Another pharmaceutical giant announced a vaccine deal with the U.S. on Wednesday, and a second round of coronavirus stimulus checks could soon be in the mail.
Johnson & Johnson said it has a $1 billion agreement to supply 100 million doses of its vaccine candidate to the U.S. government. Also Wednesday, Moderna said it expects to fully enroll 30,000 people for a trial of its vaccine candidate next month. And a day earlier, Novavax released promising results of an early trial.
While the nation waits for a vaccine that could fully reopen schools and businesses, Democrats and negotiators from the White House say another stimulus deal could be reached by the end of the week. That could be good news for tens of millions of unemployed Americans whose $600 weekly boost in unemployment benefits has expired.
Here are some significant developments:
📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has recorded more than 156,000 deaths and almost 4.8 million cases of COVID-19, according to Johns Hopkins University. Worldwide, there have been more than 701,000 deaths and 18.5 million cases.
📰 What we’re reading: Kids are less likely to die from the coronavirus. But some experts say a lack of information about how they contract and transmit COVID-19 will leave the nation unprepared when schools reopen.
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Florida surpasses 500,000 virus cases
Florida became the second state to confirm more than 500,000 cases of COVID-19. The state Department of Health reported 5,409 new cases, bringing the state’s total to 502,739. California leads the nation, with more than 526,000 cases, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University.
Florida also announced an additional 225 deaths, bringing the state’s seven-day rolling average for reported deaths to a record 184.86. The state death toll now stands at 7,627.
– Cheryl McCloud, Treasure Coast Newspapers
Chicago Public Schools to start online-only this year
Chicago Public Schools are joining a lengthening line of major school systems that will start the academic year fully online. The district, which had initially planned to launch a hybrid online and in-person model starting Sept. 8, said Wednesday the continued uptick in coronavirus cases and concerns from parents urged them to adjust the plan.
Tens of thousands of families indicated in a district survey that they did not intend to send their children to school. And the city’s teacher’s union threatened to go on strike over concerns about in-person classes. The district said it will consider switching to a hybrid learning model in the second quarter, which begins on Nov. 9.
Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco and Miami are among other major cities starting the school year online-only.
– Grace Hauck
Cruise lines extend moratorium on cruises through October
The cruise industry has voluntarily extended its pause on operations in U.S. waters until “at least” Oct. 31, a month past the date the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s “no-sail” order is set to expire. CLIA’s member lines carry 95% of the world’s ocean-going cruisers. The new order will apply to all CLIA member ships that can carry 250 or more passengers.
“We believe it is prudent at this time to voluntarily extend the suspension of U.S. ocean-going cruise operations to Oct. 31,” Cruise Lines International Association, the major trade organization for ocean-going cruise lines, said in a statement.
– Morgan Hines
Kids less likely to die, but schools could become hot spots for spread
As many school districts prepare to reopen campuses, some experts fear classrooms will become the next incubators for large coronavirus outbreaks. Advocates for resuming school in person, including President Donald Trump, have repeatedly claimed that children pose less of a risk of spreading COVID-19 and that the benefits outweigh the risks. About 6 out of 100,000 school-age kids are hospitalized with COVID-19 compared with the overall rate of 130 people per 100,000, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, a recent study estimated that closing schools in March reduced the rate of new COVID-19 cases by 66%.
“We show that it actually did make a difference in cases and in deaths,” said lead study author Dr. Katherine Auger, an associate professor at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine. “That was a very important thing society did.”
– Jayme Fraser and Dan Keemahill
UConn is first bowl-level college football program to cancel season
The University of Connecticut football team became the first bowl-level program to cancel its 2020 season Wednesday, citing an “unacceptable risk level” faced by the student athletes. UConn, which plays as an independent, had games against Illinois, Indiana, Maine and Mississippi dropped from the schedule due to “conference-only” schedules being played by those schools. Games against North Carolina and Virginia might have faced the same fate. The players released a joint statement through the school citing “full support of the decision to not compete in 2020.”
Several schools in college football’s lower divisions, including the entire Ivy League, also have canceled their seasons.
– Chris Bumbaca
Alaska cruise ship quarantines after passenger tests positive
One of the first cruise ships to resume overnight sailing in U.S. waters since the pandemic shut down the cruise industry has reported one case of COVID-19. Passengers are quarantining on board UnCruise Adventures’ Wilderness Adventurer “until the state of Alaska deems it safe for them to return home,” according to a travel alert posted on the cruise line’s website. The ship was able to bypass the federal no-sail order because its capacity is less than 250 passengers and crew.
“The guest is showing no symptoms and no other guests or crew are showing outward symptoms of any kind,” the cruise line said. “All guests have been informed and will quarantine until the state of Alaska deems it safe for them to return home.”
– Hannah Yasharoff and Morgan Hines
US buys 100 million doses of Johnson & Johnson vaccine candidate
Johnson & Johnson announced a deal with the U.S. government for 100 million doses of its SARS-CoV-2 vaccine candidate, Ad26.COV2.S, for use in the United States – if and when the vaccine wins Food and Drug Administration approval. The government may also purchase an additional 200 million doses, the company said in announcing the $1 billion deal. A clinical trial is underway, and the company said it is evaluating one- and two-dose regimens. The plan is to provide more than 1 billion non-for-profit doses globally through the course of 2021.
“We are scaling up production in the U.S. and worldwide to deliver a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine for emergency use,” said Dr. Paul Stoffels, Johnson & Johnson’s chief scientific officer.
