The coronavirus (COVID-19) is impacting the global economy and raising fears of a recession. What causes a recession and what are the signs?
Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro said Tuesday that he has tested positive for COVID-19, and a U.S. senator says the U.S. has begun the process of dropping out of the World Health Organization.
But two U.S. pharmaceutical companies say they are closing in on drugs that could treat or even prevent COVID-19 within a few months.
A $450 million federal contract awarded Regeneron Pharmaceuticals could help get initial doses of their drug out by summer’s end, the company said. Another company, Novavax, claimed a $1.6 billion contract and said if testing goes well it hopes to deliver 100 million vaccine doses as early as late 2020.
The news comes as confirmed cases surge across most of the U.S.; Dr. Anthony Fauci said the country is “still knee-deep in the first wave of this.” Arizona is one hot spot: The state surpassed 100,000 cases Monday, and more than 62,000 of the 101,441 reported cases involve people younger than 44, state officials said.
President Donald Trump was undeterred, tweeting Tuesday that the U.S. has “the lowest Mortality Rate in the World. The Fake News should be reporting these most important of facts, but they don’t!”
Here are some recent developments:
Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro, 65, revealed Tuesday that he has tested positive for COVID-19 after developing a cough and other symptoms.Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., said Tuesday that the White House has formally notified Congress that the U.S. has officially started the process of withdrawing from the World Health Organization.Caesars Entertainment told its employees in an email Monday that they could be fired for not wearing a face mask.Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego said FEMA denied multiple requests for a mega-COVID-19 testing site as they’ve done in other cities.Florida state officials are ordering all school to reopen in August “at least five days per week for all students.”
📈 Today’s stats: The U.S. has seen almost 3 million confirmed cases and more than 130,000 deaths, according to John Hopkins University data. Globally, there have been 11.6 million cases and 540,000 deaths.
📰 What we’re reading: Hundreds of millions of dollars has gone to COVID-19 contractors accused of prior fraud. Those contracts range from masks and medical equipment to janitorial cleaning, video productions and even ferryboat services.
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Face masks required in 7 hard-hit counties in Ohio starting Wednesday
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced that the state will require masks in seven counties where the novel coronavirus is spreading most rapidly. The requirement will take effect at 6 p.m. Wednesday. “We are seeing a serious situation,” DeWine said. “We have to take action.”
That includes Hamilton and Butler counties, which were two of seven “red” counties on a new color-coded map to show where COVID-19 is infecting an increasing number of residents. The order will remain in effect as long as these counties are considered red level or if they increase to the purple alert. If the counties drop to a level 2, or orange level, the requirement will drop off.
DeWine proposed a statewide mask mandate in April but reversed course the next day, saying some Ohioans found the requirement “offensive.” Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones said he’s against any mask mandate and he won’t do anything to help enforce it. “I’m not going to be the mask police,” Bulter said. “I’ve got a lot of important things to do, and being the mask police is not one of them.”
– Jackie Borchardt, Jessie Balmert and Hannah K. Sparling, Cincinnati Enquirer
Levi’s cuts 15% of its corporate workforce after sales drop
Levi Strauss & Co. is cutting about 15% of its corporate workforce worldwide because of a sharp decrease in sales due to the coronavirus pandemic, the company announced Tuesday. The cut of 700 office jobs, which won’t affect employees at stores or factories, will save the San Francisco-based jeans maker about $100 million a year.
“We started the year with strong momentum, but the global pandemic and economic crises had a significantly negative impact on our second quarter results, as our stores and most wholesale doors were closed around the world for the majority of the quarter,” said Chip Bergh, president and CEO of Levi Strauss & Co, in a news release.
The company, also known as Levi’s, said its revenues declined 62% to $497.5 million because of the temporary store closures, which included many of the department stores that sell its jeans were also shut. It reported a loss of $363.5 million, after reporting a profit a year ago.
– Kelly Tyko
Texas passes 10,000 confirmed new coronavirus cases in single day for first time
On Tuesday, Texas set record highs for new confirmed coronavirus cases (10,028), hospitalizations (9,286) and deaths (60), the Texas Health and Human Services Commission said. The hospitalizations have now reached record highs in nine consecutive days.
The daily confirmed new case mark surpassed July 4’s previous high of of 8,260. Just one day ago, Texas had officially surpassed 200,000 COVID-19 cases, which was only 17 days after it passed the 100,000 threshold.
Also, Texas surpassed 200,000 total COVID-19 cases, just 17 days after crossing the 100,000 threshold, a figure that took the state nearly four months to hit. The milestone came just days after Florida reached 200,000 cases.
