The leader of New York City's school principals union said Sunday that he has no confidence in Mayor Bill de Blasio's plan to begin in-person education this week and wants the state to take control.
In Minnesota, an ambitious effort to learn more about the spread of COVID-19 has been shut down amid claims of harassment and ethnic slurs, while the latest effort in North Carolina to make voting easier during the pandemic is facing a court challenge.
The reelection committee of President Donald Trump is among groups that have filed suit claiming North Carolina's new rules — allowing mail-in absentee ballots with deficient information to be fixed without need for a new ballot — "undermine protections" that make voting safe in the state. North Carolina and other states expect a major surge in absentee voting for the Nov. 3 election amid the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 1 million voters in North Carolina already have requested an absentee ballot.
Some significant developments:
- Wisconsin on Saturday hit a record for coronavirus cases reported in a single day. The state has seen some of the nation’s fastest coronavirus spread over the last two weeks.
- London police clashed with demonstrators protesting virus restrictions on Saturday as the government tries to stem a sharp rise in infections there.
- Areas with high numbers of Black and non-white Latino residents had higher infection rates than mostly white communities, a study on herd immunity found.
📈 Today's numbers: The U.S. has reported more than 7.1 million cases and 204,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. Globally, there have been almost 33 million cases and nearly 1 million fatalities.
📰 What we're reading: Rapid, cheap home tests were supposed to help get the spread of the virus under control. But no company has been cleared to sell tests directly yet.
🗺️ Mapping coronavirus: Track the U.S. outbreak, state by state.
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The leader of the New York City union representing its principals on Sunday urged the state to take control of the school system from Mayor Bill de Blasio.
Mark Cannizzaro, president of the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators, expressed concern with the mayor's plan under which most of the city's 1.1 million students would begin reporting to classrooms this week. Cannizzaro told The New York Times the city doesn't have enough teachers to staff schools. But he also said principals have no plans to strike.
“I think parents should be confident that any child that arrives at a building will be given the utmost care,” Cannizzaro said. The union's executive board cast a unanimous vote of no confidence; city school officials said plans for elementary school students to return to classes Tuesday and middle and high schoolers to go back Thursday remain in place.
Israel was marking Yom Kippur, among the most holy of Jewish holidays, on Sunday evening in virtual lockdown amid a spike in COVID-19 cases among the worst in the world. The nation of 9 million people is struggling with about 7,000 new cases daily, stressing the hospital system. A lockdown in the spring dropped new cases to a handful per day. But schools and businesses reopened and the outbreak raced out of control. Israeli President Reuven Rivlin now has called on people to light a candle in memory of the more than 1,400 Israelis who have died.
“They were all loved, all known, all had names and faces,” he said. “May we be forgiven for the sin of weakness and inability, for not doing enough, for not managing to save them. Because of that, lives were lost.”
Mass vaccinations for COVID-19 aren't likely before next summer, World Health Organization Chief Scientist Soumya Swaminathan said Sunday. Swaminathan said the ideal vaccine would protect at least 70% of those who are vaccinated, but that a minimum standard is 50%. The ideal vaccine would require only one shot and last for several years, she said. Most of what she said parallels predictions made by Dr. Anthony Fauci and other top U.S. experts.
"By the time people start getting the vaccine ... it would be somewhere in the middle of 2021," she said.
More than 125,000 workers will be able to return to their jobs Monday as Melbourne, Australia's second-largest city, relaxes lockdown restrictions imposed in early August after a surge in coronavirus cases. Elementary school children will be allowed back in the classrooms the week of Oct. 12.
Melbourne and surrounding parts of rural Victoria state were placed under strict “Level 4” lockdowns on Aug. 2, closing schools and non-essential businesses, imposing a nighttime curfew and prohibiting public gatherings.
Some of those restrictions were lifted Sunday, but gatherings will be severely limited -- even those held outdoors for religious purposes -- and fines for those breaking the rules will be increased to nearly $5,000, Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews said.
A new study found that sparrows in San Francisco altered their birdsong to sound more appealing to mates after the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the city. The study, published Thursday in the peer-reviewed journal Science, analyzed the birdsong of the white-crowned sparrow, a bird common in the San Francisco Bay Area. The birds, as a result of a quieter city, began singing more quietly, hitting lower notes and improving their vocal performance. Elizabeth Derryberry, a behavioral ecologist at the University of Tennessee, told AFP that the birds "sounded better, they sounded sexier" to mates.
– Joshua Bote
As many as 19,000 American Airlines employees face layoff within days unless federal lawmakers extend a payroll support program that expires Thursday, American Airlines CEO Doug Parker said Sunday. That number could expand to 100,000 "aviation professionals" across the industry, Parker warned on CBS's Face the Nation. Previous stimulus packages have provided loans and the payroll program to airlines, but negotiations on a new package have stalled in Congress.
