The United States dipped under 50,000 new coronavirus cases for the first time in four days, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University, but experts fear Fourth of July celebrations will act like rocket fuel for the nation’s surging outbreak.
Leaders in Austin and Houston, Texas, warned on Sunday of hospitals nearing capacity, and asked Republican Gov. Gregg Abbott to allow them to issue local lockdown orders. Florida meanwhile surpassed 200,000 statewide coronavirus cases and West Virginia saw its biggest two-day jump in cases yet.
Also Sunday, Broadway star Nick Cordero died at age 41 after a 3-month long battle with the coronavirus. His wife, Amanda Kloots, closely documented his experience with the virus and ensuing health complications, with millions of people following along on social media. Cordero’s death prompted an outpouring of tributes from his fellow Broadway stars.
The United States has the most infections and virus-related deaths in the world, with 2.8 million cases and nearly 130,000 dead, according to a tally from Johns Hopkins University. Experts say the true toll of the pandemic is significantly higher, due to people who died before they were tested and missed mild cases.
Here are the latest updates on the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S.:
Amid Pandemic, Fewer Students Seek Federal Aid for College
The number of high school seniors applying for U.S. federal college aid plunged in the weeks following the sudden closure of school buildings this spring — a time when students were cut off from school counselors, and families hit with financial setbacks were reconsidering plans for higher education.
In the first weeks of the pandemic, the number of new applications fell by nearly half compared to last year’s levels, fueled by a precipitous decline among students at low-income schools, according to an Associated Press analysis of federal data. The numbers have risen as states and schools have launched campaigns urging students to apply for aid, but they remain down overall from last year.
It’s raising alarms among education officials who say thousands of students may be opting to delay or forgo college, with potentially dire consequences for their job prospects and future earnings.
“The consequences are that kids are going directly into the workforce. They’re closing the door on post-high school learning,” said David Nieslanik, principal of Southridge High School in Beaverton, Oregon, where he saw only more affluent students file for aid once instruction moved online.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo Clears NYC for Phase 3 of Reopening
Gov. Andrew Cuomo OK’d New York City to enter Phase III on Monday, but as he and Mayor Bill de Blasio previously announced, without the option of indoor dining, NBC New York reported.
“Out of an abundance of caution and after seeing other states’ experience with indoor dining, we will wait to reopen it as the city moves to Phase Three tomorrow,” the governor said Sunday in a press release. “As we end this holiday weekend, I urge everyone to be New York Tough: wear a mask, socially distance, use hand sanitizer and continue the smart practices that have made out state a national leader in combatting this virus.”
The third phase of reopening resumes personal care services from nail and tanning salons to spas and massage parlors with COVID safeguards in place.
Even with reopening, some services are still prohibited at personal care businesses. State regulations prohibit any service that requires a customer to remove a face mask are prohibited, like nose piercings or facials.
Employees will be required to get diagnostic tests for the coronavirus every 14 days, and there must be a mandatory screening, like a questionnaire or a checking of temperatures.
Should Your State Reopen?
For states considering lifting quarantine measures, the official guidelines propose either a downward trajectory of COVID-19 cases within two weeks or a downward trajectory of positive tests as a percent of total tests.
As shown below, when you compare yesterday’s new case count with that of two weeks ago, the number is often lower, simply because the counts fluctuate. Critics call the measures vague and ultimately because they aren’t binding, some states are choosing to reopen whether they meet the criteria or not.