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R-0 may be the most important scientific term you’ve never heard of when it comes to stopping the coronavirus pandemic.

USA TODAY

As the coronavirus pandemic reached a new high for worldwide cases in a 24-hour period Sunday, the U.S. topped the list of hot spots, with record-smashing Florida at the forefront.

Meanwhile, Trump administration officials made the rounds of morning news shows to promote efforts against the crisis with a new look – President Donald Trump in a mask.

With more than 66,000 new infections, the U.S. accounted for almost 29% of the 230,000 reported globally Sunday by the World Health Organization. Nearly 15,300 of the new cases in the U.S. were confirmed in Florida, which set a dubious single-day mark and now has reported 269,811 cases but still plans to open all schools to in-classroom learning next month. California set the previous daily record of 11,694, four days ago. New York had 11,571 on April 15.

Also Sunday, the re-emergence of pro sports in America stumbled out of the gate when a Major League Soccer game between DC United and Toronto FC was postponed minutes before kickoff because of two possibly positive coronavirus test results. Professional baseball, hockey and basketball are all in training with games set to begin in coming weeks.

Trump made headlines Saturday by wearing a mask in public for the first time during the pandemic, a move that comes days after Texas’ Republican governor said masks were the state’s only hope at avoiding another shutdown as COVID-19 cases rise sharply there.

Deaths in the U.S. have begun to climb after falling for months. Experts had expected the tragic increase, noting that confirmed cases have been spiking across the nation this summer.

Some recent developments:

  • The Food and Drug Administration has expanded the number of hand sanitizers to avoid because they may contain methanol, a toxic substance when absorbed through skin or ingested.
  • America’s testing system is once again strained and labs are struggling to keep pace as the coronavirus rages faster than ever in the South and West.
  • Walt Disney World reopened to the public Saturday nearly four months after closing. But its reopening coincided with a sharp increase in new infections in the Sunshine State.

📈 Today’s stats: The U.S. has surpassed 3.2 million confirmed cases of COVID-19. Almost 135,000 deaths have been confirmed, according to John Hopkins University data. Globally, there have been 12.7 million cases and over 565,000 deaths.

📰 What we’re reading: Some local governments are instituting fines for ignoring mask mandates. Heath and behavior experts say that makes sense, comparing the fees to traffic tickets: Just as speeding or drinking and driving are dangerous, not wearing a mask during a pandemic is similarly reckless, one said.

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

Florida smashes daily record for new cases by any state; school year looms

Florida on Sunday reported the largest single-day increase in positive coronavirus cases in any state since the pandemic began. The 15,299 additional cases represents a stunning total of almost 3,700 more than any state had reported in a single day. Last week was Florida’s deadliest: almost 500 fatalities. Two months ago, Florida became one of the first states to begin reopening its economy. One month ago, fewer than 5% of tests came up positive on a daily average. Last week, the daily average exceeded 19%.

Looming next month is the new school year, which in many parts of Florida begins Aug. 10. Gov. Ron DeSantis has ordered schools to offer five-day-per-week, in-classroom education, citing the “huge, huge costs” of not providing in-person schooling. “The risk of corona, fortunately, for students is incredibly low,” he said.

However, students can transmit the virus to more vulnerable adults.

U.S. spearheading record global case increase, WHO figures show

The World Health Organization on Sunday reported a single-day record of more than 230,000 new coronavirus infections globally, with the United States again leading the list with more than new 66,000 cases. The figures are believed to far underestimate actual case totals.

The three largest case counts have been recorded in the last three days. The previous record was Friday, with more than 228,000 newly recorded cases worldwide in a 24-hour span.

Hackers attacking health care records in age of COVID

Hacking incidents have climbed 75% in North America and 125% in Europe in recent months on information technology systems leveraging COVID-19, much of it at health care facilities, says Wendi Whitmore, a cybersecurity expert and vice president of IBM X-Force. More employees working from home and cash-strapped medical facilities stretched thin are making many systems vulnerable. Electronic health records, according to an FBI report, are more valuable than a credit card number because health records can be used to file fraudulent insurance claims, obtain prescription medication and advance identity theft.

“You have to be eternally vigilant,” said Colin Zick, a co-chair of the privacy and data security practice at Foley Hoag. “As long as we’ve got an open internet that is highly unregulated, that’s the downside.”

Karen Weintraub

Amanda Kloots faces ‘new normal’ after service for Nick Cordero

Amanda Kloots opened up about coming to terms with her “new normal” on Sunday, a day after a small memorial honoring Broadway star Nick Cordero. Cordero, 41, died July 5 after a 95-day hospital stay with a series of complications from the coronavirus, including a leg amputation, infections in his lungs and the insertion of a temporary pacemaker. Kloots kept her social media followers updated at every turn. 

“I know Nick is up above routing (sic) for me, believing in me and hoping for me,” Kloots wrote Sunday on Instagram. “He wants me to LIVE this new life and he wants me to be the best version of myself for our son. I promised him in the hospital that I would try to do that.”

