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Talks regarding a coronavius relief package collapsed on Capitol Hill on Friday, and White House officials said they will recommend that President Trump move ahead without Congress to try and address unemployment benefits, eviction rules, and student loan relief.

“The president would like us to make a deal, but unfortunately we did not make any progress today,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said after he and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows met with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.). “At this point we are going to recommend to the president that over the weekend we move forward with some executive actions,” Mnuchin said.

Here are some significant developments:
August 7, 2020 at 9:55 PM EDT

Virginia Supreme Court temporarily halts evictions amid pandemic

By Laura Vozzella

RICHMOND — A sharply divided Virginia Supreme Court on Friday granted Gov. Ralph Northam's request for a statewide moratorium on evictions, extending protections for another month.

As state and federal measures against evictions expired last month, Northam (D) asked the court in a letter to suspend evictions through early September to give the state time to come up with a legislative solution.

Northam cheered Friday’s order on Twitter.

“As the ongoing Congressional stalemate leaves Virginians without federal housing protection, this is a critical step towards keeping families safely in their homes,” Northam tweeted.

Four of the court’s seven justices agreed to a moratorium through Sept. 7, noting the “judicial emergency” caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Read more here.

August 7, 2020 at 9:39 PM EDT

Trump continues to flout social distancing guidelines even as he urges others to follow them

By David Nakamura

Two weeks ago, President Trump held an event at the South Court Auditorium in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on lowering prescription drug prices.

After his remarks, Trump invited a dozen people to crowd behind him shoulder-to-shoulder as he signed several executive actions and handed out ceremonial pens. Four wore face masks, while the others did not, including the president and four doctors in white medical smocks.

The juxtaposition of the safeguards set up to protect the president and model safe behavior for the public with Trump’s seemingly arbitrary decision to override them in pursuit of a photo op illustrates his administration’s ongoing inability or unwillingness to send a clear message to the public on how to protect themselves against a pandemic that has killed more than 157,000 Americans.

Read more here.

August 7, 2020 at 9:24 PM EDT

U.S. expected to reach 5 million cases this weekend as California accounts for unprocessed results

By Meryl Kornfield and Jacqueline Dupree

While the United States reported more than 60,000 coronavirus cases on Friday, California led the nation with 8,436 confirmed infections, its highest tally since Sunday, as the state accounts for a data glitch resulting in hundreds of thousands of unprocessed health records.

California Health and Human Services Secretary Mark Ghaly announced on Friday that the state was processing a backlog of 250,000 to 300,000 records, which includes coronavirus screening results. The error may have caused an underreporting of cases in California since July 25. Accounting for the missing records may take 24 to 48 hours.

California reported 142 deaths Friday, surpassing 10,000 total, as the country counted 1,316 deaths, marking the fourth day this week the death toll from the virus exceeded 1,000. The seven-day average number of deaths for six states and Puerto Rico reached a record high, according to a Washington Post data analysis.

The nation’s total number of infections confirmed since the start of the pandemic will likely reach 5 million this weekend.

Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia have experienced an increase in their seven-day averages in the past month, indicating continued spread in more than half the country.

Texas was not among those states, as its cases and deaths have declined after spiking in July, trailing Florida with 7,039 cases reported Friday. Florida confirmed 7,686. Both Texas and Florida surpassed 8,000 total deaths.

August 7, 2020 at 9:21 PM EDT

Bikers pour into South Dakota for rally expected to draw 250,000, stoking virus fears

By Hannah Knowles

Health officials are still warning against even small gatherings, and states with relatively low spread of the coronavirus are ordering visitors from hot spots to self-quarantine.

That did not stop hordes of bikers from arriving Friday at one of the world’s biggest annual motorcycle rallies — the first of 250,000 of people from across the country expected to descend on South Dakota’s rural Black Hills. They rumbled through the streets and crowded the sidewalks, often without masks, for the start of a 10-day extravaganza so deeply rooted that Sturgis calls itself the City of Riders.

