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Fauci: Any crowd without masks is virus risk

Updated July 31, 2020 - 10:18 am

WASHINGTON — Dr. Anthony Fauci is fighting back against questioning from a Republican lawmaker over whether recent protests increased the spread of coronavirus.

Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio repeatedly pressed the top health official on whether protests in Portland and other cities against police brutality and racial discrimination should be curbed to stop the virus spread.

Jordan complained that government officials “are stopping people from going to church,” but not shutting down protests.

Fauci refused to be drawn into the politically sensitive debate while testifying before House lawmakers on the federal response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Instead, he reiterated, “Any crowd, whether it’s a protest, any crowd when you have people close together without masks is a risk.”

What you need to know about the virus outbreak

— Dr. Fauci: Thousands signing up for virus trials in U.S.

— Rep. Clyburn calls on Trump for national virus plan

— Britain PM Boris Johnson postpones easing lockdown

— Virus testing turnaround times reveal wide disparity

— Americans struggling amid the economic fallout are worrying about paying for food and rent. An extra $600 in weekly unemployment benefits to help pay their bills is expiring.

— Scientists at Imperial College London say they are immunizing hundreds of people with an experimental coronavirus vaccine in an early trial after seeing no worrying safety problems in a small number vaccinated so far.

— Champagne is losing its fizz. For months, the lockdown put the cork on weddings, dining out, parties and international travel — all key sales components for the French luxury wine marketed for decades as a sparkling must at any celebration.

What else is happening

250K register for NIH vaccine trials: Dr. Anthony Fauci says 250,000 people have registered on a National Institutes of Heath website to take part in experimental vaccine trials.

The study of the first vaccine involving 30,000 people began this week. The U.S. government plans to launch studies of additional vaccines every month through the fall.

Trials are pivotal for establishing the safety and effectiveness of the vaccines. Not all patients who volunteer for clinical trials are eligible to participate.

Fauci is testifying before House lawmakers on the federal response to the pandemic, alongside the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the government’s testing czar. With hospitalizations and deaths on the rise, Fauci says Americans most again embrace public health basics such as social distancing and mask wearing.

New York details more school plans: A student’s positive test for the coronavirus in New York City schools will trigger a classroom shutdown under a back-to-school plan for the nation’s largest public school system.

Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plan released Thursday says if there’s a single confirmed case, the entire classroom will self-quarantine for 14 days. Students will have the option for online learning.

Every New York City school will have an isolation room for students with coronavirus symptoms.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said it is up to him to decide whether any of the state’s 700 school districts can open in September. Friday is the deadline to submit reopening plans to the state.

Atlanta convention center to have “surge beds”: Georgia’s governor says one of the nation’s largest convention centers will reopen on Monday with “surge beds” to treat COVID-19 patients.

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp says the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta will begin receiving patients on Monday. There will be 60 beds with an increase to 120 beds, if needed.

Kemp says the beds will provide relief to nearby health care facilities.

Reopening the convention center comes as Georgia hospital officials are concerned about bed space following a surge of cases. The Georgia World Congress Center says it’s the fourth-largest convention center in the U.S.

Clyburn pleads for national plan: A top Democrat lawmaker is calling on the Trump administration to release a comprehensive plan to combat the coronavirus, blasting the national response effort as the U.S. death toll recently surpassed 150,000

North Carolina Rep. James Clyburn warned another 150,000 Americans could lose their lives “if we do not make drastic changes now.” Clyburn chairs the House subcommittee overseeing the COVID-19 response.

His Republican counterpart on the panel countered that thousands of lives could have been saved if governors had followed the Trump administration’s guidelines. Republican Steve Scalise of Louisiana brandished a stack of federal documents on testing and reopening schools and nursing homes to demonstrate the detailed scope of the administration’s response.

The lawmakers are questioning top federal health officials, including National Institutes of Health infectious disease chief Dr. Anthony Fauci, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Dr. Robert Redfield and Health and Human Services testing czar Adm. Brett Giroir.

New COVID-19 cases spiked this month across much of the South and West, pushing the nation’s daily case count back to the 60,000-70,000 range. Those outbreaks appear to have peaked, but health officials are warning of new upticks in the Midwest.

Japan PM worries about new cases: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is expressing concern about the recent increase in coronavirus cases.

“We are very carefully watching the surge in infections. First, we need to step up with tests,” he said.

Okinawa Gov. Denny Tamaki issued the region’s own emergency declaration, with daily confirmed cases reaching a record 71 people Friday.

Tamaki says Okinawa was taking its own action, as cases were showing up among citizens in their 20s and 30s, but also in families and workplaces. He pleaded with people to not go out. He noted the prefecture’s ability to treat patients was limited.

Reported cases nationwide reached a record 1,463 people, topping the 1,305 cases confirmed by the health ministry on Thursday.

On Friday, 463 were in Tokyo, a record for the capital’s daily count.

Britian scrapping some opening measures: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is postponing some planned measures to ease the lockdown because coronavirus cases are on the rise for the first time since May.

The government is scrapping plans to allow venues such as casinos, bowling alleys and skating rinks to open on Monday. A plan to allow a limited number of fans back into sports stadiums is on hold.

Johnson says the measures will be reviewed after two weeks.

He says a rule requiring face coverings worn in shops and on public transit will be extended to museums, galleries, cinemas and places of worship.

On Thursday, the government re-imposed restrictions on social life in a swath of northern England because of a surge in cases, barring households from visiting one another.

Scientists say they are no longer confident the R number, which measures how many people each infected person passes on the disease, is below 1 in England. A number above 1 means the virus will exponentially spread.

Britain’s official coronavirus death toll stands at more than 46,000, the third-highest total in the world after the United States and Brazil.)

Hawaii delays school openings: Hawaii’s Board of Education has approved an agreement to delay the start of public schools.

Students across Hawaii were originally scheduled to return to school on Aug. 4. But the statewide teachers union led an effort to delay, saying the state Department of Education didn’t sufficiently plan for safely reopening schools during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Parent Burke Burnett says delaying in-person instruction is necessary because Hawaii is seeing a spike in cases.

Parent Genna Javier opposes a delay. She says students who don’t want to return to school have a distance learning option.

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