Music Video

MTV Video Music Awards Opt Out Of Indoor Event At Barclays Center After Health Warnings – Deadline

The 2020 MTV Video Music Awards have decided against holding an indoors event at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. Instead, it will stage a series of outdoor performances in various NYC boroughs.

The show will still be held on Aug. 30. The outdoors shows will take place in front of limited or no audiences.

“In close consultation with state and local health officials‎, it became clear at this time that outdoor performances with limited or no audience would be more feasible and safer than an indoor event,” said an MTV statement. “The VMAs will highlight the boroughs in an exciting show and return to Barclays Center in 2021. MTV will continue to work closely with the Department of Health, state and local officials, the medical community, and key stakeholders to ensure the safety of all involved.”

The New York Post’s Page Six reported that some staffers said they did not feel safe with an indoors show.

Keke Palmer will host the show, with performances scheduled from K-pop group BTS, Doja Cat and J Balvin.

Ariana Grande and Lady Gaga have the most nominations with nine apiece, followed by Billie Eilish and The Weeknd, who each have six nominations.

It would’ve marked the first time the show has been at Barclays since 2013.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo originally confirmed the date and venue Monday during one of his regular briefings about the pandemic. During the governor’s brief mention of the event, one of his prepared slides declared, “The event will follow all safety guidance, including limited or no audience.”

MTV later confirmed the plan in a press release, asserting that “the health and safety of artists, fans, industry, staff, and partners is of the utmost importance.”

Producers of the show, in co-operation with Barclays management, “have been working closely with state and local officials to implement best practices for everyone involved,” the release noted. Precautionary measures will include social distancing procedures, capacity limitations and the “virtualization of components where possible.”

The release said details and potential options will be released at a later date, “based on the science and data in New York.”

The VMAs have been held in the New York area for the past couple of years, hitting Newark, NJ last year after Radio City Music Hall in 2018.

New York City faced the worst of the early weeks of COVID-19, with total deaths exceeding 800 a day in April, taxing hospitals and emergency resources, but the tide has turned recently. As the rest of the nation copes with a major surge in COVID-19, New York is headed the other direction.

While other public events scheduled in the city and the restart of restaurant table service have been focused on outdoor events, the VMAs would have been one of the first major indoor events.

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meets Watch

Watch: BTS Meets QVC as the Group Posts Unboxing Video of Samsung’s Foldable Phone – Rolling Stone

Products featured are independently selected by our editorial team and we may earn a commission from purchases made from our links; the retailer may also receive certain auditable data for accounting purposes.

Samsung welcomed some surprise guests to join them for their “Unpacked” event this week, which introduced five new products to Samsung’s suite of Galaxy devices. The electronics brand tapped the guys in BTS to help unveil Samsung’s brand new smartphone — the Galaxy Z Fold2.

The foldable phone is the third folding phone to be introduced by Samsung, after the Galaxy Fold (available unlocked at BestBuy) and the compact Galaxy Z Flip. Though BTS didn’t appear in-person at the event, they did appear via a short video, which showed RM, Jin, Suga, J-Hope, Jimin, V and Jungkook unboxing the new device and testing out its features.

Samsung has been going after the “foldables” category in mobile devices for a few years now (not to be confused with Motorola’s recent re-issue of its popular Razr flip phone) and the Galaxy Z Fold2 features a virtually seamless design when opened up, with an edge-to-edge, nearly bezel-less display. When folded, it’s a pocket-sized cell phone; when flipped open, it’s basically a 7.6-inch portable tablet (something RM notices right away).

The guys also have fun testing out the camera in the unboxing clip, with J-Hope as the dutiful model. Samsung has yet to announce the exact camera specs of the new phone, but it’s expected to be in line with the also recently-announced Galaxy Note 20. That would deck out the phone with a 64MP lens, 12MP main sensor and a 12MP ultra-wide sensor. As Taehyung demonstrates in the unboxing clip (much to to Hoseok’s delight), there is also a very powerful zoom feature, both when taking photos, and when zooming in on pics on the screen.

BTS unboxed the “Mystic Bronze” version of the device (as you can hear RM saying 0:14 into the clip); Samsung will also introduce a “Mystic Black” version, along with a limited-edition collaboration with American fashion designer Thom Browne.

Pricing for the Galaxy Z Fold2 has yet to be announced, though it’s expected to come in slightly less than the $1980 price tag of the original Galaxy Fold. The brand says full specs and pricing details will be announced in September, but fans of BTS and Samsung can reserve the phone now on

samsung galaxy z fold 2 review

Reserve: Samsung Galaxy Z Fold2 at

This isn’t the first time BTS has teamed up with Samsung and the pop phenoms. The group released their own BTS versions of Samsung’s Galaxy S20 Plus phone, and the Galaxy Buds Plus earphones, earlier this summer. The limited-edition phone and earbuds are still available online here.

galaxy buds live review samsung


Galaxy Buds Live Wireless Earbuds, $169.99, available at Samsung

As for Samsung, the new phone was among a slew of new releases unveiled by the brand this week. The electronics giant also announced a new Galaxy Watch3 (which can do everything from tracking steps to measuring blood pressure and oxygen levels) and the Galaxy Buds Live, which takes aim at Apple’s domination of the wireless earbuds market, with a new ergonomic set of buds with bigger speakers for more defined sound, and Active Noise Cancellation to tune out distractions. It’s all packed into a consumer-friendly $169 price point. Both the Galaxy Watch3 and the Galaxy Buds Live are available to order now on

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Jason WarnerMedia

WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar on HBO Max, the Restructure, and Whether ‘Tenet’ Will Go the Way of ‘Mulan’ – Variety

WarnerMedia sprung the news Friday of a major internal reshuffling, which translated to the departures of WarnerMedia Entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt and HBO Max chief content officer Kevin Reilly, and the elevations of Warner Bros. chief Ann Sarnoff and HBO programming guru Casey Bloys. The company also created a new HBO Max operating business unit, and put general manager Andy Forssell — who worked alongside WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar after Kilar founded Hulu — at its helm.

