Thursday, May 19, 2022

US reports record daily infections; EU travel list



Dr. Anthony Fauci speaks to how personal responsibility and social distancing is the key to ending the spread of the coronavirus.


Coronavirus cases shot up in states across the country this week as the U.S. continues to see record single-day increases in new confirmed cases since the beginning of the pandemic.

On Friday, the U.S. reported 45,255 new cases, according to data maintained by Johns Hopkins University. It’s the second day of record high increases. Thursday saw 39,972 new cases.

Texas and Florida continued to pump the brakes on reopening plans, and California Gov. Gavin Newsom urged one county to reinstate its stay-at-home order amid a surge in cases there.

Amid the resurgence, the White House Coronavirus Task Force held its first public briefing in nearly two months Friday, urging young adults to follow public health guidance for containing the COVID-19 outbreak.

The increase in cases isn’t due to an increase in testing, health officials say.

Here are the most significant developments of the day:

?Today’s stats: The world is nearing a half million deaths, with more than 125,000 of them in the United Sates. As of Saturday, there have been more than 9.8 million confirmed cases worldwide and almost 2.5 million in the U.S., according to Johns Hopkins University. 

? What we’re reading: Dr. Anthony Fauci recently told the Washington Post that officials are talking about implementing a new strategy that tests groups of people together. It’s known as pool testing, and we explain here what it is.

Our live blog will be updated throughout the day. For first-in-the-morning updates, sign up for The Daily Briefing.

Miami closes beaches for Fourth of July

Beaches in Miami-Dade County will be closed July 3 through July 7, County Mayor Carlos Gimenez announced Friday, amid a surge of coronavirus cases in Florida.

Gimenez said his emergency order also bans any gatherings — including parades — of more than 50 people throughout the county “for whatever reason.” In those situations, masks and social distancing are required and five groups of no more than 10 people will be allowed, Gimenez said.

“The closure may be extended if conditions do not improve and people do not follow New Normal rules requiring masks to be worn always inside commercial establishments and outdoors when social distancing of at least 6 feet is not possible,” Gimenez said. “I have been seeing too many businesses and people ignoring these lifesaving rules.”

Florida reported a record 8,942 new cases on Friday — a 62% increase over the previous daily record of 5,508 reported Wednesday.


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Judge: US must free migrant children from detention amid pandemic

A federal judge on Friday ordered the release of children held with their parents in U.S. immigration jails and denounced the Trump administration’s prolonged detention of families during the coronavirus pandemic.

U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee’s order applies to children held for more than 20 days at three family detention centers in Texas and Pennsylvania operated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Some have been detained since last year.

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Citing the recent spread of the virus in two of the three facilities, Gee set a deadline of July 17 for children to either be released with their parents or sent to family sponsors. The family detention centers “are ‘on fire’ and there is no more time for half measures,” she wrote.

– Associated Press

US citizens likely won’t be allowed to travel to EU anytime soon

European Union envoys are close to finalizing a list of countries whose citizens will be allowed to enter Europe again, possibly from late next week, EU diplomats confirmed Saturday. Americans are almost certain to be excluded in the short term due to the number of U.S. coronavirus cases.

The envoys were expected to have narrowed down later Saturday the exact criteria for countries to make the list, which include the way the spread of the virus is being managed. Another key condition is whether the country has a ban on citizens from European nations.

The number of cases in the United States has surged over the past week, with an all-time high of 45,300 confirmed new daily infections just reached. President Donald Trump also suspended the entry of all people from Europe’s ID check-free travel zone in a decree in March.

The EU diplomats confirmed that an official agreement on the criteria — likely to include a limit on the infection rate per 100,000 citizens — is expected late on Monday or early Tuesday. The diplomats spoke on condition of anonymity because the procedure is ongoing and politically very sensitive.

– Associated Press

What we’re reading

More underlying medical conditions that increase risk of severe coronavirus

The CDC on Thursday updated and expanded the list of who is at increased risk for getting severely ill from COVID-19. The CDC now warns that among adults, risk increases steadily as you age, and it’s not just those over the age of 65 who are at increased risk for severe illness, the CDC said. 

