US hits daily record; New Jersey to require masks outdoors; United Airlines announces major layoffs

Eufemia Didonato

As the Ivy League cancelled fall sports over coronavirus concerns Wednesday, hospitalizations continued to rise and ICU beds were quickly filling as the nation surpassed 3 million coronavirus cases. The stunning milestone hit less than six months after the first confirmed case was reported Jan. 21, in Everett, Washington. Tuesday saw a […]

As the Ivy League cancelled fall sports over coronavirus concerns Wednesday, hospitalizations continued to rise and ICU beds were quickly filling as the nation surpassed 3 million coronavirus cases.

The stunning milestone hit less than six months after the first confirmed case was reported Jan. 21, in Everett, Washington. Tuesday saw a record 60,021 new cases as the nationwide surge showed no signs of ebbing. In hopes slowing spread in his state, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said he would require masks outdoors.

The number of new daily cases has risen exponentially since the middle of last month, reaching a record high of 57,209 on July 3. At a Senate hearing last week, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, testified that the U.S. is “going in the wrong direction” and that he “would not be surprised if we go up to 100,000 a day if this does not turn around.”

The virus has killed more than 132,000 Americans and put a strain on the health care system. In California, hospitalizations are up 50% from two weeks ago. In Arizona, more than 90% of its ICU beds were filled, and the percentage was growing. In Savannah, Georgia, hospitalizations have nearly quadrupled in a month.

In Florida at least 56 hospital intensive care units have reached capacity – and some Republican senators said they won’t attend the Republican National Convention in Jacksonville next month.

Here are some recent developments:

  • After President Donald Trump tweeted his disagreement with them, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is revising its guidance on reopening schools, Vice President Mike Pence said Wednesday.

  • A group of national movie theater chains filed a lawsuit against New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy for not allowing them to reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic.

  • New Zealand officials said they will press charges against a COVID-19 patient who escaped quarantine to go shopping.

  • San Francisco has indefinitely delayed reopening plans for outdoor bars and indoor restaurants.

📈 Today’s stats: The U.S. surpassed 3 million confirmed cases and more than 132,000 deaths, according to John Hopkins University data. Globally, there have been almost 12 million cases and more than 546,000 deaths.

📰 What we’re reading: Hundreds of millions of dollars has gone to COVID-19 contractors accused of prior fraud. Those contracts range from masks and medical equipment to janitorial cleaning, video productions and even ferryboat services.

Our live blog will be updated throughout the day. For first-in-the-morning updates, sign up for The Daily Briefing.

Harvard, MIT sue Trump administration over ICE foreign-student rule

A lawsuit filed on Wednesday by Harvard and Massachusetts Institute of Technology challenges the Trump administration’s attempt to bar foreign students from attending colleges that will teach entirely online in the fall term. 

ICE announced policy changes on Monday that would keep international students from entering the U.S. or make them subject to deportation if the colleges they were enrolled in taught remotely. 

Many schools are planning to teach classes remotely because of the coronavirus pandemic. Trump has tweeted his displeasure with the guidelines set by the CDC for school reopening, calling them “very tough and expensive.”

Harvard President Lawrence Bacow said the ICE order was unexpected, “its cruelty surpassed only by its recklessness.”

– Jorge L. Ortiz

Coronavirus surge in Tulsa is ‘likely’ result of Donald Trump’s rally, protests

Tulsa Health Department Executive Director Bruce Dart said at a news conference Wednesday that it was “more than likely” the large gatherings in the last few weeks that added to a record number of cases this week, including Trump’s Tulsa rally and protests.

A record 261 new cases of the virus were recorded in the county Monday, just over two weeks after Trump’s rally. An additional 206 cases were reported on Tuesday, according to the Tulsa Health Department. 

“The past few days we’ve had almost 500 cases, and we know we had several large events a little over two weeks ago, which is about right, so I guess we just connect the dots,” Dart said, citing Trump’s rally and “other protests.”

Trump’s Tulsa rally drew some 6,200 attendees and was met with hundreds of protesters. 