In a memo, Kilar emphasized the importance of newly launched direct-to-consumer platform HBO Max to the overall company and said the structural changes are designed to help WarnerMedia operate more efficiently and effectively.

Below is a condensed conversation with Kilar, who spoke with Variety shortly after the announcement was made to break down what it all means:

With Andy Forssell — who, like you, was also at Hulu during its early years — now at the helm of the new HBO Max operation business unit, what does it mean for the streaming platform and will there be a difference in how it is run?

He was very much one of the key architects of what I call over-the-top streaming. This goes back to 2007, when most people were making fun of streaming services, whether it was what was to become Hulu or Netflix at the time. And so that’s the background of Andy Forssell, which I cannot overstate the importance of him as an architect and a business leader in the context of Hulu.

In terms of material changes, there’s two changes that I’ll highlight among a number of them. No. 1 is that he will report directly to me as will his organization under him, which is obviously a change. And that obviously sends a very strong signal, both internally and externally about the importance of direct-to-consumer in the future. That’s one change.

The other change, which is as important, is the global rollout of HBO Max, under Andy now as well… It’s very important in our future that we go global, that we not only go direct-to-consumer, but we also go global… There’s a fantastic executive named Johannes Larcher who actually has taken both Hulu and other over-the-top services to international locales. And Johannes will be reporting to Andy in that role.

Given these changes, does that change your subscriber and revenue targets for HBO Max as you pursue this rollout internationally?

Sorry, are you trying to get me to sign up for new numbers? [Laughs.] Without talking about integers, my team’s ambitions for the opportunity with this structure is certainly very large, as it should be. And I say that in response to consumer demand. There are people that tweet at me all the time that are in Portugal or Spain, or Latin America, or wherever they clearly want HBO Max. It’s our job to take it to them.

Now that Casey Bloys is at the helm of programming for HBO, HBO Max and the Turner networks, how do you see HBO and HBO Max’s originals being further aligned under his leadership?

I think it makes it a lot simpler. Make no mistake, this is a vote of confidence in Casey, which I feel very good about making, given his history. I mean, I think he’s got more Emmy nominations than I’ve got hair. So this is someone who I’ve admired from afar. It’s such a gift to be able to do it alongside them.

And so it makes things simpler. Because Casey, of course, has so much activity going on between his team that this allows him to be able to very quickly make decisions about an HBO sensibility, an HBO Max original sensibility, And then obviously TNT and TBS. And Casey has a long history in programming that’s beyond HBO.

So this is someone who is incredibly talented at programming to different sensibilities. And that’s what I’m so excited about being — is that Casey and his newly expanded team really are going to be able to program for a lot of different sensibilities. Of course, he will always probably be known for HBO because that’s an incredibly powerful sensibility if you take a look at it from an industry perspective, but we got a lot of other sensibilities in this world too, in terms of DC, the material and also sorts of brands and franchises and obviously original IP that we now pipeline.

Should we expect further changes at Warner Bros., or any restructuring of film and TV studios under Ann Sarnoff?

At a headline level, no. Because this really is our move to bring together what was two different studios and content organizations and bring them together as one, and to make the changes that we’re making with Casey, most pointedly. So you shouldn’t expect kind of anything along the lines of obviously what we’re talking about today. I don’t want to ever suggest that any organization on the planet is calcified, and stuck and frozen. So shame on us if we’re not constantly moving forward as an organism, but no, you shouldn’t expect major changes along the lines of this.

What have your conversations with AT&T CEO John Stankey been about the direction for WarnerMedia from here? 

When John and I started talking about WarnerMedia, and this was even before I joined, I look at this as Chapter Two of what was kind of a very clear Chapter One that John put in place. When AT&T purchased WarnerMedia, John did what I think is the most important earth-moving in the story of WarnerMedia, which is — it was three distinct businesses between Turner, HBO and Warner Bros.

What John did was tremendously earth-moving, to break down those walls and those silos and really introduce the notion of a single company, which is WarnerMedia. And I am so thankful for the work that he does, because it is the hardest work, and most important, more candidly, because it’s the foundation. And so what I’m doing in Chapter Two of that, which is tightening our focus so that we can go from historically a wholesaling business, like all media companies have been over the last hundred years, and really moving into the future, which is becoming a consumer business… which means going direct to consumer and going global.

I don’t mean to suggest that we’re not already global today. We have a lot of revenue that’s outside the U.S. But when I talk about going global, I think the opportunities that we could have 70% or more of our customers and our revenue outside the US. — and that really is a change from where we are today.

Given your background in Silicon Valley, what philosophy are you bringing with you from your Hulu days through the present? It certainly seems very prescient, what you knew and what you were working on back at Hulu in 2007, versus the industry’s focus on streaming now.

