against religious groups and violate their constitutional rights.
Also last week, more than 1,200 pastors vowed to hold in-person services May 31, Pentecost Sunday, intending to defy Newsom’s stay-at-home order.
President Trump then made an unexpected announcement that he was designating churches “essential” businesses so they could immediately reopen. Hours after Trump’s comments, Newsom vowed Friday to provide plans on Memorial Day that would allow in-person religious services.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said that large gatherings played a major role in the early widespread transmission of the virus across the nation. In particular, the CDC said Mardi Gras celebrations in Louisiana, a biotech conference in Boston with about 175 attendees and a funeral with more than 100 attendees in small, rural Dougherty County in Georgia played an outsize role in the illness’ spread.
Churches have also been the site of outbreaks large and small. In Washington state’s Skagit County, one symptomatic person attended a 2½-hour choir practice at a church attended by 60 other people; local officials later documented that 52 people fell ill, including two who died — a virus attack rate of 87%, according to the CDC. Singing can easily spread infected droplets from one person to another.
In another outbreak, pre-symptomatic tourists from Wuhan, China — the global epicenter of the pandemic — visited a church in Singapore on Jan. 19 and started showing symptoms several days later. Three other people who attended the same church on the same day also got sick, including one who sat in the same seat as the tourists, according to the CDC.
Newsom defended his administration’s actions in moving quicker than the pace Cody suggested. The governor said he was guided by what his health officials were telling him was appropriate. He said the state has the time to test the theory behind the relaxed orders and “to make adjustments if, indeed, we need to dial it back, or loosen them more into the future.”
But Santa Clara County and its neighbors in the Bay Area have chosen a different approach. After the Bay Area counties of Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara jointly decided to allow the resumption of all construction and businesses such as gardening and landscaping to resume May 4, the counties waited a full two weeks before allowing the reopening of many retail businesses for pickup service in the week of May 18.
By contrast, most other California counties have moved more quickly to reopen businesses as soon as Newsom has allowed it. Los Angeles County, for instance, joined most other California counties in reopening retail businesses for pickup service on May 8, the first day it was allowed.
Los Angeles County has also begun allowing the reopening of houses of worship and in-person political protests, shortly after state rules were relaxed. Retail stores and malls got the green light to in-person shopping in L.A. County but must operate at 50% of capacity.
By contrast, the six core Bay Area counties are still allowing retail stores to be open for pickup service only.
Cody also noted that the pandemic is disproportionately affecting communities of color and those who are most affected by poverty and overcrowded housing. For example, Latinos make up 26% of Santa Clara County’s population but comprise 40% of its coronavirus cases and 32% of deaths. Disease rates are particularly high in East San Jose, which is lower income and largely Latino.
Black people make up 2% of Santa Clara County’s population and account for 6% of the county’s coronavirus deaths.
“COVID-19 has unmasked some very severe preexisting inequities in our community. If we let the virus just go and don’t stay on top of it, the people that are going to be hurt the most are people who are living in places where they’re working low-wage jobs, they live in crowded households, they may have less access to care,” Cody added in remarks broadcast Wednesday on Facebook.
Reopening too quickly will disproportionately risk the lives of people of color and those with lower incomes, Cody said. “That is the group of people that will be disproportionately in the hospital and that will see disproportionate numbers of deaths. And that’s not acceptable.”
“We are going to suppress the level of transmission to the lowest levels that we can, with every ounce of our energy, and we are going to stay at it. We’re going to go slow, and we’re going to be safe, and we’re going to protect the people that most need to be protected,” Cody said.
She said if the overall rate of disease transmission remains stable in the Bay Area, officials will be able to continue easing restrictions on a regular schedule with at least two weeks between each phase.
“We all want to reopen our economy, get back to our lives, get back to work,” Cody said. “But the truth is: We are in the greatest global crisis since the Second World War…. We want to be able to reopen safely.”
Times staff writers Phil Willon, Eli Stokols, Matthew Ormseth and Alex Wigglesworth contributed to this report.
DETROIT – Thousands of Metro Detroit autoworkers were back on the job Monday as Ford, General Motors and Fiat Chrysler assembly plants started rolling again.
Plants reopened with strict safety measures in place to prevent the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). There are also fewer people in the plants.
Monday’s reopening went about as smoothly as the companies could have hoped after being shut down for almost two months. The plants opened and everything slowed down, but in the end, there weren’t many complaints.
Entries and exits were the major concern. At the Warren Truck Assembly Plant, UAW line workers were pleasantly surprised.
“They had actual thermometers in the ceiling, the top of the ceiling, so when you walked through, it could take your temperature” Kenyatta Covington, of UAW Local 140, said. “All the safety measures were awesome.”
