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Coronavirus USA and HEALS Act live updates: news, cases, deaths and stimulus checks, today

Coronavirus live US: latest news - 27/28 July

This live coverage of the Covid-19 pandemic is now closed. 

For the latest news relating to the coronavirus crisis in the United States, please follow the new live feed here.

California Latinos contracting COVID-19 at three times rate of whites

Latinos in California are becoming ill and dying from COVID-19 at far greater rates than other groups, the state's top health official warned on Tuesday, prompting new outreach and data collection efforts as cases surge.

Latinos make up 39% of the population in the most populous U.S. state, but account for 56% of COVID-19 infections and 46% of deaths, the California Health and Human Services secretary, Dr. Mark Ghaly, said in a conference call with reporters.

Of particular concern is the heavily Latino Central Valley agricultural region, where cases continue to soar and hospitals are becoming overwhelmed even as the rate of new infections may be slowing in the state overall, Ghaly said.

Fauci sees signs of hope in some U.S. states hard hit by outbreak

A coronavirus surge in Florida, California and a handful of other hard-hit states could be peaking while other parts of the country may be on the cusp of growing outbreaks, the top U.S. infectious diseases official said on Tuesday.

A spike in cases in Florida, along with Texas, Arizona and California this month has overwhelmed hospitals, forced a U-turn on steps to reopen economies and stoked fears that U.S. efforts to control the outbreak are sputtering.

"They may be cresting and coming back down," Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told ABC's "Good Morning America" program regarding the state of the outbreak in several Sunbelt states.

Fauci said there was a "very early indication" that the percentage of coronavirus tests that were positive was starting to rise in other states, such as Ohio, Indiana, Tennessee and Kentucky.

MLB postpones Marlins games through Sunday due to COVID-19 outbreak

Major League Baseball on Tuesday postponed all Miami Marlins games through Sunday due to a COVID-19 outbreak within the team, it said in a statement.

Seventeen members of the organization have tested positive over the last five days, according to multiple reports. The league had already postponed on Monday two of the team's games due to the initial rash of positive test results.

"Given the current circumstances, MLB believes that it is most prudent to allow the Marlins time to focus on providing care for their players and planning their Baseball Operations for a resumption early next week," the league said in a statement

CDC record over 50,000 new daily cases

A further 54,448 Covid-19 cases have been recorded in the US, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), taking the total to 4,280,135.

It said the number of deaths had risen by 1,126 to 147,672. The CDC reported its tally as of 4 pm ET on 27 July 27 versus its previous report a day earlier.

Second stimulus check: why the Democrats may reject the HEALS Act?

U.S. Republicans and Democrats face difficult talks on how best to recover from the coronavirus pandemic, after Republicans unveiled a new relief proposal.

Georgia's Governor withdraws emergency request to stop Atlanta's mask mandate for COVID-19

Georgia Governor Brian Kemp withdrew his emergency request Tuesday to stop enforcement of Atlanta's mask mandate for COVID-19, while mediation in the lawsuit continues.

Fulton County Superior Court Judge canceled the afternoon hearing shortly before noon in a one-sentence ruling. Mediation on the subject was scheduled for earlier in the day, but no public comment on progress has been made from either side.

Kemp sued Atlanta's Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and the city July 16 to stop enforcement of a local mandate requiring that masks be worn in public spaces to help slow the spread of the coronavirus. The governor argued that the city lacks the authority to override his mask order which states that wearing them is encouraged, but not mandatory.

HEALS Act: Who would qualify and be eligible for second stimulus money?

Millions of Americans will be getting a second stimulus check amid the coronavirus pandemic and unemployment benefits will continue but for less than $600.

McConnell

Republicans, Democrats face tough talks on coronavirus relief as deadline looms

U.S. Republicans and Democrats faced difficult talks on Tuesday on how best to recover from the coronavirus pandemic, after Republicans unveiled a relief proposal four days before millions of Americans lose unemployment benefits.

Senate Republicans announced on Monday a $1 trillion coronavirus aid package hammered out with the White House, which Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell touted as a 'tailored and targeted' plan to reopen schools and businesses, while protecting companies from lawsuits.

But the proposal sparked immediate opposition from both Democrats and Republicans. Democrats decried it as too limited compared with their $3 trillion proposal that passed the House of Representatives in May. Some Republicans called it too expensive.

The plan would give many Americans direct payments of $1,200 each, provide billions in loans to small businesses and help schools reopen. But it would slash the current expanded unemployment benefit from the $600 per week in addition to state unemployment, which expires on Friday, to $200.

The supplemental benefit has been a financial lifeline for laid-off workers and a key support for consumer spending. Democrats quickly denounced the cuts as draconian when millions of Americans cannot return to shuttered workplaces. Many Republicans insist the high unemployment payout encourages Americans to stay home rather than go back to work. Democrats said the $200 suggestion is insufficient and would damage the economy, but were ready to negotiate.

