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

As the United States reported its highest number of deaths from the novel coronavirus in a single day since mid-May, President Trump continued Wednesday to press for the nation’s schools to bring children into classrooms, for businesses to open and for athletes to fill stadiums.

“We’ve got to open up our schools and open up our businesses,” Trump said at an evening news conference at the White House, adding that he wanted to see a college football season this fall. “Let them play,” he said.

The president also made his latest concerted push to get students back into U.S. schools, saying “99.9 percent” of deaths from the coronavirus pandemic involve adults. He threatened to divert federal money from schools that do not open fully, and warned of the intellectual damage that could result if children remain at home indefinitely.

“When you sit at home in a basement looking at a computer, your brain starts to wither away,” Trump said, adding that “all schools should be making plans to resume in person classes as soon as possible.”

On Wednesday, the country reported its highest number of deaths in a single day since mid-May, at nearly 1,500. The country has now seen its seven-day average of newly reported deaths remain above 1,000 for 17 consecutive days.

Georgia reported 105 deaths Wednesday, marking its second triple-digit day in a row. North Carolina reported an additional 45 deaths Wednesday, tying its highest daily number, from July 29. Texas reported 324 additional deaths from the disease covid-19, which is caused by the novel coronavirus.

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For Americans waiting on virus aid, no new relief in sight

WASHINGTON  — Americans counting on emergency coronavirus aid from Washington may have to wait until fall.

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Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin speaks at a news conference at the White House on Monday. Mnuchin tried Wednesday to revive talks on a coronavirus aid package, but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer rejected the effort, saying the Trump administration is refusing to meet them halfway.  Associated Press/Andrew Harnik

Negotiations over a new virus relief package have all but ended, with the White House and congressional leaders far apart on the size, scope and approach for shoring up households, reopening schools and launching a national strategy to contain the virus.

President Trump’s top negotiator, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, tried to revive stalled talks Wednesday, but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer dismissed the “overture,” saying the Trump administration is still refusing to meet them halfway. Congressional Republicans are largely sitting out the talks.

With the House and Senate essentially closed, and lawmakers on call to return with 24-hours notice, hopes for a swift compromise have dwindled. Instead, the politics of blame have taken hold, as the parties head into August focused on the presidential nominating conventions and lawmakers’ own re-election campaigns.

All indications are talks will not resume in full until Congress resumes in September, despite the mounting death toll, surpassing 161,000 in the U.S., and more than 5 million people infected.

For Americans, that means the end of a $600 weekly unemployment benefit that has expired, as has a federal ban on evictions. Schools hoping for cash from the federal government to help provide safety measures are left empty handed. States and cities staring down red ink with the shattered economy have few options.

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Georgia school district remains divided on in-person schooling after viral photo and coronavirus cases

Prayers, applause and strong opinions swirled around at an emotionally charged Paulding County School District Board of Education meeting on Tuesday night, video shows.

Parents, teachers and students voiced their conflicting beliefs on school safety and leadership as the Georgia school district grapples with providing an education during a global pandemic.

Paulding County School District was shoved onto the national stage in the past week when at least two North Paulding High School students shared pictures and video that went viral of a crowded hallway of mostly maskless students. The students were suspended for posting the images, a decision that was later reversed for at least one of them. The high school shuttered its doors this week for a third day for cleaning after six students and at least three staff members tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

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Students crowd a hallway on Aug. 4, at North Paulding High School in Dallas, Ga. Pi Twitter via Associated Press

During the meeting, some parents underscored the need for in-person learning as they try to maintain full-time jobs, and others asked the district to provide a data-driven agenda for in-person learning as well as mask mandates.

The clapping and sounds of agreement appeared to show most attendees were in favor of in-school learning over virtual, providing a vivid illustration of how responses to the coronavirus have become divided.

Nearly 70 percent of Paulding County voted for President Donald Trump in the 2016 election, and more than 71 percent voted for Republican Mitt Romney in 2012, according to Atlanta Journal Constitution data.

Parents such as Jennifer Whitlock, who has children attending schools in the district, eschewed and questioned the benefits of children wearing masks and made specious comparisons between the coronavirus and strep throat.