– Jeanine Santucci

Ivy League cancels fall sports in what could be barometer for major college football

The Ivy League will not have sports until Jan. 1 due to concerns over the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the conference announced Wednesday. .

The decision impacts the entire fall season for football as well as men’s and women’s soccer, men’s and women’s cross country, and women’s field hockey and volleyball. The delay on winter sports includes men’s and women’s basketball and hockey. 

“As a leadership group, we have a responsibility to make decisions that are in the best interest of the students who attend our institutions, as well as the faculty and staff who work at our schools.” The Ivy League Council of Presidents said in a joint statement. 

“A decision on the remaining winter and spring sports competition calendar, and on whether fall sport competition would be feasible in the spring, will be determined at a later date.” 

– Eddie Timanus

‘A gut punch’: United Airlines to lay off up to 36,000 US employees in October

In a memo to employees, Chicago-based United Airlines said 36,000 employees, or 45% of its front-line workers in the USA and more than a third of its overall workforce of 95,000, face layoffs on or around Oct. 1. The most affected groups: flight attendants and airport customer service and gate agents, which account for 26,000 of the 36,000.

The airline calls them involuntary furloughs because most of the affected employees will be eligible to be recalled when travel demand returns under terms of their union contracts.

Airlines are prohibited from laying off workers until Oct. 1 under the payroll protection provisions of the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act.

– Dawn Gilbertson

Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander: WHO withdrawal could interfere with vaccine development

A top Senate Republican sharply criticized President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the World Health Organization, saying it could jeopardize the development of a COVID-19 vaccine and impair efforts to stop the global pandemic. 

“Withdrawing U.S. membership could, among other things, interfere with clinical trials that are essential to the development of vaccines, which citizens of the United States as well as others in the world need,” Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., chairman of the Senate health committee, said in a statement Tuesday after the White House formally notified Congress it had begun the WHO withdraw process. 

Alexander also said withdrawing from the WHO could make it harder for the United States to work with other countries to stop the spread of coronavirus and other diseases before they hit the U.S.

– Deirdre Shesgreen

CDC revising back-to-school guidelines after Donald Trump complains on Twitter

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is revising its guidance on reopening schools after President Donald Trump tweeted his disagreement with them, Vice President Mike Pence said Wednesday. Trump tweeted dissatisfaction with the CDC’s “very tough & expensive guidelines” for opening schools as the coronavirus pandemic continues. He also threatened to withhold funding from schools that don’t fill their classrooms this fall.

“As we work with Congress on the next round of state support, we’re going to be looking for ways to give states a strong incentive and encouragement to get kids back to school,” Pence said at a news conference at the U.S. Department of Education.

Maureen Groppe

Help wanted: At least 30,000 volunteers sought to test vaccines

The National Institutes of Health launched the COVID-19 Prevention Trials Network, part of the effort to find volunteers to test possible COVID-19 vaccines. The network is a combination of four existing federal clinical trial networks at over 100 hospitals and clinics nationwide. It will help researchers find the at least 30,000 volunteers, especially people in populations who are most affected by COVID-19, including racial and ethnic minorities, the elderly and pregnant women. The first group of volunteers is expected to test the vaccine candidate developed by Moderna. That study will begin this summer, NIH said. You can volunteer here.

“Community engagement, particularly with the communities most vulnerable to COVID-19’s severe outcomes, will be critical to the success of this research,” said National Institutes of Health director Dr. Francis Collins.  

Elizabeth Weise

US surpasses 3 million cases. No end in sight.

The U.S. now has 3 million documented cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, a virulent bug that crawled into the national consciousness early in the year and now is likely to consume the rest of it.

The milestone reached Wednesday represents roughly a quarter of the world’s cases and the same percentage of its deaths. It took the U.S. a little more than three months to hit 1 million cases on April 28. It took about half that time, 44 days, to get to 2 million on June 11, and only 26 days to reach 3 million on July 8. By that gauge, if no new measures are taken, 4 million cases could be tallied as soon as July 22.

