ANAHEIM, Calif. — Data show hundreds of new infections in densely populated neighborhoods that are more likely home to low-income residents in one California county.

Orange County health officials say residents living certain parts of Anaheim and Santa Ana are more likely to live in multi-generational or multifamily households and many of them hold jobs in stores and restaurants.

Cases and hospitalizations in the county have grown significantly in the last couple weeks, reflecting a statewide trend that prompted Gov. Gavin Newsom this week to sound renewed alarm bells. He urged Imperial County to reimpose a stay-at-home order to deal with a high rate of positive cases and hospitalizations.

Tyson Foods announces outbreak at Missouri facility

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Tyson Foods has announced that 371 employees at its chicken processing plant in the far southwestern corner of Missouri have tested positive for COVID-19.

The company said in a news release Friday that it tested 1,142 employees at the plant in Noel from June 17 to June 19, and 291 tested positive for COVID-19. Of those 291, Tyson said 249, or 85%, were asymptomatic. Tyson said an additional 80 Noel employees tested positive for COVID-19 in separate tests that were performed by their health care providers or the state’s Department of Health and Senior Services.

The announcement confirms suspicions that the large spike in McDonald County’s reported COVID-19 numbers starting this past weekend was the result of large-scale testing at the plant, the Springfield News-Leader reports.

Pence cancels campaign events in Florida and Arizona

WASHINGTON — Vice President Mike Pence is calling off a planned bus tour in Florida to benefit his and President Donald Trump’s re-election as the state experiences a surge in confirmed coronavirus cases.

Pence is still traveling to the state, the White House confirmed, saying he will meet with Gov. Ron DeSantis and his health care teams.

Pence said Friday during a briefing by the White House’s coronavirus task force that he would visit Florida, Texas and Arizona this week to receive a “ground report” on spiking cases of COVD-19 across the sunbelt.

Pence was to appear in Lake Wales at an event organized by pro-Trump group America First Policies billed as the “Great American Comeback tour.” The group announced that “Out of an abundance of caution at this time, we are postponing the Great American Comeback tour stop in Florida. We look forward to rescheduling soon.”

Read the story here.

Brazil makes deal with AstraZeneca to produce vaccine

BRASILIA, Brazil — The Brazilian government announced on Saturday an agreement with Oxford University and pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca to produce a promising coronavirus vaccine that is undergoing tests.

Brazilian Health Ministry authorities said in a press conference that the country will pay $127 million and receive material to produce 30.4 million doses in two batches in December and January, which would allow it to quickly start inoculation efforts if the vaccine is certified to be safe and effective.

The total deal is for 100 million vaccines for a country of about 210 million residents. It will be produced by local vaccine maker Fiocruz.

British researchers started testing the experimental shot in May aiming to immunize more than 10,000 people, including older people and children. The vaccine is one of about a dozen in the early stages of human testing.

Brazil, where coronavirus infections are still on the rise, counts more than 1 million confirmed cases and more than 55,900 fatalities.

Florida records new daily high in COVID-19 cases

MIAMI — The state of Florida has set another record in daily confirmed coronavirus cases.

Florida health officials on Saturday reported more than 9,500 new COVID-19 cases, surpassing the previous day’s total by more than 600 confirmed cases. The figures come as officials move to reclose beaches and discourage bar gatherings.

Experts say the true figure is undoubtedly higher. This is both because of incomplete testing and because it is becoming clearer to scientists that a significant number of people become infected with the virus but do not feel sick or show symptoms.

The state’s Department of Health said 24 more people have died with COVID-19, raising the death toll to 3,390.

Hospitalizations for COVID-19 also are ticking upward statewide. Although they are not rising as dramatically as the reported number of cases, they are approaching the levels of new admissions seen in April and May.

Miami-Dade County announced late Friday it would reclose beaches from July 3 to July 7 to prevent large gatherings and the spread of the new virus during Fourth of July celebrations in the state’s hardest hit area.

