Approving a vaccine in the U.S. usually takes years, but COVID-19 vaccines are moving through in record time. What does that mean?
The U.S. State Department no longer says Americans should avoid all international travel due to the coronavirus pandemic, but the list of countries welcoming people from the U.S. is still slim.
The agency said travel advisories will now be issued on a country-by-country basis as conditions internationally improve or worsen. But according to most nations, the virus is so widespread in the U.S. that would-be American tourists face barriers or bans.
Meanwhile, a widely cited model predicts U.S. deaths from COVID-19 will reach nearly 300,000 by Dec. 1, even with the assumption that many states will impose new stay-at-home orders as deaths climb.
Here are some significant developments:
📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has recorded more than 19,000 deaths and 4.8 million cases of COVID-19, according to Johns Hopkins University. Worldwide, there have been more than 713,000 deaths and 19 million cases.
📰 What we’re reading: A deadly explosion that rocked Lebanon’s capital city of Beirut has put a further strain on the nation’s health system, which was already running short on personal protective equipment and grappling with more than 5,200 cases of COVID-19.
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Los Angeles County passes 200,000 COVID-19 cases, nears 5,000 deaths
Los Angeles County passed the 200,000 mark Thursday for people having tested positive for COVID-19 and is closing in on 5,000 deaths.
The county, which encompasses the city of Los Angeles and all its surrounding suburbs, is already ranked highest in number of cases among counties by the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center. If the county were a state, it would have a higher case count than all but Florida, Texas, New York and possibly Georgia.
With the addition of 3,290 new cases, Los Angeles County had recorded a total of 201,106 cases. Another 48 deaths were attributed to the coronavirus, bringing the total to 4,869.
The grim new totals came as officials warned against gatherings or parties like the one Monday night at a swanky mansion in the Hollywood Hills that attracted about 200 participants — with few seen wearing masks. The party, which ended in a fatal shooting, attracted widespread news coverage from TV new choppers overhead.
– Chris Woodyard
Arizona advocates call for stop to prison admissions amid outbreak
The day after officials announced that hundreds of inmates in an Arizona prison were infected with COVID-19, advocates slammed the state’s response and called for an immediate stop to prison admissions.
The state announced Tuesday that 517 people, or nearly half of the prison population at Tucson’s Whetstone Unit, tested positive for the disease. Twenty-one inmates in Arizona are believed to have died from COVID-19, according to The Arizona Department of Corrections, Rehabilitation and Reentry data dashboard.
“Most people in Arizona are not sentenced to prison to die,” said Joe Watson, a formerly incarcerated person and spokesman for the American Friends Service Committee of Arizona. “And yet, by being so careless with these lives, that’s exactly what (prison officials) are doing.”
– Helen Wieffering, Arizona Republic
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine tests positive for COVID-19, then later tests negative
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine tested positive for the coronavirus on Thursday before he was supposed to greet President Donald Trump. DeWine took a COVID-19 test as part of the protocol to meet Trump on the tarmac at Burke Lakefront Airport in Cleveland.
DeWine, 73, has no symptoms, his office said in a statement. DeWine, who plans to quarantine at his home in Cedarville for 14 days, took some of the earliest aggressive action to combat the spread of COVID-19. He was one of the first governors to close bars, restaurants, and wineries in March.
DeWine then returned to Columbus and took a second COVID-19 test from Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center. That polymerase chain reaction, or PCR test came back negative late Thursday night.
– Jackie Borchardt, Jessie Balmert and Jason Lalljee, Cincinnati Enquirer
Georgia boy, 7, becomes state’s youngest COVID-19 fatality
A 7-year-old Chatham County boy has become Georgia’s youngest coronavirus victim, according to the Coastal Health Department.
The African-American boy had no underlying conditions, according to a CHD spokesperson. A date of death was not immediately available; there is often a delay of several days and sometimes weeks from when a person dies to when that death is reported to the state and confirmed.
– Nick Robertson, Savannah (Ga.) Morning News
US deaths predicted at nearly 300K by December, according to new model
A widely cited University of Washington model predicts U.S. deaths from COVID-19 will reach nearly 300,000 by Dec. 1.
The forecast of 295,011 deaths is 137,000 more than the roughly 158,000 U.S. deaths reported so far. The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation model assumes that many states will impose new stay-at-home orders as deaths climb.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention monitors the model along with forecasts from about 30 other modeling groups. Combined, the models predict from 168,000 to 182,000 total COVID-19 deaths by Aug. 22.
US lifts advisory against all international travel
The U.S. State Department lifted its advisory against all international travel. The highest alert level – level 4 – was issued March 19 and has been lifted in coordination with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the agency said Thursday.
The State Department said it will return to country-specific warnings. The CDC has lifted “do not travel” warnings for about 20 locations but advised staying away from the vast majority of the world.
The list of places where Americans can go isn’t that extensive.
Several spots in the Caribbean and Mexico are welcoming guests again and drawing U.S. tourists as airlines resume and add flights. United Airlines said Friday it is adding flights to St. Thomas and San Juan, Puerto Rico.
– Julia Thompson
More than one vaccine may be needed
More than one coronavirus vaccine could stop the spread of COVID-19 in the U.S. by 2021, according to experts from Harvard Chan Public Health.
In order to effectively mitigate the spread of the virus, roughly 60% of people globally would have to be vaccinated, a feat that no single company has the capacity to achieve. That’s in part why support for multiple vaccines is widespread among health professionals and global leaders.
