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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

The Fownes Hotel in Worcester, England. (Julie Merrick/Courtesy photo)

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.

By Candace Buckner
June 23, 2020 at 10:51 PM EDT

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

A baseball season knocked sideways by the novel coronavirus pandemic is set for an Opening Day either July 23 or 24. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

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.

By Dave Sheinin
June 23, 2020 at 10:33 PM EDT

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

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.

By Sarah Kaufman
June 23, 2020 at 9:51 PM EDT

Yosemite National Park canceling reservations at several campgrounds amid coronavirus concerns

Yosemite National Park in California announced the closure of several campgrounds on Tuesday amid concerns over the spread of the coronavirus. (Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

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.

By Candace Buckner
June 23, 2020 at 9:27 PM EDT

Washington state mandates face coverings in public

Pedestrians pass Patricia Rovzar's art on her boarded-up gallery in downtown Seattle last month. (Ted S. Warren/AP)

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.

By Kareem Copeland
June 23, 2020 at 8:58 PM EDT

Trump again uses racially insensitive term to describe coronavirus

President Trump speaks at Dream City Church in Phoenix on Tuesday. (Ross D. Franklin/AP)

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.

By Colby Itkowitz
June 23, 2020 at 8:25 PM EDT

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

The General Cemetery in Santiago, Chile, on Tuesday. (Martin Bernetti/AFP/Getty Images)

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.

By John Bartlett
June 23, 2020 at 7:59 PM EDT

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

Police officers assemble near a demonstration as the start of a curfew approaches in Chicago on June 6, 2020. (Natasha Moustache/Getty Images)

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.”

By Candace Buckner
June 23, 2020 at 7:38 PM EDT

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

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.”

By Kareem Copeland
June 23, 2020 at 7:21 PM EDT

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

People wait in line Tuesday to vote at the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville. (Michael Blackshire for The Washington Post)

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.

By Amy Gardner, Michelle Lee and Elise Viebeck
June 23, 2020 at 6:40 PM EDT

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

Medical staff from myCovidMD provide free coronavirus antibody testing in observance of Juneteenth at the Faith Central Bible Church in the predominantly African American city of Inglewood, Calif., on Friday. (Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images)

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.

By Candace Buckner and Jacqueline Dupree
June 23, 2020 at 5:38 PM EDT

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

Health-care workers check in patients at a drive-through coronavirus testing site in Arlington on June 19. (Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg News)

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.

By Rebecca Tan and Laura Vozzella
June 23, 2020 at 5:16 PM EDT

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

President Trump walks off Marine One and heads to Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland on June 23, 2020. (Susan Walsh/AP)

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.

By Hannah Knowles
June 23, 2020 at 4:46 PM EDT

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

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.

By Kareem Copeland
June 23, 2020 at 4:08 PM EDT

Ohio, W.Va. residents test positive after vacationing in Myrtle Beach

A sign in Myrtle Beach, S.C., asks people to maintain social distancing on the beach. (Jeffrey Collins/AP)

Coronavirus cases continue to spike following vacations in Myrtle Beach, S.C., with a growing number of positive tests beyond its borders.

This week, officials in Ohio and West Virginia have tied at least 49 confirmed cases to people who recently visited the popular vacation destination along the Atlantic coastline. On Tuesday, the Belmont County Health Department in Ohio confirmed at least 17 high school students have tested positive after a recent trip to Myrtle Beach, CNN reported.

While South Carolina has trended upward, with its rolling average 38 percent higher than a week ago, according to Washington Post data, Belmont County had reduced coronavirus cases to zero before this outbreak.

“We’re worried our numbers are going to be creeping up,” Robert Sproul, the deputy health commissioner of the county, told CNN.

The teens, whose trip was not sanctioned by their school, are in quarantine and have not been hospitalized, Sproul said. Two people have also tested positive after coming into contact with one or a few of the traveling students once they returned to Ohio.

Meanwhile, in West Virginia, the Preston County Health Department announced Monday that at least 25 residents who vacationed in Myrtle Beach have tested positive, according to WBOY 12 News. West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice (R) also linked an uptick of cases in the state to Myrtle Beach visits.

“We’re seeing the results of people traveling out of our state, especially to places like Myrtle Beach,” Justice said during a briefing, “and we’re seeing the fact that this disease is not going away.”

Though West Virginia has plans to allow spectators for outdoor events and sports, Justice said the state is “seeing enough numbers that absolutely will cause us to pause and to hesitate in every way on what we’re doing.”

By Candace Buckner
June 23, 2020 at 4:06 PM EDT

Countries around the world scramble to contain coronavirus flare-ups as U.S. states remain open

BERLIN — In nations around the world that saw new coronavirus infections decline in recent weeks, spikes in confirmed cases have alarmed officials and sent Australia, Germany, Portugal and South Korea, among other countries, scrambling to respond to resurgent outbreaks.

The new flare-ups are mostly rooted in identifiable regions, where officials launched or expanded aggressive containment efforts this week.

German authorities said Tuesday they would impose a new regional lockdown in a district of the country’s northwest to contain an outbreak linked to a meat-processing plant, after more than 1,500 workers were infected. Portugal cracked down on mass gatherings. Australia’s Victoria state reshuttered several schools. An area in the northeast of Spain reintroduced restrictions. Even New Zealand, which has just 10 confirmed, active cases, tightened border measures as an increasing number of citizens abroad began to fly home.

The swell of responses to new outbreaks around the world stood in stark contrast to the U.S. approach. With cases on the rise in nearly half of states, and with Arizona, Florida and Texas recording record new case numbers in recent days, states have continued to reopen, and the White House has continued to signal its desire for a return to normal.

Read more here.

By Rick Noack
June 23, 2020 at 3:17 PM EDT

More than 700 cash-strapped cities halt plans to repair roads, water systems or make other investments

More than 700 U.S. cities have halted plans to improve roadways, buy equipment and complete an array of upgrades to water systems and other critical infrastructure, as government officials slash spending to shore up the massive holes in their budgets created by the novel coronavirus.

The decision to suspend or terminate some of these long-planned purchases, upgrades and repairs threatens to worsen municipal services and harm local businesses, according to the National League of Cities, which deduced from a survey released Tuesday that more federal aid is necessary to ensure that local financial woes do not imperil the country’s economic recovery.

“It shows an economic ripple effect throughout the nation,” said Clarence Anthony, the organization’s executive director.

Read more here.

By Tony Romm
June 23, 2020 at 2:57 PM EDT

Amusement and water parks in N.J., once a virus hotspot, can open before Fourth of July weekend

Crowds of people ride bikes and walk along the boardwalk May 25 after the coronavirus disease restrictions were lifted in time for the Memorial Day weekend in Ocean City, N.J. (Jessica Kourkounis/Reuters)

New Jersey amusement and water parks can open July 2 at half-capacity, Gov. Phil Murphy (D) announced Tuesday, paving the way for Fourth of July weekend revelry in the region that was once a coronavirus hotspot.

