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New reported coronavirus infections in the U.S. topped 50,000 on Wednesday for the first time. California added 9,740 cases to its official tally — a new daily high for the state — bringing Wednesday’s national total to 52,788 cases. Texas, Arizona, North Carolina and Georgia also reported records for new cases.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) on Wednesday announced he was reviving parts of the state’s sweeping lockdown, ordering bars to close and a range of other service-sector businesses in 19 counties to cease indoor operations as infections soar in the state. And Pennsylvania has joined a growing list of states mandating that face masks be worn in public.

The number of coronavirus infections in the United States swelled enormously last month as states tried to relax quarantine rules and reopen their economies. More than 800,000 new cases were reported in June — led by Florida, Arizona, Texas and California — bringing the nation’s officially reported total to approximately 2.6 million.

Here are some significant developments:

  • In 45 states, seven-day averages of new infections are higher than they were a week ago, according to a Post analysis, and health officials are nervously eyeing the July Fourth holiday amid the surge. Some beaches, including in South Florida, Texas and Los Angeles, have been closed for the weekend.
  • President Trump on Wednesday denied that he is opposed to wearing face masks, saying in an interview with Fox Business Network that he would wear one if he were in close proximity to other people. He also said again that he believes the virus is “going to sort of disappear.”
  • Autopsies have confirmed that the coronavirus does attack the lungs with the most ferocity. The pathogen was also found in the in parts of the kidneys, liver, gastrointestinal tract and spleen and in the cells that line blood vessels. But the brain and heart yielded surprises.
  • Drug overdoses are surging nationwide as Americans struggle with isolation and poverty, and the pandemic disrupts the drug trade.
  • Oklahomans voted Tuesday to expand Medicaid over nearly a decade of opposition by Republican governors, making their state the first to widen the safety-net insurance program as the coronavirus pandemic steals jobs and health benefits.

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July 1, 2020 at 11:38 PM EDT

Maternity housing charity sees spike in need, challenges in fundraising

Mary’s Shelter, a Virginia nonprofit that provides housing and other services for women facing a crisis during pregnancy, has seen a significant increase in demand since the coronavirus pandemic hit in March. Meanwhile, shutdown measures have stifled the donation-driven organization’s ability to fundraise. It had to cancel its annual gala, the proceeds from which account for more than half of its yearly budget.

The nonprofit is part of a network of charities and other organizations serving people in the Fredericksburg area. If an organization is unable to help a woman in need, it would connect her to someone who can, said Kathleen Wilson, executive director of Mary’s Shelter.

But as stay-at-home orders took effect in the Washington region, many charities were forced to temporarily shut down, Wilson said. Mary’s Shelter was also getting calls for help from pregnant women in Northern Virginia and Maryland.

Read more here.

By Stephanie Murray
July 1, 2020 at 11:16 PM EDT

NFL plans to shorten preseason to two games per team

The NFL plans to shorten its preseason from four to two games per team, according to multiple people familiar with the league’s deliberations.

The pending reduction represents the NFL’s latest scheduling adjustment based on the circumstances created by the novel coronavirus pandemic. The issue was discussed by team owners on the league’s labor negotiating committee during a conference call Wednesday, and the revised preseason schedule could be announced Thursday or Friday, according to those with knowledge of the NFL’s planning, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the league has made no official announcement.

The NFL’s decision was made in consultation with the competition committee and the NFL Players Association. But it appeared possible late Wednesday that the NFLPA might seek even further reductions.

Read more here.

By Mark Maske
July 1, 2020 at 11:05 PM EDT

D.C. school system and teachers clash ahead of school reopening

The Washington Teachers’ Union is telling its members to ignore a school system letter asking teachers to select whether they plan to teach in person in the fall or stay home.

The letter and the union’s response represent the latest tension between school leaders and teachers as the city struggles to build confidence in its school reopening plan.

D.C. Public Schools sent an email to staff on Tuesday providing some details about reopening, saying that the school system plans to offer a mix of in-person and virtual learning in the fall. The email also included a “return to in person work intent form,” which employees are instructed to return by July 10.

