ABC - COVID-19 News

Expert warns US could see up to 400,000 COVID-19 deaths by spring 2021

da-kuk/iStock(NEW YORK) -- The U.S. death toll from COVID-19 stands at 107,685 as of Thursday afternoon, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. But that number could be four times higher by this time next year, says Dr. Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute. 

"All of the best models suggest that another 100,000 will die over the next three to four months if we continue to have 1,000 deaths a day," Dr. Jha said during an online forum Wednesday, sponsored by the government’s Pandemic Response Accountability Committee. 

"It is entirely possible that by next spring, by the time we might get a vaccine, 300,000 [to] 400,000 Americans will have died from this disease," Jha said, citing the national lifting of lockdowns, increasing civil unrest, and a lack of testing as primary drivers of increasing infections, which he also called “wholly preventable” with proper attention.

The United States continues to have more deaths from COVID-19 than any other nation.  The U.K. is a distant second, with 39,987.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Patrick Warburton on suiting up for 'Space Force', and finding his inner Puddy amid COVID-19

Aaron Epstein/NETFLIX(LOS ANGELES) -- In the role of Elaine's sleepy-eyed, face-painting, on-again-off-again boyfriend David Puddy, Patrick Warburton only appeared in nine regular season episodes of Seinfeld -- but his character left an impression strong enough that even die-hard fans swear he was in more. 

Now the star, who is also a regular voice on Seth MacFarland's Family Guy, can be seen in Space Force, Steve Carell's new Netflix workplace comedy.

"That was a lot of fun to just to get invited to the party there. I play the head of the Marines, Warburton tells ABC Audio. "That was a great opportunity...to get to work with Steve, who's an awesome dude and [I've] always been a big fan of his."

Space Force is about the team tasked with establishing the United States Space Force, and Warburton says he's surprised that critics "were a little rough on" the comedy.

"This is a whole different animal...because even though it's Steve Carell with the creators of The Office, it's not The Office," he points out. "It's a different type of show, I think, with elements of that type of humor...I find it enjoyable to watch."

As for his Seinfeld alter-ego, Warburton says he's found himself thinking of Puddy while in lockdown.

"Sometimes you just find him sitting on the couch, staring out from the distance. When he's flying on the plane with Elaine, just staring at the back seat, didn't need a magazine," he recalls.

"And I thought, 'You know what? That's the personality you really need during a pandemic because, after a while, you just can't watch any more shows or play online backgammon."

"He seems to be just fine in the empty space in his head," Warburton jokes. "He's not stupid, just meditative. He's a deep, deep guy."

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


So why was everybody making bread during lockdown? Celeb baker Chris Tucker knows

Chris Tucker(LOS ANGELES) -- It seems like just about everybody has been baking while under COVID-19 lockdown, at least according to countless social media posts of freshly-made sourdough and banana bread. 

A recent study found that online searches for banana bread recipes topped 2.7 million in April -- a nearly 590% increase from April of 2019. 

So what's up with that?

"I think everybody was just looking for something to do with all of their nervous energy," Chris Tucker, the owner of Betta with Butta and a veteran of The Great American Baking Show, tells ABC Audio. "Everyone's cooped up inside. People that are used to being artistic out of the house, they found themselves trapped inside the house. And so now they're like, 'Well, what can I do artistically from home?'"

To help, Tucker's Betta with Butta started selling pre-packaged baking kits that can be shipped to your door.  He says, "We just knew that we had to start something that was going to allow people to do their celebrations at home, allow people to get those indulgences at home."

A portion of the proceeds from the kits benefit the COVID Relief Fund.

Tucker adds, "We just want people to get in the kitchen. We wanted people to experiment...to just satisfy those cravings, that we're going to make them smile from their stomachs and just have some type of relief from everything that's going on in the world."

Tucker thinks the at-home cooking trend will continue post-pandemic. "It's probably showing a lot of people that they, too, can be a baker," he says. "They, too, can be a chef. And I think it's going to really inspire people to start doing more at home even when our food industry does get back up and running."

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


COVID-19 all-in-one update

(NEW YORK) -- Here's the latest information on the COVID-19 coronavirus as of 9:15 a.m. ET.