That means boardwalk rides can start back up then, Murphy said, adding more detailed guidance is forthcoming. Playgrounds can also open that day, he said.

While New Jersey has one of the nation’s highest concentrations of coronavirus deaths and infections, second only to neighboring New York, transmission of the virus in both hard-hit states has slowed, with cases up only 1 percent during the past week. Murphy took to Twitter on Tuesday to tout a coronavirus test positivity rate of 1.96 percent, down dramatically from early in the pandemic, when the daily positivity rate pushed past 50 percent.

The governor emphasized the need to take precautions. Some states that escaped the worst of the virus early on are now dealing with surging infections and hospitalizations.

“There is ABSOLUTELY NO REASON for our rate of transmission to begin to creep back up because people have become complacent in social distancing, or are crowding around bars and restaurants unmasked,” he tweeted.

New Jersey has reported close to 170,000 cases and 13,000 deaths related to the virus. More than 6,000 of the deaths were in long-term care centers.

By Hannah Knowles
June 23, 2020 at 2:09 PM EDT

Trump tells aides he supports second round of stimulus checks, but White House divisions remain

President Trump has told aides 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 of sending more checks, creating a rift within conservative circles that could have significant consequences for the stimulus package set to be taken up by lawmakers in July. The White House has not officially taken a position on the matter.

Read more here.

By Jeff Stein and Josh Dawsey
June 23, 2020 at 1:41 PM EDT

U.S. new-home sales rebound

Model homes and for sale signs line a street as construction continues at a housing development in Zelienople, Pa., on March 18. (Keith Srakocic/AP)

Sales of new homes in the United States rose by 16.6 percent in May, in the latest signal that parts of the economy are recovering from the shocks of drastic lockdown measures, despite historic unemployment and surging coronavirus infections in several states.

On Tuesday, the Commerce Department reported that sales of new single-family homes rose to 676,000 last month, on a seasonally adjusted annual rate. The May figures exceeded expectations for a key indicator of the U.S. housing market. Economists had projected a decline in sales or modest growth in the low single digits. The surprising rebound comes after another unexpected report of new-home sales growth in April.

Home buyers are probably taking advantage of historically low interest rates, which have also triggered a swift rebound in stock prices after they cratered in March, when restrictions began in the United States to contain the spread of the coronavirus. The chair of the Federal Reserve said this month that the central bank will keep interest rates near zero through at least 2022.

The rise in new home purchases comes as the country is in its deepest recession since the Great Depression. Central bankers project a slow economic recovery, with unemployment to remain near 10 percent at the end of the year.

By Hamza Shaban
June 23, 2020 at 1:22 PM EDT

Saudi Arabia to limit hajj pilgrimage to 10,000 participants

BEIRUT — After months of deliberation over whether to cancel the annual hajj pilgrimage to stem the spread of the coronavirus, Saudi Arabia announced late Monday that it will drastically limit the number of people involved.

The decision to limit the hajj — which in 2019 drew nearly 2.5 million people to the city of Mecca — to 10,000 people aims to curb the spread of the virus but is likely to hit Saudi Arabia economically, and deliver a blow to those who had saved up and planned to perform the pilgrimage.

The decision announced by the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah said that this year’s pilgrimage will be available only to “very limited numbers” of people who are already in the kingdom but that it will include different nationalities, not just Saudis. The announcement did not explain how the pilgrims will be chosen.

Read more here.

By Sarah Dadouch
June 23, 2020 at 12:57 PM EDT

Brazilian judge orders Bolsonaro to wear face mask when outdoors in Brasilia

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro wears a face mask as he arrives at the flag raising ceremony before a ministerial meeting at the Alvorada Palace in Brasilia on May 12. (Evaristo Sa/AFP/Getty Images)

A Brazilian federal judge Tuesday ordered President Jair Bolsonaro to wear a face mask when outdoors in the capital city of Brasilia, citing local rules designed to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Judge Renato Coelho Borelli ruled that the president was not above the laws in the federal district that contains Brasilia, where face masks have been compulsory since late April, and that Bolsonaro would face a daily fine of 2,000 reals ($388) if he continued to flout the restrictions.

The judge added that the president’s decision to forgo a mask at public events and protests was “at best disrespectful” and put others at personal risk, according to a court transcript posted by the Estado de São Paulo newspaper. Bolsonaro did not immediately respond to the ruling.

Even as the number of daily cases in Brazil has climbed to become the highest rate of infection in the world, Bolsonaro has downplayed the severity of the outbreak and pushed back on medical expertise, firing his health minister in April and soon after forcing out his replacement.

Although Bolsonaro sometimes wears a mask, the president has joined crowded anti-lockdown protests without any protection. He was seen coughing at one protest in April.

This week, Brazil became the second country, after the United States, to pass 50,000 deaths from the coronavirus. It has recorded over 1.1 million cases of the coronavirus as of Tuesday, second only to the United States.

By Adam Taylor
June 23, 2020 at 12:42 PM EDT

Arizona reports record-high new cases, jump in hospitalizations as Trump visits

Arizona reported record-high new coronavirus cases and a continued rise in hospitalizations Tuesday as President Trump arrived for a rally in Phoenix, days after his campaign trip to Tulsa, another site of surging infections.

Arizona recorded 3,593 additional, known cases of the virus, as well as a rolling average in new infections 77 percent higher than last Tuesday’s. The state is now reporting 2,136 hospitalizations, up about 7 percent from the 1,992 reported Monday and more than double the number at the beginning of the month.

Hospital bed usage and intensive-care unit usage are at 83 percent and 84 percent, respectively. Health officials, including White House coronavirus task force member Anthony S. Fauci, have said spikes in hospitalizations are particularly worrisome.

Trump’s Arizona visit comes just after his Saturday visit to Tulsa, where he held his first campaign rally since the pandemic set in. Many have criticized the president’s decision to resume rallies at a time when experts are still warning that large gatherings of any kind could spread the virus and noting there are rising case counts in many states in the South and West.

By Hannah Knowles and Jacqueline Dupree
June 23, 2020 at 12:35 PM EDT

Egypt to lift curfew and reopen restaurants

Starting Saturday night, Egyptians will no longer be under a national curfew as the government eases coronavirus restrictions imposed since March.

Restaurants, cafes and sporting clubs can reopen their doors this weekend, but they must limit the number of customers to one-quarter of their capacity, Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly said Tuesday in a televised briefing, according to Bloomberg News. While mosques and churches can reopen, mass prayers are still suspended. Beaches and parks remain closed, the report said.

For months, Egypt’s population of roughly 100 million people seemed to have been spared from a severe coronavirus outbreak. But reported cases have steadily climbed in recent weeks, straining an already challenged health-care system.

