Coronavirus updates: Phoenix mayor says Arizona opened too soon; FDA chief balks at backing Trump’s pandemic claims

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The FDA commissioner declined to support President Donald Trump’s views on the pandemic Sunday while the mayor of Phoenix said the state reopened too soon, fueling a boom in new cases among young people.

“We reemerged at zero to 60,” Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.” “Our 20- to 44-year-olds, which is my own demographic, really led the explosion.”

President Donald Trump hosted a “Salute to America” on Saturday in Washington that included a massive fireworks display on the National Mall in Washington. Trump assured the crowd that 99% o COVID-19 therapies were “harmless” and that a vaccine or therapy would be developed “well before the end of the year.”

Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Stephen Hahn, speaking Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union,” was asked about Trump’s assertions. Hahn declined to concur, saying data shows the virus is a “serious problem” and that science would determine when vaccines or therapies are ready.

Hahn also said it is too soon to determine whether the Republican National Convention can be safely held in Florida next month amid a surge of COVID-19 cases there.

Here are some recent developments:

    The World Health Organization said member states reported more than 212,000 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 Saturday, the highest single-day increase since the start of the pandemic.Cases in Texas and Florida to hit record highs again on Saturday. The Texas Department of State Health Services reported 8,076 new COVID-19 cases Saturday, marking the first time Texas crossed the 8,000 threshold for new cases in a single day. And Florida reported 11,458 new cases of the coronavirus Saturday, also a record for most new cases in one day. 

📈Today’s stats: The U.S. recorded 45,283 new cases of the coronavirus, snapping a streak of multiple days with more than 50,000, according to a tally kept by Johns Hopkins University. The daily death toll was 242. It was not immediately clear what impact the holiday had on collecting the totals. The U.S. has seen more than 2.8 million confirmed cases and more than 129,000 deaths. Globally, there have been more than 11.2 million cases and more than 530,000 deaths.

📰 What we’re reading: American colleges and universities offer petri-dish conditions for the coronavirus. For nearly 20 million college and university students, as well as parents and faculty, the uncertainty of what campus life will be like in the fall can be overwhelming. Some schools have set up sophisticated testing plans; others are planning to keep classes online.

Our live blog will be updated throughout the day. For first-in-the-morning updates, sign up for The Daily Briefing.

Phoenix mayor laments boom in new cases, says state reopened too soon

Arizona’s quick reopening made some residents overconfident about safety, spurring the state’s surge in new cases, Gallego said Sunday. Crowded nightclubs handed out free champagne to partygoers not wearing masks, she said on ABC’s “This Week.”  

“We opened way too early in Arizona,” she said “We were one of the last states to go to stay-at-home and one of the first to reemerge. And we reemerged at zero to sixty,” Gallego said on ABC’s “This Week.” “We had crowded nightclubs handing out free champagne, no masks. Our 20- to 44-year-olds, which is my own demographic, really led the explosion, and we’ve seen such growth in that area. We’re seeing a lot of people go to large family gatherings and infect their family members.”

She later added, “I think when nightclubs were open, it sent the signal that we had, again, defeated COVID and, obviously, that is not the case.”

New Jersey beaches, waterparks draw crowds

Some of New Jersey’s beaches, casinos, amusement parks and water parks, reopened just ahead of the holiday weekend, drew big crowds. In Seaside Heights, few people were wearing masks or observing social distancing.  Amanda Vourtis, 27, was spending the Fourth of July with a friend on the borough’s world famous Boardwalk. Vourtis, 27, carried hand sanitizer and a mask in her beach bag.

“I take my own precautions,” Vourtis said. “I think everybody’s aware. I hope everybody does the same as I do and takes precautions for themselves.” 

Erik Larsen, Asbury Park Press

FDA commissioner declines to back Trump timeline for vaccine

Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Stephen Hahn was unwilling Sunday to back President Donald Trump’s boast that a COVID-19 vaccine would soon be ready or the president’s claim that 99% of infections are harmless. Trump said Saturday that the nation was unleashing “scientific brilliance and we’ll likely have a therapeutic and/or vaccine solution long before the end of the year.” Hahn, speaking on ABC’s “This Week,” cited “unprecedented speed” in the development of a vaccine but said science and data will determine when it is ready. 

“While the FDA is committed to expediting this work, we will not cut corners in our decisions,”Hahn said, adding that the agency is “making clear through this guidance what data should be submitted to meet our regulatory standards.”

In Arizona, end to rent relief could leave thousands homeless

Thousands of Arizonans struggling to pay rent because of the COVID-19 pandemic could lose their homes this summer when Gov. Doug Ducey’s executive order delaying evictions expires, government data suggests. Renters who were sick with the virus, lost jobs or had to stop working because schools were closed have had a reprieve since late March. Congress also banned evictions until July 25 on rentals with federally backed mortgages. But as the end of those programs approach, Arizona is far from free of the pandemic’s grip.

“We are on a huge economic cliff and being kept from falling off with stimulus money,” said Mark Stapp, director of the Master of Real Estate Development program at Arizona State University. “It’s going to take (additional) stimulus money to prevent many Arizona renters from becoming homeless and landlords (from) going under.”

