The head of the U.S. Postal Service will testify before the Republican-controlled Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on Friday morning. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy will address concerns over the latest changes to the agency, which include service delays until after the November election.

On Monday, DeJoy will testify before the House Oversight Committee. 

The Mets’ Friday game against the Yankees at Citi Field was postponed after two members of the organization tested positive for COVID-19. Thursday’s game against the Miami Marlins was also postponed. The Mets became the 10th team to delay games due to coronavirus pandemic.

Some significant developments:

  • A USA TODAY analysis of Johns Hopkins data through late Thursday shows Iowa, North Dakota and Guam set records for new cases in a week, while Nevada, Tennessee, and Puerto Rico had a record number of deaths in a week.
  • AMC Theaters, the country’s largest chain, reopened 113 locations Thursday. Regal, the second-largest exhibitor, is following suit Friday.
  • About 1.1 million Americans filed for unemployment last week.
  • Dr. Anthony Fauci underwent surgery on his vocal cord Thursday morning to remove a polyp that had been causing hoarseness, media reports said.

📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has 5.5 million confirmed infections and more than 174,000 deaths. Worldwide, there have been more than 794,000 deaths and 22.7 million cases, according to John Hopkins University data.

📰 What we’re reading: A new study adds to growing evidence that children may play a larger role in community spread of the new virus than previously thought. The study found that some children who tested positive had significantly higher levels of virus in their airways than hospitalized adults in intensive care units.

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

Hawaii unveils ‘resort bubble’ concept to hop between islands

Hawaii Gov. David Ige announced earlier this week that the state won’t reopen to tourism until at least October, which means its 14-day mandatory quarantine for both out-of-state and inter-island travelers (in Kauai, Hawaii, Maui and Kalawao counties) remains intact. But details have since emerged about a “resort bubble concept” for inter-island travelers.

The state calls the program an “enhanced movement quarantine” that each county can develop to give residents and visitors the ability to travel between islands without a 14-day quarantine.

Officials had been reviewing an idea that would allow tourists to roam freely on resorts while their movements are tracked via a wearable monitor to ensure they stay inside the boundaries of the facilities. The so-called “resort bubble” concept would keep the tourists within a “geofence” that tracks their movements, West Hawaii Today reported.

– David Oliver

More on masks: Aunt’s mask has a powerful message

Delta bans purported bin Laden killer for not wearing a mask

Delta Air Lines banned the former Navy SEAL who says he killed Osama bin Laden after the former SEAL removed his face mask during a flight. 

Robert O’Neill tweeted about the ban Thursday, and the airline confirmed the action. O’Neill posted a selfie of himself without a mask on while on a Delta flight from Minneapolis to Newark, New Jersey, prompting the ban.

Delta says more than 100 passengers have been banned for violating its rules around face coverings. All major airlines in the United States require masks to slow the spread of the new coronavirus. 

Postmaster General DeJoy to testify before Senate

The head of the U.S. Postal Service will testify before the Senate on Friday as the agency faces increased scrutiny from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. 

Postmaster General Louis DeJoy is likely to face pointed questions from lawmakers about cuts and service changes at the USPS. Among the lawmakers on the panel are high-profile senators in both parties, including Democratic vice presidential nominee Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., and Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee.  

Democrats have slammed the USPS for operational changes and cuts to service they say could hinder the agency’s ability to handle an expected surge of mail-in ballots in the November elections. The coronavirus pandemic has prompted many states to allow more people to vote by mail.

Empty mailboxes, missed rent: US Postal Service’s struggles have real-world impacts

1 in 5 nursing homes were short on PPE, staff as virus surged this summer

One in five nursing homes in the United States had severe shortages of personal protective equipment this summer, a new study says, which also found that many facilities in the hardest hit areas struggled to retain staff.

The analysis of federal data published in the journal Health Affairs also found there was no improvement from May to July in the PPE shortages or staffing concerns. COVID-19 cases in the South, West and Midwest surged during that time period.

Terry Fulmer, president of the John A. Hartford Foundation, a nonprofit that works to improve care for older adults, called the study’s findings “a massive red flag.”

“We have had no coherent federal response,” Fulmer said. The findings come despite pledges from the Trump administration to help. “The federal government should really own this issue,” said study author David Grabowski.