The relaxation of lockdown measures comes as Egypt reported 1,576 new cases of the coronavirus Monday, bringing the total number of infections to 56,809, including 2,278 deaths.

In May, Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf states reinstated strict public health measures after suffering a resurgence of cases. And earlier this month, Iran reported a dramatic surge in infections, as the country with the largest outbreak in the Middle East appeared to see a rekindling of the pandemic.

By Hamza Shaban
June 23, 2020 at 12:12 PM EDT

Texas Children’s Hospital admitting adult corovonavirus patients

Intensive care units and acute care beds at Texas Children’s Hospital are now open to adults as the hospital helps out with the record-setting pace of infections in Texas, the Houston Chronicle reported.

A spokeswoman for the hospital told the paper that covid-19 patients will be treated in an expanded isolation section at its west campus in Katy, Tex. Adult patients who are not infected with the virus also will be admitted to its hospitals to help other hospitals cope with capacity issues.

Texas Children’s Hospital created a plan to help with a possible coronavirus surge earlier in the year, when a surge was expected in April. The hospital did not need to set its contingency plan into motion then, but the new increase in infections marks the first time it will be implemented, the Houston Chronicle reported.

More than 4,500 cases were reported Monday, pushing the state’s total past 118,400.

Health experts anticipate that Houston, the most populous city in Texas, will be the country’s next epicenter, the paper reported.

By Lateshia Beachum
June 23, 2020 at 11:57 AM EDT

First vaccine trial on African continent to begin this week, researchers in South Africa say

The first clinical covid-19 vaccine trial will begin this week, researchers at South Africa’s University of the Witwatersrand announced in an online news conference Tuesday.

“This is a landmark moment for South Africa and Africa at this stage of the covid-19 pandemic,” said Shabir Madhi, professor of vaccinology at that University of the Witwatersrand and the leader of the trial. “As we enter winter in South Africa and pressure increases on public hospitals, now more than ever we need a vaccine to prevent infection by covid-19.”

Dubbed the South African Ox1Cov-19 Vaccine VIDA-Trial, the aim of the project is to find a vaccine that could prevent infection by SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes covid-19.

Screening for the trial began in the past week and the first vaccines will be administered this week, Madhi said, with the aim of including 2,000 participants in Gauteng and Western Cape provinces, the latter of which has emerged as an outbreak hot spot.

South African researchers will work in cooperation with the University of Oxford and the Oxford Jenner Institute during the trial. An Oxford-developed vaccine is already being evaluated in Britain and other European nations, but experts say that it is important that trials take place in different parts of the world concurrently.

“It is essential that vaccine studies are performed in southern hemisphere countries, including in the African region, concurrently with studies in northern hemisphere countries,” said Helen Rees, executive director of the Wits Reproductive Health and HIV Institute.

The World Health Organization says that just 11 vaccine candidates have reached the stage of clinical testing and Oxford University’s vaccine has reached what is known as Phase 3, the final and largest-scale trial.

South Africa has the highest number of confirmed covid-19 cases in Africa, with more than 100,000 as of Tuesday morning, including 1,991 deaths.

By Adam Taylor
June 23, 2020 at 11:32 AM EDT

California sets record with more than 5,000 new coronavirus cases

California has set another record for coronavirus cases with more than 5,000 reported infections on Monday, according to Washington Post data. Its previous high, 4,515, was recorded Sunday.

The Golden State is also facing a spike in hospitalizations, which crept up to 5,065 from the more than 3,700 reported Sunday.

Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) relaxed many of his state’s stay-at-home orders more than a month ago and has permitted many counties to reopen businesses, the Los Angeles Times reported. Newsom has also warned that the state could revert to more stringent measures if coronavirus numbers rise to an undefined high, the paper reported.

In a Monday news conference, the governor reminded the public of the continued threat of the coronavirus despite perceived progress in combating it.

“Those that suggest we’re out of the woods, those that suggest this somehow is going to disappear, these numbers tell a very, very different and sobering story,” he said.

By Lateshia Beachum
June 23, 2020 at 10:36 AM EDT

Federal judge rejects Michigan governor’s request to slow gym reopenings

Gyms in Michigan won’t have to push back their reopening date after a federal judge rejected a request Monday by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) and the state’s assistant attorney general, reported.

U.S. District Judge Paul L. Maloney quashed sections of Whitmer’s executive order Friday that included an umbrella ban on the reopening of gym and exercise facilities, the news outlet reported.

In response to the ruling, Assistant Attorney General John G. Fedynsky filed a request that asked the judge to stop his order that would allow fitness establishments to reopen to the public Thursday, citing a desire to see the appeals process play out and to prevent potential further spread of the coronavirus, according to

Tiffany Brown, a spokeswoman for the governor, told on Friday that the ruling dismissed data-based decisions that have saved the lives of Michiganders.

Maloney’s Monday denial said Whitmer’s administration has not been consistent in enforcing closures and allowing gyms to reopen.

“Gyms are open in parts of the state but not others, and most other industries have had their own ‘reopening’ dates, staggered throughout the months of May and June,” Maloney wrote, according to “[The court] isn’t persuaded that the injunction harms the public interest.”

The ruling has been appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit, reported.

By Lateshia Beachum
June 23, 2020 at 10:15 AM EDT

U.S.-China trade confusion sends stocks swinging

Confusion over the status of the U.S.-China trade deal sparked wide swings in overnight trading, with Dow futures tumbling as much as 600 points after the White House’s trade adviser told Fox News the agreement was “over.” Stocks later recovered after he clarified his comments.

The Dow Jones industrial average jumped 239 points, or 0.9 percent, at the opening bell. The Standard & Poor’s 500 and Nasdaq composite indexes gained 0.8 percent and 0.7 percent, respectively.

In a Monday evening interview on “The Story” with Martha MacCallum, trade adviser Peter Navarro said of the deal with China: “It’s over.” Hours later, he issued a statement saying his comments were taken “wildly out of context.” He added: “They had nothing at all to do with the Phase I trade deal, which continues in place. I was simply speaking to the lack of trust we now have of the Chinese Communist Party.”

In a Twitter post Monday night, President Trump said the deal was “fully intact.”

U.S. relations with China have reached a low ebb during the coronavirus pandemic, which originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan. Trump has publicly considered scrapping the trade deal or imposing other economic penalties in retaliation for the Beijing government’s handling of the virus.

China is also poised to fall short of its purchasing obligations for the first phase of the agreement because of the coronavirus recession. The Center for Strategic and International Studies predicted in May that China would buy $60 billion in U.S. goods by the end of 2020; it was supposed to purchase $263.6 billion.

Foreign markets were largely unbothered. The Hang Seng index in Hong Kong gained 1.6 percent, and Japan’s Nikkei rose 0.5 percent. The BSE Sensex in Mumbai saw steady growth at 1.5 percent. London’s FTSE jumped 1.3 percent. The German DAX was the big gainer at 2.6 percent.