Thank you for the question, because it’s humbling… I think one of the things that is so important for WarnerMedia and how I’m thinking about it is a couple of things. Number One, we have to start with the customer [and] what are we doing to serve them?

At the end of the day, what we’re trying to do is we’re trying to move the world through stories. We’re trying to move consumers through stories, and I think if we start there. And then ask ourselves, how can we do the best job that we can do in terms of narrative storytelling, interactive storytelling… and then work our way back from that, that’s when the magic happens, for lack of a better phrase. And so that’s one thing that I’m bringing to the table, which is a very, very focused consumer orientation and sensibility.

The other thing that I hope to be able to bring to the team — I think it’s very important that we feel empowered to take risks in serving customers. And when you take risks, a natural inevitability is you’re going to fail plenty. Because when you take risks, you know you’re experimenting, and not all experiments go the way you want. So I want to empower this team, to act boldly, to to lean into the future, take risks… knowing that, yes, sometimes we will fail. But I believe in the fullness of time, given how talented this team is, that we’re going to do great work for customers.

The internet, I think, is the single biggest gift that could be given to any media company. Because what the internet allows you to do is to go direct to consumers all over the planet, and media companies for the last hundred years never had that opportunity. And so I am so excited about our opportunity to do that, but it means that we have to do two things. We have to be consumer oriented. And we have to be willing to take risk and to lean into the future.

Amid the ongoing pandemic, we’ve seen Universal, and this week Disney, make decisions about windowing and putting movies straight to streaming. I wonder what your thinking is around that, given the ongoing pandemic that has no clear return to normalcy at this stage.

It’s a great question. As you can imagine, I spend a lot of time, obviously, with medical experts, and trying to get as close as I can to where the pandemic is heading — vaccines, research and all those other things.

I’d say a couple of things. I think in the fullness of time, we will get back to sports stadiums, we will get back to theaters, we will get back to restaurants. I think that will happen — it’s a question of when and in what countries and what cities and towns, because I think it really is going to be very surgical in terms of the differences.

So I believe that… because we’re humans and we’re resilient and we solve these problems together. The second thing is: Does the presence of a pandemic do things that cause changes in this industry? And the answer is absolutely. I think it accelerates changes that are probably already afoot.

I think it’s fair to say that from a theatrical perspective, some of the things we’re seeing, including “Mulan,” they’re very pragmatic executions given that it is what is is. That said, I think it’s also fair to say that there will be changes in a theatrical distribution. We’re going to lean into the actual distribution incredibly aggressively going forward. But I also think that — is the window going to stay at 130 plus days? I don’t think so. But I don’t think anybody else thinks so.

So the question is going how do we get from here to there, and that obviously is big for a lot of good copy, as they say in the press.

So you think you’d be open to making a similar move that Disney did with “Mulan” this week?

So I don’t have any comment on that specifically. I think with “Tenet” we should judge this based on our decision-making on “Tenet,” which is: We believe in the theatrical business. We’re excited to partner with Chris Nolan to get “Tenet” out in theaters first and foremost.

And then of course, it will be in another formats, in other venues, that are not theatrical. But I think, if you look at our behavior, we’re believers in the theatrical experience, and are also of course in very close communication with everyone in the exhibition industry, about the topic of windows and about how we can collectively serve consumers in the best way possible going forward.

So I know it’s a pretty provocative topic, and I get that and it’s very understandable. But at the end of the day, I’m excited about it, and I’m leaning into it.

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intelligence shows

U.S. intelligence shows Russia is trying to “denigrate” Biden, while China prefers Trump lose – CBS News

The U.S. intelligence community has assessed that Russia is actively seeking to “denigrate” presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and that some actors linked to the Kremlin are trying to boost President Trump’s candidacy ahead of the 2020 presidential election, according to the country’s top election security official.  

In an unprecedented statement outlining the candidate preferences of several foreign actors, National Counterintelligence and Security Center Director Bill Evanina also said China “prefers that President Trump – whom Beijing sees as unpredictable – does not win reelection,” and that Iran may try to “undermine” U.S. democratic institutions and the president, primarily through online and social media content.   

“Many foreign actors have a preference for who wins the election, which they express through a range of overt and private statements; covert influence efforts are rarer,” Evanina’s statement said. “We are primarily concerned about the ongoing and potential activity by China, Russia, and Iran.” 

Mr. Trump dismissed the intelligence on Russia. When a reporter in New Jersey asked the president about the assessment that Russia wants him to win reelection and China wants him to lose, Mr. Trump said, “The last person that Russia wants to see in office is Donald Trump.” When a reporter pointed out that’s not what intelligence officials said, the president responded, “I don’t care what anybody says.” 

His statement, issued less than three months before Election Day, identifies several examples of behavior the intelligence community considered in forming its assessment. Evanina has been the top U.S. counterintelligence official for years and was tapped to lead intelligence-based election security threat briefings in May. 

“China has been expanding its influence efforts ahead of November 2020 to shape the policy environment in the United States, pressure political figures it views as opposed to China’s interests, and deflect and counter criticism of China,” his statement said. It also cited Beijing’s criticism of the Trump administration’s COVID-19 response, its closure of the consulate in Houston, and recent actions taken to block social media platform TikTok.  

