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Coronavirus – Wikipedia

Posted: June 22, 2020 at 6:07 pm

Subfamily of viruses in the family Coronaviridae

Coronaviruses are a group of related RNA viruses that cause diseases in mammals and birds. In humans, these viruses cause respiratory tract infections that can range from mild to lethal. Mild illnesses include some cases of the common cold (which is also caused by other viruses, predominantly rhinoviruses), while more lethal varieties can cause SARS, MERS, and COVID-19. Symptoms in other species vary: in chickens, they cause an upper respiratory tract disease, while in cows and pigs they cause diarrhea. There are as yet no vaccines or antiviral drugs to prevent or treat human coronavirus infections.

Coronaviruses constitute the subfamily Orthocoronavirinae, in the family Coronaviridae, order Nidovirales, and realm Riboviria.[5][6] They are enveloped viruses with a positive-sense single-stranded RNA genome and a nucleocapsid of helical symmetry.[7] The genome size of coronaviruses ranges from approximately 26 to 32 kilobases, one of the largest among RNA viruses.[8] They have characteristic club-shaped spikes that project from their surface, which in electron micrographs create an image reminiscent of the solar corona, from which their name derives.[9]

The name "coronavirus" is derived from Latin corona, meaning "crown" or "wreath", itself a borrowing from Greek korn, "garland, wreath".[10][11] The name was coined by June Almeida and David Tyrrell who first observed and studied human coronaviruses.[12] The word was first used in print in 1968 by an informal group of virologists in the journal Nature to designate the new family of viruses.[9] The name refers to the characteristic appearance of virions (the infective form of the virus) by electron microscopy, which have a fringe of large, bulbous surface projections creating an image reminiscent of the solar corona or halo.[9][12] This morphology is created by the viral spike peplomers, which are proteins on the surface of the virus.[13]

Coronaviruses were first discovered in the 1930s when an acute respiratory infection of domesticated chickens was shown to be caused by infectious bronchitis virus (IBV).[14] Arthur Schalk and M.C. Hawn described in 1931 a new respiratory infection of chickens in North Dakota. The infection of new-born chicks was characterized by gasping and listlessness. The chicks' mortality rate was 4090%.[15] Fred Beaudette and Charles Hudson six years later successfully isolated and cultivated the infectious bronchitis virus which caused the disease.[16] In the 1940s, two more animal coronaviruses, mouse hepatitis virus (MHV) and transmissible gastroenteritis virus (TGEV), were isolated.[17] It was not realized at the time that these three different viruses were related.[18]

Human coronaviruses were discovered in the 1960s.[19][20] They were isolated using two different methods in the United Kingdom and the United States.[21] E.C. Kendall, Malcom Byone, and David Tyrrell working at the Common Cold Unit of the British Medical Research Council in 1960 isolated from a boy a novel common cold virus B814.[22][23][24] The virus was not able to be cultivated using standard techniques which had successfully cultivated rhinoviruses, adenoviruses and other known common cold viruses. In 1965, Tyrrell and Byone successfully cultivated the novel virus by serially passing it through organ culture of human embryonic trachea.[25] The new cultivating method was introduced to the lab by Bertil Hoorn.[26] The isolated virus when intranasally inoculated into volunteers caused a cold and was inactivated by ether which indicated it had a lipid envelope.[22][27] Around the same time, Dorothy Hamre[28] and John Procknow at the University of Chicago isolated a novel cold virus 229E from medical students, which they grew in kidney tissue culture. The novel virus 229E, like the virus strain B814, when inoculated into volunteers caused a cold and was inactivated by ether.[29]

The two novel strains B814 and 229E were subsequently imaged by electron microscopy in 1967 by Scottish virologist June Almeida at St. Thomas Hospital in London.[30][31] Almeida through electron microscopy was able to show that B814 and 229E were morphologically related by their distinctive club-like spikes. Not only were they related with each other, but they were morphologically related to infectious bronchitis virus (IBV).[32] A research group at the National Institute of Health the same year was able to isolate another member of this new group of viruses using organ culture and named the virus strain OC43 (OC for organ culture).[33] Like B814, 229E, and IBV, the novel cold virus OC43 had distinctive club-like spikes when observed with the electron microscope.[34][35]

The IBV-like novel cold viruses were soon shown to be also morphologically related to the mouse hepatitis virus.[17] This new group of IBV-like viruses came to be known as coronaviruses after their distinctive morphological appearance.[9] Human coronavirus 229E and human coronavirus OC43 continued to be studied in subsequent decades.[36][37] The coronavirus strain B814 was lost. It is not known which present human coronavirus it was.[38] Other human coronaviruses have since been identified, including SARS-CoV in 2003, HCoV NL63 in 2004, HCoV HKU1 in 2005, MERS-CoV in 2012, and SARS-CoV-2 in 2019.[39][40] There have also been a large number of animal coronaviruses identified since the 1960s.[5]

Coronaviruses are large, roughly spherical, particles with bulbous surface projections.[41] The average diameter of the virus particles is around 125nm (.125 m). The diameter of the envelope is 85 nm and the spikes are 20nm long. The envelope of the virus in electron micrographs appears as a distinct pair of electron-dense shells (shells that are relatively opaque to the electron beam used to scan the virus particle).[42][43]

The viral envelope consists of a lipid bilayer, in which the membrane (M), envelope (E) and spike (S) structural proteins are anchored.[44] The ratio of E:S:M in the lipid bilayer is approximately 1:20:300.[45] On average a coronavirus particle has 74 surface spikes.[46] A subset of coronaviruses (specifically the members of betacoronavirus subgroup A) also have a shorter spike-like surface protein called hemagglutinin esterase (HE).[5]

The coronavirus surface spikes are homotrimers of the Sprotein, which is composed of an S1 and S2 subunit. The homotrimeric Sprotein is a class I fusion protein which mediates the receptor binding and membrane fusion between the virus and host cell. The S1 subunit forms the head of the spike and has the receptor binding domain (RBD). The S2 subunit forms the stem which anchors the spike in the viral envelope and on protease activation enables fusion. The E and M protein are important in forming the viral envelope and maintaining its structural shape.[43]

Inside the envelope, there is the nucleocapsid, which is formed from multiple copies of the nucleocapsid (N) protein, which are bound to the positive-sense single-stranded RNA genome in a continuous beads-on-a-string type conformation.[43][47] The lipid bilayer envelope, membrane proteins, and nucleocapsid protect the virus when it is outside the host cell.[48]

Coronaviruses contain a positive-sense, single-stranded RNA genome. The genome size for coronaviruses ranges from 26.4 to 31.7 kilobases.[8] The genome size is one of the largest among RNA viruses. The genome has a 5 methylated cap and a 3 polyadenylated tail.[43]

The genome organization for a coronavirus is 5-leader-UTR-replicase (ORF1ab)-spike (S)-envelope (E)-membrane (M)-nucleocapsid (N)-3UTR-poly (A) tail. The open reading frames 1a and 1b, which occupy the first two-thirds of the genome, encode the replicase polyprotein (pp1ab). The replicase polyprotein self cleaves to form 16 nonstructural proteins (nsp1nsp16).[43]

The later reading frames encode the four major structural proteins: spike, envelope, membrane, and nucleocapsid.[49] Interspersed between these reading frames are the reading frames for the accessory proteins. The number of accessory proteins and their function is unique depending on the specific coronavirus.[43]

Infection begins when the viral spike protein attaches to its complementary host cell receptor. After attachment, a protease of the host cell cleaves and activates the receptor-attached spike protein. Depending on the host cell protease available, cleavage and activation allows the virus to enter the host cell by endocytosis or direct fusion of the viral envelop with the host membrane.[50]

On entry into the host cell, the virus particle is uncoated, and its genome enters the cell cytoplasm. The coronavirus RNA genome has a 5 methylated cap and a 3 polyadenylated tail, which allows it to act like a messenger RNA and be directly translated by the host cell's ribosomes. The host ribosomes translate the initial overlapping open reading frames ORF1a and ORF1b of the virus genome into two large overlapping polyproteins, pp1a and pp1ab.[43]

The larger polyprotein pp1ab is a result of a -1 ribosomal frameshift caused by a slippery sequence (UUUAAAC) and a downstream RNA pseudoknot at the end of open reading frame ORF1a.[51] The ribosomal frameshift allows for the continuous translation of ORF1a followed by ORF1b.[43]

The polyproteins have their own proteases, PLpro and 3CLpro, which cleave the polyproteins at different specific sites. The cleavage of polyprotein pp1ab yields 16 nonstructural proteins (nsp1 to nsp16). Product proteins include various replication proteins such as RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (nsp12), RNA helicase (nsp13), and exoribonuclease (nsp14).[43]

A number of the nonstructural proteins coalesce to form a multi-protein replicase-transcriptase complex. The main replicase-transcriptase protein is the RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRp). It is directly involved in the replication and transcription of RNA from an RNA strand. The other nonstructural proteins in the complex assist in the replication and transcription process. The exoribonuclease nonstructural protein, for instance, provides extra fidelity to replication by providing a proofreading function which the RNA-dependent RNA polymerase lacks.[52]

Replication One of the main functions of the complex is to replicate the viral genome. RdRp directly mediates the synthesis of negative-sense genomic RNA from the positive-sense genomic RNA. This is followed by the replication of positive-sense genomic RNA from the negative-sense genomic RNA.[43]

Transcription The other important function of the complex is to transcribe the viral genome. RdRp directly mediates the synthesis of negative-sense subgenomic RNA molecules from the positive-sense genomic RNA. This process is followed by the transcription of these negative-sense subgenomic RNA molecules to their corresponding positive-sense mRNAs.[43] The subgenomic mRNAs form a "nested set" which have a common 5'-head and partially duplicate 3'-end.[53]

Recombination The replicase-transcriptase complex is also capable of genetic recombination when at least two viral genomes are present in the same infected cell.[53] RNA recombination appears to be a major driving force in determining genetic variability within a coronavirus species, the capability of a coronavirus species to jump from one host to another and, infrequently, in determining the emergence of novel coronaviruses.[54] The exact mechanism of recombination in coronaviruses is unclear, but likely involves template switching during genome replication.[54]

The replicated positive-sense genomic RNA becomes the genome of the progeny viruses. The mRNAs are gene transcripts of the last third of the virus genome after the initial overlapping reading frame. These mRNAs are translated by the host's ribosomes into the structural proteins and a number of accessory proteins.[43] RNA translation occurs inside the endoplasmic reticulum. The viral structural proteins S, E, and M move along the secretory pathway into the Golgi intermediate compartment. There, the Mproteins direct most protein-protein interactions required for assembly of viruses following its binding to the nucleocapsid. Progeny viruses are then released from the host cell by exocytosis through secretory vesicles. Once released the viruses can infect other host cells.[55]