By Jacob Bogage
June 23, 2020 at 10:12 AM EDT

Trump says ‘I don’t kid’ when asked whether he was kidding about ordering a testing slowdown

President Trump speaks during a rally on June 20 in Tulsa. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

President Trump offered a seemingly contradictory response Tuesday morning about whether he was kidding when he said during a Saturday campaign rally in Tulsa that he had directed officials in his administration to “slow the testing down.

“I don’t kid,” Trump said when asked by a reporter outside the White House if he had been kidding on Saturday night.

“Let me just tell you. Let me make it clear,” Trump told reporters as he prepared to leave the White House en route to Arizona. "We have got the greatest testing program anywhere in the world. We test better than anybody in the world. Our tests are the best in the world. And we have the most of them. By having more tests. We find more cases.”

Those comments came a day after he offered a more detailed explanation of his remark at the rally in which he echoed officials in his administration who have said the statement was a “tongue-in-cheek” joke.

During a Monday interview with CBN News, the president called his campaign quip “semi-tongue-in-cheek.”

“I say it all the time,” Trump said, referring to his suggestion that slowing testing efforts would bring down the number of new coronavirus cases in the United States.

“I know some people thought it was tongue-in-cheek,” he added. “It’s unfair. We’re doing so much testing, so much more than any other country.”

The United States has conducted more than 27 million coronavirus tests, with about 10 percent coming back positive, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Although that is more tests conducted than any other nation, it trails some other countries in the number of tests administered per capita.

In the Monday interview, Trump suggested that if the United States tested only very sick people, the number of coronavirus cases would be lower.

“We have kids with sniffles, and all of the sudden we report a case and they’re in no danger whatsoever,” he said.

Asked whether he had genuinely told officials to cut back on coronavirus tests, the president said no.

“But I think we put ourselves at a disadvantage, I told my people,” Trump said.

“So, instead of 25 million tests, let’s say we did 10 million tests.” he added. “We’d look like we were doing much better because we’d have far fewer cases.”

By Katie Shepherd and John Wagner
June 23, 2020 at 10:05 AM EDT

Health experts caution against Trump’s messages

Health experts are warning about the danger of reduced restrictions and offering context about growing numbers of infections in some states after President Trump said Saturday that he had asked health officials to scale back coronavirus testing.

Sanjay Gupta, associate professor of neurosurgery at Emory University Hospital and CNN’s chief medical correspondent, said more testing needs to be done to combat the spread of the virus — not less.

In a Tuesday interview with CNN’s “New Day,” Gupta said the administration has been slow to implement testing ever since the first cruise ship with an outbreak was ordered to stay offshore as U.S. officials plotted how to handle the number of infections aboard.

“In the middle of the biggest public health disaster in a hundred years, to say to stop doing or to slow down doing the one thing that could help us at least get out of this mess was really sort of mind-numbing,” he said.

The increasing number of infections isn’t surprising, considering that many states have reopened before seeing an actual decrease in infections or having effective safeguards against infection, according to Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute.

“It’s worth remembering that we’re still quite early in the pandemic,” he said in an interview with ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Tuesday morning. “We have long way to go, and we really have to put in the kind of measures that’ll keep us safe over the next 12 or 18 months before the pandemic is over.”

Hard-hit states, such as New York and New Jersey, are pretty much over the first wave of the virus, but that is not the case for a large part of the country, he said.

Trump asserts that the rise in cases can be explained by the amount of testing, but that explanation isn’t the whole story, Jha said.

“We are doing more testing, and that’s part of the reason, but much of it is just because we have more infections,” he said, adding that more testing wouldn’t explain the increase in hospitalizations.

Jha also cautioned against attending indoor gatherings, such as the president’s upcoming campaign rally in Arizona.

By Lateshia Beachum
June 23, 2020 at 9:41 AM EDT

FDA warns against nine hand sanitizers because of potentially fatal toxic substance

The FDA is warning people not to use any hand sanitizer from a certain Mexican manufacturer after finding a potentially fatal toxic substance in some of its products.

The agency says it tested samples of two products from Eskbiochem and found methanol, which it said is “not an acceptable ingredient for hand sanitizers” and can cause health issues when ingested or absorbed through the skin. Lavar Gel, it found, had 81 percent methanol, while CleanCare No Germ had 28 percent.

“Substantial methanol exposure,” the FDA said, can lead to problems, including nausea, vomiting, headaches, blurred vision, permanent blindness or damage to the nervous system, seizures and coma. It can also lead to death.

People exposed to hand sanitizer containing methanol “should seek immediate treatment,” the FDA wrote in a statement, which lists nine known sanitizer products made by Eskbiochem: All-Clean Hand Sanitizer, Esk Biochem Hand Sanitizer, Saniderm Advanced Hand Sanitizer, The Good Gel Antibacterial Gel Hand Sanitizer and a variety of CleanCare NoGerm products.

Demand for sanitizer has jumped during the coronavirus pandemic.

The FDA stated that it contacted Eskbiochem on June 17 to recommend removing its hand sanitizers from the market. “To date, the company has not taken action” to do so, the agency wrote Friday.

Eskbiochem did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The FDA said the company’s products pose a danger not just to people cleaning their hands but also to children who accidentally drink the substances or adults who substitute them for a common ingredient in liquor.

The Associated Press reports that more than 100 people have died in Mexico of methanol poisoning from adulterated liquor over the course of the pandemic, as many towns barred alcohol sales.

By Hannah Knowles
June 23, 2020 at 9:28 AM EDT

England will reopen pubs and restaurants beginning July 4

A woman walks past a closed pub in London on Tuesday. (Andy Rain/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)

LONDON — Applauding the British people for their success in suppressing the spread of the coronavirus, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced in Parliament on Tuesday that England’s strict lockdown would be ending, and that beginning in July, the public could return to something approaching normal life, including drinking in pubs.

“Today we can say that our long national hibernation is beginning to come to an end,” Johnson said. “The bustle is starting to come back.”

The prime minister told the House of Commons that the government will in 10 days abandon its insistence that people keep two meters apart, but instead offer the guidance that they maintain a distance of “one meter plus.”

Starting on July 4, Johnson said, patrons will be able to eat and drink in restaurants and pubs as long as they follow new social-distancing measures. For example, in a pub, customers will not be served at the bar, but at a table. Restaurants will arrange their tables to keep diners apart. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have yet to announce decisions on when or whether to end their lockdowns.

Also opening in England, under new guidelines to maintain some protection, will be hotels, inns, libraries, houses of worship, museums, barbers, hairdressers, theme parks, social clubs and zoos. Last week, nonessential retail outlets opened their doors.

Remaining closed: night clubs, swimming pools, nail salons, tattoo parlors and indoor gyms. Mass gatherings and sporting events will still be banned.

