Coronavirus updates: CDC chief says masks could halt outbreak in 4-6 weeks; Florida has second-consecutive day with at least 100 deaths

The 2021 Rose Parade on Wednesday became the latest major event to be canceled due to fears of the coronavirus, which has been on a resurgence across the nation.

For the first time since 1945, New Year's Day will go on without the parade, though Tournament of Roses executive director David Eads said there's a possibility the Rose Bowl college football game may still be played, pending on the status of a season.

Also on Wednesday, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the coronavirus surge could be controlled in 4-6 weeks, if people were disciplined about wearing masks.

While the comments from Robert Redfield and encouraging news about a top vaccine candidate were fueling some optimism Wednesday, struggling California was tightening restrictions on testing in an effort to improve turnaround time for results in overwhelmed labs. The state's Department of Public Health released new guidelines that say people without symptoms and not in essential jobs won’t be prioritized for testing until results can be turned around in less than 48 hours.

A USA TODAY study found almost half of all states are spiking at a faster rate than they had been in the spring. In Texas, officials once again reported a daily record-breaking number of 10,745 new cases on Tuesday. The previous record was 10,351 on Saturday.

Some recent developments:

📈 Today's stats: The U.S. has surpassed 3.4 million cases with over 136,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. Globally, there have been 13.3 million cases and 580,000 deaths.

📰 What we're reading: Not everyone wants to wear a mask. Several videos have shown confrontations, often violent, over face masks. Here's the psychology behind why some people resist them, according to experts.

Coronavirus outbreak at one of nation’s largest jails curbed, Illinois installs 'mitigation plan'

A recent CDC study suggests that Illinois' Cook County Jail's “effective” strategies — implementing widespread testing, isolating patients, suspending visitation, mandating face masks and converting cells into single occupancy — could be a model for other correctional or detention facilities seeing outbreaks.

More than 1,000 detainees and staff at Illinois’ Cook County Jail — one of the nation’s largest jails — had tested positive for the coronavirus since the start of the facility’s outbreak in March, and seven detainees and two staff died.

But there are now just 11 people in custody who are currently positive, and a majority of those entered the jail already infected, according to the Cook County Sheriff's Office.

“We not only bent our curve, we killed off the curve,” Sheriff Thomas Dart said Wednesday.

Also on Wednesday, Gov. JB Pritzker unveiled a new plan that outlines three tiers of general and industry-specific mitigations that can be used to prevent a renewed spread of COVID-19 as the state continues to reopen.

– Grace Hauck

2021 Rose Bowl College Football Playoff game still scheduled, despite Rose Parade cancellation

Despite the cancellation of its iconic parade, the 2021 Rose Bowl game remains on college football's New Year's Day schedule.

For the first time since World War II, officials announced on Wednesday the 132nd Tournament of Roses Parade will not be held as scheduled on Jan. 1.

Tournament of Roses CEO David Eads said plans for the College Football Playoff's national semifinal at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena are proceeding as scheduled, whether at reduced capacity to accommodate social distancing or in a completely empty stadium.

– Steve Gardner

Trump administration blocks COVID-19 patient information from going directly to CDC

Hospitals have been ordered to send all COVID-19 patient information to a central database in Washington instead of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Trump administration made the order that starts Wednesday, according to a Health and Human Services document updated July 10.

The hand-off of data was immediate: One of the CDC pages that tracked changes over time in how many hospital beds in the nation are occupied by COVID-19 patients ceased working. The CDC confirmed the page's disappearance was a consequence of the switch.

The disappearance of the site takes away a useful metric of the pandemic for health care workers – changes in the number of hospital beds tells public health officials how close they are to being unable to accept new patients.

– Adrianna Rodriguez and Elizabeth Weise

Layoffs: 1.25M more workers likely filed jobless claims

A broad measure of layoffs in the U.S. likely declined again but remained elevated last week, pushing the total during the coronavirus-induced economic crisis over the past four months above a staggering 51 million.

Economists will be closely watching the latest figures, due out Thursday, to see whether the downward trend in job cuts has been slowed or reversed by the many states that are pausing or rolling back their reopening plans.

Economists surveyed by Bloomberg estimate the Labor Department will report Thursday that 1.25 million Americans filed initial applications for unemployment benefits – a rough measure of layoffs – for the week ending July 11. That would mark a drop from 1.3 million the prior week and the 15th straight weekly decline after first-time claims peaked at 6.9 million at the end of March.

– Paul Davidson

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt tests positive for coronavirus

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt announced Wednesday that he had tested positive for the coronavirus weeks after attending President Donald Trump's rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

"I'll be taking precautions. I'll be isolated away from my family. I'll be working from home," he said during an online press conference announcing his positive test results.

The governor said he would not have been contagious before Saturday and had an asymptomatic case of the coronavirus before receiving his test results Tuesday evening.