Many teachers interpreted the wording to mean that they would need to take a leave of absence if they do not opt to return to school buildings. School leaders said that is inaccurate. Washington Teachers’ Union President Elizabeth Davis instructed all teachers Tuesday evening not to sign the letter until they can determine what it exactly means.

Read more here.

By Perry Stein
July 1, 2020 at 10:49 PM EDT

Main security checkpoint at Atlanta airport shuts down after TSA agent tests positive

The main security checkpoint at the world’s busiest airport had to be shut down on Wednesday after an employee at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport tested positive for the coronavirus.

Transportation Security Administration officials said a security screener who last reported to work on Tuesday morning had tested positive. The agency learned of the positive test results on Wednesday and immediately closed down the checkpoint where the screener had worked for a deep cleaning.

The temporary shutdown meant that it took some travelers two hours to get through security, WSB-TV reported. Some lanes reopened later on Wednesday after an intensive cleaning, but normal operations weren’t expected to resume until Thursday. Travelers were advised to show up early for their flights.

More than 860 TSA employees, the majority of whom work as screening officers, have tested positive since the start of the pandemic. At least 29 of those cases have been detected in Atlanta.

According to 11 Alive, all Atlanta TSA employees who worked the same shift as the infected officer have been told to self-quarantine.

By Antonia Farzan
July 1, 2020 at 10:34 PM EDT

Before the NBA lands in Florida, a basketball bubble will be tested in Ohio

Players from 22 teams will begin arriving next week at the NBA’s Disney World campus, where they will live in restricted luxury hotels and play in empty gyms for up to three months as the league attempts to restart amid the coronavirus pandemic.

But LeBron James, Giannis Antetokounmpo and company won’t be the first hoopers to inhabit a large-scale, quarantined bubble on American soil. That honor belongs to more than 300 players who are descending on Columbus, Ohio, this week to compete in The Basketball Tournament, a made-for-TV, winner-take-all event with a million-dollar grand prize.

“This is this tuneup before the NBA,” said Andrew Dakich, a former Ohio State player who will compete in the tournament. “This is the JV before the varsity.”

Read more here.

By Ben Golliver
July 1, 2020 at 10:12 PM EDT

California, Texas, Arizona push daily new cases in U.S. to more than 50,000 for first time

Newly reported cases across the United States on Wednesday catapulted to a new high — 52,788 in all — as individual states continued to topple their own grim records. Hospitalizations and deaths also continued to surge in some areas amid scattered reopening efforts.

The newly reported cases top the June 27 record of 44,809 new cases, according to data collected by The Washington Post, led by California, Georgia, Texas, Alaska, North Carolina and Arizona, which all reported new one-day case highs Wednesday.

Overall, the United States has topped its own seven-day average of new cases for 23 days in a row, and a whopping 17 states hit new seven-day average highs. Louisiana, Alaska, Florida, Montana and Nevada, meanwhile, have seen their seven-day average of new cases increase by at least 80 percent since last Wednesday. Louisiana’s seven-day average has doubled.

If that all wasn’t troubling enough, eight states hit a new high for current hospitalizations, led by Texas, which reported 6,904 patients Wednesday. The state’s new hospitalizations continue an increase that began in earnest on Memorial Day, when Texas reported 1,536 patients. South Carolina’s current patients increased by 12 percent since Tuesday, for a new high of 1,160.

Arizona also reported a new single-day high for reported deaths with 88 — more than any other state — on the same day that Vice President Pence praised Gov. Doug Ducey’s (R) handling of the virus.

“It’s very clear we have community spread in this state and across much of the Sun Belt, and that’s the reason why we wanted to be here and receive a briefing,” Pence said. “But it’s also why we wanted to be here to express our strong support for the steps that Governor Ducey and that local officials have put into effect: limiting certain gatherings, closing certain establishments during this rising time.”

