Coronavirus USA: news summary for Tuesday 4 August

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Coronavirus live US: latest Covid-19 news - Tuesday 4 August

USA coronavirus latest: 13:30 PT / 16:30 ET on Tuesday 4 August (22:30 CEST)

According to the latest figures published by Johns Hopkins University18,373,514 cases have been detected worldwide, with 696,008 deaths and 10,967,801 people recovered.

In the US, there have been 4,749,908 confirmed cases and 156,275 deaths, with 1,513,446 people recovered from the virus.

Scroll through some of the recent coronavirus-related articles:


Democrats seek coronavirus aid deal by end of this week - Mnuchin

White House and Democratic leaders in the U.S. Congress are aiming to reach a deal on a new coronavirus aid package by the end of this week, having made progress on key components of a bill, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Tuesday.

Speaking to reporters following a negotiating session with House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, Mnuchin said headway was made on extending unemployment benefits and preventing housing evictions during the pandemic.

Trump says coronavirus under control as U.S. death toll rises

(Reuters) President Donald Trump said the coronavirus outbreak is as under control as it can get in the United States, where more than 155,000 people have died amid a patchy response to the public health crisis that has failed to stem a rise in cases.

The Republican president continued to press for U.S. schools to reopen in an overnight Twitter post, and defended his administration's response to the virus in an interview with Axios news website released late on Monday. "They are dying, that's true," he said. "It is what it is. But that doesn't mean we aren't doing everything we can. It's under control as much as you can control it. This is a horrible plague.”

Stephen Hahn, the Food and Drug Administration's commissioner, said on Tuesday the outbreak was still not under control and urged Americans to take it seriously. "This virus is still with us, and it is around the country and we're seeing these cases come not just in the United States but around the world," Hahn told ABC. 


Gold soars past $2,000, as new stimulus plan nears

Gold surged past the $2,000 mark on Tuesday after Democrats and the White House appeared closer to agreement on a new stimulus package to help the coronavirus-hit economy while stocks on Wall Street ended higher as investors awaited more aid from Washington.

Oil prices also rose but Treasury yields fell to their lowest since March on safe-haven demand and concerns about the ultimate cost of aid.

The U.S. Senate's top Democrat said a new round of coronavirus relief was moving in the right direction, though the two sides remain far apart.  The bond market, which is at loggerheads with equity markets over stimulus and its role in the economy, is skeptical about the rebound in economic growth. "There is a concern about how much the stimulus package will help the economy, and its cost over time," said Kevin Giddis, chief fixed income strategist at Raymond James


Democrats making a mockery of Coronavirus relief package talks

Democrats have rejected four offers from the White House in negotiations over another round of economic aid meant to blunt the effects of the coronavirus pandemic and are making a mockery of the talks, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said on Tuesday. "It is Democrats ... that are making an absolute mockery of this process," McEnany said at a briefing. "We're still engaging with them, but this president has been clear: He is ready to act on this."

New York State update

New York City had no deaths for the third day in a row. 

Trump looking at taking action 

The White House is apparently looking at taking unilateral action on benefits if Congress cannot come to an agreement on the latest economic relief package.

Moves for another lockdown?

If there's no other way to get the virus under control... Trump clearly is very far from contemplating it as he's still hoping the economy might save his election chances, but at some point you would think his calculation would have to swing to thinking that protecting lives might win him more votes.

Florida: 45 hospitals have zero ICU beds available

According to data from the Agency for Health Care Administration 45 hospitals in Florida have reached their ICU capacity and have no ICU beds available. 

Seven are in Miami-Dade County and five in Broward County.

Florida has had 7,157 deaths, with 492k confirmed cases. The state does not report recovered numbers. 

The number of new cases did fall on Monday, with 4,752 new cases - the lowest number of daily infections confirmed since mid-June and half the average number of new cases reported last week. 

What is your AGI and how to find it

The first round of stimulus checks were calculated based on thresholds that made reference to your Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) and it's almost certain the second round will do exactly the same. Here's how to find your AGI from your tax return, or what to do if you can't find a copy of it.

Back to school, straight to quarantine

Of course this is going to happen, the question is at what level it becomes untenable. Other developed countries have managed to open up schools again because the rates of infection in the community are much lower after more aggressive, longer lockdowns. If the virus is widespread in the community, then going back to school will almost certainly lead to major flare ups.

US reported 45,585 new confirmed Covid-19 cases on Monday

The total of confirmed cases now stands at 4,717,716 according to figures compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

Deaths rose by 542 on Monday, and now stand at 155,402.

Trump clashes over coronavirus situation

This is a truly remarkable piece of footage from Jonathan Swan's very good interview with the President. As many on Twitter have pointed out, if you didn't know it was real you might think it was a comedy sketch. Trump appears not to have any grasp of the figures, or what the graphs he's been given show, but is clinging to two messages: one, that the US has done a lot of testing and two, that the death rate per confirmed cases is low. He appears completely unable or unwilling to grasp Swan's point that the death rate per population in the US is very high. 

As to the fact that 1,000 Americans are dying a day, Trump's response is a cold: "That's true, it is what it is."

