Kushinara Nibbana Bhumi Pagoda- Free Online Analytical Research and Practice University for “Discovery of Buddha the Awakened One with Awareness Universe” in 116 Classical Languages
White Home, Puniya Bhumi Bengaluru, Prabuddha Bharat International.

April 2021
« Mar    
Coronavirus Live Updates
Filed under: General, Vinaya Pitaka, Sutta Pitaka, Abhidhamma Pitaka, Tipiṭaka KUSHINARA NIBBANA BHUMI PAGODA
Posted by: site admin @ 12:13 am


NPR logo

Coronavirus Live Updates

Latest news and updates on the pandemic

C.D.C. researchers estimate that although a majority of
Americans haven’t been exposed to the coronavirus, the actual infection
rate is roughly 10 times higher. Data released on Tuesday showed the
results of analyzed samples from 10 regions, including the New York City

Frank Franklin II/AP

Coronavirus infections in the United States are far higher than
what has been confirmed, although the number of Americans who have been
exposed is far below what is required for widespread immunity, according
to data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The data appeared on both the CDC website and in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine on Tuesday.

CDC estimated the number of infections is about 10 times higher than
the confirmed cases, based on blood samples analyzed for antibodies in
10 regions. Those regions included the New York City metropolitan area,
parts of Washington state, Utah, south Florida and Missouri.

were taken from more than 16,000 people through the spring. Researchers
relied on samples taken for routine tests, such as cholesterol tests,
with more than a third coming from those aged 65 or older. Results for
two rounds of sampling for eight of the 10 regions were released by the

All the regions surveyed showed differences in estimates
arrived at through the survey and confirmed cases. In Missouri, for
example, that difference was 24 times in April. Though by the second
round of sampling, in late May, that dropped to 13 times.

researchers did arrive at estimates far greater than testing had
yielded, the vast majority of people were shown to have not been exposed
to the virus.

In the New York City area, roughly 23% were
shown to have antibodies by early May. Most of the other regions showed
infection estimates in the single digits. Second round testing in Utah
showed an estimated 1.1% rate and samples from Philadelphia arrived at
an infection rate of 3.6%.

Experts say at least 50%-60% of exposure is required for herd immunity,
where prevalence of exposure, and/or a vaccine, drastically reduces
transmission of the virus. The CDC is careful to point out, however,
that it doesn’t know if the presence of antibodies prevents reinfection by the coronavirus.

The COVID Racial Data Tracker, a joint project of the
Antiracist Research & Policy Center and the COVID Tracking Project,
reported in May that black people are dying at 2.5 times the rate of
white people. They also account for 23% of COVID-19 deaths where race is

Bebeto Matthews/AP

Black mayors in many of the nation’s largest cities on Tuesday
formally called on governors to repeal orders prohibiting them from
enacting strategies that reduce the spread of COVID-19.

African American Mayors Association passed a resolution beseeching state
leaders to repeal any rules that prohibit local leaders from
implementing strategies like requiring the use of face masks.

local and tribal governments are uniquely positioned to determine the
level of mitigation required to combat the virus in their communities,”
the resolution states.

“The African American Mayors Association
deems coordination amongst state and local jurisdictions to be vital to
effectively addressing the public health crisis.”

The move comes on the heels of a lawsuit by Gov. Brian Kemp against Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms for requiring masks.

and some other governors around the country argue that only the head of
the state can set health policies to fight against the worldwide novel
coronavirus pandemic, even as the rates of infections soar.

the Mayor of the City of Atlanta, Mayor Bottoms does not have the legal
authority to modify, change or ignore Governor Kemp’s executive
orders,” the complaint notes.

Mayors Bottoms, Muriel Bowser of
Washington, D.C., and Sylvester Turner of Houston are among those who
signed on to the resolution.

Communities of color are the hardest hit by the pandemic
with Black and Latino populations reporting the highest levels of
infections. The COVID Racial Data Tracker, a joint project of the
Antiracist Research & Policy Center and the COVID Tracking Project, reported in
May that black people are dying at 2.5 times the rate of white people.
They also account for 23% of COVID-19 deaths where race is known.

people have a hospitalization rate approximately 4 times that of
non-Hispanic white persons, the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention reported as
of June 25. Meanwhile, non-Hispanic American Indian or Alaska Native
persons have a rate approximately 5 times that of non-Hispanic white

The center’s research notes that “long-standing
systemic health and social inequities have put some members of racial
and ethnic minority groups at increased risk of getting COVID-19 or
experiencing severe illness, regardless of age.”

That is true
even in cities where people of color make up a small fraction of the
overall population. For instance, in San Francisco, Latinos account for
15% of the population but make up nearly half of all COVID-19 cases, the
Los Angeles Times reported on Tuesday.

shouldn’t be this way,” Mayor McKinley Price of Newport News, Va., and
president of the African American Mayors Association, said in a

“In passing this resolution, Black mayors — from
cities of all sizes — are sending a clear message to governors: mayors
must have the ability to implement public health strategies that keep
their constituents safe,” McKinley added.


A woman joins with other demonstrators during the
“Cancel Rent and Mortgages” rally in late June in Minneapolis. The march
was demanding the temporary cancellation of rents and mortgages as
COVID-19 batters the economy.

Brandon Bell/Getty Images

Millions of Americans are facing the threat of eviction as a
federal moratorium that has protected renters during the pandemic is set
to expire Friday.

That eviction moratorium, coupled with unemployment assistance established in the CARES Act, has helped some renters stay in their homes.

As the deadline has loomed, renters and local officials from Washington, D.C., to Houston have struggled to find a solution.

Matt Desmond of Princeton University’s Eviction Lab, which tracks evictions across the country, told NPR’s Morning Edition that
the pandemic “looks very scary for renters.” If protections expire, the
nation could face mass evictions and a rise in homelessness.

some cities in the Rust Belt, you are seeing evictions go up,” he said.
“Milwaukee and Cleveland, evictions have been hovering around 40%
higher than they usually are at this time in a typical year. That’s
pretty scary.”

Here are excerpts from the Morning Edition conversation:

How many evictions did we see nationally before the pandemic?

year in America, 3.7 million evictions are filed. That’s about seven
evictions filed every minute. And that number far exceeds the number of
foreclosure starts at the height of the foreclosure crisis.

before the pandemic, the majority of renters below the poverty line were
already spending half of their income on housing costs or more. And 1
in 4 of those families were spending over 70% of their income just on
rent and utilities. When you’re spending 70, 80% of your income on rent
and the lights, you don’t need to have a big emergency wash over your
life to get evicted. Something very small can do it.

What happens when the CARES Act expires?

one really knows. Some landlords are going to negotiate with their
tenants, but others are going to reach for that eviction notice.

the United States, one in 20 renters faces an eviction every year. For
African American renters, that statistic is one in 11. We’ve created, in
low-income communities of color, the semipermanent renter class.

white American families own their home, and they are buffered from the
exigencies of rent increases [and] from the eviction crisis. But most
Black and Latino families rent their homes, and so they’re disproportionately exposed to these problems.

What might we see in terms of evictions?

going to mean that our homeless shelter system is flooded and stressed.
Shelter systems are really important, but they’re horrible for social
distancing. You’re sleeping next to people that you don’t know; you’re
eating next to people that you don’t know. In a moment where the home is
the safest [place] to stave off this virus, exposing people to the lack
of a home is going to spread more disease and pain. An eviction comes
with this mark or blemish: a court record. And that can prevent you from
moving into safe housing in a good neighborhood. …

This is utterly preventable. And if we don’t prevent it, this is just going to cause more poverty and … disease.