“I don’t want to die, but I don’t want to be cooped up all my life either,” 66-year-old Stephen Sample told the Associated Press, explaining that he’d driven his Harley up from Arizona. He worries about getting coronavirus, he said, and was trying to steer clear of bars but ate breakfast that morning inside a diner.

Read more here.

August 7, 2020 at 9:11 PM EDT

Dozens of Bedminster club members gather in ballroom for Trump news conference

By Marisa Iati

Dozens of members of Trump National Golf Club Bedminster in New Jersey stood shoulder-to-shoulder in a ballroom there Friday before a news conference from President Trump, according to a pool report and photos on social media.

The members’ temperatures were taken as they entered the room, and “a handful” wore masks, Politico reporter Meridith McGraw wrote in the pool report. After reporters posted on Twitter about the crowd, White House staff members distributed masks and asked the club members to spread out.

New Jersey’s coronavirus guidelines allow golf courses to reopen indoor areas at 25 percent capacity, with everyone wearing face masks. More broadly, the state mandates that indoor gatherings be limited to 25 people or 25 percent capacity, whichever is lower. Everyone has to wear a mask and stay six feet from others.

An exception for “political activities protected under the First Amendment” allows whichever is lower of 100 people or 25 percent capacity. It is unclear whether Trump’s news conference qualifies for this exception.

Washington Post reporter Toluse Olorunnipa asked the president about the club members’ presence in the ballroom.

“You said that the pandemic is disappearing, but we lost 6,000 Americans this week,” Olorunnipa said. “And just in this room, you have dozens of people who are not following the guidelines in New Jersey, which say — ”

As the club members drowned out the question with booing, Trump said New Jersey’s exception for political activity exempts his news conference from the lower capacity limit.

“I’d call it peaceful protest, because they heard you were coming up and they know the news is fake,” Trump said.

After continuing to criticize the news media, Trump ended the news conference.

August 7, 2020 at 9:09 PM EDT

House committee seeks records on outbreak inside Virginia immigrant detention center

By Antonio Olivo

The House Committee on Homeland Security Friday asked for records related to a widespread covid-19 outbreak inside a Virginia immigration detention center after a 72-year-old detainee there died while hospitalized with the disease earlier this week.

Also on Friday, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam’s office said the nation’s top public health agency has agreed to conduct widespread coronavirus testing at the facility located in Farmville.

The site is home to the nation’s largest covid-19 outbreak inside a detention center, with 259 detainees — most of the population — being monitored for the disease, according to Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Read more here.

August 7, 2020 at 8:44 PM EDT

DeWine assures Ohio that testing is accurate after false positive

By Meryl Kornfield

Despite receiving a false positive result to a coronavirus test on Thursday, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine expressed confidence Friday in the accuracy of virus screening in his state.

Compared with the antigen test that he took in Cleveland before he was to meet with President Trump, Ohio’s test is very accurate, the Republican governor said during an interview with Fox News. DeWine added that he was unsure of the Ohio test’s accuracy rate but estimated that “it’s likely to be a very big percentage.”

Asked whether testing can be trusted, given his false positive, DeWine blamed the error on the type of test, a rapid-result antigen test, which is required of anyone who has contact with the president. DeWine’s visit with Trump, scheduled to take place at the Whirlpool plant in northwestern Ohio, was canceled after the governor’s positive result.

“I think one thing we have to be very careful of is, these antigen tests are relatively new tests,” DeWine said on Fox News. He said antigen tests are not widespread in Ohio.

“There may be a place to use them,” DeWine added. “But we have seen that — obviously this one did not work, and it gave us a false read.”

Ohio commonly uses the polymerase chain reaction, or PCR, test, which Peter Mohler, the chief scientific officer at Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center, called “a gold standard” in testing during a news conference with DeWine on Friday. Mohler said that antigen tests may produce false negatives but that a false positive is atypical.

