June 16, 2021

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Fauci says testing logjam is improving; Stocks rebound; US deaths hit 40

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Anthony Fauci, a key player in the effort to combat the coronavirus, says the frustrating delay in testing for the disease is getting untangled and that he foresees a “major escalation” in a week or two in widespread access to them.

Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told  MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Friday that the major involvement of the private sector in the testing process will shortly break a logjam that has limited testing for the virus.

He acknowledged a “disconnect” in the past few weeks, but that that is beginning to get untangled. “Hopefully this is behind us,” he said. 

“Within a week we are going to see a real escalation of testing and within two or three weeks we will see major progress,” Fauci said.

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On Thursday, Fauci told Congress that the nation’s testing record to date was “a failing.”

“The idea of anybody getting it easily the way people in other countries are doing it, we’re not set up for that. Do I think we should be? Yes. But we’re not,” he testified.

It’s been a whirlwind of a week — and it’s not over yet.

Schools across the country are temporarily shutting down. The White House has suspended travel from Europe. Vice President Mike Pence expects “thousands” more Americans to become infected with the COVID-19 virus.

As confirmed cases tick upward, the nation and the world continue to grapple with how to contain the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 4,700 people — including at least 40 across six states in the U.S. — and sickened nearly 130,000 worldwide.

Here’s the latest on the outbreak of COVID-19: 

House may vote on coronavirus response Friday

The House appears close to approving a massive federal response to confront the intensifying coronavirus pandemic that has killed dozens across the U.S., roiled financial markets and disrupted the lives of millions of Americans.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi late Thursday said congressional leaders and the White House were close to finalizing a deal on a sweeping, multibillion-dollar package that would guarantee free testing for all Americans – including the uninsured – and expand worker protections such as sick leave and unemployment insurance.

Final details of the sweeping package could be unveiled by late Friday morning, with a vote by the full House possibly later in the day, Pelosi said.

Updates from Washington: Get the latest here 

Stocks rebound after Wall Street’s worst day since 1987

Stocks rebounded Friday on hopes for a coronavirus aid package from Washington after Wall Street’s worst day since the “Black Monday” crash of 1987.

The Dow Jones industrial average jumped 700 points, a day after plunging 2,352 points, or 10%, for its worst loss since its nearly 23% drop on Oct. 19, 1987. 

The Standard & Poor’s 500 surged 4%. The broad index tumbled more than 20% from its February record Thursday, sliding into a bear market and officially ending Wall Street’s historic 11-year bull market run.

The rout has come amid cancellations and shutdowns across the world, including Trump’s suspension of most travel to the U.S. from Europe. Worries have grown that the White House and other authorities around the world can’t or won’t counter the economic damage from the outbreak any time soon, threatening to end the decade-long economic expansion.

– Jessica Menton

More market news: European shares rebound after turbulent Asian session

The coronavirus economy: As Americans shy away from malls and movie theaters, the damage to livelihoods grows

Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, wife of Canadian prime minister, tests positive for coronavirus

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s wife, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, has tested positive for coronavirus, according to a statement Thursday from Cameron Ahmad, communications director for the prime minster. “Following medical advice, she will remain in isolation for the time being. She is feeling well, is taking all recommended precautions, and her symptoms remain mild,” Ahmad said. Prime Minister Trudeau isn’t showing symptoms, but will be in an isolation period for 14 days. 

Mormon church suspends church services worldwide

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has suspended services for more than 30,000 congregations worldwide as the new coronavirus spreads.

The Utah-based faith, popularly known as the Mormon church, said in a statement Thursday that the decision, effectively immediately, was made after counseling with local church leaders, government officials and medical professionals and seeking “the Lord’s guidance in these matters.”

The church urged local leaders to “conduct any essential leadership meetings via technology” and to counsel with other local leaders to determine how to make sacrament available to members at least once a month.

Tom Hanks: Why people with diabetes may be at increased risk 

Going to school? Parents worry about vulnerable kids being kept in school

Tourist hot spots: Coronavirus shutters Broadway, Smithsonians 

MLB delays March 26 Opening Day; NHL, MLS suspend seasons

Major League Baseball announced Thursday that it is halting spring training games and will delay Opening Day by at least two weeks due to the outbreak of coronavirus.