Whitlock called the coronavirus “China virus,” a phrase Trump has used, and she called for a return to normalcy.

“As much as we’re fearful of the unknown, the one thing I know is God is in control,” she said, with applause following her point.

Justice by Zoom in Texas: Frozen video, a cat – and finally a verdict

The proceeding that appears to be the nation’s first virtual criminal jury trial was underway for just a couple of minutes this week, when a moment occurred that would be familiar to many during the pandemic: a juror’s Zoom video feed froze.

The trial, which was being staged using the video conferencing site that has become ubiquitous during quarantines and office shutdowns, ground to a halt with juror No. 5 paused with one hand aloft as if he were taking an oath.

Over the next several minutes, the judge and his staff tried to remedy the problem, but ultimately they had to dismiss the man from the seven-member panel that was deciding the guilt of a driver accused of speeding in a construction zone. Calli Kornblau was found guilty of speeding but not guilty of the work-zone enhancement.

The glitch was the only major issue during the Tuesday online proceeding in an Austin misdemeanor court, a groundbreaking experiment as courts across the nation seek ways to restart the most fundamental aspect of the criminal justice system. Jury trials have been largely paused by the coronavirus in many areas including Texas.

Courts across the country have moved some proceedings online, but many judges, defense attorneys and public defenders have been cool to the idea of holding virtual criminal jury trials because of concerns about whether defendants could receive fair trials.

Officials with the Texas courts have come to the conclusion that cramped courthouses will be able to hold only a limited number of criminal jury trials while providing for social distancing when they are scheduled to resume in October, so they have begun to explore other options for jury trials such as Zoom.

“You guys are making history just by doing your jobs,” Justice of the Peace Nicholas Chu told jurors at the conclusion of jury selection.

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Why does COVID-19 strike some and not others? Fauci sees an answer in new study

WASHINGTON — Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, said a new study could explain the extraordinary range that people experience with the novel coronavirus, from having no symptoms at all or a mild case to hospitalization or death.

The discovery, which found potential signs of immunity in people who had previously been exposed to other types of coronavirus, could also expand the hunt for a long-lasting COVID-19 vaccine.

Fauci and other scientists said the study published in Science this month held promising findings for understanding why some individuals exposed to COVID-19 for the first time have a modest reaction to the virus.

The study found that the immune systems of roughly half of its subjects appeared to remember past exposure to other prevalent coronaviruses, including variants of the common cold, equipping them to respond more quickly to a COVID-19 infection once it appeared.

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New Hampshire enacts new mask rules ahead of Bike Week, calling Sturgis a ‘warning sign’

Photos of maskless bikers packing bars at South Dakota’s Sturgis Motorcycle Rally prompted New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu (R) to make masks mandatory for gatherings of more than 100 people ahead of Laconia Motorcycle Week.

“Sturgis was a really clear warning sign to us,” Sununu said at a Tuesday news conference. “I don’t think anyone saw the photos out of Sturgis and said, ‘That looks safe.’”

Bikers arrive at Weirs Beach for bike week in Laconia, N.H. in 2010. Associated Press/Jim Cole

The slightly scaled-down East Coast alternative to Sturgis, Laconia’s bike week attracted an estimated 250,000 people last year and is one of the largest motorcycle events in the country. This year’s event was delayed from June to August, which has done little to assuage the fears of public health experts who say that now is not the time for mass gatherings.

Laconia Mayor Andrew Hosmer promised on Monday that the postponed rally “will take place in name only,” with a smaller crowd, no vendor tents, and no concerts or fireworks displays. But many residents feel that the event should not take place at all, the Laconia Daily Sun reported. City Manager Scott Myers told the paper that “the pictures coming from Sturgis are not helping” with officials’ attempts to make the case that the scaled-down event can take place safely.

‘This is no longer a debate’: Florida sheriff bans deputies, visitors from wearing masks

Marion County, Fla., Sheriff Billy Woods Marion County Sheriff’s Department

On Tuesday, as Florida set a daily record for COVID-19 deaths, Marion County Sheriff Billy Woods prohibited his deputies from wearing masks at work. His order, which also applies to visitors to the sheriff’s office, carves out an exception for officers in some locations, including hospitals, and when dealing with people who are high-risk or suspected of having the novel coronavirus.

