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Seven states are reporting new highs for current coronavirus hospitalizations, according to data tracked by The Washington Post — Arizona, Arkansas, California, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas — as the number of infections continues to climb across the South and West. More than 800 covid-19 deaths were reported in the United States on Tuesday, the first time fatalities have increased since June 7.

Texas and California on Tuesday eclipsed 5,000 new cases of the novel coronavirus over a 24-hour span — records in those states. Arizona, Nevada and Missouri also logged new single-day highs. Overall, 33 states and U.S. territories now have a rolling average of new cases that is higher than last week.

Worldwide, there are more than 9 million confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus, with more than 2.3 million cases and at least 119,000 deaths reported in the United States.

Here are some significant developments:

  • Following often bitter and contentious negotiations after the sport was effectively shut down amid the pandemic in mid-March, Major League Baseball is set to open ‘spring’ training camps July 1 and set Opening Day for July 23 or 24.
  • Top federal health officials warned Tuesday that the surge in infections in more than a dozen states could worsen without new restrictions. They also contradicted President Trump’s recent claims that he told officials to slow testing so the country would record fewer cases.
  • The federal government plans to end support of testing sites on June 30, including seven sites in Texas, where cases and hospitalizations are climbing rapidly.
  • The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is warning people not to use hand sanitizer from a Mexican manufacturer, Eskbiochem, after finding methanol, a toxic and potentially fatal substance, in some of its products.
  • Voters in Kentucky were on track to cast ballots in record numbers for Tuesday’s primary despite the risk of coronavirus infection and shortages of poll workers, thanks in part to the widespread embrace of voting by mail.
  • Trump told aides that he is largely supportive of sending Americans another round of stimulus checks, believing the payments will boost the economy and help his chances at reelection in November, according to three people aware of internal administration deliberations. However, leading congressional Republicans and some senior White House officials remain skeptical.
  • In countries that saw new coronavirus infections decline in recent weeks, spikes in confirmed case numbers have alarmed officials and sent Australia, Germany, Portugal and South Korea, among other nations, scrambling to respond to resurgent outbreaks.

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June 23, 2020 at 11:24 PM EDT

When the virus shut down an English city, this hotel turned itself into a homeless shelter

By Candace Buckner

The Fownes Hotel in Worcester, England, has been through many transformations. In the 1880s, the red-brick factory located by the Birmingham Canal made gloves for the queen. A century later, after the glove industry declined, the building was converted into 61 bedrooms and over the years has hosted a variety of guests — the newly married, British tabloid fodder and even an American 1980s television star from “The A-Team.”

During the global pandemic, however, the hotel has undergone its most substantial transition — becoming a shelter for the homeless.

“We’re well fed, very well looked after,” said Terence Marriott, one of the 50 or so guests staying at the hotel. “They need a medal, I tell you. They really do."

Read more here.

June 23, 2020 at 10:51 PM EDT

MLB set to return in July, ending months-long coronavirus shutdown

By Dave Sheinin

It felt exceedingly treacherous and painstaking, getting Major League Baseball back on the field, some 3 1/2 months after it was effectively shuttered by a global pandemic, through a bitter and halting economic negotiation that still failed to deliver an agreement, and with seemingly each day bringing another body blow to the sport — in the form of a nasty letter from MLB to the players’ union or vice versa, or a fresh leak designed to embarrass the other side.

And then it was finally all over Tuesday night, and the sport had a date for the reopening of “spring” training camps (July 1) and a new Opening Day of July 23 or 24, nearly four months behind schedule. The season will be 60 games, by far the shortest in the sport’s modern history, followed by a postseason.

“All remaining issues have been resolved,” the MLB Players Association tweeted at 8:41 p.m., marking the first official word of a deal, “and Players are reporting to training camps.”

Read more here.

June 23, 2020 at 10:33 PM EDT

The future of the performing arts is digital. Marquee TV has a major head start.

