judge Second

Second judge rules against USPS, says election mail must be prioritized – CNN

(CNN)The US Postal Service must prioritize election mail and reverse some key policy changes imposed by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a federal judge ruled on Monday, saying that “managerial failures” at the agency undermined the public’s faith in mail-in voting.

US District Judge Victor Marrero in New York’s Southern District became the second federal judge to side against USPS in the past week. A judge in Washington state ordered many similar changes on Friday and blasted the Trump administration for what he called a “politically motivated attack” on USPS.
In the Monday ruling, Marrero said USPS will be required to treat all election mail as first-class mail or priority mail express, and that USPS will need to “pre-approve” all overtime requests for the two weeks surrounding Election Day, to make sure absentee ballots are processed properly.
“The right to vote is too vital a value in our democracy to be left in a state of suspense in the minds of voters weeks before a presidential election, raising doubts as to whether their votes will ultimately be counted,” Marrero wrote.
“While the court has no doubts that the Postal Service’s workforce comprises hardworking and dedicated public servants, multiple managerial failures have undermined the postal employees’ ability to fulfill their vital mission,” he added.
These changes will go into effect on Friday, the judge said. He told the parties to reach a settlement that includes his directives, but if they don’t reach an agreement by midday Friday, a judicial order imposing the changes will automatically kick in.
If USPS can’t agree to put in place these changes, Marrero says he’ll take several steps to force USPS to improve its mail delivery and policies under a court order.
He will order the USPS to draft, and implement, a cohesive plan to restore on-time delivery performance to pre-July levels. USPS must then produce service reports and variance reports for the court.
“The Postal Service is reviewing the court’s decision,” USPS spokesperson Marti Johnson said, responding to the decision.
“There should be no doubt, however, that the Postal Service is ready and fully committed to handling expected increased volumes of Election Mail between now and the conclusion of the November 3rd election,” Johnson added. “Our number one priority is to deliver the nation’s Election Mail securely and in a timely fashion.”
Under a court order, the USPS would have to pre-approve all overtime between October 26 and November 6. USPS would also have to circulate a company-wide memo making clear that late trips for mail trucks will be encouraged for transporting election mail and do not require special approval — undoing some of DeJoy’s signature policy changes.
DeJoy imposed significant restrictions on late and extra trips on July 10, which the USPS has since acknowledged caused significant mail delays.
The USPS has claimed that those delays have improved, but it has still not returned to its pre-July levels.
“The Postal Service has long promised that ‘[n]either snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds,” said Remy Green, an attorney for the plaintiffs that sued USPS, which include New York voters and candidates for public office. “The Court rightly added the obvious footnote: fixing an election and cost-cutting cannot cut it as an exception to that promise.”
Ali Najmi, another attorney for the plaintiffs, told CNN they would be speaking with USPS attorneys later today to start talking about settling the case.
This story has been updated with additional comment from attorney Remy Green.

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Second Trump

Trump’s second term: What another four years would mean for LGBTQ people –

At the Republican National Convention this week, Republicans are making the case for giving President Donald Trump four more years in the White House. While Trump himself doesn’t often comment publicly on queer or transgender issues, Vice President Mike Pence has a long record of anti-LGBTQ lawmaking and rhetoric, and LGBTQ advocates have already called the Republican Party platform — a holdover from 2016, as the GOP did not write one for 2020 — one of the most anti-LGBTQ in the party’s history.

Trans people have been a target of the Trump administration from the get-go. Almost immediately after Trump took office in 2017, the administration rolled back an Obama-era memo directing schools to protect trans students from discrimination. That July, Trump announced his decision to ban trans people from serving in the military. In May 2018, the administration went after trans prisoners, too, deciding that, in most cases, trans people should be housed according to their assigned sex at birth. Just weeks ago, the Department of Housing and Urban Development proposed a rule that would allow homeless shelters that receive federal funding to house trans people according to their birth-assigned sex.

Queer people have also been under attack. Though marriage equality is the law of the land, the White House has taken steps to limit or undo gay rights in several key policy areas such as lobbying to give religious adoption agencies the right to refuse same-sex couples. Most critical, perhaps, was the administration’s attack on the Affordable Care Act’s LGBTQ nondiscrimination protections in a rule released on June 12. Though it has been put on hold due to a federal court stay, the rule would allow doctors and insurance companies to refuse care to LGBTQ people.

Meanwhile, Trump nominated two conservative Supreme Court justices during his presidency, but in a surprising turn of events, a recent major LGBTQ victory threw the administration for a loop: The Supreme Court decided in June that LGBTQ people are protected on the basis of sex under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The decision in Bostock v. Clayton County means that queer and trans people cannot be fired for being LGBTQ, and the ruling could end up as precedent for expanding rights into other issue areas such as education and health care.

Still, this likely won’t stop conservatives from trying to whittle away and build in carveouts to the legal protections LGBTQ people currently have. It would be similar to the approach taken by religious conservatives with regard to Roe v. Wade — passing anti-abortion legislation at the state level in the hope that related cases work their way back to the Supreme Court.

