Coronavirus updates: George Floyd protests could fuel COVID cases, Trump postpones G7 summit
Nationwide protests sparked by the deaths of African Americans in police custody could fuel the pandemic, and President Donald Trump postponed the G7 summit until at least September amid coronavirus concerns.
Also, the Supreme Court ruled against allowing houses of worship in California and Illinois to reopen with more people than allowed by their state restrictions. The ruling comes as the U.S. closes in on 1.8 million confirmed cases, more than a quarter of all COVID-19 cases worldwide.
According to Johns Hopkins University data, the virus has killed more than 103,000 people in the U.S. and more than 369,000 worldwide.
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Here are a few key developments to know Sunday:
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has created a death benefit for the families of state and local government workers who ‘gave their lives for us.’The Supreme Court ruled against allowing churches in California and Illinois to reopen with more worshippers than allowed by current state restrictions, calling it a decision for elected officials and not unelected judges.
Floyd protests could spark coronavirus outbreaks
Civil unrest across the nation fueled by racial injustice is raising fears of new coronavirus outbreaks. Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms warned that “if you were out protesting last night, you probably need to go get a COVID test this week.” Bottoms warned that “there is still a pandemic in America that’s killing black and brown people at higher numbers” than white people.
In Minneapolis, where a police officer faces a third-degree murder charge in the death of George Floyd, the Minnesota health commissioner warned that the protests are almost certain to fuel new infections. Said Mayor Jacob Frey: “We have two crises that are sandwiched on top of one other.”
Health experts fear carriers of the virus who have no symptoms could unwittingly infect others at protests where social distancing is simply not taking place. The merits of the protesters’ cause “doesn’t prevent them from getting the virus,” said Bradley Pollock, chairman of the Department of Public Health Sciences at the University of California, Davis.
Cuomo signs bill giving death benefits to families of frontline workers
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Saturday signed a bill into law that creates a death benefit for the families of state and local government workers who have been on the front lines of the state’s coronavirus response, according to a statement. Those workers “gave their lives for us,” Cuomo said.
New York has been the state hardest hit by the coronavirus. On Saturday, Cuomo also confirmed 1,376 new cases of the virus. According to the governor’s office, that brings the statewide total to 369,660 confirmed cases.
Trump pushes G7 summit to September — or later
President Donald Trump has pushed the G7 summit to at least September, according to multiple reports Saturday. Trump originally had floated the idea of a virtual summit in June, when it was originally scheduled, to ease coronavirus concerns. He then suggested it would take place later this summer. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, however, has declined to attend any in-person summit during the coronavirus pandemic.
“I’m postponing it because I don’t feel as a G7 it probably represents what’s going on in the world. It’s a very outdated group of countries,” Trump said, per a press pool report. He said he wanted to invite other nations, including Russia, Australia, South Korea and India.
—Heather Tucker, USA TODAY
United Airlines announces executive cuts
United Airlines will cut 13 of its 67 senior-executive positions, the company said. Eight of its executives will leave Oct. 1 and five openings will not be filled.
The moves are part of United’s plan to cut management and support staff by at least 30% in October, the earliest it can do so under terms of the $5 billion in federal aid it is getting to help cover payroll cost, according to the Associated Press.
United Airlines President Scott Kirby has issued multiple bleak outlooks since the coronavirus crisis began hitting U.S. airlines in late February.
—Morgan Hines, USA TODAY
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Supreme Court won’t force California, Illinois to speed up church reopenings
A deeply divided Supreme Court refused Friday night to allow churches in California and Illinois to reopen during the coronavirus pandemic with more worshippers than allowed by state restrictions.
Chief Justice John Roberts, who cast the deciding vote in the more consequential California case, said choosing when to lift restrictions during a pandemic is the business of elected officials, not unelected judges. He was joined in the vote, announced just before midnight, by the court’s four liberal justices.
Writing for three of the four conservative justices who dissented, Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh said California’s current 25% occupancy limit on churches amounted to “discrimination against religious worship services.”
The legal battle reached the nation’s highest court days before Pentecost Sunday, when churches that have been restricted to virtual or drive-by services since before Easter are eager to greet congregants.
–Richard Wolf, USA TODAY
Without more coronavirus relief, schools slash budgets, prep layoffs
School districts around the nation are scrambling to respond to a double whammy: a reduction in money from states and an increase in costs to operate safely as the pandemic wears on. A $3 trillion House bill backed by Democrats in early May included nearly $1 trillion for states and local governments, but Republicans are balking. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said lawmakers would decide in the next few weeks whether there would be another relief bill, according to CNBC.
Even if there is, McConnell signaled it would have to be narrower in scope than what the House passed. Time is running out; many state and school district fiscal years begin July 1. Around the country, school boards and grassroots groups are pressuring lawmakers to send more stabilization funds before then.
–Erin Richards, USA TODAY
Many with coronavirus deal with lingering symptoms
Many of the more than 1.7 million Americans who’ve contracted the virus are confronting puzzling, lingering symptoms, including aches, anxiety attacks, night sweats, rapid heartbeats, breathing problems and loss of smell or taste. Many are living a life unrecognizable from the one they had before.
USA TODAY interviewed more than a dozen COVID-19 survivors to capture their thoughts on beating the virus that has infected more than 6 million people worldwide and learn how their lives have changed. Read their stories here.
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