In an email to the sheriff’s department obtained by the Ocala Star-Banner, Woods disputed the idea that masks are a consensus approach to battling the pandemic.

“We can debate and argue all day of why and why not. The fact is, the amount of professionals that give the reason why we should, I can find the exact same amount of professionals that say why we shouldn’t,” Woods wrote in the email.

A majority of epidemiologists and other health experts say face masks and social distancing are key to slowing the spread of the novel coronavirus, which has ravaged Florida. The state, which has recorded more than 542,000 cases and more than 8,600 deaths, added 217 more deaths on Tuesday; Marion County also set a record for daily deaths on Tuesday, with 13.

Police nationwide have faced scrutiny over inconsistent use of masks by officers, even in large cities like New York and Philadelphia where face coverings are mandatory. Many large departments only suggest that officers wear masks, ABC News recently found, while those that require them, including the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, make exceptions for incidents where masks might impede officers in the line of duty.

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Chinese city donates 40,000 masks to Annapolis

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — A municipal government in China has donated 40,000 medical-grade face masks to Maryland’s capital city amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The donations from Changsha, China, were first offered to Annapolis city officials in April, when the need for the masks among public safety workers was high in the beginning of the pandemic, Annapolis City Manager David Jarrell said in a news release Tuesday.

They arrived this month, with one of the boxes featuring strikers of American and Chinese flags with a message that read: “Go, City of Annapolis! Best Wishes from Changsha! True unity inspires people to work as one to overcome adversity,” The Capital Gazette reported.

Another note from Yani Xia, a representative in the Chinese city’s Foreign Affairs Office, accompanied the shipments. “We sincerely wish you and everyone in Annapolis continued good health, and the fortitude to persevere during this challenging period,” Xia’s note read.

Annapolis’ relationship with Changsha began under a former city administrator, according to the release. The two municipalities are now sister cities.

Brussels mandates masks following rise in cases

BRUSSELS — Authorities in Brussels are introducing mandatory mask rules across the Belgian capital following a spike in cases.

Brussels Minister-President Rudi Vervoort’s office said Wednesday that the number of new infections in the city had reached Belgium’s red line of 50 per 100,000 inhabitants on average over the last seven days.

A statement says the wearing of masks is from now on obligatory for all people aged 12 and over in all public places and in private places accessible to the public.

Brussels is home to the main European Union institutions and the NATO military alliance and has a population of around 1.2 million people. Mandatory masks are also in place in the port city of Antwerp.

Belgium has one of the highest COVID-19 mortality rates per capita in the world. Around 10,000 people have died in a country with a population of some 11.5 million.

Pope denounces culture of individualism

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis has denounced a culture of individuality revealed by the pandemic, which has sacrificed the care of the weakest members of society.

Francis, speaking at his Wednesday audience called on the faithful to “overcome our personal and collective individualism” as experts work to find a cure for the coronavirus, “which hit us all indiscriminately.”

The pontiff said that ‘’the pandemic has revealed how vulnerable and interconnected we all are,” while also making us “more aware of the spread within our societies of a false, individualistic way of thinking, one that rejects human dignity and relationships, views persons as consumer goods and creates a ‘throw-away’ culture.”

He called on people to “look with care at our brothers and sisters, especially those who suffer,’’ and recognize “human dignity in every person, whatever their race, language or condition.”

HHS secretary says virus vaccine push is not a race to be first

TAIPEI, Taiwan — U.S. Health Secretary Alex Azar says the push to develop a COVID-19 vaccine is “not a race to be first.”

Azar’s comments during a visit to Taiwan on Wednesday follow Russian President Vladimir Putin’s announcement that his country was the first to approve a coronavirus vaccine, prompting doubts about the science and safety behind that purported achievement.

Azar says the U.S. is combining the powers of its government, economy and biopharmaceutical industry to “deliver as quickly as we can for the benefit of the United States’ citizens, but also for the people of the world, safe and effective vaccines.”