Russia, the assessment said, “is using a range of measures to primarily denigrate” Biden. “For example, pro-Russia Ukrainian parliamentarian Andriy Derkach is spreading claims about corruption – including through publicizing leaked phone calls – to undermine former Vice President Biden’s candidacy and the Democratic Party.” Mr. Trump’s candidacy was being boosted on social media and Russian television by unspecified actors linked to the Kremlin, Evanina’s statement said.  

“We assess that Iran seeks to undermine U.S. democratic institutions, President Trump, and to divide the country in advance of the 2020 election,” the statement continued, adding that Tehran’s efforts “probably will focus on on-line influence.”  

“Tehran’s motivation to conduct such activities is, in part, driven by a perception that President Trump’s reelection would result in a continuation of U.S. pressure on Iran in an effort to foment regime change,” the statement said.  

Friday’s update, which follows mounting pressure from Democratic lawmakers on the intelligence community to release more detailed information about election threats, said it represents “the most current, accurate, and objective election threat information the IC has to offer in an unclassified setting at this time.” 

But a U.S. official briefed on the intelligence cautioned that the update, while more detailed, suffered from an underlying lack of clarity about what each country was doing vis a vis the U.S. election, and why.  

“Only one of the three is actively seeking to interfere to the benefit of one candidate and at the expense of another, and that’s Russia,” the official said. “That doesn’t mean China doesn’t have a preference – but having a preference and doing something about it are not one and the same.”  

In a bipartisan statement, Senate Intelligence Committee acting Chairman Marco Rubio and Vice Chairman Mark Warner praised Evanina for providing “additional context” to a statement he issued late last month, 100 days before the election.  

“We thank him for providing this additional information to the American people, and we look forward to his continued engagement, along with other members of the Intelligence Community and the Administration, with the public over the next 87 days,” the lawmakers said. They encouraged the intelligence community to continue sharing information publicly and admonished political leaders “on all sides to refrain from weaponizing intelligence matters for political gain.” 

National Security Council spokesman John Ullyot said of Friday’s update that the U.S. “will not tolerate foreign interference in our electoral processes and will respond to malicious foreign threats that target our democratic institutions.” 

Publicly identifying the candidate preference of a foreign actor ahead of an election is an unprecedented step for the U.S. intelligence community. Although the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) and the Department of Homeland Security issued a joint statement in October of 2016 stating that the Russian government was behind the hacking and dumping of emails and had been scanning and probing election systems, it was not until two months later, in January of 2017, that the intelligence community said explicitly that Moscow, having “developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump” took those and other measures in an effort to damage Secretary Clinton’s election chances and boost then-candidate Trump’s.  

That assessment – and subsequent efforts by the intelligence community to identify a preferred candidate in closed briefings – have become politically charged topics. Officials who told members of the House Intelligence Committee in February that Moscow had again demonstrated a preference for President Trump were criticized by Republicans who questioned the validity of the underlying intelligence.  

Press reports about that briefing infuriated Mr. Trump, who tweeted that Democrats had launched a “misinformation campaign” about Russia’s preference for his candidacy and removed then-acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire. Mr. Trump has consistently downplayed Russia’s 2016 interference campaign while highlighting Russian president Vladimir Putin’s denials that Moscow had meddled at all.   

The president has also criticized the work of U.S. intelligence agencies, whose findings on Russia’s 2016 campaign have been reinforced by a bipartisan Senate Committee and bolstered by the report compiled by special counsel Robert Mueller. 

Since 2016, intelligence and other administration officials have warned consistently that Russia and other adversaries were likely to continue engaging in election interference, likely using new and more sophisticated and less detectable tactics.   

All three countries identified in 2020 have previously been named as candidates likely to engage in disinformation and influence campaigns – including in the 2019 Worldwide Threat Assessment, an annual report compiled by the intelligence community on top global security challenges.   

“We expect our adversaries and strategic competitors to refine their capabilities and add new tactics as they learn from each other’s experiences, suggesting the threat landscape could look very different in 2020 and future elections,” the 2019 assessment said.  

Some Democrats have been sharply critical of many of ODNI’s election security disclosures to date. Senior Democrats belonging to the so-called “Gang of 8,” a select group of lawmakers routinely briefed by the executive branch on classified matters, criticized Evanina’s July statement for creating a false equivalence among actors of “unequal intent, motivation and capability,” and that the warning about Russia’s activities was “so generic as to be meaningless.”

Those same lawmakers – House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff and Warner – previously expressed concerns that Congress was being targeted in a “concerted foreign interference campaign” and called for a defensive counterintelligence briefing from the FBI.  

On Friday, Pelosi and Schiff welcomed Evanina’s update, though they maintained it did not go far enough to differentiate among the activities of the three countries.  

“[T]oday’s statement still treats three actors of differing intent and capability as equal threats to our democratic elections,” Schiff and Pelosi said. “Members of Congress have now been briefed on the specific threats facing the 2020 election, and we have been clear with the Intelligence Community that the American people must be provided with specific information that would allow voters to appraise for themselves the respective threats posed by these foreign actors, and distinguish these actors’ different and unequal aims, current actions, and capabilities.”  

Evanina, along with other senior national security officials, briefed lawmakers in multiple classified sessions late last week and early this week. 

His statement on Friday explicitly accused the Ukrainian politician, Derkach, of undermining Biden through weaponized leaks. Derkach is known to have met late last year with President Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, who has spoken openly about working with Ukrainian contacts to obtain information about Biden.  