According to activists, conservatives will likely try to attack across three different fronts in their efforts to chip away at LGBTQ rights: by continuing to reshape the courts, by attacking health care access, and by continuing to limit immigration and asylum by LGBTQ people fleeing violence in other countries.

The courts are key to queer and trans rights

If elected president, former Vice President Joe Biden has promised to immediately reverse the military ban and reissue an Obama-era guideline allowing trans students to use the correct bathroom. This would effectively end litigation in the military ban cases and change the complexion of the bathroom cases.

However, a second Trump term would mean more anti-LGBTQ federal judges appointed, possibly a Supreme Court justice or two, and an escalation in the legal arguments against trans rights, legal advocates say.

The bulk of Trump’s anti-LGBTQ actions have come through administrative rules, most of which have been challenged in federal court. Because of this, Trump’s control over federal policy has been solidified by appointing conservative judges. As of July, 194 of the 792 active federal judges were appointed by Trump — that’s a quarter of the federal judiciary — according to Pew Research data. Many of them were either previously anti-LGBTQ activists or who openly express anti-LGBTQ sentiments.

Several have already had an impact on pending legal battles. Earlier this year, Fifth Circuit judge Kyle Duncan infamously ruled that it is necessary for a court to misgender a trans plaintiff whose case he was overseeing, a decision not in line with precedence in other federal courts.

And right now, there are several ongoing legal cases snaking their way through the federal court system that could end badly for LGBTQ people if put in front of a Trump-appointed judge. These include several lawsuits against the transgender military ban, student suits seeking access to school bathrooms according to their gender identity, and California v. Texas, which is set to decide whether religious entities can legally deny adoption services to gay parents. It will be heard by the court on November 4, just a day after Election Day.

These cases could eventually land in front of the Supreme Court, which is its own issue. While overturning Bostock or even Obergefell, the decision that granted LGBTQ couples marriage equality in 2016, is a tall order unless Trump can appoint two more justices to the high court, even one more appointee could set the court up to gut both decisions.

“Certainly, at least one more Supreme Court appointment would inflict devastating damage on the transgender community that would last for decades to come,” Shannon Minter, an attorney at the National Center for Lesbian Rights, told Vox. “It would be something close to closing the courtroom doors on our foreseeable future.”

One way for conservatives to somewhat relitigate and chip away at these landmark decisions is through a change in legal strategy. Throughout its first term, the Trump administration argued in court that trans people are not and should not be protected under current sex discrimination laws. This was the basis for several administrative rules rolling back the rights of trans people in health care, in homeless shelters, and in education. However, Bostock turned that argument on its head.

According to Chase Strangio, an attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union, the administration has now begun to argue more explicitly that federal sex discrimination law protects cis people from sharing spaces with trans people. It’s a similar tack to the fringe argument that anti-LGBTQ legal groups have long tried — that cis people have a constitutional right not to share locker rooms, bathrooms, and other gendered spaces with trans people.

For example, in a statement to the court in a case challenging Connecticut’s school sports transgender inclusion policy earlier this year, the administration argued that trans people are not protected under Title IX, which protects people on the basis of sex in education. In a more recent post-Bostock filing in a nearly identical case challenging Idaho’s ban on trans girls participating in girl’s school sports, the administration took a different angle, arguing that Title IX entitles cisgender people protection from sharing spaces and activities with trans people. That policy shift, Strangio told Vox, would be a scary portent for a second Trump term.

Because everything is interconnected, the key to making Trump’s strategy work, say Minter and Strangio, would be more Trump appointees to the already Trump-stacked federal judiciary. The lower court judges would have significant power to shape LGBTQ cases as they move through the federal court system.

“My greatest fear is for a judicial action that locates [anti-trans] rights in the Constitution that we couldn’t undo with a new president in the future,” said Strangio. “You get some horrible, constitutional ruling that then authorizes discrimination in a host of contexts because trans people are so abhorrent that you have a constitutional right not to share space with them.”

Health care is likely the next big fight for LGBTQ people

Even before the pandemic, health care was going to loom large over this election cycle. Republicans in Congress have repeatedly tried to repeal the Affordable Care Act during Trump’s term. The administration even submitted a brief to the Supreme Court recently arguing that the law should be completely thrown out.

The ACA was a landmark piece of health care legislation for Americans — particularly so for LGBTQ people. Under an HHS rule established by the Obama administration in 2016, the bill banned health care discrimination against LGBTQ people, but just as key for queer communities were protections for coverage of preexisting conditions. Before the law was passed, anyone diagnosed with gender dysphoria or HIV/AIDS could legally be excluded from health insurance coverage, and transition care could be legally excluded from any insurance plans.

“I can’t think of a more important issue for transgender people than access to health care, because if we’re not able to access transition-related care, it’s just impossible to have a meaningful, authentic life,” said Minter.

Should the administration succeed at the Supreme Court in California v. Texas, slated to be heard this fall, people could again be subject to wholesale exclusion from insurance coverage. But even if the law is preserved in some form, the administration has already worked to limit LGBTQ access to health care.

