Over the past few weeks, coronavirus has been surging in almost every state, forcing two states to order refrigerated trucks for storing bodies, many states to shut back down, and some to begin considering a new stay-at-home order. Almost all states’ governors have issued mask mandates to try and reduce the number of cases, and some large chain stores have also announced mandatory mask policies. Even amid this resurgence of the virus, the White House is urging schools to reopen in a few short weeks, and many districts are planning to do so.
39 US States Report An Increase In New Cases
The United States reported more than 77,255 new cases on Thursday, July 16. This is the largest number of cases in a single day since the pandemic began. Thursday’s record numbers included:
More than 5,000 cases in Bexar County, Texas, which contains San Antonio, where numbers spiked in part because of a backlog in test reporting.
13.965 cases reported in Florida
8,544 new cases reported in California; Los Angeles County reported 4,592 new cases
3,441 cases reported in Georgia
The following states recorded their highest single-day death tolls on Thursday, July 16:
Texas reported 174 Covid-19-related deaths
South Carolina reported 69 Covid-19-related deaths
Florida reported 156 deaths
Texas & Arizona Bring In Refrigerated Trucks
As the coronavirus surges, Texas and Arizona are bringing refrigerated trucks into their hardest hit areas to store hundreds of bodies. Texas funeral home directors are facing up to 93 deaths per day, so the Federal Emergency Management Agency has ordered 14 refrigerated trucks to support the state’s current 8 trucks that were ordered in April. Arizona’s Maricopa county ordered 14 coolers to hold up to 280 bodies.
No Cruises Until Late September
In March, the CDC announced on its website that cruise ship travel was to be suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic. In their “No Sail Order and Suspension of Further Embarkation,” the CDC had first suspended cruise ship travel until July 24; the CDC has now extended the order until September 30.
Mask Mandates Continue in Many States
States around the country have issued mandates requiring that masks be worn in public, especially indoor public spaces. Studies have shown that wearing masks when going out can help reduce the number of cases. Combining mask wearing with avoidance of crowded places like bars and restaurants could help keep counties from having to shut down again.
“In the hot zones, we really need like almost 90% of people to be wearing masks out in the public when they’re interacting with other people,” Admiral Brett Giroir, assistant secretary for health and a member of the White House coronavirus task force, said at an HHS briefing. He continued, “We know that 50 to 60 to 70% in some areas are traced to a single bar, and then the secondary spread from that. Being indoors in close quarters over a long period of time is just a recipe for spread.”
Stores Requiring Masks
Some U.S. retailers have announced that they will require customers to wear masks inside their stores. The stores that are implementing masking policies include:
Target– starting August 1st
Kroger– policy began July 22
CVS- policy began July 20
Walmart– policy began July 20
Kohl’s– policy began July 20
Starbucks– policy began July 15
Best Buy- policy began July 16
Costco– policy began in May
Miami Mayor Close To Issuing Stay-At-Home Order
Miami Mayor Francis Suarez has said that he is very close to issuing a new stay-at-home order for his city. “There is very little, if any of federal and state guidance on how and what metric we need to use to close,” Suarez told Wolf Blitzer on CNN’s “The Situation Room.” “So we’re developing all of that on our own. And we’re faced with making these tough decisions in the next few days if things don’t improve radically.”
“The situation is dire,” Suarez said. “I don’t want to sugarcoat it or I don’t want to downplay it in any way. Our hospitalizations are at the highest level. Our ICUs are double what they were back then and our vents have surpassed the high point. The death rate will continue to go up if we don’t take any more dramatic measures.”
He said that he will most likely issue the new order in the next few days or within the next week.
At a press briefing, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany made clear that President Trump is in support of opening schools fully without any kind of remote learning. “When he says open, he means open in in full, kids being able to attend each and every day at their school,” McEnany told reporters. “The science should not stand in the way of this.”
“We encourage localities and states to just simply follow the science, open our schools. It’s very damaging to our children,” she said. “There’s a lack of reporting of abuse, there’s mental depression that is not addressed, suicidal ideations that are not addressed when students are not in school.”
Many are not worried that the kids themselves will get sick, but that they will spread it around the community. So despite Trump’s push for in-school learning, many districts announced they will not return for in-person learning, and some will try a hybrid of in-person and remote learning.
PA Governor Considering Pulling The Plug On Reopening Schools
Despite push from the White House to open schools, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf said he is willing to “pull the plug” on reopening schools if the surge continues in his state. He attributed the new outbreak to interstate travel, and he is worried that cases will continue to spike once students are back in school. He also believes that he may not have to pull the plug, because teachers and students will most likely choose not to return to schools in the fall.
Russian intelligence has been targeting health care organizations in order to try and steal vaccine research data. According to the National Security Agency, APT29, or Cozy Bear, a hacking group that is associated with Russian intelligence, has been taking advantage of the chaos of the pandemic to hack into our systems using malware and spear-phishing.
“APT29 has a long history of targeting governmental, diplomatic, think-tank, health care and energy organizations for intelligence gain so we encourage everyone to take this threat seriously and apply the mitigations issued in the advisory,” said Anne Neuberger, the NSA’s cybersecurity director.
“We condemn these despicable attacks against those doing vital work to combat the coronavirus pandemic,” said Paul Chichester, the director of operations for Britain’s National Cyber Security Center.