Johnson told the lawmakers that new infections were falling by 2 to 4 percent daily; that hospitalizations had decreased by 74 percent; and that daily deaths had dropped from a peak 943 in April to 130 a day in June.

The reproduction number for viral transmission is below 1, meaning the epidemic here is petering out, albeit slowly, he said.

Johnson warned Parliament that the virus is still spreading in other countries and if the number of new cases began to spike, strict measures — locally or nationally — could return.

By William Booth
June 23, 2020 at 9:15 AM EDT

Novak Djokovic, world’s top-ranked men’s tennis player, tests positive for the coronavirus

Novak Djokovic of Serbia reacts during a match at the Adria Tour tennis tournament in Belgrade, Serbia, on June 13. (Andrej Cukic/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)

Novak Djokovic, the world’s top-ranked men’s tennis player, has tested positive for the novel coronavirus, becoming the fourth professional tennis player to do so days after many competed in an exhibition tournament that Djokovic staged in his native Serbia and, the following week, in Croatia.

Djokovic, 32, organized the Adria Tour to give players a chance to compete after idling since the men’s and women’s pro tours were suspended in mid-March.

But it has proved calamitous, resulting in at least seven positive tests (Djokovic and his wife; fellow players Grigor Dimitrov, Borna Coric and Viktor Troicki; and two coaches) after being staged without following basic health and safety protocols to guard against the transmission of the highly contagious virus, such as mask-wearing when possible and maintaining six feet of space between people.

Read more here.

By Liz Clarke
June 23, 2020 at 9:15 AM EDT

In elections in Kentucky and New York, officials contend with dearth of poll workers because of pandemic

Voters in Kentucky and New York headed to the polls Tuesday amid concerns that the coronavirus could cause delays or health risks and as election officials contended with an influx of mail ballots and a dearth of poll workers.

An hour after polls had opened, voting appeared to be moving smoothly at the lone polling locations for Kentucky’s two largest cities, Louisville and Lexington. Statewide, counties were expected to open fewer than 200 polling locations instead of the usual 3,700.

Election officials said mail-in balloting and in-person early voting have been so strong that there is expected to be less demand for in-person voting locations. With evidence that early and absentee balloting had already exceeded overall turnout in the previous decade, voting rights advocates were bracing for possible long lines and limited capacity, especially given how many poll workers canceled plans to work out of fear of contracting the novel coronavirus.

Read more here.

By Amy Gardner, Elise Viebeck and Michelle Lee
June 23, 2020 at 8:55 AM EDT

Second presidential debate moved from Ann Arbor, Mich., to Miami amid coronavirus concerns

Miami will substitute as a presidential debate site after a venue in Ann Arbor, Mich., withdrew over concerns about holding a large-scale event amid the continuing coronavirus pandemic, the Commission on Presidential Debates announced Tuesday.

The commission said that the second presidential debate, scheduled for Oct. 15, will be held at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County in Miami.

“This debate was originally scheduled for the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and the University has concluded that it is not feasible to host the presidential debate as planned,” the commission said in a statement.

Read more here.

By John Wagner and Matt Viser
June 23, 2020 at 8:37 AM EDT

Following virus flare-ups, Australia closes two schools again

Cars wait at a drive-through coronavirus testing site at a shopping center in Melbourne. (William West/AFP/Getty Images)

One of Australia’s most populous states closed two primary schools on Tuesday, after a flare-up of more than a dozen cases of the novel coronavirus prompted concerns about “significant” community spread.

With 17 new confirmed infections, the sudden rise in the state of Victoria — a small, relatively densely populated state that includes the city of Melbourne — represents a fraction of the daily increases posted by hard-hit states in the U.S. South and West.

Consistent with Australia’s relative success in managing the pandemic, Victoria officials’ swift response to a possible resurgence stands in stark contrast to the messaging from many of their U.S. counterparts.

As governors in Texas and Georgia have pushed ahead with reopening while case totals reach record levels, Victoria State Premier Daniel Andrews has shown no qualms about clamping down again.

“I know and understand that all Victorians want this to be over,” he said at a news conference, “but we simply can’t pretend the virus is gone, that the virus is somehow not in our state.”

Of the 17 new cases reported Tuesday, one was a person in hotel quarantine, two were from known outbreaks, three came from routine testing, and 11 were still being investigated, Andrews said. The infections were also linked to students at the two shuttered schools, both of which are in Melbourne suburbs that have been identified as hot spots.

Over the weekend, Victoria officials lowered the cap on gatherings following four consecutive days of double-digit rises in infections. As during the first phase of reopening, no more than 10 people can meet in public, and no more than five can assemble inside homes.

The coronavirus took off again in some parts of Victoria, Andrews said, because of large family events that violated government orders.

“It doesn’t matter how many people are doing the wrong thing,” he added. “Everybody will pay the price.”

By Teo Armus
June 23, 2020 at 8:05 AM EDT

LAX is testing fever-detecting cameras as passengers depart and arrive

Starting Tuesday, some travelers at Los Angeles International Airport will be asked to undergo a new screening process long before they get to security checkpoints: walking past cameras that can flag travelers with a fever, which is a sign of the novel coronavirus.

Officials on Monday planned to announce a pilot program to test the use of thermal imaging cameras at the departures entrance and the corridor for international arrivals in the airport’s Tom Bradley International Terminal.

Read more here.

By Hannah Sampson
June 23, 2020 at 7:44 AM EDT

Podcast: How to develop a vaccine — quickly and ethically

On the race to develop a vaccine for the coronavirus, and why the fastest way to test a vaccine poses huge ethical questions. Plus, why so many people are convinced that they had covid-19 already.

Listen here.

By Martine Powers
June 23, 2020 at 7:16 AM EDT

Britain’s zoos face extinction as a result of coronavirus lockdown. Can David Attenborough save them?

A Humboldt penguin in the London Zoo at Regents Park in London on June 15. (Neil Hall/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)

LONDON — Sir David Attenborough, cherished wildlife presenter and historian, will lead a campaign that aims to raise 12 million pounds ($14 million) to help save two zoos in Britain that were forced to close for three months during the novel coronavirus pandemic.

While both London Zoo and its sister site, Whipsnade Zoo, have recently reopened, the impact of the nationwide lockdown implemented in March has been severe, and millions of pounds have been lost in revenue, jeopardizing the future of almost 23,000 animals across the two tourist attractions.

“We are as endangered as some of the beautiful animals we care for and help protect around the world,” the Zoological Society of London wrote on its JustGiving page as it urged people to donate to secure the fate and future of the zoos and their animals.

“Without money, our crucial work can’t continue,” the society said.

In an interview with the Sunday Times over the weekend, the 94-year-old Attenborough, who is known for his lushly photographed animal documentaries such as “Planet Earth,” described the prospect of the zoo going bust as “too awful to think of.”

“What happens if you can’t raise the money to keep the animals? What happens if you can’t afford the food? Are we supposed to put them down?” he said.