Virus_Outbreak_Tribes_Protecting_Citizens_23805

A sign alerts motorists that visitors are not allowed on the Fort Apache Indian Reservation in eastern Arizona. The reservation, home to the White Mountain Apache Tribe, will be under lockdown this weekend to help slow the spread of the coronavirus. C.M. Clay/White Mountain Apache Tribe via AP

Hard-hit tribe takes strict steps as virus surges in Arizona

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — People in the deserts of Arizona flee to the White Mountains when the triple-digit heat is too much to bear, cooling off in the forest a few hours away. That worries a Native American tribe that calls the area home, as coronavirus infections and temperatures have both spiked in one of the hardest-hit states.

The White Mountain Apache Tribe is taking some of the most drastic actions in Arizona to protect its 13,500 residents, more than one-eighth of whom have already tested positive for COVID-19. It’s taking cues from severe measures imposed by other tribes nationwide, including the Navajo Nation, which has curtailed an outbreak that once made it a national hot spot.

Those living on the White Mountain Apache Tribe’s reservation in northeastern Arizona face the risk of fines and other penalties if they venture beyond their own yards this weekend. A two-week shelter-in-place order will follow. The tribe’s Fort Apache Reservation also is closed to the summertime visitors who flock to the area to fish, hike and camp among ponderosa pines.

The tribe’s confirmed infections and 20 deaths as of Friday make the reservation one of the hardest-hit places in a state that’s recording over 3,000 cases a day and running short on hospital space.

“COVID has just turned our world upside down,” White Mountain Apache Chairwoman Gwendena Lee-Gatewood said.

Read the rest of the story here.

Pence calls off campaign bus tour of Florida

WASHINGTON — Vice President Mike Pence is calling off a planned bus tour in Florida to benefit his and President Donald Trump’s re-election as the state experiences a surge in confirmed coronavirus cases.

Pence is still traveling to the state, the White House confirmed, saying he will meet with Gov. Ron DeSantis and his health care teams.

Pence said Friday during a briefing by the White House’s coronavirus task force that he would visit Florida, Texas and Arizona this week to receive a “ground report” on spiking cases of COVD-19 across the sunbelt.

Pence was to appear in Lake Wales at an event organized by pro-Trump group America First Policies billed as the “Great American Comeback tour.” The group announced that “Out of an abundance of caution at this time, we are postponing the Great American Comeback tour stop in Florida. We look forward to rescheduling soon.”

Flight departs UK to deliver virus aid to Africa

JOHANNESBURG — Britain’s Royal Air Force says the first in a series of flights taking coronavirus aid to Africa has departed for Ghana with materials for a field hospital with capacity for nearly 100 people.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said in a statement that the U.K. is the first NATO ally to come forward with an aid flight after NATO agreed to support the United Nations’ appeal for airlift assistance.

The pandemic and travel restrictions have severely affected flights to the African continent and the delivery of crucial cargo including medical supplies.

The U.K. says up to five flights are needed to deliver the field hospital to Accra. Ghana has more than 15,000 confirmed virus cases.

Pakistan’s economy contracts, fuel prices hit record increase

ISLAMABAD — Pakistan has announced a record increase in fuel prices days before the end of a fiscal year in which the country’s economy contracted for the first time in 68 years as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

The hike, which ranges from 27% to 66% depending on the petroleum product, was announced Friday night. It drew nationwide condemnation from people on social media Saturday.

The move comes two weeks after Islamabad said its GDP in the outgoing fiscal year ending on June 30 will shrink by 0.4%, instead of an initially projected 2.4% growth.

Pakistan’s economy has witnessed a steady decline since 2018, when Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government came into power.

Its economy has been affected by the coronavirus since March, when Khan put the country under lockdown. Restrictions were eased in May, causing a spike in coronavirus infections and deaths.

Pakistan has confirmed 198,883 virus cases, including 4,035 deaths.

Egypt begins to lift many pandemic restrictions

CAIRO — Egypt has lifted many of the restrictions put in place to fight the coronavirus pandemic, reopening cafes, clubs, gyms and theaters after more than three months of closure. Authorities also allowed the reopening of mosques and churches.

The government has been eager to resuscitate the Egyptian economy, which was hit hard by the virus outbreak.

In Cairo, a sprawling and bustling metropolis of some 20 million people, coffee shops reopened Saturday to receive in-house customers for the first time since mid-March. But the smoking of “sheesha” from hookah waterpipes is no longer offered due to sanitary concerns.

Cafes have been allowed to reopen at only 25% seating capacity, according to Prime Minister Mustafa Madbouly.