Latest reported numbers globally per Johns Hopkins University
Global diagnosed cases: 6,535,019
Global deaths: 386,464.  The United States has the most deaths of any single country, with 107,175.
Number of countries/regions: at least 188
Total patients recovered globally: 2,824,722

Latest reported numbers in the United States per Johns Hopkins University
There are at least 1,851,520 diagnosed cases in 50 states the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and Guam.  This is more than in any other country.
U.S. deaths: at least 107,175.  New York State has the greatest number of reported deaths in the U.S., with 30,019.
U.S. total patients recovered: 479,258
U.S. total people tested: 18,214,950

The greatest number of reported COVID-19 cases in the U.S. is in New York, with 374,085 confirmed cases out of a total state population of 19.5 million.  That is the most reported cases than in any other single region in the world.  Moscow, Russia is next, with 189,214 reported cases out of a total population of at least 12.5 million.

Latest reported deaths per state
Visit https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/map.html for the latest numbers.

School closures
For a state-by-state interactive map of current school closures, please visit the Education Week website, where numbers are updated once daily.

There are 98,277 public schools and 34,576 private schools in the U.S., according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Those schools educate almost 50.8 million public school students and 5.8 million private school students.

The latest headlines
Expert warns US could see up to 400,000 COVID-19 deaths by spring 2021
The U.S. death toll from COVID-19 stands at just over 107,000 as of Thursday morning, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.  But that number could be four times higher by this time next year, says Dr. Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute.  "All of the best models suggest that another 100,000 will die over the next three to four months if we continue to have 1,000 deaths a day," Dr. Jha said during an online forum Wednesday, sponsored by the government’s Pandemic Response Accountability Committee.  "It is entirely possible that by next spring, by the time we might get a vaccine, 300,000 [to] 400,000 Americans will have died from this disease," Jha said, citing the national lifting of lockdowns, increasing civil unrest, and a lack of testing as primary drivers of increasing infections, which he also called “wholly preventable” with proper attention.

An additional 1.87 million Americans apply for unemployment
A further 1,877,000 Americans applied for unemployment in the week ending May 30, according to data released Thursday morning by the U.S. Department of Labor.  That number is down by 249,000 from the number of reported unemployment applications the week before, which were themselves revised up by 3,000.  The new numbers bring to roughly 42 million the number of Americans who have applied for unemployment in the 11 weeks since nationwide lockdowns began in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in shuttered businesses and widespread layoffs.  The good news, modest though it is, is that unemployment applications continue to trend lower.  Some 14.8% of Americans are now unemployed as of the week ending May 23.  However, when complete numbers for the month of May are released Friday, that percentage is expected to rise to at least 20%, which would be the highest unemployment rate in the U.S. since the Great Depression.

Another study finds hydroxychloroquine ineffective in treating COVID-19
The results of a new study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, finds hydroxychloroquine was in effective in treating people infected with COVID-19.  Hydroxychloroquine is widely prescribed to treat malaria, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis but received widespread attention in part after President Trump repeatedly touted it as a drug that can both treat and prevent COVID-19, despite no solid evidence to support those claims.  The NEJM study, said to be the first double-blind randomized, placebo-controlled trial of hydroxychloroquine, found otherwise, concluded the drug “did not prevent illness compatible with Covid-19 or confirmed infection.  Other studies of the drug have reached the same or similar conclusions, while additional studies are ongoing.  The British medical journal Lancet reported last month that subjects taking hydroxychloroquine also demonstrated a higher risk of death and heart problems.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


'Saturday Night Live's' Chris Redd launches COVID-19 relief fund for protestors

Ellen Matthews/NBC(NEW YORK) -- With protests erupting across the nation demanding justice for George Floyd, a black man who died while in police custody in Minneapolis, health officials have raised concerns about the demonstrations sparking a second wave of COVID-19.

Despite that a majority of protestors have been photographed wearing masks, it's the lack of social distancing that has health officials worried.

Saturday Night Live star Chris Redd is also concerned about the possibility of a spike in new cases, particularly within the black community, which has been disproportionately affected by the coronavirus.  The stand-up comedian has announced that he was inspired to organize a COVID-19 fundraiser to explicitly benefit protestors.

"I’m working on a relief fund for front line protestors who may contract COVID19 over the next couple of weeks due to body to body contact," Redd declared on Twitter. "I would hate for my people fighting for justice struggle later because of it."

The fund went live on Tuesday, with the SNL star excitedly proclaiming "Give if you can, share if it’s in your heart!! #BlackLivesMatter and more to come!!"

Redd vows in the GoFundMe's welcoming message that all the money raised will go directly toward "those that contract this disease while protesting" and help cover "other protest related injuries." 