The regular season was scheduled to begin on March 26.

“Players are of course disappointed they won’t be able to compete on the field,” MLBPA director Tony Clark said in a statement. “At the same time, they recognize the importance of public health and safety.”

MLB was the latest major sports league to take action as the coronavirus pandemic torments the U.S.

The NBA suspended its season indefinitely Wednesday night after Utah Jazz player Rudy Gobert tested positive for the virus. Teammate Donovan Mitchell has also tested positive. The NHL followed suit and “paused” its season on Thursday, as did Major League Soccer.

– Jesse Yomtov and Bob Nightengale

NCAA cancels men’s, women’s basketball tournaments

The NCAA, which on Wednesday said it would play its men’s and women’s tournaments without fans, gave in to the inevitable Thursday and canceled them.

Conceding defeat to the coronavirus and a cascade of uncertainty about how bad its ongoing spread might impact public health, the NCAA announced all its winter and spring championships have been called off after a series of moves across multiple sports leagues that foreshadowed the eventual arrival at this decision. 

“This decision is based on the evolving COVID-19 public health threat, our ability to ensure the events do not contribute to spread of the pandemic, and the impracticality of hosting such events at any time during this academic year given ongoing decisions by other entities,” college sports’ ruling body said in a statement.

This is the first time a men’s champion will not be decided since NCAA postseason play began in 1939, and a first for women since the NCAA took over that tournament in 1981-1982.

– Dan Wolken

Schools in Ohio, Maryland, Kentucky to shut down for weeks

All K-12 schools in Ohio will be shut down for three weeks starting Monday to try to contain the spread of the coronavirus, Gov. Mike DeWine announced. The move will affect approximately 1.8 million children enrolled in the schools.

Shortly after the Ohio announcement, Maryland’s superintendent announced the state’s schools would close for two weeks starting Monday. The actions are the most sweeping mandatory school closure efforts in the U.S. so far.

In Washington state, Gov. Jay Inslee said via Twitter that he’s mandating the closure of all schools in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties, where the previous day he had imposed a ban on gatherings of more than 250 people. The schools must close from Tuesday through April 24.

San Francisco also announced it will be closing all public schools, which serve 54,000 students, for three weeks starting Monday. 

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf ordered Thursday that schools in Montgomery County close for two weeks, starting Friday, because that’s where most of the state’s coronavirus cases are located.

In Kentucky, Gov. Andy Beshear strongly recommended that all public and private schools close, but he has not issued an order yet, leaving the decision up to local districts. Several of them have already announced closures.

– Erin Richards and Jessie Balmert

US death toll at 40, with more than 1,600 confirmed cases

The U.S. death toll was at 40 early Friday — 31 in Washington and others in California, Florida, Georgia New Jersey and South Dakota.

There were more than 1,600 confirmed cases covering nearly the entire map, according to USA TODAY data gathering. The only states without reported cases: Alabama, Alaska, Idaho, Maine, Montana and West Virginia. Montana is listed among states with confirmed cases in some databases; however, the lone Big Sky State case involves a local woman who tested positive while in Maryland and has not returned home.

Map: Which states have coronavirus cases?

Here’s a look at which U.S. states have reported cases of COVID-19:

What’s the worldwide death toll?

The global death toll jumped to 4,720 early Friday, according to a Johns Hopkins University data dashboard.

The total of confirmed cases was over 128,000, including nearly 81,000 in mainland China, where the virus has killed more than 3,100 people. But on Wednesday, the director of the CDC told a congressional committee that Europe had emerged now as the new “epicenter.”

Italy is among the hot spots with more than 12,400 confirmed cases and 827 deaths. France, Spain and Germany all surpassed 2,000 confirmed cases on Thursday.

More on the outbreak of COVID-19:

Contributing: Steve Kiggins and Dennis Wagner, USA TODAY; The Associated Press

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Coronavirus updates: US testing, death toll, stocks, school closures

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