Mosques and churches will not be allowed to hold their weekly main services, when large crowds traditionally gather for worship. The government has banned Friday prayers at mosques and Sunday Masses at churches, Madbouly said.

Britain moves to make summer travel possible

LONDON — Britain’s government is moving to make summer vacation travel possible as it moves to ease restrictions imposed amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The government is expected to scrap a 14-day quarantine requirement that forced people to self-isolate upon returning home from abroad. It will be replaced with a traffic light system, with officials placing countries into green, amber and red categories based on the prevalence of the virus.

Only travelers returning to the U.K. from “red’’ zones or places with a high level of COVID-19 will be told to self-isolate.

A full list of countries is due to be published next week, but it is likely that Spain, Greece and France will be given a green light.

India’s confirmed cases pass half a million

NEW DELHI — India’s confirmed coronavirus cases crossed half a million on Saturday with another record 24-hour jump of 18,552 infections.

The Health Ministry also reported 384 new deaths, raising the total to 15,685.

The surge prompted authorities in the northeastern state of Assam to impose a two-week lockdown in the state capital of Gauhati. About 700 new cases were reported there in just four days.

Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said the rest of Assam will be placed under a night curfew and weekend lockdowns.

He urged people to store essential goods and signaled a tighter lockdown where even grocery stores would be closed.

South Korea confirms 51 new infections

SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea has reported 51 more confirmed coronavirus cases as new clusters emerge in the densely populated Seoul area where people have been increasingly venturing out despite government warnings against complacency.

Thirty-five of the new cases are in the capital region, which is at the center of a COVID-19 resurgence threatening to erase earlier gains against the virus.

Authorities are struggling to trace contacts and predict infection routes as new clusters pop up. Hundreds of infections have been linked to nightspots, church gatherings, restaurants and low-income workers who couldn’t afford to stay home.

Officials are resisting calls to reimpose stronger social distancing guidelines, concerned about hurting the economy.

China reports new uptick

BEIJING — China has reported an uptick in new coronavirus cases a day after national health authorities said they expected an outbreak in Beijing to be brought under control soon.

The National Health Commission said Saturday that 21 more cases had been confirmed nationwide in the latest 24-hour period, including 17 in the nation’s capital.

City officials have temporarily shut a huge wholesale food market where the virus spread widely, re-closed schools and locked down some neighborhoods. Anyone leaving Beijing is required to have a negative virus test result within the previous seven days. Many Chinese are traveling during a four-day holiday weekend that ends Sunday.

China has reported 83,483 cases and 4,634 deaths in the pandemic. It does not include in the numbers people who test positive but don’t show symptoms.

Australia expects rise in cases as nationals return home

CANBERRA, Australia — Australian health officials are expecting more cases of COVID-19 as hundreds of nationals return from overseas to begin mandatory quarantine.

About 300 people are due to arrive in Adelaide this weekend from Mumbai, India, while hundreds are expected to follow from South America and Indonesia.

People in hotel quarantine will be tested for the coronavirus at the start and end of their 14-day isolation.

South Australia state Health Minister Stephen Wade says he is preparing for about 5% to 10% of returnees being infected, as was the case when people arrived from Indonesia in other states.

Melbourne reported 30 new cases Friday, continuing a run of double-digit increases that has more than tripled Victoria state’s active cases to 183 in just over a week.

In all, Australia has had 104 COVID-19 deaths and nearly 7,600 confirmed cases.

Texas passes 5,000 hospitalized coronavirus patients

AUSTIN, Texas — Texas has surpassed 5,000 hospitalized coronavirus patients for the first time as Gov. Greg Abbott continues a dramatic retreat in his aggressive reopening of America’s second-biggest state.

In Houston, county officials Friday elevated a public threat warning system to the highest level. Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said “We never brought the curve all the way down. We only flattened it.”

Hospitalizations in Texas, reported by state health officials, have now skyrocketed more than threefold over the past month. New records are set daily, and Abbott has brought back a ban on elective surgeries to free up beds.

His latest orders shuttered bars indefinitely and ordered restaurants dining rooms to scale back on seating customers.

