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People with chronic health conditions such as heart disease and diabetes were hospitalized six times more often than otherwise healthy individuals infected with the coronavirus during the first four months of the pandemic, and they died 12 times more often, according to a new report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The data are consistent with earlier reports showing the disproportionate impact the pandemic has had on people with underlying medical conditions. The report also highlighted the disease’s stark disparities between whites and minority groups.

More than 114,000 people have died of the coronavirus in the United States, and nearly 2.1 million cases have been reported.

Here are some significant developments:

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June 15, 2020 at 11:26 PM EDT
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Fashion was broken even before the pandemic. A reboot could be just what it needs.

By Robin Givhan

It has been a lie. Fashion — as a business — has been a beautiful, intoxicating, unsustainable lie. Not all of it, but much of it. It didn’t start that way, but that’s what it ultimately became.

The economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic has made this truth plain.

For years, designers spun whimsical garments that tantalized the imagination but mostly didn’t sell; it was their more pragmatic styles that made the cash registers sing. Success was a fabulist tale of prepaid celebrity endorsements and social media impressions.

Bricks-and-mortar retailers opened outlet after outlet, e-commerce expanded its reach, all while discounting merchandise that customers refused to buy until it was discounted even more.

For shoppers, fashion was an all-encompassing pop culture phenomenon — but a phenomenon is not necessarily a good business.

Read more here.

June 15, 2020 at 10:59 PM EDT
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Trump signals a move past coronavirus with rallies, even as cases spike in many states

By Philip Rucker, Josh Partlow and Isaac Stanley-Becker

President Trump is defying Tulsa’s top public health official by pressing ahead with a massive indoor political rally there. Scores of his aides have been reporting to work in their office cubicles at his campaign headquarters. Virtually nobody around the president — neither White House staffers nor Secret Service agents — regularly wears a face mask anymore. And social distancing is a thing of the past.

To observe Trump and his entourage this month as he prepares to resume normal campaign activity coast to coast could lead one to conclude that the coronavirus pandemic is over.

In reality, the virus continues to ravage the United States and is fast spreading in some mid- and small-sized cities that avoided bad outbreaks this spring. Recent spikes in coronavirus cases have been recorded in Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, Texas and Oklahoma — all states where Trump has said he plans to soon hold campaign rallies.

“It is the ultimate powder keg,” Kavita Patel, a primary care physician and former senior adviser in the Obama White House, said of political rallies. “And this won’t be just one rally. It’s a sequence of rallies. They won’t stop. That’s Donald Trump throwing a match in.”

Read more here.

June 15, 2020 at 10:37 PM EDT
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U.S. Open intends to play on schedule, but will tennis’s top players show up?

By Liz Clarke

U.S. Open officials plan to announce this week that they’ll stage the tournament as scheduled, beginning Aug. 31 in New York, pending sign-off by local health officials, according to people with direct knowledge of the deliberations.

After weeks of conference calls with the governing bodies with a stake in professional tennis, including the men’s and women’s pro tours, organizers have devised a plan to hold the Grand Slam event at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, N.Y., under unprecedented restrictions because of the novel coronavirus that has killed more than 114,000 Americans and over 430,000 worldwide.

No spectators will be permitted, and players will be required to follow rules and precautions that world No. 1 Novak Djokovic, a three-time U.S. Open champion, has called “extreme” and hinted is a possible dealbreaker for his participation.

Read more here.

June 15, 2020 at 10:12 PM EDT
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Ohio to send application forms for absentee ballots to all registered voters

By Steven Goff

With concerns about the novel coronavirus expected to carry into the fall, Ohio will send application request forms for absentee ballots to all 7.8 million registered voters ahead of the November elections.

“Sending the request — not the ballot — helps voters participate in the election and means each registered voter in Ohio can continue to choose one of three options available to them: early voting, absentee voting by mail, or voting in person on Election Day,” Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose said, according to WFMJ.

