Virus Updates: Facebook Removes Trump Post; Student Tests Positive After 1st Day

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"It is what it is," President Donald Trump said of the United States' 157,000 coronavirus deaths in an interview with Axios' Jonathan Swan that aired on HBO Monday night.

Trump also told reporters at the White House on Monday that "the virus is receding" and said that they’ve seen "slow improvements" in hot spots across the South and the West, singling out Arizona, Texas and Florida, NBC News reports.

Meanwhile, the number of confirmed cases in Florida continues to rise, surpassing 500,000 on Wednesday. The U.S. leads the world in coronavirus cases, approaching 5 million, according to a tally by NBC News.

Dr. Deborah Birx, White House coronavirus task force coordinator, warned this week that the virus has become "extraordinarily widespread," and stark evidence of the damage the resurgent viral outbreak has caused the U.S. economy could come Friday when the government is expected to report that the pace of hiring has slowed significantly after a brief rebound in the spring.

On Capitol Hill, frustrated Senate Republicans re-upped their complaints Tuesday that Democratic negotiators are taking too hard a line in talks on a sweeping coronavirus relief bill. Top Democrats emerged from a 90-minute meeting with Trump administration officials to declare more progress, although no agreement has been reached.

Here are the latest updates on the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S.:

Fauci on US Having Worst Coronavirus Outbreak in World: ‘The Numbers Don’t Lie'

White House coronavirus advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci agreed on Wednesday that the United States has the worst coronavirus outbreak in the world, pointing to the nation’s high number of Covid-19 infections and deaths. 

“Yeah, it is quantitatively if you look at it, it is. I mean the numbers don’t lie,” Fauci said when asked during an interview with CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta whether the U.S. had the world’s worst coronavirus outbreak.

The U.S., which accounts for less than 5% of the world population, leads all other countries in global coronavirus infections and deaths. The nation represents more than 22% of global coronavirus deaths and more than 25% of infections as of Wednesday, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

“Every country has suffered. We, the United States, has suffered ... as much or worse than anyone,” Fauci said during the interview with CNN and the Harvard School of Public Health. “I mean when you look at the number of infections and the number of deaths, it really is quite concerning.”

When the U.S. was hit with the coronavirus earlier this year, it didn’t respond in a coordinated effort, Fauci said. The nation was able to bring cases down to a plateau of 20,000 new infections per day, which Fauci said wasn’t an adequate “baseline” figure and allowed the virus to resurge in some states across the country as they reopened.

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Facebook Removes Trump Post Over Coronavirus Misinformation

Facebook removed a video post from President Donald Trump's personal page on Wednesday that included a segment from a Fox News interview in which the president said children are "almost immune" to COVID-19.

"This video includes false claims that a group of people is immune from COVID-19 which is a violation of our policies around harmful COVID misinformation," Andy Stone, a Facebook policy spokesperson, said.

In the interview, which aired on Wednesday morning, Trump said children should return to school because they are “almost immune" or “virtually immune” from the disease. While less vulnerable, children can in fact transmit the disease to others, and some children have died from it.

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2nd-Grade Student Tests Positive After 1st Day of School

A second-grade student in Georgia tested positive for the coronavirus after attending the first day of school, leading the district to ask 20 other students and a teacher to self-quarantine for two weeks, NBC News reports.

Parents were notified of the diagnosis on Tuesday, the Cherokee County School District said in a statement.

The child, a student at Sixes Elementary School in Canton, about 44 miles north of Atlanta, did not begin to show symptoms until after school on Monday, the first day students returned.

The district said it conducted contact tracing and due to possible exposure, the child's teacher and 20 other students were asked to quarantine for two weeks. The child's classroom was also temporarily closed and deep-cleaned.

The school district is not requiring students or teachers to wear face masks, and stated in its reopening guidelines that parents and employees should conduct their own temperature checks at home prior to arriving at school.

President Donald Trump has repeatedly called for U.S. schools to reopen, claiming in an interview Wednesday on Fox News that children are "virtually immune" from COVID-19 and that the novel coronavirus "will go away like things go away." Medical experts, including the nation's top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci, say children can in fact catch — and transmit — the coronavirus.