California governor wants stricken county to reimpose stay-at-home

RANCHO CORDOVA, Calif. — Gov. Gavin Newsom said Friday that he wants an agricultural Southern California county to reimpose stay-home orders amid a surge in positive coronavirus tests there and through much of the state.

Imperial County, with a population of 175,000 people on the state’s border with Mexico, has been the slowest in the state to reopen amid continued high positivity rates, which have averaged 23% in the last week, compared with 5.7% statewide.

The Imperial Valley, which provides many of the vegetables in U.S. supermarkets in the winter, lies across the border from Mexicali, a sprawling industrial city of 1 million people that has enormous influence on its economy and culture.

Newsom said San Francisco is also pausing plans to reopen businesses that were expected to open Monday, such as hair salons, museums and outdoor bars.

Judge blocks New York restrictions on religious gatherings

NEW YORK — A federal judge has blocked New York state from enforcing coronavirus restrictions limiting indoor religious gatherings to 25% capacity when other types of gatherings are limited to 50%.

Judge Gary Sharpe acted Friday to enjoin Gov. Andrew Cuomo, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and Attorney General Letitia James from enforcing some of the capacity restrictions put in place by executive order to contain the spread of the virus.

A spokesperson for Cuomo said the governor’s office will review the decision. A spokesperson for the New York City law department said city lawyers would review the ruling as well.

Louisiana numbers take another large jump up

NEW ORLEANS — The number of reported COVID-19 cases in Louisiana took another large one-day jump, increasing Friday by more than 1,300 as the number of people hospitalized with the disease caused by the new coronavirus continued upward.

The state reported a total of 54,769 confirmed cases as of midday. The death toll was 3,077, up by 26 from Thursday.

Some of the growth in known case numbers can be attributed to increased testing. However, the number of people sick enough to be hospitalized — considered a key indicator that the virus is spreading — went up to 700. The figure is down from nearly 2,000 in April but up from a low of 542 on June 13.

The increasing numbers led Gov. John Bel Edwards this week to delay plans to further lift restrictions on public gatherings and some business activity. Edwards has promised stepped up enforcement on businesses that aren’t complying with virus-related restrictions on capacity and requirements that employees dealing with the public wear masks.

Friday marked Louisiana’s second one-day spike of more than 1,300 this week.

Florida bans alcohol consumption in bars as cases spike

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Florida banned alcohol consumption at its bars after its daily confirmed coronavirus cases neared 9,000, almost double the previous record set just two days ago.

The Florida agency that governs bars announced the ban on Twitter, minutes after the Department of Health reported 8,942 new confirmed cases, topping the previous record of 5,500 set Wednesday.

More than 24,000 cases have been reported since Saturday, more than a fifth of the 111,724 cases confirmed since March 1. The department had not updated its death total, which still stood at 3,327.

The seven-day average for positive tests dropped slightly to 13.4%, down 1 percentage point from Thursday but still triple the rate of 3.8% of June 1. State officials have attributed much of the new outbreak to young adults flocking to bars after they reopened about a month ago.

Read the full story here.

Pence tries to put positive spin on surging virus cases in South, West

Vice President Mike Pence sought Friday to put a positive spin on the surging coronavirus cases in the South and West that set two single-day records this week, saying, “We did slow the spread. We did flatten the curve. We’re in a much better place.”

Pence, in the first White House coronavirus task force briefing in nearly two months, offered no new strategies to combat the rapidly spreading virus, and minimized record daily case counts in several states as “outbreaks in specific counties.” He said the increases were being driven by people under age 35, which he called “very encouraging news” because they are generally less susceptible to severe consequences.

The briefing came a day after state health departments reported a record 39,327 new coronavirus infections and several Republican governors, including Greg Abbott in Texas and Ron DeSantis in Florida, froze reopening plans and imposed new restrictions on bars amid growing signs the virus was spiraling out of control. Florida reported nearly 9,000 8 new cases Friday blowing past its single-day high of 5,511 set on Wednesday.

Pence, who did not wear a mask, dismissed the idea that states reopening prematurely had contributed to recent outbreaks. He stressed that while cases had increased, the death rate had declined.

“This moment in the coronavirus pandemic is different than what we saw two months ago,” he said. “It’s almost inarguable that more testing is generating more cases. The volume of new cases is a reflection of the great success in expanding testing across the country.”