Infected carriers are able to shed viruses into the environment. The interaction of the coronavirus spike protein with its complementary cell receptor is central in determining the tissue tropism, infectivity, and species range of the released virus.[56][57] Coronaviruses mainly target epithelial cells.[5] They are transmitted from one host to another host, depending on the coronavirus species, by either an aerosol, fomite, or fecal-oral route.[58]

Human coronaviruses infect the epithelial cells of the respiratory tract, while animal coronaviruses generally infect the epithelial cells of the digestive tract.[5] SARS coronavirus, for example, infects via an aerosol route,[59] the human epithelial cells of the lungs by binding to the angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) receptor.[60] Transmissible gastroenteritis coronavirus (TGEV) infects, via a fecal-oral route,[58] the pig epithelial cells of the digestive tract by binding to the alanine aminopeptidase (APN) receptor.[43]

The scientific name for coronavirus is Orthocoronavirinae or Coronavirinae.[2][3][4] Coronaviruses belong to the family of Coronaviridae, order Nidovirales, and realm Riboviria.[5][6] They are divided into alphacoronaviruses and betacoronaviruses which infect mammals and gammacoronaviruses and deltacoronaviruses, which primarily infect birds.[61][62]

The most recent common ancestor (MRCA) of all coronaviruses is estimated to have existed as recently as 8000 BCE, although some models place the common ancestor as far back as 55 million years or more, implying long term coevolution with bat and avian species.[63] The most recent common ancestor of the alphacoronavirus line has been placed at about 2400 BCE, of the betacoronavirus line at 3300 BCE, of the gammacoronavirus line at 2800 BCE, and of the deltacoronavirus line at about 3000 BCE. Bats and birds, as warm-blooded flying vertebrates, are an ideal natural reservoir for the coronavirus gene pool (with bats the reservoir for alphacoronaviruses and betacoronavirus and birds the reservoir for gammacoronaviruses and deltacoronaviruses). The large number and global range of bat and avian species that host viruses has enabled extensive evolution and dissemination of coronaviruses.[64]

Many human coronaviruses have their origin in bats.[65] The human coronavirus NL63 shared a common ancestor with a bat coronavirus (ARCoV.2) between 1190 and 1449 CE.[66] The human coronavirus 229E shared a common ancestor with a bat coronavirus (GhanaGrp1 Bt CoV) between 1686 and 1800 CE.[67] More recently, alpaca coronavirus and human coronavirus 229E diverged sometime before 1960.[68] MERS-CoV emerged in humans from bats through the intermediate host of camels.[69] MERS-CoV, although related to several bat coronavirus species, appears to have diverged from these several centuries ago.[70] The most closely related bat coronavirus and SARS-CoV diverged in 1986.[71] A possible path of evolution of SARS coronavirus and keen bat coronaviruses is that SARS-related coronaviruses coevolved in bats for a long time. The ancestors of SARS-CoV first infected leaf-nose bats of the genus Hipposideridae; subsequently, they spread to horseshoe bats in the species Rhinolophidae, then to Asian palm civets, and finally to humans.[72][73]

Unlike other betacoronaviruses, bovine coronavirus of the species Betacoronavirus 1 and subgenus Embecovirus is thought to have originated in rodents and not in bats.[65][74] In the 1790s, equine coronavirus diverged from the bovine coronavirus after a cross-species jump.[75] Later in the 1890s, human coronavirus OC43 diverged from bovine coronavirus after another cross-species spillover event.[76][75] It is speculated that the flu pandemic of 1890 may have been caused by this spillover event, and not by the influenza virus, because of the related timing, neurological symptoms, and unknown causative agent of the pandemic.[77] Besides causing respiratory infections, human coronavirus OC43 is also suspected of playing a role in neurological diseases.[78] In the 1950s, the human coronavirus OC43 began to diverge into its present genotypes.[79] Phylogentically, mouse hepatitis virus (Murine coronavirus), which infects the mouse's liver and central nervous system,[80] is related to human coronavirus OC43 and bovine coronavirus. Human coronavirus HKU1, like the aforementioned viruses, also has its origins in rodents.[65]

Coronaviruses vary significantly in risk factor. Some can kill more than 30% of those infected, such as MERS-CoV, and some are relatively harmless, such as the common cold.[43] Coronaviruses can cause colds with major symptoms, such as fever, and a sore throat from swollen adenoids.[81] Coronaviruses can cause pneumonia (either direct viral pneumonia or secondary bacterial pneumonia) and bronchitis (either direct viral bronchitis or secondary bacterial bronchitis).[82] The human coronavirus discovered in 2003, SARS-CoV, which causes severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), has a unique pathogenesis because it causes both upper and lower respiratory tract infections.[82]

Six species of human coronaviruses are known, with one species subdivided into two different strains, making seven strains of human coronaviruses altogether.

Four human coronaviruses produce symptoms that are generally mild:

Three human coronaviruses produce symptoms that are potentially severe:

The human coronaviruses HCoV-OC43, HCoV-HKU1, HCoV-229E, and HCoV-NL63 continually circulate in the human population and produce the generally mild symptoms of the common cold in adults and children worldwide.[83] These coronaviruses cause about 15% of common colds,[84] while 40 to 50% of colds are caused by rhinoviruses.[85] The four mild coronaviruses have a seasonal incidence occurring in the winter months in temperate climates.[86][87] There is no preponderance in any season in tropical climates.[88]

In 2003, following the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) which had begun the prior year in Asia, and secondary cases elsewhere in the world, the World Health Organization (WHO) issued a press release stating that a novel coronavirus identified by a number of laboratories was the causative agent for SARS. The virus was officially named the SARS coronavirus (SARS-CoV). More than 8,000 people were infected, about ten percent of whom died.[60]

In September 2012, a new type of coronavirus was identified, initially called Novel Coronavirus 2012, and now officially named Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV).[98][99] The World Health Organization issued a global alert soon after.[100] The WHO update on 28 September 2012 said the virus did not seem to pass easily from person to person.[101] However, on 12 May 2013, a case of human-to-human transmission in France was confirmed by the French Ministry of Social Affairs and Health.[102] In addition, cases of human-to-human transmission were reported by the Ministry of Health in Tunisia. Two confirmed cases involved people who seemed to have caught the disease from their late father, who became ill after a visit to Qatar and Saudi Arabia. Despite this, it appears the virus had trouble spreading from human to human, as most individuals who are infected do not transmit the virus.[103] By 30 October 2013, there were 124 cases and 52 deaths in Saudi Arabia.[104]

After the Dutch Erasmus Medical Centre sequenced the virus, the virus was given a new name, Human CoronavirusErasmus Medical Centre (HCoV-EMC). The final name for the virus is Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV). The only U.S. cases (both survived) were recorded in May 2014.[105]

In May 2015, an outbreak of MERS-CoV occurred in the Republic of Korea, when a man who had traveled to the Middle East, visited four hospitals in the Seoul area to treat his illness. This caused one of the largest outbreaks of MERS-CoV outside the Middle East.[106] As of December 2019, 2,468 cases of MERS-CoV infection had been confirmed by laboratory tests, 851 of which were fatal, a mortality rate of approximately 34.5%.[107]

In December 2019, a pneumonia outbreak was reported in Wuhan, China.[108] On 31 December 2019, the outbreak was traced to a novel strain of coronavirus,[109] which was given the interim name 2019-nCoV by the World Health Organization (WHO),[110][111][112] later renamed SARS-CoV-2 by the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses.

As of 22 June 2020, there have been at least 469,939[94] confirmed deaths and more than 9,030,328[94] confirmed cases in the COVID-19 pandemic. The Wuhan strain has been identified as a new strain of Betacoronavirus from group 2B with approximately 70% genetic similarity to the SARS-CoV.[113] The virus has a 96% similarity to a bat coronavirus, so it is widely suspected to originate from bats as well.[114][115] The pandemic has resulted in travel restrictions and nationwide lockdowns in many countries.

Coronaviruses have been recognized as causing pathological conditions in veterinary medicine since the 1930s.[17] They infect a range of animals including swine, cattle, horses, camels, cats, dogs, rodents, birds and bats.[116] The majority of animal related coronaviruses infect the intestinal tract and are transmitted by a fecal-oral route.[117] Significant research efforts have been focused on elucidating the viral pathogenesis of these animal coronaviruses, especially by virologists interested in veterinary and zoonotic diseases.[118]

Coronaviruses infect domesticated birds.[119] Infectious bronchitis virus (IBV), a type of coronavirus, causes avian infectious bronchitis.[120] The virus is of concern to the poultry industry because of the high mortality from infection, its rapid spread, and affect on production.[116] The virus affects both meat production and egg production and causes substantial economic loss.[121] In chickens, infectious bronchitis virus targets not only the respiratory tract but also the urogenital tract. The virus can spread to different organs throughout the chicken.[120] The virus is transmitted by aersol and food contaminated by feces. Different vaccines against IBV exist and have helped to limit the spread of the virus and its variants.[116] Infectious bronchitis virus is one of a number of strains of the species Avian coronavirus.[122] Another strain of avian coronavirus is turkey coronavirus (TCV) which causes enteritis in turkeys.[116]

Coronaviruses also affect other branches of animal husbandry such as pig farming and the cattle raising.[116] Swine acute diarrhea syndrome coronavirus (SADS-CoV), which is related to bat coronavirus HKU2, causes diarrhea in pigs.[123] Porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV) is a coronavirus that has recently emerged and similarly causes diarrhea in pigs.[124] Transmissible gastroenteritis virus (TGEV), which is a member of the species Alphacoronavirus 1,[125] is another coronavirus that causes diarrhea in young pigs.[126][127] In the cattle industry bovine coronavirus (BCV), which is a member of the species Betacoronavirus 1 and related to HCoV-OC43,[128] is responsible for severe profuse enteritis in young calves.[116]

Coronaviruses infect domestic pets such as cats, dogs, and ferrets.[119] There are two forms of feline coronavirus which are both members of the species Alphacoronavirus 1.[125] Feline enteric coronavirus is a pathogen of minor clinical significance, but spontaneous mutation of this virus can result in feline infectious peritonitis (FIP), a disease with high mortality.[116] There are two different coronaviruses that infect dogs. Canine coronavirus (CCoV), which is a member of the species Alphacoronavirus 1,[125] causes mild gastrointestinal disease.[116] Canine respiratory coronavirus (CRCoV), which is a member of the species Betacoronavirus 1 and related to HCoV-OC43,[128] cause respiratory disease.[116] Similarly, there are two types of coronavirus that infect ferrets.[129] Ferret enteric coronavirus causes a gastrointestinal syndrome known as epizootic catarrhal enteritis (ECE), and a more lethal systemic version of the virus (like FIP in cats) known as ferret systemic coronavirus (FSC).[130][131]