South Korea reports highest new case daily count since March

The 324 new cases of the coronavirus that South Korea reported Friday is the highest daily case count the country has seen since March.

New COVID-19 cases in South Korea are surging around the Seoul metropolitan region, but the new cases Friday included positive tests in practically all of the country’s major cities. The government reimposed certain social distancing measures earlier this week to curb the new spread.

Friday was the eighth consecutive day that South Korea has reported a triple-digit daily increase, for an eight-day total of 1,900 infections.

Las Vegas bars won’t be opening for at least two weeks as cases surge

Las Vegans and tourists will have to wait at least two weeks to revisit their favorite watering holes. Nevada’s COVID-19 task force on Thursday voted to keep bars in Clark County, where Las Vegas is located, closed with limits on how many people can eat together at restaurants. 

The task force wants to work with officials to enhance plans to increase compliance and enforcement to stem the spread of COVID-19, task force chairman Caleb Cage said. Bars were closed statewide in March and remained shuttered for 48 days before being allowed to reopen June 30. Gov. Steve Sisolak ordered bars in and around Las Vegas and Reno closed again on July 27 after coronavirus cases soared in those areas.

The Las Vegas area surpassed 1,000 total COVID-19 deaths for the first time as Nevada reported 38 more fatalities from the virus on Thursday — the third straight day that COVID deaths saw a large spike in the state’s daily numbers.

– Ed Komenda, Reno Gazette Journal

Some unemployed Mississippians will be eligible for $300 unemployment supplement

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves said Thursday that eligible Mississippians would be able to receive an additional $300 a week in federal aid but not the $100 that was to be provided by the states as suggested by President Donald Trump.

“We will be able to use our current payment as the state’s $100 match,” he said. “We will see how it works for the next few weeks. I want everyone in Mississippi to know I am grateful to President Trump for stepping in.”

Reeves said the state cannot afford an additional weekly payment of $100 per recipient.

– Lici Beveridge, Mississippi Clarion Ledger

In-person classes began at Arizona State University this week

Thousands of students returned to Arizona State University on Thursday for the first day of the fall semester despite concerns from faculty and students and a shaky track record for universities in other states that have gone back to campus during the pandemic.

Officials at ASU say the campus has been fully stocked with hand sanitizer and many other precautions. Thursday was relatively quiet on campus.

Several high-profile campus outbreaks and last-minute announcements to go online-only have occurred in the past week, providing a warning sign of what could be to come for other colleges that reopen.

The University of Notre Dame suspended in-person classes for at least two weeks on Tuesday after the campus saw cases spike. And the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill pivoted to remote learning a week after reopening as multiple clusters of COVID-19 infections were tied to student residences, including residence halls and fraternity houses.

– Rachel Leingang and Emily Wilder, Arizona Republic

Mets become 10th team to postpone game as two players test positive

The Thursday evening game between the New York Met and Miami Marlins was postponed after two Mets players tested positive for the coronavirus, Major League Baseball announced.

The Mets become the 10th team with a postponement related to COVID-19, meaning one-third of MLB teams have had a game pushed back.  

The Mets’ Friday game against the Yankees at Citi Field was also postponed, MLB said.

The Mets said they will fly back to New York on Thursday night “with recommended safety precautions in place,” with all members of the traveling party receiving testing. 

The team said the two members of the organization who tested positive will remain in Miami, as will those who were determined to be in close contact with them.  

– Gabe Lacques

CDC director: Starting to ‘turn the tide’ against new cases in the South

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield said Thursday he thinks the outbreak in the South is coming under control.

“We are beginning to turn the tide on what I call the Southern outbreak in the nation,” he told the editor of the journal JAMA during a public interview late Thursday. 

He credited face masks, social distancing, hand-washing, closing bars and limiting indoor dining in restaurants for the shift. Though it’s not in the South, he cited Arizona as an example. 

“Arizona put that into play. Two to four weeks later, you really see that we can get control of this pandemic,” he said, noting that stores didn’t have to close, or people lock themselves in their homes. “Be smart about crowds, and we can get this outbreak under control.”

It does take time, though, he noted, adding he expects to see the number of deaths — which have been as high as 1,000 a day in recent weeks — falling as soon as next week, a month or more after the state introduced those public health measures.

– Karen Weintraub

More COVID-19 resources from USA TODAY

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Contributing: The Associated Press


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