“The expectation is that by the end of 2021, there will be plenty of whatever vaccines are safe and effective for the United States, less clear how they will be distributed around the world,” said Barry Bloom, professor of Public Health.
– Khrysgiana Pineda
London Marathon goes remote for all but elite runners
The London Marathon became the latest mass running event to be disrupted by the global pandemic when organizers announced Thursday the the vast majority of the 40,000 registered athletes must participate remotely.
Elite runners will race in a closed, lap course through a city park. Everyone else is welcome to participate from “anywhere in the world,” organizers said. The Boston Marathon and New York Marathon are among scores of major races around the world that faced postponement, cancellation or a switch to virtual racing as a result of social distancing guidelines.
Woman kicked off flight for offensive mask says it was ‘because I’m Black’
A Black passenger ordered off an American Airlines flight for wearing an “offensive” mask says there was an underlying racial issue.
Arlinga Johns boarded a St. Louis-bound flight in Charlotte on July 29 while wearing a “Black Lives Matter” shirt and a face mask that read: “(Expletive) 12.” The number 12 is a term used to mean law enforcement or the police. Johns said a flight attendant asked Johns to cover the language on the mask with a new mask the attendant provided. Johns said she covered the mask, but the airline says Johns continued to display the mask in question.
“I think I got taken off the plane because I’m Black,” Johns said in an interview with Florida’s Local 10 News.
– Sara M. Moniuszko
LA police says 2 officers attended party at bar despite statewide shutdown
A viral video allegedly shows a private gathering in Los Angeles for “first responders” on July 31 inside Hollywood’s Sassafras Saloon – despite bars being shut down in the state and county since early July.
On Thursday, the Los Angeles Police Department confirmed to USA TODAY that two of its officers attended the function. A clip published by the activist media group Knock.LA on Twitter showed multiple people responding “yes” after an individual asked, “You here for the LASD party?” LASD is the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department. The department has denied throwing the party and says none of its employees attended the gathering.
– Joshua Bote
Don’t drink hand sanitizer, CDC warns
Four people have died and nearly a dozen others have suffered health complications after swallowing alcohol-based hand sanitizers. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that from May through June 30, there were 15 cases of methanol poisoning reported in Arizona and New Mexico, and each was associated with people drinking hand sanitizer. The CDC says hand sanitizers should contain ethanol or isopropanol as active ingredients, but some products imported from other countries contain methanol, which is “not an acceptable ingredient.”
The CDC says washing and disinfecting your hands is an effective way to combat the spread of COVID-19 but that some people apparently drink it for its alcohol content.
– Dalvin Brown
1.2M more workers file for unemployment amid COVID-19 spikes
Employers continue to lay off workers at a historic pace as the pandemic roars on. About 1.2 million people filed initial applications for unemployment insurance – a rough measure of layoffs – last week, the Labor Department said Thursday, down substantially from 1.4 million the prior week and the lowest level since March.
“The story here, we think, is that layoffs triggered by the second wave of COVID-19 in the South and West are now falling,” Ian Shepherdson, chief economist of Pantheon Macroeconomics wrote in a research note.
– Paul Davidson
New York City sets up checkpoints to enforce coronavirus quarantines
New York City began establishing registration checkpoints Thursday to try to ensure visitors from states with high COVID-19 infection rates go into quarantine when they come across the border. The city requires anyone staying in New York from 34 states with high coronavirus cases go 14-day quarantine, Mayor Bill de Blasio said.
City police will be intermittently stopping travelers who have visited the states and requiring them to complete a state Department of Health traveler form. The first post was setup for people arriving at Penn Station, the busiest train station in the nation.
“They will be reminded that it is required not optional,” de Blasio said. “They’ll be reminded that failure to quarantine is a violation of state law, and it comes with serious penalties.”
– Joseph Spector
North Korea locks down city of Kaesong amid virus concerns
North Korea is quarantining thousands of people and shipping food and other aid to the southern city of Kaesong, locked down over coronavirus worries, officials said. North Korea, which has closed its borders and cut travel by outsider monitors and journalists, claims only one person who had recently returned from South Korea may have tested positive.
Edwin Salvador, WHO representative to North Korea, told the Associated Press that group gatherings are banned, masks are required in public, and all educational institutions, including preschools, are on an extended summer break.
5 states, Puerto Rico still dealing with record weekly fatalities
Hawaii and Puerto Rico set records for new cases in a week while five states had a record number of deaths in a week, a USA TODAY analysis of Johns Hopkins data through late Wednesday shows. Record numbers of deaths were reported in Arkansas, Florida, Mississippi, Nevada and Oklahoma, and also Puerto Rico. The good news is that some large states that where cases were peeking in recent weeks, such as California, Florida and Texas, are seeing a decline in confirmed cases.
– Mike Stucka
Communities of color are dying at higher rates from the novel coronavirus than white Americans. Here’s how structural inequities play a role.
Two-thirds of K-12 teachers prefer fall classes be remote, new poll shows
A new NPR/Ipsos poll released Thursday finds that more than 8 in 10 teachers are concerned about returning to the classroom this fall, and that two-thirds prefer to teach fall classes primarily remotely rather than in-person.
The poll comes as many school districts prepare to reopen campuses. Some experts fear classrooms will become the next incubators for large coronavirus outbreaks.
A May poll conducted by USA TODAY found that 1 in 5 teachers say they are unlikely to go back to school if their classrooms reopen in the fall, a potential massive wave of resignations.
More COVID-19 resources from USA TODAY
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Contributing: The Associated Press
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