Health authorities, however, project that those younger people, many of whom show no symptoms, will likely spread infections to the more vulnerable and warn of a lag time of about three weeks between when people are first diagnosed, and subsequent hospitalizations and deaths. They also note that while the death count has declined since the first wave of cases, it is slowly inching up as cases increase.

Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a member of the White House task force, and public health experts have said increased testing alone does not explain the recent increases.

Read the full story on the task force here.

As virus grows, some governors rely on misleading hospital data 

Governors in places seeing huge spikes in coronavirus infections often cite statewide data to assure the public they have plenty of hospital capacity to survive the onslaught, even as the states routinely miss the critical benchmarks to guide their pandemic response.

Anthony Fauci, Mike Pence

Dr. Anthony Fauci, right, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks during a briefing with members of the Coronavirus Task Force, including Vice President Mike Pence, left, at the Department of Health and Human Services in Washington on Friday. Susan Walsh/Associated Press

Public health officials and experts say the heavy reliance on statewide hospital data is a misleading and sometimes irresponsible metric to justify keeping a state open or holding back on imposing new limits.

That is because statewide statistics can be deceiving, especially in large states where individual hospitals can be in crisis mode even while the overall capacity numbers look OK.

Thomas LaVeist, dean of the Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine in New Orleans, said basing pandemic and reopening policy on statewide hospital bed capacity ’’is incredibly irresponsible.”

“To cherry-pick hospital capacity and to use that one metric without the context of number of cases, number of deaths, is shocking,” LaVeist said.

The issue of hospital capacity has gained urgency across the nation this week as Florida, Texas, California, Arizona and other states reported skyrocketing case numbers. Governors have repeatedly invoked hospital capacity in arguing against new business restrictions, though the dynamic began to shift Friday when Texas and Florida clamped down on bars amid an increasingly dire situation with COVID-19.

At the first White House coronavirus briefing nearly two months Friday, Vice President Mike Pence also cited hospitalizations in discussing the outlook for the pandemic.

Two months ago, Pence said 15 percent of patients were being hospitalized. Now it’s about 5 percent. That means the health care system is better positioned to cope with a resurgence in cases, he says.

In Texas, the state health department’s website on Thursday showed 12,951 available beds, 1,320 available ICU beds, and 5,850 available ventilators. What it doesn’t break down is how bleak the situation is in some particular places, including Houston, the nation’s fourth largest city. Hospital beds in Houston are filling so fast that Texas Children’s Hospital is starting to treat adult patients, and 97 percent of ICU beds at Texas Medical Center were in use.

Read the full story about hospitalizations here.

Dow drops after Texas retreats from reopening timeline

U.S. stocks dived Friday as the coronavirus continued to drag on the economy and a flare-up in cases prompted Texas to pull back from its reopening.

The Dow Jones industrial average slid nearly 600 points, nearly 2.2 percent, in early afternoon trading. The Standard & Poor’s 500 dropped 1.7 percent and the tech-heavy Nasdaq fell 1.6 percent.

All 11 sectors of the S&P were in the red, led downward by financials, energy and communication services. Shares of social media favorite Facebook plunged by more than 8 percent on news that packaged goods giant Unilever would suspend advertising on the site, Instagram and Twitter through the end of 2020 due to the “polarized atmosphere” on social media platforms.

Friday’s sell-off came after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, issued an executive order reviving restrictions on bars, restaurants and certain types of outdoor recreation. The move comes a day after the state announced a pause in its reopening plans but said it would not revert to stricter measures in response to a surge in covid-19 infections and hospitalizations.

The outbreak has also flared up in Arizona. Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix, is recording as many as 2,000 cases a day, “eclipsing the New York City boroughs even on their worst days,” warned a Wednesday brief by disease trackers at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, which observed, “Arizona has lost control of the epidemic.”

South Carolina, Florida, Idaho and Guam also have reported big case spikes in the past week. At least 122,000 Americans have died of covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, and more than 2.4 million cases have been confirmed.

The decline in stocks comes amid a mixed economic package and political upheaval following last month’s death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died in police custody in Minneapolis. Unemployment is stubbornly high, but consumer spending and orders for durable goods – both key indicators – show signs of a rebound. The Commerce Department on Friday also said personal incomes declined less than feared.

 


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