WORLD NEWS
06/24/2020 09:41 EDT | Updated 06/26/2020 09:11 EDT

Coronavirus Live Updates: Read The Latest About The COVID-19 Outbreak

Stay up to date as we cover the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and its effects across the world.

Since Chinese officials locked down the city of Wuhan in January, there have been more than 9.6 million cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, across the planet.

More than 489,000 people have died from the disease, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University

Efforts to curb the outbreak led to the global disruption of daily life and the economy, as schools and workplaces shuttered in hopes of slowing transmission. After months of precautions and lockdowns, governments have begun to reopen their economies.

HuffPost reporters around the world are tracking the pandemic and its effects.

Read the latest updates on the coronavirus pandemic below. (To see the latest updates, you may need to refresh the page. All times are Eastern. For earlier updates on the pandemic, go here.)

Trump Administration Asks Supreme Court To End Obamacare — 6/26/2020, 5:40 a.m. ET

The Trump administration filed a brief Thursday night asking the Supreme Court to invalidate the Affordable Care Act, threatening health care coverage for 20 million Americans as the nation smashed a record for new COVID-19 cases in a single day.

The Supreme Court will hear arguments later this year but a decision might not come until 2021.

Solicitor General Noel Francisco argued the “entire ACA thus must fall” because Congress invalidated the individual coverage mandate in 2017.

Democrats slammed the move.

“There is no legal justification and no moral excuse for the Trump Administration’s disastrous efforts to take away Americans’ health care,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement.

— Mary Papenfuss

UNICEF: Millions Of Children Could Starve As Coronavirus Sweeps Yemen — 6/26/2020, 5:30 a.m. ET

Yemen’s poor health care infrastructure is unprepared to handle the coronavirus pandemic after five years of war between a Saudi-led military coalition and the Iran-backed Houthi rebels, and an already dire situation for children there could become worse, UNICEF warned Friday.

The number of malnourished children could rise by 20%, to 2.4 million, by the end of the year. The situation in Yemen is expected to get worse as donor countries cut aid.

Yemen has officially reported more than 1,000 cases of COVID-19 and 275 deaths, but the actual number is expected to be much higher.

— Liza Hearon

CDC Director Estimates 10 Undiagnosed Coronavirus Cases For Each Positive Test — 6/25/20, 3:40 p.m. ET

The U.S. has seen more than 2.3 million reported coronavirus cases. But CDC Director Robert Redfield said Thursday that the true number of Americans infected with COVID-19 could be 10 times higher — or more than 20 million.

“Our best estimate right now is that for every case that’s reported, there actually are 10 other infections,” Redfield told reporters, according to The Washington Post.

He said younger people are currently driving the spike in cases across the Sun Belt, where states have been reopening large parts of their economies. More than 90% of the country remains susceptible to the virus, Redfield said.

The CDC’s alarming estimate bolsters public health experts’ calls to increase U.S. testing capabilities to combat the virus. However, President Donald Trump has argued for less testing over the last week, on the basis that accurate statistics paint his administration’s response in a negative light. The U.S. reportedly has conducted more than 30 million tests since the crisis began.

— Sara Boboltz

Africa Begins Continent’s First COVID-19 Vaccine Trial ― 6/25/2020, 2:47 p.m. ET

Oxford University rolled out a coronavirus vaccine trial in South Africa on Wednesday, marking the first such human study on the African continent.

The human trial, conducted in partnership with the Johannesburg’s University of the Witwatersrand, involves 2,000 volunteers from 18 to 65 years of age.

“Once 60% of the population, especially the adult population, becomes immune, we expect that effective reproductive rate to go under 1, which basically means the virus will still be around, it will still circulate, but its chain of transmission has been interrupted,” Shabir Madhi, a professor of vaccinology involved in the trial, told Reuters.

― Lydia O’Connor 

Texas Governor Hits Pause On Reopening, Suspends Elective Surgeries In Some Counties — 6/25/20, 12:10 p.m. ET

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) pressed pause on his state’s phased plan to reopen the economy due to a surge in coronavirus cases that has put great strain on local hospital systems. 

Abbott also ordered elective surgeries to be suspended in Bexar, Dallas, Harris and Travis counties — which include the cities of San Antonio, Houston, Austin and Dallas — to help free up hospital beds.

