As coronavirus cases continue to rise in most states, the governors of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut announced a joint travel advisory Wednesday requiring all individuals traveling from states with significant community spread to quarantine for 14 days.
The advisory goes into effect at midnight Wednesday and those violating the quarantine will be fined, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a press conference.
The U.S. reported nearly 35,000 new cases on Tuesday – among the nation’s largest single-day increases since the start of the pandemic, according to Johns Hopkins University.
Meanwhile, as President Donald Trump has blamed increased testing for the spike, infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci told House lawmakers Tuesday that in states where there is an increase in the percentage of people testing positive, it is a clear “indication that there are additional infections that are responsible for those increases.”
Fauci said the “disturbing surge of infections” was due to a combination of factors, including an increase in person-to-person transmission, or community spread.
Here are the most significant developments of the day:
📈Today’s stats on the coronavirus: Worldwide infections have surpassed 9.2 million, with 2.3 million in the United States, according to Johns Hopkins University. More than 478,000 people have died worldwide, with more than 121,000 deaths in the U.S.
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DNC announces sweeping changes to convention amid pandemic
Organizers upended the Democratic National Convention on Wednesday, as they told state delegations not to travel to Milwaukee, moved the convention to a smaller venue and added satellite events around the country.
But even as Democrats downsize their convention, they say former Vice President Joe Biden will still formally accept the nomination in Milwaukee. The decision to overhaul plans for the August 17-20 convention came after consulting with public health officials about the COVID-19 pandemic, organizers said.
The moves by the Democrats stand in stark contrast to the Republicans, who shifted their main convention events from Charlotte, North Carolina, to Jacksonville, Florida, after North Carolina officials couldn’t promise that social distancing rules would not be in effect.
— Mary Spicuzza and Bill Glauber
COVID-19’s surge in Sunbelt states shows the virus, not testing, to blame
President Donald Trump blames the rising number of COVID-19 cases on increased testing and suggests case counts would drop with fewer tests. But infectious disease and public health experts dispute that claim, saying the surge in coronavirus cases in Sunbelt states reflects a potentially dangerous new phase of the pandemic.
Arizona, California and Texas reported record-high new daily coronavirus cases this week, as case counts continue to rise in more than half of U.S. states. Several states individually now have more cases than the entire European Union.
— Ken Alltucker and Karen Weintraub
Treasury may consider delaying tax deadline to Sept. 15
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin left the door open to extending the July 15 tax deadline for a second time to Sept. 15, as Americans and businesses continue to grapple with the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.
“As of now, we’re not intending on doing that, but it is something that we may consider,” Mnuchin said in an interview at the Bloomberg Invest Global 2020 virtual summit. “I would encourage all Americans, if you can file, go ahead and do it, particularly if you think you have a refund.”
The U.S. Treasury already pushed back the traditional April 15 deadline for federal 2019 income tax returns to mid-July, giving Americans three months longer to file their taxes. States, however, may have different deadlines.
— Jessica Menton
Trump administration to end funding of 13 testing sites in favor of ‘more sustainable model’
The Trump administration plans to end federal funding of 13 coronavirus testing sites in five states on June 30 in favor of a “more sustainable model” done in coordination with the states, according to a senior administration official.
In mid-March, toward the beginning of the pandemic in the U.S., the Department of Health and Human Services and the Federal Emergency Management Agency established 41 federally supported testing sites in 12 states. The administration has since ended funding for most of those sites in favor of transitioning funding to hundreds of retail and pharmacy partnerships and by offering testing at more than 1,300 Federally Qualified Health Centers nationally, according to the official.
The 13 remaining sites – in Colorado, Pennsylvania, Illinois, New Jersey and Texas – were originally expected to stop receiving funding in May but received a 30-day extension.
Texas, which is home to seven of the sites, is among the many states seeing an uptick in confirmed cases in recent weeks. A spokesperson for Texas Sen. Ted Cruz said the senator “has urged and will continue to urge HHS and FEMA to extend the community testing sites in Texas.”
Assistant Secretary for Health ADM Dr. Brett Giroir dismissed reports that the transition was an effort to remove federal funding from testing sites.
“The federal government is not ending funding or support for COVID-19 testing sites,” Giroir said in a statement. “HHS will continue to increase testing capacity overall, and make it more accessible especially to underserved communities.”
The administration plans to offer retail and pharmacy partnerships in more than 600 locations a contract extension for full federal reimbursement for COVID testing through August 31, 2020, with additional support available through December, 2020, the official said.
California records all-time high of daily new cases
California reported more than 7,000 new confirmed coronavirus cases on Tuesday, up from more than 4,000 new cases Sunday and more than 5,000 new cases Monday.