TikTok, tick tock... China-US tensions continue to grow

Microsoft said on Sunday that CEO Satya Nadella had spoken to President Donald Trump and "is prepared to continue discussions to explore a purchase of TikTok in the United States"

But why is Microsoft taking this step? And what does Trump want from the deal?


The perfect Covid-19 sport

Ah yes, very good. 

Second stimulus check: timescales for payment

This time around, the infrastructure is already there, it is familiar to most, and has a lot more information than before. A smoother process is guaranteed.

Governor says California getting a grip on virus

Gov. Newsom credited the new restrictions that have locked down most indoor commercial activities in 38 of California’s 58 counties, as well as enforcement actions and increased compliance with his endlessly repeated cautions to maintain social distancing, wear face coverings and use proper hygiene.

The improvements are “encouraging signs, but one week does not make the kind of trend that gives us confidence to try to generate headlines,” Newsom said.

Oil prices fall as coronavirus cases rise and hit demand

“On the demand side, we had quite encouraging global manufacturing (data) ... but there’s still quite a bit of evidence of the oil demand recovery stalling in quite a few markets with a resurgence of Covid-19,” said Lachlan Shaw, head of commodity research at National Australia Bank (NAB). 

Denting fuel demand, cities from Manila to Melbourne are tightening lockdowns to battle new infections, while Norway has stopped cruise ship traffic in the latest European travel alarm. 

In a further sign of a patchy rebound in demand, analysts estimate US refined product stockpiles rose last week, according to a preliminary Reuters poll ahead of data due from the American Petroleum Institute industry group later on Tuesday and the US government on Wednesday.

Two teens in Florida die of coronavirus complications

In a telephone interview with CNN's Randi Kaye on Monday, Florida Education Association President Frederick Ingram says news that two additional teenagers died due to Covid-19 complications is "tragic" and "part of what we are going to have to deal with as well when you talk about student and children's mental health."

"Their classmates are getting deathly sick. Grieving for a child can be traumatizing, especially in a school setting. This is devastating for a child trying to make his or her way through grade school," Ingram said.

Coronavirus in the US: latest map and case count

Case numbers are surging throughout most of the United States, including in many states that were among the first to reopen. Because the number of people hospitalized and the percentage of people testing positive is also rising in many of those places, the case spike cannot be solely explained by increased testing.

Still, coronavirus deaths remain well below their peak levels. And as some places reimpose restrictions, others continue to reopen their economies.

POTUS and the Covid-19 numbers

This interview comes across like a satirical comedy clip but it is far from it. It is a tragedy.

Jonathan Swan attempts to point out some simple facts to discuss America's position in handling the coronavirus crisis, but instead of some constructive responses from President Donald Trump, he is handed a series of graphs with some garbled, and some unfounded defence of the US record.

Where other world leaders are saying 'we have a problem and we're dealing with it' Trump's approach is generally, 'Look over there!'

World facing 'generational catastrophe' on education - UN chief

Reuters reporting that the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has warned today that the world is facing a "generational catastrophe" because of school closures amid the coronavirus pandemic. He said that getting students safely back to the classroom must be "a top priority."

Guterres said that as of mid-July schools were closed in some 160 countries, affecting more than 1 billion students, while at least 40 million children have missed out on pre-school.

"Now we face a generational catastrophe that could waste untold human potential, undermine decades of progress, and exacerbate entrenched inequalities," said Guterres as he launched a UN "Save our Future" campaign.

"Once local transmission of COVID-19 is under control, getting students back into schools and learning institutions as safely as possible must be a top priority," he said. "Consultation with parents, carers, teachers and young people is fundamental."


Trump sends campaign email asking supporters to wear a mask

"We are all in this together, and while I know there has been some confusion surrounding the usage of face masks, I think it's something we should all try to do when we are not able to be socially distanced from others," reads the campaign email, signed by President Trump. 

CNN reported that a "source familiar with the president's thinking" told the media outlet that the move to encouraging mask wearing was motivated by Trump's poor poll numbers, with the presidential elections in November and the pandemic raging out of control across the US. 

Trump had avoided wearing masks until he tweeted a photo of himself (above) wearing one in July. He had also previously mocked his presidential election rival Joe Biden, for wearing one. 

The advice from health professionals is that wearing a mask can greatly reduce the possibility of spreading Covid-19.

Trump tweet

Trump attacks Dr Birx in tweet

President Donald Trump has attacked the coordinator of the White House coronavirus task force, Dr Deborah Birx, in a tweet.

"So Crazy Nancy Pelosi said horrible things about Dr. Deborah Birx, going after her because she was too positive on the very good job we are doing on combatting the China Virus, including Vaccines & Therapeutics. In order to counter Nancy, Deborah took the bait & hit us. Pathetic!", the President wrote.

Asked later in a press briefing what he meant by the tweet, Trump would only say: "Well, I think that we're doing very well and we have done as well as any nation. I told Dr. Birx I think we're doing very well. She was in my office a little while ago. She's a person I have a lot of respect for. I think Nancy Pelosi's treated her very badly.. And I'm just referring to the fact that I thought that, really, they should say the job we've done ... I think we're just doing very well."

