Communal living spaces and a younger population may be a contributing factor to new surges in COVID-19 cases on college campuses.
Just three weeks after surpassing 5 million confirmed coronavirus infections, the U.S. on Monday quietly rolled past 6 million cases.
Global cases surpassed 25 million on Sunday. But of course the actual number of infections is projected to be far greater. With the pressure on to alleviate the crisis, FDA chief Stephen Hahn says his agency could authorize use of a vaccine before completion of Phase Three trials now being conducted by multiple drug companies.
“Our emergency use authorization is not the same as a full approval,” Hahn said, adding that “this is going to be a science, medicine, data decision. This is not going to be a political decision.”
New Jersey announced Monday that it will allow indoor restaurant dining for the first time in more than five months. A few miles away in Flushing Meadows, New York, the 2020 U.S. Open tennis tournament kicked off, albeit without fans.
Some significant developments:
- The most complained-about industries during the pandemic include fitness, telecommunication, banking and vacation rentals, according to FairShake data provided to USA TODAY.
- Schools across the nation are beginning to open, and some major universities are scrambling to adjust amid the ongoing pandemic.
📈 Today’s numbers: Six states set records for new cases in a week while three states had a record number of deaths in a week, according to USA TODAY analysis of Johns Hopkins data. New case records were set in Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota. Record numbers of deaths were reported in Hawaii, Idaho and Oklahoma, and also Guam. The U.S. death toll surpassed 183,000. Globally, more than 846,000 people have died, according to Johns Hopkins University data.
📰 What we’re reading: A Michigan nursing home told its staff not to wear face masks or other personal protective equipment. According to the state’s health department, 19 residents died from COVID-19 at the home. Now, a victim’s family members are suing the nursing home.
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Detroit held its own Memorial Day on Monday to honor the 1,500-pus city residents who were victims of COVID-19. Belle Isle Park was designated as “Detroit Memorial Drive,” and solemn car caravans slowly rolled past more than 900 large photos. Mayor Mike Duggan, whose father died in March following a lengthy illness, said he understood why a procession like today is important for families who were not able to properly bury their loved ones because of the coronavirus concerns.
“We didn’t have a visitation. We didn’t have a funeral. You don’t realized how much of an important part of the grieving process it is until you go through it,” said Duggan. “Today, we get a chance to mourn together.”
– Detroit Free Press
New Jersey restaurants that survived the worst of the COVID-19 crisis are finally catching a break. Gov. Phil Murphy announced Monday that indoor dining will be allowed for the first time in more than five months starting Friday. Restaurant owners were initially told they could open their dining rooms at 25% capacity on July 2. But on June 29, Murphy postponed the plan indefinitely, citing overcrowding at outdoor dining areas and patrons not wearing masks. The news devastated many restaurants that had already spent money on food, personal protective equipment, plexiglass barriers and cleaning supplies in preparation for reopening. Outdoor dining has been allowed since June 15.
– Rebecca King, NorthJersey.com
A rally against mandatory flu shots that drew hundreds of parents in Boston could be a precursor to the response a COVID-19 vaccine will bring. Hundreds of parents and supporters rallied at the Massachusetts State House on Sunday, angered by a new state mandate requiring students to get flu shots by year’s end. The state issued the order amid concerns that flu cases combined with COVID-19 patients could overwhelm the health care system. Dr. Larry Madoff, head of the state Health Department’s Bureau of Infectious Disease and Laboratory Sciences, said flu symptoms are very similar to those of COVID-19 and “preventing the flu will save lives and preserve healthcare resources.”
“I just think that we should be able to choose what goes into my son’s body,” Jennifer Cordy, a parent who attended the rally with her son, told WBZ. “We should be able to say yes or say no, and government should not choose that for us.”
The U.S. surpassed 6 million confirmed cases Monday, seven months and 10 days after the first U.S. case was confirmed soon after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention began health screenings in airports. A few weeks later, two people died, on Feb. 6 and 17, and tests done in April determined they were positive for the coronavirus.
On March 11, President Donald Trump announced a ban on travelers from Europe after U.S. cases jumped from 100 to more than 1,000 in eight days. Two weeks later the U.S. was leading the world with 100,000 infections. On April 28 the number hit 1 million.
– Khrysgiana Pineda
Fire officials in Columbia, S.C., are making capacity checks Monday at The Apartments at the Palmetto Compress after a weekend pool party was shut down for violating the city’s mask ordinance. Fire Chief Aubrey Jenkins told WLTX-TV he drove by the apartment pool and saw at least 200 people at the pool not wearing a mask and failing to practice social distancing. Complex residents include many students at the University of South Carolina.
“We’re grateful for the partnership we have with City of Columbia and fully support their decision to take actions to protect public safety,” the school said in a statement.
Chastising students for socializing on and around college campuses across the nation is harmful, ineffective and fails to consider students’ developmental needs, some experts say. Colleges are drawing heavy scrutiny as in-person classes resume at many schools where student gatherings are fueling COVID-19 outbreaks. Mary Alvord, a psychologist who specializes in treating adolescents, says people go to college not only for an education but to seek social connections and to become independent – not easy tasks on Zoom.
