The latest on the coronavirus pandemic from around the U.S. and the world.

MIAMI — The resurgence of the coronavirus in the United States ignited fierce debate Monday about whether to reopen schools, as global health officials warned that the pandemic will intensify unless more countries adopt comprehensive plans to combat it.

“If the basics aren’t followed, there is only one way this pandemic is going to go,”said the director of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, to reporters. “It’s going to get worse and worse and worse.”

He slammed some government leaders for eroding public trust by sending mixed messages on the coronavirus and warned that their failures to stop their countries’ spiraling outbreaks mean there would be no return to normal “for the foreseeable future.”

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Des Moines Public Schools custodian Cynthia Adams cleans a desk in a classroom at Brubaker Elementary School on Wednesday in Des Moines, Iowa. As the Trump administration pushes full steam ahead to force schools to resume in-person education, public health experts warn that a one-size-fits-all reopening could drive infection rates even higher. Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press

He did not call out specific politicians for criticism but said “too many countries are headed in the wrong direction” with the pandemic and some are not taking the proper steps to curb infections.

“Mixed messages from leaders are undermining the most critical ingredient of any response: trust,” Tedros said, adding that governments should communicate clearer public health messages and individuals should maintain social distancing, mask-wearing, hand-washing and staying home when they have COVID-19 symptoms.

Debate over the risks the virus poses, and how best to fight it, were spotlighted in Florida after it shattered the record among U.S. states for the largest single-day increase, with more than 15,000 newly confirmed cases.

Read the full story here.

Legal challenges mount to Trump administration rule on student visas

Eighteen attorneys general sued the Trump administration Monday, joining a growing number of efforts to challenge an order that would require international students to take classes in person this fall despite the coronavirus pandemic.

Google, Facebook, Twitter and more than a dozen other tech companies and associations, as well as more than 70 higher-education associations and scores of universities, supported a lawsuit by Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology seeking to block the rule. That case argues that the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s decision was made as part of an apparent political strategy to force colleges to fully reopen despite the rising number of COVID-19 cases.

A group of 20 universities in the Western United States, including Stanford University, the University of Southern California, the University of Oregon and the California Institute of Technology, also filed a lawsuit Monday seeking to overturn the order.

A coalition of student-government leaders at more than 150 colleges spoke out against the new guidance, which has not been published, calling it xenophobic and dangerous.

“The decision to take visa protections away from international students is cruel, callous, and senseless,” Ellen Yates, student body president at the University of Virginia, said in a statement Monday. “International students are not visitors or political pawns, they are human beings pursuing education, livelihoods, and dreams.”

Carissa Cutrell, a spokeswoman for ICE, said she is unable to comment because of the pending litigation.

Read the full story here.

Judge rules against man challenging New Hampshire coronavirus limits

CONCORD, N.H. — Nashua’s face-covering ordinance and the governor’s declaration of a state of emergency because of the coronavirus will stand while they’re being challenged in court, a judge ruled Monday.

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A masked mannequin hangs from a placard at Crosby’s Bakery in Nashua, N.H., in May. People are required to wear face coverings when entering any businesses under an ordinance passed in Nashua following the COVID-19 virus outbreak. Charles Krupa/Associated Press

Andrew Cooper, a Nashua resident, had filed a request for a preliminary injunction as part of his lawsuit seeing to end Gov. Chris Sununu’s emergency declaration and the city’s rules requiring members of the public ages 10 and older to wear face masks when entering any business, work site or government building.

He argued that Sununu lacked the authority to make the declaration because “there is no ‘emergency’ in New Hampshire,” a claim that Hillsborough County Superior Court Judge Jacalyn Colburn said defied common sense.

“As anyone not living in a cave for the past few months would know, the State, the Country, and the entire world are in the midst of a once-in-a-century pandemic event,” she wrote in denying the motion.

The judge was equally blunt in rejecting Cooper’s claim that the mask ordinance infringes on his freedom of speech. She noted that the U.S. Supreme Court established more than a century ago that actions taken in response to a public health emergency should be upheld as long as they have a substantial relation to public health and safety and do not constitute a “plain, palpable invasion of rights.”