The state added around 30,000 cases in the last week alone, for a total of more than 130,000 cases since early March.

“These four counties have experienced significant increases in people being hospitalized due to COVID-19 and today’s action is a precautionary step to help ensure that the hospitals in these counties continue to have ample supply of available beds to treat COVID-19 patients,” the governor said Thursday in a statement. “As we work to contain this virus, I urge all Texans to do their part to help contain the spread by washing their hands regularly, wearing a mask, and practicing social distancing.”

Hospital systems across the Houston area warned officials earlier this week that they were nearing ICU bed capacity — considered to be a key metric in how well an area is handling the coronavirus outbreak.

Nearly all Texas businesses have been allowed to reopen at half or limited capacity. Businesses that have already been allowed to reopen can continue to operate under current health protocols.

Read more here.

— Sara Boboltz

Eiffel Tower Welcomes Its First Visitors In Three Months — 6/24/20, 11:35 a.m. ET

The Eiffel Tower has welcomed visitors after three months of closure, its longest period out of action since World War II.

HuffPost France reports (in French) that fanfare welcomed the first visitors since mid-March, who were few in number compared to the 20,000 per day who usually climb the 324 meters (1,062 feet) of Paris’s most famous landmark.

Strict hygiene and safety controls, including mandatory masks, did not spoil the enthusiasm of the first climbers, who were directed past hand sanitizer dispensers before setting off up the 674 steps to the tower’s second floor.

Elevators will not resume service until July 1 and the summit will not reopen until July 15. There will be a one-way traffic system on the staircases in the meantime.

— Bénédicte Magnier

Virginia Set To Become First State With Coronavirus Workplace Safety Mandates — 6/25/2020, 5:15 a.m. ET

Virginia’s health and safety board voted Wednesday to create workplace safety rules for coronavirus, The Washington Post reported. It will become the first state in the country to do so amid the lack of guidance from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the federal agency tasked with ensuring workplace safety.

A draft of the rules that Virginia’s board will work on includes mandating physical distancing and sanitation procedures, and requiring employers to inform employees within 24 hours of potential exposure to an infected coworker.

Some businesses have criticized the proposed rules as an unnecessary burden. OSHA has pushed back on criticism of the agency, saying that its existing protections are enough for the coronavirus era.

Virginia has seen at least 59,514 cases of coronavirus, and 1,661 deaths.

— Liza Hearon

Disneyland Delays Its Planned Reopening — 6/24/20 8:40 p.m. ET

Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California, will not open on July 17 as planned. Disney, which announced its reopening plans earlier this month, said Wednesday it could not move forward with a mid-July opening because the state will not release its theme park guidelines until July 4. 

“Given the time required for us to bring thousands of cast members back to work and restart our business, we have no choice but to delay the reopening of our theme parks and resort hotels until we receive approval from government officials,” the company said in a statement. 

Unions representing Disneyland’s workers objected to the theme park’s reopening plans, citing concerns over employee safety as coronavirus cases continue to rise across California. Orange County, where Anaheim is located, reported 354 new cases and 26 new COVID-19 related deaths on Wednesday. The theme park has been closed since March 14.  

— Mollie Reilly

North Carolina Governor Orders Residents To Wear Masks; Pauses Phase 2 Reopening — 6/24/20 3:50 p.m. ET

North Carolina’s governor announced that his state will not ease safety restrictions as planned on Friday and that going forward residents must wear masks in public due to a continual rise in COVID-19 cases.

“It’s clear that our numbers will keep us from moving ahead into the next phase of easing restrictions,” Gov. Roy Cooper (D) said at a press conference. “This is not where we planned to be, or wanted to be. But it is one of two important decisions that we need to make to effectively fight this disease.”

The state had planned to enter Phase 3 of its “Safer At Home” plan on Friday. It will instead continue its current Phase 2 restrictions for another three weeks, Cooper said.

The state’s new mask policy will require facial coverings indoors and outdoors in situations where physical distancing of 6 feet or more from people in other households or residences is not possible. People with medical conditions, who are under the age of 11, and who are walking or exercising outside at least 6 feet from others are exempt from this rule.

