“I think it is important to tell you and the American public that I’m very concerned because it could get very bad,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told a Senate committee Tuesday.
More states are tightening restrictions aimed at tamping down the alarming boom in coronavirus cases. New York, New Jersey and Connecticut doubled the number of states on its quarantine list, to 16. Arizona delayed the start for in-class learning for the 2020-21 school year. Oregon and Kansas are the latest states that will begin to require face masks in public.
In China, researchers are concerned about a new swine flu strain in pigs that could have “pandemic potential.” Fauci, however, said the strain was not an immediate threat to Americans.
Here are some major developments:
- Dr. Anthony Fauci told a Senate committee hearing Tuesday that several states may have eased restrictions before meeting standards laid out for a safe reopening and warned that daily new cases could more than double.
- Hospitalizations are rising in 12 states, daily deaths are increasing in Arizona and about 130 counties are considered “hot spots,” the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told lawmakers.
- Americans will not be allowed to travel to European Union countries when the bloc opens up to international visitors July 1, the European Council announced.
- Dr. Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a webcast Monday the surge of COVID-19 cases over the last few weeks is “very discouraging.”
📈Today’s stats: The number of confirmed cases globally is nearly 10.4 million, and the death toll is more than 507,000. There are more than 2.6 million cases in the U.S. and over 126,000 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins University data dashboard.
📰 What we’re reading: As coronavirus cases surge in Arizona and Gov. Doug Ducey orders bars, gyms and theaters to close again, this town’s mayor says he won’t cancel events nor require masks. “My response from the onset of COVID-19 pandemic has been that we will err on the side of freedom,” Eagar Mayor Bryce Hamblin said in a statement.
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Coronavirus vaccine would have to be at least 50% effective to be approved, FDA says
The Food and Drug Administration said on Tuesday that a coronavirus vaccine would need to be at least 50% more effective than a placebo in preventing or at least decreasing the severity of COVID-19 in order for them to approve it.
That threshold “would have been what I would have chosen since that is around what flu vaccines do that save lives,” said Barry Bloom, an immunologist and professor of public health at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston. “Greater would, of course, be ideal.”
With the FDA being under an Emergency Use Authorization rather than the typical process, some have expressed concern that the agency might face pressure from the White House to approve a COVID-19 vaccine as quickly as possible.
The first vaccine to be approved must go through the full FDA licensure process, including Phase 3 clinical trials to show it protests people against disease or infection
– Elizabeth Weise
Person tests positive in refugee camp on the U.S.-Mexico border
An individual has tested positive for the COVID-19 virus in a sprawling refugee camp on the U.S.-Mexico border where an estimated 2,000 people await their immigration court dates, according to a nonprofit group providing medical care at the camp.
Global Response Management said in a statement Tuesday that the positive test came back Monday for one person and negative for three family members. Tests are pending for two other people.
Residents in the camp in Matamoros, Mexico, live in squalid conditions: Most sleep in tents or underneath tarps, and there’s little access to running water. The nonprofit group has long warned that a single case of the coronavirus could spread quickly.
“The presence of COVID-19 in an already vulnerable population exposed to the elements could potentially be catastrophic,” the group said in a statement.
– The Associated Press
Health experts warn Mount Rushmore fireworks could cause spike in cases
Health experts are concerned a crowd of 7,500 gathering without social distancing and masks at the Mount Rushmore fireworks display could cause a spike in coronavirus cases following the event.
The July 3 fireworks, which President Donald Trump is scheduled to attend, will be the first at Mount Rushmore National Monument in a decade. Health professionals in South Dakota are concerned the lack of mitigation efforts expected at the event could cause the coronavirus to spread in the communities surrounding Mount Rushmore and in communities where attendees live following the event.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has four levels of coronavirus risk for events and the Mount Rushmore fireworks falls into the highest risk category: a large in-person gathering where it will be hard for attendees to remain 6 feet apart and attendees have traveled from outside the local area.
