Approving a vaccine in the U.S. usually takes years, but COVID-19 vaccines are moving through in record time. What does that mean?


Congressional leaders and White House officials are scheduled to meet Monday to continue negotiating a proposed $1 trillion stimulus package. After a productive meeting Saturday, Republicans and Democrats blamed one another for the deadlock and the expiration of a $600 weekly unemployment benefit.

The hits to retail keep coming: Lord & Taylor and, separately, Tailored Brands, the parent company of Men’s Wearhouse and Jos. A. Banks, have filed for bankruptcy.

Philadelphia Eagles head coach Doug Pederson became the second NFL coach to test positive for COVID-19. Pederson is “asymptomatic and doing well,” the team announced Sunday. More pro athletes opted out of the 2020 season over the weekend because of coronavirus concerns. 

And as many schools prepare to reopen this month, a student in Indiana tested positive on the first day back to school. 

Here are some significant developments:

📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has recorded almost 155,000 deaths and about 4.7 million cases of COVID-19, according to Johns Hopkins University. Worldwide, there have been about 690,000 deaths and 18 more than million cases. 

📰 What we’re reading: COVID-19 cases spiked in California after the Fourth of July holiday weekend. Public health experts say much of the transmission occurred at home or at small get-togethers, among people who already know each other.

Our live blog is being updated throughout the day. Refresh for the latest news, and get updates in your inbox with The Daily Briefing

Birx: Rural areas not immune to ‘extraordinarily widespread’ pandemic

The U.S. is in a new and far more widespread phase in its fight against the coronavirus than when it first raced across the nation in the spring, the White House coronavirus task force coordinator said Sunday. Dr. Deborah Birx, speaking on CNN’s “State of the Union,” warned that rural America should not feel immune to the virus, which has thus far been more damaging in urban areas. She said the national death toll, which some experts have estimated could double to more than 300,000, depends on how well southern and western states promote mitigation.

“It is extraordinarily widespread,” Birx said. “This epidemic right now is different and it’s more widespread and it’s both rural and urban.”

– John Bacon

Bankruptcy filings: Lord & Taylor; Men’s Wearhouse join the list

Office workers aren’t buying as many clothes. The retail industry is feeling the burn. 

Lord & Taylor, one of America’s oldest department stores, has filed for bankruptcy. Separately, Tailored Brands, the parent company of Men’s Wearhouse and Jos. A. Banks, filed too.

The forced closure of non-essential stores in March pushed them to the brink. These two chains join a growing list of retailers slammed by the pandemic.

Michigan GOP state senator tests positive for COVID-19

A Republican state senator who sponsored a bill to limit the emergency powers Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has used to address the pandemic has tested positive for the coronavirus. State Sen. Tom Barrett, R-Charlotte, said in a written statement Sunday that said he does not have “any significant symptoms,” and “will be self-isolating according to medical guidelines.”

Barrett has been a vocal critic of Whitmer’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic. He sponsored a bill to repeal the 1945 law she has used to maintain a state of emergency, which allows Whitmer to restrict business operations and require people to wear masks in public places.

The senator told the Detroit Free Press his test result doesn’t change his stance on how Whitmer has handled the pandemic. He said he has been “pretty rigid” about wearing a mask in enclosed public places.

A Republican lawmaker in Florida, state Rep. Randy Fine (R-Palm Bay), was hospitalized Sunday due to lung damage from COVID-19.

– Paul Egan, Detroit Free Press; Alessandro Marazzi Sassoon, Florida Today

Las Vegas’ Electric Daisy Carnival canceled, rescheduled for May 2021

Las Vegas’ Electric Daisy Carnival, the sold-out, three-day electronic dance music festival, will not take place in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. The event had been rescheduled from May to Oct. 2-4 at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

The event has been moved to May 21-23, 2021. Founder Pasquale Rotella wrote on Instagram on Sunday that he concluded he couldn’t safely handle an estimated 450,000 attendees.

“This whole experience has truly been a wild ride. Here I am, a rave promoter, finding myself talking to biopharmaceutical companies about diagnostic tests for a novel virus while working with Nevada’s most prominent government officials,” Rotella wrote. “I’ve felt a lot of pressure wanting to come through for all of you & after taking time to exhaust every possible option, I can feel confident knowing this is the right decision.”

– Bryan Alexander

Delta flight delayed after passengers refuse to wear a face mask

After two travelers refused to wear face masks, a Delta flight headed to Atlanta from Detroit Metro Airport on Thursday had to turn around and head back to the gate. 

According to a Delta statement, the plane “returned to the gate following two customers who were non-compliant with crew instructions. After a short delay, the aircraft departed to Atlanta.” Face masks, or appropriate coverings, are required for customers and employees of Delta. The rule applies on aircraft, at lobby check-in, in Delta Sky Clubs, in boarding gate areas and on jet bridges.

– Chanel Stitt, Detroit Free Press

Indiana student tests positive for COVID-19 on first day of school 

A junior high school in Greenfield, Indiana, received news on the first day of class that a student tested positive for the coronavirus, according to an email sent to families Thursday evening. The student attended part of the first day of classes at Greenfield Central Junior High School. 

The school district told families that its “Positive COVID-19 Test Protocol” was enacted as soon the school was alerted by the local health department. The student was immediately isolated and all close contacts were identified. 

Superintendent Harold Olin wouldn’t say how many students were identified.

“Because we are able to narrow this list, there is no reason to disrupt the educational process for the larger group that is served within the school,” Olin said in an email. 

– Arika Herron and Elizabeth DePompei, Indianapolis Star

Lowe’s giving out COVID-19 relief grants for small businesses

Monday is the deadline to apply for Lowe’s next round of small-business emergency relief grants ranging from $5,000 to $20,000. The nonprofit Local Initiatives Support Corporation, also known as LISC, is giving away the mo thanks to the home improvement chain’s $55 million contribution. 

The company said the grants will “provide immediate relief for critical needs such as rent, payroll and operational expenses to keep businesses running.” Of the $55 million, $30 million will focus on small businesses owned or led by minorities and women, and $25 million will support enterprises in rural communities, the company said in a news release.

– Kelly Tyko

MLB, NFL players opt out of season due to COVID-19

More pro baseball and football players have opted out of their 2020 seasons because of the pandemic. Sunday afternoon, New York Mets outfielder Yoenis Cespedes didn’t show for a Sunday afternoon game. The team later announced he has dropped out for the season. “We will support him in that decision,” New York Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen told reporters after the game. “It was surprising, without question.”

Saturday, New England Patriots’ veteran tight end Matt LaCosse became the eighth player on the team to pull out for the season. The Patriots have had the most opt-outs in the NFL.

In college football, a group of Pac-12 athletes released a statement Sunday threatening to opt out of the 2020 season. They said they’re being asked to play without “enforced health and safety standards, and without transparency about COVID cases on our teams, the risks to ourselves, our families, and our communities.”

What we’re reading

More COVID-19 resources from USA TODAY

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Contributing: Associated Press


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