When asked whether he may have contracted the virus while attending Trump's rally last month in Tulsa, where the governor was seen without a mask, Stitt said he thought it was "too long ago" for that to be the source of the spread.

– Nicholas Wu and Courtney Subramanian

Florida posts second-consecutive day with at least 100 deaths

The Florida Department of Health announced that 10,181 new confirmed COVID-19 cases were reported Wednesday, bringing the state's total to 301,810.

The department also said that just one day after Florida set a record for its highest single-day COVID-19 death count with 132, the state reported a three-figure loss of life, with 112. Florida continues to be one of the worst current outbreaks in the United States and has posted single-day confirmed case increases of 10,000 or more in five of the last six days.

Walmart and Sam's Club to require masks nationwide starting July 20

Walmart and Sam's Club will start requiring masks at stores and clubs nationwide starting July 20, the company announced Wednesday.

"We know some people have differing opinions on this topic. We also recognize the role we can play to help protect the health and well-being of the communities we serve by following the evolving guidance of health officials like the CDC," the retailers' chief operating officers said in a blog post Wednesday.

Best Buy and Starbucks started requiring consumers nationwide wear masks Wednesday.

Kelly Tyko

The state most resistant to wearing masks for coronavirus protection? Arizona, study says

Arizona is the most resistant state in the country when it comes to wearing masks, according to a recent study examining anti-mask activity online.

The analysis conducted by Survival At Home, a survival and preparedness website, with direct access to what Twitter calls "tweet geospatial metadata," or the location information that's built into tweets and the profiles that post them. Compiling over 150,000 geotagged Twitter posts that referenced popular hashtags like "#nomask," "#burnyourmask," "iwillnotcomply" and others, Survival At Home was able to produce a map of the hot spots for anti-mask sentiment.

Emily Wilder

Redfield: 'We could drive this epidemic to the ground'

Disciplined use of face coverings, social distancing and hand washing can shut down the pandemic that continues to strengthen across the nation, said Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Masks, he said at a press conference Tuesday in North Carolina, are our "major" defense against the spread of the virus. He also said that President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence should wear masks to set an example.

“If all of us would put on a face covering now for the next four weeks to six weeks, we could drive this epidemic to the ground in this country,” he said.

Wearing a mask can protect those around you – and you

Wearing a face mask isn't just altruistic – it also can help keep the person wearing it from getting COVID-19. Some infectious disease experts think wearing a mask could mean that an infected person will get a milder or even asymptomatic form of the disease. While cloth face coverings aren't 100% effective, "wearing them means you're exposed to less virus. Less is coming in from other people and you're inhaling less. It's a win-win," said Dr. John Brooks, a medical epidemiologist and the CDC's chief medical officer for the agency’s COVID-19 response.

Elizabeth Weise

Some air conditioners could exacerbate spread of virus

While some public health experts had expected coronavirus transmission to wane in the summer as temperatures rise and the air becomes more humid, cases have actually jumped in some of the hottest and stickiest parts of the country. Engineers and ventilation experts say this may be in part because residents escaping the heat and retreating indoors where heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems could exacerbate airborne transmission with unplanned air currents.

“The main way (air conditioning) can contribute to spreading coronavirus is by creating strong air currents that can move the droplets… and contribute to increase risk,” said William Bahnfleth, chair of the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers’ Epidemic Task Force and professor at Penn State University.

–Adrianna Rodriguez

Stimulus checks possible in next aid package

Congressional leaders are hoping to have another coronavirus aid package ready by the end of the month, another tranche of funds to pile on to the stunning $3 trillion already passed to counter the pandemic and its sweeping impacts on the country. Republicans, Democrats and the administration still have significantly different ideas of what should be included in the next package, including who should get stimulus checks.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has suggested that this time around the money should be distributed to people who earn $40,000 or less per year. A Democratic bill puts the cap at $75,000. Democrats also want to keep the $600 per week unemployment benefits bonus while Republicans are looking at other options.

Christal Hayes and Michael Collins

Hospitals told to bypass CDC with virus data

A new Trump administration directive requires hospitals reporting mandatory, virus-related data to bypass the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and send the information directly to the Department of Health and Human Services. CDC’s National Healthcare Safety Network had been the clearinghouse for data on items such as beds, ventilators and personal protective equipment. The CDC website describes the network as the nation’s most widely used healthcare-associated infection tracking system.

HHS says the new system will streamline data collection and that CDC will have access to the data. The directive was written days before four former CDC directors, in an op-ed published Tuesday by The Washington Post, sharply criticized the Trump administration for undermining the federal health agency and casting doubt on its scientific guidelines.

"As of July 15, 2020, hospitals should no longer report the COVID-19 information in this document to the National Healthcare Safety Network site," the new directive states.