While Trump claims the US is doing well, the facts on the ground, with nearly five million confirmed cases and over 155,000 deaths, indicate otherwise. 

Dr Birx said on Sunday, in an interview with CNN, that the coronavirus was "extraordinarily widespread" now affecting both rural and urban areas and that the situation was different to March and April. 

Asked about comments from Federal Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb that there could be 300,000 coronavirus deaths by the end of the year, Dr Birx said: "Anything is possible". 

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will meet again with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows on Tuesday, she said after talks on Monday for another round of coronavirus economic aid concluded.

Florida will provide Covid-19 antigen test results within 15 minutes at two sites in Miami-Dade county starting on Tuesday, Governor Ron DeSantis said at a news conference. Only those who show symptoms or who are over 65 years old will be eligible for the rapid turnaround test, he said.

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy on Monday announced he was retightening restrictions on indoor gatherings after a recent surge in coronavirus cases in the state that officials have, in part, linked to house parties and indoor events.

Murphy said such events will now be limited to 25% of a room’s capacity with a maximum of 25 people, down from the previous limit of 100.

U.S. deaths from Covid-19 rose for a fourth week in a row to more than 8,500 people in the seven days ended Aug. 2, while the number of new cases fell for a second straight week, a Reuters analysis found.

Governor Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, said that despite that good news, the state’s Central Valley agricultural region was still being hit hard by the coronavirus. He said the data had yet to reach a point for lifting pandemic restrictions.

“This virus is not going away,” Newsom said at a daily coronavirus briefing. “It’s not going to take Labor Day weekend off or Halloween off or the holidays off. Until we have a vaccine we are going to be living with this virus.

The U.S. government’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, on Monday said states with high coronavirus case counts should reconsider imposing lockdown restrictions, emphasizing the need to get cases to a low baseline before the fall flu season.

$250 fine for failing to wear face mask in Houston

Members of the public who fail to wear a face mask in Houston could be issued with a $250 fine, Mayor Sylvester Turner said Monday. Texas’has clamped down on public mask-wearing in a bid to curb Covid-19 transmission in the state’s hardest-hit city. First offenders will receive a warning from police but those who continue to flout the new rules will be dealt a $250 fine, Forbes reports. 

Second stimulus check: what other benefits and payments are included in HEALS?

Democrats and Republicans will resume talks Monday over a fresh stimulus package that will address a second round of payments and unemployment benefits.

More information here


L.A. teachers reach deal with school district on remote education

The Los Angeles teachers union and local education officials on Monday agreed to a plan for resuming online-only classes later this month in the nation's second-largest school district amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The deal encompasses new standards and work rules governing how the 30,000 teachers of the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) will provide instruction to 700,000 students remaining at home when the new academic year begins on 18 August.

Under the plan, age-appropriate class schedules have been created for all grade levels, from kindergarten to high school, including daily 'synchronous' instruction by teachers - real-time lectures through video conferencing. Teachers will also use 'asynchronous' instructional materials and assignments posted online for students to complete independently, a joint statement from LAUSD and the union said. While the plan gives teachers the option to work from their regular classrooms, students will remain at home, with daily attendance taken for each class session. 

Trump expand access to Telehealth services

President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Monday, expanding access to telehealth services for 57 million Americans in under-served rural areas and elsewhere, after virtual visits soared during the coronavirus pandemic. Trump, who is counting on votes from backers in rural areas in the 2020 presidential election, said the new order would ensure that telehealth services expanded during the pandemic remained in place even after the public health emergency ended. He also directed the Department of Health and Human Services to cut regulatory burdens and develop a new payment model that allows rural providers to waive some existing Medicare rules and ensure more predictable financial payments.

Americans in rural areas are more likely to die of five leading causes of death such as cancer and heart disease than their urban counterparts, the White House said, with transportation challenges, shortages of healthcare workers and a dwindling number of hospitals diminishing access to good care.

"Prior to the pandemic, telehealth was fine, but it wasn't anything raging, and I guess one of the only good things that we've gotten out of this horrible situation is that telehealth has been increased," Trump told reporters at the White House. He also called for officials to develop within 30 days a specific plan to boost investment in the communications infrastructure needed to boost rural healthcare, and a separate report on ways to improve overall healthcare in rural areas, reduce maternal deaths and improve mental health.

Missouri could become second red state to expand Medicaid

Missouri voters have the chance to expand Medicaid for hundreds of thousands of residents during the state's primary elections on Tuesday, Newsweek reports. The proposed amendment to the Missouri constitution would expand eligibility to include residents between the ages of 19 and 64 whose income is at or below 138 percent of the federal poverty level—roughly $18,000 for a single person and $35,000 for a family of four.

The federal and state health insurance program for people with low incomes or disabilities has been expanded by a majority of states, but 13, most of which are run by Republicans, have opted out of it.

Coronavirus live US updates: welcome

Hello and welcome to our live, United States-focused coverage of the coronavirus pandemic, which as of 19:00 ET had registered over 18 million cases and more than 691,000 deaths worldwide, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. In the US, which has been by far the world's worst-hit country, there have been over 4.7 million cases, leading to just over 155,300 fatalities.