LA and San Diego school districts will start fall classes online only; California orders statewide closures

Two of the largest school districts in the U.S., the Los Angeles and San Diego unified school districts, said Monday that their academic years will start with only online instruction, as California continues to fight a surge of COVID-19 cases.  

The districts made the announcement in a joint statement and said their academic calendars will begin as scheduled – Aug. 18 for Los Angeles and Aug. 31 for San Diego. The statement added that both districts will plan to resume in-person learning “as soon as public health conditions allow.”

Also on Monday, Florida reported another alarming number of new coronavirus, as President Donald Trump displayed his frustration with the CDC and the World Health Organization’s director warned that the global pandemic is worsening.

“We need to reach a sustainable situation where we have adequate control of this virus without shutting down our lives entirely,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Monday, adding that “lurching from lockdown to lockdown … has a hugely detrimental impact on societies.”

Total confirmed cases across the nation surpassed 3.3 million – about 1% of all Americans have now tested positive since the outbreak began racing across the nation just a few months ago. More than 135,000 Americans have died.

Florida reported more than 12,000 new cases Monday, one day after its 15,000 new cases smashed the daily record for any state since the pandemic began. Florida’s infection total now stands at 282,435 – more than all but eight countries.

In Washington, Trump showed little faith in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, retweeting a social media post accusing the agency of “outrageous lies.”

Some recent developments: 

  • Online school? In-person? How parents are making their own fall 2020 decisions as COVID-19 squabbles continue.

  • Large and small labs running 24/7 can’t process samples quickly enough. That means COVID-19 test results are delayed a week or longer in hot spot communities, undercutting public health efforts to track, isolate and prevent spread.

  • The “current best estimate” from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that approximately 40% of people infected with COVID-19 are asymptomatic. The chance of transmission from them is 75%, the data reports.

📈 Today’s stats: The U.S. has surpassed 3.3 million cases with over 135,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. Globally, there have been 12.9 million cases and over 570,000 deaths.

📰 What we’re reading: Public health experts fear a scenario where “me first” vaccine nationalism pits nation against nation to get and keep enough doses for their citizens. Countries, as of now, are focusing on their own vaccine development programs rather than collaborating to pool resources. 

L.A., San Diego school districts to start academic year with online classes

In a joint statement issued Monday, the Los Angeles and San Diego unified school districts, the two largest in California, announced that their academic calendars will begin with online instruction.

Classes will begin as scheduled, Aug. 18 for Los Angeles and Aug. 31 for San Diego. Both districts will continue to plan for in-person classes “as soon as public health conditions allow.”

The districts said they planned on providing additional training for teachers and students to ease the transition. Online support will be offered for parents “to make it easier for them to participate in the education of their students” and free meals will continue to be provided at distribution centers.

Los Angeles is the second-largest school district in the United States.

California orders closures, including some gyms and churches

California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Monday a list of business sectors that will be required to close as the number of coronavirus cases continue to increase substantially across the state.

All counties will be required to close indoor operations of restaurants, wineries, tasting rooms, movie theaters, family entertainment centers, zoos, museums, card rooms and all bars. 

The 30 counties that are on the state’s targeted engagement list are ordered to close indoor operations of fitness centers, places of worship, offices for non-critical sectors, personal hair services, and indoor malls.

California’s average daily new cases hit 8,211 over the past week.

– Nicole Hayden, Palm Springs Desert Sun

Sen. Ted Cruz spotted on American Airlines flight without mask

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz was spotted without a face covering on a Sunday flight on American Airlines, according to a post on Twitter. In the photo, Cruz, who was seated in first class on the regional jet operated by an American partner, was looking at his phone and holding a cup of coffee. A mask is not visible.

The photo was posted by Hosseh Enad, a marketing compliance associate at DCCC, the Democratic National Campaign Committee. Enad said in a subsequent tweet that he’d gotten it from an acquaintance. He also posted photos of an unmasked Cruz sitting in the gate area before the flight.

“Consistent with airline policy, he temporarily removes the mask while eating or drinking,” Cruz spokesperson Lauren Aronson said in a statement. “Yesterday, during his flight he removed his mask to drink and put it back on afterward. We should all practice common sense measures to slow the spread of the virus.”

– Dawn Gilbertson

New York to out-of-state travelers: Provide contact information or face a fine

New York will require air travelers from states with high rates of COVID-19 to provide their local contact information or face a penalty of up to $2,000, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Monday.

The shift in policy comes nearly three weeks after New York issued an order in late June requiring many out-of-state travelers to quarantine for two weeks upon entering the state.

The quarantine order, which came as COVID-19 rates increased across the country while dropping in New York, now applies to travelers coming from 19 states including California, Texas and Florida. 

Travelers to New York from the states on the quarantine list will be required to fill out a form documenting where they’re coming from and their local contact information after they exit the plane. 

