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The number of new coronavirus cases recorded nationwide each day is dropping after peaking at more than 75,000 — but the declines are muddied by issues with testing and data-gathering in big states.

Populous California and Florida have the largest decreases in the past month in raw numbers: Florida’s average daily cases have tumbled to about 7,300 from a peak of nearly 12,000, while California surpassed 10,000 before dropping close to 7,000. Those two states also have reported major data snags.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) noted a big drop in daily cases, but officials warned a day later that issues with the reporting system were causing an undercount. Florida’s numbers, meanwhile, were disrupted by Hurricane Isaias, which led officials to suspend coronavirus testing at dozens of sites.

Here are some significant developments:
1:51 p.m.
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For 20th straight week, more than 1 million Americans filed jobless claims

By Eli Rosenberg

Nearly 1.2 million people filed new unemployment insurance claims in the past week, down from the previous week but still well above the pre-pandemic record of 695,000 from 1982.

It marks the 20th consecutive week with over 1 million new claims and comes at a perilous time for the economy: days after $600-a-week emergency payments ended for millions of unemployed Americans.

More than 32.1 million Americans are receiving some form of unemployment benefits.

3:45 a.m.
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White House, Democrats remain at odds over unemployment aid as relief talks continue

By Erica Werner and Karoun Demirjian

President Trump indicated support Wednesday for renewing enhanced unemployment benefits that have expired for 30 million workers, saying he wants to “get funds to people so they can live.” But in an interview on Fox News, he also said he didn’t want the benefits to be structured in a way that he thinks would “disincentivize” people from going back to work.

Trump’s comments came as negotiations about a new coronavirus relief bill ramped up on Capitol Hill, with top administration officials and congressional Democratic leaders setting a goal of reaching a deal by the end of this week so it can pass Congress next week.

Read more here.

3:11 a.m.
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Democrats demand Postal Service reverse new rules that have slowed the delivery of absentee ballots

By Amy Gardner and Jacob Bogage

Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill told negotiators for President Trump on Wednesday that preserving funding for the U.S. Postal Service and removing new rules that have slowed delivery times are essential ingredients of a new coronavirus relief bill in a year when millions of Americans plan to vote by mail.

“Elections are sacred,” Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), told reporters after a meeting with Postmaster General Louis DeJoy. “To do cutbacks when ballots, all ballots, have to be counted — we can’t say, ‘Oh, we’ll get 94 percent of them.’ It’s insufficient.”

Schumer said he and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told DeJoy, along with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, that their demands regarding the Postal Service are necessary to striking a deal on broader relief bill that may also include new unemployment benefits and a payroll tax cut.

Read more here.

2:40 a.m.
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Colorado State investigates report players were told not to reveal coronavirus symptoms

By Cindy Boren

The president of Colorado State University promised an investigation into the athletic department’s adherence to coronavirus guidelines after allegations that athletes were discouraged from being tested for the virus and that the department was ignoring quarantine rules.

The action comes after the Coloradan reported that players had been told not to report symptoms and were threatened with a reduction in playing time if they were to quarantine. Ten individuals, both football players and staff members, came forward to allege that CSU was altering contact tracing reports, too.

“I think everybody could be doing a better job,'' said a player who spoke to the Coloradan on condition of anonymity because he feared retribution, “but for our coaches to tell players not to tell trainers if they have symptoms because we had so many guys out is wrong.''

Read more here.

1:59 a.m.
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Facebook, Twitter penalize Trump for posts containing coronavirus misinformation

By Heather Kelly

Facebook on Wednesday said it removed President Trump’s post of a video clip from a Fox News interview in which he said that children are “almost immune” from covid-19.

“This video includes false claims that a group of people is immune from COVID-19 which is a violation of our policies around harmful COVID misinformation,” said Facebook spokesperson Andy Stone.

This is the first time Facebook has taken down anything from the president for violating the company’s policies on covid misinformation.

Twitter also said it will require President Trump’s campaign account to remove the post and banned the account from tweeting until it does so.

Twitter spokeswoman Liz Kelley said the tweet "is in violation of the Twitter Rules on COVID-19 misinformation. The account owner will be required to remove the Tweet before they can Tweet again.”

