Dr. Anthony Fauci speaks to how personal responsibility and social distancing is the key to ending the spread of the coronavirus.
New U.S. coronavirus cases were on the rise with multiple states reporting new highs and the World Health Organization warned that the global pandemic is “speeding up.”
Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer reported encouraging early results Wednesday for a vaccine targeting SARS-CoV-2, the virus behind COVID-19, and said that if all goes well it could manufacture up to 100 million doses by the end of 2020.
Ahead of the Fourth of July holiday weekend, California Gov. Gavin Newsom plans to announce “aggressive” coronavirus restrictions Wednesday. Texas, which set new marks for positive cases and hospitalizations, has shut down bars. So did Arizona, while Florida banned alcohol consumption at them.
White House task force leader Vice President Mike Pence is meeting with Arizona officials Wednesday amid that state’s surge in cases and hospitalizations.
Here are some major developments:
📈Today’s stats: There were 44,766 new cases confirmed nationwide Tuesday, according to a tally kept by Johns Hopkins University. Other media tallies put the case count as high as 48,000, which would be a record for daily totals. Globally, there have been more than 10.5 million cases and 512,000 deaths. In the U.S., cases have surpassed 2.6 million cases with over 127,400 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins University data dashboard.
📰 What we’re reading: While the CDC says face shields should not be worn to replace a cloth mask, more and more people are turning to them for additional protection. Here’s where you can buy them.
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Pfizer says it could have 1 million vaccine doses by year’s end
Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer reported encouraging early results Wednesday for the first of four vaccines targeting SARS-CoV-2, the virus behind the global pandemic. The initial part of the study included 45 adults ages 18 to 55. Pfizer, partnering with the German company BioNTech, said that if the studies are successful and the vaccine candidate receives regulatory approval, the companies expect to manufacture up to 100 million doses by the end of 2020. The number could balloon to over 1.2 billion doses by the end of 2021.
“We have positive, preliminary, topline findings,” said Kathrin Jansen, head of vaccine development at Pfizer. “We approach this goal with the utmost urgency.”
More than a dozen vaccine candidates are in human testing worldwide, with several poised to begin huge, last-stage studies.
Where are we in the race for a vaccine? We’re one-third of the way there, experts say
WHO leader: ‘The worst is yet to come’
The global pandemic is expanding and is “not even close to being over,” the leader of the World Health Organization says. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said isolating, testing, tracing and quarantines remain the only way to slow the scourge until a vaccine is widely available. He warned that “the worst is yet to come” and called for greater resilience, patience, humility and generosity in the months ahead.
“We all want this to be over,” he said. “We want to get on with our lives. But the hard reality is this is not even close to being over. Although many countries have made some progress, the pandemic is actually speeding up.”
‘Pooling’ could drastically increase testing capacity
Public health officials say a new “pooling” approach for coronavirus testing could dramatically boost U.S. screening capacity by combining test samples in batches instead of running them one by one. If the batches come up negative, individual tests are not needed. But a positive would mean testing each individual sample. The Food and Drug Administration issued guidelines for test makers two weeks ago but has not approved the protocols until the protocols are tested for accuracy.
FDA approval could help stretch laboratory supplies, reduce costs and expand testing to millions more Americans. Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House’s coronavirus response coordinator, says pooling “would give us the capacity to go from a half-a-million tests per day to potentially 5 million individuals tested per day.”.
The U.S. is currently facing a shortage of ventilators. Here’s how they work and why they are so important in fighting COVID-19.
Companies add 2.4 million jobs as economy restarts amid uncertainty
U.S. companies added nearly 2.4 million jobs in June as the economy struggled to recover amid the unrelenting pandemic, according to a private survey. The payroll company ADP said that small businesses reported the biggest increase, adding 937,000 jobs. Still, the economy remains under pressure amid a new spike in cases across much of the South and West. On Thursday, the government will release the jobs figures for June, projected to show that employers added 3 million jobs and the unemployment rate fell to 12.3%. That would be down a point from May, although both rates are among the highest since the Great Depression.
‘Affordability crisis’: Pandemic puts squeeze on housing supply
Housing inventory has dropped 29% from a year earlier through the week ending June 20, according to Realtor.com. More than 40% of buyers who purchased their home during the pandemic reported entering into a bidding war on at least one home, according to recent data from Clever Real Estate, which surveyed 1,000 homeowners from May 31 through June 2 who made their purchase between January and May.
Javier Vivas, director of economic research for Realtor.com, said low mortgage rates have made buying a home attractive – if you can find one. “Housing demand has increased beyond expectations,” he said. “When you combine that with historically low levels of inventory, it’s a perfect storm for increased competition and an affordability crisis.”
– Jessica Menton
What we’re readingPPE shortage still an issue as cases rise
Physicians and nurses still face a dearth of supplies as coronavirus cases continue to rise nationwide. Nearly 45% of those surveyed by the American Nurses Association said they experienced protective gear shortages as late as May 31. Almost 80% said their employers encouraged or required them to reuse disposable equipment.
The USA TODAY Network analyzed dozens of government reports and interviewed more than 50 experts — including health care administrators, traders and lawmakers — about the PPE shortages, especially the disposable masks that cost anywhere from a few pennies to a dollar.