At least 8 Mississippi lawmakers test positive for COVID-19
At least eight Mississippi lawmakers have tested positive for the coronavirus after working for weeks in a Capitol where many people stood or sat close together and did not wear masks.
Among those who have publicly acknowledged having COVID-19 are Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann, who presides over the Senate, and House Speaker Philip Gunn.
The state health officer, Dr. Thomas Dobbs, said Tuesday there are also at least 11 other suspected cases of the virus among legislators and Capitol employees. In addition, Dobbs said the highly contagious virus is spreading at parties and other social gatherings around the state.
14 Hawaiian Airlines flight attendants test positive for COVID-19
Fourteen flight attendants tested positive for COVID-19 after attending a recent training at Hawaiian Airlines’ Honolulu headquarters and are now in quarantine, according to the airline, which has canceled its flight attendant training due to the circumstances.
“We are supporting our team members in their recovery, and other employees involved in the training have been self-monitoring their health, in accordance with CDC and state Department of Health guidance provided to us,” Alex Da Silva, a Hawaiian Airlines spokesperson, told USA TODAY. “We have also reinforced our office protocols to keep our employees safe and have temporarily canceled our flight attendant training in order to deep clean our facilities.”
Guests are required to wear face masks on Hawaiian Airlines flights, and flight attendants wear them while serving guests on board, according to the airline’s website. Mask requirements are now a given when flying in North America.
– David Oliver
Trump administration sets withdrawal date from WHO
The Trump administration has officially begun to withdraw the United States from the World Health Organization, even as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to grip the globe and infections spike in many states across the U.S.
Congress received formal notification of the decision on Tuesday, more than a month after President Donald Trump announced his intention to end the U.S. relationship with the WHO and blasted the multilateral institution as a tool of China. The White House said the withdrawal would take effect on July 6, 2021.
Democrats said the decision was irresponsible and ill-considered, noting it comes as the pandemic is raging and international cooperation is vital to confront the crisis.
“This won’t protect American lives or interests – it leaves Americans sick & America alone,” Sen. Bob Menendez, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, tweeted after receiving the White House’s notification. “To call Trump’s response to COVID chaotic & incoherent doesn’t do it justice.”
– Deirdre Shesgreen and Courtney Subramanian
Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro tests positive for coronavirus
Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro, who has repeatedly downplayed the pandemic while numbers in his nation have soared, said Tuesday that he has tested positive for COVID-19. Bolsonaro, 65, was tested Monday after developing a cough and other symptoms. He confirmed the test results Tuesday while wearing a mask and speaking to reporters in capital Brasilia.
“I’m well, normal. I even want to take a walk around here, but I can’t due to medical recommendations,” he said. Bolsonaro has repeatedly urged his citizens to return to work in an effort to avoid an economic crash. But Brazil has become a hot spot: more than 1.6 million confirmed cases and more than 65,000 deaths. Bolsonaro celebrated the Fourth of July with U.S. Ambassador Todd Chapman, and photos from the event showed the men and their aides without masks. The U.S. Embassy said on Twitter Chapman is not showing any COVID-19 symptoms but would be tested.
State Fair of Texas falls victim to COVID-19
The State Fair of Texas, at 24 days the nation’s longest running and also among the largest, was canceled Tuesday, another victim of the pandemic that has emptied restaurants, silenced concert halls and quieted sports arenas since March.
The fair usually draws more than 2.5 million people to Fair Park, and estimates on its economic impact on Dallas exceed $400 million. Texas, however, has been hit hard by the virus, with more than 200,000 confirmed cases and more than 2,700 deaths statewide. This year’s fair as scheduled to open Sept. 25.
“It is with a heavy heart that we must announce the State Fair of Texas will not open for the 2020 season,” organizers said in a statement. “We can’t wait to welcome you back in 2021, in Texas-style of course, with the biggest and the best, ‘Howdy, Folks!’”
One event that takes place in the middle of the fairgrounds during the event – the annual Oklahoma-Texas football game – won’t be impacted by the cancellation, both schools said.
Younger people driving boom in COVID-19 cases
People under 40 now make up the majority of COVID-19 cases, according to a USA TODAY analysis of data from 17 states. We found that the average age of a new person reported to have coronavirus has fallen significantly since March. Though the nation is now seeing more infections among young people, the elderly suffer more severe outcomes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 8 out of 10 COVID-19-related deaths reported in the U.S. have been among adults aged 65 and older. Young people may be spreading the virus to more vulnerable Americans.
