US daily cases top 50,000 for first time; Trump hopes pandemic will ‘disappear’; NFL cuts back preseason schedule

The U.S. death toll from the pandemic may be tens of thousands higher than reported and the total number of U.S. cases surpassed 50,000 for the first time Wednesday.

The Johns Hopkins data dashboard reported 50,655 new cases, pushing the U.S. total to more than 2.6 million since the pandemic began six months ago. The daily death count was 645. But a study out this week determined there were 87,000 more deaths than expected in the U.S. from March 1 to April 25, based on the average from the previous five years. Only 65% of those deaths were directly attributed to COVID-19, suggesting the rest were linked to the pandemic but not ruled as the main cause, researchers say.

President Donald Trump, discussing the pandemic during a Fox Business interview, said he thinks “at some point, that’s going to sort of just disappear, I hope.”

Meanwhile, Vice President Mike Pence met with Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey amid the state’s surge in cases, deaths and hospitalizations. “We’re going to make sure Arizona has whatever it takes. … We’re going to make sure every Arizonan impacted by the coronavirus has the health care that we would want any member of our family to have,” Pence said.

Here are some major developments from Wednesday:

  • New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has delayed indoor dining indefinitely.

  • Sheriff deputies will begin to issue citations to people who are not wearing masks in West Hollywood, California. The fine will be $300 total.

  • Following the Senate’s lead, the House voted Wednesday to pass the Paycheck Protection Program extension deadline allowing small businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic to apply by August 8.

📈Today’s stats: Globally, there have been more than 10.6 million cases and 516,000 deaths. In the U.S., cases have surpassed 2.6 million with over 128,000 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins University data dashboard.

📰 What we’re reading: While the CDC says face shields should not be worn to replace a cloth mask, more and more people are turning to them for additional protection. Here’s where you can buy them. 

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

Drug dexamethasone hard to find after study finds COVID-19 benefits

A steroid that was in shortage before the pandemic has gotten more scarce since researchers reported it can improve the survival rate of COVID-19 patients. A study from the University of Oxford published June 16 shows dexamethasone reduced the risk of death by up to one-third among coronavirus patients on ventilators. Sixteen dosages of the inexpensive steroid had been on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s shortage list since 2019. Half of the shortages had been blamed on demand. Since the promising dexamethasone study was published, manufacturers have sent updates to the FDA list, blaming 15 of the 16 shortages on increased demand.  

“Dexamethasone is the first drug to be shown to improve survival in COVID-19. This is an extremely welcome result,” Peter Horby, one of the chief investigators for the trial, said in a statement. “The survival benefit is clear and large in those patients who are sick enough to require oxygen treatment.”

Dian Zhang

Six members of Dallas MLS soccer team test positive

A coronavirus outbreak among member of Major League Soccer’s FC Dallas players does not bode well for other leagues attempting to begin competing again. Since arriving in Orlando for the MLS is Back tournament, six players have tested positive for COVID-19, the team said. The team said all players, coaches and staff members had tested negative before leaving Dallas on Saturday. But as part of the screening process at the Walt Disney World resort – where the tournament is set to begin on July 8 – two players tested positive on Saturday, followed by more this week. 

As a result, all members of the club delegation “will remain quarantined in their hotel rooms pending the results of further COVID-19 testing,” the team said. All 26 Major League Soccer teams are staying at the Disney’s Swan and Dolphin resort as the league prepares to resume its regular season.

Steve Gardner

West Hollywood, California, to begin fining people who don’t wear masks

Deputies in West Hollywood, California, announced Wednesday night that they will start to fine people who are not wearing face masks in public this month.

“Our last option was to conduct enforcement by issuing an Administration Citation, but the risk to Community health is too great,” officials wrote in a statement on Twitter.

The fine is $250, with an additional $50 fee. The West Hollywood station will be the only one in the county sheriff’s department to issue citations, KTLA reported. This comes after California Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered bars to close, and restaurants, wineries, movie theaters and other businesses to shut down indoor operations on Wednesday for the next three weeks.

More than 40 California principals quarantined after in-person meeting

More than 40 principals in Northern California have been asked to quarantine after being exposed to COVID-19 after attending an in-person meeting called by the Santa Clara County Unified School District.

