Coronavirus updates: Big Ten will not play football; Texas conducts first Zoom criminal trial; hairstylists rally in California


A Texas judge on Tuesday kicked off what officials are calling the nation’s first criminal trial conducted on Zoom while hairstylists in California marched on the State Capitol to demand approval to reopen salons shuttered in the struggle to contain CIVD-19.

Russian claims of major victory in that struggle drew little enthusiasm from the Trump administration. Russia has become the first country to officially register a vaccine to combat COVID-19.

“The point is not to be first with a vaccine. The point is to have a vaccine that is safe and effective for the American people and the people of the world,” U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar told ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

Azar questioned the thoroughness of Russia’s testing. He noted that the U.S. has six candidate vaccines in development under the Operation Warp Speed initiative. The World Health Organization has said all vaccine candidates should go through full stages of testing before being rolled out.

Here are some significant developments:

    Cleveland Indians pitcher Mike Clevinger is in quarantine after violating COVID-19 protocols.At least 49 state and local public health leaders have resigned, retired or been fired since April across 23 states. One of the latest departures came Sunday when California’s public health director was ousted. A formal announcement is expected today on whether the Big Ten athletic directors will halt football in the fall.

📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has recorded more than 163,000 deaths and 5 million cases of COVID-19, according to Johns Hopkins University. Worldwide, there have been more than 737,000 deaths and 20 million cases. 

📰 What we’re reading: Parents are torn as some schools in the same district face greater reopening risks than others. The virus generally has affected poorer school communities more severely than wealthier areas.

Big Ten makes it official: No football this fall

The Big Ten will not play football in the fall due to health concerns related to the coronavirus pandemic. the conference said Tuesday.

After a dramatic few days full of meetings among coaches, athletics directors and university presidents, the stunning decision marks a potential tipping point for the Bowl Subdivision to play a season amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“The mental and physical health and welfare of our student-athletes has been at the center of every decision we have made regarding the ability to proceed forward,” Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren said in a statement.

Texas conducts first criminal trial on Zoom

A Texas court has launched what the state says is the nation’s first virtual jury trial in a criminal case. The case began Tuesday morning, with potential jurors popping onto the screen in a virtual Travis County courtroom before being separated out to complete surveys and receive training on how to use Zoom. The misdemeanor traffic case is being broadcast live on YouTube and comes as the latest experiment in how to resume jury proceedings in a criminal justice system crippled by the pandemic.

“You’re here today for jury duty in a different way,” Judge Nicholas Chu said. “That’s jury duty by Zoom.”

More than 800 students in Georgia district asked to quarantine

A week after the school year started, more than 800 students and 42 staff from one Georgia school district have been asked to quarantine after several tested positive for COVID-19, according to the district’s website. Cherokee County School District, north of Atlanta, is sharing regular updates on coronavirus cases in its schools with the community. The district has 40 schools and centers, 4,800 employees and more than 42,200 students.

“We have students and staff reporting presumptive, pending and positive COVID-19 tests every day, and this will continue as we operate schools during a pandemic,” Cherokee County Schools Superintendent Brian Hightower wrote in a letter to parents Friday, adding that the school system was taking “extra steps for transparency.”

Wyatte Grantham-Philips

California hair stylists march on state Capitol

Hair stylists from across California are rallying today at the State Capitol in Sacramento, pressing lawmakers to allow their salons to reopen. The Peaceful Pro-Beauty Rally is aimed at ending a temporary statewide regulation forcing them to conduct their business outside or not at all. Rally organizer Alicia Orabella, a Bay-area salon owner, told that beauty shops should not be lumped in with bars and restaurants.

“We just ask that they listen to us,” Orabella said of lawmakers. “Outside is not a safe environment. I’m seeing nail salons down the streets that are doing pedicures in front of a dumpster. That is no way sanitary.”

Arizona reports 1,200 new cases as hospitalizations steadily decline 

Arizona reported more than 1,200 new COVID-19 cases and 45 new known deaths Tuesday, as hospitalizations for the disease generally continue four weeks of downward trends. The state has seen hints of improvement after being a glaring hotspot earlier in the summer. Identified cases rose to 188,737 and known deaths totaled 4,199, according to the daily report by the Arizona Department of Health Services. The 45 new known deaths reported on Tuesday represent the new deaths identified by the Arizona Department of Health Services that day, but many occurred days and weeks prior. 

Of known test results from last week, 8% came back positive, according to the state. A positivity rate of 5% is considered a good benchmark that the spread is under control. Also Tuesday:

    A USA TODAY analysis of Johns Hopkins data shows Indiana and Puerto Rico set records for new cases in a week.Meanwhile, record numbers of deaths were reported in Arkansas, California, Georgia, Hawaii and West Virginia, and also Puerto Rico.The United States has reported 5,094,400 cases and 163,463 deaths.

– Alison Steinbach, Arizona Republic; Mike Stucka, USA TODAY

Virus outbreak found among Vermont inmates held in Mississippi prison

A virus outbreak among Vermont prisoners being held at a Mississippi prison highlights the potential danger of importing and exporting inmates during a global pandemic.

Vermont has one of the lowest virus rates in the nation, but six inmates brought back from Mississippi tested positive. Corrections officials directed the privately-run Mississippi facility to test the rest of the inmates from Vermont, and about two-thirds of Vermont’s 219 inmates imprisoned out-of-state tested positive for the virus. 