Listen to the full interview at the audio link above.

Lilly Quiroz and Matt Kwong produced and edited the broadcast version of this story. Emily Alfin Johnson adapted it for the Web.

Travelers who arrive in New York, New Jersey and
Connecticut from 31 states where coronavirus statistics have been
worsening must quarantine themselves for two weeks.

Screenshot by NPR/Connecticut State Government

People traveling to New York, New Jersey and Connecticut from 31
other states are now required to self-quarantine for 14 days, after 10
states with significant community spread of the coronavirus — including
Virginia, Maryland, Indiana and Alaska — were added to a travel advisory Tuesday.

infection rates increase in 41 other states, our numbers continue to
steadily decline, thanks to the hard work of New Yorkers” and a cautious
approach to reopening, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.

we had our lowest death toll since the pandemic began — and with no
fatalities in New York City,” Cuomo added, after his state reported just
two deaths from COVID-19.

New York, New Jersey and Connecticut first announced their travel advisory on June 24,
as they sought to limit potential sources of coronavirus infection. At
the time, New York was emerging from its status as the epicenter of the
COVID-19 outbreak in the U.S.

As of last week, 22 states were
on the list of those requiring quarantines, but the advisory now covers
well over half the country. Delaware, which was removed last week, is
now back on the list. The state effectively swapped places with
Minnesota, which has dropped off.

The mandatory quarantine
applies to anyone arriving from states with a positivity test rate of
10% or higher over a seven-day rolling average. It also includes any
state where the positive test rate is higher than 10 per 100,000
residents over a seven-day rolling average. In New York state, the rules
carry a potential $2,000 fine.

The initial travel advisory
list included just nine hot spot states, such as Texas and Florida. But
it has swelled as many states endure a sharp spike in coronavirus cases
driven by economic reopenings and relaxed attitudes toward face masks
and other precautions.

Earlier this month, Florida surpassed New York’s worst-ever day for new cases, reporting more than 15,200 infections. On Monday, New York saw less than 2% of its COVID-19 tests come back positive. By contrast, Florida’s positivity rate has averaged above 10% for the past month.

“I never thought it would be this bad,” Cuomo told NBC’s TODAY Show about the course of COVID-19 in the U.S.

week, New York stepped up its efforts to hold people accountable to the
quarantine rules, deploying “enforcement teams” at airports across the
state and urging people to fill out a traveler health form.

When Cuomo was asked on Tuesday whether his state’s quarantine policy is enforceable, the governor replied, “It is imperfect.”

The tristate area’s new travel advisory now covers these states:

Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Delaware, Florida, Georgia,
Iowa, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Missouri,
Mississippi, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota, Nebraska, New
Mexico, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah,
Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.


A historic drop in mortgage rates has millions of
homeowners refinancing to save money. It’s helping home sales, but it’s
not helping the broader economy as much as it would in a normal

Ted Shaffrey/AP

Sheera Talpaz, an assistant professor of literature at Oberlin
College, has been teaching remotely, stuck indoors. So she figured
having a place she could make her own would be good. And now she’s found
one and is buying her first house.

“I’m really happy because I
like the home,” she says. “And I think I will just simply enjoy my
day-to-day life more living in it.”

The timing was right.
Interest rates just crossed a historic threshold. The average rate on a
30-year fixed-rate loan dropped below 3% last week for the first time since records began in 1971.

“The interest rates,” Talpaz says, “once I started looking into
things, they did motivate us.” She recently lived in California where
she says she couldn’t afford to buy a home. But now in Oberlin, Ohio,
with these rates, she says her payment will be very affordable. “It’ll
be lower than I currently pay in rent.”

But there’s a definite
Tale of Two Cities, or in this case countries, happening right now amid
the coronavirus pandemic. And it’s playing out with low rates too.
Beyond homebuying, millions of Americans who are already homeowners are
refinancing this year to save considerable money.

Sheera Talpaz, seen with her daughter Ruby, is buying
her first house in Oberlin, Ohio. Low interest rates will make the
mortgage payment lower than her previous rent in California, Talpaz

Richard Baker

Meanwhile, there are lots of people out of work who can’t afford
to buy a house or qualify to refinance. Many are renting and worried
about getting evicted.

And, at the end of this week, upwards of 25 million unemployed people will stop getting an extra $600 a week in federal emergency benefits. Those have been a lifeline for many.

“We’re about to fall off a cliff,” says Ken Rogoff, a Harvard economist who studies financial crises.

says that if Congress doesn’t extend or replace those benefits with
something substantial, “a lot of people are going to have trouble buying
food” — let alone pay their rents or mortgages. “There are a lot of
problems ahead,” Rogoff says. “I think we need to do something

In a normal recession, the Federal Reserve keeping
interest rates low for mortgages and other types of loans, like it is
now, would be dramatic and Rogoff says that would be a key tool to help
boost the economy broadly.

When people buy houses, for example, they spend money fixing them
up. They buy dishwashers and lawn mowers and renovate kitchens. That
helps the stores and manufacturers and contractors who they spend money
with. And some of that’s happening.

But this is not a normal recession.

the millions of people who are refinancing. People like Andrew McCabe, a
product manager at a health care IT company who owns a condo in
Arlington, Mass.

“I’ll save about 250 bucks a month,” he says.

That means
he could go out to dinner more often, and the movies. That would help
local businesses. But he doesn’t feel safe doing that. Like so many
other people, he’s mostly hunkered down working remotely at home. So
even before refinancing, money was piling up in McCabe’s bank account.

“I easily saved several thousand dollars since I’ve been home,” he says.

the extra money from low interest rates isn’t likely to get many people
like McCabe to spend more, at least right now. Meanwhile, he’s watching
more local businesses go under.

“In Arlington, restaurants are closing down, Cambridge restaurants are closing down,” he says. “This morning, it was Flat Top Johnny’s, and every day, we hear about something else, local places that I would go that are now gone.”

for now, Harvard’s Rogoff says the government needs to keep pumping
trillions of dollars into the economy with unemployment assistance and
other stimulus. But he says it can’t do that forever.

So he’s siding with a growing chorus of prominent economists and business groups
who essentially say a stimulus is needed and low interest rates are
good, but maybe the single most important thing to help the economy
would be much more widespread use of masks across the whole country.

“If you’re not containing the virus, you can do all the great
monetary policy in the world,” Rogoff says. “All the great fiscal
policy, design everything well. If you’re not winning the war, you’re

In other words, low interest rates are great. But if
the country can’t crush down the number of new coronavirus cases, the
economy can’t recover.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro waves to supporters
from the Alvorada Palace in Brasilia on Monday, the same day that two
more of his Cabinet ministers were diagnosed with COVID-19.

Evaristo Sa/AFP via Getty Images

Two government ministers in Brazil have tested positive for the
coronavirus as the country – second only to the U.S. in the number of
infections – surpassed 80,000 deaths from the disease.

Minister Onyx Lorenzoni, a close ally of President Jair Bolsonaro, and
Education Minister Milton Ribeiro announced separately their diagnoses
on social media.

In a tweet, Lorenzoni said he had begun
feeling COVID-19 symptoms on Thursday night and had received
confirmation that he was infected on Monday.

