The latest on the coronavirus pandemic around the U.S. and the world.

The government’s top experts in infectious diseases on Tuesday criticized American Airlines’ decision to pack flights full while the coronavirus outbreak continues to grow across much of the United States.

“Obviously that is something that is of concern. I’m not sure what went into that decision making,” Dr. Anthony Fauci told a Senate panel. “I think in the confines of an airplane that becomes even more problematic.”

Several U.S. airlines say they are limiting capacity on planes to between 60% and 67% of all seats. However, United Airlines never promised to leave seats empty, and American said last week that starting Wednesday it would drop its effort to keep half of all middle seats empty.

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A traveler walks in a mostly empty American Airlines terminal at the Los Angeles International Airport on May 28. The director of the federal CDC said “there was substantial disappointment with American Airlines” when it decided to pack flights full. Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP Photo

“When they announced that the other day obviously there was substantial disappointment with American Airlines,” said Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “I can say this is under critical review by us at CDC. We don’t think it’s the right message.”

Fauci, the top infectious disease expert at the National Institutes of Health, and Redfield made the comments in response to questioning by Sen. Bernie Sanders during a Senate health committee hearing. Sanders, an independent from Vermont, pressed the officials on how full flights square with the message from public health experts that people should stay six feet apart to prevent transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19.

American Airlines spokesman Ross Feinstein said the airline has “multiple layers of protection in place for those who fly with us, including required face coverings, enhanced cleaning procedures, and a pre-flight COVID-19 symptom checklist.” He said American was also giving customers the option of changing their ticket if their flight might be full.

Read the full story about American Airlines’ decision here.

As virus roars back, so do signs of a new round of layoffs

WASHINGTON — The reopening of Tucson’s historic Hotel Congress lasted less than a month.

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Omar Yeefoon, owner of Shoals Sound & Service vegan restaurant works behind the bar while the eatery is closed Tuesday in Dallas. Yeefoon reopened his Dallas restaurant June 10 to “a pretty good reception,” after having been shuttered for three months. The comeback was fleeting. After four days, Yeefoon had to shut down again in the face of a COVID-19 resurgence in Texas and lay off two of the four workers he’d brought back. LM Otero/Associated Press

General manager Todd Hanley on June 4 ended a two-month coronavirus lockdown and reopened the 39-room hotel at half-capacity, along with an adjoining restaurant for outdoor dining. Yet with reported COVID-19 cases spiking across Arizona, Hanley made the painful decision last weekend to give up, for now.

“We are closing everything,’’ he said. “We are going to live to fight another day.’’

The move means that once again, most of Hanley’s employees will lose their jobs, at least temporarily. Except for roughly a dozen who are needed to maintain the century-old property, more than 50 workers he had recalled will be laid off for a second time.

A resurgence of confirmed COVID cases across the South and West — and the suspension or reversal of re-openings of bars, hotels, restaurants and other businesses — is endangering hopes for an economic rebound in the region and perhaps nationally. At stake are the jobs of millions of people who have clung to hopes that their layoffs from widespread business shutdowns this spring would prove short-lived.

On Thursday, the government is expected to issue another robust monthly jobs report.

Yet any such news might already be outdated: The jobs report won’t fully capture the impact of the COVID upsurge in the South and West and the desperate steps being pursued to try to control it.

“We’re still in a very deep hole,’’ said Diane Swonk, chief economist at the firm Grant Thornton. “This makes the June employment report backward-looking instead of forward-looking.’’

Eager to jump-start their economies, governors in several states across the Sun Belt had lifted their lockdowns before their states had met reopening guidelines that were set — yet largely shrugged off — by the White House.

Reported infections quickly spiked and the governors began to backtrack.

Read the full story here.

Fauci says U.S. infections could reach 100,000 per day

WASHINGTON — Dr. Anthony Fauci said coronavirus cases could grow to 100,000 a day in the U.S. if Americans don’t start following public health recommendations.

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Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, testifies before a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington on Tuesday. Kevin Dietsch/Pool via Associated Press

The nation’s leading infectious disease expert made the remark at a Senate hearing on reopening schools and workplaces.

Asked to forecast the outcome of recent surges in some states, Fauci said he can’t make an accurate prediction but believes it will be “very disturbing.”

