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Twenty-one states have seen an increase in their average daily new coronavirus cases this week in comparison to the previous week, according to data compiled by The Washington Post. New infections nationwide also surged.

Alabama, Oregon and South Carolina are among the states with the biggest increases. Alabama saw a 92 percent change in its seven-day average, while Oregon’s seven-day average was up 83.8 percent and South Carolina’s was up 60.3 percent. Hospitalizations have risen as well. For example, Arkansas has seen a 120.7 percent increase in hospitalizations, from 92 cases to 203, since Memorial Day.

Health officials warn that mass gatherings of any type could worsen the spread of the virus, as the 2020 election heats up and nationwide protests against racism and police brutality stretch into their third week.

Here are some significant developments:

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June 13, 2020 at 10:06 PM EDT

Children around the world are out of school. Millions of girls might not go back.

She was 13 when the Ebola virus struck her country, shuttering schools across Sierra Leone. The closures lasted nine months, but Mari Kalokoh could not return to the classroom for years.

“I felt like nobody,” she recalled of her time on the street, begging for food. Now, a radio has replaced her teacher in the era of the novel coronavirus.

The previous epidemic in West Africa forced more girls than boys to halt their studies in the ensuing years, from 2014 to 2016, researchers say, dimming economic prospects for a generation of young women. Educators fear the coronavirus pandemic could trigger another wave of dropouts.

Read more here.

By Danielle Paquette
June 13, 2020 at 9:41 PM EDT

'Quite creative’: Fauci supports NBA’s plan to resume season in a bubble

While several NBA superstars have shared concerns about resuming the season in Orlando, the league has found an ally in top White House coronavirus task force member Anthony S. Fauci.

On Saturday, Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, voiced support for the NBA’s plan to create a bubble environment, sequestering 22 teams at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex near Disney World.

“I actually have looked at that plan, and it is really quite creative,” Fauci told sports news network Stadium.

The league and its Board of Governors have approved a plan to stage the remainder of the season beginning July 30, then move into the playoffs. All the games will be held without fans. As teams advance through the postseason, players may have to remain on a single campus for more than two and a half months.

The plan, however, has not been universally accepted by the players. Coronavirus cases are rising in Florida, and several players have expressed opposition to restarting the season at a time when they say attention should be focused on social justice and police reform after the death of George Floyd.

Speaking to coronavirus concerns, Fauci, who was a high school point guard, praised the intent behind the season return as “not reckless at all.” Anyone who enters the bubble will be tested, officials say, and there will also be frequent coronavirus testing inside.

“What they are really trying to do, and I think they might be very well quite successful with it, is to create a situation where it is as safe as it possibly could be for the players by creating this bubble,” Fauci said. “It’s not the classic basketball season but certainly for the people who are thirsting for basketball, who love basketball the way I do, it’s something that I think is a sound plan.”

By Candace Buckner
June 13, 2020 at 9:20 PM EDT

Maryland fines two dozen nursing homes for covid-19 reporting failures

Maryland has fined at least two dozen nursing homes for failing to provide information on covid-19 cases and deaths to state health officials, violating an executive order issued by Gov. Larry Hogan (R) in April.

Compliance with reporting, which stood at about 50 percent before the fines began, had jumped to 98 percent by Saturday, said Fran Phillips, Maryland’s deputy secretary for public health.

An inspector who arrived April 28 determined that one Baltimore facility’s lack of compliance with infection control measures warranted a classification of “immediate jeopardy,” meaning that it “placed the health and safety of recipients in its care at risk for serious injury, serious harm, serious impairment or death,” according to the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid.

Read more here.

By Rebecca Tan and Rachel Chason
June 13, 2020 at 8:47 PM EDT

Average daily new coronavirus infections rise in 21 states

Twenty-one states saw an increase in their seven-day average of daily new coronavirus cases this week in comparison with the previous week, as new infections nationwide also surged.

Alabama recorded the biggest increase, a 92 percent change in its seven-day average, with 645 new cases daily. Oregon’s seven-day average was up 83.8 percent, while South Carolina’s was up 60.3 percent.

A dozen states hit their record-high seven-day-average of new cases: Alabama, Oregon, South Carolina, Florida, Alaska, Oklahoma, Arizona, Nevada, Arkansas, California, North Carolina and Texas. Five states reached new single-day case highs Saturday: Alabama (888), Alaska (29), Florida (2,581), Oklahoma (225) and South Carolina (785).

Saturday is usually one of the days of the week with the most reports of new cases, but the latest nationwide daily tally still stands out as the highest on a Saturday since May. There were 26,222 new cases reported Saturday, up from 23,881 a week ago.

An increase of coronavirus cases in counties with fewer than 60,000 people is part of the trend of infections surging across the rural United States. Health experts worry those areas, already short of resources before the pandemic, will struggle to track new cases.