"Back in March we all thought demand would be back and we wouldn't need support at this time," Parker said. "Unfortunately, that is not the case.
A Maryland man who held at least two large parties in March is facing a year in prison after being convicted on two counts of failure to comply with Gov. Larry Hogan's emergency order banning large gatherings. Police responded to a report of a large party at Shawn Marshall Myers' home on March 22. He eventually agreed to end the party, but police were summoned again five days later. Officers again told Myers, 42, to disband the party, but Myers claimed he and his guests had the right to congregate and directed his guests to stay.
"Officers tried to reason with Myers and obtain his cooperation, to no avail," and he was arrested, prosecutors said. He was convicted and sentenced Friday.
The CDC and the Minnesota Health Department have halted a door-to-door COVID-19 testing survey because of multiple incidents of residents "intimidating and shouting racial and ethnic slurs" at state and federal public health survey teams, the state Health Department says. In one incident in the town of Eitzen, a survey team at one home was blocked by two cars and threatened by three men, including one with a gun, according to state health officials.
Frustration with the state's pandemic response "is totally understandable," Dr. Ruth Lynfield, state epidemiologist, told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. "That is distinctly different than taking out frustration on another human being who is trying to help, and is especially galling when there is a taint of racism."
Eitzen Mayor Jeff Adamson disputed the claims and said city officials weren't informed about survey teams working in the community.
Two Nobel Prize-winning economists are lobbying for nationwide lockdown for the first three weeks of December to “save Christmas" by allowing families to gather without fear of spreading the virus. Esther Duflo and Abhijit Banerjee said people should be encouraged to holiday shop in November. France is struggling with a rising tide of infections, and hospitals in the Paris and Marseille regions are delaying some scheduled operations to free up space for COVID-19 patients. Restaurants and bars in Marseille are beginning a one-week shutdown, but Health Minister Olivier Veran says there is no plan for a nationwide lockdown now or in December.
The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Wisconsin is climbing at an alarming rate: The state health department reported another single-day record of new cases on Saturday. The 2,817 positive cases made up 22.4% of test results reported by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services – anything over 5% is considered high. The average number of new daily cases over the last seven days was higher than ever Saturday at 2,012. Hospitalizations are also rising. And the increasing numbers aren't just about young people returning to schools, experts say.
“The surges are in Green Bay, in northeastern Wisconsin, and there’s a little evidence of an uptick in Milwaukee,” Ajay Sethi, an epidemiology professor at the University of Wisconsin, told The Atlantic. “A lot of these counties are where older individuals live, on average.”
– Natalie Brophy
President Donald Trump’s campaign committee and the Republican National Committee have sued to block North Carolina election officials from enforcing rule changes that could boost the number of ballots counted in the presidential battleground state. The suit claims a new system adopted by the State Board of Elections will allow for absentee ballots to be cast late and without proper witness verification, “which invites fraud, coercion, theft, and otherwise illegitimate voting.”
“While touted as allowing greater access to voters during the current pandemic ... the actual effect is to undermine protections that help ensure the upcoming election will be ... secure, fair, and credible,” the suit says.
A USA TODAY analysis of Johns Hopkins data through late Saturday shows six states set records for new cases in the latest seven-day period while two states had a record number of deaths in a week. New case records were set in Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Wyoming. Record numbers of deaths were reported in Missouri and North Dakota.
– Michael Stucka
Thousands of people have been given Chinese vaccines before final regulatory approval for general use – an unusual move that raises ethical and safety questions. Chinese companies earlier drew attention for giving the vaccine to their top executives and leading researchers before human trials to test their safety and efficacy had even begun. In recent months, they have injected a far larger number under an emergency use designation approved in June, and that number appears poised to rise. A Chinese health official said Friday that China, which has largely eradicated the disease, needs to take steps to prevent it from coming back.
A Superior Court judge in Guam has determined that the Department of Public Health and Social Services did not follow the law when quarantining travelers after multiple passengers filed legal action against the government's quarantine policy.
After hearing from people held in the facility, Superior Court of Guam Judge Elyze Iriarte determined some passengers did not quarantine voluntarily, and the department held one woman against her will.
“For at least 10 days, she was confined against her will without a meaningful and prompt opportunity to be heard regarding such confinement and not advised of her right to counsel,” Iriarte wrote in her decision to release the woman and her children from the government facility.
A newly updated quarantine policy says everyone entering the island by land or sea is subject to a 14-day quarantine, and all passengers go to a government of Guam facility unless "the individual qualified for quarantine at an approved rental lodging or personal residence as authorized by (Public Health)."
– Jasmine Stole Weiss, Pacific Daily News
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Contributing: The Associated Press
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: COVID news: NC voting rules; mass vaccinations; WHO; NYC schools