Coronaviruses infect laboratory animals.[116] Mouse hepatitis virus (MHV), which is a member of the species Murine coronavirus,[132] causes an epidemic murine illness with high mortality, especially among colonies of laboratory mice.[133] Prior to the discovery of SARS-CoV, MHV was the best-studied coronavirus both in vivo and in vitro as well as at the molecular level. Some strains of MHV cause a progressive demyelinating encephalitis in mice which has been used as a murine model for multiple sclerosis.[118] Sialodacryoadenitis virus (SDAV), which is a strain of the species Murine coronavirus,[132] is highly infectious coronavirus of laboratory rats, which can be transmitted between individuals by direct contact and indirectly by aerosol. Acute infections have high morbidity and tropism for the salivary, lachrymal and harderian glands.[134] Rabbit enteric coronavirus causes acute gastrointestinal disease and diarrhea in young European rabbits.[116] Mortality rates are high.[135]

There are no vaccines or antiviral drugs to prevent or treat human coronavirus infections. Treatment is only supportive. A number of antivirial targets have been identified such as viral proteases, polymerases, and entry proteins. Drugs are in development which target these proteins and the different steps of viral replication. A number of vaccines using different methods are also under development for different human coronaviruses.[43]

There are no antiviral drugs to treat animal coronaviruses. Vaccines are available for IBV, TGEV, and Canine CoV, although their effectiveness is limited. In the case of outbreaks of highly contagious animal coronaviruses, such as PEDV, measures such as destruction of entire herds of pigs may be used to prevent transmission to other herds.[43]

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Coronavirus - Wikipedia

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Young people in the US South and West are increasingly getting coronavirus – CNN

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Cuomo sounds off on Trump's decision to hold rally","duration":"02:09","sourceName":"CNN","sourceLink":"https://www.cnn.com/","videoCMSUrl":"/video/data/3.0/video/politics/2020/06/19/governor-andrew-cuomo-trump-rally-gupta-cooper-vpx.cnn/index.xml","videoId":"politics/2020/06/19/governor-andrew-cuomo-trump-rally-gupta-cooper-vpx.cnn","videoImage":"//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/200618205810-gov-cuomo-gupta-cooper-large-169.jpg","videoUrl":"/videos/politics/2020/06/19/governor-andrew-cuomo-trump-rally-gupta-cooper-vpx.cnn/video/playlists/coronavirus/","description":"New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks to CNN's u003ca href="/profiles/anderson-cooper-profile" target="_blank">Anderson Cooper u003c/a>and u003ca href="/profiles/sanjay-gupta-profile" target="_blank">Dr. Sanjay Guptau003c/a> about President Trump's upcoming rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and the implications it may have on coronavirus cases. ","descriptionText":"New York Gov. 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"},{"title":"Why gun shop owner banned masks for walk-in customers amid Covid-19","duration":"04:06","sourceName":"CNN","sourceLink":"https://www.cnn.com/","videoCMSUrl":"/video/data/3.0/video/us/2020/06/18/florida-gun-shop-owner-bans-masks-nr-keilar-vpx.cnn/index.xml","videoId":"us/2020/06/18/florida-gun-shop-owner-bans-masks-nr-keilar-vpx.cnn","videoImage":"//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/200618145250-gun-shop-owner-large-169.jpg","videoUrl":"/videos/us/2020/06/18/florida-gun-shop-owner-bans-masks-nr-keilar-vpx.cnn/video/playlists/coronavirus/","description":"Florida gun shop owner Alex Shkop, talks to CNN's u003ca href="/profiles/brianna-keilar-profile" target="_blank">Brianna Keilaru003c/a> about why he's choosing to ban masks for walk-in customers from his store amid a pandemic. ","descriptionText":"Florida gun shop owner Alex Shkop, talks to CNN's u003ca href="/profiles/brianna-keilar-profile" target="_blank">Brianna Keilaru003c/a> about why he's choosing to ban masks for walk-in customers from his store amid a pandemic. "},{"title":"Florida shows a spike in confirmed coronavirus cases","duration":"01:57","sourceName":"CNN","sourceLink":"https://www.cnn.com/","videoCMSUrl":"/video/data/3.0/video/us/2020/06/18/florida-next-possible-coronavirus-epicenter-gupta-new-day-vpx.cnn/index.xml","videoId":"us/2020/06/18/florida-next-possible-coronavirus-epicenter-gupta-new-day-vpx.cnn","videoImage":"//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/200618095730-coronavirus-model-florida-6-18-vpx-large-169.jpg","videoUrl":"/videos/us/2020/06/18/florida-next-possible-coronavirus-epicenter-gupta-new-day-vpx.cnn/video/playlists/coronavirus/","description":"A new model warns Florida could be the next coronavirus epicenter as the state sees a spike in confirmed cases. 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"},{"title":"Airline: Passenger deplanes after refusing to wear a mask ","duration":"01:52","sourceName":"CNN","sourceLink":"https://www.cnn.com/?refresh=1","videoCMSUrl":"/video/data/3.0/video/travel/2020/06/17/airline-passenger-removed-from-flight-mask-policy-muntean-crn-vpx.cnn/index.xml","videoId":"travel/2020/06/17/airline-passenger-removed-from-flight-mask-policy-muntean-crn-vpx.cnn","videoImage":"//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/200513080848-airlines-mask-policies-0505-large-169.jpg","videoUrl":"/videos/travel/2020/06/17/airline-passenger-removed-from-flight-mask-policy-muntean-crn-vpx.cnn/video/playlists/coronavirus/","description":"American Airlines says their staff asked a passenger to deplane on a flight from New York to Dallas after he refused to wear a mask. This comes after multiple airlines announced policies requiring passengers to wear masks to help protect customers from the coronavirus. 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Young people in the US South and West are increasingly getting coronavirus - CNN

Posted in Corona Virus | Comments Off on Young people in the US South and West are increasingly getting coronavirus – CNN

Texas coronavirus cases, hospitalizations surging in big cities – The Texas Tribune

Posted: at 6:07 pm

As Texas' coronavirus cases and hospitalizations continue to break records for a second straight week, leaders and health experts in the largest cities are warning that the state is heading down a dangerous path and hospitals could soon be overwhelmed.

Gov. Greg Abbott is expected to address the state's response to the rising cases in a press conference at 2 p.m. Central.

Travis County and Austin-area cases dramatically increased over the weekend, surging to 6,210 on Monday, compared with about 4,991 reported Friday.

In an open letter published Sunday, Austin Mayor Steve Adler called on residents to take the threat of the coronavirus seriously. He said the risk of catching the virus is three times higher than it was two weeks ago.

"The virus is here. Infections are rising. If we want the economy to reopen fully and stay open, we have to take this seriously," he wrote.

If cases continue to increase at this pace, Adler said officials will soon have to "choose between returning to sheltering at home or watching as our hospitals get overwhelmed and we suffer many preventable deaths."

"We could act now to try to change that trajectory," he said "Wear masks, socials distance, dont be around people if you even think you might have the virus. Weve got to do this, weve got to do this together, weve got to do this now."

Meanwhile, Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, predicted over the weekend that Houston is on the brink of a disaster, based on the latest trends in increasing numbers.

"My observations if this trajectory persists: 1) Houston would become the worst affected city in the US, maybe rival what we're seeing now in Brazil 2) The masks = good 1st step but simply won't be enough 3) We would need to proceed to red alert," Hotez tweeted.

In the Houston region alone, the number of confirmed or suspected patients in intensive care unit beds has leapt 80%, from 273 on Memorial Day to 506 on Saturday, according to the Southeast Texas Regional Advisory Council. The increase in cases could exceed hospital intensive care units' capacity in two weeks in the greater Houston area, according to data gathered by the Texas Medical Center.

Last week, with Abbott's blessing, city mayors and county judges started requiring that business mandate face masks inside where social distancing is not possible. Abbott previously said that local leaders could not penalize individuals for refusing to wear masks, but last week he OK'd the business regulation.

According to data collected from UT Southwestern Medical Center on Friday, Dallas-Fort Worth hospitalizations due to COVID-19 have increased by 24% compared with the week before, experts said Monday. Because of the percentage of COVID-19 tests coming back positive, UT Southwesterns model predicts that new cases and hospitalizations will increase by approximately 20% over the next two weeks.

These numbers, as you can see, in the last two weeks are trending upwards alarmingly, and they've been the highest numbers that we've ever seen in the D-FW area, said Dr. Mujeeb Basit, an assistant professor of internal medicine and cardiology at UT Southwestern.

We're still relatively low [percentage] in terms of hospital capacity, we're the highest that we've ever been, but the percentage wise is all still relatively low. It's around about 10 to 15%. But with the doubling rate, that's only about three weeks of capacity if you really think about it, he added.

Basit said there has been a sharp increase in the number of cases among younger people in North Texas.

That's translating into the younger people who are requiring hospitalization and younger people who are now requiring ICU [care], he said.

In June, people under 50 have made up 50% of those hospitalized in D-FW hospitals and 30% of those in critical care, according to data gathered by UT Southwestern.

The medical center tracked a surge in hospitalizations two weeks after holiday weekends such as Easter and Memorial Day. Now researchers are concerned by a potential surge after July 4.

Major holidays really affected the curve quite significantly, Basit said. But with July 4, that is really an unknown. You could have an increase in the reproduction number quite significantly if you have big gatherings.

Cases are also rising fast in Hays County, south of Austin, particularly in San Marcos, home to Texas State University. Until June, the county typically fewer than 20 new cases each day.

That changed about a week after the Memorial Day weekend. On June 11, the county reported 82 new cases of the virus "you read that right, 82," local officials emphasized in an incredulous press release. Since then, the county has reported more than 100 cases on many days, including more than 200 on Thursday. Individuals in their 20s make up a huge share of those cases.

"We're in a national hot spot, y'all. Be safe," warned state Rep. Erin Zwiener, a Democrat who represents the area in the Texas House. She cautioned that case numbers in Hays County are growing faster than those in the rest of the Austin metropolitan area.

When Abbott let businesses start reopening, he pointed to two metrics as encouraging signs: the hospitalization rate, or proportion of infected Texans who are requiring hospitalization, and the infection rate, or the ratio of positive cases to tests conducted. At the time, he said his future decisions about business reopenings would be contingent on whether the infection rate which public health experts want below 6% stays flat or decreases.

