A woman wears a face mask as she takes a photo Thursday on the rooftop garden at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. The museum officially reopens to the public on Saturday after five months of closure due to the outbreak. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo
There were more than 1,000 U.S. deaths from COVID-19 for the third straight day Thursday, new data from Johns Hopkins University showed Friday.
Figures from scientists at the university’s Center for Systems Science and Engineering showed 1,100 deaths Thursday. U.S. deaths topped 1,200 on Tuesday and Wednesday after two straight days below 500.
In addition to the deaths, there were 46,000 new COVID-19 cases nationally on Thursday, according to Johns Hopkins — the second-highest daily total in nearly two weeks.
Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 5.87 million cases and 180,800 deaths in the United States, the university’s figures show.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday clarified its revised testing guidelines that said asymptomatic patients don’t need to be tested, even if they were exposed to the coronavirus.
Before Monday, CDC guidelines said all persons exposed to the virus should be tested. The change said anyone within 6 feet of someone with COVID-19, for at least 15 minutes, does not “necessarily need a test” if they haven’t yet displayed symptoms.
Some scientists criticized the change, saying it was likely done to keep positive test numbers down for political reasons.
Thursday, CDC Director Robert Redfield clarified the change and said those who come in contact with a COVID-19 patient can be tested, even if they don’t show symptoms.
Republican officials announced Friday that two attendees and two staffers at the Republican National Convention in Charlotte this week tested positive for the virus.
The GOP has come under fire for not implementing safety measures such as social distancing and mask requirements at convention events, including a nomination acceptance speech by President Donald Trump at the White House on Thursday.
In California, Merced County health officials temporarily shuttered a poultry processing plant where eight workers have died since late June and at least 358 tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
The county’s Department of Public Health said the true number of cases linked to Foster Farms Livingston Facility is unknown because the employees sought out testing on their own and voluntarily reported their results to the company.
County officials said the fatality rate of the workers is 2.2%, while the general population of the county is 1.3%
“If we’re going to keep food on our tables during this pandemic, we must do a better job of protecting the essential workers who are putting it there,” California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said. “That means standing up for the people in our poultry facilities, agricultural fields, meat processing plants, restaurants, grocery stores and more.
“Foster Farms’ poultry operation in Livingston, California, has experienced an alarming spread of COVID-19 among its workers. Nobody can ignore the facts: It’s time to hit the reset button on Foster Farms’ Livingston plant.”
According to The New York Times‘ coronavirus tracker, California has had 693,000 confirmed cases and more than 12,600 deaths. Based on population, Merced County has had the fifth-highest number of cases in the state — 7,814, or 2,814 per 100,000 people. The hardest hit county in the state is Imperial, with 10,573 cases or 5,835 per 100,000.
In Maryland, Gov. Larry Hogan strongly encouraged the state’s public schools Thursday to reopen for at least some in-person classes next month, although he did not directly order them to do so.
Sixteen of the state’s 24 school districts have announced they will start holding some in-person classes as soon as mid-September. Eight others — including Baltimore County — have indicated they will remain closed through January, a situation Hogan called “simply not acceptable.”
“As a result of our improved health metrics, every single county school system in the state of Maryland is now fully authorized to begin safely reopening,” he said at a news conference.
“Nearly everyone agrees that there is no substitute for in-person instruction. It is essential that we all work together on flexible hybrid plans to safely get some of our kids back into classrooms and into healthy and supportive learning environments.”
Officials at the University of Arizona in Tucson said Thursday they used a wastewater testing system to avert a possible outbreak at one campus dorm.
President Robert Robbins told reporters that the water testing system at Likins Hall alerted the university that students or staff in the dorm may be positive for COVID-19.
“What we really need to find out is who are the people who are asymptomatic that are positive,” Robbins said. “So, this random testing, this use of wastewater-based epidemiology is going to be really important.”
Tests of more than 300 students at the dorm found two positive cases, Robbins said. Those persons are now in isolation.