Daily Coronavirus Briefing: Cases Rise in Almost Half of US States

COVID-19 testing (Photo by Dean Hesse for Decaturish.com)
(Photo by Dean Hesse for Decaturish.com)

AccuWeather-(ENEWSPF)- The coronavirus pandemic altered life as humans knew it in 2020, and as much of the world starts to examine how and when to resume daily activities, it’s clear that there are many challenges to overcome before normal daily life can resume in full.

The outbreak, which originated in late 2019 in Wuhan, China, officially became a pandemic in March. SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes the disease COVID-19, has infected millions worldwide and killed hundreds of thousands, but more than 2 million have recovered from the ferocious disease. Health experts are conducting a frantic race to develop a vaccine while also performing vital research into the behavior of the virus, what factors may inhibit its spread and other possible symptoms it may cause.

The contagion triggered much of the world to shelter indoors and practice social distancing. Severe damage has been done to the global economy, which has caused experts to issue bleak economic predictions that harken back to the days of the Great Depression. With much of life on pause over the past several months, government officials around the world are facing the difficult choice of reopening economies while the threat of a second wave lingers for later in 2020.

Here are the latest updates, listed in eastern time, and the most important things you need to know about coronavirus.

June 11, 6:59 p.m.

At least 21 states as of Monday have had a spike in confirmed cases over the past week. The rolling seven-day average of new cases per capita as of Monday was higher than the average seven days earlier, an Associated Press analysis of data compiled by The COVID-19 Tracking Project found. Concerns of a continued rise have come from the reopening of states to the large racial justice protests across the country to rallies President Donald Trump will be holding and attracting large crowds in four states — Arizona, Florida, Oklahoma and Texas. All of these states have had notable rises in coronavirus cases, according to the Associated Press analysis. According to the AP, there is no single reason for the surges. Factors have included more testing revealing more cases, local outbreaks in turn pushing statewide numbers higher and experts also believe lifting stay-at-home orders have also played a role.

June 11, 5:36 p.m.

Arizona is “close to a tipping point,” according to U.S. Senator for Arizona Kyrsten Sinema. Sinema said the ICU units in the state’s hospitals are filling up. Cases of COVID-19 are at an all-time high in Maricopa County, she says. “Over the past four days, we have received reports of the highest number of cases we have ever seen,” Director of the Maricopa County Health Department Marcy Flanagan said, which is averaging around 500 per day. “Every Arizonan must do his or her part, with best practices proven to work: when in public, wear a face covering and stay 6 feet from others,” she said.

June 11, 4:21 p.m.

Children may not need to worry about dying from COVID-19 any more than they worry about getting struck by lightning. Chairman of the Winton Centre for Risk at Cambridge University, David Spiegelhalter, said the risk for children dying from the virus is so low it may be better for them to continue on with life as normal if a vaccine is not produced. For children aged five to 15, the chances of dying from the virus is one in 3.5 million. For children under the age of five, the chances are one in 1.7 million, which is still less than the rate in which people are struck by lightning, Cheshire Live reported. “If, years in future, we don’t have a vaccine then we might have to think about how to protect those age groups most at risk while younger people can continue with their lives,” Spiegelhalter said. “I don’t think that will ever involve encouraging people to get infected.”

June 11, 3:53 p.m.

Millions of Americans are gathering like they were before the pandemic. Cellphone data collected between March 1 and June 2 shows that on a national level, people are still electing to stay at home to avoid contact with others, but there are pockets across the country where activity has returned to pre-pandemic levels, according to an analysis by NBC News. More than 10 million Americans were tracked in these areas where they were coming into close contact with others more frequently. The information, provided by the analytics and marketing company Cuebiq, does not account for social distancing behaviors, but it could be an indication of where health officials could see spikes in COVID-19 in the coming weeks.

June 11, 2:45 p.m.