Asked about concerns of elderly teachers who are vulnerable to the coronavirus, Trump said, "If a teacher's in a certain age group, I think they shouldn't be going in. Probably they're gonna have to wait 'til the thing goes by. They'll have to wait. It will go by."

Biden Won't Go to Milwaukee to Accept Democratic Nomination; Trump Mulls Giving Speech From White House

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden will not travel to Milwaukee to accept his party's White House nomination because of concerns over the coronavirus.

Democratic National Committee officials confirmed the change in plans on Wednesday. The move is the latest example of the pandemic's sweeping effects on the 2020 presidential election and the latest blow to traditional party nominating conventions that historically have marked the start of fall general election campaigns.

Biden will accept his nomination virtually from his home state of Delaware, the DNC said. All other scheduled speakers for the Aug. 17-24 convention, including Biden’s eventual running mate, will now address the convention from remote locations as well, the committee said.

President Donald Trump said Wednesday that he's considering delivering his Republican convention acceptance speech from the White House after his initial plans to hold the event in two battleground states were foiled by coronavirus concerns and health restrictions.

The move would mark an unprecedented use of public property for partisan political purposes.

“It’s easy and I think it’s a beautiful setting, and we are thinking about that. It’s certainly one of the alternatives,” Trump said during a wide-ranging telephone interview on Fox News Channel's “Fox & Friends.”

The Republican National Convention is scheduled for Aug. 24-27, with Trump’s acceptance speech capping the final night.

Chicago Public Schools to Begin Fall Remotely, Dropping Hybrid Plan

Chicago students will begin the fall with all-remote instruction after the nation’s third-largest school district dropped tentative plans to have most kids return to the classroom for two days a week.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Wednesday that the shift is based on a recent uptick in coronavirus cases. Chicago Public Schools in mid-July unveiled a tentative hybrid plan for the fall semester, which begins Sept. 8. But they said it was subject to change depending on families’ feedback and area trends in coronavirus cases.

The Chicago Teachers Union opposed the district’s hybrid proposal and called for virtual instruction to start the year, saying it wasn’t possible to keep staff and more than 300,000 students safe.

The district also said in a statement that a survey of families showed 41% of elementary school parents and 38% of high school parents would not send their children to school buildings.

Under the newly announced plan, every K-12 student and teacher will be expected to be engaged for the entirety of the school day, which will have live instruction every day. Schools will use Google education tools to allow the district to track work - with teachers and students expected to log onto Google on a daily basis for a check-in and for live video instruction.

Chicago joins school districts in Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco in moving fall classes fully online.

New York City is still planning to start with a hybrid model.

Read the full story here.

Hundreds of millions of students in other countries have resumed their schooling amid the coronavirus pandemic, with varying successes per country.

Treasury Expects to Borrow $2T Over Second Half of 2020

The Treasury Department says it will be increasing the size of the Treasury bonds and other securities it auctions across-the-board in an effort to cope with the unprecedented borrowing needs facing the government as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Treasury officials said Wednesday that the billions of dollars in auction increases include a $2 billion increase in the three-year note, a $9 billion increase in the 10-year note and a $7 billion increase in its 30-year bond. Those three securities will be auctioned next week as part of the government’s quarterly refunding where it raises a significant part of its borrowing needs each quarter.

The Treasury laid out plans to increase the size of other securities and to keep increasing those sizes over the next few months. The increases announced Wednesday include an $8 billion boost to the new 20-year bond to a total of $25 billion in August. Treasury in May brought back the 20-year bond, which had last been issued in 1986.

Treasury announced on Monday that it projects government borrowing of $947 in the current quarter that runs through September, which would be a record for this three-month period, but down from the all-time high of $2.75 trillion of borrowing last quarter, and $1.22 trillion from October through December.

UConn Cancels 2020-2021 Football Season Over Virus

UConn canceled its 2020-2021 football season Wednesday, becoming the first FBS program to suspend football because of the coronavirus pandemic, as other schools had taken the Huskies off their schedules and the governor was reluctant to allow UConn to travel to states with high infection rates.