Cooper’s announcements followed the state health department’s report on Wednesday of 1,721 additional COVID-19 cases, North Carolina’s second-highest single-day increase since the pandemic began.

— Nina Golgowski

Apple Shutters Houston Stores As COVID-19 Skyrockets In The City — 6/24/20, 3:30 p.m. ET

Apple said Wednesday it will re-close seven Houston-area stores due to a surge in cases of the novel coronavirus there.

The closures will take effect Thursday, a list of store hours on Apple’s website shows.

The company has now had to re-close a total of 18 U.S. stores.

Last week it closed 11 in Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina and Arizona. In a statement at the time, Apple told CNBC it was acting “with an abundance of caution.”

— Ryan Grenoble

Houston ICU At 97% Capacity As Coronavirus Continues Sharp Spike In Texas ― 6/24/20, 12:00 p.m. ET

Hospitals in Houston are running out of room for intensive care unit patients as the coronavirus continues its surge in Texas.

Houston ICU beds have reached 97% capacity, with 27% of those cases coronavirus-related, Mayor Sylvester Turner told city council members on Wednesday. The city reported 944 new cases on Wednesday, according to the Houston Health Department.

Data collected by the Texas Medical Center shows the staggering growth of new infections across the state since it began its reopening process. In total, more than 100,000 people in Texas have been infected with the virus and more than 2,000 people in the state have died.

Republican Gov. Greg Abbot has said the virus is “spreading at an unacceptable rate in Texas,” but that the state will stay “open for business.”

— Sebastian Murdock

New York City Marathon Canceled Over Virus Fears — 6/24/20, 10:40 a.m. ET

The New York City Marathon, which is the world’s largest marathon, has been canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. The 2020 event, originally scheduled Nov. 1, would have marked the marathon’s 50th anniversary.

Registered runners were told they would be contacted about “cancellation resolution options” by July 15, including guaranteed complimentary entry to the 2021 marathon or a refund.

Virus rates in New York and New Jersey have been steadily falling, and public health experts believe the risk of contracting the virus outdoors is lower than it is in other settings. However, athletes typically generate an above-average amount of respiratory droplets. 

More than 50,000 people run the marathon each year, converging on New York City from across the world — a major risk factor for virus spread — and about 1 million onlookers and volunteers usually gather. 

Michael Capiraso, CEO of New York Road Runners, which organizes the event, told The New York Times the group finally called off the race before having to spend more money to make it happen.

“There was hope but that turned to uncertainty, and given what we have seen the past months this was really the only decision,” he said.

— Sara Boboltz

Concerns Over 10,000 Low-Cost Ventilators Ordered By Indian Government — 6/24/20, 5:40 a.m. ET

Concerns have been raised about 10,000 low-cost ventilators Narendra Modi’s government ordered as part of India’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

An exclusive report by HuffPost India reveals that two government-appointed committees have flagged issues with the reliability and capability of the machines, which were ordered as part of a plan to procure 50,000 ventilators for hospitals to cope with an anticipated surge of patients.

According to official documents, doctors warned the machines “should not be considered as a replacement for high-end ventilators” in ICUs, while experts claimed they should only be used when a backup ventilator was available.

Amid a global shortage of ventilators, Indian companies were invited to bid for contracts on the condition that once an order was placed, the government would accept the devices only after they were approved by an expert panel.

Doctors, however, have flagged serious concerns with the ventilators. In one example, five of eight of the ventilators installed at a hospital in Meerut, in the state of Uttar Pradesh, stopped working, according to internal company chats reviewed by HuffPost India.

AgVa, the manufacturer of the ventilators, said their devices are working perfectly and blamed misuse by hospital staff for any issues.

India, which is on track to overtake Russia as the third most affected country by cases, has reported 14,011 deaths from COVID-19 and 440,215 cases. 

Read more here. 

— Aman Sethi

Health Leaders Warn UK Must Start Preparing For Second COVID-19 Wave — 6/24/20, 5:35 a.m. ET

Health leaders are calling for an urgent review to ensure Britain is properly prepared for the “real risk” of a second wave of coronavirus. Ministers have been warned that urgent action is needed to prevent further loss of life and to protect the economy amid growing fears of a renewed outbreak over the winter.

The appeal is backed by the presidents of the Royal Colleges of Physicians, Surgeons, GPs and Nursing, as well as the chairman of the British Medical Association.