A British study finds that widespread mask-wearing could minimize the spread of COVID-19 to manageable levels when combined with lockdowns. Britain’s Cambridge and Greenwich Universities lead the research that suggests using lockdowns alone won’t stop the spread of the coronavirus. The study said that even something as simple as homemade masks can dramatically reduce transmission rates if enough people begin wearing them in public. Richard Stutt, who co-led the study at Cambridge, told Reuters that combining the widespread use of masks and social distancing along with some lockdown measures would be an acceptable way of managing the pandemic in order to lead to re-opening the economy. New research in recent weeks has prompted the World Health Organization to recommend everyone to wear fabric masks in public.

June 11, 2:13 p.m.

The deforestation of the Amazon rainforest has soared amid the coronavirus lockdowns. Illegal roads have started to go deeper into the Amazon forest while fires have started to burn in the deforestation process and making space for cattle raising and coco fields. Environmentalists have said drug mafias and illegal loggers have taken advantage of the coronavirus lockdown to chop down trees and burn the forest to develop the land. Environmentalists have feared that the rate of deforestation in four months of 2020 could reach the amount of all of 2019 combined. These fires come before the height of the Amazon fire season, which is projected to peak in July and August.

June 11, 1:26 p.m.

Delta Air Lines is taking yet another step to help ensure the safety of passengers and employees. Starting next week, the airline will begin to test employees for active COVID-19 and COVID-19 antibodies, Reuters said. It is unclear how often employees will be tested, but Delta chief executive Ed Bastian said that these tests “will be essential as we protect your health and begin the return to normal operations.” The testing program is set to commence in Minneapolis before being expanded to other travel hubs, including New York City and Atlanta. This is the latest in a long line of safety measures implemented by Delta, including mask requirements, capacity restrictions on flights and blocking off middle seats.

June 11, 12:49 p.m.

U.S. fruit and vegetable farms as well as packing plants are experiencing outbreaks of the coronavirus, causing worry from U.S. officials. Lately, a rising number of sick workers in the industry has caused increase labor shortages while thousands of meat plant employees have already contracted the virus, according to Reuters. In a statement release by the Trump administration last month, there is consideration to extend an executive order to keep meat plants operating to also cover fruit and vegetable producers. One of the biggest worries came from Yakima County, Washington, which saw more than 600 confirmed cases of COVID-19 among agricultural workers, 62% of which worked in the apple industry, which is known to resemble the elbow-to-elbow conditions in the workplace.

June 11, 12:04 p.m.

With the swing of a club, the PGA Tour resumed on Thursday morning, the first event of the tour since play was stopped 91 days ago. Golfers returned to a new normal at Colonial County Club in Forth Worth, Texas, for the Charles Schwab Challenge, which will run through Sunday. Every player, caddie and personnel on site were tested for COVID-19, with all 487 tests being negative, according to The Associated Press. Even with everyone at the course testing negative, social distancing is being enforced and new guidelines have been put in place with the health and safety of everyone in mind. Fans are also not allowed to attend the event, but many are expected to tune in from home. “If we all want to get back and play the game that we love and not just for us but for the fans and everybody at home, we’re just going to have to get over the fact that it’s going to be different and be a little weird,” professional golfer Justin Thomas said.

June 11, 11:27 a.m.

Students in Rhode Island will be disappointed to learn that they will not have any more snow days. State Education Commissioner Angelica Infante-Green announced that starting this fall, students will return to remote learning in the case of snow, flooding, or other extreme weather, CBS Boston said. “The snow days the way we did them before are gone,” Infante-Green said. Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, Rhode Island’s remote learning plan has been one of the most successful in the country, according to Gov. Gina Raimondo. For this reason, the state plans on taking advantage of this tool as much as they can. Rhode Island schools will return to face-to-face instruction starting Aug. 31, and according to Raimondo, they will look a little different. The desks will be farther apart, and everyone will be asked to wear masks. Additionally, students who are sick will be asked to stay home. “We pride ourselves on a perfect attendance culture, and that’s going to have to change,” Raimondo said.

June 11, 10:58 a.m.