Sources previously confirmed to CBS News that Democrats’ concerns had stemmed from some of Derkach’s materials being sent to certain lawmakers, including members of a Senate committee, led by Wisconsin Republican Senator Ron Johnson, that is currently investigating Biden and his son, Hunter. Politico first reported the details of Democrats’ concerns. 

Johnson has denied receiving information from foreign nationals about Biden and, together with Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa, accused Democrats of assisting Russian disinformation efforts.   

In Friday’s update, Evanina said the intelligence community would continue to provide classified briefings to relevant stakeholders and unclassified updates to the public.  

“Aside from sharing information, let me assure you that the IC is also doing everything in its power to combat both cyber and influence efforts targeting our electoral process,” he said. “Our election should be our own.” 

— CBS News’ Kathryn Watson contributed to this report. 

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Swift Taylor

Taylor Swift, boyfriend spotted hiking in Utah – KUTV 2News

Taylor Swift, boyfriend spotted hiking in Utah – KUTV 2News
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Falwell Jerry

Jerry Falwell Jr. will take a leave of absence from Liberty University – CNN

(CNN)Jerry Falwell Jr., the president and chancellor of Liberty University, has agreed to take an “indefinite leave of absence,” according to a statement Friday from the evangelical Christian university.

The leave of absence is effective immediately, the statement said. The executive committee of the university’s board of trustees made the request of Falwell. The board did not provide a reason for Falwell’s leave in its statement.
CNN has reached out to Falwell for comment. In a separate statement, Jerry Prevo, chairman of the university’s board of trustees, said the Lynchburg, Virginia-based university has “experienced unprecedented success” during Falwell’s 13 years as president.
“Unfortunately, with this success and the burdens of leading a large and growing organization comes substantial pressure,” Prevo said in the statement. “Today, my colleagues and I on the Liberty University Board of Trustees and Jerry mutually agreed that it would be good for him to take an indefinite leave of absence.”
Falwell — no stranger to controversy — has come under fire in recent days after posting a picture on Instagram that depicted him with his pants unzipped and his midsection visible to the camera. In the photo, Falwell is seen holding a cup of dark liquid with one arm around a woman whose shorts are also unzipped.
In a radio interview with WLNI, Falwell explained that the woman was his wife’s assistant. They were at a costume party and “it was just in good fun,” he added.
“You know, it was weird because she’s pregnant so she couldn’t get her (shorts) up and I was like, trying to like — I have a pair of jeans I haven’t worn in a long time so I couldn’t get mine zipped either,” Falwell said. “So I just put my belly out like hers.”
Falwell said he “should never have put it up and embarrassed her.”
He added, “I’ve apologized to everybody and I promised my kids I’m going to try to be a good boy from here on out.”
Prevo said the leave of absence decision “was not made lightly” and took into account “the interests everyone in the LU community, including students, parents, alumni, faculty, staff, leaders of the Church, as well as the Falwell family.”
Rep. Mark Walker, a Republican from North Carolina and a member of a Liberty University advisory board, called Thursday on Falwell to resign, calling his ongoing behavior “appalling.”
“I just think there’s a code that leaders have to live by, especially when you’re leading the largest Christian evangelical university in the country,” Walker told CNN’s Brianna Keilar on Friday.

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COVID Minnesota

Minnesota COVID-19 briefing: Updated numbers, community spread affecting long term care and the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally – KSTP

Minnesota COVID-19 briefing: Updated numbers, community spread affecting long term care and the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally

Photo: KSTP-TV.

Charlie Wiese

Updated: August 07, 2020 04:45 PM

Created: August 07, 2020 03:10 PM

Minnesota Department of Health officials addressed an array of topics during Friday’s COVID-19 briefing, including an update on state and national coronavirus numbers, the rise in community spread around the state affecting long-term care and the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota.

Numbers update:

MDH Commissioner Jan Malcolm gave an update on COVID-19 numbers around the world as well in Minnesota. 

Worldwide, cases passed 19.1 million with deaths just over 716,000. In the United States, cases have surpassed 4.9 million and deaths stand just over 160,000. 

In Minnesota, there were 556 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the state’s total to 59,185 since the pandemic began. Four additional deaths were also reported, which brings the total in Minnesota to 1,640 deaths from COVID-19.

Around 910,000 Minnesotans have been tested, which is about 16% of the state’s population. 

Minnesota sees 4 new COVID-19 deaths, 556 new cases

Community transmission rise/Long-term care facilities:

MDH State Epidemiologist and Medical Director Dr. Ruth Lynfield discussed the increase that the state has been seeing in community transmission and its effect on long-term care. 

Lynfield said that the rising rate of community transmission is leading to adverse effects in long-term care. While the majority of cases in long-term care since the start of the pandemic have been among residents, since mid-June the majority have been in staff. These staff infections are then in turn leading to more resident cases, which are likely to be more severe, according to Lynfield. She said the state’s studies and research are showing increases in large gatherings where social distancing is not happening. 

Sturgis Motorcycle Rally: 

With the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally beginning in Sturgis, South Dakota, Malcolm said that Minnesota residents who plan to attend and come back to the state are urged to quarantine for 14 days upon their return.

With the increase in community transmission and the likelihood that there will be events in Sturgis that do not lend themselves to social distancing, it brings great concern, Malcolm said. During a historic pandemic, the event brings people from around the country to a small place, which she said is a large issue.

High-risk groups in particular should evaluate if it is worth it to attend the rally, Malcolm said. 

