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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.

Sign up for our coronavirus newsletter | Mapping the spread of the coronavirus: Across the U.S. | Worldwide | Which states are reopening | Has someone close to you died of covid-19? Share your story with The Washington Post.

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
July 1, 2020 at 7:35 PM EDT

Alexa, just shut up: We’ve been isolated for months, and now we hate our home assistants

“I’m not a bad person,” Angela Hatem said. “I’m so nice to people.” But Alexa, the voice of Amazon’s home devices, isn’t a person, despite how hard “she” tries to emulate one. And the novel coronavirus/self-isolation/2020 has Hatem feeling a bit stressed out.

“I say things to Alexa that I wouldn’t say to my worst enemy, if I had one. And I don’t know why. She makes me crazy. … I curse at her. I call her names. I’m very, very mean to her,” said Hatem, who lives in Indianapolis with her 1-year-old son. “There’s really few things I can vent at or vent to, and I’m making Alexa my virtual punching bag.”

“Because of quarantining and going through all the events of police brutality and racism, people are frustrated,” said David Rusbasan, a psychology professor at Marian University who has studied aggression and stress. “Talking to Alexa poorly is almost a socially acceptable way to deal with aggressive tendencies as opposed to putting it on an individual.”

Read more here.

By Travis Andrews
July 1, 2020 at 7:26 PM EDT

Texas adds nearly 60 new deaths on record-breaking day

A new day, a new record for Texas.

On Wednesday, just 24 hours after setting the previous high, Texas shattered the statewide total for most new cases of the novel coronavirus, with 8,076. Along with the rise from the former record, which was 6,975 on Tuesday, the state also added 57 new deaths related to covid-19.

With a rush of new cases, hospitals have felt the strain in caring for patients. The state has 6,904 people hospitalized — another new high, up 371 from Tuesday. A top physician executive at the Houston Methodist hospital system wrote an internal memo urging staff to consider delaying surgeries to create space for covid-19 patients, the Texas Tribune reported.

Texas Medical Center, meanwhile, began to convert regular beds to intensive care beds after its number of ICU patients exceeded capacity. The hospitals have 1,330 ICU beds under Phase 1 of their surge plan and had 1,350 patients Wednesday, according to data on the center’s website.

On Tuesday, Gov. Greg Abbott (R) suspended elective surgeries statewide as a result of the increase of coronavirus hospitalizations.

“As these counties experience a surge in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, we are committed to working alongside hospitals to help ensure that every COVID-19 patient who needs a bed will have access to one,” Abbott said in a statement.

Despite the state’s rampant rise of cases, deaths and hospitalizations, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R) said Tuesday on Fox News: “No, thank you, Dr. Fauci,” regarding listening to advice from Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

During a question-and-answer session Wednesday, Austin’s medical director warned against politicizing the pandemic.

“We cannot afford to turn this into a political issue,” Mark Escott said, according to a KVUE reporter. “The facts are the facts. The cases are skyrocketing across Texas."

By Candace Buckner, Jacqueline Dupree and Marisa Iati
July 1, 2020 at 7:03 PM EDT

Tesla fires three more, overriding guidance allowing workers to stay home during pandemic

SAN FRANCISCO — Three Tesla workers say they have been fired after opting to stay home from the Fremont, Calif., factory rather than risk being potentially exposed to the coronavirus.

The company, which reopened at chief executive Elon Musk’s direction in May in defiance of county orders, told workers they could remain home if they had reservations about working during a pandemic. If “you feel uncomfortable coming back to work at this time, please do not feel obligated to do so,” Musk told workers in an email as he reopened the production plant.

Nonetheless, the company appears to have overwritten the policy in late May when county officials formally allowed the company to restart production, prompting Tesla to return to normal protocol even as cases in the factory’s home county of Alameda rose.

Read more here.

By Faiz Siddiqui
July 1, 2020 at 6:35 PM EDT

Galveston, Tex., will close beaches ahead of anticipated large holiday crowds

As authorities in Galveston, Tex., brace for big Fourth of July crowds, officials on Wednesday decided to shut down all beaches — matching efforts from officials in other hard-hit states who have closed public attractions for the holiday weekend.

“We’re going to see several hundred thousand people come down here regardless of the recommendations that have come out,” Galveston Beach Patrol Chief Peter Davis told KHOU this week.

Galveston County has about 3,300 confirmed coronavirus cases, more than 1,000 of which were reported in the past week alone, according to the county health department. The rate of positive tests has surged from less than 1 percent in May to roughly 15 percent currently.

On Wednesday, Galveston Mayor Jim Yarbrough signed an executive order to close beaches from 5 a.m. Friday until 12:01 a.m. Monday, ABC13 reported. The city of Galveston said the decision came after “much deliberation.”

“At this time, based on the current health situation and the guidance of medical professionals, I do not feel it is prudent or responsible to have thousands of visitors descending on Galveston beaches,” Yarbrough said in a statement, according to ABC13. “Galveston has and always will be a welcoming destination, but the ongoing public health crisis demands our attention and response. We have to prioritize health and safety.”

Texas has emerged as one of the country’s latest coronavirus hotbeds, with state health officials reporting record highs in new cases, positivity rates and hospitalizations for weeks on end.

Galveston Island, about an hour’s drive southeast of Houston, is a hot spot for beachgoers and one of the region’s most popular weekend getaways.

Yarbrough told the Galveston County Daily News last week that he was not considering closing beaches and that he did not believe he had the authority to impose them.

“I have not discussed it,” he said at the time. “Period.”

Myrtle Beach, S.C., is also expected to see a crush of vacationers this weekend. A rapid push to reopen the local economy has turned the area into a coronavirus petri dish, with cases spiking in recent weeks. But beaches and boardwalks are welcoming business, and the city is planning to hold its annual fireworks display.

Other oceanfront locales have shut down entirely. Beaches in Los Angeles will close until Monday, as will beaches throughout South Florida, which has reported record case numbers since mid-June.

The American Medical Association urged people to limit their Independence Day gatherings to their close contacts.

“A typical Fourth of July celebration could further spread the virus, endanger lives, overwhelm our health system and undo the progress made toward reopening sectors of our economy,” the AMA said. “It is incumbent upon us to learn from the past in dealing with this virus."

By Derek Hawkins and Michael Brice-Saddler
July 1, 2020 at 6:28 PM EDT

As MLB players report to summer camps, the sport braces for more positive tests

Across Major League Baseball this week, players and staff arriving ahead of Friday’s opening of summer training camps have been reporting to a prescheduled appointment — the times staggered to avoid congregating — with at least one representative of MLB’s testing lab and one member of their team’s medical staff, the first step in the fraught process of steering several thousand people through a pandemic for the next three months or so.

Intake screening — the process for testing arriving personnel for the novel coronavirus ahead of the opening of camps — is the first item covered in MLB’s 2020 Operations Manual, the 101-page playbook, jointly negotiated by MLB and its players’ union, for navigating a season unlike any other in the sport’s history.

