Coronavirus live updates: CDC clarifies surprise guidelines; virus trace found in Arizona dorm’s wastewater; what about college football?

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention attempted Thursday to clarify controversial coronavirus testing guidelines published earlier in the week that said people with no symptoms “do not necessarily need a test” even if they were exposed to an infected person.

And college football, certainly, is going to look different this fall amid the pandemic. The new normal means significant limitations on the number of fans able to attend games – if they are able to attend, at all — and also decisions on whether tailgating is permitted prior to kickoff.

As for K-12 schools, urban districts, almost 80% will open remote-only, according to a new report from the Center on Reinventing Public Education, an education research organization in Washington. Those districts often serve communities of color, which have been disproportionately hammered by the virus. Polling shows many Black parents would prefer to learn from home.

Some significant developments:

    The Navajo Nation, which has mostly been closed since March, reported one additional death on Thursday, pushing its total to 499.Officials at the University of Arizona said they found the coronavirus in a dorm’s wastewater and were able to prevent an outbreak.

📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has more than 5.8 million confirmed infections and 180,000 deaths. Worldwide, there have been more than 831,000 deaths and 24 million cases, according to John Hopkins University data. 

📰 What we’re reading: They’re inaccurate and not everyone with COVID has a fever. So, why are we still doing temperature checks?

This file will be updated throughout the day. For updates in your inbox, subscribe to the Daily Briefing.

LA to file criminal charges for Hollywood Hills violations of large party ban

Los Angeles plans to file criminal charges over recent parties in the Hollywood Hills, held despite a city ban on large gatherings during the coronavirus pandemic.

City attorney Mike Feuer plans to announce a crackdown Friday against so-called party houses, including one reportedly rented by TikTok celebrities Bryce Hall and Blake Gray. 

Mayor Eric Garcetti last week authorized the city to shut off water and power to the home after they repeatedly held large and raucous parties in violation of public health orders aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19. He says with bars closed in town, large house parties can become “super spreaders.”

Los Angeles County has recorded nearly 237,000 coronavirus cases and more than 5,700 confirmed deaths, making it the hardest-hit county in the state.

More than 1,000 inmates, staff, have died of coronavirus in state and federal prisons

More than 1,000 inmates and staff at state and federal prisons have died from COVID-19 while new cases among prisoners, which had slowed in June, has reached an all-time high, according The Marshall Project.

The project, which is aided by The Associated Press in its reporting of prison-related coronavirus cases, said 927 prisoners had died as of Aug. 25, a 4% increase in a week. The number of inmate cases hit 108,118, representing a 5% increase from the previous week.

At least 72 deaths have been reported among prison staff out of 24,029 cases.

“The growth in recent weeks was driven by big jumps in prisoners testing positive in Florida, California and the federal Bureau of Prisons as well as outbreaks in Arkansas, Hawaii and Oklahoma,” The Marshall Project reported Thursday.

Overprescribing antibiotics to treat COVID-19 could lead to ‘medical hell’

Infectious disease experts are concerned that overprescribing antibiotics to treat COVID-19 could lead to drug-resistant bacteria and expose patients to dangerous side effects.

Calvin Kunin, an emeritus professor of medicine at Ohio State University and a former president of the Infectious Diseases Society of America, said one drug touted by President Donald Trump could lead to widespread resistance: azithromycin.

“Azithromycin is a very, very valuable drug,” he said. “You remove azithromycin, and what do you have left? I call this the road to medical hell.”

Trump endorsed the drug in April as a medication that “can clean out the lungs,” especially when paired with another of his favorite drugs, the anti-malaria hydroxychloroquine. After Trump made his announcement, use of these two drugs spiked.

Prescriptions of the drug combination increased dramatically — up 539% in one week alone — from mid-March to mid-April, according to IPM.ai, a Cambridge, Massachusetts subsidiary of Swoop, which provides health care data and analytics. Read more about this story at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.  

– John Fauber and Daphne Chen, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Americans, Brits not impressed by national coronavirus responses

The USA and United Kingdom stand out in a new survey as two nations whose populations are split over how well their governments have handled the pandemic.

Across 14 mostly European countries, people were canvassed for attitudes about whether their leaders did a good job responding to the coronavirus: 52% of Americans and 54% of Britons have a negative or “bad” impression, according to the Pew Research Center, a nonpartisan “fact tank” that carried out the survey of advanced economies. 

This compares with a median of about 7-in-10 – 73% – who give their nation’s coronavirus response a positive or “good” review in Denmark, Australia, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, South Korea, Italy and Sweden. More than half of those surveyed in Belgium, France, Japan and Spain look favorably on the job their government has done responding to the pandemic, the surveyed says.

– Kim Hjelmgaard

In-person vs. in-school learning: What is America doing?

Dr.  Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, has said reopening schools is best for kids, but districts shouldn’t bring people together if the rate of local positive virus cases exceeds 10%. 

“You go in, people get infected, and — boom — you get shut down,” Fauci said in a webinar hosted by Healthline, a medical news website.

America’s schools are lurching into a new pandemic school year over the next few weeks.

Among urban districts, almost 80% will open remote-only, according to a new report from the Center on Reinventing Public Education, an education research organization in Washington. Those districts often serve communities of color, which have been disproportionately hammered by the virus. Polling shows many Black parents would prefer to learn from home. Read more.