He also broke down exactly what the funds will pay for: COVID-19 testing, medical bills, bail relief, and treating injuries sustained while protesting.

The 35-year-old also acknowledged that, "We haven't been able to get ahead of COVID-19 thus far, but this is certainly another step in the right direction!"

So far, more than 4,000 people have donated to Redd's COVID-19 Protest Relief Fund.  As of early Thursday, the charity raised over $213,000 and is rapidly approaching its $250,000 fundraising goal.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


WHO warns COVID-19 cases have risen by 100,000 over the past 5 days

iStock/Moyo Studio (NEW YORK) -- With over 383,000 dead and more than 6.39 million sickened due to COVID-19, according to the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University, the World Health Organization cautioned of a concerning new trend.  Positive cases worldwide have climbed by 100,000 in just five days.

WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Wednesday that the organization noticed a swift uptick in cases in Central and South America, noting that cases are "accelerating."

Brazil is now the second-hardest hit country in the world, with over 555,000 cases, says Johns Hopkins University.

As for Europe, Tedros said there's been encouraging progress, "Yesterday saw the fewest cases reported in Europe since the 22nd of March." 

When it comes to the U.S. -- the hardest-hit nation in the world -- a grim new report estimates that, by next spring, 400,000 Americans may die from the virus.

Dr. Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, said Wednesday, "All of the best models suggest that another 100,000 will die over the next three to four months if we continue to have 1,000 deaths a day."  

Jha added, "It is entirely possible that by next spring, by the time we might get a vaccine, 300,000 to 400,000 Americans will have died from this disease" -- adding that the deaths are "wholly preventable." 

However, as Jha notes, it will take "smart policy and accountability from the federal government."

Currently, COVID-19 has sickened more than 1.8 million people and killed at least 107,093 -- says Johns Hopkins University.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Scientists make breakthrough with UV-emitting gadgets that reportedly can kill coronavirus on contact

iStock/alvintus(PENNSYLVANIA) -- Scientists at Penn State and the University of Minnesota say they've developed new tech that could lead to hand-held lights everyone can use to kill COVID-19. 

Currently, UV light-emitting machines are employed destroy the virus and others like it. However, these are often bulky machines that suffer from a short battery life.  New York's Metropolitan Transit Authority has begun using these devices to disinfect subway cars and other facilities in light of the pandemic, but these are power-sapping mounted lamps, the bulbs of which contain mercury.  What's more, the boxy units and necessary power cables aren't terribly portable.

However, according to the researchers' work published in the journal Physics Communications, they've employed a newly discovered class of transparent conductors -- a material called strontium niobate -- that when coupled with energy efficient UV LEDs, wiped out the virus.

This battery-friendly breakthrough could be employed to disinfect entire theaters and sports stadiums, and someday could lead to a pocket-sized light disinfectant units for personal use.

Joseph Roth, doctoral candidate in Materials Science and Engineering at Penn State, said, "While our first motivation in developing UV transparent conductors was to build an economic solution for water disinfection, we now realize that this breakthrough discovery potentially offers a solution to deactivate COVID-19 in aerosols that might be distributed in HVAC systems of buildings." 

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Study shows loneliness and depression in kids can linger even after COVID-19 lockdowns end

iStock/anamejia18(LONDON) -- If you have young kids, you already know they've been missing school, baseball games and playdates thanks to COVID-19 lockdowns the world over. 

However, new research from the University of Bath in England shows that their feelings of loneliness and depression can linger, even after restrictions are eased and life returns to normal.

The scientists findings, just published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, were culled from data from 60 peer-reviewed journal articles on social isolation and mental health in children aged 4-21.

The researchers say the mental health consequences of isolation can linger in younger people for as long as nine years. 

Dr. Maria Loades, a Bath University clinical psychologist, said in a statement, "There is evidence that it's the duration of loneliness as opposed to the intensity which seems to have the biggest impact on depression rates in young people."

While Dr. Loades and company advise, "returning to some degree of normality as soon as possible is of course important," the scientists warn, "how this process is managed matters when it comes to shaping young people's feelings and experiences about this period."

Their findings prompted a letter to the United Kingdom's Education Secretary, outlining these tips to best re-adapt young people as schools start to reopen, as they are in parts of Europe and elsewhere:

  • All children must be given time to play with each other as lockdown restrictions are lifted, but children should still practice social distancing while playing together.
  • Schools should prioritize the emotional well-being of their students as they begin to reopen rather than focus on academics.
  • Schools and parents should be made aware of the social and emotional benefits of play as well as the potential risks children face from extended isolation.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


COVID-19 all-in-one update

(NEW YORK) -- COVID-19 all-in-one update

Here's the latest information on the COVID-19 coronavirus as of 9:30 a.m. ET.

