• U.S.
    Good Morning America

    Coronavirus updates: Trump says increase of cases is 'great news'

    A novel coronavirus pandemic has now killed more than 520,000 people worldwide. More than 10.8 million people across the globe have been diagnosed with COVID-19, the disease caused by the new respiratory virus, according to data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. The actual numbers are believed to be much higher due to testing shortages, many unreported cases and suspicions that some governments are hiding the scope of their nations' outbreaks.

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  • Entertainment
    The Independent

    Huge bird of prey catches shark-like fish and flies off in viral video

    Visitors to a beach last week would have seen a shark-like fish soaring above their heads thanks to one bird’s actions.A video shared online showed one huge predatory bird seen with what appeared to be a shark suspended in its claws above crowds at South Carolina’s Myrtle Beach.

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  • Entertainment
    Variety

    Vanilla Ice Cancels Austin Concert After Uproar: ‘I Didn’t Know the Numbers Were So Crazy’

    Vanilla Ice has put a planned weekend concert outside of Austin on ice after catching heat for promoting what looked to be a non-socially-distancing show amid a marked uptick in COVID-19 diagnoses. In what may count as one of the major "duh" moments of the year, the rapper has backtracked on his claims that his […]

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  • Politics
    TODAY

    The $600 federal unemployment benefit ends this month. GOP senators say enough already.

    Federal coronavirus unemployment insurance is scheduled to expire at the end of this month as the pandemic makes a resurgence in parts of the U.S. and 25 million out-of-work Americans are collecting benefits. The Democratic-led House has passed legislation to extend the $600-per-week boost through January, but the Senate Republican majority is vowing not to continue that provision. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Tuesday that the unemployment benefit passed in the CARES Act in March won't be in the next phase of coronavirus relief, which he said he expects to pass by the end of July.

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  • U.S.
    The Daily Beast

    Who Are You Going to Trust—Dr. Fauci or Texas’ Joke of a Lieutenant Governor?