By Sarah Kaufman

With uncanny timing, MarqueeTV, a performing-arts streaming service, debuted in this country in February. None of its leaders could have predicted the global crisis to come, but the bittersweet irony is that it created ideal conditions for Marquee’s high-definition dance, theater and opera offerings, available on demand.

Given the shutdowns and stay-at-home orders, the novel coronavirus pandemic “has been a game-changer,” says Marc Kirschner, a Marquee founder and head of product and innovation. March and April saw a five- to sixfold spike in subscriptions, he says.

Yet what Marquee’s team knew long before the virus outbreak, and believe even more fervently now, is this: The future of the performing arts is digital.

Read more here.

June 23, 2020 at 9:51 PM EDT

Yosemite National Park canceling reservations at several campgrounds amid coronavirus concerns

By Candace Buckner

Less than two weeks after beginning a phased reopening, Yosemite National Park in California announced the closure of several campgrounds on Tuesday amid concerns over the continuous spread of the novel coronavirus.

The park will no longer accept reservations at six campground sites through July, and 50 percent of Upper Pines, the largest of three campgrounds in the Yosemite Valley, will remain open, the Associated Press reported.

As of Tuesday evening, the National Park Service website still prominently displayed an alert announcing, “Yosemite is open.” Following a closure that lasted nearly three months, Yosemite reopened its 800 miles of park trails on June 11 to visitors with reservations. The decision to shut down the park, however, came after a surge of confirmed cases in California.

On Monday, California set a state record, exceeding 6,000 new infections reported in a single day.

Elsewhere, other National Park Service sites remain open. The Isle Royale in Michigan is scheduled to open campgrounds, docks and trails on June 26, and the Shenandoah National Park campgrounds will start accepting reservations on Wednesday.

June 23, 2020 at 9:27 PM EDT

Washington state mandates face coverings in public

By Kareem Copeland

Washington state residents will be required to wear face coverings in public starting Friday, Gov. Jay Inslee (D) announced Tuesday.

The statewide mandate dictates that people older than 5 wear masks indoors in public spaces and outdoors when they are unable to maintain six feet of distance. The penalty is a misdemeanor citation. Exemptions may apply to people who are deaf or can’t wear a mask for medical reasons.

Washington is one of several states in the midst of a spike in new cases of the novel coronavirus. Its three highest days of new cases came in the past four days, according to data tracked by The Washington Post.

In the same news briefing, Inslee said he ordered a tighter restriction for Yakima County, where cases have recently spiked. Businesses there must turn away unmasked customers or face closure or fines. Yakima health officials have reported 6,435 cases, 784 since last week, and tallied 142 deaths, 20 since last week.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) announced Friday that residents there are also now required to wear masks. The state reported another high of new cases on Tuesday, and its six highest days have all come in the past six days. Not all localities have enforced the order.

Arizona Gov. Doug Doucey (R) left the mask requirements up to local governments last week when he announced that there would not be a statewide proclamation. The state reported a new high of new cases on Tuesday.

Texas has recommended face coverings but has not made them a statewide requirement. Several counties have enacted their own requirements, and mayors of nine major cities wrote a letter to Gov. Greg Abbott (R) asking him to make masks mandatory. Texas also reached a new high of new cases on Tuesday that was more than 1,000 additional cases from the previous high.

June 23, 2020 at 8:58 PM EDT

Trump again uses racially insensitive term to describe coronavirus

By Colby Itkowitz

President Trump again referred to the novel coronavirus as “kung flu,” eliciting laughter and wild cheers from a young crowd in Arizona on Tuesday.

Trump was listing the different names he has heard for the virus, which has killed at least 119,000 Americans, during a speech for the student Republican group Turning Point Action.

“Wuhan. Wuhan was catching on, coronavirus, kung flu,” he said, repeating it as the crowd roared. “I could give you many, many names. Some people call it the Chinese flu, the China flu, they call it the China.”

Trump drew criticism after he used the racially insensitive moniker to describe the coronavirus at a campaign rally in Tulsa on Saturday night.