The three-tiered test given at intake screenings — a temperature check, a diagnostic test for the coronavirus using saliva or a nasal swab, and an antibody test using blood samples — will provide the first clear picture of how prevalent the virus is among MLB personnel, a data point that will be closely watched by MLB and team officials.

Read more here.

By Dave Sheinin
July 1, 2020 at 5:50 PM EDT

House passes short-term extension of small-business loan program

The House passed a short-term extension of the Paycheck Protection Program on Wednesday, the same day the small-business loan program was set to stop accepting new applications.

The legislation would extend the program for an additional five weeks, until Aug. 8. It passed the Senate on Tuesday and now goes to President Trump.

There is more than $130 billion left in the Paycheck Protection Program, which has made more than 4.5 million loans totaling over $500 billion. The PPP was overwhelmed by demand when it launched in April, and Congress had to add more money, but more recently, applications for the forgivable loans have slowed to a trickle.

Lawmakers of both parties are working on legislation to repurpose the remaining funds to try to draw in more businesses of different types, but that is not expected to happen until late July. The short-term extension agreed to by Congress will allow the program to continue accepting loan applications while a fuller deal is reached about how to handle the remaining funds.

The legislation passed by unanimous consent in the Senate and the House.

By Erica Werner
July 1, 2020 at 5:38 PM EDT

Trump says he would wear a mask ‘in a tight situation’ with others

Trump on Wednesday denied that he is opposed to wearing masks, saying in an interview with Fox Business Network that he would wear one if he were in proximity to other people.

“I'm all for masks,” Trump said, adding that he would “absolutely” wear one if he were “in a tight situation with people."

Trump also said he continues to believe that at some point, the coronavirus is “going to sort of just disappear,” even though experts maintain that’s not the case.

In the interview, Trump joked that he has worn a mask at times and liked the way it looked. But he declined to endorse the notion that masks should be mandatory across the United States — something House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and others have backed.

“Well, I don’t know if you need mandatory,” Trump said, arguing that there are some areas of the country where people are typically far from others.

Trump has repeatedly refused to wear a mask in public and has ridiculed journalists and others for wearing face coverings amid the pandemic. Top members of his party, meanwhile, have been ramping up their calls for the president to wear a mask to set an example for the country.

Earlier Wednesday, former vice president Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, said in a tweet that the highest levels of government needed to endorse mask-wearing.

“We need a clear message from the very top of our federal government that everyone needs to wear a mask in public. Period,” Biden said in a tweet. “It’s not just about you — it’s about your family, your neighbors, your colleagues. It’s about keeping other people safe.”

By Felicia Sonmez
July 1, 2020 at 5:31 PM EDT

Pence vows to provide Arizona with 500 additional medical workers as cases surge

After Arizona health officials on Wednesday reported record highs in new coronavirus infections and hospitalizations, Vice President Pence said he had met with Gov. Doug Ducey and other health officials in the state and had faith they could handle the “dramatic rise.”

Pence, who spoke alongside Ducey (R), did not directly address questions citing specific numbers of surging cases in the state, though the vice president did acknowledge an increase. He said Ducey had requested 500 additional medical workers to help stymie the surge but that hospital capacity in the state remains “manageable.”

“Help is on the way,” Pence said, adding the federal government would “spare no expense to provide the kind of reinforcements you will need across this state should this coronavirus pandemic continue to expand in Arizona.”

Earlier in the day, Arizona reported 4,877 new confirmed cases, a record, and 88 additional deaths — also a state record. Ducey on Monday ordered bars, gyms, theaters and water parks to close after reopening much of the state in early May.

“Arizona flattened the curve early on, but we all noticed something change in the middle of May,” Pence said.

During his portion of the remarks, Ducey praised Pence’s support and addressed Arizona residents directly. “You are safer at home,” he said, reminding those listening to exercise good hygiene, wear masks and socially distance to mitigate further infections.

“We now need the message to spread far and wide that we can all contribute to slowing the spread of this virus,” Ducey added.

By Michael Brice-Saddler
July 1, 2020 at 5:20 PM EDT

Michigan bans bars in the lower region of the state from serving alcohol indoors

As a result of a surge of coronavirus cases in young people, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) on Wednesday signed an order that will shut down indoor service at bars through most of the state’s lower region.

Bars in Lower Michigan can continue to serve alcohol outside, like other drinking establishments across the state, but must replace indoor sales with to-go cocktails.

“Following recent outbreaks tied to bars, I am taking this action today to slow the spread of the virus and keep people safe,” Whitmer said in a statement. “If we want to be in a strong position to reopen schools for in-person classroom instruction this fall, then we need to take aggressive action right now to ensure we don’t wipe out all the progress we have made.”

The statement cited health officials in Ingham County — which includes Lansing — who linked 107 recent infections to one bar in the area. Due to the outbreak, the county health department issued an emergency order to limit restaurant capacity to 50 percent or no more than 75 customers.

Nearly 25 percent of new cases detected in June in areas surrounding Grand Rapids, Lansing and Kalamazoo were in people ages 20 to 29, according to the statement.

“Bars will not have to close down completely, but may still offer outdoor seating and use creative methods like cocktails-to-go in hopes that we can bring our numbers down,” Whitmer said in the statement. “I am hopeful providing options for cocktails-to-go and expanded social districts will ensure these businesses can remain open and Michiganders can safely and responsibly enjoy their summer outdoors.”

By Candace Buckner
July 1, 2020 at 4:51 PM EDT

Lawmakers call for more transparency in health agency’s pandemic data collection practices

A growing number of Democratic lawmakers are sounding the alarm about a program launched by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to track the spread of the coronavirus.

The public health effort, called “HHS Protect Now,” scoops up vast amounts of data, including coronavirus test results, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as state and local sources. It also relies on technology from secretive Silicon Valley firm Palantir, better known for working with the U.S. military, national security agencies and immigration offices.

In a letter shared with The Washington Post and sent Tuesday evening to HHS Secretary Alex Azar, a group of Democratic U.S. senators and members of Congress, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) and Richard Blumenthal (Conn.), called for more transparency around the initiative. The letter questioned whether any of the data gathered would be shared with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to round up undocumented immigrants.

Read more here.

By Reed Albergotti
July 1, 2020 at 4:48 PM EDT

‘The Nutcracker’ is now a coronavirus casualty. Here’s what the loss means for some ballet companies.

Victoria Jaiani hadn’t performed for three months amid the pandemic shutdowns, and she doubted she would dance this fall. But when her bosses at Chicago’s Joffrey Ballet announced the unthinkable — canceling “The Nutcracker” — she lost it.

“I sobbed and sobbed,” said Jaiani, who learned the news in a recent companywide Zoom meeting. “I had a hard time. It just broke me."

