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Ochsner Health in New Orleans is one of two sites in Louisiana and among 120 across the globe participating in a COVID-19 vaccine study conducted by Pfzer Inc. and BioNTech SE. (July 31)

AP Domestic

President Donald Trump is considering executive action as congressional leaders and White House officials struggle to reach a deal on the next coronavirus relief package.

As more schools across the country welcome students back to class this week, some are already temporarily reclosing because of COVID-19 concerns. In Indiana, one school is shutting down two days after an employee tested positive for the virus. In another Indiana school, a student tested positive after the first day back to school.

The United Nations estimates more than one billion students worldwide have been affected by school closures. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the pandemic has created the largest disruption to education in history.

Here are some significant developments:

The Census Bureau will halt all counting efforts by Sept. 30, a month earlier than planned.The NFL and the NFL Players Association set Thursday as deadline for players planning to opt out of the 2020 season due to COVID-19.In a letter addressed to congressional leaders, more than 100 CEOs in the U.S. expressed the importance of small businesses and called on leaders to provide another round of Paycheck Protection Program relief aid to small businesses.

📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has recorded more than 155,000 deaths and about 4.7 million cases of COVID-19, according to Johns Hopkins University. Worldwide, there have been about 693,000 deaths and more than 18.2 million cases. 

📰 What we’re reading: UV light is being touted as one way to sanitize. These are the facts.

Our live blog is being updated throughout the day. Refresh for the latest news, and get updates in your inbox with The Daily Briefing. 

Census Bureau to end all counting operations a month earlier than planned

The Census Bureau plans to end all counting operations by Sept. 30, a month earlier than planned, the bureau’s director announced Monday. The bureau delayed its original date to complete the census from July 31 to Oct. 31 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The announcement comes after President Donald Trump signed a memorandum on July 21 asking the bureau to not count undocumented immigrants to decide how many members of Congress are apportioned to each state.

Hawaii may delay quarantine for travelers, again, amid spike in cases

Hawaii continued to experience a sharp surge in the number of COVID-19 cases on Monday, prompting Gov. David Ige to warn that the state may once again delay the start of a pre-travel testing program for travelers.

“If there are too many cases here and we haven’t stopped the increase, then we would be looking at delaying the September 1st date,” Ige said, referring to the current timeline for allowing out-of state visitors to bypass a 14-day traveler quarantine if they test negative.

Hawaii reported a record 207 additional cases of the disease on Monday. State officials said more than half were the result of delayed reporting over the weekend due to issues at Hawaii’s clinical laboratories. Even so, the number comes after multiple recent days of triple-digit increases.

Ex-WHO doctor Larry Brilliant predicts COVID-19 ‘doom and gloom’ for years

A California epidemiologist who was part of a World Health Organization team in the 1970s that helped eradicate smallpox predicts the world will be fighting the coronavirus for the next three to four years as virus hot spots skip from nation to nation and the pandemic’s toll will linger for decades. 

But it’s “not all doom and gloom” with effective vaccines likely to emerge from dozens of candidates worldwide and effective treatments, including convalescent plasma and monoclonal antibodies, to help people recover more quickly, Dr. Larry Brilliant said. 

“We will still be chasing the virus four years from now. But it won’t be like (today),” Brilliant told the USA TODAY Editorial Board on Monday afternoon. “It will be like the smallpox eradication program. The polio eradication program. Having yellow fever in some countries and not in others.”

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– Ken Alltucker

COVID-19 deaths, infections and hospitalizations decreasing in Florida

Florida’s encouraging coronavirus trends continued Monday, with the number of COVID-19 patients in the hospital dipping slightly, deaths well below last week’s records and the positive test rate remaining in the single digits.

Florida health officials reported just 4,752 new coronavirus infections on Monday, a dramatic decrease when compared with the daily average for new infections last week, which was 9,327. That brought the statewide total to 491,884 cases.

While the number of new infections may be artificially suppressed by the lack of testing, the 73 new COVID-19 deaths reported Monday also is a big drop from the record highs recorded last week, when there were multiple days when deaths topped 200.

Florida had 7,938 people in the hospital for COVID-19 Monday afternoon, down from 7,952 Sunday. There are nearly 1,000 fewer COVID-19 patients in the hospital right now compared to six days ago.

– Zac Anderson, Sarasota Herald-Tribune

Deadline for NFL players to opt out of season due to coronavirus is Thursday

NFL players must make their decisions on whether to opt out of the 2020 season because of concerns over the coronavirus by 4 p.m. ET on Thursday. The NFL owners and the NFL Players Association agreed to the terms Monday night, and the player body was notified of the arrangement shortly after, two people with knowledge of the situation told USA TODAY Sports. 

They spoke on condition of anonymity because the league and union had yet to announce the pact. The agreement letter was finalized Monday night. Originally, the NFLPA and owners had agreed to set the opt out deadline for seven days after the finalization of the modified Collective Bargaining Agreement. 

But with final details of the economic aspects of the deal still unresolved, and as more than 40 players have opted out already, NFL owners wanted to nail down the opt out deadline. Teams worried that players who were unlikely to make rosters would simply use the opt out clause to ensure themselves a stipend of $150,000 to $350,000 rather than making the move with the health and safety of themselves and their families in mind. 

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan overturns order to keep Donald Trump’s son’s school closed

As President Donald Trump continues to push for schools to open in the fall amid the coronavirus, a battle over school reopenings in Maryland affects when his youngest son can attend school in person.

Barron Trump’s private school, where he is scheduled to begin high school Sept. 8, is located in the Maryland county where nonpublic schools were mandated to remain closed to in-person instruction through at least Oct. 1 in an order issued Friday.

But on Monday, Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, blocked that order, allowing private schools to decide for themselves whether they will reopen, as long as they adhere to state and Centers for Disease Control Prevention guidelines about safe reopening.

“This is a decision for schools and parents, not politicians,” Hogan said in a statement on Friday expressing disagreement with the local order.

– Jeanine Santucci

Gov. Gavin Newsom: California is turning the tide against coronavirus

Gov. Gavin Newsom said California appears to be getting a grip on a resurgence of the coronavirus, though he warned the state is a long way from reopening some of the businesses it shuttered for a second time last month because of rising infections and hospitalizations.

The average weekly number of positive tests is down by a fifth, to 7,764 from its peak of nearly 9,900 a week ago. The seven-day rate of tests coming back positive statewide had peaked at nearly 8% late last month but has fallen to 6.1%, Newsom said Monday, though the rate remains much higher in some hard-hit counties.

“It’s not where it needs to be, it is still too high, but again it is good to see this number trending down, not trending up,” said Newsom, adding that hospitalizations have dropped over the last two weeks.

What we’re readingMore COVID-19 resources from USA TODAY

On Facebook: There’s still a lot unknown about the coronavirus. But what we do know, we’re sharing with you. Join our Facebook group, “Coronavirus Watch,” to receive daily updates in your feed and chat with others in the community about COVID-19.  

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Contributing: The Associated Press

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