The annual music festival Coachella has been canceled, according to California Public Health Officer Dr. Cameron Kaiser. The festival, which normally takes place in April, was initially moved back to October due to the coronavirus pandemic with hopes to still hold it this year. However, according to a cancellation order released on Wednesday, the 2020 festival has officially been canceled. Its country music sibling, Stagecoach, has also been canceled. The order warned of a possible spike in COVID-19 cases this fall, and noted that having this festival would attract “hundreds of thousands of attendees from many countries,” which would just make the situation worse. Billboard reported that Coachella’s promoter, Goldenvoice, is looking to reschedule the festival for next year. However, it is still unclear if it will take place in the spring or in the fall of 2021.

June 11, 10:20 a.m.

The organizers of the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics have simplified the games in order to ensure the safety of the athletes and spectators amidst the coronavirus pandemic. The games were set to start in July but have been rescheduled to 2021. On Wednesday, the president of the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics organizing committee, Mori Yoshiro, shared the three new principles that will be adopted in an effort to simplify the games and make them safer for everyone involved.

  • The committee will put priority on providing a safe environment for the athletes, the spectators and the volunteers, and they will try to minimize the costs of the games.
  • The games will be streamlined so that they are safe and sustainable.
  • The organizers will ask international sports bodies and national Olympic committees to reduce the number of participants for each sport.

June 11, 9:44 a.m.

The 2020 Iowa State Fair has been canceled for the first time since World War II due to the coronavirus pandemic. In the fair’s 165-year history, it has only been canceled five times, and was still held during the 1918 flu pandemic, Axios said. “We are heartbroken we can’t be together this August. We tirelessly analyzed all the unique traditions at the Iowa State Fair and believe it will be safer given the current COVID-19 situation,” organizers said on the Iowa State Fair website. This is the largest event of the year across Iowa and has drawn in more than 1 million people each of the past two years. Having to cancel the massive event will take an economic toll on the local economy. “We estimate it’s over $100 million worth of economic impact in the eleven days the Fair is held,“ organizers said. People that have already purchased tickets can get a refund or keep them to be used for the Iowa State Fair in 2021, which is set to be held on Aug. 21-22.

June 11, 9:18 a.m.

A Chicago woman in her 20s received a double lung transplant after COVID-19 left her with severe lung damage. Prior to receiving the transplant, the patient was on a ventilator and a heart-lung machine for almost two months, and on Friday, she finally underwent the 10-hour procedure at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, The Associated Press said. Although the procedure was challenging due to the extensive damage that the virus had left in her lungs, doctors are hopeful that she will get better. “We are anticipating that she will have a full recovery,” said Dr. Rade Tomic, medical director of the hospital’s lung transplant program.

June 11, 6:49 a.m.

🚨 On Wednesday night, the United States surpassed the 2 million case mark. No other country in the world has over 800,000 and only three countries have topped 300,000 cases. According to an analysis from Reuters, new cases in the U.S. are rising slightly after five weeks of declines, which could partially be due to an increase in testing and also the result of all 50 states gradually reopening.

Here are the latest updated totals from around the world, according to researchers from Johns Hopkins University:

  • Total confirmed cases: 7,394,801
  • Total deaths: 417,022
  • Total recovered: 3,476,083

June 10, 9:56 p.m.

Ford expects to return to pre-COVID production rates by having its U.S. vehicle assembly plants working by early July. The company hopes to build at the rates they did prior to the two-month long pandemic shut down, a Ford executive said on Wednesday, according to Reuters. Ford was allowed to resume production in the United States on May 18. “By July 6, we will expect to have all of our U.S. plants operating at pre-COVID patterns,” Chief Operating Officer Jim Farley said on a webcast at a Deutsche Bank auto conference. Farley reported that in the first three weeks after restarting manufacturing, Ford built about 96% of its planned volume“We’re really pleased with our start,” Farley said.Ford’s retail sales in May rose 44% from April, and one of its large pickup trucks saw retail sales rise 5.3% from last year, Farley said, according to Reuters.

June 10, 9 p.m.