For Jaiani and dancers across the country, the pain of separation from their art is entwined with anxiety about their professional futures. Some ballet companies have joined the Joffrey in canceling the rest of their 2020 seasons, while others’ plans remains uncertain. Troupes are watching the coronavirus crisis engulf nearly a year’s worth of performances.

Read more here.

By Sarah Kaufman
July 1, 2020 at 4:19 PM EDT

California governor orders bars closed, other businesses restricted in 19 counties

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 amid a spike in coronavirus cases.

The indoor operations ban applies to restaurants, wineries, tasting rooms, movie theaters, zoos, museums and card rooms, the governor said. The restrictions will remain in place for at least three weeks.

“The spread of this virus is continuing at a rate that is particularly concerning,” he said at a news conference. “We are doing everything we can to focus in on certain sectors of our economy where the spread is more likely to occur.”

The affected counties represent more than 70 percent of the state’s population and had been on a watch list for three consecutive days.

Newsom said he is not “naive” about the difficulties of enforcing the restrictions but said multiple agencies will focus on “redundancy of bad behavior” and use code, regulatory, licensing and fiscal measures to ensure compliance with the rules.

Parking facilities at state beaches in Southern California and the Bay Area will be closed for the Fourth of July weekend, Newsom said, echoing health officials’ pleas for people to avoid celebrating with others outside their household. Two counties have decided to close their beaches, he said, but that won’t be mandated statewide.

Infections in California have risen sharply since mid-June, and the state has reported record numbers of new cases in the past two weeks. The state’s positivity rate has climbed to 6 percent over the past 14 days, higher than what public health experts say is effective for controlling the outbreak. “Every decimal point is profoundly impactful,” Newsom said. Hospitalizations have also risen.

Newsom had won praise from health experts in the spring for issuing lockdown orders early. He began lifting pandemic restrictions during the second week of May.

By Derek Hawkins and Hannah Knowles
July 1, 2020 at 4:05 PM EDT

Pennsylvania requires masks to be worn in public

Pennsylvania has joined a growing list of states mandating that masks be worn in public.

On Wednesday, state Secretary of Health Rachel Levine signed an order requiring masks for anyone who leaves their home. The order, effectively immediately, includes limited exceptions.

The announcement comes the same day that Pennsylvania health officials reported 636 new cases of the novel coronavirus — its highest 24-hour surge since early June. Before Wednesday, Pennsylvania had seen a relatively low climb in daily cases compared with the nation’s hot spots.

Still, the commonwealth ranks among the 11 states with a seven-day new-case average more than 10 percent higher than its average from a week ago, according to data collected by The Washington Post.

“It is essential that Pennsylvanians wear masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” Levine said in a statement. “While cases increase in some areas, we cannot become complacent. My mask protects you, and your mask protects me. Wearing a mask shows that you care about others, and that you are committed to protecting the lives of those around you.”

Eighteen states and the District of Columbia require people to wear some sort of face covering while in public. After Pennsylvania’s decision, only two northeastern states — Vermont and New Hampshire — remain without a mask mandate.

By Candace Buckner
July 1, 2020 at 3:56 PM EDT

Apple is re-closing 30 more stores because of surging coronavirus cases

Apple said it is re-closing 30 more stores this week as coronavirus infections continue to rise in several states.

The iPhone maker initially closed its doors in March as the first major outbreaks in the United States took hold. Apple has since reopened stores, joining other businesses in easing shutdown measures.

But as infections have continued to spread in the United States, the company has reversed course. The latest round brings the total number of Apple stores that have re-closed to 77, according to a count by CNBC.

The 30 new locations include stores based in Alabama, California, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada and Oklahoma. In the past week, Apple said it would re-close seven of its retail locations in Texas, one of the states reporting record-high new daily infections.

Apple said in a statement: “Due to current COVID-19 conditions in some of the communities we serve, we are temporarily closing stores in these areas. We take this step with an abundance of caution as we closely monitor the situation and we look forward to having our teams and customers back as soon as possible.”

By Hamza Shaban
July 1, 2020 at 3:21 PM EDT

Pizza Hut’s biggest franchisee files for bankruptcy

NPC International, the largest franchisee of Pizza Hut and Wendy’s restaurants in the country, announced Wednesday it has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, with plans to drastically reduce its long-term debt.

The company’s 1,200 Pizza Hut locations and nearly 400 Wendy’s restaurants are expected to remain open during the restructuring process, NPC said in a statement.

While pizza chains have thrived during the pandemic, offering digital orders and contactless delivery while millions of Americans self-isolated at home, NPC has struggled with a substantial debt burden and suffered shrinking sales for months before the novel coronavirus’s spread. In February, Moody’s Investors Service downgraded NPC’s credit rating three levels for skipping interest payments.

“As our industry has been in the midst of dynamic changes due to shifting consumer preferences and dining behavior, we also have been facing increased labor and commodities costs and a higher level of financial leverage that presents obstacles to achieving our long-term business objectives,” Jon Weber, CEO and president of NPC’s Pizza Hut division, said in the statement.

Yum Brands, which owns Pizza Hut, said in a recent filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that in early May, Pizza Hut stores recorded their highest average sales week for delivery and takeout in eight years. Among Pizza Hut restaurants that focus on delivery and carryout, same-store sales increased by 15 percent for the quarter, the company said.

Investors have rewarded pizza chains for seizing on the influx of orders as the pandemic keeps customers at home and dine-in restaurants shuttered. Since March lows, Papa John’s and Domino’s have seen their share prices soar by 123 percent and 29 percent, respectively.

By Hamza Shaban
July 1, 2020 at 2:55 PM EDT

North Carolina, Louisiana and Florida continue to mark bleak milestones

North Carolina, Louisiana and Florida continue to report record coronavirus infection records and mark bleak milestones, according to data tracked by The Washington Post.

The Tar Heel state reported more than 1,800 cases Wednesday — a new high. North Carolina has also seen its seven-day average of new cases increase by 11 percent since June 24. The state reported a decline in new deaths over that same time period, but its seven day average remains over 500 cases.

Infections are also rising in Louisiana, where nearly 50 percent of new cases are of people under the age of 29, according to the Louisiana Department of Health.

Louisiana on Wednesday reported 2,083 new cases, its third-highest single-day number and its highest since nearly 2,200 cases were reported April 4. The state recorded its largest tally of 2,726 on April 2.

Florida’s new case average soared 90 percent higher compared with a week ago. The state reported more than 6,500 infections Wednesday, marking a new high for its seven-day case average.

By Lateshia Beachum
July 1, 2020 at 2:36 PM EDT

Tesla fires three more, overriding guidance allowing workers to stay home

SAN FRANCISCO — Three Tesla workers say they’ve been fired after opting to stay home from the Fremont, Calif., factory rather than risk being potentially exposed to the coronavirus.

The company, which reopened in May at chief executive Elon Musk’s direction in defiance of Alameda County orders, told workers they could remain at home if they had reservations about working during a pandemic. If “you feel uncomfortable coming back to work at this time, please do not feel obligated to do so,” Musk told workers in an email as he reopened the production plant.