In mid-June, just days before the Bostock decision came down, the administration finalized a rule clarifying that LGBTQ people are not entitled to sex-based protections under the ACA, effectively rolling back the Obama-era rule saying the opposite. The rule, as written, would allow insurance companies to once again have blanket exclusions on coverage of transition-related procedures and they could once again deny coverage of health care that doesn’t comport to a person’s legal gender, meaning a trans man could be denied coverage for gynecological care.

The rule would also have had a significant impact on lesbian, gay, and bisexual cisgender people in the US by allowing doctors, health care providers, and insurance companies to deny care or coverage to cis queer people.

“We know LGBTQ people face discrimination in health care,” David Stacy, who leads the federal policy team at the Human Rights Campaign, told Vox. “It can be overt discrimination, but it can also be more subtle discrimination.”

Last Monday, however, a federal judge issued a stay on the rule’s implementation while the case is litigated, saying that the rule likely violates Bostock and that HHS failed to reconsider this after the Supreme Court’s decision.

But despite the stay, there are still potential avenues a second-term Trump administration could take to attack trans health care access in particular. Minter suggested that, depending on the makeup of Congress, the administration could take steps to ban transition-related care from Medicaid coverage, try to reinstate a Medicare exclusion that existed prior to 2016, or even try to institute a Food and Drug Administration ban on puberty blockers for trans adolescents. The administration could also use executive action to end transition care offered through Veteran’s Affairs.

“They’ll try to cut off access to health care for trans people any way they can,” said Minter. “They can do a lot of damage on the health care front. It would be, in my opinion, probably the single most devastating impact on the trans community.”

Immigration rights are a life-and-death issue for LGBTQ people

LGBTQ issues like health care and the military ban frequently take center stage when discussing the administration’s record, but perhaps nothing is as life and death for queer and trans people as immigration and asylum policies.

In late 2018, 31-year-old trans woman Camila Díaz Córdova fled her native El Salvador, fearing for her life. She reportedly made her way to the US with a migrant caravan and attempted to apply for asylum, only to be denied and deported back to her home country. In late January 2019, she was murdered by three police officers.

It’s a problem that will only worsen in a Trump second term. “The rules of asylum are completely changing,” Bamby Salcedo, founder of the Trans Latina Coalition, told Vox. “Through that process, a lot of people are being excluded. This is something that will definitely impact trans women.”

Over the last three-and-a-half years, the Trump administration has made it increasingly difficult for those fleeing gender-based violence to obtain asylum in the United States. In November 2018, Trump tightened immigration rules which restricted asylum to anyone who first passed through Mexico to arrive at the US southern border. And this June, the Department of Homeland Security proposed a new rule which would allow immigration officials to dismiss asylum seekers’ applications as “frivolous” without a hearing.

As explained by Vox’s Nicole Narea, the proposed rule is part of a larger election-year push against immigration in general. Using the pandemic as an excuse, Trump has closed the border with Mexico, started quickly deporting asylum seekers who show up at the southern border, and issued a temporary ban on issuing new green cards.

All of these restrictions come at a real cost for trans people, especially trans women, in Central America. There is an epidemic of violence against trans women of color throughout the Americas, but it is acutely felt in Central America. According to a report by Trans Murder Monitoring, at least 258 trans or gender-diverse people were murdered in Latin America between October 2018 and September 2019.

“The new asylum regulations that Trump has already proposed, if they were finalized, it will be devastating for LGBT asylum seekers. And they’ll effectively just shut the door to asylum,” said Minter.

The public comment period ended on July 15 and the rule could be finalized before Election Day. However, should Democrats retake the Senate and White House, they’ll be able to override any administration rules issued within 60 legislative days of the new Congress taking office via the Congressional Review Act.

Salcedo said that the possibility that Biden could win the presidency gives her hope — not just for the immigration and asylum system, but that other trans-related policies could improve in short order. “I am hopeful that, you know, the new administration will revert all of those policies that have attempted to come into effect,” she said. “I’m hopeful that there’s tangible and institutional changes that are going to happen. And I firmly believe that that could become a reality.”

New goal: 25,000

In the spring, we launched a program asking readers for financial contributions to help keep Vox free for everyone, and last week, we set a goal of reaching 20,000 contributors. Well, you helped us blow past that. Today, we are extending that goal to 25,000. Millions turn to Vox each month to understand an increasingly chaotic world — from what is happening with the USPS to the coronavirus crisis to what is, quite possibly, the most consequential presidential election of our lifetimes. Even when the economy and the news advertising market recovers, your support will be a critical part of sustaining our resource-intensive work — and helping everyone make sense of an increasingly chaotic world. Contribute today from as little as $3.

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Second stimulus

A Second Stimulus Check Is Still Likely – Here’s Why – Forbes

President Trump Holds News Conference At The White House

WASHINGTON, DC – AUGUST 12: U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a briefing at the White House … [+] August 12, 2020 in Washington, DC. Trump answered a range of questions during the briefing related to the ongoing pandemic and the U.S. presidential race. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Getty Images

Both houses of Congress left for their August recess without a signed stimulus deal. While there are several major sticking points keeping a deal off the table, there is one aspect all parties and the Trump administration agree on—sending Americans another stimulus check.

Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as getting everyone together to say, “We agree on this single measure, let’s pass a stimulus check bill, then negotiate each additional line item we want.”

The next coronavirus relief bill may be the final one this year, and both parties and the Trump administration all have additional items on their agenda they wish to include.

Let’s take a look at why a stimulus check is still on the table and why we may see one in the near future. We’ll also address the issues that are holding things up.

Both Parties Have Other Line Items They Want to be Passed

President Trump recently signed four presidential directives (an executive order and three memoranda) to address issues such as extending unemployment benefits, an eviction moratorium, student loan deferrals, and a payroll tax cut.

But experts are unsure if or when these measures will take place and how much impact they will have. Including these measures in a larger bill would provide a more sustainable solution for these and other line items.

Everyone Wants Another Check

By everyone, I mean, the politicians and their constituents. Both parties and the Trump administration are in favor of sending another check, and most voters would surely appreciate some financial assistance. 

It’s an Election Year

Much more is at stake than deciding the next president. Voters will also be voting in new Congressional representatives for both the Senate and the House. There is a potential for a changing of the guards, so to speak, and the incumbents want your vote.

Supporting and passing a relief bill that directly impacts their constituents’ pocketbooks can go a long way toward garnering votes.

Both Parties Have Agreed to Rough Terms of The Next Check

After some back and forth, both parties have also more or less agreed upon the parameters of a second stimulus check. 

The Democrat-led House proposed the HEROES Act in May, which included a $1,200 stimulus check that was similar to the first stimulus check that was included in the CARES Act. There were two primary differences. The HEROES Act offered $1,200 checks for up to three dependents instead of the $500 that was included in the CARES Act. It also expanded eligibility for certain groups who were excluded from the stimulus check in the CARES Act. However, the HEROES Act was a $3 trillion stimulus bill that was too expensive for the Senate to get behind.

The Republican-led Senate initially wanted smaller stimulus checks than what was included in the CARES Act. However, they have since come around. They proposed the HEALS Act, which included a $1,200 stimulus check with eligibility terms that were very similar to those found in the HEROES Act. The primary difference was that it provided $500 checks for dependents.

And while President Trump doesn’t craft the laws, he can sign them into law. He has previously gone on record as saying that not only does he support a second stimulus check, but that he wanted a more generous stimulus check than the first one.

With so much common ground, and so much at stake, it seems likely we will see another stimulus check.

How Much Could You Receive from a Second Stimulus Check?

We don’t have firm numbers right now, but we can look at recent proposals to get a ballpark idea. 

The proposals that have gotten the furthest in both chambers of Congress are the HEROES Act and the HEALS Act, both of which call for a $1,200 check for individuals. The primary difference has been how much to provide dependents, with the HEROES Act calling for a similar $1,200 amount and the HEALS Act calling for $500.

Both proposals would extend eligibility to qualified dependents of all ages.

While Here are some calculators to let you run some scenarios.

Again, these are estimates, as the final bill has not been agreed upon of passed.

What is Preventing the Next Stimulus Bill from Being Passed?

There are several big roadblocks slowing negotiations. The three largest are the total cost of the bill, extended unemployment benefits, and additional funding for state and local governments.

In general, the Democrats are looking for a more extensive bill than the Republicans. The HEROES Act, which passed the House in May, was a $3 trillion proposal that Senate Republicans rejected outright as being too expensive. The Republican-led Senate proposed a $1 trillion HEALS Act, which amounts to the upper end of their desired spending.

The Democrats want to extend the $600 federal weekly unemployment benefit that expired at the end of July. Republicans are in favor of extending the benefit, but only at a lower rate. They argue that too many people are making more money through unemployment than they made while they were employed.

Democrats also want to provide up to $1 trillion for state and local governments. These funds are designed to help offset decreased tax income and help to prevent massive layoffs of public sector employees. Republicans have argued they do not wish to bail out agencies that had already mismanaged their funds prior to the pandemic.

Key Dates:

Here are some upcoming dates to keep in mind as we approach the next voting sessions.

  • September 8: Senate returns to session.
  • September 14: House of Representatives returns to session.
  • September 30: Fiscal Year concludes.

It is unlikely we will see any bill passed prior to either chamber returning to session. This would require these lawmakers to be called back to Washington D.C. to vote. It is more likely we will get more firm news in the early part of September.