Vermont Interim Corrections Commissioner Jim Baker took responsibility for failing to ask more questions about the protocols in Mississippi, a virus hotspot.  “Clearly, where we sit now with the number of positive tests, something went wrong,” Baker said.

Elizabeth Murray, Tom Mooney and Karen Dandurant

Survey: Youth COVID-19 cases almost doubled in four weeks

Children represent less than 10% of all confirmed U.S. COVID-19 cases, but the total number of youth cases has almost doubled in the last month, a new report says.

Almost 180,000 new child cases were reported from between July 9 and Aug. 6, raising the total number to 380,174, the American Academy of Pediatrics reported in a new survey. The increase comes as schools across the nation begin to open their doors to students. The good news: The data indicates that COVID-19-associated hospitalization and death is uncommon in children. 

“At this time, it appears that severe illness due to COVID-19 is rare among children,” the survey says. “However, states should continue to provide detailed reports on COVID-19 cases, testing, hospitalizations, and mortality by age so that the effects of COVID-19 on children’s health can continue to be documented and monitored.”

Azar doubles down on China blame-game

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar on Tuesday pressed the Trump administration case that China failed to adequately warn of the coronavirus after it was first detected in Wuhan. China’s ruling Communist Party chose not to “warn the world and work with the world on battling the virus” Azar said, adding that the costs of that choice are rising every day. The Trump administration has repeatedly accused China of withholding information from the U.N. World Health Organization – and cited the claim in announcing U.S. withdrawal from WHO.

Azar is in Taiwan, the highest-ranking U.S. official to visit the breakaway island since formal relations between Taiwan and mainland China were severed in 1979.

Putin says his daughter got COVID-19 vaccine as Russia registers serum

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway expressed skepticism about the testing backing up Russia’s claim that it has developed a COVID-19 vaccine. President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday said his daughter is among those to receive the vaccine. 

“The U.S. standards are so much more stringent,” Conway said Tuesday on “Fox & Friends.” “Our FDA in our country sets the standards and what I understand from the Russia announcement is this is nowhere near where we are.”

Putin emphasized that the vaccine underwent the necessary tests and has proven efficient, offering a lasting immunity from the coronavirus. However, scientists at home and abroad have been sounding the alarm that the rush to start using the vaccine before Phase 3 trials – which normally last for months and involve thousands of people – could backfire.

Congressman says canceling college football would be ‘enormous mistake’

Rep. Anthony Gonzalez, a former Ohio State and NFL wide receiver, says the Big Ten Conference’s pending decision to not to play football games this fall would be an “enormous mistake for all the kids.” Gonzalez, R-Ohio, said that no athletes should be forced to play, and any athlete who opts out should have been given an additional season of eligibility. 

The Big Ten athletic directors are very close to halting football in the fall, three people with knowledge of the decision confirmed to the Detroit Free Press. The people requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly on the decision. A decision could come today.

“The risk is obviously there,” Gonzalez told USA TODAY. “But I think that if you’re in an environment where coaches want to coach, players want to play and parents of players want their kids to play that, at the very least, you need to create the option.”

Steve Berkowitz and Paul Myerberg

Highest risk from in-class learning faced by communities needing it most

A USA TODAY analysis of COVID-19 infection rates at the ZIP code level found that neighborhoods hit hardest by the coronavirus and others barely touched often exist side by side – and in the same district where officials are trying to determine if schools should open. The numbers also show that, overwhelmingly, the areas facing the greatest risk are also the most to lose by delaying in-person instruction. These mostly non-white ZIP codes are disproportionately poor, so students may lack the devices or internet access they need to succeed with distance education.

“When you have the pressure of trying to meet everyone’s needs and then you fail, there’s no amount of liability insurance out there that can help you when someone dies,” said Kristi Wilson, American Association of School Administrators president.

 Suzanne Hirt, Mark Nichols and Sommer Brugal


Pressure to create a coronavirus vaccine is increasing by the day, but for a safe vaccine to enter the market, it takes time.


Alyssa Milano still battling symptoms months after becoming ill

Alyssa Milano says she’s still suffering from chest pains, hair loss and other symptoms after becoming “acutely sick” with COVID-19 in April. In a video shared to social media, Milano, 47, ran a detangler brush over her head multiple times, holding up the sizable clumps of hair that came out. 

“I just wanted to show you the amount of hair that’s coming out of my head as a result of COVID,” the actress and activist said, imploring her followers to “please take this seriously” and “wear a damn mask.” 

Hannah Yasharoff and Cydney Henderson

Illinois cracks down on violence against retailers who require masks

Illinois has passed a law providing stiffer penalties for assaulting a retail worker “conveying public health guidance,” such as requiring patrons to wear face-coverings or promoting social distancing. The law makes the attacks aggravated battery and it sends the message that it’s vitally important for workers to be respected and protected while serving on the front lines, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said. Aggravated battery can result in a sentence of up to five years in prison. The law also increases disability pay for emergency workers affected by COVID-19.

“This legislation allows front line workers that have been impacted by COVID-19 to focus on recovering while sending a clear message to all our essential workers that we are behind them and will do all we can to protect their safety and well-being,” said State Representative Jay Hoffman.

More COVID-19 resources from USA TODAY

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