    Dan Patrick had no problem trusting medical expertise when he was a Houston talk radio host seeking a ratings boost by undergoing a vasectomy live on his show. “The ratings skyrocketed,” Patrick reported after the 1991 stunt.But now that Patrick has parlayed his radio fame into becoming Texas lieutenant governor, he says he will not even listen to the nation’s leading infectious disease expert in the face of a raging pandemic.“Wrong on every issue,” Patrick says of Dr. Anthony Fauci, whose simple social-distancing measures, if followed, would almost certainly have prevented many of the COVID-19 infections that are now spiking to record levels in Texas and other states.In Dr. Fauci We TrustFauci has been director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984. While he was rising to global prominence combating HIV/AIDS and other contagions, Patrick was making a name for himself in broadcasting—starting with changing his name from Dannie Scott Goeb of Baltimore to Dan Goeb Patrick of Houston. He was also known by another name—the Silver-Tongued Devil—for his ability to expound persuasively on seemingly any subject. He left broadcasting for a time to start a string of Houston sports bars. They went bust, but he managed to hold onto one from which he ran a radio show. His silvery tongue initially had its limits and his audience started out so small that he had to urge the bar’s patrons to call in from the pay phone.Then came the vasectomy and other stunts. He painted himself Houston Oiler blue and broadcast while wearing a gigantic cowboy hat. He also garnered considerable attention when he described Connie Chung’s TV show Eye to Eye as “Slanted Eye to Eye.” Patrick did not fail to note the example set by Rush Limbaugh, who demonstrates that day-to-day pandering and gaslighting and rabble rousing can generate a bigger audience than even a live snip of your vas deferens tubes. And he made himself all the more appealing to a particular audience after he became an evangelical. He later wrote that he was attending a TV and radio convention in Las Vegas when he was “saved” at the Shrine of the Most Holy Redeemer across from the Tropicana casino. He was subsequently baptized in the Jordan River.His silver tongue and experience in audience-building and adherence to the Tea Party line served him well when he entered Texas politics. He was elected to the state Senate 2006 and won a second term in 2010. He then made a successful run for lieutenant governor in 2014. In 2016, Patrick served as Texas chairman of the Trump campaign and demonstrated his own ability to spark a furor-by-tweet that year with a bit of scripture he posted in the immediate aftermath of the mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida.“Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Galatians 6:7.” Texas GOP Convention Says No to Masks, Yes to ParamedicsSome people felt the Patrick was suggesting the club had been inviting the attack by being gay-friendly. Patrick insisted the tweet and a similar Facebook post were “pre-planned” and unrelated to the massacre. He proved anew how he earned his nickname when he issued a statement explaining why he took the messages down."I didn’t pull down the FB post & tweet because God’s word is wrong. His word is never wrong... I took it down to stop the hateful comments and the misinformation being spread of God’s message to all of us—straight or gay."Patrick was re-elected in 2018 and caused another ruckus in April 2019, when he called Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke of Texas “light in the loafers.”That October, Patrick addressed a Trump rally. He declared to the 20,000 attendees that liberals are not just “opponents.”“They are our enemy,” he said.One might have hoped that Patrick would set aside such divisive demagoguery when the whole nation was suddenly faced with a true and deadly enemy. But the problem for Patrick has been that there is no way to garner attention for yourself by going along with the reasoned scientific advice of the experts. There is no individual glory in joining your fellow citizens in what we all need to do to get through the pandemic.And how in the Lord’s name are you going to be high-profile if you cover your face with a mask? On March 23, Patrick found a way to stand out during an interview with Fox News host Tucker Carlson. He is now 70 and therefore in a high-risk category for COVID, but he declared himself prepared to face death rather than see the economy shut down. “No one reached out to me and said, ‘As a senior citizen, are you willing to take a chance on your survival in exchange for keeping the America that all America loves for your children and grandchildren?’” he said. “And if that's the exchange, I’m all in.”He repeated his position during a Carlson reprise in April.“There are more important things than living,” Patrick said. “And that’s saving this country for my children, and my grandchildren and saving this country for all of us. And I don’t want to die, nobody wants to die, but man, we got to take some risks and get back in the game, and get this country back up and running.”The Texas Grim Reaper’s Fight Against Masks and Health CarePatrick had moved to form a task force to reopen Texas just days into a shutdown that even Trump grudgingly allowed was necessary.Meanwhile, Patrick denounced a Harris County mask mandate.“The ultimate government overreach,” he said. In May, Patrick paid a $7,000 fine that had been levied against a Dallas woman, along with a seven-day jail term, for opening her salon in defiance of the shutdown ordered by Gov. Greg Abbott.Abbott soon after proceeded to reopen the state, faster than was recommended by Fauci and other scientific experts, but still not soon enough for Patrick. The accompanying rise in COVID-19 infections did not keep Patrick from declaring that he had been right all along.The reopening of Texas was finally put on pause last week. Fauci testified at a congressional hearing that states such as Texas had been “skipping over” the guidelines. Fauci repeated simple advice that could still change everything: Wash your hands, observe social distancing, and wear a mask.“I think we need to emphasize the responsibility that we have both as individuals and as part of a societal effort to end the epidemic that we all have to play a part in that,” Fauci said. "We've got to get that message out that we're all in this together, and if we're going to contain this, we've got to contain it together.”‘If People Die, People Die’: Texas COVID Hot Spots Keep Getting WorseNobody gets attention by answering a call for unity, no matter how vital. And so Patrick responded by declaring on Wednesday that Fauci had been “wrong on every issue.” “Fauci said today he’s concerned about states like Texas that ‘skipped over’ certain things,” Patrick said on Fox News. “He doesn’t know what he’s talking about. We haven’t skipped over anything. The only thing I’m skipping over is listening to him.”Patrick was declaring that he would be paying no heed to the world-renowned expert who had been working tirelessly to gain knowledge for more years than the former Dannie Scott Goeb had been self-promoting.Meanwhile, the virus continues to rage. Dr. David Mobley, who performed that long ago vasectomy, did not respond to a request for comment on Patrick’s denigration of a fellow doctor. He may have been too busy, since he works at Houston West Methodist Hospital, which like all the city’s medical facilities is swamped with COVID-19 cases.Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.

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  • U.S.
    The New York Times