Workers clocked in at 5 a.m. and left at 1 p.m. Dennis Donald, of UAW Local 140, said his colleagues were respectful and the company did a lot of cleaning.
“In my area, it was about the same — I mean, a lot slower,” Donald said. “We might have done like 100 trucks. Usually, we do 400. So it’s real slow right now. Now, the masks, the safety glasses — everyone has to wear them. I agree with that. Other than that, it was pretty much the same.”
Workers at Ford’s Dearborn Assembly Plant also had positive impressions.
“It’s a learning curve, it’s different,” said Lamont Williams, of UAW Local 600. “We’ve got a lot of new safety precautions in place. The mask is difficult to wear. It fogs your glasses up, but we’re going to be alright.”
“It was safe,” said Moses Brooks, of UAW Local 600. “A little hectic, though, for the first day. Very hectic.”
Arnett Weatherspoon, of UAW Local 140, said the first day went smoothly at the Warren Truck Plant, but he still has concerns.
“I just feel we shouldn’t be here working with the virus still out there, but it is what it is,” Weatherspoon said.
In all, 50 plants opened Monday. All the companies said Monday was a success. The second shift workers at the Ford F-150 plant were also in line getting ready for their shift.
General Motors brought in the first shift this week and will bring in the second shift next week.
Dundee Engine, Flat Rock and Lansing Grand River are set to open on May 26. The plants in Canada are expected to open Tuesday.
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Rod Meloni is an Emmy Award-winning Business Editor on Local 4 News and a Certified Financial Planner™ Professional.
Derick is a Senior Web Producer for ClickOnDetroit and has been with Local 4 News since April 2013. Derick specializes in breaking news, crime and local sports.
Chicago restaurants might be able to reopen in June and residents may be allowed to sit outside enjoying music, theater and other outdoor activities, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Friday.
Lightfoot also told the Tribune she will eventually reopen the lakefront, though it’s too soon to say when.
The mayor made the comments during a wide-ranging interview with the Tribune during which she said the city will “be in a position to see some form of summer life start in June.”
Asked to elaborate, Lightfoot said, “I see a world in which restaurants can reopen cautiously in June. I see a world over the course of the summer where people can sit outside and enjoy music and theater and other outdoor activities. I think we’re going to come up with some very creative ways in which those things can happen.”
In making any decisions, Lightfoot said the city will be guided by the public health metrics her administration announced earlier this month “but we’re trending in the right direction.”
“I know people are anxious to get back outside and there’s a lot we’re learning around why being outside is much better than being cooped up inside … so I am pressing my team and the people that we’re in conversation with, the recovery task force, to really think expansively about opportunities to do that,” Lightfoot said.
Earlier this month, Lightfoot laid out a five-phase plan that layers additional standards for rates of infection and testing capacity on top of the state rules Gov. J.B. Pritzker unveiled earlier. As with Pritzker’s “Restore Illinois” plan, Lightfoot’s framework sets a high bar for returning to normalcy.
Lightfoot can’t set looser standards than the statewide ones laid out by the governor, but she can tailor them to the city.
Under Lightfoot’s plan, the city also would need to be able to test 135,000 residents per month, with positive rates decreasing below 15% of those tested in the community and at least 14 days of declining rates of new cases, on average. Positive rates of below 30% would be needed in “congregate” settings such as nursing homes, shelters and jails, according to the Lightfoot plan.
Those standards are stricter than what Pritzker laid out in his statewide plan. The governor called for positive rates at or below 20% and an increase in the positive rate of no more than 10 percentage points over 14 days.
But one key simmering issue has been how the city and state will address restaurant reopenings in coming weeks. Pritzker’s rules for reopening have been criticized by Illinois Restaurant Association head Sam Toia as too strict, while Lightfoot has included Toia on a coronavirus recovery task force and repeatedly expressed concerns about mom and pop restaurants going out of business.
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Lightfoot likely will need some buy-in from Pritzker to make reopenings happen.
During the Tribune interview, Lightfoot also said the lakefront will eventually reopen, but couldn’t give a time frame.
“It’s not going to reopen probably as fast as people want it to, and it’s definitely going to reopen at least initially with a lot of restrictions around it, but the lakefront is the jewel of our city,” Lightfoot said.
The Bay Area’s stay-at-home orders will continue to be enforced even as Gov. Gavin Newsom prepares to announce potentially more relaxed statewide guidelines, San Francisco city officials said Wednesday.
During a news conference, Mayor London Breed said the city has been working to learn the exact details of Newsom’s new guidelines, but she stressed that that Bay Area health officers can continue to order tighter restrictions.
The reason has “everything to do” with the numbers of cases and deaths in the Bay Area, she said.
“The numbers are still going up,” she said. “The number of deaths are still going up, and we have not lowered the curve, and we have to be mindful of that.”