517 inmates at Arizona prison test positive
More than 500 inmates at the Arizona State Prison Complex Tucson Whetstone Unit have tested positive for COVID-19, authorities said. The 517 inmates, almost half the unit’s population of 1,066, are being housed together in separate areas and receiving medical care, according to a statement released by the Arizona Department of Corrections, Rehabilitation and Reentry. The department did not immediately respond to questions, including when tests were performed and whether every inmate there was tested. The tests came after inmates at the Whetstone Unit staged a peaceful walkout last week due to virus concerns.
– Audrey Jensen, Arizona Republic
Moderna in talks with ‘several countries’ for vaccine candidate
Biotech giant Moderna said Wednesday it expects to fully enroll 30,000 volunteers in the crucial Phase 3 study of its COVID-19 vaccine next month. Moderna’s vaccine candidate, backed by almost $1 billion in federal funding, last week became the nation’s first to begin such a large trial. It’s being tested at scores of sites in the U.S., with results expected as soon as October.
“We began discussions with several countries for supply agreements for (vaccine candidate) mRNA-1273 and as of July 31, we have received approximately $400 million of customer deposits for potential supply,” Moderna said in a statement.
The announcement came one day after Novavax released promising results from a small, early trial. AstraZeneca, Pfizer and a group of Chinese researchers also have released promising early trial results, and China has begun providing its candidate vaccine to members of its military.
What we’re reading
Democrats, White House report progress on stimulus negotiations
Top Democrats and White House negotiators expressed optimism Tuesday that a deal on another coronavirus stimulus package could be done by the end of the week. The movement followed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., meeting for another day with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows.
“Even though there remains a number of unresolved issues, I would characterize the conversations as productive and a step in the right direction,” Meadows said after the meeting. “Probably the most productive meeting we’ve had.”
– Christal Hayes
By the numbers: Record deaths in California, Florida, Georgia
A USA TODAY analysis of Johns Hopkins data through late Tuesday shows one state set records for new cases in a week while three states had a record number of deaths in a week. New case records were set in Hawaii, and also Puerto Rico. Record numbers of deaths were reported in California, Florida and Georgia. The United States has reported 4,771,080 cases and 156,801 deaths.
– Mike Stucka
Shortage of Clorox disinfecting wipes could stretch into 2021
Although Clorox officials said in May that they expected retail shelves to be stocked by this summer, they now anticipate it will take longer.
Linda Rendle, president and CEO-elect of The Clorox Co., says it could take until year’s end to reach supply levels “that we need to be at.” Rendle and Clorox CEO and chairman Benno Dorer said the demand for the company’s disinfecting wipes has outpaced expectations and isn’t expected to slow.
“We’re certainly not at all happy with our service levels for our retail customers on many products, as demand for our products exceeded our own expectations in the face of this persistent pandemic,” Dorer said during the call. “We have a high sense of urgency on this with all hands on deck.”
– Kelly Tyko
Four Station Casinos in Las Vegas may never reopen after COVID-19 closures
There’s a chance four Station Casino resorts in Southern Nevada have closed for good. Frank Fertitta III, CEO of Station’s parent company, Red Rock Resorts, revealed in an earnings call Tuesday the company is uncertain whether Texas Station, Fiesta Henderson, Fiesta Rancho and the off-Strip Palms will reopen in the wake of COVID-19.
“We don’t know if — or when — we’re going to reopen any of the closed properties,” Fertitta said. “We think it’s too early to make that decision at this time.”
Station Casinos had closed 20 properties in Southern Nevada for almost three months following Gov. Steve Sisolak’s sweeping shutdown order in March.
– Ed Komenda, Reno Gazette Journal
Disney lost nearly $5 billion while theme parks were closed
The Walt Disney Company lost nearly $5 billion April, May and June, while its theme parks were shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to a presentation Disney executives made Tuesday. It cost the company $3.5 billion just to close the parks during the third quarter, on top of the $1 billion it cost to shut them down the second half of March.
In all, the company posted a loss of nearly $5 billion for the third quarter, including a $2 billion loss in its parks, experiences and products segment. Disney’s domestic parks – Disney World and Disneyland, as well as Disneyland Paris, resorts and cruise operations were closed for the entirety of the quarter and the final two weeks of the previous quarter.
“This is obviously a very uncertain time,” CEO Bob Chapek said during an earnings webcast Tuesday. “We should be in good shape once consumer confidence returns.”
– Curtis Tate
One of first school districts to reopen in Georgia reports first positive case
One of the first school districts to reopen in Georgia confirmed its first COVID-19 case a day after they opened for the 2020-21 school year. Columbia County School District Superintendent Sandra Carraway said in an email that a student at Harlem High School who was previously tested as part of a pre-op process received positive results.
“Because the Columbia County School District has 3,400 employees and more than 20,000 students, unfortunately it can be expected that there will be instances of positive cases of COVID-19, hopefully on a very limited basis given expectations of our Collective Responsibility agreement,” Carraway said.
In her email, Carraway asked families to not send their children to school if they have been tested for the virus until test results are returned and are negative.
– Miguel Legoas, The Augusta (Ga.) Chronicle
California has undercounted COVID-19 cases, state health official says
The number of COVID-19 infections in California may not be accurate due to a technical problem in the state’s system that tracks positive results and conducted tests, a top state health official said Tuesday.
Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly said the state’s seven-day positivity rate reported Monday has been “absolutely affected.” Hospitalization data, however, has not been impacted, Ghaly said.
On Monday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom reported that daily cases dropped by an average of 2,200 in the last week and the infection rate of 6.1% was significantly lower than the nearly 8% recorded last month.
More COVID-19 resources from USA TODAY
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Contributing: The Associated Press
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: COVID updates: Chicago schools; Clorox wipes shortage; UConn fooball