– Erin Richards

To test, or not to test? CDC alters guidelines for asymptomatic people, again

Following criticism from the medical community, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention walked back looser guidelines on testing that were issued earlier this week. Some scientists said the change was made for political rather than scientific reasons. 

Before Monday, the CDC website said testing was recommended “for all close contacts of persons with SARS-CoV-2 infection,” the virus that causes COVID-19.

Monday, that was changed to say that someone who was in close contact (within 6 feet) of a person with COVID-19 for at least 15 minutes but didn’t have symptoms does not “necessarily need a test.”

Guidance released Thursday by CDC Director Robert Redfield says those who come in contact with a confirmed or probable COVID-19 patient can be tested, even if they don’t show symptoms.

– Elizabeth Weise and Adrianna Rodriguez

The face on a replica of the Statue of Liberty sports a protective face mask against the coronavirus Wednesday in Seattle. The replica on Alki Beach was erected in 1952 and recast in 2006. (Photo: Elaine Thompson/AP)

How college football schools are handling attendance and tailgating

The challenge of playing college football during a pandemic is requiring schools to adjust the traditional game day experience for activities inside and outside stadiums this fall. 

The new normal means significant limitations on the amount of fans able to attend games — if they are able to attend, at all — and also decisions on whether tailgating is permitted prior to kickoff.

Many schools are opting to have stadiums empty. Others are allowing fan attendance, albeit with significantly limited percentage of the seats to be filled. Most will have bans on the pregame gatherings outside the stadium that could make social distancing difficult. Read more on where each of the Power Five schools stand.

– Tom Schad

Navajo Nation reports 499th death, plus 4 new COVID-19 cases

Navajo Nation health officials have reported four new confirmed cases of COVID-19 with one more additional death. That brings the total number of people infected to 9,601 with the known death toll now at 499 as of Thursday.

Navajo Department of Health officials said 93,565 people have been tested for the coronavirus and 7,027 have recovered.

The Navajo Nation lifted its stay-at-home order on Aug. 16, but is asking residents to leave their homes only for emergencies or essential activities.

Much of the Navajo Nation has been closed since March as the coronavirus swept through the vast reservation that extends into New Mexico, Utah and Arizona.

University of Arizona officials find virus after testing a dorm’s wastewater

The University of Arizona found early signs of COVID-19 in a student dorm this week by testing wastewater and were able to head off an outbreak there, school leaders announced Thursday.

Researchers at the school have looked for traces of the virus in wastewater samples taken from the greater Tucson area since March and have gathered samples from 20 buildings on the UA campus since school started.

Earlier this week, data collected from the dorms found higher viral loads in wastewater samples taken from Likins Hall. A team led by Dr. Ian Pepper, director of the UA’s Water and Energy Sustainable Technology Center, tested the samples five more times to confirm the findings, said UA President Dr. Robert Robbins. 

The university on Wednesday tested the entire dorm, about 311 people, and found two positive cases, Robbins said. The two individuals, who were asymptomatic, are now in isolation, preventing further spread in Likins Hall.

– Paulina Pineda and Rachel Leingang, Arizona Republic

Alabama extends mask mandate to Oct. 2

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey on Thursday extended the state’s mask mandate, pushing the existing COVID-19 health order to run until at least Oct. 2. The amended Safer at Home order marks the second extension of the statewide mask order, which Ivey issued on July 15 amid an uptick of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in mid-summer. 

“Folks, I understand you don’t want to wear the mask. I don’t either,” Ivey said at a Thursday press conference. “I wish we didn’t have to wear masks, but we are seeing significant drops in our hospitalizations and daily positive COVID-19 numbers. I have no doubt this is a result of our mask order. … Wearing a mask is simply the right thing to do. When you wear a mask, you are protecting the people in your office, church, school and your family and friends.”

The July spike has given way, which both Ivey and State Health Officer Scott Harris attributed to the mask mandate. The seven-day average of new cases on Thursday was 758, well below the state’s peak average of 1,851 cases in mid-July. Hospitalizations have not dropped as sharply but have still declined, from a seven-day average high of 1,549.57 in July to 1,115.86 on Thursday. 

– Melissa Brown, Montgomery (Ala.) Advertiser

Massachusetts cracks down after big  hotel party with 100+ people, no masks

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission on Thursday addressed protocol changes at Encore Boston Harbor in light of a party that lasted until 3 a.m. on Aug. 16, when more than 110 people were finally cleared from a hotel suite by security and state police, about three hours after the gathering was first reported to staff by a tipster who saw pictures of the event on Instagram.

Face masks were missing and social distancing guidelines were flouted, said Karen Wells, interim director of the state commission and the director of its investigations and enforcement bureau.

The gaming commission issued an order of noncompliance to Encore Boston Harbor after a swift investigation in concert with state police, requiring the resort casino property to implement measures to make sure its guests comply with the state’s coronavirus public health orders, Wells said.

– Marc Larocque, The Enterprise

Hawaii tourist arrivals fall nearly 100% in July, state report says

Tourist arrivals in Hawaii declined by almost 98% in July compared to a year ago, according to a report released Thursday by state officials.

The Hawaii Tourism Authority said a total of 22,562 people traveled to the state in July by air. That number was 995,210 in 2019.

Most of the visitors in July traveled from the U.S. mainland, with only about 2,000 international travelers. The total number of arrivals for the first seven months of 2020 dropped nearly 65%.

COVID-19 resources from USA TODAY

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