August 7, 2020 at 7:51 PM EDT

What the lifting of the State Department travel advisory means for Americans

By Natalie Compton

On Thursday, the State Department lifted its blanket Level 4 international travel advisory, prompting many Americans to wonder, “Does that mean I can travel abroad again?”

Not really.

With this move, the State Department changed the way it shares information about international health and safety concerns during the pandemic, but the lift doesn’t mean it’s suddenly safe to travel abroad.

“The State Department didn’t exactly say ‘Go ahead and travel to wherever you want to go,’” said Gabor Kelen, the chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. “You can go to their website and see [which country] they think is a hot spot, and dangerous, and so forth.”

Read more here.

August 7, 2020 at 7:23 PM EDT

Canada’s minorities are bearing the brunt of pandemic recession

By Amanda Coletta

TORONTO – Minorities in Canada have been bearing the brunt of the pandemic-induced recession, according to race-based unemployment data released for the first time on Friday by Statistics Canada.

Latin American, South Asian, Southeast Asian, Arab and Black Canadians each had unemployment rates exceeding 16 percent in July — nearly double the rate of 9.3 percent for White Canadians. South Asian Canadians had the highest unemployment rate of 17.8 percent.

The unemployment rate for South Asian Canadians was 9.1 percentage points higher in July compared to the previous year and 8.4 percentage points higher for Chinese Canadians. The year-over-year increase in the unemployment rate was smallest for White Canadians, at 4.4 percentage points.

The national statistics agency said the higher unemployment rates among visible minority groups may in part be attributable to “their greater concentration as workers” in industries hit hard by the coronavirus and economic shutdown, such as accommodation and food services.

Among persons of color, women were disproportionately affected. Among Black Canadians, for instance, the unemployment rate for women was 18.6 percent compared to 15.1 percent for men. For South Asian Canadian women, it was 20.4 percent, while for men it was 15.4 percent.

Indigenous people made no employment gains in July, according to the data.

Canada added 418,500 jobs in July as more parts of the economy began to reopen, and the unemployment rate decreased for the second consecutive month to 10.9 percent, according to the agency.

August 7, 2020 at 7:02 PM EDT

Nevada Gov. Sisolak blasts Trump campaign for flouting mass gathering limits

By Meryl Kornfield

In a sharp rebuke Friday, Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak called out President Trump’s campaign for hosting a Las Vegas event attended by 500 people, violating a statewide directive to limit public gatherings amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The Democratic governor said the “Evangelicals for Trump” event held Thursday, headlined by the president’s personal pastor, Paula White, flouted not just a restriction of more than 50 people for public gatherings but also the guidance on social distancing from Trump’s administration.

“President Trump’s own campaign has ignored his experts and state law,” Sisolak tweeted a day after the event. “This campaign event put more people at risk, including his supporters and the hardworking Nevadans who staffed the event.”

Trump’s campaign responded to Sisolak’s remarks, calling the criticism partisan.

“It’s grotesque that Nevada Democrats systematically targeted people of faith who were praying together – while obeying state and local health guidelines – just because they support President Trump,” campaign spokeswoman Samantha Zager said in a statement to The Washington Post. “If it were Biden supporters shoulder to shoulder at slot machines instead of the Trump supporters with Bibles, the state and local Democrats would’ve never attempted to shut it down.”

The city of Las Vegas has issued a civil penalty against the venue, Ahern Hotel, for hosting the event, the Associated Press reported.

Masks were required at the event, and temperature screenings were conducted on attendees, the campaign told the AP. Sisolak’s order limits casinos and hotels to 50 percent capacity.

Before the event, campaign officials told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that the venue was changed from a church to the hotel, which has a 1,600-person capacity, due to restrictions on church gatherings.

“In a time when many Nevadans can’t go to church because of overreaching restrictions, President Trump’s campaign is bringing together evangelicals from across the community to pray, worship and discuss key issues facing Americans in the November election,” Ken Farnaso, the campaign’s deputy national press secretary, told the Review-Journal.