Read more here.

1:32 a.m.
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Supreme Court says sheriff doesn’t have to provide additional pandemic relief at jail

By Robert Barnes

The Supreme Court on Wednesday night said a California sheriff does not have to comply with a lower-court order requiring accommodations at a county jail experiencing a coronavirus outbreak.

The court’s vote was 5 to 4, with the court’s liberals in dissent. It follows a pattern of the court staying out of the way of local and state officials who are dealing with the pandemic, and most often Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. holds the controlling vote.

As is the custom in such emergency requests, the majority did not explain the reasoning for allowing Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes out of a district court judge’s order. But Justice Sonia Sotomayor said her colleagues were ignoring the court’s usual standards in granting a stay of the order.

Read more here.

1:29 a.m.
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San Diego County setting up testing site at busy border crossing

By Hannah Knowles

San Diego County is adding a novel coronavirus testing site on the U.S.-Mexico line at the busiest land border crossing in the country.

The county’s board of supervisors voted Tuesday to pilot a “no appointment, walk-up” site at the San Ysidro Land Port of Entry’s PedWest crossing from Tijuana, County Supervisor Greg Cox said Wednesday during a news conference. The resource will serve essential workers and returning U.S. citizens, Cox said.

The site is expected to test up to 200 people a day, he said.

It will join 20 to 30 testing sites set up across the county — one of California’s most populous — “any given week,” Cox added. The county’s closest testing location to the border is at the San Ysidro Civic Center, about two miles away.

Average new coronavirus cases reported each day in San Diego County rose sharply in late June and early July, according to data tracked by The Washington Post, before trending downward later in the month. California health officials warned this week, though, that technical issues with the infection reporting system have caused undercounts that staff are scrambling to rectify.

Before the coronavirus upended international travel, the San Ysidro site typically processed 20,000 northbound pedestrians and 70,000 northbound people in vehicles each day, according to government figures.

12:57 a.m.
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Rep. Rodney Davis is latest member of Congress to test positive for coronavirus

By Reis Thebault

Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.) has tested positive for the coronavirus, becoming the latest lawmaker to be infected by the virus that is dominating Capitol Hill’s legislative agenda.

Davis announced his positive test on Wednesday evening, saying he has a higher-than-normal temperature but is otherwise symptom-free.

“My staff and I take COVID-19 very seriously,” Davis said in a statement. “My wife is a nurse and a cancer survivor, which puts her in an at-risk category like so many Americans. My office and I have always followed and will continue to follow CDC guidelines, use social distancing, and wear masks or face coverings when social distancing cannot be maintained.”

The congressman has been wearing a mask while working on the Hill, a practice that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) recently mandated.

Davis’s district is in central Illinois, beginning southeast of Peoria and stretching down to just north of St. Louis. He said his office will cancel public events while he quarantines at home.

“During these challenging times, protecting the public health is my highest priority,” Davis said. “If you’re out in public, use social distancing, and when you can’t social distance, please wear a mask. All of us must do our part. That’s what it will take to get through this pandemic.”

According to a tally by Reuters, at least seven Democrats and seven Republicans in the House and Senate have also tested positive or had presumptive cases.

12:27 a.m.
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That drop in new cases is muddied by reporting, testing snags in big states

By Hannah Knowles

The number of new coronavirus cases recorded nationwide each day is dropping after peaking at more than 75,000 — but the declines are muddied by issues with testing and data gathering in big states.

Over the past four weeks, nine states have posted declines of more than 10 percent in average daily cases: Arizona, Vermont, Delaware, Maine, Utah, Florida, California, South Carolina and New Mexico. Arizona and Vermont led the pack with case drops of 43 percent, though Vermont, one of the least populous states in the country, has daily infections in the single digits.

Populous California and Florida have the greatest changes over that period in raw numbers: Florida’s daily cases have tumbled to about 7,300 from a peak of nearly 12,000, while California surpassed 10,000 before dropping close to 7,000.

Those two states also have reported major data snags.

During a news conference Monday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) noted a big drop in daily cases, but officials warned a day later that issues with the reporting system were causing an undercount. Mark Ghaly, the state’s health and human services secretary, said at a Tuesday news conference that staff are working “around the clock” to fix technical problems.

