New York City public schools opened their doors to 300,000 K-8 students Tuesday, hours after the global death toll from the coronavirus surpassed 1 million.

Florida is also loosening restrictions, and students at Florida State University. celebrated. Tallahassee police said they had to break up more than dozen unruly gatherings over the weekend after Gov. Ron DeSantis dropped the state’s COVID-19 restrictions and even encouraged college kids to party. No further urging needed.

The politics of pandemic continued an unrelenting churn in the nation’s capital, where House Democrats have unveiled a seemingly doomed, $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief aid package. Republicans, who control the Senate, are holding out for a slimmed-down – and cheaper – bill.

The 1 million-death barrier was smashed less than nine months after a 61-year-old man died of a mysterious disease in sprawling Wuhan, China, the global death toll has surpassed 1 million. The New York Times, in reporting the death back in January, noted that the virus had “put the region on alert, but there is no evidence that it can spread among humans.”

Some significant developments:

  • The Navajo Nation reported 22 new coronavirus cases on Monday and no additional deaths.
  • With Thanksgiving less than two months away, the CDC recommends having small holiday dinner gatherings. For people who usually travel to visit family, the agency suggests celebrating the holiday virtually.
  • India has become the second country to report 6 million confirmed cases. 

📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has reported more than 7 million cases and 205,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. New case records were set in Kentucky, Montana, Nebraska, South Dakota, Utah, Wisconsin and Wyoming, according to a USA TODAY analysis of Johns Hopkins data. Record numbers of deaths were reported in Alaska and North Dakota. Globally, there have been more than 33 million cases and more than 1million fatalities.

📰 What we’re reading: There was fear in August when Florida made the controversial decision to reopen most schools with in-person instruction. Many teachers and families braced for a spike in COVID-19 cases. That hasn’t happened, according to a USA TODAY analysis.

🗺️ Mapping coronavirus: Track the U.S. outbreak, state by state.

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

300,000 students return to classrooms in NYC, more on the way

Public elementary schools reopened across New York City on Tuesday, with middle and high schools scheduled to welcome students Thursday. An estimated students walked into classrooms for the first time since March, although remote instruction has been taking place for about three weeks. The event comes on the third try – Mayor Bill de Blasio twice had to delay opening classrooms due to staffing shortages and other issues. By week’s end all 1.1 million students are scheduled to have the option of in-classroom learning as middle and high schools open. Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza says so far parents of only about half of students are opting in.

Purdue suspends 14 students for party

Purdue University gave 14 students, including 13 student-athletes, until Wednesday to clear out of their residence hall rooms after being suspended, accused of having a party that violated the university’s coronavirus-era Protect Purdue Pledge. Dean of Students Katie Sermersheim did not name the students, where they lived or which sports the student-athletes play. Purdue athletics issued a statement saying the 13 are “out-of-season student-athletes.” The university also did not say whether the students were among the 801 who had tested positive for COVID-19 on campus since Aug. 1. 

“We will deal with any such violation with firmness,” Purdue President Mitch Daniels said. “The fact that this episode involved student-athletes can make no difference. At Purdue, we have one set of rules for everyone.”

Dave Bangert, Lafayette Journal & Courier

Florida goes all-in on DeSantis 

A lot of Florida State University students apparently are all-in on Gov. Ron DeSantis’ decision Friday to drop virtually all coronavirus restrictions across the state. Tallahassee police say they spent much of the weekend responding to more than a dozen calls concerning large crowds, some at or near campus.

“The crowds ranged in size, including one with approximately 700 vehicles and more than 1,000 people” at an off-campus apartment complex, police said in a statement. “Most of the travel lanes were blocked throughout the complex. Thanks to efforts from TPD’s Patrol Bureau and the Leon County Sheriff’s Office helicopter, officers were able to safely disperse the crowd.”

The school issued a warning last week that students hosting or attending a large gathering on or off campus faced suspension. DeSantis responded, saying students should be allowed to socialize unimpeded by “draconian” threats of suspension or expulsion from Florida’s state universities.