LIVE VIDEO: Bikers arrive in Sturgis, South Dakota ahead of motorcycle rally

Copyright 2020 – KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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Obesity roles

Obesity, race play roles in severe COVID-19 illness among kids – NBC News

Black and Hispanic children are disproportionately affected by COVID-19, according to two Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports published Friday.

The CDC reports come just days after President Donald Trump told Fox News that children are “almost immune” to the coronavirus, an assertion proven to be untrue.

Full coverage of the coronavirus outbreak

As of July 31, more than 338,000 children in the United States have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. That represents about 8 percent of the nearly 5 million cases reported so far in the U.S.

And pediatric cases appear to be rising. One of the CDC reports released Friday found that between March 21 and July 25, “weekly hospitalization rates steadily increased among children.” Overall, Black and Hispanic children were most likely to require hospitalization.

About a third of those children were sick enough to be admitted into a hospital’s intensive care unit. That’s equal to the proportion of adults with COVID-19 who have required critical care, even though children in general are less likely to be as severely impacted by the virus as adults.

Forty-two percent of the 208 children in the CDC analysis had at least one underlying condition, usually obesity.

“Childhood obesity affects almost 1 in 5 U.S. children,” the CDC authors wrote, “and is more prevalent in Black and Hispanic children.”

It’s unclear how obesity might affect the severity of COVID-19 outcomes, but the link has also been noted among adults with the virus.

“There’s something about obesity that causes an underlying inflammatory state that we don’t understand that much about,” said Dr. Josh Denson, a pulmonary medicine and critical care physician at the Tulane Medical Center in New Orleans. Denson treats severely ill adult COVID-19 patients, and has recently published research on the link between the coronavirus and obesity in the African American population.

Let our news meet your inbox. The news and stories that matters, delivered weekday mornings.

Also Friday, the National Institutes of Health announced it’s launching a project called PreVAIL kIds that aims to identify which children might be most at risk for COVID-19 complications.

The study will analyze, in part, biomarkers found in blood samples taken from children with COVID-19, so scientists can determine how the virus impacts young people, as well as which ones might be most at risk.

“This is a new virus, and it’s really critical to understand what it does to children long term,” said Dr. Bill Kapogiannis, a senior medical officer with the NIH’s National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

The main goal of the project is to learn more about one of the most severe COVID-19 complications among kids: multisystem inflammatory syndrome, or MIS-C.

William Lantry.Tacia Brentley

William Lantry, 10, of Pittsburgh, who was diagnosed with MIS-C in June had no idea he’d even been infected with the coronavirus.

His mother, Tacia Brentley, noticed he seemed a “little off,” and had a sore neck. When his temperature soared past 104 degrees Fahrenheit, she took him to the emergency room.

“It didn’t really feel like I had been sick,” William said, but added that the day his mother took him to the hospital, his neck pain stretched from his head down his shoulder, and he was vomiting.

Physicians suspected the child had meningitis, and put him on oxygen. Later tests revealed he’d had the coronavirus.

William has since recovered, but remains on steroids to help his breathing.

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The second report published Friday by the CDC looked specifically at MIS-C.

Out of 570 such cases, 364 — nearly 64 percent — needed to be put in intensive care. Ten young patients died, the CDC reported.

Symptoms of MIS-C included fever, rash, eye infections, gastrointestinal problems and heart damage, and tended to show up nearly a month after being exposed to the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

Dr. Kevin Friedman, a pediatric cardiologist at Boston Children’s Hospital, said he and his colleagues have treated nearly 40 such cases.

Symptoms of MIS-C are “occurring somewhere between three and six weeks after acute COVID exposure or infection,” he told NBC News. “In some cases, children don’t even know they had COVID and had no acute symptoms.”

There is no specific treatment for MIS-C or less severe cases of COVID-19 in children. Friedman said doctors are treating patients with anti-inflammatories and supportive care to boost their heart and lung function.

As with severe COVID-19 cases, racial and ethnic disparities are common for MIS-C, as well. About 60 percent of children with MIS-C in Massachusetts, Friedman estimated, have been Black or Hispanic.

Indeed, the CDC report found that overall across the country, MIS-C tended to be more prevalent —73.6 percent — in racial minorities.

Brentley wants parents to remain alert for unusual symptoms in children. “The very second you see something that isn’t normal, just go. Go straight to the hospital.”

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embraces Trump

Trump embraces jobs report signaling slowdown | TheHill – The Hill

The White House is trying to capitalize on the latest jobs numbers, arguing they point to a strong economic recovery under President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden says his faith is ‘bedrock foundation of my life’ after Trump claim Coronavirus talks on life support as parties dig in, pass blame Ohio governor tests negative in second coronavirus test MORE even as millions remain out of work and states grapple with increases in coronavirus infections.

The figures released by the Labor Department on Friday exceeded Wall Street’s expectations, registering 1.8 million jobs gained during July and a drop in the unemployment rate to 10.2 percent at a time when southern and western states were forced to pause or roll back their reopening plans.

But the data nevertheless points to an economic slowdown, challenging the White House’s bullish predictions for a speedy V-shaped recovery. The figures also come amid collapsed talks between the Trump administration and Democratic leaders on a coronavirus relief package, which economists say is desperately needed to prevent a deeper recession.