Bolsonaro himself tested positive for the coronavirus earlier this
month and two other top government officials, national security adviser
Augusto Heleno and the minister of mines and energy, Bento Albuquerque,
have also been infected.

The news that COVID-19 can’t be
contained even at the top echelons of government comes as Brazil marked a
grim milestone in the pandemic, with more than 80,000 now dead from the
disease, according to a tally kept by Johns Hopkins University. The country has more than 2.1 million confirmed infections.

Bolsonaro has been accused of endangering the public with his
consistent efforts to downplay the virus, campaigning against COVID-19
shutdowns and referring to the disease as “a little flu.”

he was diagnosed, the president promoted the anti-malarial drug
hydroxychloroquine, which he has credited with his recovery. Despite
several studies showing no efficacy and warning about the drug’s
potential side effects, hydroxychloroquine has also been touted by
President Trump. In June, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration revoked an emergency authorization for the drug.

As recently as Monday, Bolsonaro tweeted his support for the drug
and, over the weekend, he hailed it as an effective treatment for
COVID-19. Reuters reports
that on Sunday he stood a few feet away from supporters at a rally in
Brasilia as he held a box of the drug aloft to cheers from the crowd.

suit, Lorenzoni, the citizenship minister, tweeted that he too was
taking a mix of drugs including chloroquine “and I already feel the
positive effects.”

French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor
Angela Merkel arrive for a joint news conference at the end of the
European summit at EU headquarters in Brussels on Tuesday.

John Thys/AFP via Getty Images

European Union leaders emerged from five days of intense talks
with a landmark 750 billion euro ($858 billion) plan to rescue the
bloc’s economies amid the ongoing assault of the COVID-19 pandemic.

heads of state and government finally voted unanimously in Brussels
early Tuesday to jointly issue debt to be disbursed through grants and
loans to member nations as they face their worst economic downturn since
the Great Depression.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel hailed the agreement by the
27-member group as “truly historic.” She and French President Emmanuel
Macron spearheaded the effort to push the deal through.

over the package pitted some of the EU’s strongest economies –
including the Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark and Austria — against the
grouping’s poorer states, such as Spain and Italy. At issue was how the
burden would be shared and under what conditions the money would be

Most notably, the wealthier nations had sought to
ensure that the rescue package be made up mostly of loans. Instead, the
huge sum will be split between 360 billion euros ($412 billion) in loans
and 390 billion euros ($446 billion) in grants that would not need to
be repaid. The money will be raised collectively by selling bonds.

the five days of talks in the Belgian capital, governments debated not
only the terms of the recovery package, but also a seven-year EU budget
worth about 1.1 trillion euros ($1.26 trillion).

In a news
conference, European Commission President Charles Michel called the
agreement a “pivotal moment” for Europe and said it shows the bloc’s
solidarity at a historically trying time.

“This agreement sends a concrete signal that Europe is a force for action,” Michel said.

Fear of failure was apparently strong enough to keep the
negotiations – originally scheduled to last just two days – on track for
what turned out to be a marathon session. A failed summit amid the
ongoing coronavirus crisis, many feared, would have thrown the EU’s
future as an effective bloc into doubt.

News of the deal pushed the euro to a four-month high of $1.1470.

Prime Minister Mark Rutte, seen as a key obstacle to a deal,
acknowledged “a few clashes” during the talks but said “that’s all part
of the game.”

Merkel said Europe “has shown it is able to break new ground in a special situation.”

“Exceptional situations require exceptional measures,” she said at the news conference.

NPR’s Rob Schmitz in Berlin contributed to this report.


(L-r) John David Washington and Robert Pattinson in
Warner Bros. Pictures’ action epic “TENET,” a Warner Bros. Pictures

Melinda Sue Gordon/Warner Bros. Entertainment

The blockbuster that Hollywood was counting on to jump-start a
COVID-19 delayed summer movie season won’t be busting blocks anytime
soon. Christopher Nolan’s sci-fi thriller Tenet,
originally announced for a July 17 opening, and pushed back twice, has
now been removed from the Warner Bros release calendar, in a major blow
to film exhibitors.

“We will share a new 2020 release date imminently for Tenet, Christopher Nolan’s wholly original and mind-blowing feature,” said Warner Bros. chairman Toby Emmerich in a statement.

Director Nolan — whose blockbusters Inception, Dunkirk and the Batman Dark Knight Trilogy
have made billions on the big screen — has been adamant that his
$200-million thriller would be the tent-pole that would hold up the
summer movie-going tent.

When theater chains got open, he said, Tenet
would bring the crowds. But as it became clear that theater chains
would not be fully open by this past weekend, the opening date started
slipping, first to July 31, then to Aug. 12, and now to an
as-yet-unspecified date later this year.

The Warner Bros. statement went on to say the studio would not be giving Tenet
a “traditional global day-and-date release” — industry-speak for
opening all over the planet at once — though it didn’t specify what a
non-traditional release might look like

Speculation in the film industry has been that the studio might try premiering Tenet
overseas. Nolan’s blockbusters have tended to do two-thirds of their
business in foreign territories, and some major foreign markets are
reopening as governments get the coronavirus under control, including
South Korea, Japan, China, and some areas of Europe.

box-office grosses might look like in a fragmented, here-and-there
release is anyone’s guess. In China and South Korea, cinemas have
reopened with stringent social distancing protocols, and fewer
screenings daily to allow for additional cleaning of theaters. An
industry operating at, say, 30% of capacity, will not be turning out a
lot of box-office records.

That will also be true at theaters
in the U.S., where not quite one-fifth of the nation’s multiplexes are
currently open for business, and very few of those in urban areas. It
would be unprecedented to premiere a major movie and not play in New
York and Los Angeles on opening weekend, but…a lot of things are
unprecedented right now.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute
for Allergy and Infectious Diseases wore a Washington Nationals face
mask before testifying at a congressional hearing on June 30. The team
announced he will throw out the ceremonial first pitch at their season
opener on Thursday.

Kevin Dietsch/AP

When America’s pastime officially returns on Thursday, it will be
ushered in by none other than the country’s leading infectious disease

The Washington Nationals announced
Monday that Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of
Allergy and Infectious Diseases, will throw out the ceremonial first
pitch on Opening Day.

The reigning World Series champions will play the New York Yankees at home to kick off the regular season, which has been shortened from 162 to 60 games by the coronavirus pandemic.

Fauci has been a true champion for our country during the Covid-19
pandemic and throughout his distinguished career, so it is only fitting
that we honor him as we kick off the 2020 season and defend our World
Series Championship title,” the team said in a statement.

Fauci has been one of the country’s most visible public health
experts throughout the coronavirus pandemic. He has also been vocal
about his love of the Nats.

He wore a face mask with the
team’s name and logo to testify alongside other members of the White
House coronavirus task force at a congressional hearing last month.

And in April, when Major League Baseball was still on hiatus, Fauci spoke of wanting to see the team back in action, even if it meant games resuming without in-person spectators.

think you’ll probably get enough buy-in from people who are dying to
see a baseball game, particularly me,” Fauci said. “I’m living in
Washington, we have the world champion Washington Nationals. I want to
see them play again.”

The season typically starts in April and
ends in October, but the MLB put opening day on hold because of the
pandemic. It will operate with enhanced health and safety procedures, including requiring players to use their own personal equipment when possible and practice physical distancing.

Middle school teacher Brittany Myers (center) stands in
protest last week at the Hillsborough County School District Office in
Tampa, Fla. Teachers and administrators have rallied against the
reopening of Florida schools due to concerns about the coronavirus.