Additional Stimulus Resources:

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human Second

Second human EEE case of 2020 confirmed by Massachusetts health officials – WCVB Boston

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health is reporting the year’s second human case of Eastern equine encephalitis.State health officials said a woman in her 60s was exposed to the EEE virus in Hampden County.As a result, the EEE risk level in Wilbraham has been raised to “critical,” while the risk levels in Hampden and Monson have been raised to “high.” All three communities are in Hampden County.In addition, the risk level in the Hampden County communities of Chicopee, East Longmeadow, Ludlow, Palmer and Springfield has been raised to “moderate.”The communities of Middleborough and Carver, in Plymouth County, were raised to critical risk on Aug. 3 after a Middleborough boy under the age of 18 became the first Massachusetts resident to test positive for EEE in 2020.Eight Massachusetts communities are at high risk for EEE, while 20 more are at moderate risk for the virus.According to the DPH, the EEE virus has been found in 65 mosquito samples this year, with over 70% of them in species of mosquitoes capable of spreading the virus to people.Eastern equine encephalitis is a rare but potentially fatal disease that can affect people of all ages. Last year, there were 12 human cases of EEE in Massachusetts with six deaths.All Massachusetts residents are reminded to use mosquito repellent any time they are outside, and those in high- and critical-risk communities are advised to schedule their outdoor activity to avoid the dusk to dawn hours in order to reduce exposure to the mosquitoes most likely to spread EEE.The DPH said it working with the local health departments and the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources to coordinate mosquito surveillance and appropriate public health response activities.PGRpdiBjbGFzcz0iaW5mb2dyYW0tZW1iZWQiIGRhdGEtaWQ9IjJiOTQxOWE2LWJkMzYtNDk5NS04ZTI3LTJmZmQzNTViM2VjZCIgZGF0YS10eXBlPSJpbnRlcmFjdGl2ZSIgZGF0YS10aXRsZT0iRUVFLCBXZXN0IE5pbGUgaW4gTWFzc2FjaHVzZXR0cyI+PC9kaXY+PHNjcmlwdD4hZnVuY3Rpb24oZSxpLG4scyl7dmFyIHQ9IkluZm9ncmFtRW1iZWRzIixkPWUuZ2V0RWxlbWVudHNCeVRhZ05hbWUoInNjcmlwdCIpWzBdO2lmKHdpbmRvd1t0XSYmd2luZG93W3RdLmluaXRpYWxpemVkKXdpbmRvd1t0XS5wcm9jZXNzJiZ3aW5kb3dbdF0ucHJvY2VzcygpO2Vsc2UgaWYoIWUuZ2V0RWxlbWVudEJ5SWQobikpe3ZhciBvPWUuY3JlYXRlRWxlbWVudCgic2NyaXB0Iik7by5hc3luYz0xLG8uaWQ9bixvLnNyYz0iaHR0cHM6Ly9lLmluZm9ncmFtLmNvbS9qcy9kaXN0L2VtYmVkLWxvYWRlci1taW4uanMiLGQucGFyZW50Tm9kZS5pbnNlcnRCZWZvcmUobyxkKX19KGRvY3VtZW50LDAsImluZm9ncmFtLWFzeW5jIik7PC9zY3JpcHQ+


The Massachusetts Department of Public Health is reporting the year’s second human case of Eastern equine encephalitis.

State health officials said a woman in her 60s was exposed to the EEE virus in Hampden County.

As a result, the EEE risk level in Wilbraham has been raised to “critical,” while the risk levels in Hampden and Monson have been raised to “high.” All three communities are in Hampden County.

In addition, the risk level in the Hampden County communities of Chicopee, East Longmeadow, Ludlow, Palmer and Springfield has been raised to “moderate.”

The communities of Middleborough and Carver, in Plymouth County, were raised to critical risk on Aug. 3 after a Middleborough boy under the age of 18 became the first Massachusetts resident to test positive for EEE in 2020.

Eight Massachusetts communities are at high risk for EEE, while 20 more are at moderate risk for the virus.

According to the DPH, the EEE virus has been found in 65 mosquito samples this year, with over 70% of them in species of mosquitoes capable of spreading the virus to people.

Eastern equine encephalitis is a rare but potentially fatal disease that can affect people of all ages. Last year, there were 12 human cases of EEE in Massachusetts with six deaths.

All Massachusetts residents are reminded to use mosquito repellent any time they are outside, and those in high- and critical-risk communities are advised to schedule their outdoor activity to avoid the dusk to dawn hours in order to reduce exposure to the mosquitoes most likely to spread EEE.

The DPH said it working with the local health departments and the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources to coordinate mosquito surveillance and appropriate public health response activities.

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grader Second

Second grader tests positive for coronavirus after attending the first day of school in Georgia – CNN

(CNN)A Georgia second grader tested positive for Covid-19 after attending the first day of school, the school district told CNN.

Sixes Elementary in the Cherokee County School district began in-person classes on Monday. But by Tuesday, a classroom was temporarily closed for deep cleaning and the teacher and 20 other students had been asked to quarantine for two weeks after the second grader tested positive.
Parents and officials have debated whether it is safe to send students back into classrooms as virus cases have surged across the country. While health experts are still investigating how children spread the virus, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci has emphasized that schools need to include safety in their reopening plans.
Cherokee County recommends, but does not require, that children wear masks in school whenever social distancing is not possible, according to the school district’s reopening plan. The district would only require students to wear masks if there was a statewide mandate in place. Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp has fought mayors’ attempts to mandate mask use.
Cases connected to schools have broken out in Georgia even as some schools opt for all-remote learning for the start of the year.
Since Marietta City Schools began preplanning on July 27, five employees have tested positive and another is presumed positive, Jen Brock, the system’s executive director of communications told CNN.
The employees work in the teaching, transportation and janitorial. The first day of school was Tuesday, but classes were all taught virtually, Brock said.
Earlier this week, around 260 employees were reported to have either tested positive or been exposed in Georgia’s largest school district, Gwinnett County Public Schools.
“As of last Thursday, we had approximately 260 employees who had been excluded from work due to a positive case or contact with a case,” GCPS spokeswoman Sloan Roach told CNN Sunday. “This number is fluid as we continue to have new reports and others who are returning to work,” she added.
The district is set to reopen for online learning August 12.

