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As the number of new coronavirus cases continues to increase worldwide, and more than a dozen states and Puerto Rico are recording their highest seven-day average of new cases since the pandemic began, hospitalizations in at least nine states have been on the rise since Memorial Day.

In Texas, North and South Carolina, California, Oregon, Arkansas, Mississippi, Utah and Arizona, there are an increasing number of patients under supervised care since the holiday weekend because of covid-19 infections. The spikes generally began in the past couple weeks and in most states, are trending higher.

There have been more than 7.1 million cases of covid-19 officially reported worldwide, including more than 405,000 fatalities, though the totals are likely higher. Nearly 2 million cases have been reported in the United States, with more than 109,000 of those fatal.

Here are some significant developments:

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June 9, 2020 at 11:29 PM EDT

Safety net providers get $25 billion to help keep doors open

Federal health officials announced a new round of financial help Tuesday to ease the financial strains on safety-net health-care providers in the coronavirus pandemic, committing $25 billion to hospitals and other providers of care for the nation’s poorest patients.

The Department of Health and Human Services plans to devote $10 billion of that amount to about 750 hospitals that treat many patients on Medicaid or who are uninsured, officials said. The other $15 billion will go to doctors, dentists, clinics and other facilities that treat low-income adults and children, if they have not received assistance through two earlier rounds of federal aid to providers coping with the pandemic’s effects.

The announcement follows criticism of the Trump administration by bipartisan members of Congress, experts and hospitals themselves that, in deciding how to use $175 billion in coronavirus relief aid to health-care institutions, HHS has not focused help before now on the most vulnerable corners of the industry.

Earlier batches of money disbursed by HHS did not take into account hospitals’ financial condition. Analyses by health-policy specialists and journalists have found that, as a result, a lot of aid has gone to relatively wealthy health systems, while safety-net hospitals received comparatively little.

Read more here:

By Amy Goldstein
June 9, 2020 at 10:45 PM EDT

Don’t think a great stock market means we’ve got a great economy

The stock market is for profits, not prophets.

It’s been a great 10 weeks for people who own U.S. stocks. The market rose about 45 percent in the 53 trading days from its March 23 low through Monday, adding almost 9,000 points to the Dow Jones industrial average and more than $11 trillion in value to the Wilshire 5000 Total Market Index.

This enormous positive run has prompted cheerful predictions that the stock market is telling us that better days are near at hand, despite more than 109,000 deaths from the coronavirus pandemic; tens of millions of recently unemployed people, last month’s reported employment gain notwithstanding; civil unrest in cities and towns throughout the country; and political and social divisiveness, which I suspect may be our country’s biggest problem of all.

Read more here.

By Allan Sloan
June 9, 2020 at 10:05 PM EDT

After decades volunteering for his local ambulance service, he lost his life to covid-19

Yaakov Meltzer was a healer of both body and soul. A rabbi and retired physician assistant, he continued serving in a volunteer ambulance corps in his Kew Gardens neighborhood of New York’s Queens borough. He knew how to calm people even as he dealt with their medical emergency. “Rabbi doctor,” some called him.

“He felt that this gift or this capability he had — God gave it to him, and he should use it to help people,” said his wife, Debbie Meltzer.

A Queens native who grew up in a religious family, Meltzer won a scholarship to study science in Israel but, once there, ended up focusing instead on the Talmud. He returned to the United States and became a rabbi, later adding a master’s degree in emergency medicine and working as a physician assistant.

Read more about Meltzer here.

By Karen Weintraub
June 9, 2020 at 9:29 PM EDT

D.C. National Guard members test positive for coronavirus after deploying to protests

Multiple D.C. National Guard members have tested positive for the coronavirus following their deployment to respond to protests over the police killing of George Floyd, a spokeswoman for the Guard told the Associated Press on Tuesday.

Air Force Lt. Col. Brooke Davis, a spokeswoman for the Guard, didn’t specify how many Guard members were infected. U.S. officials told the AP they believe it is not a large number.

The news comes as public health experts have expressed concern over possible exposure from the national protests, especially as it’s largely impossible to maintain social distancing amid large demonstrations.

The AP reported that most D.C. Guard members were not wearing face coverings. Davis said unit commanders were responsible for ensuring their troops adhered to health guidelines.