Hospitalizations have risen as well. In Arkansas there has been a 120.7 percent increase in hospitalizations, from 92 cases to 203, since Memorial Day. Arizona has reported a 69.5 percent increase, from 833 hospitalizations to 1,412, in the same time frame. And Texas recorded a 43.3 percent jump as of Saturday.

In New York, meanwhile, Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) on Saturday reported the hard-hit state’s lowest number of new coronavirus deaths since the pandemic’s start. “We have tamed the beast,” he declared at a news conference.

The 21 states that saw an increase in their seven-day average of daily new cases this week are Wyoming, Hawaii, Alabama, Oregon, South Carolina, Oklahoma, Nevada, Florida, Arizona, Arkansas, Montana, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Dakota, Alaska, Texas, Vermont, Georgia, Washington and California.

By Samantha Pell and Jacqueline Dupree
June 13, 2020 at 8:25 PM EDT

Thousands protest around France as top court strikes ban on gatherings of more than 10

PARIS — At least 15,000 people demonstrated against police brutality in Paris on Saturday, with thousands protesting in other French cities, police told French media, as the country’s highest court struck down the coronavirus-driven public health rule that had outlawed protests.

The Conseil d’État on Saturday lifted a ban on gatherings larger than 10 people, after a lawsuit argued the restriction violated people’s basic rights to assemble and protest while many institutions in France, including schools and restaurants, reopen. The court said officials should intervene individually in problematic public gatherings — for example, those that might attract more than 5,000 attendees — rather than halt them near-universally.

Saturday’s protests marked the third major reaction in France since the killing of George Floyd. The Paris demonstration was called by the group “Justice for Adama,” founded by the family of Adama Traoré, a 24-year-old black French man who died in police custody in 2016. Traoré’s family has sought to raise awareness for the case through that of Floyd.

As in the London demonstrations, the Paris protest drew a small counterprotest, with members of the far-right group Generation Identity displaying a banner high above Place de la République, the major Paris square where the day’s gathering began.

The Paris Police Prefecture reported an instance of demonstrators chanting anti-Semitic slogans during the event, although no details were given as to the number or identity of those responsible, or about which group they were representing.

By James McAuley and Hannah Knowles
June 13, 2020 at 7:53 PM EDT

Tulsa and Oklahoma see rise in cases ahead of Trump’s campaign rally

A week before President Trump’s scheduled rally in Tulsa, the city is seeing a rise in new coronavirus cases, while Oklahoma is experiencing its largest average in daily new infections since early April.

On Saturday, Tulsa announced 82 additional confirmed cases, according to The Washington Post’s tracking of state data. Oklahoma recorded a seven-day average of 145 new cases, its highest since April 7.

Trump plans to host his first rally in months inside the BOK Center, a Tulsa entertainment and events venue that holds more than 19,000 people. On Wednesday, Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) tweeted supportively of Trump’s planned visit, saying it “confirms Oklahoma is the national example in responsibly and safely reopening.”

Brad Parscale, Trump’s campaign manager, tweeted that 300,000 people have applied to attend the rally.

Local officials have voiced concerns about the president’s first campaign stop since early March. “It took a lot of us by surprise, and I really was hoping we would say ‘no,’ ” Tulsa County Commissioner Karen Keith told KTUL Tulsa. Health officials continue to say that mass gatherings of any kind are dangerous.

In an interview Friday with ABC News, Anthony S. Fauci, an infectious-disease expert on the White House coronavirus task force, described his “plea” to those in charge who want to open up the country and its economy.

“Don’t throw all caution to the wind,” Fauci said. “That doesn’t mean that you walk around without a mask, that you jump into a crowd and you stop washing your hands.”

By Candace Buckner and Jacqueline Dupree
June 13, 2020 at 6:45 PM EDT

Washington health department warns of increased transmission in eastern part of state

Washington state health officials warned Saturday that coronavirus transmission is increasing in the eastern part of the state, with some counties “in a comparable position” to King County when it emerged in March as an early hot spot for the virus.

Benton, Franklin, Spokane and Yakima counties are of greatest concern and could see “increasingly explosive growth” in cases and deaths if the current rate of transmission continues, the state’s Department of Health said in a new report. Efforts taken in King County to expand hospital capacity and testing, protect those at greatest risk and increase physical distancing may be required in those areas.

“The trends we’re seeing point to the critical importance of actions we can all take, like staying six feet apart and wearing cloth face coverings whenever we’re in public, as well as a need for increased response in these harder-hit areas,” state health official Kathy Lofy said in a news release.

The southern counties of Benton, Franklin and Yakima are in Phase 1 of the state’s reopening, with a number of sectors allowed limited openings; while the eastern county of Spokane is in Phase 2 which allows for more businesses to open, including restaurants at less than 50 percent capacity.

In the western part of the state, cases had been trending flat, but small increases are now being recorded. With transmission likely increasing in both eastern and western Washington, the report said, “additional interventions are needed to prevent exponential growth.”