An asymptomatic attendee tested positive for the virus days after the meeting, reported TV station KNTV. The district’s superintendent Stella Kemp confirmed the exposure at an online meeting last week, the station reported. “Given the complexities of our reopening, some of our staff meetings are taking place in person. Of course those meetings are being conducted under the strict guidelines provided to us by the Santa Clara County Public Health Department,” Kemp said.

No other attendee has tested positive, Kemp said.

New York City delays reopening of indoor dining amid COVID-19 surge

Indoor dining in New York City has been delayed indefinitely as coronavirus cases spike across the nation, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced. The mayor said at a news conference that he was worried that the state could see another surge of cases. New York City is in its second phase of reopening and will enter its third phase on July 6, which included indoor dining. The mayor said outdoor dining, which began two weeks ago, can continue.

“Outdoors is where we need to be to the maximum extent possible this summer as we fight back this disease,” he said. “Honestly, even a week ago, honestly, I was hopeful we could. But the news we have gotten from around the country gets worse and worse all the time.”

Trump says he’d wear mask in small crowd but questions mandatory use

President Donald Trump said Wednesday he’s not sure that face masks should be mandatory but that he’d wear one in a “tight” crowd. “I’m all for masks,” Trump said in an interview with Fox Business Network. “I think masks are good.” Trump, who has resisted wearing a mask in public, questioned whether they should be mandatory because “you have many places in the country where people stay very long distance.” But he said he’d wear one if he found himself in a crowd where social distancing wasn’t possible. “If I were in a tight situation with people, I would absolutely,” he said.

Trump said he seldom finds himself in such situations and noted that people are tested for coronavirus before they get close to him. But he said he has worn a mask in cases where he has been with a small group of people. “I sort of liked the way it looked,” he said. “It was a dark black mask, and I thought it looked OK. It looked like the Lone Ranger.”

– Michael Collins

House passes PPP extension bill giving small businesses more time to apply

Small businesses struggling to weather the coronavirus crisis will have several more weeks to take advantage of a popular federal loan program that’s already distributed $500 billion to keep Main Streets alive. The House on Wednesday followed the Senate’s lead Tuesday and voted to extend the Paycheck Protection Program through Aug. 8. Created earlier this year as part of the CARES Act to help the nation respond to the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, PPP expired Tuesday.

The program has about $130 billion left to spend although lawmakers and the Trump administration are in talks to tweak the PPP to reach hard-hit businesses such as restaurants and hotels that have had trouble making use of the financial help.

Passage of the extension came on the same day that House lawmakers were taking the Small Business Administration to task for another program designed to rescue mom-and-pop firms following the social distance guidelines instituted after the coronavirus landed on U.S. shores.

Ledyard King

NFL cuts 2 weeks of preseason amid coronavirus protocol preparations

The NFL has taken its next step in altering its calendar to prepare for a return to action amid the coronavirus pandemic. The league on Wednesday decided to cancel two weeks of preseason games, a person with knowledge of the move told USA TODAY Sports’ Mike Jones. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to disclose the decision.

The first and fourth weeks of the exhibition slate will be eliminated. Schedules will be reconfigured so that each team has one home game and one away contest.

Michael Middlehurst-Schwartz

What we’re reading

Coronavirus death toll in US might be much higher, according to new study

The death count from the coronavirus pandemic, now over 127,000 in the U.S., has long been regarded as an underestimate. A new study says the actual death toll could be much higher.

The study, conducted by researchers at Virginia Commonwealth and Yale universities and published Wednesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association, said there were 87,000 more deaths than expected in the U.S. from March 1 to April 25, based on the average from the previous five years. But only 65% of those deaths were directly attributed to COVID-19, suggesting the rest were linked to the pandemic but not ruled as the main cause. Dr. Steven Woolf, the study’s lead author, said reasons for the undercount may include lack of reporting and other health complications that might have been listed as the cause of death.

“But a third possibility, the one we’re quite concerned about, is indirect mortality — deaths caused by the response to the pandemic,” Woolf said. “People who never had the virus may have died from other causes because of the spillover effects of the pandemic, such as delayed medical care, economic hardship or emotional distress.”

More on the coronavirus from USA TODAY

Coronavirus Watch: Sign up for our daily coronavirus newsletter here. And come together and share the latest information about 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: Coronavirus updates: Donald Trump masks, PPP extension, 50,000 cases

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