“Here, it is plain-as-day that the ordinance bears a substantial relation to public health and safety,” she wrote. “It seems common sense — to everyone except the plaintiff, his attorney, and his expert — that requiring individuals to cover their faces while indoors will help reduce the transmission of a highly contagious virus that is spread through the air.”

California shuts bars, indoor dining, gyms, salons and churches

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday extended the closure of bars and indoor dining statewide and ordered gyms, churches and hair salons closed in most places as coronavirus cases keep rising in the nation’s most populated state.

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A hostess waits to sit customers on a restaurant at the pier on Sunday in Santa Monica, Calif., amid the coronavirus pandemic. The governor imposed additional restrictions on 30 counties on Monday as coronavirus cases rise again. Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

On July 1, Newsom ordered 19 counties with a surging number of confirmed infections to close bars and indoor operations at restaurants, wineries, zoos and family entertainment centers like bowling alleys and miniature golf.

The Democratic governor extended that order statewide Monday. He also imposed additional restrictions on the 30 counties now with rising numbers, including the most populated of Los Angeles and San Diego, by ordering worship services to stop and gyms, hair salons, indoor malls and offices for noncritical industries to shut down.

“The data suggests not everybody is practicing common sense,” said Newsom, whose order takes effect immediately.

He didn’t include schools, which are scheduled to resume in a few weeks in much of the state. But Monday, the state’s two largest school districts, San Diego and Los Angeles, announced their students would start the school year with online learning only. LA Unified is the second-largest public school district in the country.

In March, California was the first state to issue a mandatory, statewide stay-at-home order to slow the spread of the coronavirus. The order appeared to work as cases stabilized in the ensuing weeks while other states grappled with huge increases.

But the order devastated the world’s fifth-largest economy, with more than 7.5 million people filing for unemployment benefits. Newsom moved quickly to let most businesses reopen in May. Like other states that took similar steps, a subsequent rise in cases and hospitalizations led him to impose new restrictions this month.

Newsom has compared his strategy of opening and closing businesses as a “dimmer switch,” highlighting the flexibility needed as public health officials monitor the virus’s progress

California confirmed 8,358 new coronavirus cases on Sunday. Cases have increased 47 percent over the past two weeks, while hospitalizations have jumped 28 percent during the same time period.

Overall, California has reported more than 329,100 cases and more than 7,000 deaths, though infections are probably higher because some people don’t show symptoms and there’s a lack of testing.

Boston sees return of gyms and duck boats

BOSTON — Gyms in Boston are welcoming back members and the iconic duck boat tours are rolling again as the city enters the third phase of its coronavirus economic restart.

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Dan York, left, of Marshfield, Mass., carries his two-year-old daughter, Genevieve, following a ride on one of the iconic duck boats after tours resumed, Monday in Boston as Phase 3 of the city’s coronavirus economic restart began. Museums, movie theaters, historical sites and gyms in Boston were permitted to reopen Monday with certain restrictions, a week after most of the rest of Massachusetts. Steven Senne/Associated Press

Boston begins Phase 3 on Monday, a week after most of the rest of Massachusetts, allowing museums, movie theaters, historical sites and gyms to reopen with certain restrictions.

The New England Aquarium and Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum are among those expected to reopen this week.

Boston Duck Tours are also beginning on Monday. The company says its limiting the number of people on the duck boats so guests can socially distance and is requiring face masks for staff and guests.

Pat Smith, co-founder of a South Boston gym that reopens Monday, told The Boston Globe that most of its members have said they feel safe to return to working out in person.

“People are ready to roll, and get back to a little bit of normalcy,” said Smith of Lifted Fitness. “But only if they know the place they are going is taking the right precautions and being safe about it.”

But some residents are concerned that the reopenings could set Boston back in its coronavirus recovery.

“I feel like once the stuff starts to reopen, just like everywhere else in the country, there will be a surge in Boston and they’ll have to pull it back,” Marc D’Amico told WHDH-TV.

All three casinos in Massachusetts are also back in business.

MGM Springfield reopened Monday morning, following the reopening of Encore Boston Harbor in Everett on Sunday. Plainridge Park Casino, a slots parlor and horse racing track in Plainville, reopened last week.