The report, which includes updated data through June 10, includes possible increases in transmission over Memorial Day weekend but does not include increases that may stem from protests.

Washington has recorded more than 25,100 cases and more than 1,200 deaths, according to Washington Post tracking.

By Brittany Shammas
June 13, 2020 at 5:50 PM EDT

Spate of new research supports wearing masks to control coronavirus spread

Four months of discord about the coronavirus pandemic have transformed the cloth mask into a potent political symbol, touted by Democrats as a key part of communal responsibility, labeled by some GOP leaders as a sign of government overreach and as a scarlet letter pinned on the weak.

But as partisan interests sew symbolism and controversy into masks, scientists are trying to provide answers about how effectively those masks prevent transmission of the novel coronavirus, and what role they should play in efforts to limit its spread.

Several new studies published this month support wearing masks to curb the transmission of the virus. The broadest, a review funded by the World Health Organization and published in the journal Lancet, concluded that data from 172 observational studies indicate wearing face masks reduces the risk of coronavirus infection.

Read more here.

By Ben Guarino, Chelsea Janes and Ariana Eunjung Cha
June 13, 2020 at 5:28 PM EDT

Several St. Petersburg bars temporarily close, as Florida sees record highs in new cases

As Florida enters a third day of record-high new confirmed cases, three bars in downtown St. Petersburg say they have shut back down after staff tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

The Galley, Park & Rec DTSP and Avenue Eat + Drink all announced Friday night that they were temporarily closing out of “an abundance of caution” as they worked to test all employees for the virus and do deep cleaning. The Galley reported “a few” staff with the virus, while Park & Rec DTSP and Avenue Eat + Drink said they knew of one infected employee.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) allowed many bars to reopen with conditions starting May 4, and the Tampa Bay Times reported a bustling Memorial Day scene in downtown St. Petersburg. This month, DeSantis permitted the half-capacity reopening of all bars along with entertainment venues such as movie theaters in all but three counties: Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach.

The Florida Department of Health has been reporting successive new highs in daily coronavirus cases: Officials on Saturday announced a record 2,581 additional confirmed cases, a jump of several hundred from Friday’s peak. A fired data scientist’s allegations that she was pressured to alter Florida’s coronavirus statistics have brought particular scrutiny on the state’s decision to move ahead with reopening last month before meeting federal benchmarks.

The Miami Herald found that recent jumps cases could not be dismissed as the product of increased testing.

Officials nationwide have expressed concern about the impacts of reopening, Memorial Day gatherings and huge protests spurred by the killing of George Floyd.

Multiple states have experienced recent highs in their cases, developments that have prompted some leaders to warn restrictions could return. Nashville’s mayor and Oregon’s governor have paused reopening plans. The mayor of Houston said Friday that the country’s fourth-largest city is “starting to move in the wrong direction.”

By Hannah Knowles
June 13, 2020 at 4:58 PM EDT

British company and European governments sign contract for delivery of vaccine still under development

A British drugmaker and European governments signed a contract Saturday ensuring delivery of a vaccine which, while still under development, scientists hope by the end of 2020 will be ready to repel the novel coronavirus.

AstraZeneca will provide up to 400 million doses of the vaccine, which the University of Oxford is developing, by the year’s end, Reuters reported. The deal is between the British company and Europe’s Inclusive Vaccines Alliance, which France, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands formed to ensure vaccines for European states through a joint effort.

“This will ensure that hundreds of millions of people in Europe will have access to this vaccine, of course if it works and we will know that by the end of summer,” said AstraZeneca chief executive Pascal Soriot, according to Reuters. “[We] will work together with the European Commission and other countries in Europe to ensure everybody across Europe is supplied with the vaccine,” he added.

The company said it is additionally looking to expand production of the potential vaccine, which it will produce at no profit during the duration of the pandemic.

The race to develop a vaccine against the virus causing covid-19 has taken on political dimensions, as countries and regions have sought to be the first to acquire and control a coveted antidote to the global threat.

By Miriam Berger
June 13, 2020 at 4:44 PM EDT

A frantic search for scarce hospital beds as pandemic rages in India

NEW DELHI — Shaukat Ali Shaikh worked as a physician in India’s financial capital, Mumbai, tending to a stream of patients inside a small clinic at a busy train station. But when the pandemic came for him, he couldn’t get admitted to a hospital.

The first hospital he went to told Shaikh, feverish and laboring to breathe, that it couldn’t admit him because he did not have a confirmed case of the novel coronavirus. The next hospital was full. A close friend called five more, searching for a bed in an intensive care unit. All full.

By the time Shaikh was admitted at a hospital through a personal connection late on the night of June 5, his condition had deteriorated, his nephew said. The 44-year-old father of three died less than 48 hours later. His coronavirus test result came back around the same time: positive.

