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

PHILADELPHIA — Fielding compelling questions about voters’ real-world problems, President Trump denied during a televised town hall Tuesday that he played down the threat of the coronavirus earlier this year, although there is an audio recording of him stating he did just that.

Trump, in what could well be a preview of his performance in the presidential debates less than two weeks away, cast doubt on the widely accepted scientific conclusions of his own administration strongly urging the use of face coverings and seemed to bat away the suggestion that the nation has racial inequities.

“Well, I hope there’s not a race problem,” Trump said when asked about his campaign rhetoric seeming to ignore the historical injustices carried out against Black Americans.

President Trump talks with ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos before Tuesday’s televised town hall at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia. Associated Press/Evan Vucci

Face-to-face with everyday voters for the first time in months, Trump was defensive but resisted agitation as he was pressed on his administration’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and why he doesn’t more aggressively promote the use of masks to reduce the spread of the disease.

“There are people that don’t think masks are good,” Trump said, though his own Centers for Disease Control and Prevention strongly urges their use.

The event, hosted by ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos, was a warmup of sorts before Trump faces Democratic nominee Joe Biden in the first presidential debate on Sept. 29. Taped at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, it featured Trump taking questions from an audience of just 21 voters to comply with state and local coronavirus regulations.

Read the full story here.

Big Ten football on hold until questions answered

The University of Wisconsin chancellor said Tuesday that Big Ten football will remain on hold until there are answers to questions about COVID-19 testing and tracing, along with possible long-term heart issues related to the coronavirus.

Chancellor Rebecca Blank said once the Big Ten university leaders have their concerns addressed “we will try to plan a delayed season.”

A month after postponing games, conference leaders are considering playing a fall season after all. There were weekend meetings on a plan to begin play as soon as mid-October.

Blank, appearing at a congressional hearing on compensation for college athletes, was asked by Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., about the Big Ten’s decision last month and whether the conference might reverse course.

“There were several main reasons for that,” Blank said. “One was that we were uncertain we could do the level of testing and contact tracing that we needed to keep athletes safe. Secondly, there was this growing evidence about heart-related myocarditis and that evidence was uncertain and it wasn’t clear what it means and we wanted to know more. There were a few other minor reasons.”

She would not predict which way a vote to return to play would go.

“Decisions within the Big Ten are largely majority based decisions, but I’ll be honest, we almost always decide everything by consensus. We very rarely take votes,” Blank said.

A court filing earlier this month disclosed that Big Ten presidents and chancellors voted 11-3 in favor of postponing all fall sports. Iowa, Nebraska and Ohio State voted against the move.

When the next decision comes from the Big Ten was unclear, though KETV in Omaha posted video Tuesday of University of Nebraska President Ted Carter saying, “We’re getting ready to announce the Huskers and Big Ten football tonight,” before he spoke at an unrelated news conference.

Carter later told KLKN in Lincoln that statement was taken out of context.

“When there is any news to share or confirm regarding any Big Ten board decision, it will be announced by the Big Ten,” University of Nebraska spokeswoman Deb Fiddelke said.

U.S. House to stay in session until coronavirus aid deal is struck

WASHINGTON — Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Tuesday the House will remain in session until lawmakers deliver another round of COVID-19 relief, a move that came as Democrats from swing districts signaled discontent with a standoff that could force them to face voters without delivering more aid.

“We are committed to staying here until we have an agreement, an agreement that meets the needs of the American people,” Pelosi said on CNBC.

Pelosi told her Democratic colleagues on a morning conference call that “we have to stay here until we have a bill.” That’s according to a Democratic aide speaking on condition of anonymity but authorized to quote her remarks.

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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., center, walks to her office on Monday on Capitol Hill in Washington. Jacquelyn Martin/Associated Press

Pelosi’s comments came as moderate Democrats, many from areas won by President Trump four years ago, signed on to a $1.5 trillion rescue package endorsed by the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, a group of about 50 lawmakers who seek common solutions to issues.

The plan contains many elements of COVID rescue packages devised by both House Democrats and Republicans controlling the Senate, including aid to schools, funding for state and local governments, and renewal of lapsed COVID-related jobless benefits.