But the company appears to have overwritten the policy in late May when county officials formally allowed the company to restart production, prompting Tesla to return to normal protocol even as coronavirus case numbers in the factory’s home county rose.

Read more here.

By Faiz Siddiqui
July 1, 2020 at 2:13 PM EDT

More than 160,000 cases confirmed worldwide each day in the past week

In the past week, more than 160,000 coronavirus cases were diagnosed worldwide each day, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, secretary general of the World Health Organization, said Wednesday.

Of the more than 10.3 million cases confirmed since the outbreak began, he said, 60 percent were diagnosed only in the past month.

The fast pace of infection serves as a grim reminder that even as some countries begin to reopen, the risk of contracting the coronavirus remains.

“Flare-ups are to be expected as countries start to lift restrictions,” Tedros said at a news conference in Geneva, noting that countries applying comprehensive tracking and isolation measures will be most prepared to avoid widespread outbreaks and new restrictions.

“However, we are concerned that some countries have not used all the tools at their disposal and have taken a fragmented approach,” he added. “These countries face a long, hard road ahead.”

Tedros did not name specific countries, but cases are rising rapidly in the United States, where some governors have had to reimpose restrictions to slow down dangerous outbreaks.

By Siobhán O'Grady
July 1, 2020 at 1:49 PM EDT

New York City backs off plans to resume indoor dining

New York City residents will have to continue getting takeout and eating outdoors following local and state government announcements on Wednesday that indoor dining is indefinitely on hold — “until the facts change and it is safe and prudent,” Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D) said.

Restaurants in the city were set to open their doors and menus to indoor patrons on Monday, but officials decided against the move as new coronavirus cases surge in other parts of the country.

Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) said at a Wednesday news conference that it is increasingly clear indoor activities are problematic and risk spreading the virus.

“I want to make it very clear,” he said. “We cannot go ahead at this point in time with indoor dining in New York City.”

The mayor said he will work with the city’s restaurants that have been struggling to keep the lights on through a program encouraging outdoor dining. The governor is also sending staff from state agencies, including police, to monitor the city’s social distancing and to enforce compliance, CBS New York reported.

By Lateshia Beachum
July 1, 2020 at 1:37 PM EDT

Arizona breaks coronavirus case records again as Pence visits state

The novel coronavirus continues to pummel Arizona, where health officials on Wednesday reported record highs in new infections, deaths and virus-related hospitalizations.

The state reported 4,877 new confirmed cases, eclipsing its daily record set 24 hours earlier. Eighty-eight more people died of the virus, the highest daily death toll yet, bringing the state’s fatalities to 1,720.

Beds in state hospitals’ intensive care units were filling quickly, reaching 89 percent capacity, according to the state health department. Nearly 2,900 people were hospitalized because of the virus, up from about 2,800 Tuesday.

In another indicator of the virus’s explosive spread, more than 28 percent of Arizona’s diagnostic tests Wednesday came back positive — a positivity rate more than five times what health experts say is ideal for containing the virus.

The grim new data came as Vice President Pence traveled to Phoenix to meet with Gov. Doug Ducey (R) to discuss Arizona’s response to the outbreak. Pence had delayed the meeting by a day and called off a planned campaign rally in Tucson amid the surge in infections.

Ducey was among the first governors to try to restart his state’s economy, allowing most businesses to reopen to the public at the beginning of May. The state’s daily caseload did not exceed 600 until after Memorial Day weekend, after which infections began to rise sharply.

Now, Arizona is one of the country’s new coronavirus hotbeds. State health officials have tallied record numbers of new cases nearly every day since mid-June, with soaring positivity rates and hospitalizations showing that the increases are not the result of expanded testing alone.

Faced with the surge of infections, Ducey on Monday ordered bars, gyms, theaters and water parks to close again. He also limited public gatherings to 50, joining Texas, Florida and other states with new waves of cases in reversing their reopening plans.

By Derek Hawkins
July 1, 2020 at 1:13 PM EDT

Alaska Airlines will give passengers a yellow card for refusing to wear a mask

To discourage passengers from disobeying a rule to wear masks during flights, Alaska Airlines will issue a final warning to offenders: a “yellow card.”

Starting in July, flight attendants with Alaska — acting akin to a soccer referee but in the lethally urgent context of public health — will hand out formal notices to passengers who “repeatedly” refuse to wear a face covering. The card comes with the threat of further penalties, the company said: The person’s “travel with us will be reviewed and could be suspended for a period,” the airline said in an online statement.

Flight crews had to deal with some passengers who flagrantly disregarded the airline’s mask mandate, prompting it to create the formal warning system, Alaska said.

Other airlines have already stripped passengers of their ability to fly. Delta Air Lines told employees in the past week that it has barred a handful of noncompliant passengers and will ban other customers from future Delta flights if they refuse to wear masks. And United Airlines announced in June that any passenger who refuses to wear a mask onboard will be put on an internal travel restriction list, losing their travel privileges for a time with the company.

Like other carriers, Alaska lists a few groups exempted from the mask mandate: Children younger than age 2, passengers with medical issues and those with disabilities that prevent wearing a face covering. Customers are permitted to temporarily remove their mask to eat or drink, the airline said.

Before passengers board Alaska flights, they will be asked to sign a required health agreement and consent to abide by the mask policy, according to the company.

By Hamza Shaban
July 1, 2020 at 12:43 PM EDT

Global tourism industry set to lose at least $1.2 trillion, U.N. group says

The global tourism industry is set to lose a minimum of $1.2 trillion because of disruptions related to the coronavirus pandemic, the U.N. Conference on Trade and Development said in a report released Wednesday as fallout from the outbreak continues to ravage the industry.

That loss could increase to $2.2 trillion if travel is halted for the next eight months, and it may reach $3.3 trillion in the event global tourism is stalled for 12 months, the report said.

Although some travel is starting to resume in parts of Europe, the industry has experienced massive losses over the past several months. Travel bans, fear of infection and an unstable global economy continue to present obstacles to tourist trips, and developing countries are among those facing some of the greatest potential losses. In the best-case scenario described in Wednesday’s report, Jamaica would lose 11 percent of its gross domestic product and Thailand would lose 9 percent.

Tourism is an interconnected industry that helps provide growth for other sectors, such as entertainment and food. But with no or far fewer tourists visiting popular destinations, those sectors will also face losses, the report said. It estimated that for every $1 million that a country loses in tourism revenue, the true loss of income could amount to $2 million or $3 million.

By Siobhán O'Grady
July 1, 2020 at 12:04 PM EDT

More than 800,000 infections were reported in U.S. in June

More than 800,000 new coronavirus infections were reported across the United States in June, as the country’s total cases ballooned to just over 2.6 million, according to data compiled by The Washington Post.