By Joanna Slater and Niha Masih
June 13, 2020 at 4:15 PM EDT

Houston sees increase in hospitalizations, more officers testing positive for the virus

As Texas marched forward in reopening its economy, with restaurants allowed to operate at 75 percent capacity and most other businesses at 50 percent capacity, leaders in Houston warned that the coronavirus remains a significant threat.

Hospitalizations and intensive care unit admissions have risen over the past two weeks in Harris County, which encompasses Houston and is the nation’s third largest county. The city’s police force also reported an increase in officers testing positive for the virus — a development police chief Art Acevedo attributed in part to widespread protests over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody, according to the Houston Chronicle. Floyd’s funeral was held in Houston.

“We’re starting to move in the wrong direction,” Mayor Sylvester Turner (D) told CNN’s Don Lemon on Friday night. “What worked for us successfully in March and April are the same things that need to work for us as we move forward.”

He stressed that hospitals still have ample capacity, but argued that the city “could face some danger” if people ease up on wearing masks and practicing social distancing. Turner also cautioned against acting “as though the virus is yesterday’s news.”

Meanwhile, the Chronicle reported, at least 23 Houston police officers have tested positive for the virus since June 6, accounting for about a third of coronavirus cases the agency has recorded since beginning tracking in late March. Acevedo told the newspaper there was a “high probability” that many officers became infected while working at protests on May 29 or 30 or a June 2 march.

Houston Health Department Director David Persse agreed that the virus may have spread among protesters, noting to the Chronicle that they involved “a large number of people in a small space” who were “yelling and talking a lot.”

But he added that it may not be possible to determine whether officers became sick on the job or as part of increases seen since the state began reopening.

By Brittany Shammas
June 13, 2020 at 3:41 PM EDT

‘Don’t make me come down there’: Cuomo warns New York City revelers flouting social distancing

On the first Friday night after the state’s lockdown was lifted, New Yorkers ignored social distancing and partied in the streets — drawing a next-day rebuke from Gov Andrew M. Cuomo (D).

“Don’t make me come down there,” he tweeted Saturday, sharing a video by EV Grieve, an East Village neighborhood blog, of a festival-like scene with live music and crowds on a Manhattan street.

In the video, which garnered more than 2 million views on Twitter, a throng of New Yorkers, most without masks, gathered along the sidewalk and street of St. Mark’s Place, three blocks lined with bars, restaurants and retailers. A band playing in the video attracts an audience that disregards social distancing.

After more than three months in lockdown, New York City entered the first phase of reopening Tuesday, allowing retailers to offer curbside pickup, in-store pickup or drop-off options. Construction, manufacturing and supply chain businesses could also reopen.

New York reported Friday its lowest number of deaths — 32 — since the pandemic began, Cuomo announced at a Saturday news briefing. Hospitalizations from the coronavirus had also dropped to 1,734 on Friday, the lowest since March 20. The state has reported 382,630 cases and 24,527 deaths from the virus. Although the numbers are assuring, Cuomo warned they could rise if New Yorkers aren’t cautious.

“You have to stay smart,” he said, addressing the state’s residents. “Keep doing what we’re doing. Don’t let up. Don’t think, ‘Well, now we’re reopening. Everything is fine. The weather’s better. Everything is fine. I hear New York is doing well.’ It is, but only because of what you are doing.”

By Meryl Kornfield
June 13, 2020 at 3:08 PM EDT

Under pressure, state and local health officials are leaving or being pushed out at alarming rates, report says

State and local health officials across the United States are leaving or being pushed out of their jobs due to increased stress and scrutiny around their work, according to a report Saturday by Kaiser Health News and the Associated Press.

The investigation found that since April at least 27 health leaders across 13 states have resigned, retired or been fired.

“From North Carolina to California, they have left their posts because of a mix of backlash and stressful, nonstop work, all while dealing with chronic staffing and funding shortages,” Kaiser Health News and the AP reported.

Some have needed to hire armed security due to threats from the public. Many have reported increased pressure from politicians and interest groups to cater policies toward political calculations.

Before the pandemic, many of these officials largely worked behind the scenes. Now they’ve become the public faces of a national crisis, eliciting criticism from both constituents and politicians in an increasingly politicized and high-stakes environment.

“It’s just appalling that in this country that spends as much as we do on health care that we’re facing these really difficult ethical dilemmas: Do I stay in my job and risk threats, or do I leave because it’s not worth it?” Theresa Anselmo, the executive director of the Colorado Association of Local Public Health Officials, told the AP and Kaiser Health.

In a poll of local Colorado health directors last month, Anselmo said around 80 percent reported that they or their personal property had been threatened since the start of the pandemic. The same percent reported being subject to forms of political pressure, such as threats of future cuts to their departments.

“It’s disheartening to see people who disagree with the order go from attacking the order to attacking the officer to questioning their motivation, expertise and patriotism,” said Kat DeBurgh, the executive director of the Health Officers Association of California. “That’s not something that should ever happen.”

