America hit a somber benchmark in the coronavirus pandemic, with the U.S. death toll reaching 100,000.
A day after the U.S. recorded 100,000 deaths from COVID-19, the Labor Department reported an additional 2.1 million unemployment claims last week, meaning more than 40 million Americans have applied for unemployment in just 10 weeks.
There are more than 5.7 million confirmed cases around the world, with nearly 1.7 million in the United States, according to the Johns Hopkins University data dashboard. More than 356,000 people have died worldwide.
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Here are a few of the major developments from Wednesday:
- The U.S. reached a grim milestone, with more than 100,000 coronavirus deaths over a span of less than four months. That’s more than the number of Americans killed in the Vietnam and Korean wars combined. These are some of them.
- Gyms have been ordered to remain closed in many states as other businesses gradually reopen, prompting gym owners in three states to file lawsuits in an effort to force officials to allow them to restart their businesses.
- Disney is reopening in July, the company announced this week. Visitors will be required to wear a face mask and will undergo a temperature check.
- The National Women’s Soccer League announced Wednesday it will return in June with a 25-game tournament.
What we’re talking about: The U.S. hit a grim milestone Wednesday, surpassing 100,000 coronavirus deaths. We reached out to experts in various fields to get an assessment of what the new normal may look like in the next 100 days.
Your daily dose of good news: A 103-year-old Massachusetts woman survived the coronavirus and celebrated with a Bud Light.
Staying Apart, Together: USA TODAY brings a newsletter about how to cope with these trying times straight to your inbox.
More than 40 million people file for unemployment in 10 weeks
About 2.1 million Americans filed initial unemployment benefit claims last week, the Labor Department said Thursday. In just ten weeks, 40.7 million have sought jobless benefits that represent the nation’s most reliable gauge of layoffs.A record 20.5 million jobs were lost in April, according to the Labor Department, spiking the unemployment rate to 14.7%, the highest since the Great Depression and four times the 3.5% unemployment rate reported in February, which represented a 50-year low.
– Charisse Jones
COVID reignites debate over ‘couch caucus’ lawmakers who sleep in offices
The coronavirus has reignited a years-old debate over the “couch caucus,” with some lawmakers arguing that their colleagues sleeping in their offices is improper and increases the chances of spreading COVID-19 to colleagues and staff at the U.S. Capitol.
Rep. Jackie Speier, D-California, authored a letter to Congress’ attending physician and the Architect of the Capitol, the agency tasked with maintaining and operating the building, asking that the practice be banned in light of the pandemic.
Rep. Ted Budd defends the practice, however: “I wanted my focus to be back here in North Carolina, where I represent the 13th district. I didn’t want it to be a Washington lifestyle.”
– Christal Hayes
Texas bar bans masks
A bar in Elgin, Texas, is banning masks in defiance of COVID-19 guidance set by county, state and federal leaders. “Due to our concern for our customers, if they FEEL (not think) that they need to wear a mask, they should stay at home until they FEEL that it’s safe to be in public without one. Sorry, no masks allowed,” a sign at the Liberty Tree Tavern reads.
The sign then advised that it would adhere to Gov. Greg Abbott’s requirements limiting occupancy of bars to 25% and 6 feet of social distancing between parties. Elgin has recorded more than 50 confirmed COVID-19 cases and one death. “Sorry for the inconveniences please bear with us thru (sic) the ridiculous fearful times,” the sign reads.
– Brandon Mulder, Austin American-Statesman
CDC: Antibody tests can be wrong half the time
COVID-19 antibody tests can be wrong half the time and should not be used to determine who can be grouped together in such settings as schools and dorms, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says in its latest guidelines. The guidance could have a major impact as schools and universities build program plans for the coming school year. Office workers also could be affected.
“Serologic test results should not be used to make decisions about returning persons to the workplace,” the CDC says.
Antibody tests: Here’s why they may provide a false sense of security
California reopening draws criticism
Gov. Gavin Newsom’s bold plan to reopen California has some public health experts wondering if it’s too much too soon. Sara Cody, the Santa Clara County health officer at the forefront of shutting down the San Francisco Bay Area in mid-March, told her county board the state is moving forward “without a real understanding of the consequences.”
Dr. David Relman, a microbiologist and immunologist at Stanford Medicine, says he questions whether counties are really able to implement the rules and respond to potential outbreaks. Mark Ghaly, secretary of California’s Health and Human Services Agency, countered that the plans provides guidance but that counties are not being pressured to “open sooner or stay closed longer than they themselves feel they should.”
Dems blast ‘pitiful’ COVID-19 report on race
House Democrats are dismissing a federal report on the racial breakdown of cases and deaths from the coronavirus as “pitiful,” saying it hurts efforts to target resources to communities of color. Early data shows communities of color, including African Americans, Native Americans and Latinos, are dying at a disproportionately higher rate compared with whites. The lawmakers complained that a recently released four-page report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention fails to reflect the national impact.
The agency said Wednesday it is “leveraging all our available surveillance systems to … protect vulnerable communities.”
“We deserve to know the facts and have quality analysis,’’ said U.S. Rep. Robin Kelly, a Democrat from Illinois and chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus Health Braintrust. “Once again, they are showing us they just don’t care.”