States that took an aggressive approach to reopening, such as Florida, Arizona and Texas, led the country in infection spikes — along with California, the nation’s most populous state, where leaders have been more cautious.

Florida averaged more than 6,000 new infections per day in June — the highest in the country — followed by Texas and California, which averaged nearly 4,400 and more than 3,000 new cases per day, respectively.

South Carolina and Georgia, which were among the first in the country to ease stay-at-home measures, also saw large increases in average, daily new cases in June: more than 390 percent in South Carolina and 202 percent in Georgia.

Arizona, one of the newer viral hot spots, reported a nearly fivefold rise in average, daily cases since the beginning of June, with an average of just over 3,000 new infections per day by the end of the month and an average daily death toll of 18.

Not every state reported higher numbers, however. Eight states and the District of Columbia saw their average number of cases and death decline by more than 50 percent.

By Lateshia Beachum and Jacqueline Dupree
July 1, 2020 at 11:55 AM EDT

U.S. added nearly 2.4 million private-sector jobs in June, ADP reports

Private payrolls added jobs in June as pandemic stay-at-home orders lifted and employees returned to work, rebounding from a troubling drop in May, according to data released Wednesday.

According to payroll services firm ADP, the nation’s private employers expanded by 2,369,000 jobs in June. That’s a sharp uptick from the 27,000 added in May — the lowest monthly count since March 2010 — and the 271,000 created in April.

The monthly report by ADP and Moody’s Analytics noted that small businesses, or those with fewer than 50 employees, added 937,000 jobs. Franchises saw a 4,500-job increase, with growth in restaurants and auto parts and dealers and declines in food retailers, business services, accommodations and real estate.

Read more here.

By Hannah Denham
July 1, 2020 at 11:31 AM EDT

Pfizer reports encouraging early vaccine data

An experimental coronavirus vaccine being developed by pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and the German firm BioNTech triggered stronger immune responses in recipients than what was seen in people recovering from a natural infection in a small study published online Wednesday.

The work has not yet been peer-reviewed, and it is still unclear what level of immune response will protect a person from getting sick. But outside scientists praised the company for publishing the data on 45 patients and said the results support moving to a larger clinical trial that can test whether the vaccine is safe and effective.

“It’s the first positive data I’ve seen coming out of Operation Warp Speed,” said Peter Jay Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine. “I’m really happy Pfizer took the initiative to publish it, whereas the others haven’t. I think we need to see more of this.”

Hotez said the key data the company shared was a boost in the level of antibodies capable of neutralizing the virus after the second dose of the vaccine was given. Those antibodies increased to levels greater than those seen in the blood plasma of patients who have recovered from covid-19.

Read more here.

By Carolyn Y. Johnson
July 1, 2020 at 11:17 AM EDT

United Airlines is adding 25,000 flights in August

Emerging from widespread lockdown measures and travel restrictions, United Airlines announced Wednesday it is adding 25,000 flights in August.

The summer expansion arrives as Americans are seeking vacation destinations that allow for social distancing, United said. The airline said it is adding more routes to beach, mountain and national park destinations, including flights to Hawaii, the Caribbean and the Mountain West.

“Demand is coming back slowly and we’re building in enough capacity to stay ahead of the number of people traveling,” said Ankit Gupta, United’s vice president of domestic network planning, in a statement on the company’s website. “And we’re adding in flights to places we know customers want to travel to, like outdoor recreation destinations where social distancing is easier but doing so in a way that’s flexible and allows us to adjust should that demand change.”

The company said it plans to double the number of flights from New York and Newark and will add more than 350 daily flights from its domestic hubs. Internationally, United is slated to add routes to Tahiti, Mexico and several marquee European cities. But the European Union has said it will continue to bar U.S. residents, among many others, from traveling to its member states. Europeans are also still banned from traveling to the United States.

The total number of flights that United will operate is still significantly lower than pre-coronavirus air traffic, reflecting the decreased demand for air travel amid the coronavirus pandemic. Industry leaders have said they do not expect air travel to return to normal levels for several years.

Even with the summer bump, United said its domestic routes for August will amount to just 48 percent of 2019 levels; international flights have suffered deeper cuts, with the company scheduled to fly only 25 percent of last year’s flights.

By Hamza Shaban
July 1, 2020 at 10:52 AM EDT

Drug overdoses are soaring during the pandemic

The bodies have been arriving in frantic spurts at coroner Anahi Ortiz’s office in Columbus, Ohio — as many as nine overdose deaths in 36 hours. “We’ve literally run out of wheeled carts to put them on,” she said.

In Roanoke County, Va., police have responded to twice as many fatal overdoses in recent months as in all of the past year.

When the pandemic hit, some authorities hoped it might lead to a decrease in overdoses by disrupting drug trafficking as borders closed and cities shut down. The opposite seems to be happening.

Suspected overdoses nationally rose 18 percent in March compared with the past year, 29 percent in April and 42 percent in May, according to data obtained by The Washington Post from a federal initiative that collects data from ambulance teams, hospitals and police.

Emerging evidence suggests that the continued isolation, economic devastation and disruptions to the drug trade in recent months are fueling the surge.

Read more here.

By William Wan and Heather Long
July 1, 2020 at 10:30 AM EDT

Kellyanne Conway frames closing bars as tradeoff to reopening schools

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway on Wednesday cast decisions facing states on whether to curtail reopening efforts as a trade-off between bars and schools.

“I have something to say: We need to have priorities in our states and in this nation,” she said during an appearance on Fox News’s “Fox & Friends.” “Do you want to open the bars now, or do you want to open the schools and the day-care centers in a few short weeks?"

“I vote for the latter, and not just because I have four school-aged children but because we know that opening our schools and getting our children back to their normal routines and their structural support is really the key,” she said. “I think it’s the essential nervous system to this nation, and then people will be able to go back to work.”

Her comments come as many states are putting the brakes on reopening, with several targeting bars for their potential to spread the virus.

Colorado on Tuesday became the latest state to order drinking establishments to close down once again, following the lead of Texas, Arizona and Florida. Fearing a similar surge in cases, Virginia reversed its plan to allow bars to reopen this week, while Delaware announced plans to issue an emergency shutdown order targeting bars in popular vacation destinations such as Rehoboth Beach.

By John Wagner
July 1, 2020 at 10:02 AM EDT

Stocks rise after finishing best quarter since 1998

After clawing back most of the devastating losses from the beginning of the year, when the novel coronavirus began to infect Americans around the country, stocks continued to gain on Wednesday, starting the second half of 2020 on an upward path.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 119 points, or about 0.46 percent, to begin the trading day. The Standard & Poor’s increased by eight points, or 0.28 percent, while the Nasdaq composite gained 17 points, or 0.17 percent, during the first hour of trading.