By Miriam Berger
June 13, 2020 at 2:35 PM EDT

A pastor in Argentina turned his church into a bar to protest restrictions

The pastor walked into a bar. Sort of.

Earlier this week, evangelical pastor Daniel Cattaneo donned a waiter’s uniform and served Bibles on trays in a stunt to protest Argentina’s latest coronavirus rules. As of Monday, bars and restaurants in Cattaneo’s province of Santa Fe can serve customers at 30 percent capacity. The regulations around churches, however, haven’t changed: They are still allowed to welcome only up to 10 people a service.

“We want to exercise our constitutional right to practice our faith,” Cattaneo told local media on Wednesday, the Guardian reported. “Bars can open, shops can open, why are they discriminating against us?”

Cattaneo dubbed his makeshift bar in the city of San Lorenzo “the worship bar.”

“We are standing here today dressed like this, carrying a tray, because it seems this is the only way we can serve the word of God,” he said.

He told reporters that he is planning a “drive-in worship” at a nearby open plot next.

Argentina reached a record high of new coronavirus cases on Friday. In total, it has confirmed over 28,700 cases and 785 related deaths. Still, compared with neighboring Brazil and Chile, the South American country has been relatively successfully in containing its outbreak. The virus has remained centered in the capital of Buenos Aires and surrounding areas.

By Miriam Berger
June 13, 2020 at 1:37 PM EDT

Seattle man hospitalized with coronavirus for two months gets a $1.1 million tab, newspaper reports

After the coronavirus almost killed him, 70-year-old Seattle resident Michael Flor said getting a hospital invoice listing $1.1 million in charges was a near-death experience, according to the Seattle Times.

“I opened it and said ‘holy [bleep]!’ ” Flor told the newspaper.

Flor, who spent 62 days in the Swedish Medical Center after contracting the coronavirus, has Medicare, so he won’t pay out of pocket for most of what is listed on the 181-page explanation of charges. However, he still faces a mental toll from battling and surviving covid-19, the disease caused by the virus. “I feel guilty about surviving,” he told the Times. “There’s a sense of ‘why me?’ Why did I deserve all this? Looking at the incredible cost of it all definitely adds to that survivor’s guilt.”

The Times previously reported that Flor was the longest-hospitalized coronavirus patient at the facility, which is the largest nonprofit health-care provider in Seattle. He was unconscious for most of his stay. According to the Times, among the charges racked up were: $82,215 to be on a mechanical ventilator for 29 days, $408,912 for a sealed hospital room and about $275,000 for medication.

As the pandemic has imperiled many Americans’ jobs and income, federal aid was set aside for hospitals treating coronavirus patients, including those that don’t have insurance.

Flor’s story of an expensive bill associated with the virus is not the first. Miami engineer Osmel Martinez Azcue, 29, said he was charged $3,270.75 when he went the Miami public hospital Jackson Memorial because he felt feverish after a trip to China and Italy. His bill was reduced by his insurer to $1,400 after his story appeared in the Miami Herald.

By Meryl Kornfield
June 13, 2020 at 1:27 PM EDT

High blood pressure drugs apparently don’t add to covid-19 danger as earlier feared

For the millions of Americans who suffer from high blood pressure, reports that identify hypertension as a significant risk factor for serious illness and death related to covid-19 may seem frightening. Yet one piece of reassuring news has emerged from the confusion that should ease at least some of the worry.

Certain widely used medications that treat high blood pressure apparently don’t add to the danger as earlier feared. Recent studies suggest they don’t make people more susceptible to becoming infected with the coronavirus, nor do they exacerbate the disease. As a result, doctors who care for patients with hypertension have urged them to continue taking the drugs.

June 13, 2020 at 1:05 PM EDT

Russia revises April death toll, days after WHO rebuke

Russia on Saturday more than doubled its official death toll related to covid-19 for April, days after the World Health Organization said it was “difficult to understand” how the country has both such a low mortality rate and the world’s third highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases.

Rosstat, Russia’s state statistics service, on Saturday reported 8,706 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, along with an unexpected figure: 2,712 deaths related to covid-19 in April, 1,660 of which citing the novel coronavirus that causes the disease as the main factor. Rosstat previously listed only 1,145 fatalities related to covid-19 for April.

The chair of Russia’s coronavirus task force, Deputy Prime Minister Tatiana Golikova, additionally said Saturday that some of Rosstat’s virus related death statistics may need to be updated, Reuters reported, citing state media.

Russia’s comparatively low mortality rate has increasingly come under scrutiny as the country’s confirmed coronavirus cases continue to rise, trailing only the United States and Brazil.

Russia has reported more than 520,000 people testing positive for the virus and 6,920 deaths. In contrast, Brazil has reported 828,810 confirmed cases and 41,828 related fatalities. Britain has the world’s fifth-highest number of infections, over 294,000, and the third-highest death toll, over 41,500 deceased due to the virus.