Octavio Jones/Getty Images

Teachers in Florida are suing the state to block an emergency
order requiring schools to open next month with in-person instruction.
They say, with the surge of coronavirus cases, the order violates a
provision in the Florida Constitution requiring the state to ensure
schools are operated safely.

The emergency order, issued this
month by Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran, says all
school districts “must open brick and mortar schools at least five days a
week for all students.” The order says the final decision on whether to
reopen schools rests with local superintendents and school boards. But
it suggests funding may depend on it. The districts that submit
reopening plans approved by the state will receive full funding.

a lawsuit filed in Miami, the Florida Education Association, joined by
teachers and parents, says the Department of Education order defies
recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on
reopening schools safely. Besides Corcoran, the lawsuit also names the
Florida Board of Education, Gov. Ron DeSantis and Miami-Dade County
Mayor Carlos Gimenez as defendants.

The teachers union says
the Florida Constitution requires state officials, “who are charged with
overseeing the funding and operations of public education, ensure that
our schools operate safely.” Requiring schools to reopen campuses now,
the union says, “without the proper plan, resources, and safety
precautions will inevitably exacerbate the spread of the virus,
jeopardize public health, and ultimately cause longer closures.”

Asked about the lawsuit Monday, DeSantis distanced himself from
the emergency order, which has drawn backlash from parents, teachers and
school districts since it was issued. “I didn’t give any executive
order,” he said. “That was the Department of Education.” The
commissioner and six other members of Florida’s Board of Education are
all appointed by the governor.

DeSantis has defended the mandate to reopen schools but said it’s intended as a recommendation, not a requirement.

a statement, Corcoran, the education commissioner, called the lawsuit
“frivolous” and “reckless,” saying he believes the teachers union
“hasn’t read nor understands” the emergency order.

The order,
he said, reiterates a Florida statute that requires schools to operate
180 days a year, which equates to five days a week for 36 weeks. The
order, Corcoran said, added online options for “families to have the
choice to decide what works best for the health and safety of their
student and family.”


A health care worker talks to a patient in the emergency
room at OakBend Medical Center in Richmond, Texas, on July 15.

Mark Felix/AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. Navy on Sunday
deployed five medical teams to support health workers in South Texas,
an area particularly hard hit by COVID-19. The state has had 10,000 new cases a day
on average over the last week, up 55% since the beginning of July. And
just over 4,000 people in Texas have died since the start of the

Dr. Jamil Madi, chief of critical care medicine at Valley Baptist Medical Center in Harlingen, Texas, tells Morning Edition that
his team has seen a surge of COVID-19 patients over the last few weeks.
The intensive care unit went from only a few patients a month ago to
95% of current beds filled. They’ve now exceeded the units traditionally
used for the ICU, he says.

“We started off with a couple of
units, which we had conventionally, and then we started to expand and
have makeshift units all over the hospital,” Madi says. “Unfortunately,
our hospital capacity right now — we have about 75% of our patients in
the hospital are COVID patients.”

Here are excerpts of the conversation.

On the types of COVID-19 patients being admitted

Portrait of Dr. Jamil Madi.

Jamil Madi

When the pandemic started a few months ago, we had some small
surges or outbreaks in the nursing homes, and they were mostly elderly
patients, obviously. And we were able to control that. … We were able
to treat them. Many of them were able to survive that. What we have
right now is completely different. We have patients of all age groups:
in their 20s and 30s and 40s and 50s and 60s coming in with either one
comorbidity — they have some hypertension, diabetes — some of them don’t
even have any comorbidities. Invariably though, a large percentage of
them have obesity. But remember, our population in that area is mostly

Of course, also our population is also mostly Hispanic. … As you know, the Hispanic population
has been hit hard, in addition to the African American population. Some
statistics and data show that they are three times more likely to get
infected with a virus and twice [as] likely to die from the virus

On how his staff is holding up after months of treating the virus

thought that we were immune in Texas [early on]. In Texas, when we
looked at the North, we felt bad for them and we said, “We are not going
to have that. We’re going to be OK.” But it came over, and it came over
hard, like a tsunami.

So yes, the staff is really overwhelmed, especially with the sustainability of it.

people do what they need to do: Wash your hands, social distance. And
maybe we can bring down the rates and this surge.

Listen to the full interview at the audio link above.

Taylor Haney and HJ Mai produced and edited the audio story. Emily Alfin Johnson adapted it for the Web.

President Trump and GOP congressional leaders are
calling for a $1 trillion coronavirus relief bill targeted at “kids and

Evan Vucci/AP

President Trump met with Republican congressional leaders Sen.
Mitch McConnell and Rep. Kevin McCarthy on Monday to discuss the next
round of coronavirus relief funding, saying he hoped the next package
would help small businesses.

Trump also said he would revive
his daily 5 p.m. coronavirus briefings, likely starting Tuesday, noting
the need to get out information with the surge in cases. “We have had
this big flare-up in Florida, Texas, a couple of other places,” he said.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the priorities for the next
round of coronavirus aid would be “kids and jobs,” starting with a
trillion-dollar offer. Mnuchin said he would brief Republicans on
Capitol Hill on Tuesday and would reach out to Democrats to begin talks.

House Democrats approved a much larger aid package to the tune of $3 trillion more than two months ago, but it was never taken up in the Senate.

who served as the administration’s top negotiator for the previous
coronavirus legislation, said they want to finish a bill by the end of
the month before enhanced unemployment insurance expires, but said
Republicans are seeking a “technical fix” so that workers don’t make
more in unemployment benefits than they would otherwise make on the job.

the administration’s other priorities, Mnuchin said, were tax credits
to encourage businesses to bring people back to work and to buy
protective equipment, in addition to money for schools that can open
safely — as well as liability protection for schools and businesses.

asked the importance in negotiations of a proposed payroll tax cut
that’s long been pushed by the president, Trump said “we’re working on
it” but also made clear it was “one of many elements” under discussion.

cited TV ratings as a reason to resume the daily briefings. “I was
doing them and we had a lot of people watching, record numbers watching
in the history of cable television, and there’s never been anything like

Trump said he would like to invite companies working on
vaccines and therapeutics for the virus to provide updates on their
progress via the daily briefings. “I think it’s a great way to get
information out to the public,” he said.

White House counselor
Kellyanne Conway told reporters last week that she hoped the daily
briefings would resume, saying that they gave the president a boost in
the polls. “His approval rating on the pandemic was higher when he was
at the podium,” Conway said.

Recent polls have put the
president’s overall approval numbers in the low 40s, and he is widely
seen as doing a poor job in leading the nation’s coronavirus response.
It was during one briefing in late April that Trump suggested people ingest disinfectants as a way of preventing COVID-19, advice that was quickly disavowed by health experts. The daily briefings ended soon after.

Patrick Mahomes (15) of the Kansas City Chiefs, shown
here during a game in February, is one of the players speaking out on
Twitter about the NFL’s safety protocols.

Focus On Sport/Getty Images

A number of prominent NFL players raised concerns on social media
about the league’s coronavirus safety protocols as teams prepare to open
for training camps in the coming days.

The NFL and the players’ union are still negotiating the details of the league’s protocols to prevent the spread of the virus.

used the hashtag #WeWantToPlay in a coordinated social media blitz
Sunday. It included marquee names such as Seattle Seahawks quarterback
Russell Wilson, Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt and reigning
Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes.