The agency updated the list of underlying medical conditions that increase risk of severe illness, increasing the number of people who fall into higher risk groups. The more underlying medical conditions people have, the higher their risk, CDC said. The conditions include:

  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • Obesity
  • Weakened immune system from solid organ transplant
  • Serious heart conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, or cardiomyopathies
  • Sickle cell disease
  • Type 2 diabetes

Florida babies are getting COVID-19 at high rates this month

Infants and young children are rapidly catching the coronavirus and increasingly ending up in the hospital this month, according to an analysis of data from the Florida Department of Health. 

Since June 1, more than 1,100 children ages 4 and younger have been diagnosed with the coronavirus — accounting for 70% of the total cases in the age group. 

While more testing has been opened up to younger people this month, emergency department visits and hospitalizations have dramatically increased in June. More than half the total reported emergency department visits for the state’s youngest have come this month. And 40% of the hospitalizations of children up to 4 have come since June 1. 

Florida hospitals are reporting about 34% capacity of their 620 pediatric intensive care unit beds, according to Florida Agency for Health Care Administration data Friday afternoon. Adult capacity was at 21% of just over 6,000 beds. 

– Joshua Solomon, Treasure Coast Newspapers

Costco no longer selling sheet cakes

Costco has started to bring back its legendary free samples to some clubs, but they’ll be prepackaged items and kept behind plexiglass shields, according to Bloomberg, which reported Thursday that sampling has returned to as many as 30 of Costco’s 548 U.S. locations.

While samples are coming back, Costco has stopped selling its half sheet cakes at all U.S. clubs, the company confirmed to USA TODAY, noting, “as of right now, we have no immediate plans to bring back.”

Costco said the sheet cakes aren’t available for special order and explained the decision in responding to comments on the Facebook post.

“To help limit personal contact and create more space for social distancing, Costco has reduced service in some departments,” Costco wrote.

– Kelly Tyko

Reporter at Trump’s Tulsa rally tests positive for COVID-19

A journalist who attended President Donald Trump’s rally in Tulsa last week said Friday he has tested positive for COVID-19.

“I’m pretty surprised,” Oklahoma Watch reporter Paul Monies wrote on Twitter. “I have zero symptoms (so far) and I feel fine. In fact, I ran 5 miles this morning.”

Monies said he was inside the rally for about six hours on Saturday at the BOK Center and that he wore a mask and mostly practiced social distancing, except for when he went to the concourse to get a snack. He said he was never close to the president.

An epidemiologist at the Oklahoma City-County Health Department who notified Monies of his positive result said it’s difficult to determine if he contracted the coronavirus at the rally.

– Associated Press

Dow drops 730 points, caps week with losses as virus cases surge

Stocks capped a volatile week with steep losses Friday as coronavirus cases in the U.S. surged to a daily record, dimming the prospects of a quick economic recovery after some states paused their reopening efforts in the wake of more outbreaks. 

Investors are looking ahead to a possible rebound from the deepest global downturn since the 1930s and trying to buy companies that will thrive after the pandemic ends, analysts say. But they warn the market rise might be too fast and too early to be sustained by an uncertain economic outlook.

The Dow Jones industrial average shed 730.05 points, or 2.8%, to 25,015.55, erasing all of Thursday’s gains after the blue-chip average jumped 300 points as regulators loosened some financial regulations on banks.

– Jessica Menton

Infections up in some hot areas: Florida, Texas, Arizona

New coronavirus infections are surging in some of America’s hottest places. Florida on Friday became the second state, after New York, to report more than 8,900 new cases in a single day. But New York’s high was back in April.

That report came as Florida neared an all-time heat record. Sun-baked Texas and Arizona are also getting hit particularly hard by coronavirus. Outside the U.S., crippling outbreaks are underway in such sweltering places as India and Mexico.

President Donald Trump suggested several times starting last winter that coronavirus would dissipate as warm temperatures came in April. “The virus that we’re talking about having to do, a lot of people think that goes away in April, with the heat, as the heat comes in, typically that will go away in April,” Trump told governors in February, The New York Times reported.