The seven-day positivity rate has surpassed 6% every day since June 2, reaching 8.8% on Sunday.

That is up since May, when the average positivity rate dipped to 4.3%, but down significantly from April, when it spiked to 13.9%. The number of people hospitalized with the coronavirus has also steadily increased since late May.

Its reached record high levels for 13 of the last 14 days, with 3,711 patients hospitalized with the virus as of Monday. The number is likely an undercount as the state only tallies lab-confirmed COVID-19 cases.

Abbott has said the the state has abundant hospital capacity and that officials remain laser focused on maintaining it.

Disclosure: UT Southwestern Medical Center; Texas State University; and Steve Adler, a former Texas Tribune board chairman, have been financial supporters of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune's journalism. Find a complete list of them here.

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Texas coronavirus cases, hospitalizations surging in big cities - The Texas Tribune

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What you need to know about coronavirus on Monday, June 22 – CNN

Posted: at 6:07 pm

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With skyrocketing unemployment, the government is reopening the economy, and will test tourists upon arrival. CNN's Max Foster reports.","descriptionText":"Despite a high infection rate, Iceland managed one of the world's lowest Covid-19 death rates. With skyrocketing unemployment, the government is reopening the economy, and will test tourists upon arrival. 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CNN's Anna Stewart reports.","descriptionText":"Germany is racing to stop a new coronavirus outbreak after 650 workers at an abattoir in the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia tested positive for Covid-19. 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Journalist Atika Shubert reports.","descriptionText":"Amid the coronavirus pandemic, nearly 11,000 German tourists are taking part in a summer holiday pilot program in Spain's Balearic islands. The islands aim to set an example for the new normal of beach holidays. 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CNN's David McKenzie reports.","descriptionText":"As Covid-19 swept across the world, the World Health Organization began sounding the alarm over a potential crisis on the African continent. But nearly five months on, those catastrophic scenarios haven't happened. CNN's David McKenzie reports."},{"title":"Portugal unveils safety program to win travelers back","duration":"02:24","sourceName":"CNN","sourceLink":"https://www.cnn.com/","videoCMSUrl":"/video/data/3.0/video/travel/2020/06/16/portugal-coronavirus-tourism-antonio-costa-exclusive-pleitgen-pkg-intl-hnk-vpx.cnn/index.xml","videoId":"travel/2020/06/16/portugal-coronavirus-tourism-antonio-costa-exclusive-pleitgen-pkg-intl-hnk-vpx.cnn","videoImage":"//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/200616164206-portugal-coronavirus-tourism-antonio-costa-exclusive-pleitgen-pkg-intl-hnk-vpx-00000506-large-169.jpg","videoUrl":"/videos/travel/2020/06/16/portugal-coronavirus-tourism-antonio-costa-exclusive-pleitgen-pkg-intl-hnk-vpx.cnn/video/playlists/coronavirus-intl/","description":"Portugal is now trying to market itself as a 'safe' option to lure tourists back as the Covid-19 pandemic has taken a toll on the country's tourism-dependent economy. u003ca href="http://www.cnn.com/profiles/frederik-pleitgen" target="_blank">CNN's Fred Pleitgenu003c/a> speaks to the Portuguese prime minister Antonio Costa about the new travel program. ","descriptionText":"Portugal is now trying to market itself as a 'safe' option to lure tourists back as the Covid-19 pandemic has taken a toll on the country's tourism-dependent economy. u003ca href="http://www.cnn.com/profiles/frederik-pleitgen" target="_blank">CNN's Fred Pleitgenu003c/a> speaks to the Portuguese prime minister Antonio Costa about the new travel program. 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"},{"title":"Germany calls army after virus outbreak in meat processing plant","duration":"02:29","sourceName":"CNN","sourceLink":"https://www.cnn.com","videoCMSUrl":"/video/data/3.0/video/world/2020/06/22/germany-coronavirus-covid-19-meatpacking-plant-reproduction-rate-pleitgen-pkg-intl-ldn-vpx.cnn/index.xml","videoId":"world/2020/06/22/germany-coronavirus-covid-19-meatpacking-plant-reproduction-rate-pleitgen-pkg-intl-ldn-vpx.cnn","videoImage":"//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/200622142340-germany-coronavirus-covid-19-meatpacking-plant-reproduction-rate-pleitgen-pkg-intl-ldn-vpx-00000326-large-169.jpg","videoUrl":"/videos/world/2020/06/22/germany-coronavirus-covid-19-meatpacking-plant-reproduction-rate-pleitgen-pkg-intl-ldn-vpx.cnn/video/playlists/coronavirus-intl/","description":"The reproduction number of the coronavirus in Germany has risen sharply after an outbreak at a meat processing plant infected hundreds of workers. 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","descriptionText":"Restaurants in Paris are scrambling to reopen after French President Emmanuel Macron declared the first wave of the coronavirus crisis over. "},{"title":"Coronavirus diverting funds for traumatized refugees","duration":"02:21","sourceName":"CNN","sourceLink":"http://www.cnn.com","videoCMSUrl":"/video/data/3.0/video/world/2020/06/20/syria-refugees-turkey-coronavirus-covid-19-damon-pkg-vpx.cnn/index.xml","videoId":"world/2020/06/20/syria-refugees-turkey-coronavirus-covid-19-damon-pkg-vpx.cnn","videoImage":"//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/200620064728-syria-refugees-damon-package-large-169.jpg","videoUrl":"/videos/world/2020/06/20/syria-refugees-turkey-coronavirus-covid-19-damon-pkg-vpx.cnn/video/playlists/coronavirus-intl/","description":"CNN's Arwa Damon shares a Syrian refugee family's story of danger and difficulty during the coronavirus pandemic.","descriptionText":"CNN's Arwa Damon shares a Syrian refugee family's story of danger and difficulty during the coronavirus pandemic."},{"title":"Brazil passes 1 million coronavirus cases","duration":"02:30","sourceName":"CNN","sourceLink":"http://www.cnn.com/","videoCMSUrl":"/video/data/3.0/video/world/2020/06/19/brazil-one-million-coronavirus-cases-matt-rivers-pkg-intl-vpx.cnn/index.xml","videoId":"world/2020/06/19/brazil-one-million-coronavirus-cases-matt-rivers-pkg-intl-vpx.cnn","videoImage":"//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/200612193829-01-brazil-coronavirus-0611-large-169.jpg","videoUrl":"/videos/world/2020/06/19/brazil-one-million-coronavirus-cases-matt-rivers-pkg-intl-vpx.cnn/video/playlists/coronavirus-intl/","description":"CNN's u003ca href="https://www.cnn.com/profiles/matt-rivers" target="_blank">Matt Riversu003c/a> reports that Brazil now has 1 million coronavirus cases as President Jaie Bolsonaro remains defiant about his administration's response to the pandemic.","descriptionText":"CNN's u003ca href="https://www.cnn.com/profiles/matt-rivers" target="_blank">Matt Riversu003c/a> reports that Brazil now has 1 million coronavirus cases as President Jaie Bolsonaro remains defiant about his administration's response to the pandemic."},{"title":"For some Venice residents, reopening after lockdown is bittersweet","duration":"03:04","sourceName":"CNN","sourceLink":"https://www.cnn.com","videoCMSUrl":"/video/data/3.0/video/travel/2020/06/19/venice-italy-coronavirus-covid-19-pandemic-reopening-tourism-business-wedeman-pkg-intl-ldn-vpx.cnn/index.xml","videoId":"travel/2020/06/19/venice-italy-coronavirus-covid-19-pandemic-reopening-tourism-business-wedeman-pkg-intl-ldn-vpx.cnn","videoImage":"//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/200619123111-venice-italy-coronavirus-covid-19-pandemic-reopening-tourism-business-wedeman-pkg-intl-ldn-vpx-00020923-large-169.jpg","videoUrl":"/videos/travel/2020/06/19/venice-italy-coronavirus-covid-19-pandemic-reopening-tourism-business-wedeman-pkg-intl-ldn-vpx.cnn/video/playlists/coronavirus-intl/","description":"Before coronavirus, Venice was overwhelmed by tourists - a boon for the city's economy but a sometimes inconvenient reality for residents. As the city reopens, some residents tell CNN's Ben Wedeman they hope a new balance can be struck.","descriptionText":"Before coronavirus, Venice was overwhelmed by tourists - a boon for the city's economy but a sometimes inconvenient reality for residents. As the city reopens, some residents tell CNN's Ben Wedeman they hope a new balance can be struck."},{"title":"New coronavirus outbreak in Beijing linked to market","duration":"03:25","sourceName":"CNN","sourceLink":"https://www.cnn.com/","videoCMSUrl":"/video/data/3.0/video/world/2020/06/19/china-beijing-coronavirus-outbreak-xinfadi-market-culver-intl-hnk-vpx.cnn/index.xml","videoId":"world/2020/06/19/china-beijing-coronavirus-outbreak-xinfadi-market-culver-intl-hnk-vpx.cnn","videoImage":"//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/200619110404-beijing-xinfadi-market-large-169.jpg","videoUrl":"/videos/world/2020/06/19/china-beijing-coronavirus-outbreak-xinfadi-market-culver-intl-hnk-vpx.cnn/video/playlists/coronavirus-intl/","description":"China's capital city Beijing is adopting new "wartime" measures to contain the spread of the new Covid-19 outbreak linked to a market. CNN's David Culver reports. ","descriptionText":"China's capital city Beijing is adopting new "wartime" measures to contain the spread of the new Covid-19 outbreak linked to a market. CNN's David Culver reports. "},{"title":"How Iceland is beating coronavirus and reopening its borders","duration":"03:16","sourceName":"CNN","sourceLink":"www.cnn.com","videoCMSUrl":"/video/data/3.0/video/travel/2020/06/18/iceland-coronavirus-covid-19-pandemic-reopening-foster-pkg-intl-ldn-vpx.cnn/index.xml","videoId":"travel/2020/06/18/iceland-coronavirus-covid-19-pandemic-reopening-foster-pkg-intl-ldn-vpx.cnn","videoImage":"//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/200618124411-iceland-coronavirus-covid-19-pandemic-reopening-foster-pkg-intl-ldn-vpx-00004929-large-169.jpg","videoUrl":"/videos/travel/2020/06/18/iceland-coronavirus-covid-19-pandemic-reopening-foster-pkg-intl-ldn-vpx.cnn/video/playlists/coronavirus-intl/","description":"Despite a high infection rate, Iceland managed one of the world's lowest Covid-19 death rates. With skyrocketing unemployment, the government is reopening the economy, and will test tourists upon arrival. CNN's Max Foster reports.","descriptionText":"Despite a high infection rate, Iceland managed one of the world's lowest Covid-19 death rates. With skyrocketing unemployment, the government is reopening the economy, and will test tourists upon arrival. 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CNN's Anna Stewart reports.","descriptionText":"Germany is racing to stop a new coronavirus outbreak after 650 workers at an abattoir in the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia tested positive for Covid-19. CNN's Anna Stewart reports."},{"title":"Spain kickstarts summer holidays with pilot tourism program","duration":"02:14","sourceName":"CNN","sourceLink":"https://www.cnn.com/","videoCMSUrl":"/video/data/3.0/video/travel/2020/06/18/spain-mallorca-islands-coronavirus-reopening-tourism-shubert-pkg-intl-hnk-vpx.cnn/index.xml","videoId":"travel/2020/06/18/spain-mallorca-islands-coronavirus-reopening-tourism-shubert-pkg-intl-hnk-vpx.cnn","videoImage":"//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/200618165221-spain-mallorca-islands-coronavirus-reopening-tourism-shubert-pkg-intl-hnk-vpx-00021326-large-169.jpg","videoUrl":"/videos/travel/2020/06/18/spain-mallorca-islands-coronavirus-reopening-tourism-shubert-pkg-intl-hnk-vpx.cnn/video/playlists/coronavirus-intl/","description":"Amid the coronavirus pandemic, nearly 11,000 German tourists are taking part in a summer holiday pilot program in Spain's Balearic islands. The islands aim to set an example for the new normal of beach holidays. 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Journalist Atika Shubert reports."},{"title":"Juventus superstar on having Covid-19 and playing with Ronaldo and Messi","duration":"03:18","sourceName":"CNN","sourceLink":"","videoCMSUrl":"/video/data/3.0/video/sports/2020/06/17/paulo-dybala-juventus-cristiano-ronaldo-leo-messi-champions-league-coronavirus-spt-intl-lon-orig.cnn/index.xml","videoId":"sports/2020/06/17/paulo-dybala-juventus-cristiano-ronaldo-leo-messi-champions-league-coronavirus-spt-intl-lon-orig.cnn","videoImage":"//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/200608205827-dybala-celebration-large-169.jpg","videoUrl":"/videos/sports/2020/06/17/paulo-dybala-juventus-cristiano-ronaldo-leo-messi-champions-league-coronavirus-spt-intl-lon-orig.cnn/video/playlists/coronavirus-intl/","description":"Juventus star Paulo Dybala tells CNN about catching and recovering from coronavirus, playing in empty stadiums and sharing the pitch with Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.","descriptionText":"Juventus star Paulo Dybala tells CNN about catching and recovering from coronavirus, playing in empty stadiums and sharing the pitch with Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi."},{"title":"Video shows disinfection tunnel installed at Putin's residence","duration":"02:04","sourceName":"CNN","sourceLink":"https://www.cnn.com","videoCMSUrl":"/video/data/3.0/video/world/2020/06/17/russia-putin-disinfection-tunnel-covid-19-coronavirus-pandemic-chance-intl-ldn-vpx.cnn/index.xml","videoId":"world/2020/06/17/russia-putin-disinfection-tunnel-covid-19-coronavirus-pandemic-chance-intl-ldn-vpx.cnn","videoImage":"//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/200617040943-disinfection-tunnel-russia-large-169.jpg","videoUrl":"/videos/world/2020/06/17/russia-putin-disinfection-tunnel-covid-19-coronavirus-pandemic-chance-intl-ldn-vpx.cnn/video/playlists/coronavirus-intl/","description":"A special disinfectant tunnel has been installed in Russian President Vladimir Putin's house to protect him from coronavirus, according to state news agency RIA-Novosti. CNN's Matthew Chance reports.","descriptionText":"A special disinfectant tunnel has been installed in Russian President Vladimir Putin's house to protect him from coronavirus, according to state news agency RIA-Novosti. CNN's Matthew Chance reports."},{"title":"Covid-19 mostly sparing African nations. But concerns remain","duration":"02:32","sourceName":"CNN","sourceLink":"https://www.cnn.com","videoCMSUrl":"/video/data/3.0/video/world/2020/06/16/africa-coronavirus-covid-19-pandemic-mckenzie-pkg-intl-ldn-vpx.cnn/index.xml","videoId":"world/2020/06/16/africa-coronavirus-covid-19-pandemic-mckenzie-pkg-intl-ldn-vpx.cnn","videoImage":"//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/200616142510-africa-coronavirus-covid-19-pandemic-mckenzie-pkg-intl-ldn-vpx-00003522-large-169.jpg","videoUrl":"/videos/world/2020/06/16/africa-coronavirus-covid-19-pandemic-mckenzie-pkg-intl-ldn-vpx.cnn/video/playlists/coronavirus-intl/","description":"As Covid-19 swept across the world, the World Health Organization began sounding the alarm over a potential crisis on the African continent. But nearly five months on, those catastrophic scenarios haven't happened. CNN's David McKenzie reports.","descriptionText":"As Covid-19 swept across the world, the World Health Organization began sounding the alarm over a potential crisis on the African continent. But nearly five months on, those catastrophic scenarios haven't happened. CNN's David McKenzie reports."},{"title":"Portugal unveils safety program to win travelers back","duration":"02:24","sourceName":"CNN","sourceLink":"https://www.cnn.com/","videoCMSUrl":"/video/data/3.0/video/travel/2020/06/16/portugal-coronavirus-tourism-antonio-costa-exclusive-pleitgen-pkg-intl-hnk-vpx.cnn/index.xml","videoId":"travel/2020/06/16/portugal-coronavirus-tourism-antonio-costa-exclusive-pleitgen-pkg-intl-hnk-vpx.cnn","videoImage":"//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/200616164206-portugal-coronavirus-tourism-antonio-costa-exclusive-pleitgen-pkg-intl-hnk-vpx-00000506-large-169.jpg","videoUrl":"/videos/travel/2020/06/16/portugal-coronavirus-tourism-antonio-costa-exclusive-pleitgen-pkg-intl-hnk-vpx.cnn/video/playlists/coronavirus-intl/","description":"Portugal is now trying to market itself as a 'safe' option to lure tourists back as the Covid-19 pandemic has taken a toll on the country's tourism-dependent economy. u003ca href="http://www.cnn.com/profiles/frederik-pleitgen" target="_blank">CNN's Fred Pleitgenu003c/a> speaks to the Portuguese prime minister Antonio Costa about the new travel program. ","descriptionText":"Portugal is now trying to market itself as a 'safe' option to lure tourists back as the Covid-19 pandemic has taken a toll on the country's tourism-dependent economy. u003ca href="http://www.cnn.com/profiles/frederik-pleitgen" target="_blank">CNN's Fred Pleitgenu003c/a> speaks to the Portuguese prime minister Antonio Costa about the new travel program. "},{"title":"Beijing reintroduces strict lockdown following new outbreak","duration":"02:08","sourceName":"CNN","sourceLink":"https://wwwcnn.com/","videoCMSUrl":"/video/data/3.0/video/world/2020/06/16/china-beijing-coronavirus-xinfadi-market-watson-pkg-intl-hnk-vpx.cnn/index.xml","videoId":"world/2020/06/16/china-beijing-coronavirus-xinfadi-market-watson-pkg-intl-hnk-vpx.cnn","videoImage":"//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/200616134235-beijing-new-lockdown-large-169.jpg","videoUrl":"/videos/world/2020/06/16/china-beijing-coronavirus-xinfadi-market-watson-pkg-intl-hnk-vpx.cnn/video/playlists/coronavirus-intl/","description":"Beijing is reintroducing strict lockdown measures and rolling out mass testing after a fresh cluster of Covid-19 cases emerged from the city's largest wholesale food market, sparking fears of a resurgence of the deadly outbreak. u003ca href="http://www.cnn.com/profiles/ivan-watson" target="_blank">CNN's Ivan Watsonu003c/a> reports. ","descriptionText":"Beijing is reintroducing strict lockdown measures and rolling out mass testing after a fresh cluster of Covid-19 cases emerged from the city's largest wholesale food market, sparking fears of a resurgence of the deadly outbreak. u003ca href="http://www.cnn.com/profiles/ivan-watson" target="_blank">CNN's Ivan Watsonu003c/a> reports. "}],'js-video_headline-featured-1s60k3z','',"js-video_source-featured-1s60k3z",true,true,'coronavirus-intl');if (typeof configObj.context !== 'string' || configObj.context.length

