Louisiana restrictions; Florida bars; 191K US deaths

Louisiana restrictions; Florida bars; 191K US deaths

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President Trump asked a Reuters journalist to remove his face mask while asking a question during a news conference at the White House.

USA TODAY

On the anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attack, Americans are struggling with feelings of safety once again as another American is diagnosed with the coronavirus every 2.45 seconds.

Most state case counts and deaths, with the exception of Wisconsin, are improving across the nation, but deaths are still more than a third higher than they were at the beginning of July. America has been averaging about 35,000 cases per day. 

In Louisiana, Gov. John Bel Edwards said he will ease restrictions on public gatherings beginning Friday but a face mask mandate will stay in place. New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell, however, said she will not ease the city’s guidelines on public gatherings after a troublesome Labor Day weekend that included dozens of reported violations.

Meanwhile, in New York City, transit commuters will face a $50 fine beginning Monday if they refuse to wear a face mask. But, in Florida, bars will be allowed to reopen on Monday at 50% capacity.

Across the globe, South Korea continues to see a downward trend in infections with the daily number of cases under 200 for the ninth day. But, in France, officials reported 9,843 infections, the highest daily count since the end of the country’s lockdown in April. 

Some significant developments:

  • Cases and deaths are down, but remain grim. An American has been dying of COVID-19 every two minutes, Johns Hopkins University data shows.
  • California reached a bleak milestone, becoming the first state in the nation to reach 750,000 coronavirus cases. Los Angeles County claims a third of those cases, becoming the first county to surpass 250,000 cases. 
  • The Senate failed to pass a slimmed-down coronavirus relief bill Thursday in a 52-47 vote. One Republican senator voted with Democrats against the bill.

📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has more than 6.3 million confirmed cases and more than 191,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. Globally, there are more than 28 million cases and more than 910,000 fatalities.

📰 What we’re reading: The chancellor at the University of Missouri blocked students on Twitter after complaining about the lack of COVID-19 precautions on campus, according to students. After an attorney threatened a lawsuit, Chancellor Mun Choi unblocked students, reports say.

🗺️ Mapping coronavirus: Track the U.S. outbreak, state by state

This file will be updated throughout the day. For updates in your inbox, subscribe to The Daily Briefing newsletter.

Cases and deaths are down, but remain devastating

Wisconsin on Thursday set a record for the most coronavirus cases in a week – and it was the only state to do so. In July’s devastating surge, it wasn’t unusual for a dozen states to have new records every day.

But while most states are doing better than their worst, the country continues to bear a terrible burden. Deaths are still more than a third higher than they were at the beginning of July. Nearly 5,000 Americans died in the latest week.

America has been averaging about 35,000 cases per day. In the latest week, that means every 2.45 seconds another American is diagnosed with the coronavirus. In the latest week, nearly a quarter-million Americans tested positive.

On a person-by-person basis, America reports in four days the number of cases South Korea has reported in the entire pandemic. Adjusted for population, America reports as many deaths between breakfast and lunch as Vietnam has ever had. Cases are rising again in the European Union, but the United States has substantially more cases with substantially less population. And the European Union has been reporting deaths at a fifth the pace of the United States.

The United States has about 4.3% of the world’s population, 22.7% of the world’s reported cases and 21.1% of its deaths.

– Mike Stucka

Adults with COVID-19 are twice as likely to dine out: CDC study

Eating out at restaurants is a high-risk activity, according to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

The study found adults with confirmed COVID-19 were about twice as likely as other study participants to say they dined out at a restaurant in the 14 days before becoming sick. 

Also, positive patients were more likely to report going to a bar or coffee shop when the analysis was limited to those without close contact to people with known coronavirus. 

The study included 314 symptomatic adults who were tested for COVID-19 in July at 11 health care facilities across multiple states. Of that group, 154 patients tested positive for COVID-19.  

Florida bars will be allowed to reopen Monday at half capacity, state says

Raise a glass: Florida bars may reopen Monday at half capacity. Halsey Beshears, secretary of the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation, announced Thursday night that bars may reopen after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on June 26 ordered all bars shut down. 

“Starting Monday, all bars will be reopened at 50% occupancy,” Beshears announced on Twitter on Thursday evening.

Restrictions put in place at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic still limit restaurants to operating at only 50% capacity for indoor dining rooms, with tables 6 feet apart to comply with social distancing orders.

– Sarajane Sullivan, Naples Daily News

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey on Trump: ‘I do not feel misled’ on COVID-19

Revelations that President Donald Trump publicly downplayed the dangers of the novel coronavirus have not shaken Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey’s faith in Trump’s handling of the pandemic, the Republican leader said Thursday.

“I do not feel misled,” Ducey said at an afternoon news briefing, which primarily focused on suicide prevention. “There has been a sense of urgency and seriousness about this since Day One.”

Ducey brushed off the news of the president’s conflicting remarks, sidestepping a question about whether he knew of Trump’s plans to downplay the virus’ gravity and arguing that, for him, “trust is built through experience and actions.”

According to a new book by journalist Bob Woodward, Trump knew weeks before the first confirmed U.S. coronavirus death that COVID-19 was deadly, highly contagious and a threat to young people, not just older adults.

– Maria Polletta, Arizona Republic

Airline workers look to Congress to save them from October layoffs

The days are quickly counting down for thousands of pilots, flight attendants, gate agents and other airline workers who face the prospect of being laid off at the end of the month if Congress doesn’t come through with a new stimulus agreement.

“Without additional federal aid, U.S. airlines will be forced to make very difficult business decisions including furloughs and service reductions,” wrote Carter Yang, spokesman for the airlines’ chief industry organization, Airlines for America, in a note to USA TODAY.

Why the urgency? The Department of Transportation barred airlines that accepted stimulus money from laying off employees until at least Oct. 1, when $25 billion in payroll support protection money from the CARES Act expires.

On Thursday, the Senate failed to reach the 60-vote minimum needed to pass a slimmed-down, $300 billion GOP coronavirus relief package that didn’t allocate any aid for the airline industry. That leaves open the chance that airline funds could be included in a compromise measure with the House.

– Chris Woodyard

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Dr. Anthony Fauci: ‘We need to hunker down’ for the rest of the year

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious diseases expert, offered a word of warning to Americans as summer’s end approaches. 

Speaking at a virtual panel with doctors from Harvard Medical School, per NBC News, Fauci said that the fight against the coronavirus pandemic will only get more strenuous as the year reaches its close. He also cautioned against downplaying the severity of the virus, knowing “what’s ahead” if preventative measures are not met.

“We need to hunker down and get through this fall and winter, because it’s not going to be easy,” he said, adding that we cannot “look at the rosy side of things.”

Survey: Joe Biden more empathetic to those with COVID-19 than Donald Trump

Nearly three quarters of Americans say they see Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden as more caring to those affected by the coronavirus pandemic, while less than half say the same of President Donald Trump, a new survey from the Democracy Fund + UCLA Nationscape Project finds.

Also, a combined 66% of Americans say Biden is more caring to those who have lost their jobs, compared with Trump at 53%.

Robert Griffin, the research director for the Democracy Fund, said that Biden is likely seen more empathetic because he is seen as a “relatively compassionate person,” while Trump is seen as a “no nonsense deal maker.”

– Rebecca Morin

COVID-19 resources from USA TODAY

Contributing: The Associated Press

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