Ohio’s announcement comes as states make preparations to accommodate voters uneasy about voting in person during the pandemic.

After Michigan and Nevada made similar announcements, President Trump threatened to withhold federal dollars, making unfounded claims that voting by mail leads to fraud.

Ohio has sent such applications to all voters for previous presidential and gubernatorial elections.

The $1.5 million cost of mailing the applications will come from federal funds.

June 15, 2020 at 9:45 PM EDT
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Coronavirus recommendations ignored as case numbers rise

By Lenny Bernstein, Rachel Weiner and Joel Achenbach

Coronavirus infections continued to rise in many parts of a divided nation Monday, with public health recommendations under attack from communities tired of staying home and officials eager to restart local economies.

Even as the number of infections rose and hospital beds filled in some places, voices clamored for an end to mandatory mask-wearing. And relaxation of restrictions designed to curb the novel coronavirus continued.

“They’re either just over it, or they’ve come to believe it’s a phony pandemic because their own personal grandmother hasn’t been affected yet,” said Andrew Noymer, an epidemiologist at the University of California at Irvine, a city in Orange County. Elected officials last week forced the county health department to scale back a mask-wearing order. “People just think this is a nothingburger. So they think the risk is exaggerated.”

Read more here.

June 15, 2020 at 9:10 PM EDT
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MLB commissioner now says he’s ‘not confident’ there will be a 2020 season

By Dave Sheinin

It took just five days for Major League Baseball’s hopes of staging a 2020 season, as characterized by the person most empowered to make it happen, to go from “unequivocally” and “100 percent” certain to “not confident.” The sudden turnabout, in remarks by Commissioner Rob Manfred to ESPN, represented a new low point in the sport’s halting, bitter efforts to work out a deal with its union to salvage a season amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.

“I’m not confident,” Manfred told the network Monday when asked whether he was confident there would be a 2020 season. “I think there’s a real risk. And as long as there’s no dialogue [with the union], that real risk is going to continue. … [The dispute is] just a disaster for our game, absolutely no question about it. It shouldn’t be happening, and it’s important that we find a way to get past it and get the game back on the field for the benefit of our fans. ... The owners are 100 percent committed to getting baseball back on the field. Unfortunately, I can’t tell you that I’m 100 percent certain that’s going to happen.”

Read more here.

June 15, 2020 at 8:38 PM EDT
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Airlines will step up enforcing mask policies, trade group says

By Kareem Copeland

A group of major American airlines will begin “vigorously” enforcing face-covering policies after reports of travelers not being held to the safety standard.

Delta, Southwest, United Airlines, American Airlines, JetBlue and others will “clearly articulate” their face-covering policy to passengers and may require customers to acknowledge the policy at check-in, the Airlines for America industry trade organization announced Monday on behalf of the member companies. If passengers don’t comply, carriers can implement their own consequences, which could include suspension of flying privileges.

Crew members will also announce specific details once onboard, including consequences for violating the policy.

“U. S. airlines are very serious about requiring face coverings on their flights,” Nicholas E. Calio, the group’s president and chief executive, wrote in the statement. “Carriers are stepping up enforcement of face coverings and implementing substantial consequences for those who do not comply with the rules."

The use of face masks at airports has been sporadic, according to reports from across the country.

A tweet in May by American Airlines customer Tony Scott was shared more than 6,700 times after he wrote about a passenger seated beside him who refused to wear a mask. He said he informed an attendant, but no measures were taken. The airline’s website states that “a face covering is required while flying on American, except for very young children or anyone with a condition that prevents them from wearing one.”

United Airlines announced Monday that any passenger who does not comply will be placed on an internal travel restriction list that will take away their travel privilege on the airline for a period of time to be determined.