Russian doctors and nurses have told The Washington Post about hospitals being overwhelmed and lacking resources, contrary to official reports that portray President Vladimir Putin’s government as having a firm grasp on the virus. Earlier this week, Moscow’s health department also increased its official death toll for May after revising criteria for classifying coronavirus deaths.

By Miriam Berger
June 13, 2020 at 12:42 PM EDT

President Trump addresses West Point graduates in socially distanced ceremony

President Trump spoke about the “unbroken chain” of the U.S. military during a socially distanced West Point commencement address that also touched on two issues that have recently roiled the nation: civil unrest and the coronavirus.

“You have come from the farms and the cities, from states big and small, and from every race, religion, color and creed,” Trump said. “But when you entered these grounds, you became part of one team, one family, proudly serving one American nation.”

The decision to hold the ceremony in person, recalling graduating cadets from their homes after months off campus, drew concerns among some families when it was announced in April. To try to prevent potential spread of the virus, the graduating class was tested upon returning in late May.

The class of about 1,100 wore masks while marching Saturday onto West Point’s Plain parade field, a change from the traditional Michie Stadium where commencement is usually held. They sat six feet apart and removed their masks at the start of the ceremony, which their families watched online.

In his remarks, Trump made a single reference to the virus that had resulted in the ceremony’s unusual circumstances, calling it the “invisible enemy, the new virus that came to our shores from a distant land called China.”

“We will vanquish the virus; we will extinguish this plague,” he added.

The president then turned to civil unrest that spread across the country in the wake of the death of George Floyd in police custody. He thanked the National Guard members “who responded with precision to so many recent challenges, from hurricanes and natural disaster to ensuring peace, safety and the constitutional rule of law on our streets.”

By Brittany Shammas
June 13, 2020 at 12:27 PM EDT

Spike in suspected virus cases in Darfur refugee camps

Medical and humanitarian workers in war-torn Darfur in Western Sudan are warning that suspected coronavirus cases and deaths are surging dangerously, though the official count remains relatively low.

Sudan has reported 433 deaths officially related to covid-19, 54 of which have been in Darfur. But, as the Associated Press reported Saturday, the region’s already limited functioning hospitals have reported a spike in untimely deaths of people with symptoms associated with the novel coronavirus. Officially, these deaths are classed as “unknown.”

There are only 600 health facilities for Darfur’s 9 million people, or one per 15,000 people, according to the Associated Press. Darfur is about the size of Spain, and many people must travel very long, often treacherous distances to reach one of the few facilities or quarantine centers, where equipment like surgical masks and ventilators are in critically short supply. Many Darfurians are also already severely undernourished or suffering from other health issues after years of fighting, displacement and poverty, putting them at an even higher risk of severe infections.

“People in the camps are suffocating, they can’t breathe,” Mohamed Hassan Adam, director of Abushouk displacement camp in North Darfur, told the AP. In one small part of Adam’s camp, 64 people died of undetermined causes in just one month. “They get exhausted then they die. There is no way to tell what happened,” he said.

By Miriam Berger
June 13, 2020 at 12:00 PM EDT

Three Clemson student athletes test positive

Two Clemson football players and one men’s basketball player have tested positive for the coronavirus, the university’s athletics department announced on Friday.

In total, 128 student athletes and 41 staff members were tested for the virus. The three who tested positive were not identified by the university. The news of positive tests comes as athletes began voluntary workouts on campus earlier this week, part of phase one of Clemson Athletics’ three-part reopening schedule.

The coronavirus case number continues to climb in South Carolina, which reported 770 new cases of the virus on Friday, the state’s highest one-day spike since the start of the pandemic. At least 17,170 people have tested positive and 593 people have died, according to the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control.

The Clemson football team, which has won two national championships in the past four years, is scheduled to play starting Sept. 3.

Despite concerns that the virus could be transmitted in packed stadiums, Clemson football coach Dabo Swinney signaled in an April conference call with reporters that the team would play, according to ESPN. To express his optimism about the situation, he turned to the team’s name, the Tigers: “This Is Gonna End Real Soon.”

“My preference is let’s get to work and go play,” Swinney said. “That’s the best-case scenario, and I think that’s what’s going to happen. I don’t have any doubt. I have zero doubt that we’re going to be playing and the stands are going to be packed.”

In the past two weeks, Swinney has faced criticism online from Black Lives Matters supporters after one player alleged Swinney used the n-word and a photo circulated of him wearing a shirt that said “Football Matters.”

Star quarterback Trevor Lawrence defended his coach on Twitter, saying Swinney was wearing the shirt before George Floyd’s death.

By Meryl Kornfield
June 13, 2020 at 11:18 AM EDT

Protesters descend on central London despite warnings from police and politicians

LONDON — Thousands of protesters on Saturday descended on central London, despite warnings from police and politicians that they should stay away because of the pandemic.