Mitch McConnell acknowledged that the Republican 'HEALS Act' was just a starting point that would need bipartisan support, telling a news conference: 'We can't pass a bill in the Senate without Democrats.'

"Vaccines don't save lives, vaccinations save lives"

Dr. Ashish Jha told Today, "We often say that Vaccines don't save lives, vaccinations save lives. It's when the vaccine goes into the arm, that's when the live-saving benefits begin. We have to have an entire plan for our nation, we have to make sure there are no financial barriers for individuals. We want to make sure that the most vulnerable people are treated first. There is a lot of work to do and I am hopeful that we can come up with a plan but I am a little worried as we have had problems with supply chain and distribution with testing and I hope that doesn't happen with the vaccine".

Facebook deletes coronavirus fake news video, Trump shares it on Twitter

On Monday evening, Facebook scrubbed from its site a viral video showing a group of doctors making misleading and false claims about the coronavirus pandemic after more than 14 million people had watched it. Hours later, President Donald Trump tweeted out multiple clips of the same video to his 84.2 million followers.

Trump shared the video, which claims that face masks and lockdowns are not needed to stop the disease, as he shared 14 tweets over a half-hour span defending the use of hydroxychloroquine, an antimalarial drug that the president has repeatedly promoted, and attacking Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious-diseases expert.

Twitter soon followed Facebook and YouTube in removing the videos, deleting several of the tweets that Trump shared, and even adding a note to its trending topics warning about the potential risks of hydroxychloroquine use.

“Tweets with the video are in violation of our Covid-19 misinformation policy,” Liz Kelley, a spokeswoman for Twitter, told The Washington Post.

covid

WHO says Covid-19 pandemic is "one big wave", not seasonal

The World Health Organization has warned against complacency about new coronavirus transmission in the northern hemisphere summer, saying that this virus did not behave like influenza that tended to follow seasonal trends.

"People are still thinking about seasons. What we all need to get our heads around is this is a new virus and...this one is behaving differently," Margaret Harris told a virtual briefing in Geneva, urging vigilance in applying measures to slow transmission that is spreading via mass gatherings. She also warned against thinking in terms of virus waves, saying: "It's going to be one big wave. It's going to go up and down a bit. The best thing is to flatten it and turn it into just something lapping at your feet."

Kentucky becomes the latest state to close down bars

Democratic Governor Andy Beshear announced the statewide closure of bars in Kentucky on Monday, making Kentucky the sixth state in the U.S. to take that action to curb the spread of coronavirus.  Beshear made the decision to shut Kentucky's bars for a two-week period after a recommendation from White House adviser Dr. Deborah Birx.

California, Louisiana, Idaho, New Mexico and Pennsylvania have also placed restrictions on bar service because of the spike in coronavirus cases.

Concert to be investigated after social-distancing rules flouted

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Monday that health authorities would investigate a charity concert, which included performances by Goldman Sachs Group boss David Solomon and the Chainsmokers, over social distancing violations.

The drive-in event, called 'Safe & Sound', had space for about 600 cars and was held in Southampton, New York on Saturday. It was the first in a series of such concerts planned for the United States, according to its organizer's.

The organizers said in a statement that they collaborated with all state and local health officials and the concert followed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) guidelines. 

Google to keep most of its employees at home until July 2021

Google has decided that most of its 200,000 employees and contractors should work from home through next June, a sobering assessment of the pandemic’s potential staying power from the company providing the answers for the world’s most trusted internet search engine.

The remote-work order issued Monday by Google CEO Sundar Pichai also affects other companies owned by Google’s corporate parent, Alphabet Inc. It marks a six-month extension of Google’s previous plan to keep most of its offices closed through the rest of this year.

Notre Dame withdraws as U.S. presidential debate host, cites pandemic

The University of Notre Dame said on Monday it has pulled out as host of the first 2020 U.S. presidential debate on Sept. 29 due to concerns over the coronavirus pandemic, so the event’s location will be shifted to Cleveland.

The first debate between President Donald Trump and his Democratic challenger, former Vice President Joe Biden, will now be co-hosted by Case Western Reserve University and the Cleveland Clinic, the Commission on Presidential Debates said.

MLB games postponed

More on that story from the MLB:

Car fatalities...

Great point from Angus Johnston. The other side of this is that many of us as individuals don't truly "accept" 40,000 deaths a year in car accidents. Despite rationally knowing a lot people die in cars, we feel pretty safe when we ride in them. As a professor of public safety said, if people truly understood the risks of getting in a car many of wouldn't do it. The same may be true for many people of the coronavirus, they don't think they'll catch it, and they don't think it will be that bad if they do.