“The more that people have interactions with other people,” she added, “the [greater the] likelihood that other folks will continue to get infected.”
Dr. Grant Colfax, San Francisco’s public health director, said one of the goals that needs to be met before reopening is the ability to trace contacts of infected people and test them for the coronavirus.
“We are still building our surveillance system across the Bay Area,” he said. To do that, local officials are working with scientists from the city’s public hospital, UC San Francisco and UC Berkeley.
“We must hold steady and let the data guide us,” he said.
He said city officials have been asked many questions about how Newsom’s new guidelines will affect San Francisco.
“Let me be clear, the San Francisco and Bay Area health orders currently do not permit curbside pickup from nonessential retailers,” he said. Restrictive orders take precedence over more relaxed guidelines, he added.
In response to reporters’ questions, he urged people not to visit family on Mother’s Day, even if wearing masks and keeping six feet apart.
Unless residents live in the same households with their mothers, “the greatest gift we can give to our mothers this Mother’s Day is to stay away,” he said. “Don’t go visit your mom in person this year.”
He said 27,334 residents had been tested for the virus as of Wednesday, and about 8% were positive.
City officials also announced that the homeless population in San Francisco has grown during the pandemic. Homeless individuals from other counties have moved to the city in search of hotel rooms, which the city has leased for the most vulnerable members of its longtime homeless population.
The city is now working to move some street and sidewalk tent encampments in the low-income Tenderloin district to other sites and will close some streets so people in tents can socially distance, officials said.
Gov. Gavin Newsom on Tuesday criticized two rural Northern California counties that are allowing businesses and restaurants to reopen, saying their decision to defy his statewide stay-at-home order has put their communities at increased risk for a new coronavirus outbreak.
Sutter and Yuba counties, both north of Sacramento, allowed businesses to reopen on Monday after a similar decision was made in Modoc County in California’s northeastern corner. Officials in the three counties argued that they were less affected by the COVID-19 pandemic than hot spots such as Los Angeles and the Bay Area and said the shutdown was hurting their local economies.
“They’re making a big mistake. They’re putting their public at risk. They’re putting our progress at risk,” Newsom said during a COVID-19 briefing in Sacramento on Tuesday. “These are real exceptions. The overwhelming majority of Californians are playing by the rules doing the right thing.”
But Newsom did not say if the state would take any action to enforce the stay-at-home order and other statewide restrictions in those counties.
Instead, the Democratic governor encouraged officials there to abide by his more measured plan for reopening, which was announced Monday and will allow some retail stores across the state to reopen as early as Friday if certain safeguards are put in place.
Under the new statewide COVID-19 guidelines, the governor said bookstores, music stores, toy stores, florists, sporting goods retailers and others can reopen for pickup, and manufacturing and logistics can resume in the retail supply chain. Newsom said more detailed guidelines on the businesses that can resume limited operations would be released later this week.
Shopping malls, gyms, bars, barbershops, salons and similar establishments must remain closed under Newsom’s order, and in-restaurant dining remains prohibited.
Newsom said some of the restrictions would be eased if county health officials, in concurrence with their county board of supervisors, can verify that they have adequate healthcare facilities and personal protective equipment to care for COVID-19 patients, and the capability to test, isolate and track those who have the virus. Newsom said that if a county has a low number of COVID-19 cases, that will be considered when the state issues variances.
In spite of those requirements, however, Dr. Ngoc-Phuong Luu, health officer for Yuba and Sutter counties, issued new orders on Friday that allow restaurants, retailers, shopping malls, gyms, fitness studios, salons, spas and tattoo parlors to operate.
“They put those businesses at risk, not only the health of their communities at risk. I would encourage them just to do the right thing and know that we are committed to working with them as we have been,” Newsom said. “We have a process and protocol to do that. And so we believe in ready-aim-fire — not, ready-fire-aim”
The governor’s comments came during a visit Tuesday to Display California, a small business in Sacramento, to highlight his plan to ease restrictions.
Newsom also faced defiance in Southern California after he ordered the closure of all Orange County beaches last week. The governor took that action after thousands of beachgoers flocked to the the coast during the recent heatwave, ignoring Newsom’s pleas to stay at home and maintain a safe distance from others.
On Tuesday, the state announced that three Orange County beach cities — Huntington Beach, Seal Beach and Dana Point — will be permitted to reopen their stretches of coastline this week with certain limitations, including taking steps to avoid overcrowding and allow safe physical distancing.
The move came a day after similar plans for Laguna Beach and San Clemente were approved by the state, and several days after the Huntington Beach City Council voted to take legal action to block Newsom’s beach closure.
(CNN)Carlos Davis used to have about 200 clients drop by his CUT-ology barbershop in Albany, Georgia, every day.