On Thursday, luxury retailers on Fifth Avenue in New York City will partly reopen for curbside and in-store pickup. The reopening comes after the stores were forced to shut down for three months as part of New York’s stay-at-home order. Stores that are part of the Fifth Avenue Association district, which include Armani, Bergdorf Goodman and Dior, will begin taking down the wooden boards that cover their windows.Cartier, Valentino, Louis Vuitton and Saks Fifth Avenue are among the companies leading the district’s reopening efforts this week. Some businesses were allowed to get back to a modified business schedule on Monday, after New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo lifted coronavirus-related restrictions, according to NBC News.

June 10, 8:08 p.m.

Mumbai’s COVID-19 cases have surpassed the total recorded in the original epicenter for the disease, Wuhan. Mumbai has reported 51,000 cases of the new coronavirus, which eclipsed the outbreak in Wuhan, China, where the virus first emerged, according to BBC News. A surge of infections brought confirmed cases to 266,598 in India after restrictions were loosened. Experts told BBC News that there was no other option but to lift the lockdown, which created economic hardship in the country. Millions lost their jobs and livelihoods and businesses have shut down. Experts are now concerned that hospitals in major cities are being overwhelmed, even though states were supposed to use the lockdown period to ramp up health facilities. BBC News reported that there are allegations that many patients with Covid-like symptoms are being turned away from medical centers.

June 10, 7:20 p.m.

Passengers flying with United Airlines will now have to answer health questions during check-in. This is the latest effort by the airline to address health concerns about flying to ease travelers’ worries about flying during the pandemic. Travelers will be presented with a checklist to confirm that they have not been diagnosed with COVID-19 in the past 21 days and that they haven’t had symptoms over the last two weeks such as a temperature of more than 100.4 degrees F, a cough, chills, muscle aches or a sore throat. Customers will also be asked to confirm that they haven’t been denied boarding by another airline because of the results of a medical screening, according to CNBC News. United, which says it’s the first major U.S. airline to establish a health self-assessment for check-in, asks travelers to confirm that they will wear a mask on board. “Customers that are not able to confirm these requirements and choose not to travel will be able to reschedule their flight,” United said in a news release. Major U.S. airlines, including United, require travelers to wear masks on board but have said they won’t force travelers to do so.

June 10, 6:14 p.m.

Starbucks Corp announced it would permanently close around 400 stores across the Americas over the next 18 months and halve its plans for new store openings to around 300 this fiscal year. The news came on Wednesday as the company said it expects current-quarter operating income to drop by up to $2.2 billion, and a sales decline for the rest of the year.Starbucks had been forced to close its doors during the coronavirus pandemic shutdowns, though it continued to serve customers through drive-thru and pick-up options. Despite since reopening nearly all of its stores as restrictions eased, the company’s shares fell more than 4%, according to Reuters, and it’s forecast to face a more than $3 billion fall in revenue.

June 10, 5:27 p.m.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that starting Saturday, adults living alone or single parent adults could form “support bubbles” with another household in England, according to The Associated Press. Members of the same bubble could meet indoors and outdoors without adhering to the 6-foot social distancing rules, which would allow grandparents to hug their grandkids again and reunite couples who don’t live together without breaking the law. Meanwhile, Neil Ferguson, an epidemiologist at Imperial College London whose modeling helped to inform Britain’s coronavirus strategy said the nation’s death toll could have been halved if lockdowns had began a week earlier. The U.K. has seen more than 291,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and more than 41,000 fatalities as of Wednesday, according to data from the Johns Hopkins University.

June 10, 4:31 p.m.

Johnson & Johnson announced Wednesday that its early-stage human trial for a potential coronavirus vaccine will start more than a month earlier than originally planned. The company announced the trials are expected to take place during the second half of July rather than the original projection of September, according to CNBC. Development for a COVID-19 vaccine began back in January, J&J said, using the same technologies previously deployed for its experimental Ebola vaccine. The process involves combining genetic material from the virus with a modified adenovirus that is known to cause common colds in humans, according to CNBC. The early-stage trial will test 1,045 healthy adults from ages 18 to 55 years old and adults over 65-years-old in both the U.S. and Belgium. Should the vaccine be safe and effective, J&J said back in April it could produce 600 to 900 million doses by April 2021.