“Some counties, many counties, in fact, depend on the state’s information to keep their own data up to date,” Ghaly said. “There is no doubt that their ability to address in a timely way specific cases [and conduct] contact tracing is limited.”

The health department in Los Angeles County said in a statement Tuesday that it has “noted issues with the State electronic lab reporting system for about two weeks” and that it is “working urgently” to contact dozens of labs and get missing test results.

Florida’s numbers, meanwhile, were disrupted by Hurricane Isaias, which led officials to suspend coronavirus testing at dozens of sites in counties such as Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach that account for most of the state’s infections.

That means this week’s unusually low daily counts, hovering around 5,000, are “no reason for celebration,” as local news site Click Orlando put it.

Jacqueline Dupree contributed to this report.

11:33 p.m.
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Trump continues to say that the coronavirus will ‘go away’

By Colby Itkowitz

President Trump maintained, as he has from the early days of the pandemic, that one day the coronavirus will “go away.”

“It’s going away. It’ll go away. Things go away,” he said Wednesday during a White House briefing when pressed on that claim. “There’s no question in my mind it will go away.”

From the start, Trump has painted a rosy picture of the public health crisis.

In his opening comments, Trump lavished praise on Arizona as a model for containing the virus without “a punishing lockdown.”

The president had spent part of the afternoon Wednesday with Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R).

The state became a coronavirus hot spot months into the pandemic, with about 4,700 new cases at its daily peak in late June. Cases there are currently decreasing, but Arizona is still recording about 1,000 new cases a day.

Trump’s praise for Ducey was centered on the fact that the state’s rate of new cases slowed while its economy mostly stayed open.

11:09 p.m.
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Students across the country go back to school — and test positive for the coronavirus

By Reis Thebault

In some places, if you were squinting, the start of this school year may have resembled the many that came before it: There were the gaggles of students, jittery with first-day nerves; the fleet of school buses; and the teachers with their revamped classrooms.

But look closer and the picture becomes more disturbing: face masks, webcams, desks six feet apart. With a pandemic still raging, this academic year will be unlike any before it. And some schools that reopened despite soaring cases of the coronavirus have already seen what everyone involved feared most. Students and teachers across the country have tested positive for the coronavirus, forcing hundreds into quarantine and complicating an already fraught plan to reopen schools.

In Greenfield, a small city east of Indianapolis, a student last week attended the first day of in-person classes at the local junior high. Later that evening, families were notified that the student, whose identity has not been released, had tested positive for the virus. It is unclear when the student was tested, the Indianapolis Star reported, but state guidelines recommend anyone awaiting their results to stay home.

In Mississippi, near the Tennessee line, a high schooler in the Corinth School District — the state’s first to reopen — tested positive, officials announced Friday, four days after classes began. By Monday, the district had reported two more cases at the high school, and on Wednesday officials reported cases in a middle and elementary school. “Just because you begin to have positive cases, that is not a reason for closing school,” District Superintendent Lee Childress said in a video address.

At least three school districts in Georgia, including the state’s largest, reported cases in either students or staff. In one, Cherokee County, an entire second grade class and its teacher must quarantine and switch to online learning for two weeks after a student showed symptoms and later tested positive, the Cherokee Tribune reported.

In North Carolina, a fourth-grade class from Thales Academy in Wake Forest was similarly fated after one of its students tested positive. The private school, which has several campuses, has been held up as a model. Vice President Pence visited a Thales Academy location in nearby Apex last week and praised it for being at “the forefront of reopening schools in America,” the Raleigh News and Observer reported.

The chaos early in the school year adds to fears voiced by many experts, who have long warned that reopening schools could accelerate the spread of the virus and endanger students and teachers.

The federal government has offered little guidance, said Tara Smith, a professor of public health at Kent State University.

“Everyone decides their own reopening plans, and it’s made it a real mess,” she said. “There’s no scenario here where everyone wins and everyone is protected.”