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Second Spain

Spain Second Virus Wave Swells, Fuels Concern Across Europe – Bloomberg

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battling Second

Battling second virus wave, Australia puts city of Melbourne under lockdown – The Washington Post

MELBOURNE, Australia — A new wave of coronavirus infections prompted officials to impose restrictions on some 5 million people in Australia’s second-largest city, illustrating the difficulty of conquering the pandemic even in a country that had enjoyed relative success in taming its toll.

Authorities in Melbourne, the capital of Victoria state, said they would reinstate curbs for six weeks starting Wednesday night to try to beat back a surge in new cases that threatens to spiral out of control. Residents of the city and some surrounding areas will be required to stay at home except for essential activities such as certain work or study, food shopping, exercise or medical care, and they won’t be able to leave the metropolitan area.

In announcing the measures Tuesday, Daniel Andrews, the state premier, said a sense of complacency that had set in after most social-distancing rules were lifted in June was partly responsible for the jump in new infections. Victoria as recently as last month had reported daily new cases in the single digits, but on Tuesday reported a record 191 new cases, of which only 37 were linked to known outbreaks.

“These are unsustainably high numbers of new cases. It is simply impossible with case rates at this level to have enough contact tracing staff, to have enough physical resources . . . to continue to suppress and contain this virus without taking significant steps,” Andrews told reporters.

“We are in many respects in a more precarious, challenging and potentially tragic position now than we were some months ago.”

The resurgence of the virus in Melbourne echoes the difficulties facing the United States, where some areas, particularly in the South and West, are mandating masks and reimposing shutdowns as they report spiraling numbers of infections and hospitalizations.

Still, with a total of 8,755 cases and 106 deaths among a population of 25 million, Australia has largely avoided the devastating effects seen in many other Western countries. The United States has a population 13 times that of Australia but has recorded more than 1,200 times the number of deaths.

In Melbourne, the new measures will require some businesses to close, including beauty and personal care services, cultural and entertainment venues and community facilities. Cafes and restaurants will remain open but only for takeout and delivery.

The spike in cases coincided with wider testing; with more than 26,000 tests performed in a single day, Victoria has done nearly 1 million tests.

“This is not over, and pretending that it is because we all want it to be over is not the answer — it is indeed part of the problem,” Andrews said.

A day earlier, officials said they would close Victoria’s state borders to prevent the outbreak from spreading elsewhere.

Officials had already reinstated a partial lockdown for some areas of Melbourne after some residents in public housing complexes tested positive in recent days. About 3,000 residents in nine high-rise buildings were given an hour’s notice before being banned from leaving their apartments for at least five days as extensive testing is carried out.

Genomic sequencing has indicated some of the outbreak has emerged from guards and guests in hotel quarantine, where Australian citizens and permanent residents returning from overseas must isolate for 14 days.

So far, Victoria appears to be alone among Australia’s states in suffering a second wave of the pandemic. New South Wales, the most populous state, on Tuesday reported only seven new cases, while three states and two territories recorded none.

Yet epidemiologists say the nature of how the virus spreads means the second wave could have happened anywhere.

“The Victorian outbreak highlights what we’ve always known: that this virus has explosive potential and that we have a long road ahead of us,” said James McCaw, an expert in infectious diseases at the University of Melbourne.

“The breakdown in infection control in hotel quarantine — just one or two events across the many hundreds of people successfully managed through the system — has had a huge consequence.”

Catherine Bennett, chair of epidemiology at Deakin University, said a failure at the front line was key and that a new tipping point was occurring as the health system reached capacity due to the “sheer scale of keeping up with contact tracing.”

Bennett said the state had not been sufficiently prepared to shield high-risk vulnerable populations like the residents of the housing towers under hard lockdown, many of whom are new migrants, refugees, those with mental health issues and survivors of family violence.

Ahmed Dini, a resident of one of the towers, said Tuesday that residents felt they had been treated like second-class citizens, yet on the other hand they had received an outpouring of public support.

“These towers are like vertical cruise ships, we are like sitting ducks — we’re scared and we know there’s potential for the numbers to skyrocket very soon,” he said in an interview.

The second wave is also adding to anxiety about Australia’s economic recovery from the virus, which the central bank on Tuesday warned would be rocky. Prime Minister Scott Morrison had hoped that officials would be able to ease most restrictions and border closures this month.