Visitor numbers to the zoos are currently capped, and both sites must adhere to stringent social distancing rules. There are currently no ticket sales at the gates, and passes must be purchased in advance online.

London Zoo says its monthly food bill for the animals is at least $53,000 and requires at least 500 boxes of sweet potatoes each week. Lions at both zoos consume a combined total of 374 pounds of meat a week.

By Jennifer Hassan
June 23, 2020 at 6:56 AM EDT

Germany imposes first local lockdown amid meatpacking outbreak

Members of the German Red Cross stand in front of a house where employees of Tönnies slaughterhouse live in Rheda-Wiedenbrück, Germany, on Monday. (David Inderlied/AP)

BERLIN — German authorities have reimposed lockdown measures in a district in the country’s northwest after the number of coronavirus cases linked to a meat-processing plant climbed to 1,500.

Armin Laschet, premier of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, said restrictions will be reintroduced in the district of Gütersloh, where the Tönnies slaughterhouse is located, until at least June 30.

All employees of the meat plant — Europe’s largest — are under quarantine, amounting to more than 7,000 people. A total of 1,553 employees have tested positive.

Schools and kindergartens had already been closed as the number of cases steadily climbed in recent days and health authorities battled to keep the outbreak contained. Starting Tuesday, people will be able to meet only with members of their own household, and gyms, bars, galleries and museums will be closed.

Restaurants will remain open, but people will be able to dine only with household members. The infections have highlighted poor working conditions in meatpacking plants in Germany, where laborers from Eastern European countries, including Romania, Poland and Bulgaria, often work in cramped conditions. German Labor Minister Hubertus Heil has said the company should pay damages.

Laschet said the quarantine for workers must be imposed “humanely,” adding that “it’s not enough to just give people a package of food every day.”

Heath officials have remained optimistic that localized outbreaks can be contained through testing, contact tracing and quarantines. Lothar Wieler, head of the Robert Koch Institute, Germany’s federal agency for infectious-disease control, said that while other countries are seeing a second wave of infections, he is “optimistic” that Germany can avoid that by acting quickly and remaining alert.

By Loveday Morris and Luisa Beck
June 23, 2020 at 6:38 AM EDT

Pakistan rejects lockdown measures as cases soar

Men gather to receive cash from the counter of a governmental program in Hyderabad, Pakistan, on Monday. (Nadeem Khawar/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Pakistan have nearly tripled in the past month, and aid groups are warning of an increasingly dire situation that is forcing hospitals to turn patients away.

Yet after restrictions meant to contain the pandemic earlier this year drove millions of Pakistanis toward hunger and starvation, the country’s government is instead pushing to reopen its battered economy.

Government officials have called on Pakistanis to wear masks but rejected calls for a lockdown, fearing that it could force the country into economic collapse. Shopping malls and most businesses are now fully operational, as is public transit.

Although government officials never ordered a countrywide shutdown, most Pakistani provinces were under strict measures until early May. At a news conference Monday, Prime Minister Imran Khan said those efforts created an “unprecedented situation” in the economy that cannot be repeated.

Khan instead reiterated efforts to impose “smart lockdowns” targeting hot spots and focus a response on the sick and elderly and those with preexisting conditions.

Opposition parties and many doctors have said the recent surge in cases can be traced to the government’s decision last month to lift restrictions before the Eid holiday, allowing people to shop in crowded markets.

More than 185,000 people have been infected and upward of 3,600 have died, according to figures shared by the Health Ministry on Tuesday. The International Rescue Committee said conditions are bound to worsen without additional support, particularly for Afghan refugees and the poorest Pakistanis.

“Pakistan needs help to beat this deadly disease,” said Adnan bin Junaid, the aid group’s Pakistan country director.

Many people live in overcrowded homes with limited access to water and sanitation, he said, making it nearly impossible for them to practice social distancing and protect themselves from the virus.

Armus reported from Washington.

By Shaiq Hussain and Teo Armus
June 23, 2020 at 6:07 AM EDT

As NBA prepares for its return at Disney, Florida’s coronavirus cases are spiking

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver in October. (Jae C. Hong/AP)

The NBA’s months-long attempt to construct a game-play environment during the coronavirus pandemic culminated in a health and safety protocol that will govern its planned return in July.

That document, which numbered 113 pages and was distributed to teams last week, established testing procedures and outlined all aspects of a restricted, single-site campus at Disney World. Despite its exhaustive look at life inside the proposed bubble, the protocol paid little attention to what might happen directly outside of it, where the coronavirus is suddenly surging.

Now, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, who spent last week appealing to players concerned that basketball would distract from social justice protests, must return to the health question as teams prepare to reassemble in their home markets Tuesday.

Read more here.

By Ben Golliver
June 23, 2020 at 5:40 AM EDT

Coronavirus spreads in D.C.'s largest apartment building

Tenants of the Woodner protest unsafe living conditions exacerbated by the coronavirus crisis outside the building on May 28. (Katherine Frey/The Washington Post)

The virus has transformed life in the District’s largest residential building, which has an estimated population of more than 2,000 — aging tenants who have stayed in their units for decades, lots of Latino immigrant families, students and interns, teachers and journalists, and anyone else seeking affordable rent in the gentrifying 16th Street strip between Columbia Heights and Mount Pleasant.

Residents stay in their units, gripped by fear of a virus that has hit Columbia Heights particularly hard — and has sickened and killed Woodner tenants and employees. And they worry especially that the management company has not shared any information about coronavirus cases in the building, even as more and more residents seem to have gotten infected. Frustrated tenants are withholding rent, signing petitions and, one day last month, holding a socially distant protest outside the building.

“You’re talking about people who live here in the largest apartment building in the capital of the United States on the same street the White House is on,” said José Lucas Badué, a teacher at Roosevelt High School who is helping to organize the rent strike. “This is just intolerable. You can’t do this.”

Read more here.

By Julie Zauzmer
June 23, 2020 at 5:17 AM EDT

Coronavirus is surging in India, but a religious festival will go ahead — just smaller

Temple priests and Hindu devotees carry an idol of Lord Jagannath as a symbolic gesture in Kolkata on June 23. (Dibyangshu Sarkar/AFP/Getty Images)

Every year, the Indian city of Puri hosts one of Hinduism’s most famous processions, where hundreds of thousands of devotees throng the streets as massive chariots make their way toward the historic Jagannath Temple.

But with coronavirus cases surging in the country after the government began lifting its stringent lockdown measures, a court ruled that this year’s celebration would be canceled, citing health and safety fears.

That decision was reversed on Monday, after an appeal by organizers who claimed that the celebration should go ahead and promised the Odisha state government that restrictions would be put in place to curb the spread of the deadly infection.

With more than 440,000 confirmed infections, India has the fourth-highest number of cases in the world, and 14,011 have died of covid-19 in the country.