The price tag is significantly less than the $2.2 trillion figure cited by Pelosi but it’s also well above an approximately $650 billion Senate Republican plan that failed last week due to Democratic opposition.

Talks between Pelosi and the Trump administration broke down last month and there had been little optimism they would rekindle before Election Day. And last week, Senate Democrats scuttled a scaled-back Republican coronavirus rescue package.

Pelosi has maintained a hard line in negotiations and has been at odds with White House chief of staff Mark Meadows. She orchestrated passage of a $3.4 trillion COVID rescue package back in May, but the effort was immediately dismissed by Senate Republicans and the Trump administration.

Tuesday’s remarks, said Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill, don’t mean that the speaker is adopting a more flexible position. She instead seems to be signaling continued determination to press ahead and won’t adjourn the House without an agreement with the administration.

Success is by no means guaranteed and many people on Capitol Hill remain very skeptical that an agreement between the White House and Democrats is likely before the election.

Coronavirus most likely to kill minority children, CDC says

Coronavirus is disproportionately killing minority children in the U.S., especially those with other underlying health conditions, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that shows how devastation from COVID-19 among Black and Hispanic adults has carried down to their offspring.

Children are much less likely than adults to contract coronavirus or fall seriously ill because of the infection, health records show, though vulnerability varies based on demographics.

Of the 190,000 deaths attributed to COVID-19 in the U.S., 121 of those who died by July 31 were under the age of 21, according to the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Three of every 4 were of Hispanic, Black, American Indian or Alaskan descent, the agency said. Hispanics accounted for 45% of deaths overall, while Black people accounted for 29%.

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Children head back to class for the first day of school at Wheeless Road Elementary School Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2020, in Augusta, Ga. Michael Holahan/The Augusta Chronicle via AP

Deaths were more common among males, particularly at the older end of the spectrum, with young adults age 18 to 20 accounting for nearly half, the agency found. The next highest risk was in infants under the age of 1. Underlying medical conditions were also common among the young patients, with 75% having at least one other health concern.

Nearly 40 deaths occurred at home or in the emergency department, a sign that necessary care may have been delayed for some. While younger patients are more likely to fully recover, complications including respiratory distress and multisystem inflammatory syndrome, a severe illness marked by fever, organ damage, and inflammation do occur, the agency said.

The findings are significant as schools across the U.S. reopen in some fashion, with many attempting a hybrid approach that allows some of the in-person learning that’s crucial to childhood development, according to the agency. Parents, caregivers and children need clear, consistent and culturally appropriate information on how to avoid infection, as well as proper monitoring and ongoing care for those who do contract the virus, the CDC said.

“Health departments, in collaboration with school districts and the communities they serve, can evaluate and improve health promotion, health access, and health equity for all infants, children, adolescents, and young adults,” the agency said. “Ultimately, health departments, health providers, and community partners can mobilize to remove systemic barriers that contribute to health disparities.”

Minority children are disproportionately represented in families of essential workers who are often unable to do their jobs from home, which puts them at higher risk for exposure to the coronavirus known as SARS-CoV-2, the CDC said. Parents and older members of the household who become infected could pass the virus to the children they live with, the agency said.

“Disparities in social determinants of health, such as crowded living conditions, food and housing insecurity, wealth and educational gaps, and racial discrimination, likely contribute to racial and ethnic disparities in COVID-19 and MIS-C incidence and outcomes,” according to the report.

The CDC said that the higher rates of adverse outcomes for minorities are also likely related to challenges in seeking care, including because of lack of insurance coverage, child care, transportation and paid sick leave.

The rest of the world has low view of the U.S. amid pandemic, poll finds

President Donald Trump defended his handling of the novel coronavirus pandemic during an interview with Fox News over the weekend, arguing that he took “tremendous steps” early in the outbreak, which “saved probably two or two-and-a-half million lives.”

But the rest of the world does not appear to share the in the conclusions of his self appraisal. In a new poll of thirteen nations released on Tuesday, a median of just 15% of respondents said the United States had handled the pandemic well, while 85% said the country had responded poorly.

The data, released by Pew Research Center on Tuesday, suggests that the international reputation of the United States has dropped to a new low, in the face of a disorganized response to covid-19 that saw the country come to lead the world in coronvirus-related deaths.