“We are now having 40-plus-thousand new cases a day. I would not be surprised if we go up to to 100,000 a day if this does not turn around, and so I am very concerned,” said Fauci, infectious disease chief at the National Institutes of Health.

Fauci said areas seeing recent outbreaks are putting the entire nation at risk, including areas that have made progress in reducing COVID-19 cases. He cited recent video footage of people socializing in crowds, often without masks, and otherwise ignoring safety guidelines.

Read the full story about Dr. Fauci here.

Tennessee senator says Trump should wear a mask

WASHINGTON — A leading Republican senator says President Trump should start wearing a mask at least some of the time because politics is getting in the way of protecting the American people from COVID-19.

“The stakes are too high for the political debate about pro-Trump, anti-Trump masks to continue,” says Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee.

Alexander is chairing a hearing of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee that’s focused on ways to safely reopen schools and workplaces.

Alexander had to self-quarantine after he was exposed to a staff member who tested positive. But the senator says he was protected because the staffer was wearing a mask.

States reverse openings, require masks amid virus resurgence

Arizona’s Republican governor shut down bars, movie theaters, gyms and water parks Monday and leaders in several states ordered residents to wear masks in public in a dramatic course reversal amid an alarming resurgence of coronavirus cases nationwide.

Among those implementing the face-covering orders is the city of Jacksonville, Florida, where mask-averse President Trump plans to accept the Republican nomination in August. Trump has refused to wear a mask during visits to states and businesses that require them.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey’s order went into effect immediately and for at least 30 days. Ducey also ordered public schools to delay the start of classes until at least Aug. 17. Most Arizona bars and nightclubs opened after the governor’s stay-at-home and business closure orders were allowed to expire in mid-May.

Arizona health officials reported 3,858 more confirmed coronavirus cases Sunday, the most reported in a single day in the state so far and the seventh time in the past 10 days that daily cases surpassed the 3,000 mark. Since the pandemic began, 74,500 cases and 1,588 deaths stemming from the virus have been reported in Arizona.

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People are tested in their in vehicles Saturday in Phoenix. Arizona’s governor shut down bars, movie theaters, gyms and water parks Monday, and leaders in several states ordered residents to wear masks in public in a dramatic course reversal caused by an alarming resurgence of coronavirus cases. Associated Press/Matt York

“Our expectation is that our numbers next week will be worse,” Ducey said Monday.

The state is not alone in its reversal. Places such as Texas, Florida and California are backtracking, closing beaches and bars in some cases amid a resurgence of the virus.

Read the full story on the resurgence of coronavirus here.

Tracking coronavirus cases proves difficult amid new surge

HOUSTON — Health departments around the U.S. that are using contact tracers to contain coronavirus outbreaks are scrambling to bolster their ranks amid a surge of cases and resistance to cooperation from those infected or exposed.

With too few trained contact tracers to handle soaring caseloads, one hard-hit Arizona county is relying on National Guard members to pitch in. In Louisiana, people who have tested positive typically wait more than two days to respond to health officials – giving the disease crucial time to spread. Many tracers are finding it hard to break through suspicion and apathy to convince people that compliance is crucial.

Contact tracing – tracking people who test positive and anyone they’ve come in contact with – was challenging even when stay-at-home orders were in place. Tracers say it’s exponentially more difficult now that many restaurants, bars and gyms are full, and people are gathering with family and friends.

Christella Uwera, Dishell Freeman, Alejandra Camarillo

Contact tracers, from left to right, Christella Uwera, Dishell Freeman and Alejandra Camarillo work at Harris County Public Health contact tracing facility on Thursday in Houston. On Monday, the U.S. reported 38,800 newly confirmed infections, with the total surpassing 2.5 million, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University. David J. Phillip/Associated Press

“People are probably letting their guard down a little … they think there is no longer a threat,” said Grand Traverse County, Michigan, Health Officer Wendy Hirschenberger, who was alerted by health officials in another part of the state that infected tourists had visited vineyards and bars in her area.

Her health department was then able to urge local residents who had visited those businesses to self-quarantine.