“This is not a rocket ship,” said Martha Gimbel, senior manager of economic research at Schmidt Futures. “It’s really unclear if the economy is going to achieve escape velocity before the lack of government spending crashes down or before … we have to shut down again, which is a total possibility.”

White House economic adviser Larry KudlowLarry KudlowMORE, who did the rounds on cable news Friday morning, declared that the numbers evidenced a “self-sustaining recovery” and predicted that the United States would see unemployment head into the single digits in the fall months.

“The worries that some partial shutdowns or some pausing shutdowns would wreck the jobs numbers did not pan out. I think that shows signs of strength,” Kudlow said on Fox Business.

July’s job gains were far less than the 2.7 million recovered in May and the 4.8 million regained in June, bearing out predictions that rising coronavirus cases would weaken the economy.

Meanwhile, last month’s unemployment rate was reminiscent of the depths of the Great Recession, when the joblessness peaked at 10 percent in October 2009. As recently as February, it was 3.5 percent.

Economic analysts say that despite the jobs report, there remains a need for additional fiscal stimulus. Many point to an extension of the expanded unemployment benefits and additional aid to states as necessary steps to shepherd the economy through recovery until there is a vaccine for the coronavirus.

“This jobs number doesn’t change the undeniable need for additional federal support,” said Isaac Boltansky, director of policy research at investment bank Compass Point Research & Trading. 

Many conservatives, however, disagree.

Stephen MooreStephen MooreTrump considering executive order to reinstate enhanced unemployment benefits Trump says he’s considering executive action to suspend evictions, payroll tax On The Money: Democratic leaders report ‘some progress’ in stimulus talks | Prosecutors hint at probe into ‘possibly extensive and protracted criminal conduct at the Trump Organization’ MORE, a conservative economist and informal adviser to Trump, argued that the data shows that a multitrillion-dollar stimulus package is unnecessary because the economy is not in the “free fall” it was earlier this year.

“It was a good number, not a great number,” Moore said on Friday.

Trump is now preparing for potential executive actions to enact economic measures absent a last-minute deal on Capitol Hill with Democrats.

Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinCoronavirus talks on life support as parties dig in, pass blame On The Money: Pessimism grows as coronavirus talks go down to the wire | Jobs report poised to light fire under COVID-19 talks | Tax preparers warn unemployment recipients could owe IRS Top Democrats say postmaster confirmed changes to mail service amid delays MORE, one of Trump’s top two negotiators, told reporters following Friday’s meeting with Democrats that he and White House chief of staff Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsCoronavirus talks on life support as parties dig in, pass blame On The Money: Pessimism grows as coronavirus talks go down to the wire | Jobs report poised to light fire under COVID-19 talks | Tax preparers warn unemployment recipients could owe IRS Top Democrats say postmaster confirmed changes to mail service amid delays MORE would recommend Trump move forward with some executive orders over the weekend related to enhanced unemployment benefits, rental foreclosures and student loans. Trump is also weighing an executive order to defer the payroll tax.

“Despite the fact that we had a very good jobs number this morning, there are still too many people that are out of work at no fault of their own because of this coronavirus,” Mnuchin said.

The economy has been a central focus of Trump’s pitch for reelection. The pandemic has forced business closures and wreaked havoc on the economy, forcing Trump to alter his message to voters.

The president and his campaign have focused on the strength of the U.S. economy prior to the coronavirus and sought to make the case that his policies on trade and deregulation would enable a swift rebound.

In a speech in Ohio on Thursday, Trump gave a broad outline of what his second-term economic agenda would look like, such as bringing back jobs and supply chains from overseas.

“We closed it up; we saved millions of lives. But now we’re opening, and it looks like I was right about the ‘V,’ because you’re seeing the kind of numbers that are coming in, and they’re coming in strong,” Trump told the crowd at a Whirlpool plant in Clyde, Ohio, on Thursday afternoon.

Trump, who is at his golf club in Bedminster, N.J., celebrated Friday’s jobs numbers in a pair of tweets and later Friday evening touted them as exceeding expectations during an impromptu press conference. The president staged impromptu press appearances to tout the record increases in jobs from May and June, when states embarked on reopening plans that many public health officials considered too fast and too soon.

Trump has leaned into his economic agenda more recently as polls show him trailing presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden says his faith is ‘bedrock foundation of my life’ after Trump claim Biden clarifies comments comparing African American and Latino communities Kanye West may have missed deadline to get on Wisconsin ballot by minutes: report MORE nationally and in battleground states. The same surveys tend to show that while Trump is the preferred candidate on handling the economy, Biden leads on other issues like race relations and the coronavirus.

The Trump campaign quickly seized on Friday’s better-than-expected numbers and accused Biden of embracing tax hikes and environmental policies that would cause “job-killing regulations.”

“The fundamental choice for voters is between the fantastic record of President Trump, who built the world’s best economy once and is doing it again, and Joe Biden, whose economic record is terrible and whose plans for the future are ruinous,” said Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh.

In his own statement, Biden focused on the 16 million Americans still unemployed and argued the U.S. is in a “a deeper economic hole than we should be because of Donald Trump’s historic failure to respond to the pandemic.”

Updated at 8:55 p.m.

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Coronavirus Likely

Why the Coronavirus is More Likely to ‘Superspread’ Than the Flu – The New York Times

Most people won’t spread the virus widely. The few who do are probably in the wrong place at the wrong time in their infection, new models suggest.