America’s Looming Primary-Care Crisis

A worrying read from the New Yorker

"Even before the pandemic, primary care was in crisis. Primary-care doctors were already among the most poorly compensated physicians in the country; for medical students burdened with debt, those smaller salaries lessened the specialty’s allure. Experts have long warned of a shortage of doctors providing foundational forms of outpatient care, especially in rural areas. Last year, the Kaiser Family Foundation estimated that more than fourteen thousand primary-care physicians were needed to eliminate existing shortages."

And then came Covid-19...

Fauci says we have to "get it suppressed"

More action is urgently required.

Pfizer and Biontech choose best vaccine candidate, move to global study

CEO of Biontech said in a statement: "Today, we are starting our late-stage global study, which will include up to 30,000 participants. We selected BNT162b2 as our lead candidate for this Phase 2/3 trial upon diligent evaluation of the totality of the data generated so far. This decision reflects our primary goal to bring a well-tolerated, highly effective vaccine to the market as quickly as possible, while we will continue to evaluate our other vaccine candidates as part of a differentiated COVID-19 vaccine portfolio."

The catchily-named vaccine candidate BNT162b2 produced a favourable immune response in the early trials. (And yes, there is BNT162b1, but it was less well tolerated and also produced a lower immune response)

The 30,000 volunteers will be from 18 to 85 years of age, and the trial will be run at 120 sites around the world, 39 in the US and sites in Germany, Argentina and Brazil. 

The goal if it's all successful and according to the companies behind the vaccine candidate: early regulatory approval by October 2020 and supply up to 100 million doses by the end of 2020 and 1.3 billion doses by the end of 2021.

marlins

Marlins will not play their two games in Miami

The Miami Marlins were scheduled to play games on Monday and Tuesday in Miami, but will not do so after a number of players and coaches tested positive for Covid-19. 

The team are undergoing further testing and may play on Wednesday against the Orioles.

Dr Joseph Costa, chief of critical care at Baltimore's Mercy Medical Center, dies of Covid-19

An absolute tragedy. He was only 56 and had been treating the sickest Covid-19 patients.

As the hospital statement said: "He dedicated his life and career to caring for the sickest patients. And when the global pandemic came down upon us, Joe selflessly continued his work on the front lines -- deeply committed to serving our patients and our City during this time of great need. His memory will live on as an example to us all."

Senate live: new stimulus legislation being proposed

Follow the proposals being brought in the Senate live.

The Republicans are outlining their HEALS legislation. $1,200 stimulus checks are included. 

HEALS stands for Health, Economic Assistance, Liability Protection and Schools Act.

Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine candidate moves into late-stage trial

Moderna Inc said on Monday it has started a U.S. government-backed late-stage trial to assess its COVID-19 vaccine candidate in about 30,000 adults who do not have the respiratory illness caused by the new coronavirus.

Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Moderna's shares were up 11% at $81.31 before the bell.

The trial, named COVE, is the first to be implemented under the U.S. government's Operation Warp Speed that aims to accelerate the development, manufacturing and distribution of therapeutics and vaccines for COVID-19.

Trump builds up Moderna vaccine

The Republican president spoke during a visit to a Fujifilm plant in Morrisville, North Carolina, where work on a vaccine is being carried out. “I heard very positive things, but by the end of the year, we think we’re in very good shape to be doing that,” Trump said of a potential vaccine.

He expressed confidence in the economic recovery and said: “A lot of governors should be opening up states that they’re not opening.”

Infection rates have climbed since June in the United States, which is world leader in total numbers of deaths and cases.

Wall St

Wall Street rises as investors watch stimulus, pandemic and earnings

Wall Street's main indexes closed higher on Monday as investors bet on some of the market's most high-profile stocks ahead of earnings reports while they weighed progress in U.S. government stimulus efforts against rising U.S. COVID-19 cases.

Apple Inc, Amazon.com Inc, Facebook Inc and Alphabet Inc, all due to report earnings this week, were among the top boosters of the S&P 500. The technology-heavy Nasdaq posted a 1.7% gain, outperforming the S&P and the Dow.

Second Stimulus Checks: Republicans launch HEALS Act in the Senate

In a bid to provide further stimulus to the hard-hit American economy, Republicans propose new stimulus legislation in the Senate: the HEALS Act.

NHL reveals no new positive COVID-19 tests

The NHL announced there were no positive tests returned for coronavirus in its latest round of testing.

Hockey is planning to return on August 1 with the expanded 24-team Stanley Cup playoffs amid the COVID-19 pandemic. All 24 teams are now in the 'bubble' city hubs of Edmonton and Toronto, where players and staff will be tested on a daily basis.

And there was positive news from the league on Monday as the results of tests between July 18 and 25 were revealed. There were no positive tests among the 4,256 administered to more than 800 players, the NHL said.

This came after the previous week's testing saw two cases of coronavirus.

All the information you need to understand the coronavirus and ways to stay safe during the Covid-19 pandemic

In this guide you’ll find a summary of many of the recommendations and explanations provided by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and other public health authorities, along with answers to many of the most frequently asked questions about the coronavirus.

 

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