The positive start to a new month, a new quarter and the final half of the year comes after Wall Street staged a remarkable comeback. Investors capped the second quarter reaping gains not seen since 1998 during the dot-com bubble. While the Dow and the S&P have not fully recovered for the year, the tech-heavy Nasdaq is up more than 11 percent on the year, lifted by companies that investors see as resilient to the physically distant, remote-working world brought on by covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

The shortened holiday week will leave investors with a key economic indicator to digest. Public officials, economists and shareholders will be watching closely for new unemployment figures that the Labor Department will release Thursday.

In May, the unemployment rate fell for the first time since the pandemic rocked the U.S. economy, which sent stocks skyward on hopes that a recovery was underway. Jobs numbers for June could confirm that trend or reflect further uncertainty as U.S. cases continue to surge and some states move to delay their reopening plans.

By Hamza Shaban
July 1, 2020 at 9:48 AM EDT

Stop politicizing the pandemic and focus on public health measures, ex-CDC director says

The former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urged government officials and the public Wednesday to stop politicizing the coronavirus, saying battle-tested public health measures are the only way to slow the pandemic’s spread.

“There’s only one enemy — the virus. We need to overcome the politicization of measures that protect all of us,” Tom Frieden wrote in an op-ed for Fox News. “The more we fight among ourselves, the more the virus divides and conquers us.”

The coronavirus still “has the upper hand,” Frieden wrote, because officials have not mounted a full-fledged response to contain it.

“One reason the virus is winning in much of the U.S. is that some leaders and some members of the public seem to think a single silver bullet will make it go away,” Frieden wrote. “We’ve pivoted from travel restrictions, to stay-at-home lockdowns, to ramping up testing, and are now focused on wearing masks.”

Each of those measures was important, he said, but would not succeed without a “comprehensive approach.”

He called on officials to use real-time data to stay ahead of the virus, tracking the proportion of infections for which the likely source is known, the average number of days between when someone feels sick and when they isolated, and the proportion of cases occurring among people in quarantine. He also stressed the importance of wearing face coverings around others, washing hands regularly and practicing social distancing.

Echoing remarks he made earlier in the week, Frieden noted that surges in cases in the South and West were not driven by increased testing. “They reflect the virus spreading explosively in many communities,” he said.

“We can minimize the risk of explosive spread if we recognize that we’re all in this together,” he wrote. “We will be safer when our governments and all of us do our part.”

By Derek Hawkins
July 1, 2020 at 9:14 AM EDT

Every state needs a mask requirement, public health expert says

Every state should have a mask requirement to help prevent the country from seeing 100,000 cases per day, according to Harvard Global Health Institute director Ashish K. Jha.

“I just think we can’t dither around on masks,” he said Wednesday morning on ABC television’s “Good Morning America.” “Everyone needs to be wearing one when they’re outside of their home.”

Jha’s statements follow a warning from the country’s top infectious-disease specialist Anthony S. Fauci, who said Tuesday that the U.S. could record 100,000 cases per day if behavior stays the same and infection rates don’t decline.

To curtail the spread of the virus, Jha said, indoor gatherings at restaurants, bars and nightclubs should end while testing and contact tracing is increased.

“If we can do all of that, we can avoid the fate that Dr. Fauci mentioned,” he said.

Stay-at-home orders should be considered if all other measures fail, Jha added.

By Lateshia Beachum
July 1, 2020 at 8:52 AM EDT

Some Canadian businesses want to let Americans back in. Most Canadians don’t.

TORONTO — In normal times, this would be the high season for Eric Brown’s Ontario fishing lodges. In these times, he wonders whether his business can survive.

Brown says Americans make up 95 percent of the business at his Totem Resorts in Sioux Narrows. Travel restrictions on the U.S.-Canada border, he said, have “absolutely devastated us.”

As restrictions to prevent the spread of the coronavirus drag into a fourth month, Brown and other business operators are pushing officials to consider ways to let at least some tourists in. But they’re running into resistance from the broader population, which appears to have little appetite for lifting the restrictions.

Read more here.

By Amanda Coletta
July 1, 2020 at 8:29 AM EDT

A socialite threw a backyard soiree. Then the tests came back positive.

This is A Cautionary Tale featuring well-intentioned people making poor choices. It is also the tale of a socialite with an Instagram habit who recently held a fabulous backyard soiree during a pandemic. The upside of living on social media is the admiration and envy of your friends. The downside is when your dinner party goes viral. Literally.

Ashley Taylor Bronczek, one of Washington’s social stars, decided to throw a party after the Washington Ballet’s online fundraiser, which she co-chaired. The June 18 gala was a huge success, raising more than $800,000. To celebrate the occasion, she hosted a catered dinner for a couple dozen friends in the backyard of her home. It was, by all accounts, a picture-perfect night chronicled (per usual) on her Instagram account.

Then Bronczek, 37, tested positive for the novel coronavirus, along with a few other guests at the event. The news spread quickly through the wealthy young families in her social circle because their small children play together. Friends begged her to take down photos of the party, which she eventually did. But details of the evening — some true, some exaggerated — were already all over town.

Read more here.

By Roxanne Roberts
July 1, 2020 at 8:07 AM EDT

D.C. allows Nationals to open ballpark for spring training reboot

One day before training camp is scheduled to begin at their ballpark in Southeast D.C., the District government granted the Washington Nationals a waiver to conduct practices and play games at Nationals Park.

The World Series champions had submitted their request for a waiver early last week when Major League Baseball and the players’ union finalized an agreement to play the 2020 season, with a modified spring training, or “summer camp,” to resume this week.

Read more here.

By Gene Wang
July 1, 2020 at 7:41 AM EDT

Former FDA commissioner says amusement parks aren’t essential in hard-hit states

Governors in states with significant increases in coronavirus cases should be more prudent about which businesses can remain open if they want a decline in infections, according to former Food and Drug Administration commissioner Scott Gottlieb.

“I’d be telling the governors … to try to preserve those things that are most important to keeping the economy going and keeping society functioning,” he said in an interview Wednesday with CNBC’s “Squawk Box.”

Schools, small businesses and businesses that are important to a state’s gross domestic product should be prioritized, he said. All other establishments that simply provide entertainment could close, if he were advising state leaders, he said.

“Congregant settings inside that are purely entertainment, that would be the top of the list for closing,” he said. Places such as casinos and amusements parks are also sources of spread because of their many shared surfaces, he added.

Gottlieb acknowledged that many amusement parks are major economic factors in some states, but he said that reducing infections is more important, because a failure to control the spread could affect how people participate in the economy.

“Disney and others are going to have to rethink that because who is going to show up? The bottom line is it’s going to be hard to travel in and out of these states right now until they get these epidemics under control,” Gottlieb said.

By Lateshia Beachum
July 1, 2020 at 7:19 AM EDT

Prague says goodbye to crisis with open-air dinner party, despite rise in cases elsewhere in the Czech Republic

BERLIN — Despite a recent rise in coronavirus infections in the Czech Republic, a large crowd of residents bade “farewell” to the crisis in the capital, Prague, on Tuesday evening.