It comes after U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced Tuesday the biggest easing to date of the coronavirus lockdown in England. Johnson said the 2-meter social-distancing rule would be replaced with a “1-meter plus” rule that paves the way for pubs, restaurants, hotels and cinemas to begin reopening July 4.

In an open letter to the leaders of all the U.K. political parties published in the British Medical Journal, the health leaders warn: “While the future shape of the pandemic in the UK is hard to predict, the available evidence indicates that local flare-ups are increasingly likely and a second wave a real risk.”

“The job now is not only to deal urgently with the wide-ranging impacts of the first phase of the pandemic, but to ensure that the country is adequately prepared to contain a second phase.” 

Read more here.

— Nadine White

Texas Reports More Than 5,000 New Coronavirus Cases In 24-Hour Period — 6/23/2020, 8:30 p.m. ET

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott urged residents to stay home and wear face masks outside after the state reported more than 5,000 new coronavirus cases in a 24-hour period on Tuesday, an all-time high as officials work to contain an ongoing surge in infections.

“Because the spread is so rapid right now, there’s never a reason for you to leave your home, unless you do need to go out,” Abbott told KBTX News.

Texas is one of several states reporting record-high rates of infections and hospitalizations as regions across the country continue to allow businesses to reopen.

Earlier this week, Abbott said the virus was spreading at an “unacceptable rate” and warned he was considering rolling back some reopening measures, although he said that was “the last thing” he wanted to do.

The governor also gave local officials more power to limit large gatherings, which have been linked to outbreak clusters around the nation. 

“I urge all Texans to do everything in their power to reduce the transmission of the coronavirus by wearing a face mask, washing their hands often and staying six feet apart from others,” Abbott said in a statement Tuesday.

— Nick Visser

California Reaches Record High COVID-19 Hospitalizations For Third Consecutive Day — 6/23/2020, 6:55 p.m. ET

There were 3,868 people hospitalized with the coronavirus across California on Tuesday, according to state data analyzed by the San Francisco Chronicle. The figure represents a record high for the state for the third day in a row.

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases has been steadily climbing in California in recent weeks, with an average of over 4,000 new cases per day in the past week, according to the Los Angeles Times. About 42% of new cases in the past two weeks have been in Los Angeles County — far higher than its share of the state population.

Though most regions in the state have been easing restrictions around activities and businesses in recent weeks, Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) implemented a statewide mandate to wear masks. Newsom also said Monday that he’s prepared to shut down parts of the economy again if there’s a dangerous surge in cases.

— Sarah Ruiz-Grossman  

Fauci Contradicts Trump, Says Testing Isn’t Slowing Down — 6/23/2020, 1:45 p.m. ET

Dr. Anthony Fauci said Tuesday that the United States will continue to increase coronavirus testing, contradicting President Donald Trump’s claims that he was scaling it back.

“I know for sure that, to my knowledge, none of us have ever been told to slow down on testing,” Fauci said during a House hearing.

His remarks follow Trump’s statements that he had instructed authorities to slow down COVID-19 testing programs. At his rally last weekend, Trump said “testing is a double-edged sword” because it makes the outbreak seem worse than it is.

“So I said to my people,” Trump said, “slow the testing down please.”

— Lydia O’Connor

Fauci Says Next 2 Weeks Are ‘Critical’ To Addressing Surges — 6/23/2020, 1:25 p.m. ET

Dr. Anthony Fauci said during his testimony Tuesday that the coming weeks will be crucial for slowing COVID-19 surges around the country.

“The next couple of weeks are going to be critical in our ability to address those surges we are seeing in Florida, Texas, Arizona and other states,” he said.

Those states, among others, followed an aggressive reopening schedule. Now, they’re backtracking or implementing new rules. In the absence of a statewide mandate, several mayors in Miami-Dade County in Florida are implementing their own mask requirements. In Texas, authorities have temporarily suspended the alcohol permits of 12 bars that violated safety protocols.

— Lydia O’Connor

Fauci Says He’s ‘Cautiously Optimistic’ About Making A Vaccine Available By The End Of 2020 — 6/23/20, 11:42 a.m. ET

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the infectious diseases expert leading the United States’ response to COVID-19, told congressional leaders that he is “cautiously optimistic” about the prospects of making a vaccine available to the public “by the end of this calendar year.”