– Lisa Kaczke, Sioux Falls Argus Leader
Republicans push for Trump to set a better example on masks
As a infections rise in the South and West, GOP officials are urging that masks are not about politics, as President Donald Trump suggests, and telling Americans they can help save lives by wearing them.
Sen. Lamar Alexander, a Tennessee Republican, called upon Trump to start wearing a mask, at least some of the time, to set a good example.
“Unfortunately, this simple, lifesaving practice has become part of a political debate that says: If you’re for Trump, you don’t wear a mask. If you’re against Trump, you do,” Alexander said.
Earlier this month, Trump told the Wall Street Journal that some people wear masks simply to show that they disapprove of him.
– Autumn Schoolman
American Airlines under fire for not blocking seats
American Airlines came under fire at a Senate hearing Tuesday for its decision to stop blocking seats in the name of social distancing beginning Wednesday.
Health officials expressed frustration with the Dallas-based carrier’s move, which was announced last week, when Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders asked why the government has not issued guidelines prohibiting social-distancing violations on flights.
“It’s a critical area,” CDC Director Robert Redfield told the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. “When they announced that the other day, obviously there was substantial disappointment with American Airlines.”
Redfield said the CDC was reviewing American Airlines’ policy and added, “We don’t think it’s the right message.”
– Dawn Gilbertson and Grace Hauck
Fauci: Vaccine possible in early 2021; infections going in ‘wrong direction’
There is no guarantee that a safe and effective vaccine will soon be ready, but public health experts remain “cautiously optimistic” that doses will be available to the public early next year, Fauci told a Senate panel Tuesday.
Fauci also acknowledged the nation was going in the “wrong direction,” citing the recent surge in new COVID-19 cases. He said several states may have eased restrictions before meeting standards laid out for a safe reopening and warned that daily new cases could more than double, to 100,000.
“We’ve really got to do something about that and we need to deal with it quickly,” he said. “It could get very bad.”
Health care, food disruptions could cost lives of 250,000 babies, toddlers
Disruptions to health care and lack of food from COVID-19 are likely to cost the lives of at least 250,000 babies and young children and more than 10,000 mothers in low- and moderate-income countries over the next six months, according to a study from researchers at Johns Hopkins University.
The study, published in The Lancet Global Health, modeled how many extra deaths could be expected from COVID-19’s impact on the food supply and medical systems in these countries. The study found a dramatic increase in maternal deaths from the absence of childbirth interventions such as antibiotics and clean birth environments. Children will be more likely to die from lack of nutrition, reduced availability of antibiotics for pneumonia, sepsis and rehydration solution for diarrhea, according to the study.
– Karen Weintraub
CDC chief concerned by ‘significant increases’ in COVID-19 cases
The head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said he is concerned about the “significant increases” in coronavirus cases across the nation, which he attributed to increased testing, community transmission and individual outbreaks.
Dr. Robert Redfield said hospitalizations are rising in 12 states and daily deaths are increasing in Arizona. He said from March to May when testing was still ramping up, health officials were probably detecting only one case in 10. Truer numbers are now being revealed, he said.
The CDC was planning to release recommendations for reopening elementary, secondary and higher education schools as well as businesses, he said.
“It’s imperative that we take the personal responsibility to slow the transmission of COVID-19 and embrace the universal use of face coverings,” Redfield told the Senate committee. “I’m addressing the younger members of our society, the millenials and the generation Zs. I ask those that are listening to spread the word.”
– Grace Hauck
Swine flu in Chinese pigs monitored for ‘pandemic potential’
A swine flu virus found in Chinese pigs has the potential to jump to humans and even spark a pandemic, researchers say.
The Chinese and British scientists, writing in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, urge immediate measures to control the virus in pigs and to closely monitor workers who handle them. The predominant G4 EA H1N1 virus has acquired increased human infectivity, the researchers say, which greatly enhances the opportunity for virus adaptation in humans and “raises concerns for the possible generation of pandemic viruses.”