“Getting ready to report this
week hoping the @NFL will come to agreement with the safe and right
protocols so we can feel protected playing the sport we love,” Mahomes tweeted.

who is married to singer Ciara, cited his wife’s pregnancy as his
reason for wanting clarity in how the league will handle the safety of
players and their families.

“I am concerned,” Wilson wrote on Twitter.

wife is pregnant. @NFL Training camp is about to start.. And there’s
still No Clear Plan on Player Health & Family Safety. We want to
play football but we also want to protect our loved ones.”

Watt tweeted a list of issues he said are still unclear about the testing of players.

“We still do not know if there will be daily testing, every other day testing, etc,” Watt wrote.
“We still do not know how a positive Covid test will be handled in
regards to others in close contact (in the huddle, directly engaged
with, etc.).”

Watt also pointed out that the NFL can mandate
players report to training camp regardless of whether players’ questions
or concerns are answered. He added that “if players do not show up on
time, they can be fined or considered in breach of contract.”

Rookies for the Texans and the Chiefs are slated to report to training camp on Monday. These two teams are scheduled to kick off the NFL season with a matchup on Sept. 10.

The NFL has said repeatedly that its goal is to play a full season beginning in the fall.

The players voiced their concerns on social media shortly after
the NFL announced that teams would hold full training camps, with
veterans due to report on July 28, according to NFL.com.

to an internal memo, rookies for other teams are scheduled to report
Tuesday, NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported. Quarterback and players
who are injured are scheduled to report to training camp on Thursday.

also reported Monday that talks between the NFL and the players’ union,
the NFLPA, are ongoing. One sticking point is how many preseason games
will be played ahead of the start of the regular season.

it now appears likely the NFL will have either one preseason game or
none in 2020. Focus continues to be on playing a regular full season and
postseason,” he said on Twitter Monday.

Players are lobbying to have a 45-day acclimation period to help
prevent injuries, The Associated Press reported, as the league attempts
to start its preseason regimen. The wire service added that there are
still unanswered questions about what protections might be in place for
players who want to opt out of the season because of coronavirus


Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has suggested that if
federal jobless benefits are extended, it will be in a different form
than the flat $600 per week.

Erin Scott/Pool/Getty Images

For Lorena Schneehagen, the additional $600 unemployment payment
each week during the coronavirus pandemic has held her family’s expenses

She’s an out-of-work preschool teacher in Ann Arbor, Mich., whose son is about to start college.

“I need that to help pay his tuition,” Schneehagen said. “And for food and just to pay the general bills.”

of millions of Americans who lost their jobs because of the pandemic
are now in danger of having their incomes slashed for a second time. The
supplemental unemployment benefits of $600 per week that Congress
approved four months ago are set to expire at the end of this week
in most states — threatening to hurt strapped households and the U.S.
economy, as billions of dollars’ worth in spending suddenly comes to a

As Congress comes back into session
this week, lawmakers will debate whether to extend the supplemental
benefits, which have been a lifeline for more than 30 million people
across the United States.

“The extra $600 from the government
has obviously helped me tremendously,” said bartender Courtney Woodruff,
who lost her job at a Denver brewpub. “I don’t really spend a lot. My
money is going towards rent and food right now.”

ordinary unemployment benefits usually cover just a fraction of a
worker’s lost wages, the additional $600 per week from the federal
government was designed to fully replace the average worker’s missing

“Honestly, that’s made it a lot less stressful to not have to be
forced to go out and be in public with the virus,” said Stephen Pingle,
who was laid off from his job installing Internet cable and security
cameras in Nashville, Tenn.

Pingle has stopped spending on
what he calls “frivolous” items and has tried to save as much as he can.
He knows the supplemental benefits may run out soon.

trying not to worry too much about it,” he said. “But it’s hard to keep
pushing it off, knowing that there’s potentially that massive of a
financial hit coming.”

If the hit comes, it will be felt not only by the unemployed but
by grocers, landlords and the broader economy. Cutting off benefits to
so many people at once would reduce their collective spending power by
nearly $19 billion per week.

you slice these numbers, we’re talking about very large amounts that
mean quite a bit to workers and to the macroeconomy,” said Ryan Nunn,
who leads applied research at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.

an interview last week, Nunn said the extra jobless benefits have acted
as an important crutch for the economy. Without them, the U.S. would
likely have experienced more defaults on car loans and credit card bills
and more people falling behind on their rent. That’s one reason
congressional Democrats argue that the government should keep the
$600-a-week payments flowing.

“We’re never going to have our economy come back unless we
recognize that we must put money in the pockets of the American people,”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., told reporters.

Some employers have complained
that the generous jobless benefits make it hard for them to attract
workers. Nunn said while ordinarily that would be a concern, there’s
little danger of a worker shortage when unemployment is in the double
digits and the virus itself is forcing new limits on economic activity.

Still, it’s a complaint that the Trump administration takes seriously.

heard stories of where companies are trying to get people back to work
and they won’t come because of the enhanced unemployment,” Treasury
Secretary Steven Mnuchin told CNBC. He suggested that if federal jobless benefits are extended, it will be in a different form than the flat $600 per week.

“We’ll fix that, and we’ll figure out an extension to it that
works for companies and works for those people that will still be
unemployed,” Mnuchin said.

Schneehagen, the Michigan preschool
teacher, doesn’t expect to be called back to her old job anytime soon.
Although the school has reopened, enrollment is down. Teachers who are
working have had their hours cut, and the school is having to cut costs
even on things like air conditioning during an unseasonably hot summer.

Schneehagen has started to explore alternative work as a nanny.

really think there’s going to be a crunch for jobs pretty soon,” she
said. “There aren’t that many jobs out there. And there are going to be
so many people looking in the next couple of weeks.”

People leave the Ocean 10 restaurant as a curfew from 8
p.m. to 6 a.m. is put in place on Saturday in Miami Beach, Fla.

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Several U.S. states reported new record-breaking coronavirus case
counts over the weekend as the nationwide death toll from COVID-19
surpassed 140,000 and President Trump insisted again that the virus
would “disappear.”

States such as Florida, California and Kentucky were reporting
record or near-record numbers of new cases, and in Texas a hospital
official told NPR that funeral homes and morgues were overflowing from
the bodies of COVID-19 victims.

Meanwhile, in a Fox News interview
aired on Sunday, the president repeated an assertion he first made in
late February that COVID-19 would “disappear” on its own, saying that
his initial prediction would prove correct.

“I’ll be right eventually,” the president said in the interview with Fox’s Chris Wallace.

“I said it’s going to disappear. I’ll say it again: It’s going to disappear — and I’ll be right,” he said.

by Wallace if such statements “discredit” him, Trump replied: “You know
why it doesn’t discredit? Because I’ve probably been right more than
anybody else.”

However, there was no indication that the
disease would disappear anytime soon based on a snapshot of some of the
nation’s hot spots. Here’s a look at a few of them:


On Sunday, Florida reported 12,478 new cases,
its fifth consecutive day with more than 10,000 cases. That is off the
peak of 15,300 new infections reported less than a week ago, on July 12, which marked not only a record for Florida, but broke the national case-count record set by New York in early April.

The number of COVID-19 deaths in the state since the start of the pandemic surpassed 5,000 on Saturday.

Speaking at a news conference in St. Augustine on Saturday, Gov.
Ron DeSantis complained that headlines about the record number of cases
were unduly worrying Floridians.