Hirschenberger was lucky she received that information – only made possible because the tourists had cooperated with contact tracers. But that’s often not the case.

Read the full story on the challenge of tracking coronavirus infections here.

Jacksonville, site of Republican convention, orders wearing of masks

The city of Jacksonville, Florida, where mask-averse President Trump plans to accept the Republican nomination in August, ordered the wearing of face coverings Monday, joining the list of state and local governments reversing course to try to beat back a resurgence of the coronavirus.

Less than a week after Mayor Lenny Curry said there would be no mask requirement, city officials announced that coverings must be worn in “situations where individuals cannot socially distance.”

White House spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany responded by saying the president’s advice is to “do whatever your local jurisdiction requests of you.”

Trump has refused to wear a mask during visits to states and businesses that require them.

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People, social distancing and wearing masks to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus, wait in line at a mask distribution event on Friday in a COVID-19 hotspot of the Little Havana neighborhood of Miami on Friday. Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press

In recent weeks, the Republicans moved some of the convention pageantry to Jacksonville after Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper of North Carolina objected to the holding of a large gathering in Charlotte without social-distancing measures. The convention will be in late August.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, has opposed a statewide mask requirement but said in response to Jacksonville’s action that he will support local authorities who are doing what they think is appropriate.

The Jacksonville order came on the same day that the head of the World Health Organization warned that the pandemic is “not even close to being over” and is accelerating.

“The worst is yet to come,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesu. “With this kind of environment and condition, we fear the worst.”

Read the full story here.

Hundreds line up for tests as Florida cities close beaches

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Hundreds of people lined up at coronavirus testing sites around Florida on Monday, as the state remained in the virus’s grip.

St. Petersburg Police said on Twitter that a testing site located at Tropicana Field — where the Tampa Bay Rays baseball team normally plays — closed early because it was at capacity, shortly after 8 a.m.

The site ran out of tests, officials said. More than five hundred people lined up in their cars for testing. Police said the Florida Department of Health and BayCare, a hospital system asked people to “try again” when testing resumes Tuesday at 7 a.m.

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People, social distancing and wearing masks to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus, wait in line at a mask distribution event on Friday. Hundreds of people lined up at coronavirus testing sites around Florida on Monday. Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press

In Jacksonville, more than 300 cars lined up for testing at the TIAA Bank Field, where the NFL Jaguars play. The city’s leaders on Monday enacted a mandatory mask requirement for public & indoor locations, and “in other situations where individuals cannot socially distance.” The requirement begins at 5 p.m. Monday.

Beaches and bars in South Florida are closing, just days before the normally busy Fourth of July weekend. Monroe County, which comprises the Florida Keys, said Monday it would close beaches. Fireworks shows have also been canceled in several cities, and some attractions are closing their doors as well.

The Miami Seaquarium announced it would be closing temporarily beginning Monday in response to the rise in confirmed COVID-19 cases locally and statewide. The aquarium said they have not had any known or suspected cases and that the decision was out of an abundance of caution. Zoo Miami officials told local media late Sunday that four employees had tested positive for the new coronavirus, and they were canceling animal feedings.

The Florida Department of Health reported on Monday more than 5,400 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 and three deaths. In total, the state now has more than 141,000 confirmed coronavirus cases and more than 3,400 deaths.

Monday’s positive test numbers were fewer than in the past three days, possibly due to reporting lags over the weekend.

Florida is second only to Arizona in new cases per capita, with about 300 per 100,000 people over the past two weeks.

Hospitalizations have been ticking upward but still haven’t spiked as dramatically as new cases, with an average of about 170 to 174 new hospitalizations per day over the past five days, according to figures from covidtracker.com. State and hospital officials have said the new wave of confirmed infections has been in patients skewing younger who are less likely to develop severe illness and far less likely to end up in intensive care units.

Dr. Jason Foland of Studer Family Children’s Hospital in Pensacola said at a news conference Sunday that a less aggressive form of the virus appeared to currently be spreading in Florida.

Read the full story about Florida here.

EU announces it will open borders to travelers from 14 countries

PARIS — The European Union announced it will reopen its borders to travelers from 14 countries, and possibly China soon, but most Americans have been refused entry for at least another two weeks due to soaring coronavirus infections in the U.S.