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What you need to know about coronavirus on Monday, June 22 - CNN

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How Germany Is Containing Its Outbreak With Contact Tracing : Shots – Health News – NPR

Posted: at 6:07 pm

People leave a train at the central station in Frankfurt, Germany, on Thursday. Michael Probst/AP hide caption

People leave a train at the central station in Frankfurt, Germany, on Thursday.

Germany, a country of more than 83 million people, has flattened its coronavirus curve, dropping from a peak of more than 6,000 new cases a day to just around 600 now. Contact tracing by telephone is one tool the country has relied on.

"Public Health Authority, Pankow," says an operator, answering her phone before the first ring is over and identifying the Berlin district where she works. "So," she confirms with the caller, "you've had contact with someone who's tested positive."

She asks for the name of the infected person, types it into her computer, and the caller's name appears on her screen as someone the contact tracers were about to call.

"Did you spend more than 15 minutes at close contact with this person?" the operator asks. The caller tells her they went for a walk.

Across Germany, there are about 400 call centers like this one, each filled with dozens of operators fielding calls from worried citizens, taking first steps at contact tracing and referring callers to medical personnel.

The Corona-Warn-App is Germany's newly launched contact-tracing smartphone app. Adam Berry/Getty Images hide caption

The Corona-Warn-App is Germany's newly launched contact-tracing smartphone app.

Along with other European leaders, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has prioritized tracking infection chains as the key to slowing the spread of COVID-19. Germany has confirmed more than 190,000 cases of the coronavirus and nearly 9,000 deaths, but the spread of the virus has slowed to about 600 new cases a day, prompting the government to reopen most businesses while issuing social distancing rules in public.

Merkel aims for the country to have one tracer per 4,000 people nearly 21,000 tracers for Germany's population of 83 million.

"We've recruited staff from other district authorities, including social services, but we also have traffic wardens and librarians working for us," says Dr. Uwe Peters, director of the Pankow district health authority. "We've even recruited gardeners from parks and recreation. They all help man the hotline. We also have students helping out and we're about to be allocated five soldiers as well."

Peters says that when the pandemic hit, he scrambled to hire tracers, transferring many from other district offices that had been shut down because of the pandemic and doubling his staff to around 300 workers.