The casinos, which have been shuttered for nearly four months, have reopened under strict guidelines from the state’s Gaming Commission.

Pandemic is worsening globally, WHO warns, and chastises political leaders 

LONDON — The head of the World Health Organization has warned that the COVID-19 pandemic is worsening globally and things won’t return to “the old normal” for some time.

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Pedestrians wear masks as they cross a street amid the coronavirus pandemic Sunday in Santa Monica, Calif. A heat wave has brought crowds to California’s beaches as the state grappled with a spike in coronavirus infections and hospitalizations. The WHO warned Monday that life won’t return to the “old normal” for some time. Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

At a press briefing Monday, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that “there will be no return to the old normal for the foreseeable future.”

Tedros said that while numerous countries, especially in Europe and Asia, have brought outbreaks under control, too many others are seeing virus trends move in the wrong direction.

Tedros also chastised political leaders for mixed messages about outbreaks that damage trust, without referring to any politicians by name.

Tedros called for countries to adopt a comprehensive strategy to curb the soaring caseloads in many countries, noting that about half of all the new cases are now coming from the Americas.

Still, Tedros said there was a roadmap out of the pandemic and that it’s never too late to control its spread even in places with explosive transmission.

Pandemic could push tens of millions into chronic hunger

ROME — The United Nations says the ranks of the world’s hungry grew by 10 million last year and warns that the coronavirus pandemic could push as many as 130 million more people into chronic hunger this year.

The grim assessment was contained in the latest edition of the State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World, an annual report which was released on Monday by the five U.N. agencies that produced it.

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Consuelo Pascacio’s three children; Estiben 4, Estefany, 11, and Javier, 14, dig into a chicken rice stew she picked up at a “community pot,” in their home in the Nueva Esperanza neighborhood of Lima, Peru, in this photo from early June. For many residents, the “community pot” is their only defense against a hunger that’s become a constant feature of life amid the new coronavirus pandemic. Rodrigo Abd/Associated Press

Preliminary projections based on available global economic outlooks suggest the pandemic “may add an additional 83 (million) to 132 million people to the ranks of the undernourished in 2020,’’ the report said.

Also compounding the situation is what the report’s authors described as “unprecedented Desert Locust outbreaks” in Eastern Africa.

The U.N. agencies estimated that nearly 690 million people, or nearly 9% of the world’s population, went hungry last year, an increase of 10 million since 2018 and of nearly 60 million since 2014.

The report noted that after steadily declining for decades, chronic hunger “slowly began to rise in 2014 and continues to do so.”

In terms of sheer numbers, Asia is home to the greatest number of undernourished people, an estimated 381 million, the report said. Africa has the most as a percentage of the population, U.N. researchers found, with nearly 20% of the continent’s people undernourished. That compares to 8.3% in Asia and 7.4% in Latin America and the Caribbean, according to the report.

With progress in fighting hunger stalled even before the pandemic, the report’s authors said that COVID-19 “is intensifying the vulnerabilities and inadequacies of global food systems’’ – defined in the report as all the activities and processes affecting the production, distribution and consumption of food.

The U.N. agencies said a “staggering” 3 billion people or more can’t afford to acquire the food needed for a healthy diet.

More most be done, including “ensuring all people’s access not only to food, but to nutritious foods that make up a healthy diet,” they said.

As a result of the pandemic, food supply disruptions, lost livelihoods and the inability of people working abroad to send remittances home to their families mean it is “even more difficult for the poorer and vulnerable populations to have access to healthy diets,’’ the U.N. agencies concluded.

Virus cases on U.S. bases in Okinawa climbing

TOKYO — Recent confirmed cases of COVID-19 at U.S. military bases on Japan’s Okinawa have grown to more than 90.

Okinawa prefectural officials said that 32 more cases were confirmed Monday at the Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, bringing the recent total to 95 across the installation and three other bases. Most of the cases are at the air station.

Governor Denny Tamaki held telephone talks on Saturday with Lt. Gen. Stacy Clardy, commander of III Marine Expeditionary Force. Tamaki demanded the U.S military increase disease prevention measures, stop sending personnel from the mainland U.S. to Okinawa and seal the bases.