Travelers from other countries like Russia, Brazil and India will also miss out.

For tourist sites and stores in Paris that are already feeling the pinch of losing clients from around the world, the EU’s decision not to readmit most American travelers is another blow.

“Americans were 50% of my clientele,” said Paola Pellizzari, who owns a mask and jewelry shop on the Saint-Louis island and heads its business association. “We can’t substitute that clientele with another.”

He says when returned after lockdown, five businesses had closed.

The continued absence of Americans also hurts the Louvre. The world’s most-visited museum plans its reopening on July 6. Americans used to be the largest single group of visitors.

UN labor group says pandemic had larger economic impact than first estimated

GENEVA — The U.N. labor agency says the coronavirus pandemic had a more severe impact on jobs than previously estimated, reflecting increasing fallout in many regions and particularly in developing economies.

The International Labor Organization estimated 14% of working hours were lost worldwide in the year’s second quarter, ending Tuesday, compared with the fourth quarter of 2019. It says that’s equivalent to the loss of 400 million full-time jobs.

A month ago, the ILO estimated the loss at 10.7% of working hours, equivalent to 305 million full-time jobs.

The agency says 93% of the world’s workers are still living in countries with workplace closures of some kind, with the greatest restrictions in the Americas. That region also had the steepest projected fall in working hours, with an estimated fall of 18.3% in the second quarter.

Tokyo governor sets new monitoring criteria

TOKYO — Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike announced a new set of criteria to monitor coronavirus infections.

The revised guideline comes as Tokyo’s daily new cases have risen to around 50, their highest levels since early May.

“I believe our task now is to balance measures against the further spread of the infections and social and economic activities,” Koike said. “Instead of relying on specific numbers to switch on and off (caution levels), we will look at the whole picture and make a comprehensive decision,”

Koike and doctors on a panel of experts say their evaluation will be based on seven factors, including the number of new cases, details of untraceable cases, number of emergency calls and consultations, capacity at emergency hospitals, ratio of patients per test takers and the state of medical systems.

Koike says Tokyo set three caution scales for hospitals, requiring them to secure up to 4,000 beds at level three. She says she designated Tokyo hospitals to be on “level two” preparedness on Monday, asking to secure up to 3,000 beds in case the current rise in infections worsens.

Tokyo reported 54 new cases Tuesday, exceeding an earlier threshold of 50 for a fifth day in a row for a confirmed total of 6,225. Officials say half of the cases are linked to group testing among employees in nightclubs in downtown Tokyo.

Tokyo accounts to about one-third of the Japanese national total of 18,593 confirmed cases and 972 deaths.

Los Angeles to close beaches, ban fireworks

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Los Angeles will close beaches and ban fireworks displays over the holiday weekend. California officials are warning further restrictions may be necessary to curb a troubling spike in coronavirus cases in much of the state.

Gov. Gavin Newsom says he’s prepared to impose targeted shutdowns of counties or businesses. Newsom’s remarks came a day after he mandated bars close in seven counties.

Newsom says the state will step up enforcement of its mask order. At the same time, new guidance allows some nursing home visitation to resume. The state is considering releasing more prisoners early amid prison outbreaks.

Toronto mayor wants council to make masks mandatory

TORONTO — The mayor of Canada’s largest city is asking the Toronto city council to make masks mandatory in public indoor spaces.

Mayor John Tory says he’s heard from citizens and they don’t want to see what’s happening in the United States happen in Toronto. Tory believes most councilors will support it. The bylaw will take effect July 7, if passed.

Toronto Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa says there is growing evidence that shows non-medical masks can help prevent the spread of COVID-19. She says many cities in the U.S. are seeing a resurgence in cases since reopening.

Medical workers turn their backs to Serbian government officials

BELGRADE, Serbia — A group of medical workers in a southwestern Serbian town hit hard by the coronavirus have turned their back to top government officials during a visit.

Prime Minister Ana Brnabic and Health Minister Zlatibor Loncar on Tuesday traveled to Novi Pazar where a local hospital has been overwhelmed by a surge of new cases in recent days.

About two dozen people shouted booed and jeered during a press conference the two officials held outside the Novi Pazar hospital. Brnabic described the gathering as political.