Instead, April was the deadliest month, claiming the lives of 57,723 Americans, Johns Hopkins University data indicate.

– Mike Stucka

New Jersey says 1,854 additional residents likely died of coronavirus

New Jersey added 1,854 people to its official toll after counting them as probable COVID-19 deaths. The deaths occurred throughout the pandemic, but all the previously uncounted fatalities were included in Thursday’s total – creating an artificial one-day spike in national death numbers.

“We report this out of nothing else than a solemn sense of duty,” Gov. Phil Murphy said Thursday. “For many families we hope these determinations will provide a sense of closure and of finally knowing. For our state, I hope it steels our resolve to do all that we can to save every single life that we can save.” 

The state previously counted lab-confirmed cases. The newly released numbers add people whose deaths included COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2 or novel coronavirus on the death certificates. They also include people who died in known outbreaks, like those in nursing homes, but without tests; and people who received an early but no-longer accepted coronavirus test, Gannett New Jersey reported.

On Wednesday, data reported from Johns Hopkins University said America recorded 754 deaths in one day; with New Jersey’s deaths reported Thursday, the count leaped to 2,425. Though relatively few of those deaths actually occurred recently, it’s the single-largest increase in coronavirus deaths since April 29 in the Johns Hopkins data.

– Stacey Barchenger and Mike Stucka

California urges one county to re-institute stay-at-home order

Gov. Gavin Newsom is urging Imperial County to “pull back” and reinstate its stay-at-home order amid a surge in positive coronavirus tests there and through much of the state.

About 23% of people tested in the Southern California county, which borders the Mexican state of Baja California, are positive for COVID-19, according to Dr. Sonia Angell, director of the California Department of Public Health and state health officer.

That rate is “particularly concerning,” Angell said Friday afternoon. The state places counties on a watch list if more than 10% of people test positive.

– Rebecca Plevin and Mark Olalde, Palm Springs Desert Sun

16 NBA players test positive for COVID-19

Sixteen NBA players of 302 tested positive for the coronavirus, the NBA and National Basketball Players Association said in a joint news release Friday.

“Any player who tested positive will remain in self-isolation until he satisfies public health protocols for discontinuing isolation and has been cleared by a physician,” both organizations said in a statement.

Teams started mandatory testing for players Tuesday, and Denver’s Nikola Jokic, Indiana’s Malcolm Brogdon and Sacramento’s Jabari Parker were among those who have tested positive.

– Jeff Zillgitt

Trump administration extends funding for testing sites in Texas

The federal government will continue to fund community testing sites across Texas as the state sees record-breaking increases in new daily coronavirus cases, Gov. Greg Abbott announced in a press statement Friday.

The Trump administration had planned to end federal funding of 13 coronavirus testing sites in five states on June 30 in favor of a “more sustainable model” done in coordination with the states and retail and pharmacy partnerships, according to a senior administration official earlier this week. 

The sites – in Colorado, Pennsylvania, Illinois, New Jersey and Texas – were originally expected to stop receiving funding in May but received a 30-day extension. Texas is home to seven of the sites.


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Task force urges adults under 40 to act more responsibly; Pence doesn’t wear face mask

Administration officials pleaded with adults under 40 on Friday to act responsibly to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

In the first public meeting of the White House Coronavirus Task Force since late April, several administration officials said the rising number of cases in states like Florida, Texas and Arizona suggest that younger adults are not following public health guidance for containing the COVID-19 outbreak.

Healthy young people are less likely to suffer the worst symptoms of COVID-19, but they can still infect others – numbers suggest that everyone who catches the virus infects at least one other person, said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. And some of those people will be vulnerable to breathing struggles, organ failure, immune overreaction and even death from COVID-19, he said.

Vice President Mike Pence did not wear a mask during the news conference. Health officials in attendance, including Fauci, wore masks except when speaking at the microphone.

– Elizabeth Weise and Karen Weintraub

More on the coronavirus from USA TODAY

How is your summer going amid the pandemic? We want to hear from you, especially if you are caring for loved ones. Your story could be featured in our daily news podcast, 5 Things. To share your story, go to Choose the first prompt, follow the instructions, and record a brief audio message.

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