– Karina Zaiets and Ramon Padilla
Retailers to governors: Make masks mandatory in public everywhere
The Retail Industry Leaders Association, which represents Target, Lowe’s, Walgreens and other major chains, has asked the nation’s governors to require all Americans to wear masks in public. The group, in a letter to the National Governors Association, said that fewer than half of U.S. states require face mask wearing in public. Inconsistent rules among states, and in some cases within states, have confused shoppers and prompted conflicts between customers and workers enforcing rules, the letter says.
“Retailers are alarmed with the instances of hostility and violence front-line employees are experiencing by a vocal minority of customers,” said RILA President Brian Dodge.
EPA loves its Lysol, says it’s effective against coronavirus
It turns out that spewing Lysol Disinfectant Spray all around your house might actually be a good idea, if you can find the stuff. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has formally approved Lysol Disinfectant Spray and Lysol Disinfectant Max Cover Mist as effective against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
“EPA is committed to identifying new tools and providing accurate and up-to-date information to help the American public protect themselves and their families,” EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said.
Lysol may not be new, but it has been flying off shelves since the pandemic became a thing. But even Lysol maker Reckitt Benckiser realizes there are limits: After President Trump in April famously suggested injecting disinfectant, the company issued a press release emphasizing that “under no circumstance should our disinfectant products be administered into the human body.”
Maryland, New York companies close in on COVID-19 vaccines, drugs
Add Maryland’s Novavax to the list of biotechs winning payouts from the federal government’s Operation Warp Speed to pursue COVID-19 vaccines and medications. Novavax has claimed $1.6 billion to pursue its candidate, NVX CoV2373. The program aims to speed development of a COVID-19 vaccine by paying to manufacture several possible vaccines.
This will likely result in millions of doses of failed vaccines having to be thrown in the trash, Dr. Anthony Fauci says. But it will also mean that if one or more vaccines proves safe and effective, the public will have quick access to it. Novavax said if testing goes well, it hopes to deliver 100 million doses as early as late 2020.
New York state-based Regeneron Pharmaceuticals said Tuesday that it has won a $450 million federal contract to manufacture and supply REGN-COV2, the company’s antibody cocktail that could begin rolling out “as early as end of summer.”
– Karen Weintraub
Study: Most infections may be spread by people without symptoms
A majority of COVID-19 infections may be spread through “silent transmission” by people who have no symptoms or have not yet displayed them, a new study suggests. That could be crucial as states reopen their economies and schools, leaving isolation of infected individuals as the primary protocol curtailing transmission.
In the absence of population-wide restrictions, isolation of infected individuals is key to curtailing transmission. That won’t work if most of the infections are being spread by people we don’t even know are infected.
“We found that the majority of incidences may be attributable to silent transmission from a combination of the presymptomatic stage and asymptomatic infections,” the study, published in the “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.” “Consequently, even if all symptomatic cases are isolated, a vast outbreak may nonetheless unfold.”
Miami-Dade shuts restaurants, gyms, some rentals; hospitalizations spike
Miami-Dade County Mayor Mayor Carlos Gimenez has signed an emergency order closing restaurants (except for takeout and delivery services), ballrooms, banquet facilities, party venues, gyms and fitness centers, and short-term rentals. Gimenez, citing a spike in the percent of positive COVID-19 tests and hospitalizations, said the closure are effective Wednesday.
“We want to ensure that our hospitals continue to have the staffing necessary to save lives,” the mayor said. Beaches, office buildings, retail stores and grooming services will remain open “for now,” the mayor said.
Fraud claims no barrier for companies seeking federal COVID contracts
Federal purchasers have rushed out more than $16 billion in coronavirus contracts ranging from masks and medical equipment to janitorial cleaning, video productions and even ferryboat services. A USA TODAY investigation of 15 of the largest and hardest-hit states found hundreds of millions of dollars in non-competitive awards went to vendors that have been accused of defrauding taxpayers. Nothing in federal law prohibits it as long as they are still considered “responsible” and aren’t suspended or debarred from doing business with the government.
But under President Donald Trump, where federal contracting officials have seen their workload increase nearly fivefold, taxpayers are “particularly vulnerable because this administration has diluted the oversight functions,” Steven Schooner, who served as a career official in the Clinton administration procurement policy office, told USA TODAY.
– Josh Salman and Nick Penzenstadler
California State Capitol shuts down after outbreak
A coronavirus outbreak in the California Legislature has indefinitely delayed the state Assembly’s return to work from a scheduled summer recess. Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon’s office confirmed five people who work in the Assembly have tested positive for the coronavirus. They include Assemblywoman Autumn Burke, who is believed to have contracted the virus while on the Assembly floor last month.
Rendon said Monday that the Assembly will stay in recess until further notice. He said the decision is to protect lawmakers, staff and the public. The Legislature shut down for nearly two months earlier this year during the pandemic.
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
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