April 15, 2024


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Jacksonville, the host of GOP convention, mandating masks; Broadway closed until 2021;

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The city scheduled to host the GOP convention is mandating masks and Broadway stages will remain dark through 2020 amid a national boom in coronavirus cases. However, the nation’s leading infectious diseases expert remains “cautiously optimistic” that a vaccine could be widely available by year’s end.

Also, a drug company’s steep price for remdesivir, a drug that has proved to shorten recovery times for severe COVID-19 patients by about 31%, is drawing criticism.

Jacksonville, Florida, on Monday joined the growing ranks of cities requiring face coverings to help curb spread of the virus. It’s not clear how long the order will remain in place. The Republican convention is scheduled for Aug. 24-27 at the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville and President Donald Trump has famously refused to wear a mask in public.

Nashville, Tennessee, is requiring masks as of Monday. San Francisco Mayor London Breed halted its plans for businesses that were scheduled to reopen Monday. In Arizona, the mayor of one town said he has no plans to cancel a slew of upcoming summer events or require masks despite a boom in cases in his state.

Here are the most significant developments of the day:

  • Worldwide coronavirus cases surpassed 10 million, while more than 502,000 across the globe have died from the virus.

  • Nashville residents are required to wear a mask at all times in public as of Monday. Starting July 3, residents who violate the order will be cited with a Class C misdemeanor.

  • New York state reported its lowest single-day coronavirus death toll – five – since March 15, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.

📈Today’s stats: As of Monday, the number of confirmed cases were more than 10 million, and the death toll was more than 502,000. There are more than 2.5 million cases in the U.S. and over 125,000 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins University data dashboard.

📰 What we’re reading: A Detroit woman dropped her husband off at a hospital on the night of March 28. Less than 24 hours later, a doctor called to tell Denise Chandler that her husband died. Chandler finally gets answers from a nurse who saw her husband die.

Our live blog will be updated throughout the day. For first-in-the-morning updates, sign up for The Daily Briefing.

Jacksonville, host of GOP convention, requires masks

The Republican Party moved the prime events for its convention from Charlotte, North Carolina, to Jacksonville, Florida, because of differences over social distancing requirements to combat the coronavirus at the original site.

Now the GOP’s locale of choice has taken a major step that clashes with President Donald Trump’s personal opposition to wearing masks, mandating them for residents and visitors starting Monday.

“At 5 p.m. today, the City of Jacksonville will be adopting a mandatory mask requirement for public & indoor locations, and in other situations where individuals cannot socially distance,” the city said through its verified Twitter account.

Trump has not only refused to wear a mask in public, but has insisted that face coverings not be required at his campaign events, like the rally he held in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on June 20. Several staffers for that event have since tested positive for the coronavirus.

The selection of Jacksonville for the convention’s main events is also looking questionable now with the rapid spread of COVID-19 in Florida, which reported more than 8,500 new cases Sunday.

Cirque du Soleil files for bankruptcy protection, hopes shows will go on

Cirque du Soleil, another business victim of the pandemic, announced Monday it is filing for bankruptcy protection to “restructure its capital structure.” Its application will be heard by the Superior Court of Quebec on Tuesday before filing for Chapter 15 bankruptcy protection in the U.S. Cirque du Soleil is an institution on the Las Vegas Strip, with its mesmerizing shows high on visitors’ vacation agendas. The company had six shows operating in major Las Vegas casino hotels when the coronavirus crushed travel and closed casinos for nearly three months.

“Our priority has always been, and remains, the health and safety of our artists, our partners, our employees and our audiences,” the troupe said in a statement. “We will continue to monitor and assess the situation to determine when shows will resume.”

David Oliver and Dawn Gilbertson

Broadway stages to remain dark through 2020

The Broadway League announced Monday that performances in New York City will be suspended through the remainder of 2020 because of COVID-19. Broadway theaters are offering refunds and exchanges for tickets purchased for all performances through Jan. 3, 2021. Tickets for next winter and spring performances are expected to go on sale in the coming weeks after stages abruptly went dark March 12. 