The death of George Floyd has sparked outrage and protests around the world. In London, groups of far-right demonstrators and supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement gathered in Parliament Square and nearby streets.

Videos posted on social media showed demonstrators pelting police with bottles and objects. Priti Patel, Britain’s home secretary, retweeted a video and wrote “unacceptable thuggery.”

She also urged protesters to go home. “Coronavirus remains a threat to us all,” she wrote.

Some of the right-wing activists said they attended the demonstration to protect statues in Parliament Square. There were also supporters of the Black Lives Movement at rallies in central London, although some organizers urged people to stay away over concerns of clashing with the far-right groups.

Last weekend in the United Kingdom over 100,000 protesters took to the streets in cities up and down the country. Protesters in Bristol toppled a statue of slave trader Edward Colston in to the harbor while in London, the statue of Winston Churchill was tagged with “was a racist.”

On Friday, a number of statues, including that of Churchill, Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi, were boarded up amid fears that protesters this weekend could target them.

By Karla Adam
June 13, 2020 at 10:56 AM EDT

Michigan investigates disease cluster among flood recovery workers who came from out of state

At least 19 contract workers who traveled to Michigan last month to help repair a hospital damaged by historic flooding tested positive for the novel coronavirus, then returned to their home states despite being asked to quarantine locally, according health officials.

The workers were subcontracted by a Texas-based company called BTN and came from Texas and Florida to clean up the Mid-Michigan Health Center, Bay County Health Department Director Joel Strasz told local media Friday.

They arrived on May 25 or 26, Strasz said, about a week after a pair of dams failed during heavy rains and forced 11,000 residents to flee the Midland area. All of them stayed in a hotel in Bay County.

“They came here because they desperately needed work and they desperately needed money,” Strasz said, according to Bridge Magazine. “In many cases, they were crowded three, four or five people into a room. When you get that many people crowded in a room who had been working all day, there’s no social distancing taking place.”

Ten of the workers tested positive last week, health officials said. Then on Thursday, another nine positive results came back. Strasz said one or two workers may have been infected before they came to the state, according to Bridge.

Health officials asked the workers to quarantine in place while they traced their contacts. But as of Friday all of them appeared to have returned to their home states, according to Strasz, who told local media there were “language barriers” making it difficult to reach them.

“We’re working pretty diligently to get in touch with these people," he said.

Strasz added that there did not appear to be a significant risk to the public in Michigan because the workers were not repairing private homes. He said the company was working with health officials in all three states to respond to the outbreak.

By Derek Hawkins
June 13, 2020 at 10:43 AM EDT

Queen celebrates 94th birthday, in line with Covid-19 guidelines

LONDON — For the first time during her long reign, Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II celebrated her official birthday with a military parade at Windsor Castle, with marching guards carefully observing social distancing rules.

Normally, the queen’s official birthday celebration, called Trooping the Colour, is held at Buckingham Palace, with more than 1,000 soldiers and 200 horses performing tight precision maneuvers. Thousands flock to the scene to catch a glimpse of the military display and of the palace balcony, where the queen and her extended family stand together to watch a flyover by the Royal Air Force.

This year’s celebrations were markedly slimmed down — as far as official royal birthdays go — and for the first time took place in Windsor, where the queen has been staying since the start of the lockdown in March.

The queen actually turned 94 in April, but British monarchs celebrate their birthday twice: on the actual date of their birth, of course, and then in the summer, when the weather is expected to be better — a tradition going back more than 270 years.

The queen, in her first live public appearance since Britain went into lockdown, watched from a dais at Windsor, but there were no crowds. The ceremony was performed in the castle’s quadrangle by the Welsh Guards, who stood 2.2 meters apart.

“The band is performing the spinwheel, turning 180 degrees while maintaining that social distancing,” said Huw Edwards, a veteran BBC broadcaster who was covering the event live for the state broadcaster. “That’s not a move we’ve seen before.”

By Karla Adam
June 13, 2020 at 10:22 AM EDT

Brazil surpasses Britain, becomes second in global deaths to U.S.

Brazil’s official death toll related to covid-19 reached 41,828 people dead on Friday — overtaking Britain to become the world’s second-worst-hit country in fatalities associated with the novel coronavirus.

Brazil now trails only the United States, which has confirmed over 110,000 deaths because of the virus that first publicly emerged in China six months ago. At least 41,500 people have died from covid-19 in the United Kingdom.

Brazil additionally has the world’s-second highest number of people testing positive for the coronavirus, with 828,810 confirmed cases as of Friday evening, according to its Health Ministry. Globally, the country ranks behind only the United States, which has officially tallied over 2 million infections.