Tori Lynn Schneider, Tallahassee Democrat

Nepal poised to offer Russian vaccine to entire nation

The Russian Direct Investment Fund, a privately held equity firm, has teamed with a leading pharmaceutical distributor in Nepal, Trinity Pharmaceuticals, to supply the mountain nation with 25 million doses of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine. The agreement will enable 90% of population of Nepal to get access to the vaccine, the companies said. The vaccine has drawn controversy around the world because it was put in use without Phase 3 trials used to test vaccines on thousands of people. Details on when the vaccine would become available across Nepal were vague. Kishor Adhikari, director of Trinity Pharmaceuticals, said his company was “waiting for results of the final trial of Sputnik V. As soon as the vaccine is approved by Government of Nepal we will make it available for the population of Nepal.”

House Democrats’ $2.2 trillion COVID-19 relief package appears doomed

House Democrats unveiled a $2.2 trillion COVID-19 relief bill in a longshot push to break the impasse on relief negotiations before the election, though the bill is likely to face opposition in the Republican-controlled Senate if it passes the House. The bill trims $1 trillion from the Democrat’s previous plan, decried as too costly by the GOP. Many of the benefits previously approved by Congress ran out earlier this year, leaving millions of Americans waiting for urgently needed aid. The $600 federal benefit to unemployment benefits ran  out, a loan forgiveness program for small businesses expired, and airlines warned of mass layoffs as support for the industry expired. 

The House could act on the bill as soon as this week. The Senate is unlikely to act on the legislation, it represents a negotiating point over $1 trillion lower than Democrats’ previous proposal. 

– Nicholas Wu

1 million people worldwide have died in less than a year from COVID-19

In nine months since the first cases were reported in central China, more than 1 million people have died worldwide from COVID-19.

The news comes as countries around the globe are at very different stages in managing the outbreaks: Some European nations are tightening some restrictions over fears of a second wave. Cases in the U.S. are ticking back up after a summer spike that was followed by renewed restrictions and then a decline. India’s cases have skyrocketed in recent weeks and it may soon become the country with the most infections. New Zealand appears to have weathered a second cluster of cases. And South Korea is seeing its lowest case tally since it reinstituted some lockdown measures during a virus resurgence.

Meanwhile, researchers around the globe continue to make progress on clinical trials for vaccine candidates, but mass vaccinations may not come until at least mid-2021, a World Health Organization official said Sunday.

Navajo Nation reports 22 new COVID-19 cases but zero additional deaths

Navajo Nation health officials on Monday reported 22 new confirmed cases of COVID-19, bringing the total tally to 10,312. The death toll remains at 555 as no additional deaths were reported.

The latest numbers come after the Navajo Nation has ordered residents to stay home from Friday evening until early Monday morning as officials examine new clusters of cases from family gatherings and off-reservation travel.

About 105,400 people have been tested on reservations in Arizona, New Mexico and Utah, officials said. More than 7,200 have recovered from the virus.


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Planet Hollywood Las Vegas to reopen for weekend stays in October

Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas will soon reopen for weekend stays. Caesars Entertainment announced Friday the resort-casino will welcome back guests at 10 a.m. on Oct. 8. While the casino floor will be open seven days a week, the hotel will only book stays Thursday through Sunday.

The reopening will also debut the resort’s new William Hill Race & Sports Book, the company announced. Nevada’s casinos reopened June 4 under new restrictions, including reduced occupancy, more space between gamblers and severely curtailed limits for meeting and convention spaces.

The return of Planet Hollywood to The Strip follows the reopening of Caesars Palace, Flamingo, Harrah’s, Paris and other hotels. Meanwhile, the number of COVID-19 cases continues to climb in Nevada. 

– Ed Komenda, Reno Gazette Journal

WHO plans to distribute 120M rapid tests to less-wealthy countries

The World Health Organization intends to distribute 120 million rapid diagnostic tests for the coronavirus to lower- and middle-income nations, according to a plan that still lacks full funding. The WHO, which approved the tests on an emergency basis last week, said it agreed to the program with its partners Monday.

The antigen-based test costs $5 apiece, and the $600 million program – which may start as early as October – is expected to provide better access in areas where it’s harder to get the more-accurate PCR tests that are commonly used in many wealthier nations. The WHO tests may yield results in 15-30 minutes.

COVID-19 resources from USA TODAY

Contributing: The Associated Press


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