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Second stimulus

Second Stimulus Check Income Eligibility May Be Capped At $40,000 – Forbes

Second stimulus checks may be part of the next round of coronavirus relief bill, but with sharply limited eligibility, based on comments by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Second stimulus checks may be part of the next round of coronavirus relief bill, but with sharply … [+] limited eligibility, based on comments by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

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Yesterday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell changed his tune and said that a second stimulus check “could well be” part of the next coronavirus relief bill. Equally telling was his follow-up remark: “I think the people who have been hit the hardest are people who make about $40,000 a year or less,” he said.

McConnell’s Second Stimulus Check Comment Noteworthy

The tides have been turning on the odds of a second stimulus check since the House of Representatives passed the HEROES Act and included an expanded second stimulus payment. Republican opposition has started to wane as President Trump and other members of his administration have increasingly, albeit unevenly, voiced support for a second direct payment. However, this is the first time McConnell has even tepidly acknowledged that direct payments may be included. His comments come as the Senate started a two-week recess and on the heels of record high cases of coronavirus across the U.S. and a reversal of state re-opening plans across several states and counties. While still far from a slam dunk, the fact that the Senate Majority leader is making positive comments is a noteworthy development.

McConnell’s Use Of $40,000 Shouldn’t Be Taken Lightly

McConnell’s comments about how individuals earning less than $40,000 a year have been hit the hardest shouldn’t be overlooked. “Multiple sources say McConnell didn’t just throw out $40,000 as a cut-off haphazardly — consensus within GOP is moving that direction, which would sharply limit eligibility,” tweeted Jeff Stein of The Washington Post. In many ways, it could signal how McConnell will attempt to thread the needle between agreeing to a second direct payment to placate President Trump while keeping the overall cost of the next stimulus bill down to mollify fiscal conservatives feigning concern over the mounting national debt.

The $40,000 figure is also in line with McConnell’s stated goal of making the next round of stimulus more targeted. The notion of more surgical aid may actually find support across the political aisle. “I think the next round we’ve got to be more targeted to those who are really in need. So I hope we can target this a little bit better to those who have been hit hard because of COVID-19,” Senator Ben Cardin (D-Maryland) said of a second stimulus payment.

MORE FROM FORBESDo Americans Even Need A Second Stimulus Check?By Shahar Ziv

Those earning under $40,000 were hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic. Close to 40 percent of Americans earning less than $40,000 annually lost their jobs in March, when the coronavirus brought parts of the economy to a standstill, according to Jerome Powell, Chairman of the Federal Reserve. Therefore, using the $40,000 as a cutoff would allow Congress to help those were were disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.

Preference For $1 Trillion Bill

 McConnell told President Trump recently that the next relief bill cannot exceed $1 trillion. While this is in some ways posturing, it does reflect pressure on McConnell from his conservative base to keep the total cost of the next bill in check. There appears to be some consensus that the relief bill will come in between $1 trillion and $2 trillion dollars; more than McConnell’s gauntlet, but less than the $3 trillion HEROES Act passed by the House.

Lower Income Eligibility Will Help Keep Cost Down

By reducing the income eligibility of a second stimulus check, McConnell can reduce the overall cost of the next relief bill. As part of the first round of CARES Act stimulus payments, the Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) sent out checks to more than 159 million Americans, totaling almost $267 billion. There are also an estimated 35 million payments that have not been issued yet, according to a report from the House Ways and Means Committee.

If an income limit of $40,000 for a second stimulus check was imposed, presumably for single filers, the number of eligible Americans would come down drastically. Kyle Pomerleau, an economist and resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, tweeted that using a $40,000 cut-off would result in approximately 80 million households being eligible for payments.

Two Factors That Could Increase Eligibility and Cost

Income Threshold For Married Couples Filing Jointly

Given that the first round of direct payment had higher income eligibility for married filers, it may be safe to assume that if a second payment is included in the next bill, it would follow suit. Pomerleau added that a very rough estimate shows the “IRS has an additional 12 million married couples filing jointly in the $40,000 – $75,000 income range.”

Phase Out For Partial Stimulus Check

Similarly, the first round of payments include an income phase-out. While individual filers earning less than $75,000 would receive a full $1,200 stimulus check, those making more than $75,000 but less than $99,000 were eligible for a partial check. If a similar clause is included for the next round of stimulus payments, that would augment the number of recipients too.

While the total number of eligible payments will vary depending on specific criteria, it will likely be significantly lower than the close to 200 million payments from the first round of stimulus. Perhaps this is the way of achieving consensus among Republicans, Democrats, and the White House?

Further Related Reading:

Second Stimulus Check Odds Improved By White House Officials’ Comments

Don’t Expect Second Stimulus Check Clarity From June Jobs And Unemployment Report

These 3 Factors Will Determine If You Get A Second Stimulus Check

Second Stimulus Checks: 3 Most Critical Dates To Keep In Mind

Second Stimulus Check Update: Skepticism From Unexpected Source

President Trump Alleges Next Stimulus Check (Or Package) Coming In ‘Couple Of Weeks’; Don’t Hold Your Breath

Don’t Expect Next Stimulus Bill Until End Of July

Are Trump, McConnell Correct That $2,400 Unemployment Benefit Creates Disincentive To Work? Hint: It’s Not Even The Right Question To Ask

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Faribault Second

Second Faribault Prison Inmate Dies After Testing Positive For COVID-19 – CBS Minnesota

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A second Minnesota prison inmate has died after testing positive for COVID-19, state corrections officials said Saturday.