He attributed the increasing number of cases to a ramping up of testing.

important to put that in context because I think a lot of people see
cases I think they get really, really scared, and my message is ‘fear is
our enemy,’ ” DeSantis said. “And I think the other thing that gets
missed with the cases is the sheer number of people who are testing who
aren’t sick. Because I think most people see cases and they think that
many people are in the hospital.”


the past two weeks, the total number of infections has gone up by 45%,
while the number of deaths has increased statewide by 20%, according to
the Sacramento Bee.

Statewide, California has seen more than 7,600 deaths from COVID-19 with Southern California continuing to lead the grim statistics.

Los Angeles County had 2,722 new positive results Saturday for a
total of 153,014 cases since the beginning of the pandemic. Orange
County reported 702 new cases, while San Diego County had 625 new
positive results, according to the Mercury News.

Ninety-one new deaths were reported for the state on Saturday.

Defying an order by Gov. Gavin Newsom prohibiting indoor worship services, the Destiny Christian Church in Rocklin opened its doors on Sunday.

Greg Fairrington prayed for Newsom in a sermon on Sunday, telling his
congregation that they were engaged in a spiritual battle against the
government for the right to worship freely, according to the Sacramento Bee.

believe our call is to get the church ready for an outpouring, to get
the church ready for an awakening, but God is giving us right now in
this moment a rude awakening before he gives us the great awakening, and
for some reason God is using Destiny as a hub,” Fairrington said.


reported 979 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday, its highest-ever daily
count. Three new deaths brought the number of dead from the disease in
Kentucky to 670.

The state’s Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear called the data a “wake-up call” for the state’s citizens to adhere to requirements to wear masks and to practice social distancing.

“This is a rough day for the commonwealth,” Beshear said in a statement.

have faith and I have trust in the people of Kentucky,” he said. “But
today and in the days ahead we’ve got to do a whole lot better. We’re
going to have to take some more action.”


On Friday, the state’s COVID-19 deaths had risen by 161 – a record, according to the Houston Chronicle, which brought the toll for Texas to 3,798.

Ken Davis, the chief medical officer of CHRISTUS hospitals in San Antonio, told NPR’s Weekend Edition Sunday, “In the hospital, there are only so many places to put bodies of the loved ones, and we’re out of space.”

we’re looking ourselves for refrigerated trucks to put bodies and to
hold them, which sounds terrible, but it’s true,” he said.


dramatic surge in new cases in the past month has stretched hospitals
and testing centers in Georgia to their limits, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The seven-day rolling average of new cases is four times what it was on June 15, the newspaper reports.

takes days to get a test and a week or more to get results,” Dr. Harry
J. Heiman, a clinical associate professor at the Georgia State
University School of Public Health, was quoted by AJC as saying. “By
that time, (results are) not valuable to public health. The time period
in which that information would have been actionable is gone.”

Last week, Georgia’s Gov. Brian Kemp sued
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms over a requirement for people to
wear masks in public. Kemp, while encouraging the use of masks, had
declined to issue a statewide directive. Meanwhile, Bottoms and mayors
of other major cities had issued their own citywide mask requirements.
Kemp’s suit insists that his statewide order supersedes any city
ordinances on the matter.

A billboard in Miami — where coronavirus cases continue
to surge — depicts a medical worker holding up the world. The number of
coronavirus deaths worldwide has surpassed 600,000, with more than
140,000 of those in the U.S.

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Total coronavirus deaths in the U.S. have surpassed 140,000,
reaching somber new heights as surging cases continue to break records
in parts of the country and around the world.

The U.S. passed the latest threshold late on Saturday, the same day the World Health Organization reported the largest one-day increase in global fatalities since May, with 7,360 new deaths. Global deaths had been averaging 4,600 a day in June and 4,800 in July.

According to data from the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center, the virus has killed at least 603,285 people worldwide as of Sunday.

Nearly one quarter of those deaths are accounted for by the U.S.

The U.S. reports approximately 5,000 deaths each week, according to Reuters. In contrast, Canada has reported a total of 8,800 deaths since the start of the pandemic.

The WHO also reported a record number of nearly 260,000 new global coronavirus cases on Saturday.

While some countries have nearly brought the virus under control,
others are seeing cases spike in record numbers. Brazil, India, Russia,
South Africa and Peru are next in line for the highest number of
confirmed cases after the U.S.

India surpassed
1 million confirmed cases on Friday, becoming the third country to do
so. Brazil has now reported more than 2 million cases, and the U.S.
passed the 3 million mark earlier this month.

Over the weekend, leaders around the world tightened restrictions in response to increases in cases.

In Hong Kong, which had initially managed to keep cases numbers low, Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced
its highest one-day increase in cases on Sunday — more than 100 — and
enacted new precautionary measures. She said nonessential civil servants
must work from home and face masks will be required in indoor public
spaces. Recently announced closures of bars, gyms and clubs, as well as
restaurant curfews, will be extended.

Australian states are enacting new measures in response to rising case numbers. Victoria is newly requiring people in the city of Melbourne — which is nearly two weeks into a six-week lockdown — to wear masks in public or face fines. New South Wales is imposing restrictions
on “high-risk activities” including singing in choirs, dancing at
nightclubs and bars and dining out in groups larger than 10 people.

New restrictions also took effect in Israel
on Friday, with gyms ordered to close and restaurants limited to
takeout and delivery only. Additional nonessential establishments must
close on weekends, such as stores, malls, hair salons, pools, tourist
attractions and beaches.

And officials in Ireland announced
earlier this past week that the country will delay its next phase of
reopening until mid-August, keeping bars closed and gathering limits in
place for about a month longer than planned.

Within the U.S., hard-hit states like California, Arizona and Texas have closed bars, delayed reopening plans and tightened other restrictions in recent weeks. Many have implemented statewide mask mandates. Others, like Florida, are enacting more closures and mandates at the local level.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported
more than 74,700 new cases and 918 new deaths in the U.S. on Saturday
as Missouri, North Carolina, South Carolina and Wisconsin all broke
state records for the number of new cases reported in a single day.

On Sunday, South Carolina reported
2,335 new cases, marking its highest single-day increase since the
start of the pandemic, though it said 526 of those were from Friday.

reported more than 12,000 new cases on Sunday, its fifth consecutive
day of infections past the 10,000 mark. It also reported 89 new deaths.
According to Reuters, deaths in the state have risen by 78% over the
last two weeks compared with the previous two weeks.

In an interview with Fox News Sunday, President
Trump downplayed the severity of the virus and called the U.S.
mortality rate one of the lowest in the world. Of the 20 counties
currently most affected by the pandemic, the U.S. is ranked eighth
highest for its observed case-fatality ratio.

A street artist spray-paints a protective face mask over
an old mural featuring a Venezuelan Indigenous man in Caracas,
Venezuela, on Saturday. Globally, new daily cases hit an all-time high
on Saturday, the World Health Organization reports.

Matias Delacroix/AP

Updated at 4:30 a.m. ET Sunday

Over a
24-hour period, the world saw nearly 260,000 new coronavirus cases — a
new record. Deaths were also on the rise, with 7,360 new fatalities
reported Saturday in the highest one-day increase since May.

The World Health Organization announced
the numbers on Saturday. The United States, Brazil, India and South
Africa accounted for more than 165,000 of the cases. The WHO said it
included more than 11,000 new cases from Kyrgyzstan on Saturday because
of a change in reporting criteria.

