Coronavirus live updates: Hawaii may delay tourists’ return; California orders closure of defiant private school; US deaths near 170K

Coronavirus live updates: Hawaii may delay tourists’ return; California orders closure of defiant private school; US deaths near 170K

Coronavirus live updates: Hawaii may delay tourists’ return; California orders closure of defiant private school; US deaths near 170K


With Washington talks on emergency coronavirus aid having stalled, both sides are playing the blame game Thursday. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi blasted Republicans for not giving “a damn.” (Aug. 13)

AP Domestic

Weeks after filing suit against Atlanta city officials for implementing a mask mandate to slow the spread of COVID-19, the governor of Georgia is withdrawing the suit.

Gov. Brian Kemp said Thursday afternoon he would be withdrawing the suit against Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and the City Council and would address the issue in an executive order Saturday.

“Unfortunately, the Mayor has made it clear that she will not agree to a settlement that safeguards the rights of private property owners in Georgia,” Kemp said in a statement.

Meanwhile in California, which is approaching 600,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19, the state ordered a private school to close after it welcomed students back Thursday without face masks or social distancing precautions. The school, with nearly 600 students, is now on the state’s monitoring list.

And in Hawaii, Gov. David Ige is considering another stay-at-home order for Oahu and may delay the start of a program that allows tourists to visit as COVID-19 cases spiked in the state. On Thursday, the state reported a new daily record of 355 infections and a total of 40 deaths. 

Here are some significant developments:

  • The Canada-U.S. border will remain closed to non-essential travel for at least another month.
  • Bowling alleys, gyms, museums and other low-risk indoor cultural venues will soon be allowed to open in New York with strict COVID-19 rules, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Friday.
  • Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey’s chief of staff is quarantining at home after his wife tested positive for the coronavirus, his office said in a statement Friday.
  • President Donald Trump offered conflicting statements Thursday about whether he opposes supplementary funding for the U.S. Postal Service, which has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. Here’s what we know.
  • Coronavirus stimulus negotiations are at a standstill: Congressional Democrats blamed Republicans on Thursday, while Republicans blamed Democrats, and President Donald Trump suggested that talks for a stimulus package are doomed.

? Today’s numbers: The U.S. has 5.2 million confirmed infections and more than 167,000 deaths. Worldwide, there have been more than 760,000 deaths and more than 20.9 million cases, according to John Hopkins University data.

? What we’re reading: Critics say teachers are shirking their duties as front-line workers. But as more early-start schools see reports of new infections, some of the unions’ dire predictions are being realized.

New York to allow museums, aquariums, more to open

Bowling alleys, gyms, museums and other low-risk indoor cultural venues will soon be allowed to open in New York with strict COVID-19 rules, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Friday.

Bowling alleys will be allowed to open Monday, being limited to 50% of occupancy capacity and forced to follow other rules, such as bowlers must have a face covering and every other lane will remain closed. Food and alcohol service will also be limited to wait service, reports USA TODAY Network’s New York State Team.

Museums, aquariums and other low-risk indoor cultural venues will be allowed to open in New York City on Aug. 24 with various COVID-19 restrictions, including operating at 25% occupancy capacity. In upstate communities, museums and other indoor venues opened previously.

The opening date and rules for gyms will be revealed on Monday, Cuomo said.

– David Robinson, New York State Team

Canada-U.S. border closed for another month

The Canada-U.S. border will remain closed to non-essential travel for at least another month, Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said in a statement Friday, a day after Mexico announced a similar measure for its border with the United States. The land border restrictions aimed at controlling the coronavirus pandemic were first announced in March and have been renewed monthly. 

Essential cross-border workers such as health care professionals, airline crews and truck drivers are still permitted to cross. Americans and Canadians returning to their respective countries are exempted from the border closure.

– The Associated Press

Police arrest 3 in attack on hostess enforcing virus rules

Louisiana authorities have arrested three women accused of assaulting a teenage restaurant hostess because they were upset they couldn’t all be seated together due to coronavirus distancing rules. One was charged with aggravated second-degree battery and two were booked on counts of disturbing the peace and simple battery, Baton Rouge police said Thursday.

The 17-year-old hostess told news outlets she was working at a Baton Rouge Chili’s last weekend when a party of 11 people arrived and wanted to be seated together. She said the restaurant’s coronavirus policies stipulated no more than six people could be seated at a table.