“The Broadway League continues to work with city and state officials …  to formulate the best plan to restart the industry,” the league said in a statement, adding that screening and testing, cleaning and sanitizing are among protocols being considered for when the iconic theater district reopens.

– Sara M. Moniuszko

NASA necklace could keep you from touching your face

NASA has developed a necklace dubbed PULSE designed to alert users when they’re about to touch their face. The round pendant is worn around the neck, and when you raise your hands toward your head, it will vibrate, reminding you to stop. NASA isn’t selling the contraption, but the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory has made building instructions available online. To create one, you’ll need a 3D printer, wire, a motor and other small materials. Health officials warn that touching your face can help fuel the spread of the coronavirus.

“We hope individuals or companies will replicate, refine or enhance PULSE and make it easily available for distribution,” NASA said. 

– Dalvin Brown

California, 7 other states could join New York’s quarantine order

Travelers from eight additional states – including California – could soon be added to New York, New Jersey and Connecticut’s mandatory quarantine order, which would push the total to 16 states representing nearly half the country’s population. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office is analyzing each state’s COVID-19 data to determine which states will join the original eight subject to the order, which requires travelers from places with high infection rates to isolate for 14 days upon arrival. California, Georgia, Iowa, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi,  Nevada and Tennessee could be joining the original list: Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas and Utah. 

– Joseph Spector

Virus found in Barcelona wastewater before Chinese outbreak revealed

The virus blamed for killing more than a half-million people worldwide was detected in wastewater in Spain months before it emerged on the world stage in China in late 2019, researchers say in a study submitted to the journal MedRxiv. The study, led by the University of Barcelona, could alter the “chronology on the evolution of the disease,” said Albert Bosch, president of the Spanish Society of Virology. Bosch said the SARS-CoV-2 genome was present in samples of Barcelona wastewater collected in March 2019. That suggests the infection was present before COVID-19 cases had been discovered anywhere in the world, he says.

The findings were in a preprint paper, which means the results are preliminary and have not undergone the normal peer-review process required for publication in medical or scientific journals.

“It is possible for a similar situation to have taken place in other parts of the world,” Bosch said. “Those cases could have been disguised as an undiagnosed flu.”

Ogbonnaya Omenka, a public health specialist at Butler University’s College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, says the finding highlights the need for a more coordinated public health surveillance system, locally and internationally. The most effective approach to preventing a pandemic “is treating each epidemic as a potential pandemic,” he said.

Fauci: Vaccine could be ready soon, but might not be enough to halt pandemic

Dr. Anthony Fauci said he remains hopeful that a vaccine will be available as soon as November but warned that it might only be 70% effective. He added that, because a significant segment of the population won’t want the vaccine, it’s not likely the pandemic will be eradicated completely. Fauci blamed a “general anti-science, anti-authority, anti-vaccine feeling among … an alarmingly large percentage of people.”

Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said on CNN that the most effective vaccine, for measles, is 97 to 98% effective. “That would be wonderful if we get there. I don’t think we will,” Fauci said. “I would settle for 70, 75% effective.”

COVID-19 drug remdesivir to cost up to $3,120 per patient

The maker of a drug shown to shorten recovery time for severely ill COVID-19 patients said Monday that it will charge $2,340 for a typical treatment course for people covered by government health programs in the United States and other developed countries. Gilead Sciences said the price is $390 per vial, and the vast majority of patients are expected to receive a five-day treatment course using six vials. The price would be $3,120 for patients with private insurance. The amount patients pay out of pocket depends on insurance, income and other factors.

 Peter Maybarduk, a lawyer at the consumer group Public Citizen, called the price “an outrage,” saying the drug received at least $70 million in public funding toward its development.

