Coronavirus updates: Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms tests positive; ICE may deport foreign students; MLB's testing struggles

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms revealed she has tested positive for the coronavirus on day a high-ranking White House official defended President Donald Trump's claim that 99% of coronavirus cases are "totally harmless" as new U.S. infections surge by the day.

"If you're over 80 years of age or if you have three what they call co-morbidities – diabetes, hypertension, heart issues – then you need to be very, very careful," White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said on "Fox and Friends." "Outside of that, the risks are extremely low, and the president is right."

Three MLB teams stopped workouts amid coronavirus concerns, causing doubt as baseball season nears. Meanwhile, Ivy League schools Princeton and Harvard announced they'll have 50% or fewer undergraduate students on campus this fall and most or all teaching will be done remotely.

In New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the state's numbers were bucking the national trend by continuing to improve as the state slowly reopens. And possibly more good news: Regeneron Pharmaceuticals said it was beginning "late-stage" trials for a cocktail for treatment and prevention of COVID-19.

Here are some recent developments:

  • The University of Washington announced Sunday that at least 112 fraternity students tested positive for the coronavirus, bringing the total up to 121.

  • Airbnb added new booking restrictions for renters under the age of 25 to prevent house parties as cases multiply across the country.

  • Economists estimate a slow recovery despite a record of 4.8 million jobs added to the economy in June.

📈Today's stats: The U.S. has seen almost 2.9 million confirmed cases and more than 130,000 deaths, according to John Hopkins University data. Globally, there have been 11.5 million cases and more than 535,000 deaths.

📰 What we're reading: Feeling whiplash over reopenings? You aren't alone. At least 21 states have halted their plans to reopen as coronavirus cases surge across the U.S. Reopening, pausing, shutting down may be our new reality – and the frustration is real.

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Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announces positive coronavirus test

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, who has risen to prominence amid the Black Lives Matter protests in her city and the fatal shooting of Rayshard Brooks by an Atlanta Police Department officer, said on Twitter she has contracted the coronavirus.

Bottoms emphasized in the tweet that has not experienced any symptoms despite testing positive.

“This is startling for me because we’ve been so very careful,'' Bottoms said on MSNBC. "But this is just a lesson to everyone that you have to take every single symptom seriously.”

Bottoms, 50, has made several national TV appearances amid the countrywide protest movement demanding racial equality and justice, and her name as been mentioned as a vice presidential candidate for presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.

Bottoms joins the list of U.S. elected officials who have tested positive for the virus, including Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul. To date, the most prominent world leader to test positive has been British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who spent three days in the ICU of a London hospital.

Dr. Anthony Fauci: Phase 3 trials of vaccine candidates to start in late July

Vaccines were high atop the list of topics discussed in a livestreamed conversation hosted Monday by Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, with the nation’s foremost infectious-disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci.

Fauci said the U.S. is involved in the development of coronavirus vaccine candidates that will enter Phase 3 trials for efficacy starting late this month – involving 30,000 test volunteers at several sites domestically and internationally – with the aim of learning by late this year or early in 2021 whether they are safe and effective.

And to avoid a long lag time between that discovery and making a vaccine available, production will begin before there’s a conclusive answer to those questions, even though inevitably that will result in a large number of doses being discarded.

“We are now working with the companies … to start making doses before we even know whether it works or not, so that when we get to the winter and the early part of 2021, we will start to have a large number of doses that people will be able to use, if it turns out to be safe and effective,’’ Fauci said. “The big if.’’

Mindful of those who oppose long-proven vaccines for safety reasons and figure to be even more wary of a new one without a track record, the specialists sought to allay any public concerns. Collins pointed out he and Fauci have participated in several long discussions on the topic.

“I want to assure everybody … that there will be no compromising on the principles of safety and efficacy,’’ Collins said, with Fauci in accord. “Whatever we come up with in a few months is going to be just as rigorously tested as any vaccine ever has been.’’

ICE says it may deport foreign students if classes are only online

International students may face deportation if the U.S. universities where they're registered teach fully online, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency said Monday. Several colleges, including the entire Cal State University System, have said instruction will be almost entirely remote in the fall because of the coronavirus.