“After receiving guidance from state and public health officials and consulting with football student-athletes, we’ve decided that we will not compete on the gridiron this season,” athletic director David Benedict said. ”The safety challenges created by COVID-19 place our football student-athletes at an unacceptable level of risk."

UConn had been scheduled to play its first season as an independent after leaving the American Athletic Conference.

The Huskies had already been taken off the schedules of Illinois, Indiana, Maine and Mississippi by those schools, and games against North Carolina and Virginia remained uncertain, UConn officials said. Many of the Power Five conferences are playing league-only games this season.

California Virus Cases Underreported, Health Official Says

Figures showing California has slowed the rate of coronavirus infections may be in doubt because a technical problem has delayed reporting of test results, the state's top health official said.

For days, California hasn't received full counts on the number of tests conducted nor the number that come back positive for COVID-19, Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly said Tuesday.

He blamed an unspecified technical problem affecting the state's database that provides test results to local health departments, NBC San Diego reports. Ghaly said it's unclear when the issue would be fixed, adding that the state is relaying information manually to county health officials.

The announcement came a day after Gov. Gavin Newsom gave his most optimistic report on the state’s virus efforts since a second surge of cases in early June. Newsom said daily cases had dropped by an average of 2,200 in the last week and the infection rate of 6.1% was significantly lower than the nearly 8% recorded last month.

The latest daily tally posted Tuesday on California's COVID-19 data page showed 4,526 additional confirmed positives, the lowest total in more than six weeks and a precipitous drop from the record of nearly 13,000 reported two weeks ago.

How Coronavirus Has Grown in Each State — in 1 Chart

This chart shows the cumulative number of cases per state by number of days since the 500th case.

Source: The COVID Tracking Project
Credit: Amy O’Kruk/NBC

Colorado State Investigates Athlete Claims on COVID Reporting

Colorado State president Joyce McConnell says she will launch an investigation into how the athletic department handled COVID-19 safety protocols amid a report that players were told not to reveal symptoms.

The investigation stems from an article published in the Coloradoan on Tuesday. According to the newspaper report, Colorado State football players and members of the athletic staff say coaches told them not to report coronavirus symptoms and threatened players with reduced playing time should they quarantine.

McConnell promised a swift investigation and full transparency.

“The story raises concerns about whether the health and well-being of our student athletes is truly the top priority of Colorado State University,” McConnell said in a statement. “Let me reiterate: the health and well-being of the CSU community is our top priority.”

Colorado State voluntarily paused football team activities on July 29. The school said there have been 16 positive cases among all student-athletes, including 11 in football.

'We Are No Less American': Deaths Pile Up on Texas Border

On America's southern doorstep, the Rio Grande Valley, the U.S. failure to contain the pandemic has been laid bare. For nearly a month, this borderland of 2 million people in South Texas pleaded for a field hospital, but not until Tuesday was one ready and accepting patients. In July alone, Hidalgo County reported more than 600 deaths — more than the Houston area, which is five times larger.

At DHR Health, one of the largest hospitals on the border, nearly 200 of the 500 beds belong to coronavirus patients isolated in two units. A third unit is in the works. That doesn’t even include the COVID-19 maternity ward, where mothers and newborns are separated immediately.

Texas reopened quicker than most of the U.S., only to backtrack in the face of massive outbreaks. Health officials say the worst of a summer resurgence appears to be behind the state as a whole, but the border is a bleak exception. Doctors fear another punishing wave is around the corner.

This predominately Hispanic region is cruelly vulnerable to COVID-19. The prevalence of diabetes here is roughly three times the national average, and households have among the lowest incomes in America, adding to the difficulty of thwarting the virus.

Now, said Maritza Padilla, DHR Health's assistant chief nursing officer, there's "no chance” of flattening the region's infection curve.

At the hospital, a television monitor displays the struggle in real time: Teal rectangles represent occupied hospital beds, and green rectangles are open beds. The grid is nearly all teal. On a whiteboard, “body bags” is scrawled on a list of needed items.

The Associated Press/NBC
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