He says the U.S. has secured an advanced manufacturing contract for a vaccine being developed by the company Moderna and has supply agreements with five other firms who have vaccines in the works.

He says four of the six companies under contract have reported testing results showing they produce more antibodies for the virus than people who have survived COVID-19, without severe side effects.

Azar says two companies’ vaccine candidates have entered the third phase of trials while the Russian vaccine is just now embarking on that stage with no information having been disclosed.

He says the U.S. process should allow the production of a “gold-standard, safe and effective vaccine” available in the tens of millions of doses by the end of the year.

German health official expresses concern about rising case numbers

BERLIN — Germany’s heath minister expressed concern about the rising numbers of coronavirus infections in the country and called on his compatriots to adhere to social distancing and hygiene rules.

Health Minister Jens Spahn says smaller and bigger outbreaks have taken place in almost all regions.

He told Deutschlandfunk radio that the infections were driven by travelers returning from abroad but also people partying or getting together for family gatherings.

He say, “This obviously — if we don’t all watch out now — can lead to a certain dynamic,” and the reemergence of the pandemic.

Germany’s Robert Koch-Institute, which tracks the coronavirus, registered 1,226 new infections on Wednesday. That’s the highest number since early May.

Spahn reiterated appeals to wear masks, keep distance and not go overboard in social settings.

He says, “When there’s alcohol involved, when a festive event turns into a party, it can go very, very quickly.”

Germany has been lauded for keeping the pandemic under control for a long time, but the easing of measures and the return of travelers have in recent weeks lead to an uptick of infections. In addition, summer vacations are over in several states and students are mostly back to regular classes and don’t have to wear masks.

Germany has recorded 218,519 confirmed cases and 9,207 deaths.

Seoul continues to see local transmission of virus

SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea has reported 54 newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 as health authorities scramble to stem transmissions amid increased social and leisure activities.

The figures announced by South Korea’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Wednesday brought the national caseload to 14,714 infections, including 305 deaths.

The KCDC says 35 of the new cases were local transmissions, all but three of them reported from the densely populated Seoul metropolitan area, which has been at the center of a virus resurgence since late May.

The other 19 cases were linked to international arrivals. Health authorities have said imported cases are less threatening as they mandate tests and enforce two-week quarantines on all people arriving from abroad.

Mexico has low testing numbers, high rate of deaths

MEXICO CITY — Mexico reported a near-record 926 newly confirmed COVID-19 deaths Tuesday, bringing the country’s accumulated total to 53,929.

The Health Department reported 6,686 new coronavirus infections, bringing the country’s total confirmed cases so far to 492,522.

At that rate Mexico will reach a half million confirmed cases soon, but given the extremely low rate of testing — less than 1.1 million tests in a country of almost 130 million inhabitants — the number would like be a vast undercount. For the most part, only people with considerable symptoms are tested in Mexico.

Judge rejects N.C. lieutenant governor’s suit against the governor

RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper has won another legal victory defending his COVID-19 executive orders, this time when a judge rejected Lt. Gov. Dan Forest’s demand that they be blocked by declaring his lawsuit as unlikely to succeed.

Judge Jim Gale rejected Forest’s request for a preliminary injunction on Tuesday.

The Republican lieutenant governor sued Cooper last month, alleging the Democrat’s orders limiting business activities and mass gatherings and mandating face coverings were unlawful because he failed to first get support from the Council of State. The 10-member council includes both of them, Attorney General Josh Stein and other statewide elected officials.

Cooper’s state attorneys argued that the governor acted properly under portions of the Emergency Management Act that don’t require the concurrence of the council.

Cooper and Forest are running for governor this fall.

Forest said in a news release that since the judge ruled “Cooper has 100% of the power during a declared emergency,” then the governor also “has 100% of the responsibility” for the results, including permanent business closings.

Cooper has said Forest’s legal actions, if successful, could worsen case and hospitalization numbers that have recently stabilized or improved.

“Gov. Cooper has taken decisive action with health and safety measures to save lives,” spokesperson Dory MacMillan wrote in an email


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