Photos distributed by news agencies showed hundreds of people surrounding a long line of dinner tables on the Charles Bridge, which is usually a prime tourist attraction.

“We want to celebrate the end of the coronavirus crisis by letting people meet and show they are not afraid to meet, that they are not afraid to take a piece of a sandwich from their neighbor,” organizer Ondrej Kobza told Agence France-Presse.

Before the event, local media said it was likely to be “the city’s largest dinner party ever.”

The Czech Republic took some of the most decisive action in Europe to rein in the pandemic in its initial phase, keeping confirmed deaths below 350 so far. This allowed the country to lift numerous restrictions in recent weeks.

While some applauded the Tuesday initiative, arguing that Prague residents should be allowed some relief after months of painful restrictions, others pointed to rising infection numbers in parts of the Czech Republic.

Critics of the event cited a lack of social distancing on the bridge, saying the rise in overall infections in the country proves that the virus continues to pose a threat.

By Rick Noack
July 1, 2020 at 6:50 AM EDT

Analysis: How the Fed is driving savers to riskier investments

The Federal Reserve is getting lots of love from the financial markets because it has lowered the short-term rates that it controls to just about zero and has figured out inventive ways to drive long-term rates to ultra-low levels.

Despite the benefits that the U.S. economy and stock market have gotten from the Fed, I’ve got a problem with the “We’re not even thinking about thinking about raising rates [for the next few years]” policy of Fed Chair Jerome H. Powell.

It’s that millions of individual investors are being forced into the stock market to get any meaningful income from their savings, because they can no longer count on traditional havens such as savings accounts, certificates of deposit, Treasury securities or money market mutual funds.

Read more here.

By Allan Sloan
July 1, 2020 at 6:19 AM EDT

Pay cuts for millions of U.S. workers worsen the pain of pandemic

Denise Iezzi, an accounting assistant, has had every Friday off since the pandemic escalated in March. This isn’t by choice. Her employer cut her hours and pay. It’s an involuntary sacrifice that more and more workers are being asked to make.

At least 4 million private-sector workers have had their pay cut during the pandemic, according to data provided to The Washington Post by economists who worked on a labor market analysis for the University of Chicago’s Becker Friedman Institute.

Workers are twice as likely to get a pay cut now than they were during the Great Recession, according to the group’s analysis of data from the payroll processor ADP. Salary cuts are spreading most rapidly in white-collar industries, which suggests a deep recession and slow recovery since white-collar workers are usually the last to feel financial pain.

Read more here.

By Heather Long and Andrew Van Dam
July 1, 2020 at 5:55 AM EDT

As more Europeans go on holidays, Ryanair announces ‘very strong’ July bookings

BERLIN — European budget airline Ryanair said Wednesday that bookings for the first half of July were “very strong,” according to the Reuters news agency.

The airline expects at least 10 million passengers for July and August combined.

The announcement came after months during which air travel in the European Union and around the world mostly came to a halt. Now, E.U. citizens across the continent are going on or preparing to go on summer vacation, with border restrictions largely lifted across the bloc.

But the E.U. has said it will continue to bar U.S. citizens, among many other nationals, from traveling to its member states. Europeans are also still banned from traveling to the United States.

The surge in cross-European bookings marks an unexpectedly quick reversal on the continent, even though Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary cautioned in an interview with Reuters that ticket prices remain lower than usual. It could take years for the company to return to pre-pandemic ticket prices, he said.

In a separate interview with the BBC, O’Leary said Wednesday that the airline may still cut 3,500 jobs unless its staff agrees to pay cuts.

By Rick Noack
July 1, 2020 at 5:25 AM EDT

North Korean defections hit record low during pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic has drastically reduced the number of people defecting from North Korea, according to figures released by South Korean authorities.

Only 12 defectors arrived in South Korea between April and June, compared with 320 during the same period last year, officials said Wednesday. That number represents the lowest quarterly tally since 2003, when the South Korean government began keeping track. Typically, more than 1,000 North Koreans defect each year.

South Korea’s Unification Ministry, which manages relations with Pyongyang, said border closures in neighboring countries had made leaving North Korea extremely difficult and were probably responsible for the sudden drop. But “a more professional analysis is needed” to determine whether other factors contributed to the decline, said agency spokesman Yoh Sang-key, according to Reuters.

North Korea has claimed to be coronavirus-free since the start of the pandemic, which experts find hard to believe. Although its isolation from the rest of the world potentially offered benefits, particularly when China and South Korea emerged as hot spots early on, independent news outlets have reported that a number of deaths within the country are believed to be a result of the virus.

By Antonia Farzan
July 1, 2020 at 4:39 AM EDT

Students testing positive for coronavirus are showing up at parties anyway, Alabama official says

Students in Tuscaloosa, home of the University of Alabama, have been attending parties despite testing positive for the coronavirus, a city official said.

Tuscaloosa Fire Chief Randy Smith said at a Tuesday briefing for city council members that several parties were held in the city and surrounding Tuscaloosa County in recent weeks where “students or kids” would show up despite knowing that they had tested positive. Local officials “thought that was kind of a rumor” before investigating further, Smith said.

“Not only did the doctor’s offices help confirm it, but the state confirmed they also had the same information,” he said.

Smith didn’t specify whether any of the students attended the University of Alabama, which is by far the largest school in Tuscaloosa. The city is also home to Stillman College and Shelton State Community College, which have significantly smaller enrollments.

As infection rates across Alabama continue to take a turn for the worse, the number of confirmed cases in Tuscaloosa County has risen to 1,964. At least 573 of those were detected in the past two weeks, the Tuscaloosa News reported. In light of the recent rise, the city voted Tuesday to make masks mandatory.

Although classes have yet to resume and campuses largely remain closed, college towns are already seeing significant numbers of new cases among students who chose to stick around for the summer. Last week, the University of South Carolina said that off-campus gatherings in neighborhoods near its Columbia campus had prompted a surge of new infections. Outbreaks have also stemmed from bars frequented by Michigan State University and Louisiana State University students, and new cases have been linked to fraternity parties at the University of Mississippi.

By Antonia Farzan
July 1, 2020 at 3:59 AM EDT

Four women on being pregnant in a pandemic

For women who are pregnant amid a pandemic, a recession and racial turmoil, the future is an anxiety-stirring unknown. They began their pregnancies in the “other world” that promised baby showers, gender-reveal parties, visits with grandparents and browsing stores for onesies. Now, they contemplate how they would handle a novel coronavirus diagnosis, prepare to give birth while wearing a mask and fight through old traumas that the virus has triggered.

We asked four women who have found themselves in this unfamiliar and unsettling position to describe how they are coping with the new challenges, and to describe their hopes and fears in letters to their unborn children.

Read more here.

By May-Ying Lam
July 1, 2020 at 3:34 AM EDT

Nearly 100 test positive in dorm for California farmworkers

Nearly 100 residents of a California housing facility for migrant farmworkers have contracted the coronavirus, officials said Monday.

