As parts of the U.S. continue to suffer through surges of new confirmed COVID-19 cases, a USA TODAY study found Tuesday that almost half of all states are spiking at a faster rate than they had been in the spring.
Idaho, for example, is adding 20 new COVID-19 cases per hour after it was adding five in early April. This comes as many states have been forced to pause or roll back their plans to reopen their economies in order to mitigate the transmission rate and not overburden health care capacity.
Also on Tuesday, the Infectious Diseases Society of America offered public support for Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top expert on infectious diseases, after reports emerged over the weekend that the White House distributed opposition research against Fauci.
On Monday, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany denied launching a campaign to discredit Fauci.
Florida, meanwhile, saw its four-day stretch of new single-day cases of at least 10,000 snapped Tuesday but reported a record-high of new single-day COVID-19 deaths with 132.
Gov. Ron DeSantis has blamed increased testing for the surge of new cases.
“We have to address the virus with steady resolve. We can’t get swept away in fear,” DeSantis said Monday at a news conference. “We have to understand what is going on, understand that we have a long road ahead.”
Some recent developments:
- The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced a Mexican man died of COVID-19 in Florida.
- California Gov. Newsom ordered statewide closures Monday, including indoor restaurant operations and all bars.
- Hawaii extended its quarantine to Sept. 1, delaying its plan to allow out-of-state travelers to visit the island by one month.
- Face masks are required in about 3,700 U.S. Walmart locations. The CEO says a national mask mandate is “something on our minds.”
📈 Today’s stats: The U.S. has surpassed 3.3 million cases with over 135,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. Globally, there have been 13.1 million cases and over 574,000 deaths.
📰 What we’re reading: Los Angeles and San Diego schools are going online-only in the fall. Will other districts’ reopening plans defy President Donald Trump and do the same?
About half of U.S. adding cases faster now than in the spring
About half of American states are adding COVID-19 cases significantly faster than they did the spring as many states were shutting down, a USA TODAY study found.
Idaho added about five COVID-19 cases per hour in early April. By the middle of May, it was adding less than one case per hour; now it’s adding about 20.
Other states and territories adding cases at rates far above their spring peaks: Alaska, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Utah, West Virginia and Wyoming.
Individual states and even parts of states have had dramatically different progressions with the coronavirus, as outbreaks that ravaged the Northeast have lulled as Sunbelt states surged.
Arkansas and Wisconsin never had much in the way of peaks or lulls; instead, they’ve been steadily increasing. About six states and Puerto Rico are marking levels above spring’s peak, but not dramatically so.
Most states in the Northeast are far below their spring peaks.
– Mike Stucka
Florida’s new confirmed cases tick down, but new record set in deaths
Florida reported a record 132 additional COVID-19 related deaths Tuesday, surpassing the previous high of 120 set on July 9. The seven-day average for deaths statewide increased to 81.14, more than double the average on July 1 (38.43).
According to the Department of Health, the state added 9,194 novel coronavirus cases Tuesday, snapping a streak of four consecutive days with more than 10,000 new cases reported. That brings Florida’s cumulative number of cases to 291,629. The state had reached a record high for new confirmed COVID-19 cases Sunday with 15,300, the most any state has reported in a single day since the pandemic started.
Tuesday was the 21st consecutive day with at least 5,000 positive cases.
The record-breaking daily death total increased the overall toll to 4,409 resident deaths statewide.
– Dan DeLuca, Naples Daily News
Infectious Diseases Society of America backs Dr. Anthony Fauci
After reports emerged over the weekend of the White House conducting a campaign to discredit Dr. Anthony Fauci, the Infectious Diseases Society of America issued a statement Tuesday offering public support for Fauci.
“The only way out of this pandemic is by following the science, and developing evidence-based prevention practices and treatment protocols as new scientifically rigorous data become available,” said Dr. Thomas File, president of the IDSA. “Knowledge changes over time. That is to be expected. If we have any hope of ending this crisis, all of America must support public health experts, including Dr. Fauci, and stand with science.”
Fauci, who is the the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease and the country’s top expert on infectious diseases, said he hasn’t briefed President Donald Trump in two months.