Public health officials and industry leaders are working around the clock to develop the vaccine, Fauci said at a House hearing on Tuesday. Various vaccine trials are underway, with one set to enter Phase 3 of development in July.

— Marina Fang

Cinemas, Galleries And Museums In England To Reopen July 4 — 6/23/20, 7 a.m. ET

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to announce today that cinemas, museums and galleries in England can reopen their doors from July 4.

But venues will have to operate under strict new coronavirus guidance, which is likely to include one-way systems, spaced queuing, increased ventilation and pre-booked tickets. Downing Street sources say the prime minister will unveil the much-anticipated reopening date Tuesday after taking guidance from top experts on the COVID-19 committee.

It comes amid a series of stark warnings about Britain’s ailing arts and culture sector, with the lockdown severely hitting revenues. Johnson is also expected to outline changes to the 2-meter social distancing rule in a statement to Parliament. A cut in the distance — the World Health Organization recommends 1 meter — seen as crucial to kickstarting the economy, with many retail and office spaces otherwise having to remain shut. 

— Rachel Wearmouth

Saudi Arabia Drastically Limits Hajj Pilgrimage Due To Virus Concerns — 6/23/20, 6:45 a.m. ET

The hajj pilgrimage, which usually draws millions of Muslims from all over the world, will see “thousands” at the most this year due to concerns over the spread of coronavirus, a Saudi official said Tuesday.

“The number, God willing, may be in the thousands. We are in the process of reviewing so it could be 1,000 or less, or a little more,” said Hajj Minister Muhammad Benten.

Only a limited number of people residing in the kingdom will be allowed to perform the pilgrimage, and they will be quarantined before and after participating. No one over the age of 65 will be allowed to take part.

The kingdom’s decision was largely expected, but still a disappointment to Muslims who have waited and saved money for years to make the journey.

Saudi Arabia has one of the highest rates of infection in the Middle East, with more than 161,000 cases and 1,307 deaths

— Liza Hearon

Brazil Records 50,000 Deaths In Less Than 100 Days — 6/23/20, 3:45 a.m. ET

Brazil reached more than 1 million confirmed coronavirus cases and 50,000 deaths over the weekend as throngs of people swarmed Rio de Janeiro beaches.

HuffPost Brazil reports (in Portuguese) that the first confirmed death in the country occurred on March 17, less than 100 days ago. Half of the 50,000 deaths, however, have been confirmed in the past 25 days.

President Jair Bolsonaro criticized the disclosure of the death toll, but the World Health Organization said Monday that even more cases were likely going uncounted in Brazil.

Brazil’s health ministry said Monday that an additional 21,432 confirmed cases of the virus and 654 new deaths had been registered in the previous 24 hours.

A day earlier, swimmers and sunbathers packed Rio’s beaches, with many neither wearing masks nor respecting the WHO’s guidance to maintain 1 meter, or 3 feet, of distance between people.

The WHO is looking into a surge of more than 54,000 new coronavirus cases in Brazil in 24 hours, that was reported by the health ministry on Friday and is by far the most reported in the country in a single day, according to top WHO emergencies expert Mike Ryan.

Ryan told an online briefing Monday that testing levels were still low in Brazil with a high percentage of positive results.

“That generally means there are probably more cases out there than reported,” Ryan said.

— Reuters and HuffPost Brazil

California Will Reverse Reopening Plans If Cases Surge ― 6/22/20, 5:30 p.m. ET

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) said he’ll shut down parts of the economy again if there’s a dangerous surge in coronavirus cases.

“We don’t intend to do that. We don’t want to do that. But I want to make this clear: We are prepared to do that, if we must,” he said at a press conference, noting there’s been an uptick is COVID-19 hospitalizations.

The state has been following a slower, more science-backed reopening plan. As businesses begin to reopen, California continues to introduce more protective measures, including a statewide mask mandate.

― Lydia O’Connor

COVID-19 Cases Surge As States Relax Guidelines, Reopen Businesses — 6/22/20, 4:20 p.m. ET 

Cases of COVID-19 surged to new highs Monday, with a preponderance of cases cropping up in states where social distancing guidelines and stay-at-home orders were relaxed earlier than others.