“The magnitude and speed of the spread of coronavirus just overwhelmed the entire supply chain from A to Z,” said Mike Crotty, an Ohio-born, Shanghai textile broker with more than 35 years in the business. “It was a madhouse.”
– Dinah Voyles Pulver, Katie Wedell and Erin Mansfield
R-0 may be the most important scientific term you’ve never heard of when it comes to stopping the coronavirus pandemic.
Mike Pence to visit Phoenix as Arizona grapples with COVID-19 surge
Vice President Mike Pence will travel to Phoenix on Wednesday, continuing his tour of the nation’s new coronavirus hotspots in an effort to calm growing concerns that leaders in Washington and Arizona have bungled their response to the crisis. Dr. Deborah Birx, a member of the White House’s coronavirus task force, is accompanying Pence on his visit to the 2020 battleground state. Amid the growing concerns over the spread of the virus in Arizona, Pence scrapped a planned visit to Yuma and a campaign event in Tucson. Pence and Birx are set to meet with Gov. Doug Ducey, public health officials and health care representatives.
The trip to Arizona follows their stop in Dallas on Sunday, where Pence, who chairs the task force, sounded an optimistic note about the battle to slow down the spread of the coronavirus. He sought to assure leaders there that they had the “counsel, the resources, and the support to meet this moment.”
– Yvonne Wingett Sanchez, Arizona Republic
Lockdown baby boom may be baby bust
Predictions of a possible baby boom as couples nationwide have had an abundance of alone-time together may go bust amid a spike in birth control requests. Digital health clinic Nurx says they’ve seen a 50% increase in new patient requests for birth control and a 40% increase in emergency contraception requests. The company serves over 250,000 patients. Worth noting: A study published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that pregnant women may be at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 compared with non-pregnant women.
“Whether to have a child for the first time or another child … that’s something people are feeling it isn’t the time to explore,” said Nurx spokesperson Allison Hoffman.
– Adrianna Rodriguez
Massachusetts reports zero COVID-19 deaths for the first time in months
Massachusetts reported zero COVID-19 deaths Tuesday for the first time in months, according to data in the state’s Department of Public Health’s daily release.
The data also shows a downward trajectory in all four of the state’s public health indicators: the seven-day positive test rate, the three-day average of hospitalized patients, the number of hospitals at surge capacity, and the three-day average of deaths. Gov. Charlie Baker said at a press conference Tuesday the state will exempt travelers from Rhode Island, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, New York, and New Jersey from the state’s two week self-quarantine advisory. “COVID-19 will not be taking a summer vacation,” Baker said, referencing the Fourth of July weekend. Massachusetts has reported at least 8,054 fatalities from the pandemic – the first death on March 20.
– Elinor Aspegren
California Gov. Gavin Newsom will ‘tighten’ coronavirus restrictions
California Gov. Gavin Newsom will announce new coronavirus restrictions Wednesday to “tighten things up” as cases surge in the state. He said the state will be “a little bit more aggressive as it relates to guidelines on Fourth of July.” California has nearly 223,000 infections with close to 6,000 deaths reported. However, officials are concerned about the hospitalization rates, which increased by 43% in the last two weeks.
“The framework for us is this: If you’re not gonna stay home and you’re not gonna wear masks in public, we have to enforce, and we will and we’ll be making announcements on enforcement tomorrow,” Newsom said at a news conference Tuesday.
Senate passes surprise extension of application deadline for PPP loans
The Senate passed a surprise extension for the Paycheck Protection Program to August 8 by unanimous consent Tuesday night, just hours before it was set to close down. The legislation would extend the deadline for when the PPP can accept applications for forgivable loans. The bill gives the Small Business Administration the authority to continue approving loans to businesses that apply.
However, the House of Representatives will need to pass the legislation, and send it to President Donald Trump for his signature to keep the money flowing. Both chambers of Congress are set to adjourn for recess by the week’s conclusion. The massive loan program has helped keep millions of small businesses afloat during the coronavirus pandemic and already has disbursed more than $500 billion to roughly 4.8 million businesses, most of them mom-and-pop outfits such as nail salons and retail stores.
– Savannah Behrmann
Arizona, Michigan gyms balk at closure orders; 1 owner files lawsuit
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey is in a showdown with many gyms that are refusing to follow his Monday executive order that they close until at least July 27 to help slow the spread of COVID-19 as hospitals near their capacity to care for everyone who gets sick.
The complaint, filed in Maricopa County Superior Court, calls Ducey’s closure “arbitrary and irrational” and seeks to keep the 18 Mountainside gyms in Maricopa County open for their 90,000 members. “It’s not about Mountainside,” CEO and Founder Tom Hatten said Tuesday. “It’s about business and our choices and our civil liberties and where our leadership is taking us at this point in time.”
In Michigan, gym owners are openly defying Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s executive order to close, even after police issued a few criminal citations.
“We’re open because I think it’s unconstitutional,” said Don Larson, owner of a Gold’s Gym on Hoover Road in Warren. “My members need a place to be to stay strong and healthy, and it keeps their immune systems high.”
– Ryan Randazzo, Arizona Republic; JC Reindl, Detroit Free Press
FDA: Coronavirus vaccine needs to be at least 50% effective to be approved
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
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
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