Latest reported numbers globally per Johns Hopkins University
Global diagnosed cases: 6,405,532
Global deaths: 380,773.  The United States has the most deaths of any single country, with 106,181.
Number of countries/regions: at least 188
Total patients recovered globally: 2,747,909

Latest reported numbers in the United States per Johns Hopkins University
There are at least 1,831,821 diagnosed cases in 50 states the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and Guam.  This is more than in any other country.
U.S. deaths: at least 106,181.  New York State has the greatest number of reported deaths in the U.S., with 29,968.
U.S. total patients recovered: 463,868
U.S. total people tested: 17,757,838

The greatest number of reported COVID-19 cases in the U.S. is in New York, with 373,040 confirmed cases out of a total state population of 19.5 million.  That is the most reported cases than in any other single region in the world.  Moscow, Russia is next, with 187,216 reported cases out of a total population of at least 12.5 million.

Latest reported deaths per state
Visit https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/map.html for the latest numbers.

School closures
For a state-by-state interactive map of current school closures, please visit the Education Week website, where numbers are updated once daily.

There are 98,277 public schools and 34,576 private schools in the U.S., according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Those schools educate almost 50.8 million public school students and 5.8 million private school students.

The latest headlines
USDA confirms COVID-19 infection in dog in the US
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has confirmed the first case of a COVID-19 virus infection in a pet dog in New York state, with another dog in the same home testing positive for antibodies indicating possible prior infection.  This is the first confirmed case of canine COVID-19 infection in the United States, after test results on an earlier suspected dog infection were determined to be inconclusive.  According to the USDA: “Samples from the dog were taken after it showed signs of respiratory illness. The dog is expected to make a full recovery. One of the dog’s owners tested positive for COVID-19, and another showed symptoms consistent with the virus, prior to the dog showing signs. A second dog in the household has shown no signs of illness; however, antibodies were also identified in that dog, suggesting exposure.”  The USDA further notes “there is currently no evidence that animals play a significant role in spreading the virus,” adding that “Based on the limited information available, the risk of animals spreading the virus to people is considered to be low. There is no justification in taking measures against companion animals that may compromise their welfare.”

Red Cross says blood supply inventories have been “cut in half”
The national COVID-19 pandemic lockdown means has decreased the number of blood donations to the point that supplies have seen a “staggering” decrease, Chris Hrouda, president of biomedical services for the American Red Cross, tells The New York Times.  Hrouda said the lack of blood drives, coupled with social distancing and stay-at-home mandates, means “inventories have been cut in half… We’re starting to get into a critical situation.”  The Red Cross generally keeps enough blood on hand to meet national demand for five days, says Hrouda.  That supply is now enough to last for fewer than two days, which has already resulted in the Red Cross decreasing the blood they ship to hospitals per standing orders by 25%, with further reductions expected in the weeks to come.  Meanwhile, the need for blood is now increasing as hospitals begin to work through the backlog of elective surgeries that were postponed when the pandemic began.

Poll finds 27% say they’re unlikely to get COVID-19 vaccination, when available
A new ABC News/Washington Post poll finds 27% of respondents saying they likely wouldn’t get vaccinated for COVID-19, if and when such a vaccination becomes available.  Fifteen percent said they “definitely” wouldn’t get the vaccine, with 12% saying they “probably” wouldn’t.  But those numbers diverge starkly among ideological lines:  45% of strong conservatives, 40% of Republicans and nearly as many evangelical Christians say they’d be unlikely to get vaccinated against the coronavirus, even if the vaccine were free.  Overall, 71% of respondents said they likely would get vaccinated, with 43% saying the definitely would and 28% declaring they probably would.  Eighty-one percent of respondents identifying themselves as Democratic or liberal said they’d definitely or probably get the vaccine.  Overall, 81% of people in U.S. counties with the most COVID-19 cases say they’d get a vaccine, compared with 61% of those in counties with the fewest cases.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Monkeys steal COVID-19 blood samples from lab in India

IndiaImages/iStock(UTTAR PRADESH, India) -- Authorities in India say a troop of monkeys went bananas, attacking a medical official and stealing blood samples belonging to patients who had tested positive for COVID-19.