A New York Times tracker of virus hotspots shows states across the Southeast seeing sharp spikes, as are Arizona, Oklahoma, Oregon and Texas.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) on Monday urged residents to wear masks while going about their daily business. The state has set a record for COVID-19 hospitalizations for 10 days straight, with 8,300 new confirmed cases in the state on Friday and Saturday alone.

“To state the obvious, COVID-19 is now spreading at an unacceptable rate in Texas,” Abbott said.

“Our goal is to keep Texans out of hospitals and to reduce the number of Texans who test positive. … COVID hasn’t simply gone away,” he added. “We don’t have to choose between jobs and health. We can have both.”

Florida also saw a record high over the weekend, with 4,049 confirmed cases Saturday. The state has now seen more than 100,000 confirmed coronavirus cases, according to NPR. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) blamed the rising numbers on increased testing — not decreased safety precautions.

— Ryan Grenoble

New York City Enters Phase 2 Of Reopening — 6/22/20, 8 a.m.

Once the epicenter of the pandemic, New York City begins its second phase of reopening Monday, as the number of new COVID-19 cases continues to plummet and deaths have been in the single digits.

City officials say between 150,000 and 300,000 New Yorkers are expected to return to work in phase 2, which includes reopening real estate services, some in-store retail, barber shops, salons, certain offices and restaurants with sufficient outdoor dining space.

Phase 1, which included manufacturing, wholesale, construction, landscaping and curbside or contactless retail, began on June 8, with about 400,000 workers going back to work.

One major obstacle leading up to phase 2: many restaurants in New York City are too cramped to have enough space for outdoor dining. After much criticism from city residents, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced last week that restaurants can use curbs and sidewalks for outdoor seating, and starting in July, restaurants will be allowed to use streets for outdoor seating.

Throughout the pandemic, city officials have shut down more and more streets to traffic as part of the city’s Open Streets program, designed to give pedestrians more walking space.

— Marina Fang

Virus Cases Near 9 Million Worldwide With Surges In India, U.S. — 6/22/20, 6 a.m.

Nearly 9 million people worldwide have been infected with the coronavirus, according to figures from Johns Hopkins University, with a surge in cases in India’s rural villages as migrant workers leave major cities.

The World Health Organization reported late Sunday the largest single-day increase in cases by its count, at more than 183,000 new cases in the latest 24 hours, according to The Associated Press.

In East Asia, there were signs of progress in the fight against the disease, with South Korea and China reporting falling numbers of cases.

— Liza Hearon

No Mask Requirement For Trump’s Rally In Tulsa ― 6/19/20, 5:15 p.m. ET

Attendees at President Donald Trump’s rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, this weekend won’t be required to wear masks or follow social distancing guidelines, after the state Supreme Court rejected the requested requirements.

The request — made in part on behalf of two local residents who have compromised immune systems and are classified as more vulnerable to COVID-19 — was rejected on the grounds that the locals didn’t have a clear legal right to the relief they sought, according to the Associated Press.

Meanwhile, Trump warned that those who planned to protest at his rally would be punished, seemingly setting the stage for huge crowds and violent clashes outside the BOK Center. 

“Any protesters, anarchists, agitators, looters or lowlifes who are going to Oklahoma please understand, you will not be treated like you have been in New York, Seattle, or Minneapolis,” he tweeted. “It will be a much different scene!”

Tulsa’s mayor, G.T. Bynum, declared a civil emergency and set a curfew in the area for Saturday night, but the curfew reportedly has been rescinded.

Read more.

Andy Campbell

Why Is Federal Coronavirus Aid Being Funneled Away From Nursing Homes Amid Sweeping Outbreaks? ― 6/19/20, 12:15 p.m. ET 

Lawmakers are asking why the federal agency that regulates nursing homes has failed to distribute most of the money it received to respond to COVID-19 outbreaks at the facilities, NPR reports.

In a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) on Wednesday demanded to know why the agency hasn’t doled out the $200 million set aside for nursing homes as part of the CARES Act.

The lawmakers claim that only $1.5 million of the funds have been provided to a handful of agencies in different states so far. They also asked why the agency only allocated $80 million to bolster oversight of nursing home response, $20 million less than Congress allowed.