At his rally Tuesday, Trump downplayed the virus that has afflicted millions across the globe, saying, “I can name kung flu, I can name 19 different versions of names. Many call it a virus, which it is. Many call it a flu, what difference?”

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany tried to defend the president’s use of the name when asked by a reporter on Monday why he uses such “racist language.”

“The president doesn’t,” McEnany said. “What the president does do is point to the fact that the origin of the virus was China. It’s a fair thing to point out.”

Trump has repeatedly blamed China for the global outbreak in an effort to deflect blame for his handling of the virus in its early days. He was criticized in March for continuing to call it the “Chinese virus” long after it had spread to other countries and Asian Americans voiced concern that the affiliation would stoke fears and result in prejudice against them.

June 23, 2020 at 8:25 PM EDT

Infections spike in Chile after it claimed victory over virus and began to reopen

By John Bartlett

SANTIAGO, Chile — It wasn’t that long ago that Chilean President Sebastián Piñera boasted that the country was ready for the novel coronavirus. “Far better prepared than Italy” is how he put it in March.

And after locking down the population, bolstering hospitals and testing aggressively, the country did appear to be faring well in the pandemic. With a comparatively advanced health-care system, it kept cases and deaths lower than in neighboring Brazil, Ecuador and Peru. By April, officials were touting plans to distribute a first-in-the-world “immunity passport,” enabling Chileans who had recovered from the virus to get back to work.

They now appear to have been overconfident.

After weeks of soaring infections, Chile has now reported more than 246,000 cases, seventh in the world, and 4,500 deaths. Its 1,318 cases per 100,000 people lead Latin America.

Read more here.

June 23, 2020 at 7:59 PM EDT

Chicago police using pandemic to limit communication for detainees, lawsuit alleges

By Candace Buckner

The Cook County Public Defender’s Office and an activist group filed a lawsuit Tuesday against the Chicago Police Department, claiming that officers have used the coronavirus pandemic as a ploy to prevent incarcerated people from communicating with lawyers.

Among those taken into custody by Chicago police from April 16 to June 5, a survey conducted by the public defender’s office found that 23 percent were not allowed to make phone calls, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. The department’s guidelines state, however, that “arrestees will be provided access to a phone and be able to make a reasonable number of telephone calls to communicate with their attorney, family, or friends as soon as practicable upon being taken into custody.”

In the lawsuit, Public Defender Amy Campanelli said that her office moved toward phone calls rather than in-person visits with arrestees during the pandemic but that the police department did not create a space for lawyers and clients to speak privately.

The tactic⁠ — compounded by Chicago police mandating in-person visits despite the health risks, according to the suit⁠ — isolated those in custody, Campanelli said.

“Denying them access to a basic thing called a phone ignores the fundamental rights of all of us, and we should all be angry about this,” Campanelli said at a briefing Tuesday outside the police department headquarters, the Sun-Times reported.

At the briefing, Campanelli was joined by other plaintiffs in the suit, including Black Lives Matter Chicago. Another plaintiff, Damon Williams, a member of an activist group, said he was arrested during a demonstration against police abuse after the death of George Floyd. Williams said that while in the custody of Chicago police, he was not allowed to make a phone call and could not speak with his lawyer for hours after his detention, according to the Sun-Times.

In a statement to several outlets, the city’s law department said it strongly disagreed that Chicago has policies “to prevent detainees from accessing legal representation.”

June 23, 2020 at 7:38 PM EDT

Trump administration ending federal support of testing sites, including in hard-hit Texas

By Kareem Copeland

The federal government plans to end support of testing sites on June 30, including seven sites in Texas, where cases and hospitalizations are climbing rapidly.

The federal government plans to end support for two testing sites in Dallas, Talking Points Memo reports. Four of the sites, which conduct thousands of tests per day, are in Houston and the surrounding Harris County, the Houston Chronicle reports.