In response to accusations of a campaign intended to discredit Fauci with opposition research, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Monday “it couldn’t be further from the truth” and that Fauci and Trump “have always had a very good working relationship.”
No parade to mark Bastille Day in France amid COVID surge
France marked Bastille Day with a relatively quiet ceremony at the eastern end of the Champs–Élysées. For the first time in 75 years, the annual military parade down the hallowed boulevard to mark the storming of the Bastille fortress in 1789 was canceled. More than 30,000 have died in France, and the country is experiencing a surge in new cases. President Emmanuel Macron said he wants masks to be required in all indoor public places starting on Aug. 1.
“We will be ready in the event of a second wave,” Macron said.
Smooth landing: CEO says Delta may not lay off any workers
Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian, in a stark contrast to most of his rivals, says the airline might not have to lay off any workers despite the crushing coronavirus pandemic. Bastian said more than 17,000 employees, or almost 20% of Delta’s 90,000 employees, have accepted early retirement offers and thousands more have agreed to voluntary unpaid leave in the fall. Last week, United warned that up to 36,000 of its employees face layoffs, though its ultimate number will depend on voluntary programs, too. Other airlines are also bracing for heavy fall layoffs as the payroll protections from the CARES Act end.
“I’m optimistic if we do have a furlough, it’s going to be relatively minimal numbers,” Bastian said Tuesday on CNBC.
– Dawn Gilbertson
Welcome to West Point: Four cadets test positive on first day at academy
Four of the first group of cadet candidates who arrived on campus at the United States Military Academy to begin basic training tested positive for COVID-19 and will spend their first weeks either in isolation or quarantine on campus. Lt. Col. Robert Kinney said the four were screened as part of their reception day Sunday. The 1,200-member class has been brought to campus on three reception days, called “R Day.” Cadets began arriving Sunday and the entire class begins military training on Wednesday.
– Peter D. Kramer, Rockland/Westchester Journal News
Physician was infected with virus at a meeting on how to avoid infection
A 42-year-old Tennessee physician who was infected with the coronavirus at a meeting about how to keep the coronavirus from spreading has a passionate message for all to hear – wear a mask, avoid crowds and protect yourself and those around you. Dr. Daniel Lewis was hospitalized in isolation and spent 10 days unconscious while hooked to a breathing machine. When he finally awoke, he was plagued by hallucinations, blood clots and muscle atrophy that left him unable to walk, eat or go home.
“You don’t have to be elderly,” Lewis said. “It’s an apolitical virus that can strike anyone. While there are certain risk factors that may predispose some people to being more ill than others, it can strike people like myself that otherwise were healthy.”
– Brett Kelman
Pandemic threatens shopping malls, ‘changing the face of America’
Just when many shopping malls had finally figured out how to adapt to the era of digital retail, the coronavirus pandemic is upending everything. Malls had turned to dining, entertainment, fitness and personal services – a pivot that was supposed to help them survive the Amazon age. But now they face mall anchor J.C. Penney struggling to avoid liquidation, smaller retailers closing or requesting rent relief, and venues such as theaters still temporarily shut down. The result: One in four malls to one in two could go out of business altogether, analysts projected.
Half the nation’s malls could be shut down “if we can’t stop the bleeding,” Coresight Research CEO Deborah Weinswig told USA TODAY. “That ends up changing the face of America.”
– Nathan Bomey, Kelly Tyko
The soaring costs of elections: ‘We are holding a bake sale for our democracy’
The coronavirus pandemic has tacked on hundreds of millions of dollars in unexpected costs to this year’s election. Dozens of interviews with local election clerks, state officials and advocates by USA TODAY Network, Columbia Journalism Investigations and the PBS series FRONTLINE reveal the country’s patchwork election system is fraying. And a proposal to provide states an additional $3.6 billion in federal money to support cratering election budgets has yet to be voted on by the U.S. Senate. One Chicago nonprofit donated $6.3 million to five Wisconsin cities to help with their elections costs.
“Local jurisdictions are literally relying on philanthropy to help pull off this election,” said Nathaniel Persily, an election law professor with Stanford Law School. “It’s like we are holding a bake sale for our democracy.”