“Given the emergency, we do not understand why CMS opted for a slow, burdensome process – or why it took so long to decide on this business-as-usual approach – when it could have quickly released funding to states and territories in need by using an expedited process,” the letter reads.

— Andy Campbell

For more on the pandemic, go here. 

 

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Texas Reports More Than 5,000 New Coronavirus Cases In 24-Hour Period — 6/23/2020, 8:30 p.m. ET

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott urged residents to stay home and wear face masks outside after the state reported more than 5,000 new coronavirus cases in a 24-hour period on Tuesday, an all-time high as officials work to contain an ongoing surge in infections.

“Because the spread is so rapid right now, there’s never a reason for you to leave your home, unless you do need to go out,” Abbott told KBTX News.

Texas is one of several states reporting record-high rates of infections and hospitalizations as regions across the country continue to allow businesses to reopen.

Earlier this week, Abbott said the virus was spreading at an “unacceptable rate” and warned he was considering rolling back some reopening measures, although he said that was “the last thing” he wanted to do.

The governor also gave local officials more power to limit large gatherings, which have been linked to outbreak clusters around the nation. 

“I urge all Texans to do everything in their power to reduce the transmission of the coronavirus by wearing a face mask, washing their hands often and staying six feet apart from others,” Abbott said in a statement Tuesday.

— Nick Visser

California Reaches Record High COVID-19 Hospitalizations For Third Consecutive Day — 6/23/2020, 6:55 p.m. ET

There were 3,868 people hospitalized with the coronavirus across California on Tuesday, according to state data analyzed by the San Francisco Chronicle. The figure represents a record high for the state for the third day in a row.

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases has been steadily climbing in California in recent weeks, with an average of over 4,000 new cases per day in the past week, according to the Los Angeles Times. About 42% of new cases in the past two weeks have been in Los Angeles County — far higher than its share of the state population.

Though most regions in the state have been easing restrictions around activities and businesses in recent weeks, Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) implemented a statewide mandate to wear masks. Newsom also said Monday that he’s prepared to shut down parts of the economy again if there’s a dangerous surge in cases.

— Sarah Ruiz-Grossman  

Fauci Contradicts Trump, Says Testing Isn’t Slowing Down — 6/23/2020, 1:45 p.m. ET

Dr. Anthony Fauci said Tuesday that the United States will continue to increase coronavirus testing, contradicting President Donald Trump’s claims that he was scaling it back.

“I know for sure that, to my knowledge, none of us have ever been told to slow down on testing,” Fauci said during a House hearing.

His remarks follow Trump’s statements that he had instructed authorities to slow down COVID-19 testing programs. At his rally last weekend, Trump said “testing is a double-edged sword” because it makes the outbreak seem worse than it is.

“So I said to my people,” Trump said, “slow the testing down please.”

— Lydia O’Connor

Fauci Says Next 2 Weeks Are ‘Critical’ To Addressing Surges — 6/23/2020, 1:25 p.m. ET

Dr. Anthony Fauci said during his testimony Tuesday that the coming weeks will be crucial for slowing COVID-19 surges around the country.

“The next couple of weeks are going to be critical in our ability to address those surges we are seeing in Florida, Texas, Arizona and other states,” he said.

Those states, among others, followed an aggressive reopening schedule. Now, they’re backtracking or implementing new rules. In the absence of a statewide mandate, several mayors in Miami-Dade County in Florida are implementing their own mask requirements. In Texas, authorities have temporarily suspended the alcohol permits of 12 bars that violated safety protocols.

— Lydia O’Connor

Fauci Says He’s ‘Cautiously Optimistic’ About Making A Vaccine Available By The End Of 2020 — 6/23/20, 11:42 a.m. ET

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the infectious diseases expert leading the United States’ response to COVID-19, told congressional leaders that he is “cautiously optimistic” about the prospects of making a vaccine available to the public “by the end of this calendar year.”

Public health officials and industry leaders are working around the clock to develop the vaccine, Fauci said at a House hearing on Tuesday. Various vaccine trials are underway, with one set to enter Phase 3 of development in July.

— Marina Fang

For more updates on the pandemic, go here.

A HuffPost Guide To Coronavirus