The incident occurred on the Meerut Medical College campus in the Northern India state of Uttar Pradesh, where the medics had collected samples from three people suspected of being infected by the COVID-19 virus, according to India.com.  An eyewitness video shows one of the monkeys chewing the sample collection kits on top of a tree. Parts of those kits were later seen lying strewn on the ground, to the concern of local officials.

SkyNews reports that since lockdown measures imposed two months ago, monkeys have been congregating in places that are normally crowded with humans.  However, some suspect the monkeys are struggling because the human food they normally consume has been severely reduced.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


US counts 21,000 new COVID-19 cases as protests erupt

iStock/ffikretow (NEW YORK) -- COVID-19 cases in the U.S. jumped by 21,000 on Monday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.  Every state in the country reported new cases, including Washington D.C. and all U.S. territories.

Most states are reopening their economy by allowing certain stores to resume operation and permitting dining in restaurants that meet social distancing guidelines.  

However, with thousands of protestors rallying for justice for George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died in police custody, large crowds have amassed with some participants not wearing masks and many not maintaining a distance of six feet apart.

Between May 25 to the 27, the U.S. reported a daily increase of 18,600 new COVID-19 cases.  That number jumped to 22,500 between May 28 to June 1. 

George Floyd died on Memorial Day.

COVID-19 has sickened over 6.3 million people worldwide and killed over 378,000.  In the U.S., more than 1.8 million people have contracted the virus and the current death toll stands at 106,046, says Johns Hopkins University.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

New survey shows Americans planning for post-COVID-19 life -- with caution

Istock/Imgorthand(NEW YORK) -- Even as medical experts say we should expect a new surge of COVID-19 infections in the fall, a new survey shows Americans have taken some lessons to heart from the ongoing pandemic. 

The Harris Poll online survey of 2,067 U.S. adults ages 18 and older, taken on behalf of the University of Phoenix, revealed 76% admitted the pandemic has changed their priorities. For example, 29% say they've stopped making impulsive decisions.

Sixty-one percent say they're now cooking more from home, 70% say they're cleaning more, 30% have been working out more, and 50% say they're keeping their kitchens better stocked, just in case.

Eighty-six percent say they'll remain more cautious even when social distancing rules are relaxed. Half the respondents say they'll still wear a mask in public, while nearly 30% say they'll still wear gloves. 

Just 16% say they'd go out to eat as soon as rules in their state say they could; fourteen percent say they'd have an event at their homes, 11% say they'd attend a large gathering, and just 9% say they'd opt to use public transportation. 

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Survey says Americans are hungry for "pandemic-proof" jobs

iStock/Maryna Andriichenko(NEW YORK) -- With many parts of the country reopening following closures from the COVID-19 pandemic, Americans are looking ahead to jobs that are pandemic proof.

That's the word from a report by the financial site WalletHub, which says 73.5 million people in this country are looking for a job that will still be around in case something like COVID-19 comes around again. 

WalletHub’s nationally representative Coronavirus and the Future of the Economy Survey also revealed that almost 35 million Americans plan to move as a result of the coronavirus pandemic; 72% of all Americans support reducing our economic reliance on China, even if it means it will cost them more, and 51% of respondents said the U.S. shouldn't outsource essential products, like medicine and masks.

The report also noted that nearly four in 10 Americans admitted they won't feel comfortable getting on an airplane until there is a vaccine, 27% won’t feel comfortable staying in a hotel, and 21% won’t feel comfortable dining out.

What's more, almost 80% of Americans don't think the unemployment rate will drop to pre-COVID-19 levels until at least the end of 2021.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Mission: Accepted -- Simon Pegg says 'Mission: Impossible 7' will start shooting again in September

Photo by Dave Hogan/Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) -- Production on Mission: Impossible 7 was moved from Venice, Italy to Rome to try to avoid the spreading COVID-19 pandemic, before it was shuttered altogether in February. But Tom Cruise has a plan to get production back on track -- according to one of his co-stars.

Simon Pegg, who plays agent and tech genius Benji Dunn in the franchise, tells Variety the "plan" is to start shooting in September. "That will begin with the outdoor stuff. That feels fairly doable, and obviously there will be precautions put in place."

Pegg joked that the franchise's trademark fight scenes would now have to be shot "five feet apart," but on a more serious note, explained, "People that are involved in any close proximity stuff, it will have to be determined that they’re safe to do that. I don't know what the testing situation is, how that works, or whether they'll be able to be tested regularly."