June 10, 3:42 p.m.

The spread of COVID-19 has slowed dramatically across Denmark even in the wake of lockdown restrictions being lifted. The number of new cases per day has been steadily declining since early April, allowing theaters, cinemas, museums and zoos to open ahead of schedule, the Daily Mail said. On Tuesday, Denmark reported just 14 new cases of COVID-19, the lowest since March 9 at the onset of the pandemic. “There is no sign yet of noticeable changes in the extent of contagion despite the gradual opening of society in April and early May,” the Danish health authority said. The numbers are promising, but Denmark is still being cautious to avoid a resurgence of the coronavirus. Health authorities in Denmark are planning to increase contact tracing and people visiting the country will need to quarantine themselves for at least a week.

June 10, 3:17 p.m.

As Oregon becomes the first state to reinstate in-person jury trials amid reopening, a dilemma has emerged surrounding face coverings, according to the New York Times. Dylan Potter, a public defender in Portland, Oregon, has had several concerns on the matter from if a face covering would make his client look like a bandit in the courtroom to not being able to clearly see the facial expressions that would tip him off to bias while choosing a jury. There was also the concern that groups harder hit by the virus, such as older people, African-Americans and Latinos, might be more hesitant to show up. “There’s an inherent conflict between the rights of someone on trial and our social distancing policies,” Potter told the New York Times.

The virus has not only been causing a health dilemma, but also a dilemma of potentially delaying due process. Oregon’s courts resumed jury trials due to a statutory deadline of 180 days after arrest, though this only applies to defendants in custody. Carl Macpherson, director of the Metropolitan Public Defender, told the New York Times the defendants most affected were in jail only because they couldn’t afford to post bail. This was a problem that could have been solved by releasing the defendants until a later court date, according to Macpherson. “Jurors are not essential workers,” Macpherson told the New York Times. “Being a juror is already a difficult position to put someone in from our community — and to ask a juror to do that during a pandemic is unfair.”

June 10, 2:51 p.m.

Team of Polish scientists designed a remote-control ventilator to allow doctors to help critically-ill patients breathe from a distance. The invention, dubbed Respisave, allows medical personnel to avoid constant contact with an infected patient, Lucas Sarpak, the medical advisor of the project, told Reuters. Healthcare personnel across the globe have been helping patients to fight the battle against COVID-19 with their own health also on the line. Due to their close contact and possible exposure to the virus, doctors earlier in the outbreak quarantined themselves from their families. In March, a photo of Arkansas resident Dr. Jared Burks, showing him watching his 1-year-old son crawl for the first time, separated by a glass door, went viral. “Thanks to the telemetry feature, we are able to control the patient from any place in the hospital. And in an emergency situation, the ventilator can be adjusted so that the patient is ventilated properly,” Sarpak told Reuters. The scientists who made the machine told Reuters the invention would be much less expensive than a typical ventilator, but didn’t specify the estimated cost. The technology is still in the testing phase, but the team hoped it would be available in Poland within the next few months, expanding into the global market down the road.

June 10, 2:30 p.m.

Fauci says coronavirus has become his “worst nightmare,” urges caution in wake of protests and says WHO remarks on asymptomatic spread were “not correct.” Anthony Fauci appeared on Good Morning America Wednesday for a wide-ranging interview. The longtime infectious disease doctor, who is a member of the White House coronavirus task force, said that even though many protesters in recent weeks wore masks, that may not have been enough to curb the spread of COVID-19. Several members of the Washington, D.C. National Guard have tested positive in the wake of protests. “Masks can help,” Fauci told Robin Roberts, “but, it’s masks plus physical separation” that experts recommend as a best practice. He continued to urge caution even as big cities, like New York, have begun phased reopenings. Fauci also touched on comments from a top doctor at the WHO on the asymptomatic spread of COVID-19 being very rare. “They walked that back because there’s no evidence to indicate that’s the case,” he said, adding that the statement from the WHO was “not correct.” Watch the full interview below.