International affairs analysts say it may be difficult to repair the damage to the United States’ standing overseas. Among some traditional allies like Germany, views of the United States have declined to the lowest levels since Pew began tracking them nearly two decades ago.

“I still think there is admiration for the United States, but it may be waning very quickly – especially if Trump gets reelected,” said Sudha David-Wilp, a senior transatlantic fellow at the German Marshall Fund in Berlin.

Pew surveyed 13 foreign nations, all wealthy democracies, along with the United States this summer.

After Trump entered office in 2017, Pew found much of the world to hold a negative view of the U.S. leader, with views of the United States overall dipping in many nations.

But Pew’s latest polling suggests that the pandemic, an unprecedented global crisis, has caused views of the United States among its closes peers to slide even further.

Read the full story here.

NC county mistakenly tells thousands they’re positive for coronavirus

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A county in North Carolina incorrectly told nearly 7,000 residents they had tested positive for the coronavirus.

The Charlotte Observer reports the messages were sent by text messages to more than 6,700 residents in Mecklenburg County on Friday. More than 500 people also received a county email with the notice.

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A sign is posted at the entrance to Hinton James dormitory at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, N.C., Tuesday, Aug. 18. AP Photo/Gerry Broome

The county said Friday on Twitter the messages went out due to a technical glitch. The county’s manager told county commissioners on Monday they were sent through HealthSpace Data System, a company based in Canada. The county has been using the company’s software to help with contact tracing efforts in the pandemic.

HealthSpace CEO Silas Garrison apologized for “any alarm this caused citizens who were not supposed to be sent an alert or survey.”

A corrected text or email was sent to those who received the incorrect messages, Diorio said.

Thailand considers reopening plan for tourists

BANGKOK — Thailand’s Cabinet has approved in principle a plan to reopen the country to tourists by issuing special renewable 90-day visas and limiting their numbers to 1,200 a month.

Deputy Government Spokeswoman Traisulee Traisaranakul says the program, proposed to begin next month, is an effort to boost the coronavirus-battered economy, especially the tourism sector.

Under the plan, visitors would stay in quarantine at a hotel or hospital for 14 days on arrival and show confirmation they’ve made arrangements for long-term accommodations. The cost of the “special tourist visa” would be 2,000 baht ($64), with the same charge for each of two allowed renewals.

Thai health officials on Tuesday reported five new cases, from people arriving from abroad. That brings the confirmed total to 3,480 cases and 58 dead.

Denmark makes face coverings mandatory

COPENHAGEN, Denmark —Danish Health Minister Magnus Heunicke says face masks will become mandatory Thursday in restaurants, cafes and bars in greater Copenhagen after a recent coronavirus spike.

Those places, private parties and gatherings must close at 10 p.m. instead of midnight. Justice Minister Nick Haekkerup added that police could hand out fines to those who fail to follow the rules.

Heunicke says the spike was chiefly reported among young people between the ages of 20-29.

The announcement came hours after Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said that medical authorities in Denmark “are warning that we stand on the brink of something that could develop into another wave.”

Earlier this month, authorities lowered the size of gatherings from 100 to 50 in greater Copenhagen.

Denmark has seen 20,237 cases — up 347 — and reported 633 deaths.

Meanwhile, Sweden is lifting a national ban on visiting elderly care home as of next month.

Sweden has recorded 87,345 cases and 5,851 confirmed deaths, mostly those over age 70 and in nursing homes.

UK testing shortage jeopardizes efforts to stem virus spread

LONDON — The group that represents hospitals in England says a shortage of COVID-19 testing is jeopardizing efforts to restore medical services and prepare for a potential surge in coronavirus cases this winter.

NHS Providers said Tuesday that inadequate testing is leading to increased absences in the National Health Service as staff members are forced to self-isolate while they and their family members wait for test results after possible exposure to the virus.

CEO Chris Hopson said that last weekend hospital leaders in Bristol, London and Leeds all raised concerns about the lack of testing.

He said hospitals “are working in the dark – they don’t know why these shortages are occurring, how long they are likely to last, how geographically widespread they are likely to be and what priority will be given to healthcare workers and their families in accessing scarce tests.’’

Home Secretary Priti Patel told the BBC it was “unacceptable” that some people were struggling to get tests, and “much more work needs to be undertaken with Public Health England.”