Sisolak’s order against religious gatherings was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in late July.

August 7, 2020 at 6:20 PM EDT

Released from jail at height of pandemic, Virginia rape suspect allegedly killed his accuser

By Tom Jackman

The incident in Karla Dominguez’s apartment last October was violent, and it was not consensual, she testified in Alexandria District Court in December. The man she accused was indicted on charges including rape, strangulation and abduction and jailed without bond in Alexandria.

Then the coronavirus pandemic hit. Ibrahim E. Bouaichi’s lawyers argued that the virus was a danger to both inmates and their attorneys, and that Bouaichi should be freed awaiting trial. On April 9, over the objections of an Alexandria prosecutor, Circuit Court Judge Nolan Dawkins released Bouaichi on $25,000 bond, with the condition that he only leave his Maryland home to meet with his lawyers or pretrial services officials.

On July 29, Alexandria police say, Bouaichi, 33, returned to Alexandria and shot and killed Dominguez outside her apartment in the city’s West End.

Read more here.

August 7, 2020 at 5:47 PM EDT

Plane skids off runway in India and breaks into pieces, killing 17

By Joanna Slater and Niha Masih

NEW DELHI — A plane carrying nearly 200 people skidded off a runway in a heavy downpour and broke into pieces Friday in southern India, killing 17.

The Air India Express flight was part of a massive airlift organized by the Indian government to bring home stranded and distressed citizens during the coronavirus pandemic.

The plane departed from Dubai and crashed while attempting to land in the city of Kozhikode in the state of Kerala on Friday evening. Television channels broadcast images from the scene showing jagged pieces of the aircraft’s fuselage surrounded by emergency personnel.

Read more here.

August 7, 2020 at 5:15 PM EDT

Health officials ramp up effort to convince public that vaccine decisions will be based on science, not politics

By Laurie McGinley, Yasmeen Abutaleb and Lena H. Sun

Federal health officials, worried about shaky confidence in a possible coronavirus vaccine, launched a public campaign this week to try to reassure Americans that regulators won’t clear any vaccine that isn’t vetted for safety and effectiveness. But President Trump immediately demonstrated the difficulty of divorcing the issue from politics by asserting Thursday that a vaccine might be available “right around” Nov. 3, or Election Day.

Top Food and Drug Administration officials, in published articles and interviews, said they would approve a vaccine only after rigorous review and would consult an outside advisory committee — something that lawmakers and nongovernment scientists have been clamoring for. Agency officials insisted decisions will be based “solely on good science and data.” They got backup from Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious-disease expert, who told Reuters the FDA won’t be swayed by political considerations. He has said a vaccine might be ready by early next year.

But Trump, who has a history of leaning on, and sometimes abusing, government scientists, told Geraldo Rivera on Thursday, “I’m rushing it. I am. I’m pushing everybody.” He said he was focused on saving lives, not on winning the election.

Read more here.

August 7, 2020 at 4:40 PM EDT

Special-education students are not just falling behind in the pandemic — they’re losing key skills, parents say

By Perry Stein and Valerie Strauss

Antwon Gibson’s public high school in Northeast Washington didn’t even attempt to teach his “independent living” class virtually in the spring. The gregarious 18-year-old has an intellectual disability and reads and performs math below grade level. He has been out of the classroom since schools closed in March and now requires more help from his family to break down multisyllabic words.

Parents across the country who have students with special-education needs say the stakes are high if schools do not reopen soon. They say their children are not just falling behind academically but also are missing developmental milestones and losing key skills necessary for an independent life.

In the conversations about whether to reopen school buildings — or even how to shape virtual learning — parents of special-education students fear that the unique needs of their children are not being urgently considered. Their children are often in self-contained classrooms with just six students, and the parents believe there are ways to safely educate them offline, even if the entire student population isn’t ready to go back.

Read more here.