The virus continues to infect large swaths of the population, hitting cities such as Mumbai and Delhi particularly hard and overwhelming hospitals as exhausted health-care workers battle to save lives. Upon reversing their decision, judges ruled that no more than 500 people can pull the lavish chariots, and those who do so must be tested for the coronavirus.

The court also said that only key participants can attend this year’s festival, and those congregating are asked to maintain social distancing measures.

Entrances to the city of Puri have been sealed, and a curfew confining people to their houses and hotels will be in place during the chariot procession. Celebrations begin on Tuesday and are expected to last for nine days.

By Jennifer Hassan
June 23, 2020 at 4:51 AM EDT

Georgia infections, hospitalizations reach new peak

Jason Godbey hangs a banner over the entrance of Madison Chop House Grille as the restaurant prepares to shift from takeout only to dine-in service in April in Madison, Ga. (John Bazemore/AP)

As new cases of the coronavirus continue to increase in Georgia, infectious-disease specialists are warning that residents and state officials have not done nearly enough to curb a concerning uptick in infections.

“What we’re seeing is that people are going out and just basically not realizing the virus is still there,” Carlos del Rio, a professor at Emory University, told reporters Monday, according to the Associated Press.

In April, the state made headlines as one of the first to begin reopening, while the pandemic was raging across much of the country and most aspects of public life were closed. Two months later, it appears that the outbreak is more widespread in Georgia than ever before.

A rolling seven-day average of cases has been trending upward since the beginning of the month, according to data tracked by The Washington Post, and it reached its highest total yet on Monday. In the past week, 1,073 Georgia residents were confirmed to have contracted the virus.

Almost 66,000 Georgians have been infected since the start of the outbreak, and more than 2,600 people have died statewide. Hospitalizations have risen since the start of the month, too.

Youth sports returned on Monday, with state officials allowing high school teams to begin practicing in groups of up to 50 people. In Dougherty County, an early hot spot, government offices also reopened.

Gov. Brian Kemp (R) has required restaurant waiters, barbers and others who interact with customers in person to cover their faces. But he has stopped short of any other restrictions on businesses and barred cities and counties from imposing their own measures.

Savannah Mayor Van Johnson (D) said his city would be drafting an order to require face coverings anyway.

“I believe, colleagues, that we are facing an emergency,” he told city council members Monday, according to the AP.

By Teo Armus
June 23, 2020 at 4:15 AM EDT

Universities wanting students on campus will need quarantines, tests and masks, says new study

Students walk past Sather Gate on the University of California at Berkeley campus in May 2018. (Ben Margot/AP)

Large universities will need to make major changes to prevent outbreaks if students are brought back to campus for the fall semester, according to a working paper written by researchers at Swarthmore College and the University of Pennsylvania earlier this month.

Schools should prepare to roll out widespread testing, limit class sizes, mandate masks and restrict contact between students outside of class, according to the paper’s findings. And professors should ready themselves for extended absences of students who test positive for the virus and have to quarantine until they recover.

The paper’s co-authors, University of Pennsylvania mathematics professor Philip Gressman and Swarthmore College economics professor Jennifer Peck, modeled the possible spread of the coronavirus on a large research university campus with 20,000 students and 2,500 instructors.

Without any precautions, every susceptible member of the student body and staff would be infected by the end of the fall semester, the model showed. But adopting a set of interventions could keep infection rates much lower, with as few as 66 people testing positive before winter break, the paper said.

The “standard intervention” the researchers propose to keep infection rates low includes “quarantine and contact tracing, universal mask-wearing, daily randomized testing of 3% of the university community, and transitioning all classes with 30 or more students to online-only interaction.”

The simulation found that frequent quarantines were likely even with precautions, and each positive test result would lead 10 to 20 students to self-isolate to prevent the virus from spreading further.

While limitations on social gatherings will probably be a challenging rule for colleges to enforce, the simulation showed that social distancing is one of the most important precautions to prevent outbreaks.

“Even very small rates of contact in large group settings like dining halls or parties may be sufficient to sustain an outbreak on campus regardless of any other protective measures which have been put into place,” according to the paper.

By Katie Shepherd
June 23, 2020 at 3:46 AM EDT

Two meters? One meter plus? Social distancing rules prompt fierce debate in Britain.

LONDON — Prime Minister Boris Johnson is being asked to answer one of the most devilish questions of the pandemic: What's the difference between two meters and one meter of social distancing, for public health and for saving the economy?

Or, asked another way, how much does it matter if restaurant diners or pub crawlers are required to be separated by six feet vs. three feet, more or less, with one meter being equal to 3.28084 feet?

Since Johnson ordered Britain into lockdown in March, Brits have been instructed — over and over — to please keep two meters of social distance between themselves to slow the spread of the coronavirus, which has killed at least 42,731 people here so far, the highest death toll in Europe.

Read more here.

By William Booth
June 23, 2020 at 3:23 AM EDT

D.C. Metro to reopen 15 stations as coronavirus restrictions are lifted

D.C. Metro has accelerated its plan to restore service from the skeletal operation it has been running during the coronavirus pandemic, a shift partly driven by federal agencies that are headed back into the office sooner than expected.

On Monday, the transit agency announced that on Sunday, 15 Metro stations that have been closed since late March, when most of the Washington region was shut down, will reopen.

The decision coincides with the lifting of many of the business and social restrictions in the District, Maryland and Virginia, boosting ridership and leading the agency to shut down bus routes with relatively few riders and redeploy buses to 14 of its busiest lines.

Read more here.

By Justin George and Lisa Rein
June 23, 2020 at 3:05 AM EDT

Analysis: A week after Pence bragged about improvement, the pandemic is getting worse

On Tuesday, Vice President Pence triumphantly rejected the idea that the country was seeing a second spike in coronavirus cases as the pandemic continued. Writing for the Wall Street Journal, he outlined the data that made him confident that things were improving.

“Every state, territory and major metropolitan area, with the exception of three, have positive test rates under 10%,” he wrote. “And in the six states that have reached more than 1,000 new cases a day, increased testing has allowed public health officials to identify most of the outbreaks in particular settings — prisons, nursing homes and meatpacking facilities — and contain them.”

A week later, nearly all of the verifiable claims Pence made are incorrect or have eroded significantly.

Read more here.

By Philip Bump
June 23, 2020 at 2:38 AM EDT

About 100 Volkswagen workers in Mexico have tested positive since March as plant prepares to reopen

Volkswagen employees leave the plant in Puebla, Mexico, after attending a training session on June 16. (Imelda Medina/Reuters)

About 2 percent of the employees who work at Volkswagen-owned motor vehicle plants in Mexico have tested positive for the coronavirus at some point since the company closed those facilities in March.

In an effort to resume manufacturing at its automobile plants in Puebla, Mexico, Volkswagen and its luxury brand Audi have been testing large swaths of the 11,364 workers employed in the city by the German company. Nearly 45 percent of the workforce at those plants has been tested, the company told Reuters. About 100 workers tested positive for the virus or antibodies.