Globally, nearly 600,000 people have been killed by the virus, according to data
from the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center. Deaths in the U.S.
surpassed 140,000, accounting for almost a quarter of the world’s
COVID-19 fatalities.

On the testing front, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration gave emergency approval
on Saturday to Quest Diagnostics to use its test for active coronavirus
infections with “pooled” samples. Specimens from up to four people can
be tested together; if the results come back negative, health officials
will know that none of those individuals tested has the virus. A
positive result would be followed up by individual testing of the

FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn said sample pooling
would let more Americans be tested more quickly, while also preserving
testing supplies. “Sample pooling becomes especially important as
infection rates decline and we begin testing larger portions of the
population,” he said in a statement.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported more than
74,000 new coronavirus cases across the U.S. on Saturday, fueled by
record or near-record increases in several states.

Arizona saw its highest daily number of deaths, reporting 147 people killed by the virus and over 2,700 new cases. The high number was reportedly partially caused by a review of death certificates. It brought the total death count in Arizona to 2,730.

Carolina also saw a one-day record on Saturday, announcing over 2,400
new cases. Texas reported 130 deaths on Saturday, a day after setting a
state record on Friday for most deaths in one day, with 174 people
succumbing to the virus.

In Florida, also besieged by the virus, officials confirmed
more than 10,300 new cases of the virus over the past day, with 90
deaths. That brings the death toll in Florida to more than 5,000. It’s
the first day in five days that the death count was below 100, according
to The Miami Herald.

Gov. Ron DeSantis said that one reason for the high number of cases was
that the state received 143,000 coronavirus test results that day.
“It’s important to put that in context, because I think a lot of people
see cases, I think they get really, really scared, and my message is
fear is our enemy,” DeSantis said Saturday.

The median age of
people getting infected in Florida continues to drop, DeSantis said. In
Miami-Dade County, the median age is 41; in Orange County, it’s 29; and
in Seminole County, it’s 26.

Missouri also set a record
for daily increases, with 958 new cases reported Saturday. The
seven-day average of new cases is 731, up from 560 one week earlier.

internal White House coronavirus task force document has placed 18
states in the “red zone,” with 100 new cases per 100,000 people last
week, the Center for Public Integrity first reported Thursday.

a speech Saturday, U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres said that
the pandemic has demonstrated how fragile the world really is.

has laid bare risks we have ignored for decades: inadequate health
systems, gaps in social protection, structural inequalities,
environmental degradation, the climate crisis,” Guterres said.

Rubén Tejada of the Toronto Blue Jays is pictured at an
intrasquad game at Rogers Centre earlier this month in Toronto. The team
received permission for preseason training at the stadium but the
Canadian government will not allow regular season games in Canada.

Mark Blinch/Getty Images

The Toronto Blue Jays baseball team won’t be playing in Toronto
this regular season after the Canadian government rejected a plan for
the team to host home games there.

Due to the risk of
spreading the coronavirus, the government said, it would not be safe for
the team and opposing Major League Baseball teams to travel back and
forth between the U.S. and Canada.

“Based on the best-available
public health advice, we have concluded the cross-border travel
required for MLB regular season play would not adequately protect
Canadians’ health and safety,” Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino said
in a statement Saturday.

travel between the two countries has been restricted since March, and
restrictions have been extended through at least most of August. Most people who do cross the border are required to quarantine for 14 days afterward.

The government said it would not grant the team an exemption to those restrictions.

Blue Jays President and CEO Mark Shapiro said in a statement that the team “completely respects the federal government’s decision.”

“Though our team will not be playing home games at Rogers Centre
this summer, our players will take the field for the 2020 season with
the same pride and passion representative of an entire nation,” he said.
“We cannot wait until the day comes that we can play in front of our
fans again on Canadian soil.”

Toronto’s city government and Ontario had already given approval
for the Blue Jays to play on their home field, the Rogers Centre, in
downtown Toronto. An earlier proposal involved opposing teams staying
within a “bubble” of the Rogers Centre and the hotel next to it.

federal government had already granted the team an exemption for
preseason training at the Rogers Centre under the condition that members
had to remain isolated at the field and adjoining facilities.

other 29 MLB teams are all scheduled to play in their home stadiums,
without spectators, for a 60-game season beginning on July 23.

Blue Jays’ season opener is on July 24 against the Tampa Bay Rays in
Florida. Their home opener was originally scheduled for July 29 against
the Washington Nationals.

The team also has a training facility
in Dunedin, Fla., and will either host its regular season home games
there or in Buffalo, N.Y., the Toronto Star reported.

Canadian government said it remains “open to considering future restart
plans for the post-season should the risk of virus transmission

Most California schools will likely remain closed when
the academic year begins, under new rules announced Friday by Gov. Gavin

Richard Vogel/AP

Most California schools may remain closed when the academic year
begins in the fall, according to new state directives, with a majority
of campuses likely having to shift to distance-learning instead.

Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the new rules Friday, days after ordering bars and restaurant dining rooms closed amid a surge of coronavirus cases.

The new requirements stipulate how and when schools may reopen for in-person learning when the academic school year begin. These rules
mandate social distancing and health screenings for anyone entering a
school. Staff and students in grades 3-12 would be required to wear
masks, with younger students being encouraged to do so.

Under the new rules, a county must also not be on a list of counties being monitored
for rising coronavirus infections. Thirty-two of the states 58 counties
currently don’t hit that benchmark. To open schools for in-person
instruction, those counties would have to be off that list for 14
consecutive days, according to the directives.

Newsom said schools that couldn’t reopen would have shift to distance-learning programs.

is non-negotiable,” said Newsom in a statement. “Students, staff, and
parents all prefer in-classroom instruction, but only if it can be done

Schools and districts that reopened would also have
to shut down if infections breached a certain threshold over a 14-day
period – 5% for schools, 25% for districts.

The directives are
on the heels of announcements that some of the state’s largest
districts had already decided to enter the academic year with no
in-person classes. Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco all recently said they planned online-only learning when students returned.

accommodate the shift to online learning the state has earmarked $5.3
billion to “support learning, and set requirements to ensure schools
provide rigorous and grade-appropriate instruction.”

New state
laws also require districts to provide devices and connectivity for
students and support for English learners and students with special
education needs.

Experts say that Florida’s high coronavirus positivity
rates among those under age 18 is likely due to who gets tested.

Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Amid all the COVID-19 figures released by Florida’s Department of
Health, one number might come as a head-scratcher: A whopping 31.1%
coronavirus positivity rate among those under 18 who are tested for the
virus, according to the state’s most recent pediatric report.

Meanwhile, Florida’s overall positivity rate is currently 18.1%.

What gives? Are kids really getting the virus at a higher rates than adults?

Not likely, says Meghan Delaney, chief of the Division of Pathology and Lab Medicine at Children’s National Hospital in Washington, D.C.

While that high number might be surprising, Delaney says there are a few likely explanations.

is that children have so far not been a big focus of testing. Two, kids
who do get tested are often those who show symptoms of the disease.

Especially when and where testing has been difficult to access,
older people and those with underlying conditions were the focus of
available tests.

As a result, fewer children have been tested, and youths who are tested for the coronavirus more often test positive.

you’re not testing that many people, you tend to test the sick ones
first. That can lead to a higher rate,” Delaney says. “It’s not like 31%
of 100% of the children in the state [of Florida] have COVID. It’s more
of a reflection of 31% of the children with illness probably would have

And Florida is not alone in seeing such numbers. The D.C. region
had similarly high rates among children tested for the virus earlier
this year, Delaney says.