In announcing changes to the rules governing its Student and Exchange Visitor Program, ICE said foreign students may not take a full online course and stay in the U.S., adding that they won't be granted visas or allowed to enter the country.

"Active students currently in the United States enrolled in such programs must depart the country or take other measures, such as transferring to a school with in-person instruction to remain in lawful status,'' ICE said in a posting. "If not, they may face immigration consequences including, but not limited to, the initiation of removal proceedings.''

The decision could affect thousands of foreign students, who are often coveted by public universities partly because they pay higher out-of-state tuition.

Harvard, Princeton to allow 50% or fewer students on campus

Princeton and Harvard’s largest division will allow half the undergraduate students or fewer into campus in the fall, as universities continue to grapple with how to teach safely in the upcoming term amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences said Monday all first-year students will be welcome on campus to ease their transition to college life, but they may have to return home in the spring and learn remotely to make room for seniors if conditions for instruction are not back to normal. The faculty expects up to 40% of undergraduates will be on campus.

Princeton is taking a somewhat similar approach, bringing in freshmen and juniors in August, but then asking them to leave campus in the spring as sophomores and seniors are allowed in.

At both Ivy League universities, most or all the classes will be taught remotely, even if students are allowed on campus.

“As students consider their choices, they should bear in mind that the campus experience will be very different from an ordinary year,’’ Princeton President Chris Eisgruber said in a statement. “Many activities will be unavailable, impermissible, or highly regulated. Parties will be prohibited. Masks will be required in indoor spaces.’’

Major League Baseball struggling with COVID-19 testing

Major League Baseball's problems with COVID-19 testing evolved into a crisis Monday when three of the top teams, the Washington Nationals, St. Louis Cardinals and Houston Astros, became the latest to cancel a workout due to delayed test results. That brought up to six the number of teams altering their practice schedule because of the failure of MLB, its testing service and lab to furnish results in a timely manner.

MLB and the MLB Players' Association had agreed that players are to be tested every other day and receive results within 24 to 48 hours. Players reported to their stadiums last week for practices in preparation for resuming the season.

"We will not sacrifice the health and safety of our players, staff and their families," said Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo. "Without accurate and timely testing it is simply not safe for us to continue with Summer Camp."

Barring further delays, the 60-game season is scheduled to start July 23.

– Gabe Lacques

Florida schools must reopen in August

An emergency order issued Monday by Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran puts the onus on schools to reopen for in-person teaching in the upcoming term and establishes requirements for remote learning.

Local health officials can override the commissioner’s directive if it is not safe to open schools due to COVID-19, but Monday’s announcement makes it clear that districts have to prepare to open their doors.

“All school boards and charter school governing boards must open brick and mortar schools in August at least five days per week for all students,” the announcement said.

– Ryan McKinnon, Sarasota Herald-Tribune

Chicago requires quarantine for visitors from 15 states

Chicago is following in New York's footsteps, requiring visitors from 15 states with high COVID-19 infection rates to quarantine for 14 days, starting Monday.

Affected states include Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Nevada, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Utah. All 15 of those states are on the quarantine list issued by New York, New Jersey and Connecticut as well.

– Jayme Deerwester

West Virginia requires face masks indoors, effective midnight Monday

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice on Monday instituted a mandatory face mask order for indoor spaces after the state reported record numbers of new coronavirus cases over the weekend.

The Republican’s executive order, which goes into effect at midnight, requires everyone over the age of 9 to wear face coverings inside buildings when social distancing isn’t possible. Confirmed virus cases in the state have risen 30% in the last two weeks.

State health officials have urged residents to wear masks, but Justice had said a mandate would be politically divisive and difficult to enforce.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to Donald Trump: ‘Just wear the mask’

Daily new coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and deaths have continued their downward trend in New York as the state slowly reopens, a sharp contrast with the struggles being faced by reopening efforts in Florida, Texas, Arizona and other states. New York, which once was reeling from up to 800 deaths per day, has reached single digits, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday.