She says more testing slots and home testing kits were being made available as demand had risen.

Portugal adopts restrictions on mass gatherings

LISBON, Portugal — Portugal is adopting new nationwide restrictions to contain a rising number of coronavirus infections.

From Tuesday, social gatherings are limited to a maximum of 10 people. Drinking alcohol in the street — which young people have done in groups because bars are closed — is banned.

Health authorities said Monday that 51% of the 613 new infections over the previous 24 hours were in people between 20 and 49 years old, with just 10% among people over 70.

Under the new rules, rapid response teams are on standby to attend outbreaks at nursing homes, while sports events are still not allowed to have spectators.

The daily number of new cases in Portugal dropped below 100 at the end of May, following a lockdown, but has risen significantly this month.

Bill Gates expects approval for vaccine by next year

BERLIN — Billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates expects a coronavirus vaccine to get regulatory approval by early next year.

In a series of interviews with German media published Tuesday, the Microsoft co-founder suggested several vaccines might be available in 2021, but cautioned that the pandemic may not be over until 2022.

Gates, whose foundation supports vaccine development efforts, told the weekly Der Spiegel that he sees a slim chance that drugmakers Pfizer and Moderna might get enough data by the end of October to apply for emergency approval for their COVID-19 vaccines.

But he expressed confidence that of the vaccines being developed by the two companies and rivals AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, Novavax and Sanofi, “three or four” would get emergency regulatory approval by the beginning of 2021.

Pakistani children return to school after 6 months closure

ISLAMABAD — Millions of Pakistani schoolchildren have returned to their classrooms as education institutions reopen after a closure of about six months to fight COVID-19.

Students in wearing masks were seen entering school buildings Tuesday, greeting each other from a reasonable distance instead of shaking hands or hugging.

The government has asked teachers, school staff and students to wear masks and regularly use sanitizers.

Pakistan closed schools in March when the government enforced a nationwide lockdown to contain the spread of coronavirus.

Authorities lifted curbs on most businesses in May, but schools remained closed across the country.

On Tuesday, Pakistan reported six new deaths from COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, one of the lowest number tolls in more than five months. Pakistan has reported 302,424 infections and 6,389 deaths since the pandemic began.

China reports 8 new cases after a month without any infections

BEIJING — China has reported eight new coronavirus cases after going a month without reporting any new domestic infections of people displaying symptoms of the illness.

As of Tuesday there were just 142 people in treatment for COVID-19, while another 363 people were under observation in isolation for being suspected cases or for testing positive for the virus without displaying any symptoms.

Among recent cases were two Myanmar nationals who had crossed the land border at the Chinese city of Ruili, the National Health Commission reported on Monday. It said one of them was previously diagnosed as testing positive without showing symptoms.

Those who had been in close contact with the two had been placed under quarantine.

China has reported 4,634 deaths among 85,202 reported cases of COVID-19 since the virus that set off the global pandemic was first detected in Wuhan late last year.

University of Wisconsin-Madison gets rid of spring break

MADISON, Wis. — The University of Wisconsin-Madison have decided to eliminate spring break next semester in an effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

The university’s Faculty Senate voted 140-7 on Monday to erase the nine-day break from the 2021 spring calendar. Officials said the move is designed to discourage students and staff from traveling long distances and bringing the virus that causes COVID-19 back to campus, officials said.

Provost John Karl Scholz said: “I realize the slog of going through a full 15 week semester with no break would be challenging, but given the vagaries of the pandemic, particularly in cold weather when people are indoors and the like. … I’m enthusiastically supportive.”

Nevada expects jump in virus cases after Trump’s unmasked rally

CARSON CITY, Nev. — Nevada health officials say they expect to see an uptick in new coronavirus cases after President Donald Trump held rallies in the state over the weekend.

Thousands of mostly maskless supporters attended the rallies in Minden on Saturday and Henderson on Sunday, which violated Nevada directives capping at 50 the number of people who can attend public gatherings.

The rally in Henderson was the first indoor event Trump has held since a mid-June arena event in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Nevada has reported more than 73,800 coronavirus cases and nearly 1,460 deaths since the start of the pandemic.


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