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President Trump, who has publicly downplayed the importance of face coverings, called mask-wearing “Patriotic” on Monday as more states have mandated face masks amid surging coronavirus infections, hospitalizations and deaths across the country.

“We are United in our effort to defeat the Invisible China Virus, and many people say that it is Patriotic to wear a face mask when you can’t socially distance,” he tweeted, using a phrase many have worried encourages racist targeting of Asians in the pandemic. “There is nobody more Patriotic than me, your favorite President!”

Six months after the virus reached the United States, it continues to disrupt virtually every aspect of daily life — with the country regularly breaking its records for single-day cases — and local leaders are pondering new stay-at-home orders.

Here are some significant developments:

July 20, 2020 at 11:48 PM EDT
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After reopening early, Arizona workers and businesses face even greater devastation

By Tony Romm

Arizona had been one of the last states to close, and first to reopen, when the coronavirus started to sweep the nation this spring. But a brazen gamble to restart its struggling economy has backfired months later, threatening to plunge workers and businesses into a deeper financial hole.

Hundreds of thousands of people are still out of a job, some for the second time this year. Restaurants, gyms and other companies are closing up shop once again — perhaps for good. Even government officials say they are bracing for a crippling blow, with the latest shutdown expected to cleave further into their still-souring finances.

Read more here.

July 20, 2020 at 11:18 PM EDT
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Hundreds camp out in Oklahoma unemployment lines

By Annie Gowen

TULSA — John Jolley never thought he'd be sleeping in his car awaiting unemployment benefits. But there he was, the owner of a once-successful advertising agency, taking a sweaty nap in a Subaru wagon in a convention center parking lot at 1:45 a.m. on a Wednesday.

The pandemic sent his business into a free fall, and now Jolley wanted to be first in line for an unemployment claims event beginning in five hours. He barely dozed, afraid that if he fell into a deep sleep, he would miss the early-morning handout of tickets for appointments with state agents.

There would be just 400 tickets handed out for that day’s event. When those ran out, there would be 400 more for appointments the following day.

“I just didn’t want to be number 803,” Jolley said.

Read more here.

July 20, 2020 at 10:50 PM EDT
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D.C. area’s Marine Corps Marathon is canceled for the first time in its 45-year history

By Bonnie Berkowitz

Organizers have canceled the Marine Corps Marathon for the first time in its 45-year history, reluctantly bowing to the uncertainties of the coronavirus pandemic.

“I don’t think I ever thought I would be saying these words, but we will not be presenting the race,” said race director Rick Nealis, who has presided over the event since 1993. The 45th running had been scheduled for Oct. 25.

Nealis said the final decision was made Friday by Marine Corps Commandant David H. Berger after it became clear that key logistics could not be nailed down until uncomfortably close to race day.

The Marine Corps race, which annually draws 30,000 runners to the Washington area, had been one of the last mega-marathons remaining on the country’s 2020 race calendar. Boston, which had been held every year since 1897, first rescheduled to September but then canceled entirely in May. New York City dropped in June, and a week ago, Chicago threw in the towel. The only huge marathon left is Honolulu, which (so far) is still on for Dec. 13.

Read more here.

July 20, 2020 at 10:22 PM EDT
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Deep South supermarket Winn-Dixie will require face masks after all

By Laura Reiley

Winn-Dixie late Monday announced that it will be joining the stampede of large grocery retailers requiring customers to wear masks in their stores. The company said it will require masks as of July 27. Last week, Southeastern said Winn-Dixie stores would not be requiring masks from customers because it did not want to cause undue friction between customers and employees.

Walmart, Target, CVS, Walgreens, Kroger and Publix announced last week that they will mandate mask-wearing at stores nationwide. The National Retail Federation has encouraged retailers to set nationwide mask policies to protect shoppers and employees, and nearly 30 states now require masks to be worn in public places.

Read more here.

July 20, 2020 at 9:51 PM EDT
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This key metric shows how coronavirus is spreading widely in D.C.

By Dana Hedgpeth and Julie Zauzmer

The District’s top health official released data on Monday showing that the city is nowhere near putting a lid on community transmission of a virus that has increased its rate of spread across the region.

The percentage of new coronavirus cases linked to already known cases is just 2.8 percent, the District’s health department reported.

The city’s goal is 60 percent, which would indicate that the nation’s capital is capable of tracking the spread of the virus and that cases are closely linked. For now, the tiny percentage indicates that the virus is still spreading widely in the community without contact tracers being able to tell enough close contacts of sick people to quarantine as they are exposed.