Credit…Jeenah Moon/Reuters

For a spiky sphere just 120 nanometers wide, the coronavirus can be a remarkably cosmopolitan traveler.

Spewed from the nose or mouth, it can rocket across a room and splatter onto surfaces; it can waft into poorly ventilated spaces and linger in the air for hours. At its most intrepid, the virus can spread from a single individual to dozens of others, perhaps even a hundred or more at once, proliferating through packed crowds in what is called a superspreading event.

Such scenarios, which have been traced to call centers, meat processing facilities, weddings and more, have helped propel a pandemic that, in the span of eight months, has reached nearly every corner of the globe. And yet, while some people seem particularly apt to spread the coronavirus, others barely pass it on.

“There’s this small percentage of people who appear to infect a lot of people,” said Dr. Joshua Schiffer, a physician and mathematical modeling expert who studies infectious diseases at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle. Estimates vary from population to population, but they consistently show a striking skew: Between 10 and 20 percent of coronavirus cases may seed 80 percent of new infections. Other respiratory diseases, like the flu, are far more egalitarian in their spread.

Figuring out what drives coronavirus superspreading events could be key to stopping them, and expediting an end to the pandemic. “That’s the million dollar question,” said Ayesha Mahmud, who studies infectious disease dynamics at the University of California, Berkeley.

In a paper posted Friday to the website medRxiv that has not yet been through peer review, Dr. Schiffer and his colleagues reported that coronavirus superspreading events were most likely to happen at the intersection where bad timing and poor placement collide: a person who has reached the point in their infection when they are shedding large amounts of virus, and are doing so in a setting where there are plenty of other people around to catch it.

According to a model built by Dr. Schiffer’s team, the riskiest window for such transmission may be extremely brief — a one- to two-day period in the week or so after a person is infected, when coronavirus levels are at their highest.

The virus can still spread outside this window, and individuals outside it should not let up on measures like mask-wearing and physical distancing, Dr. Schiffer said. But the longer an infection drags on, the less likely a person is to be contagious — an idea that might help experts advise when to end self-isolation, or how to allocate resources to those most in need, said Dr. Mahmud, who was not involved in the study.

Catching and containing a person at their most infectious is another matter, however. Some people stricken with the coronavirus start to feel unwell within a couple days, whereas others take weeks, and many never end up experiencing symptoms. The length of the so-called incubation period, which spans the time between infection and the onset of symptoms, can be so variable that some people who catch the virus fall ill before the person who gave it to them does. That rarely happens with the flu, which reliably rouses a spate of symptoms within a couple days of infection.

If the coronavirus reaches a peak in the body before symptoms appear — if symptoms appear at all — that increase might be very tough to identify without frequent and proactive testing. Symptom-free spikes in virus load appear to happen very often, which “really distorts our ability to tell when somebody is contagious,” Dr. Schiffer said. That, in turn, makes it all too easy for people to obliviously shed the pathogen.

“It really is about opportunity,” said Shweta Bansal, an infectious disease ecologist at Georgetown University who was not involved in the study. “These processes really come together when you are not only infected, but you also don’t know you’re infected because you don’t feel crummy.” Some of these unwitting coronavirus chauffeurs, emboldened to go out in public, may end up causing a superspreading event that sends the pathogen blazing through a new population.

This confluence of factors — a person in the wrong place at the wrong point in their infection — sets the stage for “explosive transmission,” Dr. Bansal said.

The team’s model also pointed to another important variable: the remarkable resilience of the coronavirus when it is aloft.

A growing body of evidence now suggests that the coronavirus can be airborne in crowded, poorly ventilated indoor environments, where it may encounter many people at once. The virus also travels in larger, heavier droplets, but these quickly fall to the ground after they are expelled from the airway and do not have the same reach or longevity as their smaller counterparts. Dr. Schiffer said he thought the coronavirus might be more amenable to superspreading than flu viruses because it is better at persisting in contagious clouds, which can ferry pathogens over relatively long distances.

“It’s a spatial phenomenon,” he said. “People further away from the transmitter may be more likely to be infected.”

Since the start of the pandemic, many comparisons have been drawn between Covid-19 and the flu, both of which are diseases caused by viruses that attack the respiratory tract. But plenty of differences exist, and in many ways the coronavirus is more formidable. “This study adds yet another layer to how it’s different from influenza,” said Olivia Prosper, a researcher at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville who uses mathematical models to study infectious diseases but was not involved in the study. “It’s not just about how sick it makes you, but also its ability to transmit.”

Moreover, certain people may be predisposed to be more generous transmitters of the coronavirus, although the details are “still a mystery,” Dr. Schiffer said.

But when a superspreading event occurs, it likely has more to do with the circumstances than with a single person’s biology, Dr. Schiffer said. Even someone carrying a lot of the coronavirus can stave off mass transmission by avoiding large groups, thus depriving the germ of conduits to travel.

“A superspreading event is a function of what somebody’s viral load is and if they’re in a crowded space,” he said. “If those are the two levers, you can control the crowding bit.”

Both Dr. Mahmud and Dr. Prosper noted that not everyone has the means to practice physical distancing. Some people work essential jobs in packed environments, for instance, and are left more vulnerable to the consequences of superspreading events.

That makes it all the more important for those who can participate in control measures like mask-wearing and physical distancing to remain vigilant about their behavior, Dr. Mahmud said.

“That’s what we should be doing,” she said. “Not just to protect ourselves, but to protect others.”

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