June 15, 2020 at 7:54 PM EDT
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CDC: Patients with underlying conditions 12 times more likely to die of covid-19

By Lena H. Sun

People with underlying medical conditions such as heart disease and diabetes were hospitalized six times more often than otherwise healthy individuals infected with the coronavirus during the first four months of the pandemic, and they died 12 times more often, according to a federal health report released Monday.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released data on more than 1.7 million coronavirus cases and 103,700 deaths from covid-19, the disease caused by the virus, reported to the agency from state and territorial health departments from Jan. 22 through May 30. The data are consistent with earlier reports showing the disproportionate impact the pandemic has had on people with underlying medical conditions. The report also highlighted the disease’s stark disparities between whites and minority groups.

Read more here.

June 15, 2020 at 7:31 PM EDT
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Volunteers sign up to put their lives on the line for a vaccine

By Ben Guarino and Carolyn Y. Johnson

Lehua Gray, a 32-year-old product manager in Austin, wants to risk her life for a coronavirus vaccine. A cloud of potentially deadly microbes would be spritzed up her nose — if she’s allowed to a participate in what’s called a human challenge trial.

It’s built on a deceptively simple premise: Researchers inject healthy volunteers with an experimental vaccine and then expose them to a pathogen. If the vaccine prevents volunteers from getting sick, the study can accelerate development of a promising formula.

This approach has been used to test malaria and cholera vaccines — and now, in laboratories and conference rooms, preliminary discussions are unfolding about the feasibility of employing it in the quest to find a weapon against the novel coronavirus.

The obstacles are formidable. Infecting healthy people with a potentially lethal virus, with no treatment to save them from severe illness or death, raises some of the most fraught ethical, scientific and philosophical issues in the history of medicine. Exposure to pathogens in challenge trials is usually permitted only for diseases that aren’t fatal or that have treatments available. No such assurances exist for the coronavirus, which has killed more than 425,000 people worldwide.

Read more here.

June 15, 2020 at 7:11 PM EDT
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At least 28 parishioners at West Virginia church test positive

By Steven Goff

At least 28 people who attend a church in Greenbrier County, W.Va., have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, Gov. Jim Justice (R) said Monday — the latest in a string of outbreaks at churches in the state.

“We have concern like you can’t imagine in that community right now,” Justice said at a news conference in Charleston. “How many communities do we have like this in West Virginia? They’re everywhere. Absolutely, this could be your community tomorrow. This could be your church tomorrow. This could be your family tomorrow.”

Justice identified the location as Graystone Baptist Church in Lewisburg. The announcement came two days after the state’s Department of Health and Human Resources said churches in Boone, Hampshire, Jefferson and Marshall counties were also affected. Those churches were not identified, and details about the extent of the outbreaks were not released.

West Virginia’s outbreak comes three weeks after President Trump called on governors nationwide to allow churches to reopen, even in areas where pandemic shutdowns remained.

The church in Greenbrier County, which borders Virginia, will remain closed for 14 days of environmental cleaning with support from the National Guard, the state said. Free community testing began over the weekend and was extended through Monday.

“I want to strongly encourage all West Virginians, especially when in church settings, to follow the guidelines and use every other pew, maintain social distancing, and please wear masks,” Justice said.

June 15, 2020 at 6:53 PM EDT
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New York attorney general asks Apple, Google to ensure tracing apps have privacy protections

By Kareem Copeland

New York Attorney General Letitia James urged Apple and Google to place better restrictions on health apps that have sprung up in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

In letters to the tech giants, James asked for better privacy protections by third-party apps and clear notifications that differentiate those apps from government-run versions, her office announced Monday.

“As businesses open back up and Americans venture outdoors, technology can be an invaluable tool in helping us battle the coronavirus,” James wrote. “But some companies may seek to take advantage of consumers and use personal information to advertise, mine data and unethically profit off this pandemic.”

“Both Apple and Google can be invaluable partners in weeding out these bad actors and ensuring consumers are not taken advantage of by those seeking to capitalize on the fear around this public health crisis,” she added.