Read more here.

July 20, 2020 at 9:19 PM EDT
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GOP coronavirus bill to include payroll tax cut and tie school money to reopening plans

By Erica Werner, Jeff Stein, Robert Costa and Seung Min Kim

The emerging GOP coronavirus relief bill appears likely to embrace some of President Trump’s key priorities despite opposition from within in his own party, including a payroll tax cut, very little aid to state and local governments, and measures tying school funding to classrooms reopening.

Some of these provisions are already sparking pushback from key Senate Republicans, and an even bigger conflagration with Democrats appears inevitable.

That clash could come on Tuesday, when Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows are set to meet with Democratic leaders for the first bipartisan talks on what will almost certainly be the last major coronavirus relief bill before the November elections. Mnuchin and Meadows will also meet with Senate Republicans on Tuesday as they seek to quell any discontent.

Read more here.

July 20, 2020 at 8:58 PM EDT
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Biden calls on Congress to reject any tax cuts for the wealthy in coronavirus relief legislation

By Felicia Sonmez

Former vice president Joe Biden on Monday outlined four “commonsense principles” that he said should be included in the next round of coronavirus relief legislation, as negotiations are underway on Capitol Hill.

In a statement released by his campaign, Biden said the next phase of relief must “immediately” authorize “all necessary resources to fight the pandemic.” He called for Congress to reject the White House’s proposals to cut taxes for the wealthiest Americans.

He said the legislation should ensure that any aid to U.S. companies “must not be used to outsource American jobs.”

And he urged lawmakers to provide resources aimed at helping schools reopen in the fall.

“The American people are counting on their leaders to step up, and families and small businesses cannot afford for the relief they desperately need to once again be diminished, delayed, or diverted to the President’s wealthy friends in the midst of this intensifying crisis,” Biden said.

In an interview on MSNBC Monday night, Biden continued to criticize Trump over his handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

“He only has one thing on his mind: How does he win reelection?" Biden said of Trump. “And it doesn’t matter how many people get covid or die from covid.”

He added that the doctors he has spoken with predict there will be 200,000 Americans dead from the coronavirus by Election Day.

July 20, 2020 at 8:52 PM EDT
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Maryland suburbs, Baltimore County and city want to roll back reopening

By Rachel Chason

The top health officers in Maryland’s most populous jurisdictions asked the state on Monday to reconsider what activities it permits amid the coronavirus pandemic, citing a recent uptick in new cases across the state.

They said their respective jurisdictions are weighing “a range of revisions,” including restrictions on gathering sizes, mandating face-coverings for indoor and outdoor activities and the closure of indoor restaurants and bars. The email was sent to deputy secretary of health Fran Phillips and signed by the health officers in Anne Arundel County, Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Howard County, Montgomery County and Prince George’s County.

Read more here.

July 20, 2020 at 8:21 PM EDT
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Unlike the United States, more and more countries are making masks mandatory

By Siobhán O'Grady

As countries around the world reopen their economies amid ongoing novel coronavirus outbreaks, governments are increasingly embracing what remains in some places a divisive public health measure: mandatory masks.

In France, face coverings will be required in all public enclosed spaces as of Monday. England is set to begin enforcing new rules that make masks mandatory inside supermarkets and other shops, effective Friday.

A country’s caseload and mortality rate are the product of diverse epidemiological factors, but health researchers say more evidence is emerging to support what some policymakers and experts have maintained all along: Masks work. Although it is difficult to isolate mask use as the key factor in a country’s success so far, or draw a direct line between mask mandates and outcomes, many countries where masks were in wide, early use have fared better than those that resisted the broad adoption of face coverings.

Read more here.

July 20, 2020 at 8:17 PM EDT
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Seven states and Puerto Rico report record-breaking levels of virus hospitalizations

By Reis Thebault and Jacqueline Dupree

Seven states — across the South and in the West — and Puerto Rico reported a record number of coronavirus patients hospitalized on Monday, further illustrating the rise in severe infections in some parts of the country.

Florida, where virus hospitalizations have climbed steadily for at least 10 days, reported more than 9,400 covid-19 patients in the state’s facilities — second only to Texas, which alone accounts for nearly a fifth of the infected people hospitalized in every state that reports such data, according to a Washington Post analysis.