Authorities in Novi Pazar have introduced emergency measures to cope with dozens of new cases. Reports in some Serbian media have alleged the situation was more serious that officially presented, including the number of dead. Government officials have said the situation is under control.

Serbia has seen a spike in infections after loosening of lockdown rules. The country on Tuesday reported 276 new cases and three deaths in the past 24 hours. The total number of confirmed cases is 14,564 and 277 deaths.

Britain approves resumption of testing of malaria drug

LONDON — Britain’s medical regulatory agency has approved the resumption of a trial testing whether hydroxychloroquine, the malaria drug favored by U.S. President Donald Trump, might help prevent health workers from contracting the coronavirus.

The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency had suspended enrollment into the trial after a paper was published in the journal Lancet last month that suggested there was an increased death risk linked to the drug. The paper was found to be based on fraudulent data and was retracted.

A large British trial previously found that hydroxychloroquine did not prevent deaths among people hospitalized with COVID-19 compared to people who didn’t get the drug. The World Health Organization suspended its own trial into the drug, citing data from Britain and elsewhere, but said it was still unknown whether or not hydroxychloroquine might work to prevent coronavirus infections.

In a statement issued on Tuesday, Britain’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency said it had approved the resumption of an ongoing clinical trial testing the use of the drug in health workers. Oxford University’s tropical research center in Bangkok is leading a trial aiming to include more than 40,000 health workers and other staff at risk to determine if hydroxychloroquine can stop infections of the coronavirus.

Spain’s economy contracted more than 5 percent

MADRID — Spanish official statistics show that the country’s gross domestic product contracted 5.2% during the first three months of the year compared to the previous quarter, the biggest drop in at least half a century.

The National Institute of Statistics, or INE, said Tuesday that the economic freeze imposed to slow the spread of the coronavirus impacted the economy like never before since quarterly records began to be kept in 1970. From January to March 2009, following a global financial meltdown, the country’s GDP shrank by 2.6%.

If the figures for the second quarter are also negative compared to the first — and nobody doubts that since the impact of a strict lockdown was felt especially in April and May, and recovery of economic activity since then has been slow — the eurozone’s fourth-largest economy will officially enter in recession.

That’s a sharp contrast from GDP growth averaging 0.4% in the second, third and fourth quarters of 2019. Year on year, the drop on the first quarter of 2020 was of 4.1% compared to the same period in 2019.

Spain has recorded some 249,000 coronavirus infections confirmed by lab tests and at least 28,300 deaths.

Melbourne’s suburbs now on lockdown

MELBOURNE, Australia — Australia’s second-largest city will lock down dozens of suburbs for a month in a bid to contain the spread of coronavirus.

Victoria state Premier Daniel Andrews said Tuesday that 233 positive tests for COVID-19 in Melbourne since Thursday was unacceptably high.

Andrews announced 10 zip codes covering 36 suburbs in which residents will be required to stay at home from Wednesday night until July 29 except for four permitted reasons.

Residents will face fines if they leave home for reasons other than to give or receive care, to exercise, to buy essentials or to go to work or school. People who live outside those suburbs will only be allowed to enter them for the same reasons.

Andrews also announced there would be no international flights allowed into Melbourne for the next two weeks to help curb infections.

South Korean baseball fans must wear masks, not eat at games

SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea’s professional baseball league says it will require fans to wear masks, sit at least a seat apart and prohibit them from eating food in the stands as it prepares to bring back spectators in the coming weeks amid the coronavirus epidemic.

The Korea Baseball Organization said Tuesday that teams will be initially allowed to sell only 30% of the seats for each game. It said attendance could be expanded to as much as 50% depending on the progress in the country’s anti-virus efforts.

Fans will also be screened for fevers and discouraged from shouting, singing and cheering during the game. They will be able to buy tickets only with credit cards so that health authorities could easily locate them when needed. South Korea has been actively tracing the contacts of virus carriers using credit card information, cellphone location data and surveillance camera footage.

The KBO became one of the world’s first major sports competitions to return to action in May, but without fans in the stands. Seats have been covered with cheering banners, dolls or pictures of fans as teams tried to mimic a festive atmosphere.


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