As Germany's case numbers rose in March, Peters had to train his recruits to trace every infection in their district. Tracers start with confirmation of a patient's positive coronavirus test the public health authority is the first to be informed. Then they call the infected person and make a list of each person they've had contact with since they first had symptoms.

"Sometimes it's a short list, like only close family, and sometimes it's a really long list," says Dr. Claudia Krummacher, a pediatrician who manages a team of tracers at the call center in Pankow.

"And then, basically, you have to contact all the people on the list, everybody on the list, and try to try to find out" the level of contact they've had with the infected person, she says "which is a little bit like detective work."

Krummacher says if anyone on the list had contact within 6 feet of the infected person for more than 15 minutes, they're put under state-mandated quarantine at home, called every day by tracers and, if necessary, tested for the coronavirus. If they test positive, the whole tracing cycle begins again.

At the height of the pandemic in April, she says, it seemed as if the work would never end. Her office occasionally handled a case of an infected schoolteacher, which meant they had to talk to the parents of hundreds of students, asking the same questions over and over.

"One teacher had contact with 400 students," says Krummacher. "It could also be a midwife working at the hospital, having close contact to many, many women. There are all sorts of constellations."

Krummacher's husband is also a front-line health worker in a neighboring district. They work through each weekend because, she says, the coronavirus doesn't take weekends off. They spend long hours away from their three young children, who are the first to be dropped off at their day care and schools and the last to be picked up.

The sacrifice is worth it, she says.

"We cut back on our grown-up private time, so to speak, in the evenings," she says. "Of course, we are doing the work that's left over from the day. So there's not much of a social life right now. I miss meeting with my friends. I miss spending time with my husband. But I think as long as it's just for a defined period of time, we can manage. I realize that it's really important work we're doing to try to stop the pandemic."

This week, Krummacher and her colleagues suddenly had help from the government's new contact tracing app that uses GPS and Bluetooth technology to trace coronavirus infections. It has been downloaded more than 10 million times. But before the app's launch, Krummacher told NPR she wasn't sure how it would affect her work.

"It's not really clear what we will do with this information," she said of the data the app will relay to health authorities like her.

Because of Germany's strict data privacy laws, the names of those who report themselves as infected won't be used. This makes Krummacher nervous.

"How do we make sure that the person pressing the button for 'I've tested positive' is not just doing it for fun, like a hoax?" she said.

Back at the Pankow health authority, the operator discovers the friend of an infected person has symptoms, too. She dispatches a medical team to conduct a test.

"You'll be under quarantine for 14 days, effective immediately," she says. "This means no visitors, no going to your mailbox, no going to the supermarket. Do you have someone who can pick up groceries for you?" she asks.

"If not," she adds, "we provide that service, too."

Esme Nicholson contributed to this report.

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Coronavirus daily news updates, June 22: What to know today about COVID-19 in the Seattle area, Washington state and the world – Seattle Times

Posted: at 6:07 pm

Soaring infections in Yakima County led Gov. Jay Inslee to announce Saturday that he would order that areas residents to wear masks in public places.

Several operating room staff members at Seattles Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle have tested positive for COVID-19.

Statewide, another 455 coronavirus cases were confirmed on Sunday, bringing official state totals to 28,680 diagnoses out of 474,938 tests administered, meaning a 6% positive test rate including 1,270 deaths, according to the state Department of Health.

Throughout Monday, on this page, well post updates from Seattle Times journalists and others on the pandemic and its effects on the Seattle area, the Pacific Northwest and the world. Updates from Sunday can be found here, and all our coronavirus coverage can be found here.

A Seattle entrepreneur who marketed and sold an unauthorized coronavirus vaccine has agreed to settle a lawsuit by the Washington state Attorney Generals Office by repaying his customers and permanently refraining from similar activity.

Johnny Stine on Monday signed a legally binding consent decree to repay up to 30 people hedallegedly soldhis COVID-19 spike protein vaccine to for $400 each. He also agreed to pay the Attorney Generals Office $8,500 in legal fees; $30,000 in potential fines will be suspended as long as he complies with the agreement.

Stine had faced a maximum fine of $2,000 for each of the 30 counts of allegedly selling the purported vaccine and for allegedly touting his scientific credentials and the benefits of his concoction to those questioning its legality on social media.

No COVID-19 vaccine has attained Food and Drug Administration approval, and developing one is expected to take at least until next year.

Read the full story here.

Geoff Baker

Visitors are able to enter the White House complex without having their temperatures checked for the first time since mid-March, although several other coronavirus precautions remain in place.

Those who come near the president will still undergo temperature checks and testing for the virus.

Over the past three months, those seeking to access the White House complex first had to get their temperatures checked and answer a question about whether they had experienced any symptoms associated with COVID-19. The White House said Monday it was scaling back complex-wide temperature checks as the District of Columbia enters phase two in its reopening.

Read the story here.

The Associated Press

Indias coronavirus caseload has risen to 425,282 as infections soar in rural areas to which migrant workers fleeing major cities have returned in recent weeks.

Indias health ministry on Monday reported 14,821 new cases and about 300 new deaths, bring the toll of fatalities up to more than 13,000. The coastal state of Goa reported its first COVID-19 death.

India is the fourth most-affected country globally after the United States, Brazil and Russia.

China reported 18 new cases of the coronavirus, including nine in Beijing and two in neighboring Hebei province.

South Korea has reported 17 new cases of COVID-19, the first time its daily jump came down to the teens in nearly a month. Its 40 to 50 cases per day increases over the past two weeks have occurred as people increased their public activities amid eased attitudes on social distancing. An increase in imported cases has prompted authorities to halt providing new visas for travelers from Pakistan and Bangladesh.

Read the story here.

The Associated Press

A camera trap photo of an injured tigress and a forensic examination of its carcass revealed why the creature died: A poachers wire snare punctured its windpipe and sapped its strength as the wound festered for days.

Snares like this one set in southern Indias dense forest have become increasingly common amid the coronavirus pandemic, as people left jobless turn to wildlife to make money and feed their families.

Authorities in India are concerned this spike in poaching not only could kill more endangered tigers and leopards but also species these carnivores depend upon to survive.

It is risky to poach, but if pushed to the brink, some could think that these are risks worth taking, said Mayukh Chatterjee, a wildlife biologist with the non-profit Wildlife Trust of India.

Since the country announced its lockdown, at least four tigers and six leopards have been killed by poachers, Wildlife Protection Society of India said. But there also were numerous other poaching casualties gazelles in grasslands, foot-long giant squirrels in forests, wild boars and birds such as peacocks and purple moorhens.

Read the story here.

The Associated Press

The restrictions on travel and business imposed to stem the coronaviruss spread wiped out nearly all travel revenue for Greece in April, according to Bank of Greece figures.

Provisional figures show travel receipts stood at 7 million euros in April, compared with 544 million euros in the same month last year, or a drop of 98.7%, Greeces central bank said Monday.

The fall in travel receipts resulted from a 96.2% decline in inbound traveler flows and a 62.2% decrease in average expenditure per trip, the Bank of Greece said in a statement.

Greeces economy depends heavily on tourism, which directly and indirectly accounts for around 20% of annual gross domestic product. After an early lockdown imposed in early March kept coronavirus deaths and serious illnesses at low levels, the country is reopening to visitors from abroad, with the government hoping to salvage what it can from the lucrative summer tourist season.

Read the story here.

The Associated Press

It began with a dry cough, weakness and back pain. For Reagan Taban Augustino, part of South Sudans small corps of health workers trained in treating COVID-19 patients, there was little doubt what he had.

Days later, hardly able to breathe, the 33-year-old doctor discovered just how poorly equipped his country is for the coronavirus pandemic: None of the public facilities he tried in the capital, Juba, had oxygen supplies available until he reached South Sudans only permanent infectious-disease unit, which has fewer than 100 beds for a country of 12 million people.

It took more than an hour to admit him. I was almost dying at the gate, he told The Associated Press from the unit last week.

The pandemic is now accelerating in Africa, the World Health Organization says.

South Sudan, a nation with more military generals than doctors, never had a fighting chance. Five years of civil war and corruption stripped away much of its health system, nearly half of the population was hungry before the pandemic, and a locust outbreak arrived just weeks before the virus.

Read the story here.

The Associated Press

Whats all this talk about a second wave of U.S. coronavirus cases?

In The Wall Street Journal last week, Vice President Mike Pence wrote in a piece headlined There Isnt a Coronavirus Second Wave' that the nation is winning the fight against the virus.

Many public health experts, however, suggest its no time to celebrate. About 120,000 Americans have died from the new virus, and daily counts of new cases in the U.S. are the highest theyve been in more than a month, driven by alarming recent increases in the South and West.

But there is at least one point of agreement: Second wave is probably the wrong term to describe whats happening.

When you have 20,000-plus infections per day, how can you talk about a second wave? said Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health. Were in the first wave. Lets get out of the first wave before you have a second wave.

Read the story here.

The Associated Press

Infectious disease experts expressed alarm Sunday over the pace of new coronavirus infections in several states in the South and Southwest, with one likening the spread in parts of the country to a forest fire.

At the same time, President Donald Trumps surrogates insisted he was joking on Saturday when he told rally-goers he had ordered a testing slowdown because the results painted an overly dire picture of the pandemic.

With the United States now reporting a quarter of the worlds coronavirus cases, and daily new-infection counts exceeding 30,000 nationwide on at least two recent days, eight states California among them last week hit single-day new-case highs, according to figures compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

Read the story here.

Los Angeles Times

Nearly 26% of parents with children 6 months to 18 years old say they are hesitant to have their children get a flu shot, according to research published in the journal Pediatrics.

It found that the parents reluctance stems not from concerns about safety but from doubts about the effectiveness of the influenza vaccine. By contrast, just 6% of parents question the effectiveness of routine childhood vaccines, such as those for measles, mumps and whooping cough.

Public health experts are particularly concerned that people of all ages get flu shots this year, given that the flu season and an expected second wave of cases of the new coronavirus are likely to coincide this fall and winter, severely stressing hospitals and the health-care system generally.

Read the full story here.

The Washington Post

NEW YORK Tour promoter Live Nation has announced its first-ever drive-in concerts series in the U.S. for July, months into the live music industry's lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The entertainment company on Monday announced Live from the Drive-In a set of nine shows to take place July 10-12 in Nashville, Tennessee; Maryland Heights, Missouri; and Noblesville, Indiana. Performers include Nelly, Brad Paisley, Darius Rucker and Jon Pardi.

Concertgoers will be able to drive into the parking lots of the amphitheaters a maximum of four people per car and will have two empty parking lot spaces in between each vehicle so fans can watch and party from their designated individual tailgating zones.