– Deborah Barfield Berry
North Carolina, Michigan, New Jersey gym owners file lawsuits to reopen
Gym owners in North Carolina, Michigan and New Jersey have filed lawsuits against state officials in the last two weeks for not allowing them to reopen meanwhile other businesses have started to reopen. The owners argue that it’s unconstitutional and a violation of their rights.
“If reopening businesses safely is the goal, then all businesses — including gyms — should be afforded the same opportunity to do so,” attorney Scott M. Erskine, who is representing a coalition of 120 gyms in Michigan, said in a press release
In North Carolina, a Facebook page was created to raise money for owners to retain an attorney, reports The News & Observer. A group of nine plaintiffs filed the lawsuit Wednesday, asking for a temporary restraining order that would prevent Gov. Roy Cooper from keeping gyms closed.
A gym in New Jersey that reopened last week in defiance of state orders also filed a lawsuit for similar reasons. The lawsuit says the owners took “extraordinary precautions” to implement “health protocols … sufficiently similar to those businesses that were allowed to remain open” when it reopened.
More coronavirus news and information from USA TODAY
Wyoming cancels Cheyenne Frontier Days, other major rodeos this summer
Wyoming, the self-proclaimed Cowboy State, canceled six major rodeos this summer because of the coronavirus — including Cheyenne Frontier Days, Gov. Mark Gordon announced Wednesday.
“This reality is not an easy one,” Gordon said in a news conference. “In my soul, I know how important those events are to our communities and our citizens.”
It’s the first time Frontier Days has been canceled in its 124-year history. The world’s largest outdoor rodeo draws more than 140,000 people annually. The other canceled rodeos are the Thermopolis Rendezvous, Cody Stampede, Central Wyoming Fair & Rodeo in Casper, Sheridan WYO Rodeo and Laramie Jubilee Days.
Tom Hanks donates plasma in California to help fight coronavirus
Tom Hanks is “plasmatic.” The “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” actor, 63, kept his spirits high while donating plasma at the University of California in Los Angeles to help fight against the coronavirus following his own recovery.
He documented his experience on Instagram Wednesday, sharing several photos of his left arm hooked up to a machine and a picture of the end result: Two bags full of plasma.
“Plasmatic on 3! 1,2,3 PLASMATIC!” he captioned the series of pictures.
In March, Hanks and his wife, Rita Wilson, were hospitalized in Queensland, Australia after being diagnosed with coronavirus, becoming the first major celebrities to test positive. Hanks told NPR in April that he hopes the plasma will be beneficial toward vaccine research.
– Cydney Henderson
US reaches grim milestone of 100K coronavirus deaths, most in the world
The U.S., the only country to record anywhere near 1 million cases of the coronavirus, reached another somber milestone Wednesday when it became the first to go over 100,000 deaths from COVID-19.
The path toward 100,000 – more than twice as many fatalities as the next nation on the list, the United Kingdom with more than 37,000, according to Johns Hopkins University data – has been grim and swift. As of the end of March, the U.S. had registered about 4,000 deaths. But the figure took a drastic upward turn in April, when the disease killed nearly 60,000 Americans, and has continued at a slower but still devastating pace. Some models estimate the death toll could approach 200,000 in early August.
Moreover, epidemiology experts generally agree the actual total of fatalities is larger than the tally reported by the highly respected Johns Hopkins University dashboard, considering there’s no certainty about when the first U.S. victim of COVID-19 died. In addition, deaths outside a hospital setting might not have been recorded as being due to the coronavirus, especially in the early stages of the outbreak.
– Jorge Ortiz
National Women’s Soccer League to return in June with Utah tournament
Pro soccer returns to the U.S. next month when the National Women’s Soccer League starts a 25-game tournament in a pair of stadiums in Utah that will be kept clear of fans to protect players from the coronavirus.
Players from the nine teams will train and live at two Salt Lake City-area hotels, the league announced Wednesday. All players will be tested for COVID-19 before leaving for Utah, and then will be regularly screened during their monthlong stay.
No fans will be allowed into the Zions Bank or Rio Tinto stadiums, two suburban Salt Lake City venues that will host the matches.
The tournament begins June 27, with games to be televised and streamed by CBS and its online and broadcast affiliates. It’s a boon for a league that was looking for a new TV partner in the wake of the U.S. women’s victory in the World Cup last year, and now finds itself on the front end of American leagues returning and offering live sports in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
Disney World plans July 11 reopening for Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom
Walt Disney World plans to reopen July 11, according to a presentation the company made to an economic recovery task force Wednesday. The theme park has been closed since March 15 because of the coronavirus pandemic, and its reopening will follow its Florida rival, Universal Orlando, which is set to reopen June 5.
Disney is planning a phased reopening, with the Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom opening July 11. Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios are set to reopen July 15.
Disney World visitors will undergo a temperature check and be required to wear a face mask. The park will provide masks to people who do not bring their own.
Social distancing markers will be visible throughout the park. Disney’s “cast members” will enforce the rules, including the mask requirement, as part of a social-distancing squad. Park capacity will also be limited and not all attractions will reopen right away.
– Curtis Tate
Contributing: The Associated Press
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