“We can’t put all the blame on the college students,” Alvord said. “It’s a shared responsibility, and the adults in charge need to understand developmentally where these students are coming from and their expectations beyond academics.”
– Suzanne Hirt
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is willing to provide “emergency use authorization” for use of a vaccine before Phase Three clinical trials are complete, FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn says. Hahn told The Financial Times that if a vaccine developer applies before concluding the crucial testing phase – involving tens of thousands of patients – the FDA might find authorization “appropriate.”
Multiple drug companies have begun Phase Three testing, but results are not expected before October or November. Former FDA chief Scott Gottlieb said Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation” that the authorization could allow use of the vaccine for high-risk populations.
“Full approval for the general population, where people can go to CVS and get a shot, that’s really a 2021 event,” Gottlieb said. “Maybe the first quarter of 2021, probably more likely the first half.”
Officials at the University of Alabama’s main campus in Tuscaloosa say 1,043 students have tested positive for the coronavirus since in-person classes began two weeks ago. Nine faculty and staff also have tested positive, the school said on its website. The school said 36% of the space set aside for isolating students who test positive was in use. University of Alabama System Chancellor Finis St. John called the school’s testing regimen the “most robust” in the state.
“Fortunately, our isolation occupancy is below capacity, and the number will be adjusted as students complete the isolation period,” University of Alabama System Chancellor Finis St. John said in a statement. “We are closely monitoring our data daily, and we will continue to adjust operations as the situation warrants.”
A look at how other colleges are faring:
- A day before classes are scheduled to begin, Utah State University announced Sunday that they will test nearly 300 students for COVID-19 after wastewater samples from four dormitories showed elevated levels of the coronavirus.
- The State University of New York Oneonta in central New York will suspend in-person instruction for two weeks after more than 100 students and faculty tested positive for the virus. It’s the first college to shut down in New York state as many schools prepare to reopen for online and in-person instruction this fall.
- In West Lafayette, Indiana, Purdue University has reported 80 confirmed cases for COVID-19 since Aug. 1, including 60 confirmed in the past week since the school, with an enrollment of around 40,000, reopened. At least three houses with more than 100 students combined – a fraternity, a sorority and cooperative house – are on lockdown and arranging classes remotely at the start of the semester.
- Temple University in Philadelphia will switch nearly all in-person classes to online for two weeks starting Monday after active COVID-19 cases spiked from 58 Friday to 103 Sunday.
- Northwestern University outside Chicago plans to have freshmen and sophomores take classes remotely, while juniors, seniors and graduate students will be allowed to attend in-person instruction or a mix with online classes, the Chicago Tribune reported. The school is keeping fraternity and sorority houses closed in the fall.
Hotels at the Universal Orlando Resort announced more than 800 employees will be losing their jobs as the Florida theme park industry continues to be devastated by the pandemic.
The employees at Hard Rock Hotel, Loews Portofino Bay Hotel and Cabana Bay Beach Resort were indefinitely furloughed or permanently terminated, according to a notice filed last week by the company Loews Hotels & Co.
A company director said in a letter to the state that the surge of confirmed cases in late June and July and other states’ decisions to order Florida travelers to quarantine had caused a “sudden, dramatic and unexpected reversal in bookings.”
Pressure to create a coronavirus vaccine is increasing by the day, but for a safe vaccine to enter the market, it takes time.
In its effort to bring back Grand Slam tennis safely from its seven-month, virus-induced hiatus, the U.S. Tennis Association (USTA) has adopted strict testing and behavioral protocols that run almost the length of the runways at nearby LaGuardia Airport.
Everything was going splendidly until Sunday morning, the day before America’s biggest tennis tournament was set to begin, when Benoit Paire, a 31-year-old Frenchman, became the first player to test positive, according to a tournament official who spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly on the matter.
Paire, the No. 17 seed, was scheduled to begin his Open on Tuesday against Poland’s Kamil Majchrzak. He will be replaced in the draw by Spain’s Marcel Granollers. His result was only the second positive in over 7,000 tests that began being administered on Aug. 15; a non-player had a positive result several days after testing began.
– Wayne Coffey, Special for USA TODAY Sports
Images of packed beaches, lakes and bars have made the rounds on traditional and social media for much of the summer, drawing scorn from those concerned about the COVID-19 outbreak.
But experts say also troubling are the growing instances of case clusters arising from smaller gatherings. Social functions of various sizes among relatives, friends and co-workers are drawing scrutiny as public health experts sound the alarm ahead of Labor Day weekend.
“People don’t think of it in the same way as the Trump rally in Tulsa, a bunch of people on the beach or in the bars, but these small events add up to a lot,” said Dr. Peter Chin-Hong, a professor of medicine at the University of California-San Francisco. “It’s just invisible.”
– Jorge L. Ortiz
India is fast becoming a pandemic hot spot, registering a record 78,761 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours. That is the worst single-day spike in the world, although the health ministry noted that the nation also set a record with more than 10 million tests.
India now has reported 3.5 million cases, more than all other nations except for the U.S. and Brazil. The boom in India comes amid government efforts to ease restrictions nationwide. The Health Ministry on Sunday also reported 948 deaths in the past 24 hours, taking total fatalities to 63,498.
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Contributing: The Associated Press
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