Okinawa is home to more than half of about 50,000 American troops based in Japan under a bilateral security pact. Many Okinawans have long complained about pollution, noise and crime.

Outside the U.S. military bases, Okinawa has had about 150 cases of the coronavirus. Cases have surged recently in Japan, mostly in Tokyo and other major cities.

Democrats blast DeVos for insisting schools fully reopen

Facing widespread pushback, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos doubled down Sunday on her call to fully reopen schools and have children return to “learning full-time” in person by the fall – an effort that has also been championed by President Trump.

But while DeVos stressed the importance of getting students back in classrooms, she repeatedly dodged questions during Sunday morning interviews on CNN and Fox News about how that could be done safely amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, prompting fierce criticism from congressional Democrats.

“[Betsy DeVos,] you have no plan,” tweeted Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., on Sunday afternoon. “I wouldn’t trust you to care for a house plant let alone my child.”

Pressley was one of several Democratic lawmakers, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York and Sen. Kamala D. Harris of California, who publicly blasted DeVos following her Sunday TV appearances.

Read the rest of this story here.

Hong Kong increases social distancing measures

HONG KONG — Hong Kong has banned public gatherings of more than four and required face coverings on public transport as the city battles an increase in COVID-19 cases.

Restaurants won’t be allowed to offer dine-in services from 6 p.m. to 5 a.m., while fitness centers and beauty salons will be closed for 7 days. The measures take effect July 15.

The city will also increase testing to identify asymptomatic patients who are infected.

Hong Kong’s leader Carrie Lam, who announced the measures on Monday, also urged the private sector to put in place work-from-home arrangements for employees.

On Monday, 41 out of 52 coronavirus infections reported in Hong Kong were locally-transmitted cases.

Since July 6, Hong Kong has reported 250 new cases, with Monday’s tally being the highest since March.

Germany open to helping other nations with tracing apps

BERLIN — Germany’s health minister says his country is willing to help other governments develop coronavirus tracing apps, but wouldn’t say which countries have sought Berlin’s assistance.

Jens Spahn told reporters Monday that the German app’s code is open source, meaning others can see how it works. He also said that other countries had sought Germany’s help, but declined to name them because the issue was “highly political.”

The German Corona-Warn-App has been downloaded more than 15 million times since its launch last month. Officials say that so far about 500 people in Germany who tested positive for coronavirus have received the code required to warn others who might have been exposed.

The app uses Bluetooth signals to register which other smartphone were nearby for at least 15 minutes. Strict privacy guards mean the German government doesn’t know who has received the warnings for coming near an infected person.

Czech Republic re-imposes travel restrictions

PRAGUE — The Czech Republic is re-imposing restrictions for travel to Serbia and Montenegro after a spike in coronavirus cases in the Balkan countries.

Starting Monday, the Czechs moved Serbia and Montenegro from an EU list of safe countries to a list of high-risk countries.

The Czech Health Ministry says the two countries now have more than 50 positive COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people.

The move means that anyone coming to the Czech Republic from Serbia and Montenegro has to present a negative COVID-19 test or be quarantined.

The citizens of Serbia and Montenegro can enter the Czech Republic only for specific reasons, such as work or visiting relatives.

The European Union recommended that starting July 1, member states should begin lifting the travel restrictions at the external borders for residents from 14 non-EU countries, including Serbia and Montenegro.

Pakistan bars open-air livestock markets

ISLAMABAD — Pakistani authorities are banning open-air livestock markets in cities for the upcoming Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, or “Feast of Sacrifice,” to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

However, people will be allowed to buy and sell sacrificial animals at the designated 700 markets, which will be set up on the outskirts of cities across the country. These markets will only remain open from dawn to dusk.

Monday’s move comes as Pakistan reported 69 more COVID-19 deaths, taking total fatalities to 5,266.

Pakistan now has 251,625 confirmed cases and the decision to ban open-air cattle markets within the cities was announced at a meeting of National Command and Control Center, which supervises country’s response to the virus.

It said all the buyers and sellers of sacrificial animals must adhere to social distancing regulations

Eid-al Adha will be celebrated in Pakistan on July 31, subject to the sighting of the moon.