The 95 people who tested positive for the coronavirus represent nearly half the population of the Villa Las Brisas complex in Oxnard, Calif., where many of the country’s strawberries are grown. Although equipped to accommodate as many as 441 workers, the facility slashed its capacity to 205 in response to the pandemic, the Ventura County Star reported. Nonetheless, after two berry pickers began displaying coronavirus symptoms, further testing detected a dozen additional cases in the dormitory-style apartments.

Officials decided to test everyone living at the complex, Ventura County Health Director Rigoberto Vargas told the Star. The number of confirmed cases could easily grow in the coming days, since results are still pending for 100 farmworkers.

California’s coronavirus caseloads have continued to worsen in recent weeks despite new restrictions such as mandatory mask wearing. The state reported 6,300 new cases on Tuesday, including 186 in Ventura County. Since the pandemic began, Oxnard has reported the largest number of infections in the county, accounting for 918 out of 2,926 total cases, according to local health data.

The tens of thousands of farmworkers who come to Ventura County each year have historically faced overcrowding and undesirable living conditions, prompting the construction of temporary dormitories. The Villa Las Brisas complex was developed by Reiter Affiliated Cos., a major berry producer, although most residents are employed by third-party contractors rather than the company itself, according to the Star.

The first Las Brisas residents to test positive were placed in isolation at a motel, but the number of cases has grown so large that infected farmworkers are being quarantined at the complex instead, Vargas told the Star. Those who aren’t sick will be moved elsewhere.

By Antonia Farzan
July 1, 2020 at 2:30 AM EDT

Moving during the pandemic? Relax, you can do it safely.

Moving is stressful. And moving during a pandemic is even more stressful because of the added level of anxiety hanging over just about everything these days. But peak moving season is always between April and September, and this year is no exception. Moving companies are just as busy as they are each summer, but with new protocols in place to keep everyone safe and to conform to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.

If you’re planning to move in the next few months, here are some tips, as well as an idea of what to expect if you’re hiring a moving company.

By Nicole Anzia
July 1, 2020 at 2:08 AM EDT

Analysis: Republicans are practically begging Trump to tell people to wear a mask. He still won’t listen.

One of the long-standing quirks of Donald Trump’s presidency is how often his allies feel the need to broadcast their pleas to him publicly. Rather than consult with the president or the White House, they’ll often try to guide policy or the president by taking to Fox News or tweeting things that, in any other administration, would be handled privately and quietly.

Which is what appears to be happening now with masks and the coronavirus.

Read more here.

By Aaron Blake
July 1, 2020 at 1:39 AM EDT

Miami mayor bans lap dances after loophole allowing them garners attention

Miami is putting the kibosh on lap dances, claiming the county’s mayor wasn’t aware that they were still taking place amid Florida’s worsening coronavirus outbreak, the Miami Herald reports.

An updated emergency order began sparking confusion on Monday, after news outlets spotted language requiring 10 feet between strip club customers and performers and began reporting that lap dances had been banned. But Miami-Dade Deputy Mayor Jennifer Moon said Tuesday afternoon that lap dances were actually legal because they weren’t technically considered a “performance” — without clarifying what else they could be, the Herald reported.

But late Tuesday night, after the loophole started getting more attention, Moon told the Herald in a text message that Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez had been “unaware” that his administration’s public health orders permitted lap dances.

“They will be prohibited henceforth,” she wrote.

Miami-Dade County began allowing some strip clubs to reopen in early June and authorized lap dances so long as both parties involved wore masks. Dancers also had to wear gloves. The new rules were widely covered by local media outlets, with one headline in the Herald reading: “A lap dance with a masked stripper? What strip clubs are like in the coronavirus age.”

“It’s the same as what is required for someone who is giving a massage,” Moon told the Herald of the lap dance protocols last week.

Miami-Dade has been the worst-hit county in Florida as the number of infections and hospitalizations has steadily climbed for the past month. The state’s rolling average for new cases has hit record highs for 23 days in a row, according to a data analysis by The Washington Post.

In addition to cracking down on strip clubs, officials in Miami-Dade County have also cut back on the hours that restaurants can serve alcohol and ordered beaches to close over the Fourth of July weekend.

By Antonia Farzan
July 1, 2020 at 1:03 AM EDT

Michigan 9-year-old has sewn and donated more than 500 masks during the pandemic

Profits are negligible but business is booming at the Friendly Chupacabra Face Covering Company in Oakland Township, Mich. Nine-year-old Michaela Munyan, the CEO and sole seamstress of the unincorporated operation, has already produced and donated more than 500 cloth masks to health-care workers, restaurant employees, family members and friends during the novel coronavirus pandemic, and she has no intention of slowing down.

“It helps to share kindness in my community and encourages people to do the same,” Michaela, who doesn’t charge for her masks, said in a phone interview.

Read more here.

By Scott Allen
July 1, 2020 at 12:30 AM EDT

Stocks close out best quarter since 1998, clawing back most Q1 losses

Stocks overcame weeks of uncertainty, social unrest and a resurgence in coronavirus infections to finish one of Wall Street’s best quarters in history.

Two of the three major stock indexes are still down for the first six months of the year, and Federal Reserve Chair Jerome H. Powell on Tuesday cautioned that the economic recovery remains “extraordinarily uncertain” in the face of the stubborn coronavirus.

But indexes have rebounded from their March lows as investors placed their faith and money in the transformative power of remote technology and their belief that a slow but sure, broad recovery — backed by trillions in federal guarantees — is in the works.

Read more here.

By Thomas Heath and Hamza Shaban
July 1, 2020 at 12:29 AM EDT

Senate reaches deal to extend Paycheck Protection Program hours before it was set to expire

The Senate reached a surprise last-minute deal late Tuesday to extend the small-business Paycheck Protection Program through Aug. 8, passing it just hours before the lending program was set to shut down at midnight.

Prospects for the legislation in the House, however, were uncertain. Both chambers are set to adjourn for a two-week recess by week’s end.

The short-term agreement came together in behind-the-scenes negotiations involving Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Christopher A. Coons (D-Del.) and others.

Read more here.

By Jonathan O'Connell, Erica Werner and Aaron Gregg
July 1, 2020 at 12:27 AM EDT

As shaken cities and states pull back from reopening, Fauci sounds alarm on surging virus

Staggered by the resurgent novel coronavirus, cities and states are reinstituting restrictions on bars, pools and large gatherings days ahead of July 4 celebrations, as the top U.S. infectious-disease expert warned Tuesday that the pandemic is out of control in some places and soon could reach 100,000 cases a day.

Nationally, new infections have topped 40,000 in four of the past five days during an accelerating outbreak that exceeds the worst days of April.

“I’m not satisfied with what’s going on because we’re going in the wrong direction,” Anthony S. Fauci said during a Senate hearing Tuesday.

Read more here.

By Anne Gearan, Scott Wilson and Annie Gowen