By Michael Brice-Saddler and Jacqueline Dupree
July 1, 2020 at 10:01 PM EDT

Coronavirus has made the Fourth of July a fireworks fizzle this year

At John Sagaria’s company, Fireworks Extravaganza, the cancellations began in April. The Fourth of July show at the University of Maryland in College Park was canceled in May. The July 4 fireworks at Rockville’s Woodmont Country Club was not scheduled at all. The display at the International Country Club, in Fairfax, was scrapped, he said.

Shows at Elkton, Md., Middletown, Del., North East, Md., and dozens of other places were also gone, as a result of coronavirus fears, he said.

“I’ve never been able to prepare for something like this,” he said. “About 90 percent of the shows canceled. . . . It’s just horrible.”

While the virus has the trade in backyard fireworks booming, it has wreaked havoc within the aerial fireworks display industry. Across the country shows large and small have been canceled or postponed, fireworks company officials say.

And the promise of a rare Saturday Fourth of July has turned into a fireworks bust.

Read more here.

By Michael Ruane
July 1, 2020 at 9:39 PM EDT

Consumer advocates say agreements with coronavirus drug makers drop key taxpayer protections

The Trump administration is weakening taxpayer safeguards in its agreements with companies working on coronavirus drugs, which could prevent regulators from curbing prices for future vaccines and treatment, a consumer group said Wednesday.

In its race to control covid-19, the federal government is spending billions in agreements with pharmaceutical companies to subsidize development of medicines.

At the same time, it is employing a looser standard of federal contracting — called “other transaction authority” — that avoids some contracting rules that protect taxpayer investments, said Knowledge Ecology International, a consumer advocacy organization that obtained copies of government agreements with industry under a Freedom of Information Act request.

“The amount of money the government is throwing at companies is unprecedented,” said James Love, KEI’s director. “Normally when you write bigger checks, you should have more leverage, not less leverage.”

Read more here.

By Christopher Rowland
July 1, 2020 at 9:15 PM EDT

Vanilla Ice to headline weekend concert in Texas for potentially 2,500 people

During the Fourth of July weekend, thousands of Texans will be able to party like it’s the 1990s — when the novel coronavirus didn’t exist and Vanilla Ice had a mainstream music career.

Although concert venues are closed in Austin, the rapper found a loophole for this Friday. Vanilla Ice, whose real name is Robert Van Winkle, is scheduled to headline the Independence Day Throwback Beach Party at a two-level marina structure on Lake Travis designated as a bar and grill.

In Texas, gatherings of more than 100 people are not allowed without permission from a mayor or a judge.

As a result of a spike in new cases and hospitalizations in the state, Gov. Greg Abbott (R) has ordered all bars to shut down. But because the Emerald Point Bar & Grill is a restaurant that also hosts concerts, the throwback show will go on.

According to the Austin Chronicle, the show’s capacity will be 2,500, with tickets ranging from $25 to $300. Promoting the event on Instagram, Van Winkle posted a video of massive crowd from a pre-pandemic time.

“I can’t wait to get back to this. The 90s were the best. We didn’t have coronavirus, or cell phones, or computers,” Van Winkle wrote on his official page.

On Wednesday, Texas set a new high for single-day cases, with 8,076, and 57 deaths.

By Candace Buckner
July 1, 2020 at 9:14 PM EDT

New Trump immigration policy would disqualify asylum for people from countries with spreading disease

The Trump administration is preparing broad new immigration restrictions that would deny humanitarian refuge to anyone from a country with a disease outbreak, deeming those asylum seekers to be a danger to public safety.

The policy, which the administration outlined this week among several new attempts to tighten border controls and restrict immigration, is likely to be announced by the Department of Homeland Security next week, according to two DHS officials who were not authorized to publicly discuss the internal plans.

U.S. immigration law gives authorities the power to reject asylum seekers with a history of violence or criminal activity, on the grounds they could pose a danger to the United States. The proposed rule change would allow DHS and the Department of Justice to expand the definition of safety threats to “consider public health concerns based on disease when making a determination as to whether there are reasonable grounds to believe an alien is a danger to the security of the United States,” according to a regulatory notice.