The coronavirus cases within the D.C. National Guard were first reported by McClatchy.

The Guard members who tested positive or are at high risk of becoming infected by the virus will be quarantined, Davis told McClatchy.

“All Guardsmen who are suspected to be at high risk of infection or have tested positive for covid-19 during demobilization will not be released from Title 32 orders until risk of infection or illness has passed,” Davis said.

About 1,300 D.C. National Guard members were deployed to assist local police respond to rioting on May 31. Eleven other states deployed National Guard members to Washington.

Two members of the Nebraska National Guard who responded to protests in Lincoln also tested positive for the virus, the Lincoln Journal Star reported.

By Meryl Kornfield
June 9, 2020 at 9:05 PM EDT

California executive charged with fraud over coronavirus blood test plans

The Justice Department said Tuesday that it had brought its first criminal securities-fraud case related to the coronavirus pandemic against a California biotech executive in connection with an unapproved blood test that purported to detect the novel coronavirus.

Mark Schena, president of Sunnyvale-based Arrayit, was charged with securities fraud and conspiracy to commit health-care fraud in the Northern District of California. The charges stem from an existing allergy test the company said it wanted to bundle with a coronavirus test.

Arrayit promoted a quick coronavirus test that would be done with the same finger-stick test kit it used to test for allergies, the complaint states. But missing from its promotional materials was the fact that the Food and Drug Administration told the company that the test did not perform well enough to get an emergency-use authorization in April.

By Rachel Lerman
June 9, 2020 at 8:29 PM EDT

The coronavirus pandemic has gutted the price of coca. It could reshape the cocaine trade.

As a farmer eking out a living in Peru’s central jungle, Rubén Leiva grew one cash crop that seemed immune from global cycles of booms and busts. But the coronavirus pandemic has accomplished what neither other international crises nor a U.S.-backed “war” ever could: a collapse in the price of coca leaf, a natural stimulant that is the building block of cocaine.

The great coca crash of 2020 — prices for the leaf in some regions of South America have fallen as much as 73 percent — illustrates the extent to which the pandemic is disrupting every aspect of global trade, including the traffic in illegal drugs. Lockdowns have sealed regional borders and sharply curbed domestic and international transit, challenging the ability of cartels to move product by land, air or sea. At the same time, the cartels are dealing with global disruptions in the production and importation of precursor chemicals, such as potassium permanganate, that are used in clandestine labs to refine the recreational drug.

As with legitimate goods, the breakdown in the supply chain is upending business models and causing market scarcity that has doubled retail prices in some U.S. cities, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration. But for South American coca farmers, the pandemic has, at least temporarily, caused a dive in prices that analysts say could alter the landscape of the illicit drug trade for years to come.

Read more here.

By Anthony Faiola and Lucien Chauvin
June 9, 2020 at 7:39 PM EDT

Here’s where the Small Business Administration’s coronavirus disaster loans are going

The Small Business Administration had approved just more than 1.1 million coronavirus disaster loans as of Saturday, according to a recent SBA report, up from about 39,000 in late April. It has so far spent $80 billion out of about $365 billion in available loan funds.

But the agency still has a long way to go toward addressing the well over 5 million disaster loan applications it received as the economic crisis set in. And questions linger about whether the loan funds — which are part of a separate program from the larger Paycheck Protection Program — are being distributed fairly and effectively.

A Washington Post analysis of SBA spending found drastic variation in state-by-state loan receipts, highlighting how the current effort to bolster the economy with federal funds could contribute to stark inequalities in how wealth is distributed across the United States.

Read more here.

By Aaron Gregg and Andrew Van Dam
June 9, 2020 at 6:38 PM EDT

Reports of gender-based violence in Latin America have spiked since pandemic’s start, aid group says

Data from the International Rescue Committee released Tuesday shows a “dramatic” spike in individuals reporting gender-based violence in Latin America since the coronavirus pandemic and related shutdowns began to affect the region.

In El Salvador, organizations saw a 70 percent increase from 2019 of complaints of violence against women from March to May. In Mexico, shelters saw a 65 percent increase in femicides. Colombia, Venezuela and Honduras also saw surges in reports of domestic violence or femicides as coronavirus-related restrictions kept many families at home together.