Texas reported 5,489 new cases Tuesday, its highest case count in a single day and far exceeding its previous record of 4,430 from Saturday, according to data collected by The Washington Post. Nearly 4,100 people in Texas are hospitalized with covid-19, up from 2,158 one week ago.

The announcement that the administration will let funding for testing sites lapse comes as President Trump in recent days has sought to link the surging number in cases to the increase in testing. At a recent campaign rally, Trump downplayed the virus, discredited health officials and told his supporters he asked people in his administration to “slow the testing down.”

White House officials have said that Trump was joking during the rally. But Trump on Tuesday said “I don’t kid” when a reporter asked him whether he was, in fact, joking. Congressional Democrats and public health officials have labeled the comments reckless and dangerous.

Rep. Sylvia Garcia (D-Tex.), who represents much of Houston, wrote a letter to the Federal Emergency Management Agency and Department of Health and Human Services saying the removal of assistance would be “harmful and irresponsible.”

“We need the support of FEMA now more than ever,” Garcia wrote. “At this time, we must expand the number of people tested per day to prevent further spread of the virus.”

Rocky Vaz, the director of emergency management for the city of Dallas, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Vaz told Talking Points Memo that Dallas asked for an extension beyond June 30 but was refused.

FEMA did not immediately respond to a request for comment, though in April it had discussed a plan to cede testing control to individual states. In May, FEMA announced that seven federally funded testing sites would remain open through June 30. In her letter to FEMA, Garcia pointed out that in May, “we could not have foreseen the continued rise in cases like we have in the past couple weeks.”

June 23, 2020 at 7:21 PM EDT

Kentucky voters poised to break turnout records as they embrace mail ballots

By Amy Gardner, Michelle Lee and Elise Viebeck

Voters in Kentucky were on track to cast ballots in record numbers for Tuesday’s primary despite the risk of coronavirus infection and shortages of poll workers, thanks in part to widespread embrace of voting by mail.

Michael G. Adams, Kentucky’s Republican secretary of state, projected that total turnout would exceed 1 million, shattering the previous record of 922,456 primary voters set in 2008.

Poll worker cancellations had forced election officials to staff fewer than 200 polling locations instead of the usual 3,700, but Adams said an avalanche of mail-in balloting and in-person early voting helped lessen demand on the polls Tuesday.

The numbers reflected an overwhelming shift to absentee voting by Kentucky voters, even as President Trump has railed against mail ballots and claimed without evidence they lead to massive fraud.

Read more here.

June 23, 2020 at 6:40 PM EDT

Texas, California report more than 5,000 cases in a single day

By Candace Buckner and Jacqueline Dupree

Texas and California touched new milestones in the pandemic, eclipsing 5,000 new cases of the novel coronavirus over a 24-hour span.

On Tuesday, Texas reported 5,489 cases, its highest case count in a single day that far exceeds its previous record of 4,430 from last Saturday, according to data collected by The Washington Post.

With Texas and California (5,019) surging, Arizona (3,591), Nevada (462) and Missouri (434) also reported new single-day highs. Overall, 33 states and U.S. territories now have a rolling average of new cases that exceed the average from last Tuesday, and 15 of those states have a new rolling average more than 40 percent higher than a week ago, according to The Post’s data.

In Texas, the seven-day rolling average of new cases has increased 70 percent from last Tuesday’s average. For the 14th consecutive day, the state has set a record for its rolling average. Particularly in Harris County, which alone reported 1,994 new cases, the spike has led to more hospitalizations, which has prompted Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston to start accepting adult patients.

“There remain a lot of people in the state of Texas who think that the spread of COVID-19 is not a challenge,” Gov. Greg Abbott (R) said, according to KBTX-TV. “The coronavirus is serious. It’s spreading.”

In Missouri, the Department of Health and Senior Services said it is working with four hard-hit locations on testing, isolating all infected people and contact tracing. According to the department, 310 of the 413 new statewide cases from midday June 20 to midday June 21 were from the city of Joplin as well as McDonald, Jasper and Newton counties.