    Did Floyd Protests Lead to a Virus Surge? Here's What We Know

    NEW YORK -- For more than two months, authorities had been urging New Yorkers to stay indoors and keep their distance from others. But after the police killed George Floyd in Minneapolis, tens of thousands of New Yorkers poured into the streets, day and night, to protest police brutality and racism.Epidemiologists braced for a surge of new coronavirus cases. But it has not come yet.On May 27, the day before the protests began in New York City, some 754 COVID-19 cases were diagnosed, according to the city's Department of Health. That was the last time the city recorded more than 700 cases on a single day.By the end of the first week of protests, the city was recording slightly more than 500 cases a day. By the end of the second week of protests, the case counts were in the low 400s or high 300s a day. They have continued to drop slightly. According to revised numbers the city released Wednesday, the last time New York City recorded more than 300 cases was June 23."We've been looking very closely at the number of positive cases every day to see if there is an uptick in the context of the protests," said Ted Long, executive director of the city's contact tracing program. "We have not seen that."In interviews, several epidemiologists expressed either surprise or relief, and offered theories for what occurred. This is what we know:The virus spread in New York City was already slowing down.The lockdown enacted in March worked. By the end of May, when the protests began, the virus was not as prevalent in New York as it had been when the lockdown began."It seems we in New York City did achieve a substantial decrease in the number of cases so that made the odds of encountering a case of COVID-19 in these protests quite low," said Wafaa El-Sadr, an epidemiology professor at Columbia University.Exactly how low is tough to gauge. Throughout June, somewhere between 10,000-35,000 New Yorkers per day were tested for COVID-19. The percentage of coronavirus tests in New York City consistently turning up positive declined in June, from about 3% at the start to 2%. But New York City has released little specific information about current hot spots or clusters, or current infection rates among different age groups.Some cities and states have made a point of testing demonstrators and released their findings.In Minnesota, an initiative that targeted demonstrators found that 1.5% of them tested positive. In Massachusetts, fewer than 3% of protesters did. A positive test does not necessarily mean a person is likely to still be contagious; people can continue to test positive for weeks after becoming ill and starting to recover.In New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo pledged in early June to dedicate 15 testing sites in the city exclusively to people who attended protests. But a state Health Department spokesman said that data is not yet available.Kitaw Demissie, an epidemiologist and dean of State University of New York Downstate School of Public Health in Brooklyn, said it was possible that in areas with accelerating outbreaks -- such as some southern and western states -- the mass demonstrations could well play a role in the spread of the virus.Outdoor transmission is more rare.Conditions at the demonstrations may not have been conducive for transmission, mainly because the protests occurred outdoors, epidemiologists said.The virus spreads far more easily indoors than outdoors, and close contact indoors is believed to be the main driver of transmission, epidemiologists say. One study based on a review of 110 cases in Japan found that the odds of transmission were 18.7 times higher in closed environments -- everything from fitness studios to tents -- than in open-air environments. Another study involving a review of thousands of cases in China found only a single instance of outdoor transmission.In Minnesota, where Floyd was killed, cases among young adults climbed substantially over June. But officials said that gatherings in reopened bars were partly to blame.The virus is thought to be spread primarily through the virus-laden droplets emitted when a contagious person coughs, sneezes or talks. When outdoors, this virus-laden air is more quickly diluted and carried away than it would be in a poorly ventilated room. Because a certain quantity of virus is needed for an infectious dose, the dilution can make a significant difference, epidemiologists say.Another potential factor: Demonstrators were often on the move, marching at a brisk pace. That may have promoted dilution and also spaced people out from each other."This doesn't say that being in a crowd is not risky," said Howard Markel, a physician and historian of medicine at the University of Michigan who has written on past epidemics. He said that protesters in New York may have just been "incredibly lucky."He noted that outdoor crowds can accelerate the spread of respiratory viruses -- most notoriously during a war bond parade in Philadelphia during the 1918 influenza pandemic.Most protesters wore masks.New York City's Health Department had gone so far as to urge protesters not to chant or yell -- which can increase the likelihood of transmission -- but to instead carry signs and consider bringing a drum.But while that bit of advice went largely unheeded, most protesters adhered to another: Wear a mask.Carlos Polanco, 21, from Brooklyn, who protested for 22 or 23 days straight, often out front at protests with a bullhorn, said that organizers made a point of bringing extra masks and distributing them to demonstrators. Polanco, a rising senior at Dartmouth College, said that he tried to wear a mask except when he was delivering a speech or leading chants -- during which time he tried to keep his 6 feet of distance from others, he said.And many protesters complained when police officers at protests did not wear masks.We could still see a wave of infections tied to the protests.Some scientists say it is still too early to tell how much transmission occurred at the demonstrations in New York City. One reason is that many protesters were young adults -- a demographic in whom severe cases and hospitalizations are less common. As a result, a rise in cases that started within this demographic might remain undetected by public health officials for longer."We don't know the impact. We'll see that in the next two weeks," Florian Krammer, a virologist at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, said last week.Moreover, city officials have instructed contact tracers not to ask new COVID-19 patients if they attended protests, according to a report in The City, a nonprofit news organization.And the protests continue. Hundreds gathered at City Hall Park over the past week, to demand deep cuts to the New York City Police Department budget. Some protesters are camping out in sleeping bags or under tarps. The gathering is drawing some comparisons to the Occupy Wall Street encampment at nearby Zuccotti Park in 2011. Rarely remembered, a vicious cough, called "Zuccotti lung," circulated around that encampment.So far there has been no clear increase in patients in emergency rooms complaining of pneumonia or flu-like symptoms -- a metric the city's Health Department tracks as an early warning system for COVID-19 transmission.But public health experts cautioned against drawing too much reassurance from New York's experience. "Like most every other aspect of this pandemic the most predictable thing is the unpredictability," said Markel, the historian and physician from the University of Michigan.This article originally appeared in The New York Times.(C) 2020 The New York Times Company

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