Leroy Wallace Bergstrom, 71, died at a hospital on Saturday, according to the Minnesota Department of Corrections.

Bergstrom tested positive for COVID-19 on June 10, the department said. An autopsy to determine the cause of death is pending.

Bergstrom was an inmate at the Minnesota Correctional Facility in Faribault, Another Faribault inmate, Adrian Raymaar Keys, 43, died Tuesday after testing positive for COVID-19. The Corrections Department said one incarcerated person in Minnesota remains hospitalized.

The first case of COVID-19 in the Faribault prison was reported on June 3. The department has been testing all inmates at staff at the facility. As of Friday, 4,892 tests of inmates had been conducted at the Faribault facility, with 206 tests positive. Most who tested positive are experiencing no symptoms. The facility currently houses 1,718 men.

READ MORE: Faribault Prison Inmate Who Tested Positive For COVID-19 Dies

(© Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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Beijing Second

‘Beijing will not be a second Wuhan’: Fears of new outbreak after string of coronavirus cases – NBC News

Beijing has reported a rising number of new COVID-19 cases for the second day running, raising fears about the re-emergence of the coronavirus in the Chinese capital.

Beijing health officials on Monday confirmed 36 new COVID-19 cases, the same increase as a day earlier, which was the city’s highest daily infection count in nearly two months. There had been no new domestic cases in the city for 56 consecutive days, but since June 11 the capital has reported 79 new cases.

The new outbreak has been linked to a major wholesale food market in Beijing’s southwestern Fengtai district.

The spike has put the district in “wartime emergency mode,” shutting down the market and closing off 11 residential compounds in its vicinity as authorities try to identify people who have recently visited the market and their close contacts.

People who visited or live near Xinfadi Market queue for a swab test at Guangan Sport Center in Beijing on Sunday. Noel Celis / AFP – Getty Images

China’s top epidemiologist, Wu Zunyou, told the Chinese state media outlet China News on Sunday that the authorities have yet to pinpoint the source of the infection in the Xinfadi market, adding that he believes the outbreak is still isolated and has not spread to the whole of Beijing, home to some 20 million people.

“Beijing will not turn into a second Wuhan, spreading the virus to many cities all across the country and even needing a lockdown,” Zeng Guang, the former chief epidemiologist at Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention and currently a senior expert with the National Health Commission, said at the press conference on Sunday.

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The coronavirus pandemic is believed to have originated at a seafood market in Wuhan, causing the city to go into a strict lockdown for 11 weeks starting in late January to slow the spread of the virus. However, the virus spread abroad, infecting nearly 8 million people worldwide and killing more than 430,000.

Restrictions in Beijing have only recently been eased and things began going back to normal, with some children going back to school and attractions reopening. But that has come to an abrupt end amid fears of a second wave of infections in the Chinese capital.

“The risk of the epidemic spreading is very high, so we should take resolute and decisive measures,” Xu Hejiang, spokesman at the Beijing city government, said Monday.

Authorities are testing tens of thousands of people at testing sites set up at sport stadiums, hospitals and drive-through locations across the capital. Residents are also having their body temperatures checked.

Out of the 36 new cases recorded Sunday, 34 were either directly or indirectly linked to the Xinfadi market, including 19 people who worked there, Beijing’s health commission said Monday.

City authorities said over 8,000 vendors, purchasing and managing staff at the market have been tested and transferred to designated areas for medical observation.

To date, the city has traced nearly 200,000 people who have visited the market since May 30.

A worker arranges vegetables at the closed Xinfadi Market in Beijing on Sunday. Noel Celis / AFP – Getty Images

Meanwhile, Baoding, a major city near Beijing in Hebei province, launched “wartime” measures Monday to prevent an outbreak in the city, after three new cases, all related to Beijing’s Xinfadi market, were confirmed there.

The city’s government said temperature checks will be conducted in shopping malls, residential communities, office buildings and on public transit. Stores and supermarkets must strictly control people’s movement, and medical institutions have been told to strengthen safety procedures around treating patients with fever.

The spike in Beijing, along with three cases in Baoding and 10 new cases imported from abroad have increased the total number of cases in China to 83,181 as of Sunday — far fewer than in Europe and the United States, where millions of people have been sickened by the virus.

The World Health Organization said Saturday it’s closely monitoring the outbreak in Beijing.

“All cases are in isolation and under care as needed, and contact tracing is underway,” the WHO said in a statement. “Genetic sequencing of samples is also underway and rapid sharing of these results is important to understand the origin of the cluster and links between cases.”

Image: Yuliya TalmazanYuliya Talmazan

Yuliya Talmazan is a London-based journalist.

Image: Janis Mackey FrayerJanis Mackey Frayer

Janis Mackey Frayer is a Beijing-based correspondent for NBC News.

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