Catherine Reagor and Rebekah L. Sanders, Arizona Republic

Fingers crossed, colleges march into fall semester

Administrators at thousands of America’s roughly 4,300 colleges and universities are anxiously pushing to resume classes as soon as next month despite the pandemic. An early vaccine could dramatically ease stress levels while a resurgence of infections – possibly coupled with a flu outbreak – could send students scurrying home. For now, school presidents are betting on a smorgasbord of viral testing systems and hybrid teaching – a mix of online and in-person classes – and strict guidelines for social distancing and masks.

“This is all terra incognita,” said Terry Hartle, senior vice president with the American Council on Education. “They don’t teach this in college presidents’ school … Every school is taking steps they couldn’t have imagined a year ago.”

Dennis Wagner

NBA teams head to Orlando this week for a season unlike any other

NBA teams begin arriving at the Disney campus in Orlando on Tuesday to prep for resuming the pandemic-halted season July 30. The teams will be isolated in an NBA bubble and all the made-for-TV games will be played at the site. All teams will receive daily tests, with social distancing rules needed for ping-pong games (no doubles) and card games (dispose after every use). Protocols include one week of quarantine upon arrival and two weeks of quarantine following a positive test, while also offering luxurious amenities with movie theaters, golf courses and video game lounges. Still, some players are dubious.

“There is absolutely no comfort level. None,” New Orleans Pelicans guard JJ Redick said. “I know the league and I know the union has tried to create this environment, and I get it. But there’s so much else going on right now.”

Mark Medina

Trump leads charge for Independence Day weekend celebrations

While many governors and mayors urged residents to stay home this weekend, President Donald Trump went ahead with a speech at Mount Rushmore in South Dakota on Friday and an evening of tribute and fireworks Saturday on the National Mall in Washington. Trump’s speeches targeted those who do not support him and made no mention of the pandemic’s tragic death toll. Pat Lee of Upper Dublin, Pennsylvania, was a believer. Lee and two friends, none wearing masks, gathered near the event in Washington.

“POTUS said it would go away,” Lee said of the pandemic, using an acronym for president of the United States. “Masks, I think, are like a hoax.”

California sends ‘strike teams’ to enforce COVID rules

About 200 state inspectors fanned out across California over the July 4 holiday weekend to enforce health orders related to the coronavirus, including about 100 from the Alcohol Beverage Control agency and the rest from the Division of Occupational Safety and Health and other state licensing entities. They are part of new “strike teams” from 10 state agencies that Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday said would focus on counties with the most restrictions.  

The teams made 142 “contacts” with businesses on Thursday, their first day of operation, the state Office of Emergency Services said. They issued seven citations: two in Kern County, three in Los Angeles County and two in Santa Clara County.

“We will be going directly to those who thumb their nose at public health and safety,” OES spokesman Brian Ferguson told the Associated Press. 

– Melissa Daniels, Palm Springs Desert Sun

Police: Assault charges for maskless man who coughed on 2 women

Police have arrested a 59-year-old man on threatening and assault charges after a disturbance over wearing face masks at a Massachusetts restaurant. Edward McGuire turned himself in to police Tuesday, the day after the incident. McGuire is accused of coughing in the faces of two female customers of the restaurant and saying he hoped they get COVID-19. He also is accused of driving dangerously in the restaurant parking lot, threatening the safety of people dining outdoors. 

The incident occurred Monday night after employees of the restaurant asked McGuire to wear a mask. Workers told police that McGuire started yelling and screaming at the employees and went up to two women and coughed on them, saying he hoped they got sick. He then allegedly got in his vehicle and drove in a circle around the parking lot, scaring outdoor diners.

– Rich Harbert, Old Colony Memorial

What we’re reading

    Can stores and restaurants require masks? The answer is yes. Read our Q&A.‘This is no joke’: Man died of the coronavirus day after saying he regretted attending a party‘A mask is not a symbol’: Three restaurants take a stand amid pandemic

90% of Arizona ICU beds in use

Arizona reported 2,695 new COVID-19 cases and 17 additional deaths on Saturday, according to data from the Arizona Department of Health Services. The number of people in the hospitals and using ICU beds again broke records Friday. Saturday’s dashboard shows 85% of current inpatient beds and 90% of ICU beds were in use, which includes people being treated for COVID-19 and other patients.

Arizona is among the worst hot spots in the nation for COVID-19. The disease is widespread, and health officials caution people to stay home as much as possible and wear masks in public. Vice President Mike Pence, who visited Arizona on Wednesday, said he is deploying hundreds of medical personnel to assist the state.

– BrieAnna J. Frank, Arizona Republic

More on the coronavirus from USA TODAY

Where a face mask is required: Many governors are instituting or renewing orders requiring people to wear face coverings in public as cases continue to rise. Is your state on the list? See it here. 

Coronavirus Watch: We have a few ways for you to stay informed. Sign up for our daily coronavirus newsletter here, and come together and share the latest information about coronavirus, coping with lifestyle changes and more by joining our Facebook group.

Where are states on reopening? Some are taking preemptive measures to postpone further phases of their reopening, while others have rolled back their phases to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. See the list.

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