When the worker told the group they couldn’t be seated all together, they became irate, she said. When she brought her manager over, the group of women attacked the teen, she said, adding they pushed her and began beating her. The worker said she was trying to defend herself when one woman hit her with a “wet floor” sign, leaving her bleeding.

– The Associated Press

What we’re reading

COVID-19 testing ‘irrelevant’ as 94% of California counties report results take more than 2 days

California had a once-promising COVID-19 testing system that included short turnaround times for results. The system, however, has buckled under the weight of supply shortages, the state’s aggressive daily testing goals, and the federal government’s nonexistent testing strategy, according to a Desert Sun investigation that involved 60 public records requests and a survey of each of California’s 58 counties and their public health departments.

Across California, wait times to book a COVID-19 test and get results vary widely, and nearly all take too long, according to experts. In Santa Barbara County, it can take nearly a month to book a test and get the result if you’re not showing symptoms and are not a health care worker. In late July, of the 30 counties that provided information to The Desert Sun about booking appointments, 83% said patients had to wait at least two days before there was an available slot, and 47% had wait times of a week or more.

– Nicole Hayden and Mark Olalde, The Desert Sun

Survey: Latinos most worried, most affected by COVID-19 economic issues

Latinos are more likely than white, Black and Asian Americans to be worried about economic issues related to coronavirus as the nation continues to deal with the ongoing pandemic, according to a new survey.

The concerns aren’t unfounded: Latinos are more likely than all other racial groups to have a spouse lose their job in the last year or have had a drop in household income in the last year, according to a survey from the Democracy Fund + UCLA Nationscape Project. 

Robert Griffin, research director for the Democracy Fund Voter Study Group, said that while some may initially think that disparity is caused because Latinos make up higher proportions of young people or have a different median income, that is not the case. “Communities of color, and particularly Latino Americans, appear to be hard hit right now,” Griffin said.

– Rebecca Morin

New Zealand extends lockdown in its biggest city

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Friday that New Zealand’s government was extending lockdown orders for 12 more days in Auckland, the country’s most populous city, after a fresh outbreak of COVID-19 cases was detected this week.

New Zealand had gone more than 100 days without a single new COVID-19 case, earning international praise for effectively squashing the new coronavirus. That changed Tuesday when the new cluster was detected in Auckland. There are now 30 cases tied to the outbreak, which health officials believe came from overseas and possible spread through shipping workers.

“Together, we have got rid of COVID before,” Ardern said. “We can do all of that again.”

Thousands of students, teachers are in quarantine: reports

As schools in some states have returned after a monthslong break from in-person instruction, students, teachers and staff members across multiple states are in quarantine because of positive COVID-19 cases. According to CNN, more than 2,000 students, teachers and staff in five states are in quarantine after at least 230 positive cases. And ABC News’ count says at least 2,400 students and staff were either infected themselves or self-isolating.

In Georgia alone, 1,600 students and staff were told to quarantine as cases rise.

“I was not surprised at all,” Jenny Hunter, a nurse and mother of two in Cherokee County, just outside Atlanta, told USA TODAY. “My son was saying how low in volume some of his classes were throughout the day because of kids getting quarantined. It was becoming a question of when, not if.”

– Grace Hauck and Ryan Miller

Hawaii officials ‘looking at’ delaying tourists’ return amid spike in cases

Hoping to vacation in Hawaii in September? You might have to rethink those plans.

Given the state’s rapidly rising COVID-19 case counts, officials are “looking at” delaying the start of a much-anticipated program that would allow out-of-state visitors to vacation there without quarantining for 14 days by presenting a negative COVID-19 test, Hawaii Gov. David Ige said during a news conference late Thursday.

The program, set to begin Sept. 1, was already delayed once, a month ago, due to rising cases on the mainland and in Hawaii.

“If things do not get better we will have no choice but to look at more restrictions,” Ige said.

– Dawn Gilbertson


Communities of color are dying at higher rates from the novel coronavirus than white Americans. Here’s how structural inequities play a role.


COVID-19 in some ways comparable to 1918 Spanish flu that killed 50M

The 1918 Spanish flu pandemic claimed an estimated 50 million lives worldwide, yet in some ways the COVID-19 pandemic has been worse, according to a study published Thursday in the medical journal JAMA Network Open.