During the three-day holiday, Muslims across the world slaughter livestock and distribute part of the meat to the poor.

Greece seeking tougher restrictions following surge in cases

ATHENS, Greece — Greece says it is seeking a ban on church and village fairs and will tighten tourism-related checks following a domestic increase in coronavirus infections in recent weeks as well as a surge in some nearby Balkan countries.

Government spokesperson Stelios Petsas said a scientific committee meeting later Monday would examine a government request to impose a two-week suspension on church fairs that are popular in the summer months and have become a source of concern for public health officials.

Heightened health checks also take effect Wednesday at the Greek-Bulgarian border, at a crossing point open for nonessential travel, where all incoming travelers will be obliged to carry a health certificate saying they are negative for the virus, issued in English in the previous 72 hours.

Despite the restrictions, Petsas said Greece was going ahead with plans to open up to air travel from the U.K. starting Wednesday and was considering lifting restrictions from the United States, with a decision to be made later this month.

Greece has just 3,803 total confirmed cases of coronavirus infections and a death toll of 193, but government experts say they are worried about a recent increase in daily infection numbers as well as the pattern of the spread.

Johnson urges Brits to wear masks but does not mandate

LONDON — Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged Britons to wear face coverings in shops and other tight indoor spaces — but stopped short of making it mandatory.

Critics have accused Johnson’s government of failing to offer clarity on the mask issue in the days since he began backtracking on previous advice suggesting such coverings were not necessary. But Johnson says the scientific research has is now showing that masks help stop the transmission of COVID-19.

Speaking to reporters during a visit to the London Ambulance Service, Johnson said “face coverings do have a real value in confined spaces and I do think the public understand that.”

When pressed on whether it should be mandatory, Johnson said “we will be looking at the guidance, we will be saying a little bit more in the next few days.”

Masks were made mandatory in Scotland last week.

India adds almost 29,000 cases in 24 hours

NEW DELHI — India reported another record surge of coronavirus infections on Monday, adding 28,701 new cases over the previous 24 hours.

Authorities in several cities are reinstating strict lockdowns after attempting to loosen things up to revive an ailing economy.

The new cases raised the national total to 878,254. The Health Ministry also reported another 500 deaths in the past 24 hours, taking total fatalities up to 23,174.

New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore and Pune are among the key Indian cities witnessing a surge in infections. Several states introduced weekend curfews and announced strict lockdowns in high-risk areas to slow down infections.

India is third in total coronavirus caseload, behind only the United States and Brazil.

Mexican death toll exceeds 35,000

MEXICO CITY — Mexican officials say the number of confirmed COVID-19 deaths has passed 35,000, making it the country with the fourth highest total.

A count by Johns Hopkins University has only the United States, Brazil and Britain with more confirmed deaths from the new coronavirus. Sunday’s rise to 35,006 confirmed deaths moved Mexico, a country with 130 million inhabitants, past Italy.

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador insisted the development of the pandemic in Mexico “is positive, it is good” because of the country’s 32 states only nine had increases in infections.

“The bottom line is that the pandemic is on the downside, that it is losing intensity,” Mexico’s president said.

Nevertheless, some days this past week have seen record daily numbers of new infections.

Deputy Health Secretary Hugo López-Gatell said the number of confirmed cases of the new coronavirus rose to 299,750 on Sunday.

Victoria records just 177 new cases, but officials warn outbreak might not be contained

MELBOURNE, Australia — Australia’s worst-hit Victoria state recorded only 177 new coronavirus cases on Monday, but a health official is warning the disease’s spread might yet worsen.

The new cases were substantially down from 273 cases on Sunday and a record 288 on Friday.

Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said it was too early to say whether the lower count meant the spread was being contained.

“It’s great it’s lower than our peak. But it may not be our peak yet,” Sutton said. “So I would like to see a week of decreasing numbers before I come and say I have greater confidence about the direction we’re going in.”

Melbourne, Australia’s second-most popular city, and a part of its surrounds in Victoria returned to lockdown last week in a bid to contain the disease spread.

Australia has recorded around 10,000 COVID-19 cases and 108 deaths.


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