Pegg's comments come just as Hollywood has submitted its guidelines for getting back to work post-COVID-19, including safety protocols regarding cleaning, social distancing, and virus testing for crew members.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


COVID-19 all-in-one update

(NEW YORK) -- Here's the latest information on the COVID-19 coronavirus as of 9:40 a.m. ET.

Latest reported numbers globally per Johns Hopkins University
Global diagnosed cases: 6,294,222
Global deaths: 376,077.  The United States has the most deaths of any single country, with 105,147.
Number of countries/regions: at least 188
Total patients recovered globally: 2,711,241

Latest reported numbers in the United States per Johns Hopkins University
There are at least 1,811,277 diagnosed cases in 50 states the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and Guam.  This is more than in any other country.
U.S. deaths: at least 105,147.  New York State has the greatest number of reported deaths in the U.S., with 29,917.
U.S. total patients recovered: 458,231
U.S. total people tested: 17,340,682

The greatest number of reported COVID-19 cases in the U.S. is in New York, with 371,711 confirmed cases out of a total state population of 19.5 million.  That is the most reported cases than in any other single region in the world.  New Jersey is next, with 185,374 reported cases out of a total population of 8.88 million.

Latest reported deaths per state
Visit https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/map.html for the latest numbers.

School closures
For a state-by-state interactive map of current school closures, please visit the Education Week website, where numbers are updated once daily.

There are 98,277 public schools and 34,576 private schools in the U.S., according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Those schools educate almost 50.8 million public school students and 5.8 million private school students.

The latest headlines
Infectious disease experts sound alarm over protests spreading COVID-19

The ongoing protests prompted by the death of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis last week have many infectious disease experts concerned that the large gatherings could be so-called ‘superspreader’ events that could result in untold numbers of COVID-19 transmissions.  Dr. Simone Wildes of South Shore Health in Massachusetts says she’s “definitely worried about outbreaks,” particularly among “the black and brown community,“ which statistically are among the most vulnerable to COVID-19 infection.  Dr. William Schaffner, Professor of Medicine with the Division of Infectious Diseases at Tennessee’s Vanderbilt University Medical Center, while noting that many protestors were wearing masks, nonetheless declared, “These are large gatherings with close contact, people are exhaling vigorously.  All of those are circumstances that could promote the transmission of COVID-19 readily, exactly the sort of circumstances we’ve all been recommending against.”  Several experts warned of the possibility of a viral infection spike in the next two weeks – a scenario that already existed because of states in the process of lifting pandemic lockdowns.

COVID-19 deaths in the US pass 105,000
The death toll in the U.S. from the COVID-19 pandemic has officially surpassed 105,000, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University.  The milestone was passed Monday, five days after the official U.S. death toll passed 100,000.  Given inconsistencies and time lags in data reporting, most medical experts concur that the actual number of deaths is likely to be significantly higher than the available data indicate.  Despite the growing U.S. death toll, states across the country continue to reopen, even as health officials continue to caution that, if social distancing measures aren't followed, a stronger second wave of the virus can hit in the fall.  In the meantime, the global search for a vaccine continues.

Congressional Budget Office says pandemic will cost US economy $8 trillion through 2030
With unemployment already at its highest since the Great Depression and the economy sliding further into recession, the Congressional Budget Office warns the U.S. economy will shrink by some $8 billion dollars when it’s all over – and it won’t likely be over for 10 years.  In a letter to lawmakers, the CBO – the non-partisan congressional office that provides budgetary figures – declared that the U.S. economy will grow by $7.8 trillion less than previously projected from now through 2030, according to a report by The Washington Post.  This diminished growth is directly the result of the COVID-19 pandemic’s effect on the U.S. and world economies, and represents a 3% decline in the initially projected U.S. GDP.  Unemployment in the U.S. currently stands at 14.7%, with many experts predicting it could soon rise as high as 20%.

Good news!
Japan to pay residents to be tourists in their own country
As Japan’s economy struggles like others around the globe to weather the devastating impact of COVID-19 lockdowns, government officials are encouraging residents to become tourists in their own country – and are willing to pay them to do it.  As the South China Morning Post reports, the government is offering up to 20,000 yen a day – about $190 USD – to any resident who takes a domestic trip.  The money will come in the form of discounts or vouchers for participating hotels, restaurants, attractions and transportation.  The program, set to begin in July, is intended to encourage residents to spend money with local businesses to help stimulate the faltering Japanese economy.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


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