10:31 p.m.
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Tens of millions of vaccine doses likely on hand by early 2021, Fauci says

By Hannah Knowles
Infectious-disease expert Anthony Fauci told reporters that he is “cautiously optimistic” that there will be a safe and effective vaccine. (The Washington Post)

Experts say that distributing a coronavirus vaccine to millions of Americans could be just as challenging as developing it. But Anthony S. Fauci, the country’s top infectious-disease expert, expressed confidence Wednesday that a vaccine — if proved safe and effective in advanced trials — should be quickly available en masse.

Speaking with Reuters, Fauci said that tens of millions of vaccine doses will probably be on hand early next year and that manufacturers say they will probably have a billion doses by the end of 2021.

“So I think the process is moving along at a pretty favorable pace,” Fauci said.

Two vaccine candidates have entered Phase 3 trials in the United States, in which thousands of people are getting either the candidate or a placebo. Fauci has repeatedly said he’s “cautiously optimistic” about a working vaccine based on promising early results.

Instead of waiting to determine that the potential vaccines work, the U.S. government has struck deals to mass-produce candidates they hope will prove successful.

Just before offering optimism on the vaccine front, Fauci gave a distinctly less rosy assessment of the country’s coronavirus situation than President Trump has in recent interviews. Axios this week aired an interview in which the president said the virus is “under control.”

The latest death toll — more than 1,000 Americans a day — “doesn’t mean we aren’t doing everything we can,” Trump elaborated. “It’s under control as much as you can control it.”

Asked about that assessment Wednesday, Fauci emphasized the varied picture nationwide, saying some parts of the country are doing well, while others are “on fire.” He reiterated his calls for measures like bar shutdowns and universal mask-wearing that not all states have heeded.

But Fauci, when pressed, declined to directly contradict the president.

“The issue is, you can hear what I’m saying,” Fauci said, sounding frustrated.

“I mean, I’ve just been through this so many times,” he said. “I don’t want to get distracted by this. I just want to give the public health facts of what we need to do.”

9:40 p.m.
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Trump on November election: ‘You’ll never know who the winner is, but the winner is going to be me’

By Felicia Sonmez

In a meeting with Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) at the White House, Trump once again made the unfounded claim that mail-in voting will lead to widespread voter fraud.

“Look at Paterson, New Jersey, and look at other locations,” Trump said, referring to a New Jersey city where leaders say the president is vastly oversimplifying a case of alleged fraud that took place in a local election.

Trump added: “We can’t have that. You’ll never know who the winner is, but the winner is going to be me.”

In the White House meeting, Trump also praised Ducey’s handling of the coronavirus in Arizona. The state was one of the last to close, and among the first to reopen, when the pandemic began its sweep earlier this year; last month, it became one of the country’s worst hot spots.

Trump declined to weigh in, however, when asked whether he believes mail-in voting in Arizona is as safe as he claims it to be in Florida.

“Well, I haven’t discussed it with the governor,” Trump said. “I can tell you: In Florida, they’ve done a very good job with it. In Nevada, it would be a disaster. In New York, it’s been a disaster. In many other places, it’s been a total catastrophe.”

Earlier Wednesday, Trump announced a federal lawsuit seeking to block a Nevada law that expands mail-in voting, even as he has championed the practice in Florida, where one of his allies, Republican Ron DeSantis, is governor.

8:58 p.m.
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A Tennessee school district reopens, is among the first to attempt full return

By A.C. Shilton and Joe Heim

MARYVILLE, Tenn. — It was just before 7:30 Monday morning when the line of Blount County Schools buses grumbled into the parking lot of Heritage High School and began dropping off students — some wearing masks, others barefaced — into the fraught new world of in-school education during a pandemic.

At the flagpole in front of the school, two unmasked teens hugged before sitting down in a small group to chat until the bell rang. The scene of students reuniting could have been from any other first day of school in any other year. But over their shoulders, an early August thunderstorm brewed above the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains — an almost-too-perfect metaphor for what many parents and teachers here, and across the country, worry is coming.

Last week, the district began a staggered reopening, making it one of the first in the country to attempt a full return. The goal was to have everyone who wanted to return back in school by Aug. 10. On Tuesday morning, the district changed its plan, opting to allow only half the students to return on alternating days through Aug. 21 with the goal of keeping class sizes smaller while the district eases in to full attendance.

Read more here.