“In the wake of COVID-19, women and adolescent girls, many of whom were already experiencing forms of violence are now taking on double and triple responsibilities all in confined spaces 24 hours of the day, some completely stuck with their perpetrators and in increasingly vulnerable situations, without any respite,” Meghan Lopez, the committee’s director of Latin America, said in a statement.

Other parts of the world also experienced large increases in domestic violence as the pandemic kept people inside, The Washington Post reported in April. From Tunisia to China to Spain, call centers and hotlines were flooded with an unusually high number of reports. Greenland banned the sale of alcohol after increasing reports of violence at home.

Lopez told The Post that the Latin America figures were in keeping with the perils of being a woman in the region.

“These increases in reports of gender-based violence are shocking and nod to the reality that Latin America is an incredibly dangerous place to be a woman,” she said.

By Ruby Mellen
June 9, 2020 at 5:49 PM EDT

A furloughed child-care worker turns an act of kindness at a tire shop into many more

Against long odds, Joyce Clinton counts March 13 as a lucky day. By the afternoon, her phone pinged with text messages announcing cancellation after cancellation at the schools and churches where she worked, telling her that she would be furloughed.

Clinton, a single mother of two, then discovered her rear driver’s side tire had been pierced by a sharp piece of tin foil and she needed a new one. The cost would be $120 plus taxes and fees, and she couldn’t afford it.

Inside the tire shop, Adam Lurie had overheard Clinton’s phone conversations while she dialed friends and her church to help with the cost. Clinton and Lurie had never met before, but fate brought them together on that rainy evening when a stranger marshaled his friends to pay $155.94 for a tire for a newly out-of-work teacher.

Read more here.

By Candace Buckner
June 9, 2020 at 5:24 PM EDT

Senate panel to hold hearing on isolation and loneliness among the elderly during pandemic

The Senate Aging Committee will hold a hearing Thursday to examine ways to combat the growing isolation and loneliness among senior citizens during the coronavirus pandemic.

“Early studies have suggested that for some older adults, social distancing guidelines and stay-at-home orders are resulting in increased rates of social isolation and loneliness, which can have serious, even deadly, consequences for the health and well-being of our nation’s seniors,” the committee, chaired by Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), said in a statement.

The hearing will include video testimony from four public health experts and will focus on the findings of a report by the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine on social isolation and loneliness among the elderly.

Separately, the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis announced that it will hold a virtual briefing Thursday focused on the impact of the pandemic on nursing home residents and workers.

By Felicia Sonmez
June 9, 2020 at 5:15 PM EDT

Women make up of only 24 percent of coronavirus response committees worldwide, study finds

Worldwide, women are notably absent from decision-making bodies set up by governments to respond to the coronavirus, according to a study by the Atlanta-based international charity CARE published Tuesday.

In a review of 30 countries, CARE found that on average women made up only 24 percent of coronavirus response committees.

This stark disparity comes despite the fact that, as a result of the pandemic, women have been more likely to lose their jobs and to take on a greater share of child care and housework than their male counterparts, according to multiple studies. Amid lockdowns and economic crises, they’ve also faced a documented rise in gender-based violence across continents.

Activists have urged governments to act — to provide short-term services and unemployment programs that take into account the gendered dynamics of the labor market, as well as to consider systematic gender inequalities when crafting long-term recovery plans.

In two-thirds of the countries surveyed, women can expect to have less than a third of the seats at the decision-making table, CARE found. Seven of the 30 countries studied had no women-specific economic or health assistance in place. Countries with higher rates of women’s leadership before the pandemic, however, were more likely to provide services tailored toward the needs of women and girls, CARE found.

“Governments with lower levels of women’s leadership are at risk of creating COVID-19 response plans that do not consider the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on women and girls, and of failing to implement policies that support them,” CARE found. “In many contexts, a lack of gender-balanced leadership could worsen the effects of the crisis for women and girls and their families and communities. There is also a risk that gender equality gains could be lost during the COVID-19 crisis.”

By Miriam Berger
June 9, 2020 at 4:33 PM EDT

CDC study: 1 in 5 infected people aboard USS Theodore Roosevelt asymptomatic; social distancing reduced risk

Since the novel coronavirus broke out aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt in March, it has infected more than 1,100 members of a 4,800-member crew, killed one, and led to the resignation of a Navy secretary and reassignment of the ship’s commanding officer.