Martha Nelson, an evolutionary biologist at the U.S. National Institutes of Health’s Fogarty International Center, told Science magazine the likelihood of this variant causing a pandemic is low. Fauci, the top infectious-disease expert at the National Institutes of Health, told a Senate committee Tuesday that the virus was “not an immediate threat” but something to “keep your eye on.”
What we’re reading
Headed for New York? Almost half of Americans would need to quarantine
New York, New Jersey and Connecticut added travelers from California, Tennessee and six other states to its quarantine list Tuesday morning, pushing the total to 16 states representing 48% of the U.S. population. Travelers from the affected states will now have to isolate for 14 days upon arriving in the three northeastern states, doubling the original list of eight states included in the joint travel advisory issued last week.
“We’ve set metrics for community spread just as we’ve set metrics for everything the state does to fight COVID-19,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a statement. “Eight more states have reached the level of spread required to qualify for New York’s travel advisory.”
– Joseph Spector
Americans banned from traveling to European Union
Americans will not be allowed to travel to European Union countries when the bloc opens up to international visitors July 1, the European Council announced Tuesday.
Travelers from 14 countries will be welcomed to the EU, including Canada, South Korea and Australia. But Americans and citizens of many other nations will be barred as too risky because of spiking coronavirus cases in their home countries. Chinese travelers will be allowed to visit if that country’s government confirms a policy of reciprocity, the council’s announcement said.
The United States leads the world in the number of coronavirus cases with nearly 2.7 million infections as of June 30, according to Johns Hopkins data.
– Julia Thompson and Deirdre Shesgreen
USA TODAY panelists: We’re one-third of the way toward vaccinations for all
If you think of a clock ticking from midnight (when the pandemic began around Jan. 1) to noon (when vaccines will be widely available in the United States), then a panel of experts assembled by USA TODAY says it’s now about 4 a.m. We are about one-third of the way there, the panel of 10 physicians and scientist estimates. That timeline gets us to the promised land of near normalcy sometime next spring. That’s a bit less optimistic than Dr. Anthony Fauci, who has repeatedly said he hopes a vaccine could be available by the end of 2020 or early 2021.
“I think we’ll have a vaccine by the middle of next year,” said panel member Paul Offit, director of the Vaccine Education Center at Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia.
– Elizabeth Weise and Karen Weintraub
Hundreds of US kids developing serious inflammatory condition
At least 286 U.S. children have developed a serious inflammatory condition linked to the coronavirus and while most recovered, the potential for long-term or permanent damage is unknown, two new studies suggest.
The papers, published online Monday in the New England Journal of Medicine, provide the fullest report yet on the condition, known as multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children. It is considered uncommon and deaths are rare; six children died among the 285 in the new studies. Including cases in Europe, where it was first reported, about 1,000 children worldwide have been affected, a journal editorial said.
Schools, students brace for outbreaks as fall semester nears
Colleges and universities are rolling out their plans for the fall semester as students and teachers brace for what could be a new burst of COVID-19 cases. Some schools will end the fall semester before Thanksgiving but forgo the customary fall break to prevent students from leaving campus in October and returning with the virus. Some will stagger arrival dates, delay the start of classes to September and restrict access to residential and academic buildings. There are no national guidelines, and some experts have little faith the protocols will prevent outbreaks.
“The expectation would be that COVID-19 will run through campuses like wildfire,” said Dave Blake, an associate professor at Augusta University’s Department of Neuroscience and Regenerative Medicine. “That’s probably what’s going to happen if you don’t have really good surveillance testing procedures in place. And I don’t see universities setting those up in a way to do that and be effective.”
– Suzanne Hirt
More on the coronavirus from USA TODAY
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How do you stay safe on flights during the pandemic? Experts say flying is safer than it was earlier in the COVID-19 pandemic because of airlines’ changes, but travelers can take precautions, too. Here’s how.
Contributing: The Associated Press