– Jon Campbell, Democrat and Chronicle

Trump promotes tweet claiming CDC, physicians are lying about COVID-19

President Donald Trump retweeted a post claiming the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and others are telling “outrageous lies” about the pandemic. The original tweet, from conservative podcast host Chuck Woolery, claims the lies are politically motivated and designed to keep the economy from reviving.

“The most outrageous lies are the ones about Covid 19. Everyone is lying,” Woolery, a former game show host, wrote. “The CDC, Media, Democrats, our Doctors, not all but most, that we are told to trust. I think it’s all about the election and keeping the economy from coming back, which is about the election. I’m sick of it.”

Trump also retweeted a Woolery post citing “overwhelming” evidence that schools should open this fall.

Three people who traveled on recent Delta flight have tested positive for COVID-19

Three people who traveled on a recent regional Delta Air Lines flight from Atlanta to Albany have tested positive for COVID-19. 

“We are working with local officials and following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s protocol in their outreach to customers and employees,” Delta Air Lines spokesperson Kate Modolo said in a statement. “Customer and crew health and safety are our top priority.”

There were 44 passengers on the flight.

The passengers became symptomatic on July 7, a day after the July 6 flight, according to a Facebook post from the Rensselaer County government in upstate New York. 

– David Oliver and Dawn Gilbertson

WHO leader: Global pandemic is getting worse, not better

The COVID-19 pandemic is worsening globally and a return to the “old normal” remains in the distant future, the head of the World Health Organization warned Monday. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that while some countries, especially in Europe and Asia, have brought outbreaks under control, too many others are seeing numbers rocket higher. Still, he said the tide can be turned. Governments, he said, must emphasize reducing mortality and suppressing transmission. And an “engaged community” must act responsibly for each other through wearing masks, practicing social distancing and other measures.

“It can be done. It must be done. I have said it before and I will keep saying it,” Tedros said. “We need strong government leadership and coordination of comprehensive strategies that are communicated clearly and consistently.”

Florida logs second largest number of cases in a single day

One day after setting a record for most new confirmed COVID-19 cases reported in a single day for any state, Florida’s figures ticked down but still represented the second-highest single-day total seen since the start of the pandemic. The state’s Department of Health reported 12,343 new cases Monday, down about 20% from the previous day’s total of 15,283. Before the weekend began, New York state had held the previous mark for most single-day new confirmed COVID-19 cases with 12,274, reached on April 4.

Florida’s surge in cases over the past several weeks has forced the state to slow some of its reopening measures. The spike, however, comes as Disney World reopened on Saturday and as the Republican National Convention is scheduled to take place in August in Jacksonville. Gov. Ron DeSantis has also ordered schools to reopen in August, when classes are set to resume.

It’s not just Florida – states large and small racking up big numbers of cases

Florida’s report Sunday of 15,300 coronavirus cases, more than New York ever reported, widened eyes. But on a per-person basis, states are adding cases at rates beyond the worst of what Northeastern states saw when they were the “hot spot” in April. Arizona last week was adding cases at a higher per-capita rate than New York ever hit, and stayed around that level.

Florida sailed past New Jersey’s worst week and is approaching New York’s record, an analysis of Johns Hopkins University data by University of Illinois computer scientist Wade Fagen-Ulmschneider shows.

Adjusted for population, some smaller states are recording significant tallies of the coronavirus. Last weekend, Louisiana passed New Jersey’s worst week – a level 22% worse than Louisiana recorded when New Orleans’ Mardi Gras celebrations lay the groundwork for the state’s April surge. On a per-person basis, South Carolina’s outbreak is now as bad as Texas’, and both are closing in on Massachusetts’ record worst week.

– Mike Stucka

One bar’s shocking way to keep customers at a safe distance: An electric fence

The Star Inn pub in Cornwall, England, put up an electric fence used to restrict livestock near its bar counter to help keep patrons at a safe distance from bartenders.

The pub’s owner, Johnny McFadden, who is also a farmer, decided to install the electric fencing to keep his employees safe, the South West News Service reported.

“Before the fence, people were not following social-distancing and were doing as they pleased, but now people take heed to the guidance around social distancing,” McFadden told Cornwall Live.

McFadden told SWNS the fence is usually switched off but could be turned on if things get out of hand.

– Ryan W. Miller

Alaska sets another one-day record for new COVID cases

Alaska, which has been able to avoid the brunt of the pandemic, was stung by its first triple-digit total of new cases Sunday – 116. While that pales in comparison to Florida, it shows that the wilderness state is not immune to the outbreak. The state Department of Health and Social Services said the new cases break a previous record set the day before, when the state reported 77 cases. Alaska has reported 1,774 cases, including 17 deaths.

“I hope Alaskans will join me in practicing social distancing, wearing a mask when you can’t keep your distance from others, and staying home if you are sick,” Gov. Mike Dunleavy tweeted.  “The actions you take today may save someone’s life.”

Germany issues Oktoberfest warning, chastises Germans partying in Spain

The German health minister urged Germans not to organize local Oktoberfest parties that could bring a second wave of the pandemic to the country. The national celebration has been canceled because of coronavirus concerns. Health Minister Jens Spahn also said he was troubled by viral videos showing large groups of German tourists on the Spanish island of Mallorca apparently ignoring social distancing guidelines.