But he stressed caution, saying the New York State Fair will be canceled and the fate of schools in the fall has yet to be determined.

Cuomo also chastised President Donald Trump for blaming the nation's boom in new cases on too much testing. Cuomo said that, taking Trump's logic further, cancer could be wiped out if people stopped getting mammograms, prostate exams and other tests.

“Mr. President, don’t be a co-conspirator of COVID,” Cuomo said Monday. “Do one simple thing: acknowledge to the American people that COVID exists. It is a major problem. ... (Send) that signal very simply. Just wear the mask.”

Lorenzo Reyes

Study provides guidance for states and their reopening plans

Several Harvard institutes, along with the Rockefeller Foundation and other groups recently released repopening guidance for states dealing with the coronavirus.

The groups made their assessment based on the number of new infections per 100,000 residents. States with fewer than 1 new infection per 100,000 residents can fully reopen, according to the guidance, though no state has yet reached that point.

In states with 10 to 25 new cases per 100,000 residents, the group advised stay-at home orders, and in states with more than 25 new cases per 100,000, stay-at-home orders are necessary to bring the outbreak under control, according to the new guidelines.

According their calculations, states like Arizona and Texas need to be taking dramatic action to protect their residents from COVID-19, while states in the northeast that were hard-hit early on in the pandemic can continue to relax their restrictions.

– Karen Weintraub

US racing ahead of EU in new cases

Three states are now each adding far more coronavirus cases daily than the entirety of the European Union, which at about 450 million people has about a third more people than the entire U.S. Florida alone is adding more than 8,000 cases per day, double the current daily number for the EU, data from Johns Hopkins University shows.

California and Texas surged past the European Union in late June. Arizona has been closing in on the daily case count of the EU, which has about 60 times as many people. Deaths in Florida, Arizona and Texas have been edging upward since late June, but holding fairly steady in California.

The European Union consists of 27 countries including hard-hit Italy, Spain and France. Most of its nations have gotten coronavirus under control, while most American states are adding coronavirus cases at a faster rate. At its peak in early April, the European Union added about 31,000 cases per day. With fewer people, the United States is now recording about 48,000 cases per day.

Mike Stucka

Regeneron 'antibody cocktail' enters Phase 3 trials

Regeneron Pharmaceuticals on Monday announced initiation of "late-stage clinical trials" for its cocktail for the treatment and prevention of COVID-19. The Phase 3 trial, being run jointly with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, is being conducted at approximately 100 sites and is expected to enroll 2,000 patients in the U.S., Regeneron said in a statement. A separate trial is testing the cocktail on patients already being treated for the disease. No timeline for possible release of the drug was provided.

"We are pleased to collaborate with NIAID to study REGN-COV2 in our quest to further prevent the spread of the virus with an antiviral antibody cocktail that could be available much sooner than a vaccine," said George Yancopoulos, president and chief scientific officer of Regeneron.

Greek Row outbreak': 112 students in Seattle infected with coronavirus

At least 112 fraternity students at the University of Washington have tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total number of students infected to 121, officials announced Sunday. The nine additional students who tested positive were close contacts of the students, but do not live in the Greek houses, the university and the Seattle and King County Public Health Department said in a joint statement. The outbreak was first announced on June 30 with at least 38 confirmed cases of students living in 10 fraternity houses. That number spiked to 89 positive cases on July 3.

The school has a "pop-up" testing site near Greek Row that had conducted nearly 1,300 tests as of the weekend. Residents of Greek houses and others in the community have also sought testing at other nearby sites, the statement said.


More on the coronavirus from USA TODAY

Where a face mask is required: Many governors are instituting or renewing orders requiring people to wear face coverings in public as cases continue to rise. Is your state on the list? See it here.

Coronavirus Watch: We have a few ways for you to stay informed. Sign up for our daily coronavirus newsletter here, and come together and share the latest information about coronavirus, coping with lifestyle changes and more by joining our Facebook group.

Where are states on reopening? Some are taking preemptive measures to postpone further phases of their reopening, while others have rolled back their phases to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. See the list.

Contributing: The Associated Press

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: COVID-19: Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms positive, MLB delays