The automaker began slowly sending workers back to the plants to prepare for a return to production last week. Although other carmakers have been able to resume work in Mexico, the governor of the state of Puebla delayed reopening plants in the city on June 12.

Volkswagen told Reuters that employees are engaged in “training and preparation” for a return to manufacturing.

Mexico had reported more than 185,000 cases and 22,584 deaths as of early Monday.

By Katie Shepherd
June 23, 2020 at 2:32 AM EDT

Barcelona opera house reopens before a packed audience — of plants

Musicians rehearse at the Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona. (Emilio Morenatti/AP)

It was a full house Monday at Barcelona’s Liceu opera, as the 2,292-seat venue reopened for its first concert since Spain announced a national emergency in March.

There were no face masks, or hand sanitizer — or, for that matter, any kind of social distancing among the thousands of attendees in the audience.

Rather than performing before a human audience, the UceLi string quartet serenaded hundreds of potted plants at the Gran Teatre del Liceu with Giacomo Puccini’s “Crisantemi.”

Dubbed the “Concert for the Biocene,” the show was meant to examine the absurdity of the human condition under lockdowns, which have deprived people from their role as public spectators.

“At a time when much of humankind has shut itself off in enclosed spaces and been forced to relinquish mobility, nature has crept forward to occupy the spaces we have ceded,” said Eugenio Ampudia, the conceptual artist behind the leafy performance.

Human listeners were nonetheless able to tune in via live stream, which formed a prelude to the opera’s 2020-2021 season just one day after Spain ended months of lockdown over the weekend. Under a phased-in reopening plan, theaters and other performance venues can open for humans with restrictions on crowd size.

The plants in the opera audience were provided by Catalonian nurseries and will be donated to health-care workers at the Hospital Clínic of Barcelona, who have fought “on the toughest front in a battle unprecedented for our generations,” concert organizers said.

By Teo Armus
June 23, 2020 at 2:10 AM EDT

No, more testing doesn’t explain the rise of covid-19 cases in the U.S.

In seeking to reassure the public about rising covid-19 case numbers in several states, President Trump continues to attribute the new cases to the result of improved testing in the United States.

As we test more people, we may see more positive tests (that is, cases). The increase in cases might not necessarily mean that the virus is spreading aggressively: Rather, it could be an artifact of increased surveillance.

But a closer look at the state of testing in the United States shows that this theory is dangerously wrong. To understand why, we have to look not just at the number of tests each state is doing, but at the positivity rate of those tests. In combination, those two metrics give a sense of whether infections are rising, declining or holding steady. And in too many states, the dispiriting answer is that the virus is racing ahead of public health measures to contain it.

Read more here.

By Jennifer B. Nuzzo
June 23, 2020 at 1:41 AM EDT

Summer camp in the age of coronavirus

YMCA counselor Jussara Kramer gives a no-contact high-five with a paper hand to Noelle Logan, 6, during an art class. (Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post)

When officials at the YMCA — the nation’s largest provider of youth services, typically serving 8 million children a year — began in March setting up emergency day-care centers nationwide for essential workers during the pandemic, they were prepared for things to go wrong. Pages of new protocols were put in place for infection control, social distancing, contact tracing and transparency with parents.

But as the months passed, they were baffled by what did not happen. There were inevitably individual cases of positive coronavirus tests and numerous false alarms leading to temporary shutdowns, but no outbreaks among its 1,000 locations and 40,000 children in care over the past three months.

As the school year comes to an end amid an easing of stay-at-home orders, millions of U.S. parents face the nerve-racking decision whether to send their children to day care and summer camp. While some camps have gone out of business or opted to remain closed for the season, the YMCA, a community nonprofit, is welcoming hundreds of thousands of children in the next three months.

By Ariana Eunjung Cha
June 23, 2020 at 1:05 AM EDT

A doctor called upon a priest to make a plasma donation. The patient says it saved his life.

Jose Martinez’s body was racked with all the telltale signs: fever, fatigue, body aches, cough. He had tested positive for the novel coronavirus and already had been on a ventilator for nearly a week. He developed pneumonia and a staph infection. His lungs were shutting down and his body wasn’t responding to treatments, including a cycle of hydroxychloroquine.

“At that point, his condition was worsening, showing no signs of improvement,” said John Burk, the doctor who was treating Martinez at Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital in Fort Worth. “We didn’t expect him to live. There was a constant dialogue: ‘What else can we do?’”

Looking back now, Martinez, 42, says he needed a miracle. What he got was a local priest: the Rev. Robert Pace.

Read more here.

By Rick Maese
June 23, 2020 at 12:35 AM EDT

Disney World workers urge theme park to delay reopening

Guests stroll through the Disney Springs complex on June 16 in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (John Raoux/AP)

Thousands of Disney World employees have signed a petition that calls for delaying the reopening of the Florida-based theme park as the state continues to see a record number of coronavirus cases.

The petition, which was approaching 4,000 signatures on Monday, according to the Orlando Sentinel, is a small showing of the theme park’s 78,000 staffers. The workers are pleading with Disney executives to reconsider plans to reopen the park in July, even though it would allow tens of thousands of workers who were furloughed in April to return to their jobs.

Disney shut down the park voluntarily on March 16. On Monday, Florida passed 100,000 total coronavirus cases since the pandemic began. The state reported 2,926 new cases on Monday and a dozen new deaths among Florida residents. It set a single-day record for new cases on Saturday (4,049).

Disneyland workers in California are also urging Disney to delay the reopening of the Anaheim park, according to the Sentinel, and have collected nearly 45,000 signatures on their own petition.

In May, Disney said that Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom will reopen July 11, while Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios, also in Florida, will resume business July 15. The National Basketball Association is expected to restart the league’s season at Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in late July. Major League Soccer, which plans to relaunch with a tournament beginning July 8, also joined the NBA in using Disney World as a hosting ground.

By Samantha Pell
June 23, 2020 at 12:32 AM EDT

Income emerges as a major predictor of infections, along with race

Income is a potent force along with race in determining who among the nation’s vulnerable, older population has been infected with the novel coronavirus, according to a federal analysis that lays bare stark disparities in the pandemic’s toll.

The findings released Monday are based on billing records for people on Medicare who have contracted the virus. They echo the commonly understood pattern that black Americans are more likely to test positive for the virus and to be hospitalized for covid-19, the disease it causes, than other racial and ethnic groups. But they also point to the role of poverty as the pandemic has sped through U.S. communities in the winter and spring.

Individuals covered by Medicare, the vast federal insurance program for older Americans, who are poor enough to qualify for Medicaid, the public insurance safety net, were four times more likely to have been infected or hospitalized with the coronavirus than those on Medicare alone, according to billing records from more than 325,000 cases from January through mid-May.

Read more here.

By Amy Goldstein