In late March, Children’s National opened a
drive-up testing site just to test children. That site operated for a
few months, Delaney says, and sometimes saw high positivity rates for
the children it tested: “It was actually above 45% for one week and then
came back down.”

Natalie Dean,
a biostatistician at the University of Florida, posits that Florida’s
high positivity rate is likely because kids are not often tested unless
they have either distinct symptoms of the virus, or exposure to a known

“Not to mention the procedure involves a kid sitting still to have a swab inserted up their nose,” she adds.​

The Florida Department of Health did not respond to multiple NPR requests for insight into the figures.

So what do the data so far tell us in general about children and the coronavirus?

Clearly children are getting the virus, though they are less likely than adults to experience a severe course of the disease.

According to state data on a dashboard created by University of South Florida epidemiologist Jason Salemi,
Florida residents age 19 or under account for about 10% of all cases in
the state – but only 1.6% of all hospitalizations, and four deaths.

Some children who get the coronavirus do end up with multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children, or MIS-C – though it’s rare. Florida’s pediatric report lists 13 known cases of MIS-C in the state.

you think that your children have COVID-19, it’s worthwhile to have
them tested, Delaney says. “Knowing that you’re positive changes things.
It helps contact tracers be able to trace and find other people, and it
helps prevent future transmission.”

Testing people of all ages
is crucial to getting the virus under control, she adds. “Florida
should be commended on testing a lot of kids, and they should keep
testing a lot of kids and a lot of adults because that’s how we find
where this virus is, help those people to stay away and not transmit,”
she says. “That is one of our main tools to fight the pandemic right


Hundreds of people line up outside a Kentucky Career
Center hoping to find assistance with their unemployment claim in
Frankfort, Ky., in June.

Bryan Woolston/Reuters

Millions of American workers have been receiving $600 from the
federal government each week during the pandemic in the form of
unemployment assistance. But that’s set to expire by the end of the
month, leaving many in a high state of anxiety.

are facing income losses of up to 70% without federal pandemic
unemployment assistance, says Indivar Dutta-Gupta, co-executive director
of Georgetown’s Center on Poverty and Inequality and an economic
adviser to the campaign of presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden.

are going to face high rates of eviction, homelessness, food
insecurity, hunger,” he tells NPR’s Sarah McCammon. “And the economy
overall is going to see much slower progress in a recovery than

In excerpts from his interview on All Things Considered, Dutta-Gupta explains what’s expected to happen to the broader economy if these benefits are allowed to expire.

Most people can apply for unemployment benefits from their
state as well. But that state benefit can vary a lot depending on where
you live. In Arizona, the maximum is $240 a week. How well is the
typical household able to live off that much?

really need well over $600 a week. And even when you add in the state
benefits, it’s really grossly inadequate. There’s just no way to afford
the cost of housing, the cost of care-giving, the cost of food. Really,
the $600 is just helping families stay afloat.

Who will be hit the hardest if this $600 a week goes away?

disproportionately going to be Black and brown workers for a couple of
reasons. One is that safety net that families typically lack in the U.S.
… personal savings. Liquid savings are grossly inadequate in the
United States, especially for people who have some of the lowest pay.
You combine that with an extraordinary racial wealth gap where Latinx
and Black families have about a 10th of the wealth of white families.
And you can see that very quickly, you’re going to start exacerbating
virtually every inequity in this country if we allow the $600 benefit
increase to expire.

What would the impacts be on the economy more broadly if this funding goes away?

has happened right now in the economy is that a lot of families can no
longer afford to spend on goods and services, even the most basic ones,
to survive without government support … That means that overall demand
in the country has shrunk dramatically and that will lead to further
layoffs, further income losses. In just about a week and a half, we’re
going to see hundreds of billions of dollars in reductions in spending
get underway because Congress has failed to act to date.

Republicans and critics of the $600 unemployment benefit say that some
people can make more money receiving those payments than if they went
back to their jobs or found a new job. How do you respond to people who
are concerned about that?

We added 5 million jobs in
the month of June. There has been study after study investigating
whether or not there’s any negative effect on employment from the $600
weekly benefit increase. And everything that we’re seeing in these
studies suggests not only is there not a negative effect, there might
even be a positive effect on employment.

The reality of why people aren’t working today has nothing to do
with the generosity of unemployment insurance benefits. People aren’t
working today because there is a virus that’s contagious, that’s lethal,
and that is not being contained. People aren’t working today because
they don’t have child care or paid leave. People aren’t working today
because there aren’t enough safe workplaces for them to go to. The $600
increase, if anything, is stabilizing the economy, growing employment,
and has posed no barrier to date on the record increases in employment
that we’ve seen in recent months.

Carmen Garcia waits in line Friday to be tested for the
coronavirus at a mobile testing truck in Miami Beach, Fla. The units
were brought to the area as coronavirus cases spike in Florida.

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

In Florida, hospitals are being stressed by the surge of
coronavirus cases. Florida reported 11,466 new cases of COVID-19 on
Friday and 128 deaths of residents. It was the fourth day running the
state saw more than 100 deaths.

The spike in cases is most acute in the Miami area. Miami-Dade County accounts for nearly a quarter of Florida’s 327,241 cases.

Friday, Miami-Dade County’s daily “dashboard” report showed the number
of patients admitted with COVID-19 at nearly 120% of intensive care unit

But Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez said
ICUs still have beds available. “Hospitals have the ability to add
hundreds of ICU beds,” he said, by discontinuing elective surgeries and
converting recovery rooms into ICU rooms. “We have 450 ICU beds
normally, but you have the ability to add another 500. Hospitals are
adjusting on a daily basis.”

Gimenez said there are no plans, for now, to activate a 450-bed field hospital set up at a convention center in Miami Beach.

Gimenez said hospitals have seen new COVID-19 admissions stay
steady in recent days, a sign he hopes that cases may be peaking. In the
meantime, the county is working to enforce public health rules,
including mandatory face coverings. This week, it adopted an ordinance
allowing police and code enforcement officers to issue $100 citations.

means you must wear a mask inside public places and outdoors,” Gimenez
said, “you must social distance or you may get fined.”

In the
hours after the order was passed, Miami-Dade County officials said they
handed out dozens of citations and closed three businesses.

Gov. Ron DeSantis said he supports guidelines requiring face masks in
Miami-Dade and other counties. But for weeks as cases have surged
statewide, DeSantis has resisted calls that he issue a statewide order
requiring face coverings.

On Friday, 12 Democratic members of
Florida’s congressional delegation sent a letter to DeSantis calling
again for a statewide mask order and stay-at-home orders in the
hardest-hit counties. In their letter, the lawmakers, including Reps.
Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Donna Shalala, said that “closing part of
Florida’s economy again would be painful.” But “if we continue with the
rate of infection we currently have in Florida, our economy will
contract and shutter on its own.”

In Miami-Dade County, Gimenez
said he’s waiting to see if stepped-up enforcement and other measures,
including a late-night curfew, are effective at stopping large
gatherings and other behavior that public health experts said are
driving the surge in Florida and elsewhere. Any decisions to order
further shutdowns, he said, will be based on data, especially

“This is a balancing act,” Gimenez said.
“Starting to shut down again could cause irreparable damage, irreparable
harm to people and their livelihoods on a permanent basis.”

Leave a Reply