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The United States has entered a “new phase” of the coronavirus pandemic, Deborah Birx, the physician overseeing the White House coronavirus response, told CNN on Sunday. Outbreaks are increasing in both rural and urban areas, touching isolated parts of the country that once counted on their remoteness to keep them safe.
“What we’re seeing today is different from March and April,” Birx said. “It is extraordinarily widespread.”
Alaska, Hawaii, Missouri, Montana and Oklahoma are among the states witnessing the largest surge of infections over the past week, according to a Washington Post analysis of health data. Experts also see worrisome trends emerging in major East Coast and Midwest cities, and anticipate major outbreaks in college towns as classes resume this month.
At least 4,641,000 coronavirus cases and 151,000 fatalities have been reported in the United States since February. Close to 50,000 new cases and 478 deaths were reported on Sunday, a day of the week when numbers are often artificially low because some jurisdictions do not report data.
Here are some significant developments:
- The prospects for a new coronavirus relief package — and a deal that would restore $600-a-week emergency unemployment benefits — look dismal. White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said Sunday that he was “not optimistic that there will be a solution in the very near term,” while House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin made clear in separate interviews that they were nowhere near reaching consensus.
- A Houston Chronicle investigation found that Texas health officials were not counting the results of rapid-response coronavirus tests in the state’s tally of covid-19 cases, suggesting that the hotspot has tens of thousands more infections than previously disclosed.
- Sturgis, S.D. is expecting more than 250,000 bikers to attend its annual motorcycle rally next week, potentially making it the largest event to take place during the pandemic. Naturally, there are health concerns.
- Victoria, the epicenter of Australia’s coronavirus outbreak, declared a “state of disaster” on Sunday. Stricter lockdown protocols were announced for the city of Melbourne, where residents will be virtually banned from going outside.
- Montgomery County, Md., has ordered private schools to go online-only in the fall — making it one of the first jurisdictions in the United States to do so.