“Like a runner coming from behind in a macabre race, it has surpassed the death toll of many diseases so many Americans consider important,” says Steven Woolf, director emeritus of the Center on Society and Health at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond.

Marco della Cava and Jorge L. Ortiz

New Jersey to require masks outside when social distancing not possible

New Jersey will require masks to be worn outside under an order expected to be signed Wednesday, Gov. Phil Murphy said. Murphy has been reticent since the state’s first reported COVID-19 case in March to require masks, citing enforcement issues. But he said he decided to issue the new requirement when social distancing is not possible because of “hot spots” of the virus in other areas of the country. New Jersey, which saw its peak in April and the second-highest amount of deaths in the United States, “can’t go through that hell again,” Murphy said.

Dustin Racioppi, Asbury Park Press

Ryder Cup golf event postponed until 2021

The Ryder Cup, among the premiere events in professional golf, was postponed for one year Wednesday, the latest major sports event to fall victim to the pandemic.

PGA of America and Ryder Cup Europe and the PGA TOUR jointly announced Wednesday the one-year delay. The tournament, played every two years, features a team of elite U.S. golfers against a team representing the rest of the world. It was set for Sept. 22-27, at Whistling Straits in Kohler, Wisconsin, but has been pushed back a year, to Sept. 21-26, 2021.

New York City unveils schools plan for mix of in-class, remote learning

New York City’s public schools plan to open in September with a mix of in-person and remote learning, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Wednesday. Plans call for no more than a dozen students in a classroom at once. Most students will not  report to the schools every day, although some “cohorts” of students will attend five days, including many special needs children. De Blasio said he understands that having kids at home will put a strain on many working parents but noted that day care centers are beginning to reopen.

“There is a huge amount of work to be done,” de Blasio said. “If the data tells us to do something differently, we will. But my responsibility is to get the schools ready to go.”

China rips US withdrawal from WHO, dismisses ‘habitual quitter’ 

The United States decision to drop out of the World Health Organization damages the global fight against COVID-19 and reflects U.S. unilateralism, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson said Wednesday. Zhao Lijian made the remarks a day after the U.S. formally submitted its notification of withdrawal to United Nations secretary-general Antonio Guterres.  President Donald Trump has  blasted the multilateral institution as an ineffective tool of China.

“This move has once again revealed the U.S. side’s pursuit of unilateralism as a habitual quitter,” Zhao said. “We also call on the international community to … increase support for the WHO, and jointly safeguard global public health security.”

US coronavirus map: Tracking the outbreak

WHO: Evidence ’emerging’ of airborne transmission of virus

Evidence of airborne transmission of the coronavirus in “crowded, closed, poorly ventilated settings… cannot be ruled out,” said Benedetta Allegranzi, the World Heath  technical lead for infection prevention and control. The acknowledgement comes days after 239 health experts, in an open letter to the international science community, urged their colleagues to take airborne transmission seriously as COVID-19 cases rise.

The World Health Organization had not recognized such transmission except in health care settings through “aerosol-generating procedures.” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has called airborne, person-to-person transmission over long distances “unlikely.” But Dr. Matthew Heinz, hospitalist at Tucson Medical Center in Arizona, said there’s plenty of anecdotal evidence “based on who I’m admitting and their described behavior.”

Adrianna Rodriguez

More on the coronavirus from USA TODAY

Where a face mask is required: Many governors are instituting or renewing orders requiring people to wear face coverings in public as cases continue to rise. Is your state on the list? See it here. 

Coronavirus Watch: We have a few ways for you to stay informed. Sign up for our daily coronavirus newsletter here, and come together and share the latest information about the coronavirus, coping with lifestyle changes and more by joining our Facebook group.

Where are states on reopening? Some are taking preemptive measures to postpone further phases of their reopening, while others have rolled back their phases to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. See the list.

Contributing: The Associated Press

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: COVID-19: United States at 3 million cases; New Jersey masks outdoors

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