James requested that only apps affiliated with federal or state public health agencies be able to collect sensitive personal health information. She also asked third-party contact-tracing apps to be prohibited from collecting and using consumer information for targeted advertising.

Third-party contact-tracing apps should also be prohibited from using data to identify anonymous users, James said. The apps should be required to delete consumer information on a rolling 14-day basis, along with providing consumers an easy way to delete their own information, she said.

James also asked those third-party apps to make clear they do not use the exposure notification framework available to governmental public health agencies. She also asked the apps to disclose what type of data they collect and how consumers will be tracked.

June 15, 2020 at 6:17 PM EDT
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Fed leaders urge Congress to spend more on coronavirus recovery

By Heather Long

Top Federal Reserve officials on Monday urged Congress to spend more as the nation emerges from the global health crisis.

The calls came the same day that the Fed launched a new lending program for small and midsized firms and announced plans to start buying the bonds of big companies Tuesday, news that triggered a stock market rally on Wall Street.

The U.S. government can borrow money at a historically cheap rate right now after the Fed cut interest rates to zero in March and signaled that low rates are likely to remain in place through 2022. San Francisco Fed President Mary C. Daly was one of several top officials who called on Congress to invest soon in education, health care and digital infrastructure to create a stronger — and more inclusive — U.S. economy for years to come.

“We can’t wait 10 years for an economic recovery to reach everyone,” Daly said at a National Press Club event. “Inclusive growth is faster growth — and it will pay for itself in the long run.”

Read more here.

June 15, 2020 at 5:47 PM EDT
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WNBA to hold a shortened 22-game season without fans

By Kareem Copeland

The WNBA will officially play a shortened 22-game season at IMG Academy in Florida without fans, the league announced Monday.

All 12 teams will report to the Bradenton facility in early July, and the site will host training camps and games and provide housing. The league did not announce safety guidelines that will be in place to protect everyone amid the coronavirus pandemic. The contract with IMG is still being finalized.

The WNBA also announced that players would receive full pay and full benefits.

Read more here.

June 15, 2020 at 5:38 PM EDT
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Oklahoma lawmaker who had covid-19 calls Trump rally ‘reckless’

By Steven Goff

Oklahoma lawmaker Jason Lowe brings a first-person perspective to the controversy concerning President Trump’s decision to hold a rally Saturday at a Tulsa arena, his first large-scale event since the novel coronavirus pandemic began in March.

Lowe, a Democratic state representative, had covid-19 early in the outbreak, and the thought of jamming almost 20,000 people into BOK Center while the virus remains potent scares and angers him.

“It’s reckless,” he said in an interview with The Post. “When I confronted covid, I felt like a truck hit me. To have a rally in an enclosed stadium, it’s dangerous. It puts the campaign over the citizens of Oklahoma.”

CNN reported the Tulsa Health Department is “concerned about the safety of any large gathering of people in enclosed spaces where social distancing is difficult to maintain.”

The city has reported about 1,600 confirmed cases and 62 deaths. The state on Monday said there were 186 new cases, a 21 percent increase over the previous seven-day average. Oklahoma’s death total is 359.

The Trump campaign is requiring attendees to sign a liability waiver, which, Lowe said, “is appalling in the sense of, even though a person might say, ‘Okay, I might get sick. I’m going to sign this waiver, it’s my responsibility.’ But what about the individuals he or she might infect, that did not sign a waiver, that their health is at risk? So I am very concerned about what the president is doing.”

The campaign plans to check the temperature of everyone entering the venue and will provide sanitizer and a mask, though attendees are not required to wear it.

Lowe was hospitalized for a day in late March with fatigue and fever. He said he remained sick for about 10 days and quarantined at home.

“It’s scary. I didn’t know what was going to happen,” said Lowe, who represents a district in Oklahoma City. “It’s just appalling to have a rally in an enclosed stadium. That’s just shocking. … There’s no way you should be attending this rally.”