June 10, 2 p.m.

A new study suggests that nearly two-thirds of Britain’s coronavirus cases came from Spain and France, bringing into question the government’s decision to not halt international travel into the country early on during the pandemic, according to The Telegraph. Britain is a hotspot in Europe for the pandemic with 290,581 confirmed cases and over 40,000 virus-related deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. Britain ranks fourth in confirmed cases worldwide, falling behind the U.S., Brazil and Russia. The research compared the genetic fingerprint of 16,506 viral infections in the United Kingdom to 11,889 abroad, finding 34% were introduced from Spain, 29% from France.

June 10, 1:30 p.m.

Movie theaters nationwide are preparing to to reopen after being closed for nearly three months. AMC Theaters said Tuesday it expects to have 97 to 98% of its theaters reopened worldwide by mid-July, according to NBC Today. However, capacity may be limited from 25% t0 50%. AMC Entertainment’s chief executive, Adam Aron, told investors Tuesday that a lot is still “fluid.” AMC Theaters’ competitors have also made plans for reopening, including Cinemark, aiming to begin reopening during late June and be fully reopened by July 10. Cineworld, which owns Regal Cinemas and is the second largest theater company behind AMC Theaters, is also aiming for a July reopening.

AMC Theaters has already opened 10 theaters in Europe, according to NBC Today, of which three theaters in Norway sold 83% of available tickets, according to Aron. “After a period of time where billions of people have endured confinement and limited social interaction, we believe that there will be a significant pent-up demand to get back out in the world,” Aron said. “Having said that, we’re under no illusions. That waters will be choppy. There may be unforeseen tosses and turns to be navigated through. And full recovery may take quite a while.”

June 10, 1:05 p.m.

Miami-Dade’s beaches are reopening Wednesday after the county’s mayor announced he was ending the curfew associated with peaceful protests that remained largely free of the isolated damage seen on the first night of demonstrations on May 30, according to the Miami Herald. On Monday afternoon, Mayor Carlos Gimenez’s office issued the statement that the curfew would lift that afternoon with beaches to reopen Wednesday after previously being delayed by curfews. This announcement has brought the end to two sweeping restrictions that had remained from Gimenez’s emergency orders: one from the beginning of the coronavirus shutdown and the other from the first night of the demonstrations in Miami sparked by George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis.

June 10, 12:28 p.m.

Another professional sports league is set to resume action. Starting next month, Major League Soccer will return to play with a 26-team tournament that will run from July 8 to Aug. 11 at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. As was the case with nearly every other sports league in America, the MLS suspended play in mid-March as a result of the pandemic.

Like the NBA’s late July return, which will also take place at Walt Disney World, the league chose to have the teams play in one centralized location. “The opportunity to have all 26 clubs in a controlled environment enables us to help protect the health of our players, coaches and staff as we return to play,” MLS Commissioner Don Garber said in a statement.

June 10, 12 p.m.

Nearly half of Americans are wary of catching coronavirus at work, a new poll shows. States across the nation are reopening at various paces and, with that, Americans are returning to the workplace after spending in some cases months working from home. A new poll from Gallup shows that 46% of those surveyed are concerned about contracting COVID-19 at the workplace. But more than half of Americans don’t see a reason to worry. Of those surveyed, 29% indicated they are not too concerned and 25% were not at all concerned. The poll also asked respondents about whether employers have implemented some steps to avoid the spread of COVID-19 at work, and nearly two-thirds responded that employers have stepped up cleaning efforts and hand-washing requirements. And more than 50% indicated that employers are providing masks, gloves and face shields, and enforcing social distancing of at least 6 feet.

Meanwhile, a separate Gallup poll took a broader look at how Americans are viewing the coronavirus pandemic and the outlook ahead. Some 54% in U.S. expect disruption caused by the pandemic to last at least through the end of the year. The same poll showed that 42% of those surveyed believe the coronavirus situation is getting better while 36% think it’s getting worse.

Read more here.