– Pat Beall, Catharina Felke and Elizabeth Mulvey, USA TODAY Network and Columbia Journalism Investigations
Cuomo takes heat after state report on nursing home deaths
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo defended a state Health Department report that declined to blame thousands of nursing home deaths on a controversial Cuomo administration directive requiring facilities to take in COVID-19 patients. The report instead suggested workers and possibly visitors unwittingly spread the virus.
Cuomo said “ugly politics” were behind “this political conspiracy that the deaths in nursing homes were preventable.” Some experts are less certain. Charlene Harrington, a professor emerita of nursing and sociology at the University of California at San Francisco, said it appeared the “Department of Health is trying to justify what was an untenable policy.”
The Health Department, early in the crisis, had ordered nursing homes to admit “medically stable” coronavirus patients discharged from hospitals that were overwhelmed by patients. More than 6,000 nursing home residents died. ProPublica reported that New York’s nursing homes suffered a larger percentage of deaths relative to its total nursing home population than several states that did not have such a policy.
Third immigrant in ICE custody dies of COVID-19
A Mexican man being held in U.S. immigration custody in Florida died shortly after testing positive for the coronavirus, officials said Monday.
Onoval Perez-Montufa, 51, died Sunday afternoon at a Palm Beach County hospital, according to a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement news release. He had tested positive for COVID-19 on July 2 at the Glades County Detention Center in Moore Haven, which is west of Lake Okeechobee. Medical staff at the facility began treating him a day earlier after he complained of shortness of breath.
Perez-Montufa initially entered ICE custody June 15 following his release from federal prison in Massachusetts, where he had served 12 years for cocaine distribution. He was in ICE custody pending his removal to Mexico.
A Salvadoran man died in May after testing positive for coronavirus at a San Diego, California, ICE facility. A Guatemala man died later that month at a Lumpkin, Georgia, facility.
Will Florida schools reopen?:COVID-19 separated this school board member from her preemie. She plans to vote against reopening.
New York to deploy COVID-19 testing and contact tracing teams to Atlanta
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the state will send testing and contact tracing teams to Atlanta as the city’s COVID-19 cases continue to rise.
“Mayor Bottoms, we’ve been watching you and what you’ve been going through,” Cuomo told Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms in a joint video conference Monday. “Anything we can do for you, for the city, we stand ready.”
Bottoms responded: “Thank you Governor, and that’s exactly what we need assistance with. Testing that gets people results very quickly, and also the contact tracing because we know that’s extremely important for us to help slow the spread.”
New York was once the nation’s epicenter of the pandemic. On Sunday, New York City health officials reported that no one died from the virus in the city on July 11. Cuomo said Monday that air travelers from states with high rates of COVID-19 must provide their local contact information or face a penalty of up to $2,000.
Hawaii extendsits quarantine until Sept.1
Hawaii is delaying its plan to allow out-of-state visitors to return to the vacation hot spot by a month because of an increase in coronavirus cases in the state and on the mainland U.S.
In late June, the governor’s office announced that travelers could visit Hawaii beginning Aug. 1, no quarantine required, by presenting a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of boarding. Without one, passengers arriving from the mainland would have to strictly quarantine for 14 days, a policy in place since March that has scared away most tourists and decimated Hawaii’s tourism industry.
Hawaii Gov. David Ige said at a news conference late Monday that the program won’t begin until Sept. 1, a decision he said was not taken lightly. “We have always said that we will make decisions based on the health and safety of our community as the highest priority,” Ige said.
– Dawn Gilbertson
More on the coronavirus from USA TODAY
Where a face mask is required: Many governors are instituting or renewing orders requiring people to wear face coverings in public as cases continue to rise. Is your state on the list? See it here.
Coronavirus Watch: We have a few ways for you to stay informed. Sign up for our daily coronavirus newsletter here, and come together and share the latest information about the coronavirus, coping with lifestyle changes and more by joining our Facebook group.
Where are states on reopening? Some are taking preemptive measures to postpone further phases of their reopening, while others have rolled back their phases to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. See the list.
Contributing: The Associated Press