The current pandemic has been linked to less than 1 million deaths. But the study compares the two months after the first recorded death of COVID-19 in New York City – the epicenter of the U.S. epidemic for weeks – with the deadliest two months of the 1918 calamity.

“They’re comparable events in terms of magnitude,’’ said Dr. Jeremy Faust, an emergency physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and the lead author of the study. “What our numbers show is that what happened in New York was pretty similar to what happened in the greatest modern pandemic.’’

– Jorge L. Ortiz

Movie theaters reopen in Mexico City after being closed for four months

Mexico City movie theaters reopened this week after closing for four months. Moviegoers’ temperatures are checked upon entry. Customers are required to wear face masks and can only lift them up to eat or drink. And no more than two people are allowed to sit next to each other. 

Theaters in the capital have been allowed to open at only 30% of capacity. Mexico is the fourth-largest movie market in the world following China, India and the United States.

California orders private school to shut down after defiant reopening

California ordered a private school to shut down after it reopened in defiance of a state health order aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus. Fresno County issued a health order Thursday against Immanuel Schools in the city of Reedley. The K-12 school was told to close its classrooms until the county is removed from a state monitoring list for two weeks.

The school, with about 600 students, allowed students into classes Thursday without masks or social distancing. The school’s trustees and superintendent say they believe students’ development will suffer if they can’t be taught on campus.


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Coronavirus stimulus bill negotiations at an impasse

The parties negotiating a bill to provide relief from the economic ravages of the coronavirus agree on one point: They’re at an impasse.

“I want you to see how vast our differences are,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said at a news conference Thursday. She pointed to a large blue poster detailing the wide gap between what Republicans and Democrats want to pay for various priorities. “It’s no wonder we have a vast difference because this administration, other Republicans in Congress, have never understood the gravity of this situation.”

On the other side of the Capitol, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., condemned Democrats for sticking with a “completely unrealistic, far-left proposal” and holding the negotiations “hostage” over “non-COVID-related ideological items.”

– Michael Collins, Christal Hayes and Nicholas Wu

Six national restaurants, including IHOP, in deep trouble amid pandemic

Several of the largest restaurant companies in the U.S. are struggling with capacity restrictions on indoor dining and attempting to lure customers with takeout in a bid to avoid financial disaster.  

The owners of chains like Outback Steakhouse, Applebee’s and The Cheesecake Factory are on a newly updated list of national restaurants that are facing the highest likelihood of not paying back their debts. When companies default on loans, they are often forced to file for bankruptcy protection, close locations or occasionally liquidate.

One chain, California Pizza Kitchen, has already filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, with plans to close some locations.

– Nathan Bomey

NCAA Division I fall championships postponed amid COVID-19 concerns

As conference after conference in Division I postponed fall sports, the NCAA has made the inevitable decision that there will be no fall championships in the organization’s top tier in 2020 due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“We cannot, at this point, have fall NCAA championships,” said NCAA President Mark Emmert in a video interview posted Thursday evening, adding it is hoped championships can be moved to the 2021 calendar year.

Emmert noted that the Board of Governors requirement of 50% of schools playing to hold the postseason would not be achievable.

“Sadly, tragically, that’s going to be the case this fall,” Emmert said. “That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t and can’t turn toward winter and spring and say ‘OK, how can we create a legitimate championship for all those students.'”

– Eddie Timanus

China says chicken wings from Brazil were positive for coronavirus

A sample of frozen chicken wings transported from Brazil to China tested positive for COVID-19, Chinese officials announced Thursday.

But there is no evidence that shows the coronavirus can be transmitted by eating or handling food, according to health experts.

Health officials in the Shenzhen Longgang District inspected imported frozen food Wednesday when a surface sample of frozen chicken wings tested positive for the coronavirus, according to a statement released by the Shenzhen Epidemic Prevention and Control Headquarters Office.

More COVID-19 resources from USA TODAY

On Facebook: There’s still a lot unknown about the coronavirus. But what we do know, we’re sharing with you. Join our Facebook group, Coronavirus Watch, to receive daily updates in your feed and chat with others in the community about COVID-19.  

In your inbox: Stay up-to-date with the latest news on the coronavirus pandemic from the USA TODAY Network. Sign up for the daily Coronavirus Watch newsletter here

Tips for coping: Every Saturday and Tuesday we’ll be in your inbox, offering you a virtual hug and a little bit of solace in these difficult times. Sign up for Staying Apart, Together here.

Contributing: The Associated Press


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