In recent weeks the pandemic has intensified in Latin America, which the World Health Organization has labeled as the latest global hot spot. Some countries experiencing rises in cases, like Peru, had only recently started to emerge from lockdowns imposed in March.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, however, never ordered a centralized shutdown. The far-right leader has repeatedly belittled the virus and, echoing the rhetoric of President Trump, has argued that the economy needs to remain open despite the documented dangers this poses to the public.

By Miriam Berger
June 13, 2020 at 9:23 AM EDT

Trump to speak at socially distanced West Point graduation

President Trump will deliver a commencement address to the graduating class of West Point in a socially distanced ceremony Saturday morning.

About 1,100 newly minted Army second lieutenants returned to the campus from their homes in May to quarantine for up to three weeks to attend Trump’s speech. The event will be live-streamed so that friends and family of the graduates, who are not allowed to attend the event in person, can watch. Graduates will be seated six feet apart.

White House spokesman Judd Deere told The Washington Post that Trump’s speech is subject to change, but the plan is to highlight the cadets’ accomplishments.

“It’s a commencement address and the focus should be on the cadets, not on anything else,” Deere said.

The ceremony comes as the coronavirus pandemic rages and national discourse continues about the use of the military on domestic soil to quell protests against police brutality. Trump’s previous calls for military force against protesters have stoked criticism, including among rank and file.

Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper and Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who took issue with participating in Trump’s photo op in front of St. John’s Episcopal Church, are not expected to attend the ceremony.

A coalition of more than 500 West Point graduates from classes spanning six decades penned an open letter this week to the Class of 2020, emphasizing their responsibility to avoid partisan politics.

“The abhorrent murder of George Floyd has inspired millions to protest police brutality and the persistence of racism,” they wrote. “Sadly, the government has threatened to use the Army in which you serve as a weapon against fellow Americans engaging in these legitimate protests. Worse, military leaders, who took the same oath you take today, have participated in politically charged events.”

By Meryl Kornfield
June 13, 2020 at 9:05 AM EDT

Citing pandemic, federal judge bars Seattle police from using pepper spray and tear gas

A federal judge in Washington state on Friday temporarily barred authorities in Seattle from using pepper spray and tear gas against protesters, supporting arguments by a local Black Lives Matter chapter that the less-lethal weapons could facilitate the spread of the novel coronavirus.

U.S. District Judge Richard A. Jones ruled that police indiscriminately had fired an excessive amount of the chemicals at mostly peaceful protesters during demonstrations sparked by the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody.

Jones said the officers’ actions probably violated the protesters’ First Amendment rights and posed health risks to demonstrators.

“These protests occur during a pandemic,” the judge wrote, “the spread of which may be exacerbated by chemical irritants such as tear gas and pepper spray.”

The judge’s order also temporarily prohibited Seattle police from using flash-bangs, the loud, bright grenadelike rounds that authorities use to disperse crowds.

In court papers, the Seattle-King County chapter of Black Lives Matter argued that the crowd-control weapons caused protesters to panic and flee. This pushed already large crowds into tight spaces, the group said, “increasing the likelihood of spread of covid-19.”

The plaintiffs also cited open letters from elected officials and health officials warning that using chemical agents against demonstrators could cause them to cough and experience respiratory inflammation, making them more susceptible to infection.

“Police tactics are exacerbating health risks amidst a devastating respiratory pandemic,” read a June 7 letter signed by two dozen city, county and state officials.

The city contended that the use of force by police was appropriate because some people were engaging in “significant arson events, assaults on civilians and officers, as well as widespread looting and property destruction.”

By Derek Hawkins
June 13, 2020 at 8:11 AM EDT

Cluster of cases discovered around Beijing market, raising prospect of second wave of infections

A district in central Beijing has gone into “wartime mode” after discovering a cluster of coronavirus cases around the biggest meat and vegetable market in the city, raising the prospect of a second wave of infections in the sensitive capital, the seat of the Chinese Communist Party.

The discovery of dozens of infections, both symptomatic and asymptomatic, underscores the perniciousness of the virus and its propensity to spread despite tight social controls.

“We would like to warn everyone not to drop their guard even for a second in epidemic prevention control: we must be prepared for a prolonged fight with the virus,” Xu Hejian, a spokesman for the Beijing municipal government, said at a news conference Saturday.

By Anna Fifield
June 13, 2020 at 7:39 AM EDT

As coronavirus cases climb, some local officials put reopening on hold

A rise in coronavirus cases is spurring leaders in some cities and states to delay reopening additional businesses and warn that a return to stricter shutdown orders is possible should cases continue to climb.

White House guidelines for reopening called for states to reevaluate after each phase and move backward if the virus spreads. Nationwide, few officials have publicly done so, and states with rapidly increasing caseloads and hospitalizations are moving forward with reopening amid political and economic pressure to return to normal. Increased testing in some states has contributed to the uptick.

But officials in North Carolina, Oregon, Tennessee and Texas — all states with recent record highs — are now proceeding with increased caution. Some local officials are doing so in direct conflict with the governor.

By Rachel Weiner