California narrows testing priority as virus cases surge

With coronavirus cases rising fast, the state overhauled its guidelines Tuesday for which groups have priority when it comes to testing. The changes come as the state faces testing shortages and long wait times for results as new outbreaks pop up. The system is designed to help officials zero in on outbreaks spread among essential workers or by gatherings of family and friends. Here's a look at the priority groups:

  • Tier One: Includes hospitalized patients with COVID-19 symptoms and those in close contact with confirmed cases.

  • Tier Two: Includes other individuals with virus symptoms and those who live and work in skilled nursing facilities, residential care facilities for the elderly, correctional facilities or homeless shelters.

  • Tier Three: Includes retail, manufacturing, food services, public transportation and education workers.

  • Tier Four: Includes those who are asymptomatic but believe they have a risk for being actively infected as well as routine testing by employers.

About 7,800 people are testing positive a day in the Golden State, where 10,000 contact tracers are reaching out to people who have been in close contact with infected individuals. The state is testing about 107,000 people daily.

– Arlene Martinez

COVID-19: Fit people, not cities, are protected

The annual ranking of the fittest U.S. cities, out Tuesday, tracks with some of the cities that weathered COVID-19 better – but the reverse is also often true. The ranking underscores how cities can help or hinder residents' opportunities to be physically active, lose weight and avoid chronic conditions including diabetes, hypertension and heart disease, which increase the risk of serious illness and death from COVID-19.

“We know from research that physical activity can build a healthier immune system and overall wellness, which help minimize harmful effects of illness and disease," said Barbara Ainsworth, chair of the American Fitness Index Advisory Board. "This pandemic shows the need to have local parks, trails and connected sidewalks in all neighborhoods that allow people to exercise safely."

– Jayne O'Donnell

Gov. Bill Lee says he won't consider reclosing Tennessee's economy

While pleading with Tennesseans to wear masks – and affirming that doing so is not a political statement – Gov. Bill Lee on Tuesday said bringing back restrictions that would once again hamper the state's economy is still off the table.

“I’m not at any point considering closing the economy back down,” Lee said, noting there are “levers and options” to pull around expanding health care capacity.

Some other states, including Texas, have reverted back to previous phases of restrictions as coronavirus cases have continued to mount. Instead, the governor said members of hospital systems in Tennessee have indicated a desire to take the lead, ahead of the government, on solving capacity issues.

Lee and Tennessee Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Lisa Piercey said the state continues to have adequate capacity in hospitals. Piercey said during a bad flu season, the state’s hospital capacity could decrease to single digits. On Tuesday, the state reported as many 2,600 of 12,300 hospital floor beds remain available.

– Natalie Allison and Joel Ebert, Nashville Tennessean

France aims to open schools by fall

France is aiming to reopen all schools for the new academic year under as “normal” conditions as possible, President Emmanuel Macron announced Tuesday, despite lingering virus concerns from some parents and teachers. France gradually reopened schools in May and June as the country emerged from virus lockdown, and most children returned to class. While new infections prompted a few schools to close again, the vast majority stayed open until the school year wrapped up earlier this month.

“We have learned a lot” from that period, Macron said. “We developed a new way of teaching” to take the virus into account.

Schools adjusted schedules to keep children from mingling freely and kept students in one classroom instead of having them move around for different subjects. They were required to air out classrooms regularly, and masks were necessary for middle and high school students.

Best Buy to require shoppers wear masks in stores nationwide

Shoppers will need a mask to enter Best Buy stores nationwide starting Wednesday. The Minneapolis-based electronics retailer is the latest to add the requirement as COVID-19 cases continue to rise across the nation.

"This new requirement, which starts July 15, will help protect not only our shoppers and communities, but also the tens of thousands of Best Buy employees working to serve our customers each day," the company said in a news release Tuesday.

Best Buy says it will provide face coverings to shoppers who don't have one and notes "small children and those unable to wear one for health reasons may enter without one."

– Kelly Tyko

Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine candidate appears safe and provides some immunity

A candidate vaccine against COVID-19 developed by the federal government and Moderna Inc. appears to be safe and to trigger an immune response, according to data released Tuesday from an early phase trial. But whether that immune response is enough to protect someone from the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 remains unclear, according to several experts who reviewed the results. Moderna's chief medical officer Dr. Tal Zaks said although the protective effect of their vaccine can't technically be known yet, all indications are that mRNA-1273 will be safe and effective.

Zaks said the levels of protective antibodies produced by the trial participants were similar to those found in patients who had recovered from COVID-19, suggesting that the candidate vaccine provides the same protection as an infection. Animal studies also show that mRNA-1273 can protect mice against infection, he said, and trials in primates and Syrian hamsters are underway.

– Karen Weintraub and David Heath

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 the 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: CDC masks, Florida deaths, Walmart, Sam's Club