Georgia, Nevada, Kentucky, North Dakota, Arkansas and Montana had each also reported new highs in hospitalizations by early Monday evening. Some states still do not report their current levels of patients hospitalized, a closely watched metric because it can presage changes in the rate of deaths, which often lags weeks behind reported infections.

As of 8 p.m. Eastern time, states had reported 388 new deaths. It’s the highest number recorded on a Monday — when the figures are typically far lower than average — since mid-June.

July 20, 2020 at 7:51 PM EDT
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Maduro’s government blames Venezuela outbreak on the country’s returning refugees

By Ana Vanessa Herrero, Anthony Faiola and Mariana Zuñiga

CARACAS, Venezuela — The "biological" threat was gathering on the western border, Venezuela's socialist government claimed. So, besieged President Nicolás Maduro, ever vigilant against potential invasion, dispatched gun-toting reinforcements to the frontier.

The 57-year-old authoritarian wasn’t worried about the Colombian army. Rather, he was targeting his own people — Venezuelan migrants abroad, left jobless by the coronavirus pandemic, now returning home.

Many are stealing in from Colombia, entering the country through illegal crossings, without testing for the novel coronavirus. Maduro says they’re fueling a dangerous spike in cases in this uniquely vulnerable nation.

Read more here.

July 20, 2020 at 7:23 PM EDT
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Trump to bring back coronavirus briefings in attempt to revive faltering campaign

By Toluse Olorunnipa and Josh Dawsey

President Trump’s announcement Monday that he would resurrect the White House coronavirus task force briefings is the culmination of weeks of debate among his aides about how best to turn around — or explain away — his administration’s failed response to the pandemic.

As the number of infected Americans surges and as Trump’s coronavirus approval ratings plummet, the president is pledging to “get involved” in the daily messaging campaign in a more direct way by returning to the podium where he headlined controversial news conferences in March and April.

Read more here.

July 20, 2020 at 6:51 PM EDT
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‘It is crunch time’: Governors push the Trump administration for more pandemic aid, school funding

By Reis Thebault

The organization that represents U.S. governors is urging the Trump administration to support and enact several policies it says are crucial to states’ ongoing responses to the coronavirus pandemic.

On Monday afternoon, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican and the chairman of the National Governors Association, asked the White House to address state leaders’ “five urgent priorities,” including funding for school reopening and an additional virus relief package.

“The president, vice president, and Secretary Mnuchin have all previously committed to support this funding, but there are growing indications that it is no longer a priority,” Hogan said in a statement, referring to President Trump, Vice President Pence and Treasure Secretary Steven Mnuchin. “It is crunch time now, and we are ready to work with leaders in both parties to get this done.”

The plea is another sign of the frayed relationship between many of the country’s governors and Trump, who has largely foisted the burden of navigating the pandemic onto the states. The request comes just days after Hogan blasted Trump’s handling of the crisis in a Washington Post op-ed, writing that the White House “bungled” the rollout of testing infrastructure and that the president “downplayed the outbreak’s severity.”

The relief bill emerging from the White House and Senate Republicans appears likely to include very little aid to state and local governments. It could also tie school funding to classrooms reopening.

The governors association requested that the administration extend the public health emergency, set to expire Saturday, and extend the authorization that allows state leaders to deploy the National Guard. Hogan also asked for a delay in the coming changes to hospital reporting requirements, and he asked for education funding “that prioritizes both learning and safety.”

Governors oppose relief funding that stipulates specific models of reopening, Hogan said, but they “continue to stress the need for Congress to pass a coronavirus relief package that provides the funding desperately needed by state and local governments.”

“Millions of state and local government jobs depend on this aid,” Hogan said.

July 20, 2020 at 6:23 PM EDT
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Trump vs. Biden on reopening schools

By Valerie Strauss

There are, not unexpectedly, big differences between the approaches that President Trump and former vice president Joe Biden are taking about whether and how to reopen schools during the coronavirus pandemic.

Trump has been repeatedly saying that all schools should open fully — even in areas where coronavirus infection rates are spiking — and that he wants to withhold federal funding from districts that don’t. Although he can’t unilaterally withhold money Congress has already spent, he is working with Senate Republicans to attach conditions or incentives to billions of dollars in new emergency aid for schools.

In contrast, Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential candidate, released a new plan of his own on Friday (see video below) for reopening schools that stressed the importance of keeping people safe — a point that is not part of Trump’s threatening call to reopen.

Read more here.