Read the full story here.

The Associated Press

Hot, sunny weather is on the way, but with restrictions in place and an anxiety-provoking start to 2020, the usual summery sense of ease may be hard to find.

It might seem easier to stay hunkered down. But this is, perhaps, when we need summer most of all.

Amid the interruption in our physical rhythms and daily lives, a psychiatrist has practical recommendations for taking care of yourself.

Christine Clarridge

Katherine Long

Kris Higginson

Seattle Times staff & news services

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Coronavirus daily news updates, June 22: What to know today about COVID-19 in the Seattle area, Washington state and the world - Seattle Times

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The U.S. has hamstrung itself: How America became the new Italy on coronavirus – POLITICO

Posted: at 6:07 pm

Jha and other public health experts say that Americas piecemeal, politicized approach to fighting coronavirus has left the United States ever-further behind the Western European nations that were similarly threatened by the virus but moved more judiciously to fend it off. They also say that Western Europe is a better comparison point for the United States than nations like South Korea and Singapore, which had been scarred by previous viral outbreaks and were more prepared to handle the arrival of Covid-19. After the damaging initial spike in cases, European Union members' total daily case count is now about one-eighth of the U.S. daily cases despite having roughly the same population.

Both we and Western Europe were really slow to act, said Jeremy Konyndyk of the Center for Global Development, who helped oversee international aid efforts during the Obama administration. But the worst performers in Europe with the bad luck to get hit first, like Italy and Spain they are now down 85, 95 percent in terms of case counts from the peak.

In the US, weve struggled to get it down one-third and in the last few days, it looks like it could rebound again, Konyndyk added.

Public health experts cited multiple factors for why the fortunes of the United States have differed from Western Europe starting with the intense politicization that worked against a disciplined response, and the federal governments decision to let individual states take the lead in reopening. The decisions of some states to end their lockdowns as early as possible at levels of infection considerably higher than those that triggered reopening in Western Europe appear to have consigned the United States to a far longer battle with the virus.

President Donald Trump and some Republican governors have bristled at public health experts advice, questioning predictions on viral spread and pushing back on recommended lockdowns. GOP-led states like Georgia and Texas reopened their economies despite requests from public health experts to wait for more testing and fewer cases.

Meanwhile, Trumps allies and pundits on Fox News pushed malaria drugs as possible Covid-19 cures, despite scant evidence, leading to largely fruitless efforts that consumed the time of senior federal officials including scientists whose time would have been better spent pursuing other therapies.

There are plenty of people, on cable TV and elsewhere, who exploited that the virus was primarily in New York and other places to say that it's a blue state problem, said Harvards Jha. Theyd ask, Why are we shutting down Montana when the problem is Manhattan?

Democrats, meanwhile, didnt condemn hundreds of thousands of people for violating restrictions on mass gatherings to protest police brutality this month. Instead, governors like New Jerseys Phil Murphy and Michigans Gretchen Whitmer broke the lockdown orders that they had extended just days before to join the protests themselves moves that confused many Americans about the need for social distancing and fueled charges of hypocrisy from conservatives.

Even basic protections have been politicized in the United States. Trump has eschewed a mask in public and has sometimes mocked others for wearing face coverings despite requirements that people wear masks in certain states and ample science that they work to prevent the virus spread.

The president also swiped at mask-wearers in a Wall Street Journal interview last Wednesday, suggesting that some Americans are wearing coverings to signal their disapproval with him. He has repeatedly voiced his hesitation about the widespread coronavirus testing urged by public health experts, including controversial remarks at his rally on Saturday.

"When you do testing to that extent, you're going to find more people," Trump said during his rally in Tulsa, Okla. "You're going to find more cases. So I said to my people, slow the testing down please." White House officials claimed Trump was joking.

But in Italy, theres been much less disagreement over scientists recommendations including lockdowns that were more restrictive than those applied in the United States particularly after the virus swiftly tore through the nation in early March, peaking at 6,557 new cases announced on March 21. (Adjusted for population, that would be equivalent to about 35,400 new cases in the United States.) While some protested, residents largely went along with restrictions that effectively banned jogging, instituted one-at-a-time entry policies for grocery stores and saw the Pope livestream his Easter Mass from an empty St. Peters Basilica.

That still wasnt enough to spare Italy from horrific consequences in the early spring: Doctors had to make decisions on the fly about who would get life-saving care when there werent enough beds to go around. Dead bodies had to be stored in sealed-off rooms until funeral services were available in the worst-hit regions.

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The U.S. has hamstrung itself: How America became the new Italy on coronavirus - POLITICO

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Texas coronavirus infections set daily record with 4,430 new cases – The Texas Tribune

Posted: at 6:07 pm

For the fourth time in five days, Texas reported a record number of new coronavirus cases Saturday as the virus continues to surge in one of the first states that allowed businesses to reopen after a weeks-long shutdown meant to slow the pandemic.

State health officials credit some of the 4,430 new cases to a data entry backlog in Harris County, which accounted for about 1,200 of the recorded illnesses. But Texas Department of State Health Services spokesperson Chris Van Deusen said part of the increase is also attributable to Texans gathering at bars, beaches, rivers and other social gatherings like graduation parties. He also said that people testing positive in prisons and at meatpacking plants continues to contribute to the growing number of cases.

The number of Texans hospitalized with the virus 3,247 people also set a record for the ninth consecutive day Saturday. More than 2,100 Texans have died from COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus. But the true death toll is certainly higher than the state's official count.

Gov. Greg Abbott said one of the key metrics he would watch as he allowed businesses to reopen was the infection rate, or the ratio of positive cases to tests conducted. Public health experts want the daily infection rate to remain below 6%. But Texas' seven-day average infection rate has been above 6% for more than two weeks.

Still, Abbott earlier this week said there was abundant space in hospitals for people getting sick with the virus. Van Deusen said that as of Saturday, there are 13,701 available beds available, compared with 13,571 a week ago.

"Were staying in close contact with hospitals on their situations, their plans for adding beds and staff, and making plans in case there is a need to use other facilities for people who need care for COVID-19 but dont need to be in a hospital" he said.

A spokesperson for Abbott's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment Saturday

Van Deusen said the state has also dramatically increased testing with the addition of mobile testing sites, adding that there are more than 3,000 contract tracers in the state who are working to identify hotspots and where community spread is most common. Thats short of Abbotts goal of having 4,000 tracers by June 1, but Van Deusen said state and local jurisdictions are still adding to those totals.

Were still looking to ramp up because we think there is going to be more work to do, he said.

Van Deusen also said that while the DSHS gives the governors office guidance on the coronavirus response, the decision to pause or even scale back business reopenings is up to the governor.

The state has taken some proactive measures to limit contagion since reopening began last month. The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission said that five bars have been temporarily closed for violating reopening guidelines, which allow restaurants to operate at 75% capacity and bars at 50%.

We warned businesses TABC will have no tolerance for breaking the rules, and now, some bars are paying the price, executive director Bentley Nettles said in a statement. "I hope other establishments will learn from these suspensions.

The first infraction forces a 30-day closure, and a second violation would mean a 60-day shutdown. Meanwhile, some bars and restaurants are closing voluntarily after employees have tested positive for the virus. Owners are balancing feedback from staff members, customers and officials as they weigh such decisions.

Abbott and health officials have attributed part of the recent surge to people in their 20s, whom leaders say may not be taking social distancing and other guidelines seriously. On Saturday, Dallas County officials said that almost half of all new infections reported after June 1 have been from people aged 18 to 39.

As the pandemic began to sweep Texas in March, Abbott left it up to local governments to respond to the virus however they saw fit and said he was confident that cities would make the best decisions for their communities.

Then, he changed his mind and blasted local officials in Dallas and Houston for what he and other leaders called overzealous enforcement of COVID-19 regulations.

At an April press conference where he talked about plans for reopening the state, Abbott took away local officials' ability to issue fines for violating coronavirus-related orders. Since then, local officials have asked for the ability to enforce orders that mandate people wear face masks in public.

After Abbott didnt budge, local officials across the state began mandating that businesses require customers to wear face masks, which the governor said was allowable. Bexar, Travis, Hidalgo, Cameron, El Paso, Harris and Dallas are among counties that have issued orders mandating businesses require face coverings or risk fines.

But local officials have said Abbott's sending mixed message by encouraging face masks, but not requiring them with an order. Yet some fellow Republicans have criticized Abbott for allowing businesses to require face masks.

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Texas coronavirus infections set daily record with 4,430 new cases - The Texas Tribune

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Coronavirus postponed a Texas election. Now there’s even greater risk for some voters. – The Texas Tribune

Posted: at 6:07 pm

When the coronavirus threat was newer and seemed more immediate, Texas postponed its May elections to pick winners in several party primary runoffs, fearing the health risks of exposing voters and poll workers.

With those statewide elections about to take place, the health risks voters face are now arguably greater than when the runoffs were initially called off.

The virus appears to be in much wider circulation than the original May 26 runoff date, with the state coming off a full week of record highs for COVID-19 hospitalizations and several consecutive days of record highs for daily reported infections.

But voters won't be required to wear masks at polling places. Gov. Greg Abbott, who earlier expressed concerns about exposing Texans "to the risk of death" at crowded polling sites, has forbidden local governments from requiring people to wear them in public.

And Texas Republicans, led by state Attorney General Ken Paxton, have successfully fought off legal efforts by Democrats and some voters to let more people vote by mail if they are fearful of being exposed to the virus at polling places.

With early voting starting June 29 and election day July 14, voters are largely left on their own to balance exercising their right to vote against the health risks that come with going to the polls in a pandemic. Some fear endangering themselves, while others fear bringing the virus back into homes they share with immunocompromised loved ones. The runoffs are relatively small elections with low turnout expected the marquee race is the Democratic showdown to see who will challenge U.S. Sen. John Cornyn in November but they'll prove an instructive test run for what Texas might face come November's high octane general election.

I feel like by voting I'm risking my life. By not voting, I dont know that Im risking the state of the country in a primary, said Monica Daucourt, a Dallas teacher. How important is the primary is what I'm weighing.

With a classroom full of high schoolers, Daucourt counts on falling ill every year. Typically, it's an annual bout of bronchitis, though pneumonia was the malady last November.

Knowing she's prone to respiratory illness, Daucourt has been practicing social distancing and limiting her outings since the Irma Lerma Rangel Young Womens Leadership School where she teaches went remote. Up until last week, she was planning to momentarily lower her shield and venture out to cast her ballot. But fear crept in as she's seen record high numbers for daily new coronavirus cases and hospitalizations rolling in. Now, shes trying to figure out if her history of respiratory illnesses might count as a disability under Texas law and make her eligible to vote by mail.