Hannah Yasharoff

Repeated testing of athletes could strain system amid nationwide surge

Major League Baseball and Major League Soccer are testing all of their players and key staff members for COVID-19 multiple times per week. The NBA’s bubble near Orlando, Florida, features daily tests. The NFL has yet to finalize its protocol for the fall, but  frequent testing will surely be a priority. One month ago, sports testing was thought to be incidental. But now, with cases booming across the nation, labs are struggling to keep up with the high demand. 

“That’s just a huge strain on the system,” said Celine Gounder, an infectious disease specialist and epidemiologist at New York University and Bellevue Hospital.

Gabe Lacques, Tom Schad, Jeff Zillgitt

Admiral Giroir: Hospitalization, death rates to start dipping in ‘a few weeks’

A top medical adviser in the Trump administration said Sunday that the rise in daily death and hospitalization rates will “turn around” in two or three weeks. Admiral Brett Giroir, who coordinates the federal government’s testing efforts, cited a “leveling” of the percentage of tests that are coming back positive.

“It’s starting to turn now, but we won’t reap the benefits of that for a few weeks,” Giroir  said on ABC’s “This Week.”

Giroir urged Americans to wear masks. He also took a jab at Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, who until a few weeks ago had been the administration’s go-to spokesman on the pandemic. Fauci has become critical of administration efforts.

“Dr. Fauci is not 100% right,” Giroir told NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “He looks at it from a very narrow, public health point of view.”

Education Secretary DeVos defends White House push for in-class learning

There’s nothing in the coronavirus data to suggest that kids returning to in-classroom learning this fall would pose a danger to others, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said Sunday. DeVos, speaking on CNN’s “State of the Union,” downplayed the possibility of kids spreading the virus.

She also downplayed President Donald Trump’s threat to strip federal funding from schools that decline to open classrooms, saying there is “no desire to take money away” from schools struggling to meet guidelines laid out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Those guidelines are “meant to be flexible,” DeVos said.

“Parents are expecting that this fall their kids are going to have a full-time experience with their learning, and we need to follow through on that promise,” DeVos told “Fox News Sunday.”

MLS soccer game postponed as pro sports attempts to restart

Major League Soccer’s game between D.C. United and Toronto FC, scheduled for Sunday in the MLS is Back Tournament, was postponed just minutes before the scheduled 9 a.m. kickoff.  MLS Deputy Commissioner Mark Abbott said one player on D.C. United tested positive but not a “final positive,” suggesting the results haven’t been confirmed. 

A Toronto player had an inconclusive test, according to Abbott. The tournament opened Thursday and is scheduled to run through Aug. 11 at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida.

Professional baseball, hockey and basketball players also are training with their teams. The National Football League’s preseason camps are scheduled to open later this month.

‘Me first’ race for vaccines may have no actual winners

The world’s scientifically turbo-charged, chaotic race to create and then produce coronavirus vaccines has not resulted in widespread collaboration, coordination and sharing. In fact, “me first” vaccine nationalism has pitted nation against nation to get and keep enough doses for their citizens, analysts say.

Countries are focusing on their own vaccine development programs rather than collaborating to pool resources. The United States has largely chosen to go it alone, declining to join international development efforts and instead cutting advance deals worth billions of dollars with pharmaceutical and manufacturing companies for control of hundreds of millions of doses. It’s a risky bet, experts say.

“Many people naively assume it’s the United States that’s going to have (a vaccine) first, because we have several candidates. But that may not be how it goes,” said Amesh Adalja a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security.

– Elizabeth Weise

Vatican to shipowners: Don’t take advantage of maritime workers

The Vatican marked “Sea Sunday” by warning shipowners not to take advantage of the maritime workers whose tireless efforts have helped supply food and other necessities during the pandemic. Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson noted that, while many nations completely shut down for months, “the maritime industry continued its operation, adding a multitude of challenges to the already problematic lives of the seafarers, and putting them on the front line in fighting against the coronavirus.” Turkson said many maritime workers have been pressed into extended service, some spending ten months aboard ships without a break.

“Some unscrupulous ship-owners, crewing agencies and managers use the excuse of the pandemic to dismiss their obligations to guarantee their labor rights, including proper wages and the promotion of safe and secure working environments for all them,” the cardinal added.

What we’re reading

Disney World open for business – sort of

Walt Disney World began a phased reopening Saturday, nearly four months after the theme park shut down. As with other theme parks that have announced reopening plans, park capacity is limited and visitors are undergoing temperature checks and are required to wear face masks.

With COVID-19 cases on the rise in Florida and across the country, Disney is taking it slow. Only the Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom reopened Saturday and their combined crowds appeared to be in the 16,000 range. Epcot and Disney Hollywood Studios are set to follow on July 15. 

Curtis Tate, Britt Kennerly

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 the 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.

Contributing: The Associated Press

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