Germany has drawn rave international reviews for its efforts to harness the outbreak, which has infected more than 200,000 Germans and killed more than 9,000.

“I understand the impatience, but where there are parties the infection risk is particularly high,” he said. “We don’t automatically have to see a second wave in the fall and winter. Together, as a society, we can prevent that.”

Families ignore politics, make plans for coming school year

As officials play political football with K-12 school re-openings, families across the nation are busy making their own calculations about whether to send children back to school. Most are taking a measured and hyper-local approach to what is ultimately a very personal decision, consulting with friends, neighbors and local educators. That’s despite the issue becoming increasingly political as President Donald Trump and state officials weighed in last week, often in conflict with published health guidance.  

“There are no ideal solutions here,” says Kao-Ping Chua, assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Michigan. “Unfortunately, beyond conflicting information that’s getting politicized, states are seeing surging cases, which is not an environment you want to open schools in.”

Marco della Cava

New York City health officials report no deaths for first time since March 11

Initial data released Sunday by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene reported that no one died from the virus in the city on July 11, exactly four months after the state’s first official death was recorded on March 11. Officials also recorded no confirmed deaths the day before as well but did report two probable deaths.

The welcoming news comes after a harrowing four-month stretch in the nation’s most populated city. The peak in confirmed daily deaths was April 7, at 597, although another 216 people were likely to have died from the virus that day despite no positive laboratory tests. All told, New York City has reported 18,670 deaths from COVID-19 and 4,613 probable fatalities. 

Oklahoma reports state’s first teen death, a 13-year-old at Fort Sill

The Oklahoma State Department of Health reported Oklahoma’s first COVID-19-related death in the 5-17 age category. The patient was identified as a 13-year-old who died at Comanche County Memorial Hospital on Friday night, reported local news station KSWO-TV. Oklahoma military base Fort Sill said the teen was a dependent of an active duty service member at the post, where family members are in isolation.

The state department reported 456 new coronavirus cases across the state Sunday, bringing the total cumulative number of the state’s positive cases to 20,235.

Mexico surpasses Italy in confirmed deaths; 4th highest total of any country

Mexican officials say the total number of confirmed COVID-19 deaths has passed 35,000, moving it past Italy with the fourth-most deaths of any country in the world. Only the United States, Brazil and Britain have recorded more deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins University data dashboard. Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said the recent news “is positive, it is good” because only nine of the country’s 32 provinces had increases in cases of infection. 

“The bottom line is that the pandemic is on the downside, that it is losing intensity,” he said.

Meanwhile, Italy, which was one of the first hot spots of the virus in Europe, has seen hospitals declare themselves coronavirus-free. The country’s deaths Saturday fell to seven and confirmed daily cases dropped to below 200, according to health officials.

French widow mourns ‘barbaric’ death of driver beaten over masks

Veronique Monguillot said she told the French interior minister, Gerald Darmanin, that she was “destroyed” by the fatal assault on her husband at a bus stop in Bayonne, southwest France. “We must bang a fist on the table, so this never happens again,” she said. “It’s barbaric, not normal. We must stop this massacre.”

Bus driver Philippe Monguillot was attacked July 5 after asking four passengers to wear face masks, which are required on French public transport. Monguillot was then verbally assaulted, pushed off the bus and violently beaten and kicked in the head. His death was announced July 10 after he had been hospitalized in critical condition. Four men have been arrested and charged in connection with the fatal assault.

Long lines for COVID-19 tests, stressed labs delay results as demand spikes

America’s testing system is once again strained and labs are struggling to keep pace as the coronavirus rages faster than ever in the South and West.

The number of daily tests reached an all-time high of more than 719,000 on July 3 and averaged nearly 640,000 each day this past week, according to data from the COVID Tracking Project. 

Because of this increase, large and small labs running 24/7 can’t process samples quickly enough from millions of Americans tested every week.

Testing centers in Sunbelt cities such as Tallahassee, Florida and Phoenix routinely attract long lines and at times must turn away people. Other than hospital patients, whom labs are prioritizing, delays are widespread in the South and West at drive-thru and walk-up testing centers, urgent care, doctor’s offices and government-supported testing sites.

– Ken Alltucker

More on the coronavirus from USA TODAY

Where a face mask is required: Many governors are instituting or renewing orders requiring people to wear face coverings in public as cases continue to rise. Is your state on the list? See it here. 

Coronavirus Watch: We have a few ways for you to stay informed. Sign up for our daily coronavirus newsletter here, and come together and share the latest information about the coronavirus, coping with lifestyle changes and more by joining our Facebook group.

Where are states on reopening? Some are taking preemptive measures to postpone further phases of their reopening, while others have rolled back their phases to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. See the list.

Contributing: The Associated Press

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: COVID-19: LA, San Diego schools online only; California closures

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