“The price puts to rest any notion that drug companies will ‘do the right thing’ because it is a pandemic,” Dr. Peter Bach, a health policy expert at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York

Arizona mayor: Town will host events, won’t require masks

The mayor of an eastern Arizona town says he has no plans to cancel a slew of upcoming summer events or require masks, even as COVID-19 cases soar throughout the state. Eagar Mayor Bryce Hamblin said in a statement Thursday that the town’s upcoming Fourth of July parade will continue as planned and residents will not be required to wear masks. 

“Over the past several weeks, I have been asked repeatedly what the Town of Eagar plans to do about COVID-19, masks, visitors, riots, etc. It is somewhat alarming how many expect and almost invite a more drastic infringement on their freedoms,” Hamblin said in the statement. “My response from the onset of COVID-19 pandemic has been that we will err on the side of freedom.”

On Sunday, coronavirus cases increased by more than 3,850 – the highest number of cases in a single day, according to data released by the Arizona Department of Health Services. The state has 73,908 cases with 1,588 known deaths, according to the most recent state figures. That’s an increase of 3,857 confirmed cases, or 5.5%, since Saturday.

– Audrey Jensen and Chelsea Curtis, Arizona Republic

Nashville residents required to wear masks

The Metro Health Department has released initial details for Nashville’s face mask mandate that went into effect Monday. Nashville residents are advised to wear face coverings while in public at all times with certain exemptions, such as eating and drinking at restaurants or while engaging in certain outdoor activity.

Dr. Michael C. Caldwell, Metro’s medical director, signed the order Sunday afternoon, after the Metro Board of Health approved a policy to require face coverings Friday to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Health officials stress that face coverings are not a substitute for social distancing and frequent hand washing. 

Resident violating the order can be cited with a Class C misdemeanor, but that will only go into effect after July 3. 

As virus keeps spreading, California bars in seven counties to close

California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Sunday that he is ordering bars in certain counties to close, while recommending closures in others. The counties ordered to close bars are Los Angeles, Fresno, Imperial, Kern, Kings, San Joaquin and Tulare.

Newsom also said that he is recommending bars close in Contra Costa, Riverside, Sacramento, San Bernardino, Santa Barbara, Santa Clara, Stanislaus and Ventura counties. This came as cases in California are once again surging. The state’s confirmed cases surpassed 206,000 on Friday, including an increase of 5,972. 

According to the Johns Hopkins University data dashboard, Los Angeles County is the one with the most confirmed coronavirus cases in the United States: more than 95,000, as of Sunday. The county is also the most populous in the country, nearly twice as large as the next one.

“COVID-19 is still circulating in California, and in some parts of the state, growing stronger,” Newsom said in a statement. “That’s why it is critical we take this step to limit the spread of the virus in the counties that are seeing the biggest increases.”

Washington governor halts final stage of reopening plan

Washington state has paused the final stage of its reopening plan as coronavirus cases surge across the state.

“Phase 4 would mean a return to normal activity and we can’t do that now due to the continued rise in cases across the state. This is an evolving situation and we will continue to make decisions based on the data,” Gov. Jay Inslee said in a statement.

What we’re reading

Pittsburgh churches welcome back parishioners after attendee tests negative

The Pittsburgh Catholic Diocese said masses could resume at several churches after a parishioner tested negative for the coronavirus, CBS local affiliate KDKA 2 reported. The parishioner may have been exposed through a relative.

In-person masses resumed Sunday and weekday masses were to begin again Monday, reported the news station. Father Kevin Poecking, pastor of the churches of Oakmont, Plum and Verona, said the church has and will continue to follow all CDC and Diocesan guidelines and state regulations. Previous guidelines from the Diocese put church capacity for Mass at 25%. 

“We had been praying for a negative test result, and were so happy to receive the news,” Poecking said.

– Elinor Aspegren

More on the coronavirus from USA TODAY

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How long can the coronavirus live on surfaces? The numbers seem to keep changing, but new research has found that the virus that causes COVID-19 is undetectable on books and other common materials after three days.

Contributing: The Associated Press

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Coronavirus updates: Jacksonville requires masks; Broadway closed

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