McDonald County, home to a large Tyson Foods plant, has experienced a surge as the food distribution company works with the state to administer comprehensive testing for all employees. Due to the cluster of cases, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has dispatched a team to the region, according to the health department’s release.

June 23, 2020 at 5:38 PM EDT

Virginia to move to Phase 3 of reopening plans on July 1

By Rebecca Tan and Laura Vozzella

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) on Tuesday announced that the state would enter Phase 3 of its reopening on July 1 — but said he would consider requests from leaders in Northern Virginia and the city of Richmond to delay the move in their areas.

The announcement came as the D.C. region on Tuesday reported 969 additional coronavirus infections and 45 new deaths.

Virginia added 25 new fatalities — the highest number in more than three weeks — and 529 new cases. The number of people hospitalized with covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, has declined steadily in Virginia in recent weeks.

Read more here.

June 23, 2020 at 5:16 PM EDT

‘We are where New York was’: Phoenix doctors sound alarms about Trump rally

By Hannah Knowles

Phoenix-based members of the Committee to Protect Medicare, a national network of doctors that has lobbied against Trump, are part of a chorus of health professionals criticizing the president’s decision to hold a rally Tuesday in Phoenix.

The president is speaking at a “Students for Trump” event at Dream City Church, which, according to local news, can hold about 3,000 people, as officials continue to caution against holding mass gatherings.

“This is a public health issue. It’s not about young or old, it’s not about being Republican or Democrat,” said Jagruti Patel, a critical care pulmonologist at HonorHealth in Phoenix, noting that her hospital’s intensive care units are 90 percent full. “It’s about human safety.”

“We are where New York was in March — we’re at capacity with a whole floor of covid-19 patients,” she said Tuesday.

Her hospital’s covid-19 patients are trending younger and sicker, she said, while Arizona reports record-high new coronavirus cases — one reason she’s worried about signaling that young people can gather safely.

Patel is among 3,000 Arizona health workers who last week signed a letter to Gov. Doug Ducey (R) urging him to require people to cover their faces in public. Ducey did not issue a statewide mandate but reversed course days after the physicians’ letter to let local governments — including in Phoenix — enact their own rules.

Organizers of the “Students for Trump” rally told AZCentral that attendees are expected to wear masks, but Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego (D) said over the weekend on CNN that the city will not enforce its new rules on face-covering at the event.

A CNN journalist covering the event reported that few attendees were wearing masks.

“I don’t understand how we can say, yes, we support universal masking, this is what we’re going to do, but … we’re not going to enforce this,” said another Phoenix physician, Amaal Starling, who is also a Committee to Protect Medicare member who pushed for a statewide face-mask mandate.

Starling said leaders should be modeling social distancing.

“You feel so helpless that not enough people are listening and that our leaders are not setting an example for what we as a community need to do,” she said.

June 23, 2020 at 4:46 PM EDT

Woman wanted by police in California for intentionally coughing in baby’s face

By Kareem Copeland

The San Jose Police Department is looking for a woman who allegedly coughed on a baby intentionally at a California frozen yogurt shop.

The authorities released a video of a woman standing in line at Yogurtland in front of a woman and her 1-year-old in a stroller June 12. The police say the woman became unhappy that the woman and her child were not social distancing enough. She then turned around, removed her mask, got close to the baby’s face and coughed two to three times. The mother can be seen trying to close the top of the stroller as the woman coughs.

Police are asking for help locating a suspect, described as a white woman in her 60s with a medium build. She was wearing a gray bandanna, glasses, long-sleeve shirt with gray vertical lines, white dress pants and patterned tennis shoes.

Police said the cough is considered an assault, as it is a method for coronavirus droplets to be transmitted.

California is one of several states in the midst of a spike of new coronavirus cases. Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) announced last week that face masks are now required in public spaces. He tweeted twice Monday stressing the use of masks and reminding the public to use them.

The county that San Jose is in, Santa Clara, has totaled 3,580 confirmed cases, 376 since last week. At least 154 coronavirus deaths have been reported in the county.