Coronavirus testing, positivity rates, hospitalizations and ICU numbers are also up, Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a press conference Wednesday. In the past 14 days, hospitalizations jumped 29%, Newsom said.
Newsom encouraged residents to remain vigilant and continue to practice social distancing. He said Californians “cannot continue to do what we have done over the last number of weeks.”
“Many of us have, understandably, developed a little cabin fever. Some, I would argued, developed a little amnesia. Others have just, frankly, taken down their guard,” Newsom said, adding, “It is our behaviors that are leading to these numbers, and we are putting people’s lives at risk.”
Target increases store hours, senior shopping time to continue
After three months of operating with reduced hours due to COVID-19, Target has increased store hours by 60 minutes at most stores across the nation.
Most locations “are now back to closing at 10 p.m.,” the retailer posted on its COVID-19 response page, adding that shoppers can find the latest hours for specific locations on its store locator.
Stores continue to set aside time twice a week for senior shoppers age 65 and older, pregnant women and those defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as vulnerable or at-risk.
— Kelly Tyko
What college may look like in the fall
Most college administrators are mulling over how to restart their programs with no end in sight for the public health crisis.
According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, which is tracking more than 860 institutions’ plans, two-thirds of colleges are planning to welcome back students in person, while only 7% are planning to hold classes only online. Many other colleges have yet to make a decision.
Their approaches are as diverse as the roughly 3,000 four-year colleges and universities that span the United States.
— Elinor Aspegren and Samuel Zwickel, USA TODAY Network
New York City marathon canceled
The world’s largest marathon, set to take place on Nov. 1, was canceled Wednesday.
The organizer of the New York City Marathon, New York Road Runners, and the Mayor’s Office decided to cancel the marathon due to “coronavirus-related health and safety concerns for runners, spectators, volunteers, staff, and the many partners and communities that support the event,” the organizer said in a press release.
“While the marathon is an iconic and beloved event in our city, I applaud New York Road Runners for putting the health and safety of both spectators and runners first,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said in the release. “We look forward to hosting the 50th running of the marathon in November of 2021.”
Fauci: Another lockdown not necessary despite rising COVID-19 cases
At the House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing Tuesday, Dr. Anthony Fauci told Congress that states may not need to revert to an “absolute shutdown,” despite a concerning surge in states like Texas, Arizona and Florida. However, he said that state officials should consider pausing or rolling back a part of the reopening plan if they’re seeing a sudden rise in cases or hospitalizations.
“If someone is going from gateway to phase one to phase two and they get into trouble in phase two, they may need to go back to phase one,” Fauci said.
The country’s leading infectious disease expert also said he had never been given a directive to “slow the testing down,” despite President Donald Trump’s claim that he had asked officials to do so. Trump blamed the increase in cases on more testing, though health officials have said the growing number of hospitalizations and cases are due to more than just an increase in testing.
What we’re reading
Texas hits all-time high for COVID-19 cases
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Tuesday told residents to stay home as the state hits an all-time high for COVID-19 cases. “The hospitalization rate is at an all-time high. Coronavirus is spreading in Brazos County and across the entire state of Texas, which is exactly why action is being taken,” Abbott said in an interview on KBTX.
The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, meanwhile, cracked down on establishments that defied state guidelines and suspended the alcohol license of a dozen bars for not following coronavirus protocols after undercover inspections over the weekend.
The guidelines include an indoor customer capacity of 50% for bars and 75% for restaurants along with social distancing of at least 6 feet between groups of customers, according to a TABC press release. Masks were not mentioned.
Europe may bar US travelers as it reopens
Americans may be among those blocked from visiting European Union countries once they reopen their borders to visitors outside the continent starting July 1.
Kasper Zeuthen, a senior media adviser for the EU’s delegation to the US, said the European Commission will recommend progressively lifting travel restrictions based on objective criteria that measure the scope of the pandemic in each country. The first yardstick: “The epidemiological situation in a given country … should be as good as or better than in the EU,” he said.
According to EU data, the bloc, including the European Economic Area and the United Kingdom, has 1.5 million COVID-19 cases as of Wednesday. But the United States leads the world in the number of coronavirus cases, with about 2.3 million confirmed cases Wednesday.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the Trump administration is working with the EU “to determine how it is we can best safely reopen international travel.” He said it’s important to reopen the U.S. to European travel and vice versa for the sake of both economies.
— Julia Thompson and Deirdre Shesgreen
MLB to play 60-game season, NHL draft coming up
The coronavirus has drastically affected the sports world, leading to cancellations and postponements from major pro leagues and NCAA events. Here’s a roundup:
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Coronavirus: NYC marathon canceled; cases surge in Texas, Florida