I dont know what kind of story I could build around myself to qualify, said Daucourt, who is in her 50s.

Across the state, election administrators have been trying to rework the mechanics of in-person voting to see how safe they can make it. Plastic barriers will go up at check-in stations and poll workers will be wearing an assortment of protective equipment like masks, shields and finger covers. A bounty of hand sanitizer will be at the ready. In some counties, voters will receive styluses or craft sticks to mark up their ballots to avoid contact with voting equipment.

The Texas Secretary of State has offered voters a list of suggestions for keeping safe, like screening themselves for symptoms and bringing their own hand sanitizer to the polls.

Wearing masks is also something voters might want to consider, the state's chief election officer suggests.

Selena Garza, a 35-year-old Houston voter with a pre-existing health condition, figures her safest route is to have a plan.

Looking to avoid a crowd, Garza is scouting out a polling place that typically sees low foot traffic. Like other voters, shes prepared to make multiple trips to the polls if shes met with a long line of voters who arent wearing masks but she knows thats not an option available to all.

I trust that the voting locations will take the best precautions, Garza said. My concern is you're in a shared space at that point and not everybody is on the same page when it comes to the safety protocols so what do you do at that point?

Texas has reached its runoff elections after fighting in court to keep its strict voting by mail rules in place during the pandemic for voters under the age 65.

Texas is among a minority of states that require voters to present an excuse to obtain a mail-in ballot. In some of those states, Democratic and Republican officials have either moved to expand mail-in voting due to the pandemic or allowed voters to use the coronavirus as a reason to vote by mail during the upcoming elections. But Texas Republican leaders have been unwilling to budge.

The option remains for people with disabilities or conditions that make a trip to the polls risky to their health. But the legal definition of a disability under state election law remains murky after several rounds of litigation. In fielding calls about voting by mail eligibility, local election officials have been quoting the Texas Supreme Courts recent ruling on the issue: A lack of immunity to the virus alone is not enough to claim eligibility for a mail-in ballot based on a disability, but it is a factor that can be considered as part of a voters medical situation.

And they have assured voters looking to apply for a mail in ballot in good faith that counties cant question or investigate their reasoning for requesting a ballot based on a disability or medical condition. When voters cite a disability to request a mail-in ballot, they simply check a box on the application form. They arent required to say what the disability is. If their application is properly filled out, local officials are supposed to send them a ballot.

But the litigation over an expansion and lack of clarity from the state has confused some high-risk voters, including some who may actually be eligible to vote by mail but are instead considering risking exposure to the virus.

The message has been muddled, said Sylvia Scott, a 63-year-old at-home caregiver in Dallas.

A diabetic with heart issues, she has been self isolating since giving up the rotation of older residents she cared for. Despite her medical conditions, Scott isnt sure if shes eligible to vote by mail or even how to apply, and asked for guidance while speaking to a reporter.

But with her familys legacy, theres no room to let an election go by without participating. Scott, who is black, still has records of the poll taxes her grandmother was forced to pay to vote. Though contracting the virus could come with deadly consequences for her, she invokes the price paid often with their own lives by those who worked to ensure people who look like her could vote.

Im probably going to end up standing in a line exposing myself to exercise my right to vote, which I really resent, she said.

Texas narrow qualifications are also forcing households with immunocompromised family members who are otherwise avoiding interacting with others to risk carrying the virus back from potentially crowded polling places.

We haven't had any outings. We do all of our groceries curbside. Very rarely have we gone into store and when we do protect ourselves with masks and wear gloves, said Joyce LeBombard, the past president of the League of Women Voters Austin area chapter whose husband is immunocompromised.

Existing law doesnt account for families like hers in a pandemic, LeBombard said. She and her husband are both under 65. His medical condition will allow him to cite a disability to request a mail-in ballot. LeBombard, meanwhile, isnt eligible.

Shes unwilling to sit an election out so shes looking into eligibility requirements for curbside voting in hopes of limiting her contact with others at the polling place, though shes not sure she qualifies for that either. Her ability to cast a ballot could come down to driving by the polling place closest to her home until she feels comfortable with the crowd size.

While I legally know I dont qualify, its my right to go vote. It's not a privilege. Its my right. Its my duty, LeBombard said. I feel its really unfair the state is trying to force me to make that kind of decision of giving up voting so I dont put my family at risk versus going and putting my family at risk.

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5 Things To Watch This Week: Coronavirus, Politics And Police – NPR

Posted: at 6:07 pm

A bartender wearing a face mask and gloves checks a patron's ID at Under the Volcano in Houston last month. Texas is one of the states seeing a big uptick in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations. Mark Felix/AFP via Getty Images hide caption

A bartender wearing a face mask and gloves checks a patron's ID at Under the Volcano in Houston last month. Texas is one of the states seeing a big uptick in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations.

About 120,000 Americans have now died from the coronavirus.

While the national number of daily deaths has declined in recent weeks, new confirmed cases are on the rise in almost half the country, including spikes in Florida, Texas and Arizona, where the president is headed Tuesday.

"We saved millions of lives, and now it's time to open up," President Trump said definitively Saturday night during his campaign rally in Tulsa, Okla.

Trump's referring to an earlier estimate that found there could be up to 2.2 million deaths if the country did nothing to contain the outbreak. But he spent months downplaying the virus when health experts were imploring more action sooner. And those experts are now warning it's not time to act as if the pandemic is over.

"[T]hat's why I think you're seeing right now increases in a number of states, because everybody's back to a pre-pandemic mindset," Michael Osterholm, director for the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota and author of Deadliest Enemy: Our War Against Killer Germs, said on NBC's Meet the Press on Sunday. He warned that the coronavirus is like a "forest fire" that is showing no signs of slowing down.

Early on, the pandemic was largely affecting "blue," or Democratic-leaning areas, especially New York, but now most new cases are in the South and redder parts of the country. The Trump administration and some Republican governors have been blaming increased testing for the rise in cases, but in many places cases are increasing more than testing and that certainly doesn't explain away rising hospitalizations in places like Texas.

The campaign of presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden is making competence a core part of its argument against Trump, and it hit him again for it because of other remarks he made Saturday night.

"When you do testing to that extent, you are gonna find more people, you're gonna find more cases," Trump said. "So I said to my people, 'Slow the testing down, please.' They test and they test. We have tests that people don't know what's going on."

The White House says he was being "tongue in cheek," but Trump has repeatedly said testing makes the United States look bad by, in his view, increasing the number of reported cases. A Democratic group has already cut an ad centering on his remarks.

It will be key to watch political reaction on the right if cases and hospitalizations continue to rise in these parts of the country, as things like wearing masks something the president initially encouraged Americans to do have become politicized.

So far, though, Trump's power of persuasion with his base continues to outweigh the coronavirus's shift toward Red America.

1. Possible progressive surge in elections: Five states hold primaries Tuesday Kentucky, New York, North Carolina, Virginia and Mississippi.

State Rep. Charles Booker, pictured, faces Amy McGrath in Kentucky's Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate. Bryan Woolston/AP hide caption

State Rep. Charles Booker, pictured, faces Amy McGrath in Kentucky's Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate.

In Kentucky, the race between the two Democrats vying for the right to take on Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is coming down to the wire. State Rep. Charles Booker has all the momentum and progressive backing over Amy McGrath, a retired Marine Corps fighter pilot who has all the money and the party endorsement but also lost a congressional race in the 2018 Democratic wave.

Either faces an uphill battle in a general election against McConnell in Kentucky, but a new video from Booker encapsulates a lot of the messages Democrats are trying to push nationally about working class economics, protests and Black Lives Matter.

In New York, pay attention to progressives going after establishment Democrats, especially in the race between longtime Rep. Eliot Engel and Jamaal Bowman, a former Bronx principal who has won the endorsements of Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Missteps from Engel, who last faced a competitive primary 20 years ago, opened the door for Bowman, who has raised $2 million and is surging.

2. Battleground Arizona, Wisconsin: Speaking of elections, Trump heads to Yuma, Ariz., on Tuesday to survey part of the border fence with Mexico before heading to Phoenix. Vice President Pence, meanwhile, will be in Wisconsin. It's no coincidence that they're heading to those places amid the president's slipping poll numbers. Wisconsin and Arizona could very well be tipping-point states this November.

3. Hearing on DOJ independence Wednesday: Like something out of an episode of Showtime's Billions, Attorney General William Barr announced the resignation of Geoffrey Berman, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York in Manhattan last week. Problem: Berman, who has been investigating people close to Trump, said he didn't resign. Barr later said in a statement that Berman had "chosen public spectacle over public service" and asked Trump to intervene and fire him. Trump did, but added, "[T]hat's really up to him [Barr]. I'm not involved."

And now Congress is involved to investigate it all.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., is promising to try and secure Berman's testimony. "The whole thing smacks of corruption and incompetence, which is what we have come to expect from this President and his Attorney General," Nadler said in a statement. Nadler was already slated to hold a meeting Wednesday with two whistleblowers on political interference at the Department of Justice.

4. Votes on police reform on Capitol Hill expected: The Senate will debate, and possibly vote on, police reform. There's a key procedural vote scheduled for Wednesday. On Thursday, the House is expected to pass the Democratic police reform bill mostly along party lines. You wonder how many people are tuning in to politics for the first time and watching the meat grinder of Congress work and what their impressions are do they turn away, thinking politics is futile and not a great way to effect change, or does it make them more likely to vote?

5. Trump's immigration executive order: Following his administration's loss over the DACA program, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, at the Supreme Court last week, President Trump is expected to sign an executive order suspending temporary work visas through the end of the year, NPR's Franco Ordoez reports. The suspensions are expected to include visas that affect skilled workers like in the tech industry (H-1B), executives at large corporations (L-1), seasonal workers like hotel and construction workers (H-2B) and research scholars and professors (J-1).

"I said, 'General, there's no way I can make it down that ramp without falling on my ass, general.' "

Trump during his Tulsa rally on Saturday, delivering a defense of his walking down a ramp at West Point. The president noted that he had leather-soled shoes on and didn't want to fall like former President Gerald Ford coming out of the airplane.

Trump went on a long tangent to discuss and, at times, reenact, his gingerly walking down the ramp and questions raised about his using a second hand to drink water. He said he didn't want to get any on his tie. Philip Bump at The Washington Post found Trump spent one out of every eight minutes of his Tulsa speech talking about West Point, or 14 minutes and 53 seconds of a speech that lasted one hour and 43 minutes.

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5 Things To Watch This Week: Coronavirus, Politics And Police - NPR

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