Coronavirus death projections released ahead of Labor Day weekend are grim.
The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington’s School of Medicine is predicting more than 410,000 deaths by January if mask usage stays at current rates. If governments continue relaxing social distancing requirements, that number could increase.
Additionally, two-thirds of U.S. voters say they won’t try to get a coronavirus vaccine as soon as it becomes available and one in four say they don’t want to get it ever, according to a new USA TODAY/Suffolk poll.
And this Labor Day weekend, health experts worry that gatherings — of all sizes — could push another coronavirus surge. With temperatures forecast to reach triple digits in California, the beaches are expected to be crowded. Families and friends will gather for cookouts across the country. And, in South Dakota, the annual state fair will bring together thousands for cotton candy and amusement rides.
Some significant developments:
📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has 6.1 million confirmed cases and over 186,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. Globally, there are 26 million cases and more than 869,000 people have died. New case records were set in Montana, North Dakota and West Virginia, according to a USA TODAY analysis of Johns Hopkins data. Record numbers of deaths were reported in Arkansas.
📰 What we’re reading: The coronavirus pandemic and social unrest have increased the demand for therapists of color. “COVID made it explicit, some of the needs that communities of color always had to struggle with: unemployment, health conditions, lack of insurance, lack of coverage for mental health,” said Lucy Takagi, a clinical specialist at Montclair State University.
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More than 410,000 Americans will die of COVID-19 by Jan. 1, according to a model cited by top health officials and once used by the White House.
The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington’s School of Medicine predicts that number could exceed 620,000 if mask usage stays at current rates and governments continue relaxing social distancing requirements. Global deaths could reach 4 million by the end of the year in a worst case scenario, with a “most likely” scenario of 2.8 million.
Daily deaths in December could be as high as 30,000.
“Looking at the staggering COVID-19 estimates, it’s easy to get lost in the enormity of the numbers,” said IHME Director Dr. Christopher Murray. “The number of deaths exceeds the capacity of the world’s 50 largest stadiums, a sobering image of the people who have lost their lives and livelihoods.”
Murray said these numbers could imore lives could be saved if mask usage is near-universal and governments implement social distancing requirements.
Two-thirds of U.S. voters say they won’t try to get a coronavirus vaccine as soon as it becomes available and one in four say they don’t want to get it ever, according to a new USA TODAY/Suffolk poll released the same week that the number of COVID-19 cases surpassed 6 million.
The poll of 1,000 voters follows similar surveys conducted in the past month that indicate as many as one third of Americans would decline a vaccine, fueled by mistrust of the Trump administration’s push to speed up its development as well as a sizable slice of the country that generally oppose immunizations of any kind.
– Sarah Elbeshbishi and Ledyard King
The Officer Down Memorial Page, a nonprofit organization dedicated to honoring fallen officers, reports more than 100 law enforcement officials have died of COVID-19. Line-of-duty officer deaths in 2020 have already exceeded the total from 2019, when gunfire and vehicle crashes accounted for two-thirds of the 147 fatalities counted by the Officer Down Memorial group.
Officers have been considered essential workers throughout the pandemic, which has been particularly cruel to corrections officers. The Texas Department of Criminal Justice alone has had at least 16 confirmed line-of-duty deaths because of COVID-19.
“By the end of this pandemic, it is very likely that COVID will surpass 9/11 as the single largest incident cause of death for law enforcement officers,” spokeswoman Jessica Rushing said.
– John Bacon
South Dakota is one of the nation’s hot spots for COVID-19 infections. That didn’t stop another large-scale event from kicking off Thursday.
The rural South Dakota State Fair, which reported an attendance of 205,000 people last year, is set to run through Labor Day with more hand-washing stations, social distancing reminders and an encouragement — but not a requirement — for attendees to wear masks. It comes on the heels of the state’s two largest events: The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally and the The Sioux Empire Fair.
In the weeks following those events, South Dakota has emerged as a virus hotbed, according to data analysis. State and national health experts say the rise in cases is likely fueled by a combination of factors, including school reopenings, small gatherings and major events.
– Joel Shannon
President Donald Trump dismissed questions about his own health and mocked his Democratic opponent for wearing a mask in a freewheeling rally Thursday in Pennsylvania that came as polls show a tightening race.
For a second day, Trump dismissed questions about an unscheduled visit he made to Walter Reed Medical Center in November, brushing aside a report about the visit as a conspiracy concocted by critics. At the same time, Trump raised unfounded questions about Joe Biden’s own health, and criticized his mask-wearing.
“They want to try to get me to be in Biden’s physical level,” Trump told a crowded rally held in an airport hangar outside Pittsburgh. “I don’t like rumors like that. It’s not true.”
Trump was responding to a new book that asserted Vice President Mike Pence had been put on “standby” to take over the powers of the presidency during Trump’s November trip to Walter Reed. The White House has said Trump went there as part of his annual physical.
– John Fritze and David Jackson
As millions of students begin the semester online, a number of schools have terminated contracts with an online learning company following reports that some lessons included racist and sexually suggestive content.
Examples posted online by activists and confirmed by Kansas City-based Acellus, a learning company that contracts with about 6,000 schools, include suggestive language such as “sweetie lips” and a controversial illustration in a lesson about Harriet Tubman.
At least four elementary schools in Hawaii were among the first to cancel contracts. In August, parents and community members posted images and video on social media and an online petition, saying they showed examples of content that caused concern.
Aliamanu Elementary School at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam decided to drop Acellus after reports of “inappropriate and racist content” that spanned course subjects and grade levels, Principal Sandra Yoshimi wrote in a letter sent to families.
– Elinor Aspegren
California’s workplace safety regulator has ordered the San Quentin Prison dental clinic to stop drilling and other work because unsafe practices are spreading COVID-19.
The California Division of Occupational Health and Safety said workers were being put at risk of infection and banned dental work that sprays droplets from the patient’s mouth until the prison can meet a list of safety conditions, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
The prison in the San Francisco Bay Area is the California lockup hit hardest by the coronavirus. More than 2,200 inmates — about two-thirds of the prison population — have been infected, along with nearly 300 employees. Twenty-six inmates — including several on death row — have died from confirmed or suspected infections.
New Zealand is extending its coronavirus restriction until at least mid-September, Prime Minister Jacinda Arden announced Friday. Officials continue to mandate face masks on public transport and restrict large gatherings across the country after the city of Auckland had an outbreak last month.
The country reported five new COVID-19 infections on Friday. Three cases were connected to the Auckland outbreak while the other two were returning travelers who are under quarantine.
California is making “a lot of progress” toward reopening Disneyland and other theme parks, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Wednesday.
Still, Newsom said in a news conference, “we still have work to do” to establish guidelines that would allow the parks to reopen for the first time since they shut down in March because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“We’re still working on some details,” he said, without offering any specifics.
State officials have not allowed theme parks to reopen because of a spike in coronavirus cases. California has more cases than any other state, and as of Thursday, they totaled nearly more than 707,800, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Golden State also had the most new cases in the past week, with more than 34,700 reported.
– Curtis Tate
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Contributing: Jorge Ortiz, USA TODAY; The Associated Press
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