It also provided scientists with a crucial test case into the asymptomatic and close-quarters spread of covid-19 among a relatively healthy and young population, the results of which were published June 9 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC study of 382 young adult U.S. service members aboard in April found that 1 in 5 who tested positive for the virus reported no symptoms, while those who took preventive measures, such as face coverings and social distancing, reduced their risk of contracting the coronavirus.

Whereas doctors and nurses in hospitals often see the most serious coronavirus cases, the USS Theodore Roosevelt sample was epidemiologically different, the CDC reported.

“The outbreak was characterized by widespread transmission with relatively mild symptoms and asymptomatic infection among this sample of mostly young, healthy adults with close, congregate exposures,” the study reported.

Consequently, it found that 55.8 percent of those who wore face masks and 54.7 percent who adhered to social distancing contracted the virus, versus 80.8 percent and 70 percent, respectively, of those who did not. The study also found that 59 percent of sailors tested showed antibodies that can inhibit the novel coronavirus, which “is a promising indicator of at least short-term immunity.”

The CDC concluded that “the findings reinforce the importance of nonpharmaceutical interventions such as wearing a face covering, avoiding common areas, and observing social distancing to lower risk for infection in similar congregate living settings.”

By Miriam Berger
June 9, 2020 at 4:25 PM EDT

Wall Street pauses June rally; Dow gives up 300 points

U.S. stock markets fell Tuesday amid an uptick in U.S. cases of the novel coronavirus, halting what had been a robust June rally. Though investors were encouraged by last week’s better-than-expected jobs report, an upswing in new infections could renew calls for strict restrictions, just as many states have slowly lifted such measures on indications that the worst of the outbreak was behind them.

While several indexes finished the day lower, the tech-heavy Nasdaq set a record high for the second consecutive day, closing just under 10,000 and recording a 0.29 percent gain. Investors sent major technology stocks upward, with Facebook, Amazon and Apple each enjoying gains of more than 3 percent.

Meanwhile, the Dow Jones industrial average slid, recovering from steeper losses during morning trading, ending the day down 300 points, or 1.09 percent, at the closing bell. The Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index dropped 0.78 percent.

The mixed finish ends a six-day rally that pushed the S&P 500 back into positive territory for the year and propelled the Nasdaq to a record. U.S. stocks are on pace to post three straight months of gains on renewed optimism that the country is pushing out from its coronavirus stranglehold. But since the start of June, 14 states and Puerto Rico have seen their highest seven-day average of new coronavirus cases, according to data tracked by The Washington Post.

By Hamza Shaban
June 9, 2020 at 3:57 PM EDT

New Jersey Gov. Murphy lifts stay-at-home order, allows outdoor protests and religious gatherings

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) on Tuesday lifted the stay-at-home order that had been in place since March 21, saying during his daily news briefing that the spread of the coronavirus had slowed across the state.

Outdoor dining and indoor nonessential retail will be able to resume beginning on June 15 as New Jersey enters stage two of reopening, according to the governor’s new order. Barber shops and salons will be allowed to open on June 22, followed by personal care, gyms and fitness centers “as the state progresses.”

The order encourages those who can work from home to continue to do so. Murphy also raised the cap on outdoor gatherings from 25 to 100, with plans of increasing it to 500 by July 3. He carved out an exception for those participating in First Amendment-protected activities outdoors — “political protests of any persuasion,” as well as religious services.

Republican lawmakers have criticized the governor for attending Black Lives Matter protests on Sunday in violation of his own orders, NJ.com reported. A statement from the Republican members of New Jersey’s Assembly said his actions represented “nothing short of complete hypocrisy,” according to the newspaper.

Murphy said during the news briefing that science shows there is a reduced risk of transmission outdoors, though he also encouraged those who had attended protests to get tested.

He told reporters that the stay at home order had saved lives in New Jersey, where more than 12,000 deaths have been reported, and added that “we would not be at this point today if we had not taken this step.” He also unveiled a new slogan: “Public health creates economic health.”

“Social distancing must remain our practice and our priority,” Murphy said. “Covering our faces must remain our practice and our priority, and that’s because it’s worked.”

By Brittany Shammas