Read more here.

By Nick Miroff
July 1, 2020 at 8:45 PM EDT

'I got crushed’: Cubs pitching coach details harrowing experience with covid-19

As MLB teams face the risks and uncertainty of a new baseball season thanks to the novel coronavirus pandemic, the Chicago Cubs need only turn to their pitching coach to learn about the challenges of covid-19.

In a radio interview Wednesday, Tommy Hottovy detailed his month-long experience with the virus, which he contracted in May. According to the former pitcher, his long ordeal included a trip to the hospital, viral pneumonia and six straight days of having a fever. It took him 30 days to produce a negative test and he lost 18 pounds in that time.

“It is important to understand that, guys, I’m 38 years old,” Hottovy told the Mully & Haugh Show on Chicago’s 670 The Score. “I’ve been poked, prodded, tested for the last 16 years in Major League Baseball. I’ve had no underlying issues, nothing that would red flag me as somebody that would get hit pretty hard with this virus. But I did. My journey through this virus was not like ones you hear of younger people who are asymptomatic or only have it for a few days. I got crushed.”

Read more here.

By Michael Errigo
July 1, 2020 at 8:40 PM EDT

Trump mocks Biden’s mask-wearing at events but says he has ‘no objection to masks whatsoever’

President Trump defended not wearing a mask in public while deriding Joe Biden for donning one at campaign events, even when people are physically distanced.

“I see Biden walking up on a stage where there’s no one around, the audience is 25, 30, 40 feet away — not too much of an audience by the way — and he’s speaking, he has a mask on, you can’t even understand what he’s saying or he takes it off up there,” Trump said in an interview with Sinclair Broadcasting that aired Wednesday evening.

Trump reiterated his stance that because everyone who is near him gets tested, he doesn’t need to wear one.

But not only does the president refuse to wear a mask in public, he also hasn’t encouraged others to do so. He doesn’t oppose mask-wearing, he says, but he sees it as an issue of personal freedom, rather than a societal good.

“I have no objections to masks whatsoever,” he said in the interview. “Do what you’re supposed to do and actually do what makes you feel good.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends wearing masks to protect others from the novel coronavirus, which can spread through “respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, talks, or raises their voice.”

By Colby Itkowitz
July 1, 2020 at 8:20 PM EDT

Trump appears to back another round of stimulus checks, though jumbled remarks make plan unclear

President Trump appeared on Wednesday to back another round of stimulus payments to millions of Americans as part of a larger spending package, but his jumbled remarks make the White House’s position on the matter unclear.

There are sharp divisions among Republicans about whether to approve a second round of $1,200 payments, and the president’s own aides haven’t reached a consensus. The first round of payments, approved in late March, went to more than 150 million American households.

Asked by Fox Business if he supports “another round of direct payments for individuals” — a reference to the $1,200 stimulus payments — the president said: “I do. I support it. But it has to be done properly. And I support actually larger numbers than the Democrats. But it’s got to be done properly."

Read more here.

By Jeff Stein
July 1, 2020 at 8:19 PM EDT

Report: Federal officials to plan ‘blitz’ testing in Texas to find silent coronavirus spreaders

Federal officials plan to conduct tests in Texas with the aim of finding young adults who are asymptomatic carriers of the virus, the Dallas Morning News reported Tuesday — news that comes as virus counts in the state continue to soar to record numbers.

“The strategy would be to surge test,” Adm. Brett Giroir, assistant secretary for health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, told reporters Wednesday. “You would do the number of tests you do in a month in just a few days, to try to make sure we identify these asymptomatic and get a better handle on them.”

A similar effort could take place in Florida and Louisiana in consultation with health officials there, according to the Morning News. The so-called “blitz” would target people under 35 in “moderate sized” communities.

Officials said those under 35 are playing a large role in driving up case counts. Giroir did not specify to reporters when the blitz testing would begin.

By Michael Brice-Saddler