Coronavirus updates: Mike Pence to visit Arizona; Massachusetts reports zero deaths; California to ‘tighten’ restrictions

Vice President Mike Pence and Dr. Deborah Birx, who have been leading the White House response to the coronavirus pandemic, will visit Phoenix on Wednesday. They will meet with the governor and other officials to discuss the state's surge in cases and hospitalizations.

Meanwhile, California Gov. Gavin Newsom will announce "aggressive" coronavirus restrictions Wednesday ahead off the Fourth of July holiday weekend. In Oregon, face masks are required starting Wednesday.

International travel to European countries will resume Wednesday, allowing travelers from 14 countries but excluding Americans.

Here are some major developments:

New coronavirus infections could increase to 100,000 a day if the nation doesn’t get its surge of cases under control, Dr. Anthony Fauci told Congress on Tuesday. "We’ve really got to do something about that and we need to deal with it quickly," he testified. "It could get very bad."Arizona gyms are defying Gov. Doug Ducey's order to close again. One gym has filed a lawsuit calling the order "arbitrary and irrational."Americans will not be allowed to travel to European Union countries when the bloc opens up to international visitors July 1, the European Council announced.Massachusetts reported zero COVID-19 deaths Tuesday for the first time in months.Hospitalizations are rising in 12 states and about 130 counties are considered "hot spots," the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told lawmakers. See a list of which states are pausing reopening plans here.

📈Today's stats: The number of confirmed cases globally has surpassed 10.4 million, and the death toll was more than 511,500. There are more than 2.6 million cases in the U.S. and over 127,400 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins University data dashboard.

📰 What we're reading: Restaurants in California, Arkansas and Michigan have temporarily closed because some customers refuse to wear face masks and have harassed employees. Face masks "aren't a choice. It's part of public health code," one restaurant owner said. Here's how three restaurants have taken a stand amid the ongoing pandemic.

Our live blog will be updated throughout the day. For first-in-the-morning updates, sign up for The Daily Briefing.

Mike Pence to visit Phoenix as Arizona grapples with COVID-19 surge

Vice President Mike Pence will travel to Phoenix on Wednesday, continuing his tour of the nation’s new coronavirus hotspots in an effort to calm growing concerns that leaders in Washington and Arizona have bungled their response to the crisis.

Dr. Deborah Birx, a respected medical voice and member of the White House’s coronavirus task force, is accompanying Pence on his visit to the 2020 battleground state. Amid the growing concerns over the spread of the virus in Arizona, Pence scrapped a planned visit to Yuma and a campaign event in Tucson and pushed back his visit from Tuesday to Wednesday.

Pence and Birx are set to meet with Gov. Doug Ducey, public health officials and health care representatives to discuss the grim surge of new cases and hospitalizations.

The trip to Arizona follows their stop in Dallas on Sunday, where Pence, who chairs the task force, sounded an optimistic note about the battle to slow down the spread of the coronavirus. He sought to assure leaders there that they had the “counsel, the resources, and the support to meet this moment.”

– Yvonne Wingett Sanchez, Arizona Republic

Massachusetts reports zero COVID-19 deaths for the first time in months

Massachusetts reported zero COVID-19 deaths Tuesday for the first time in months, according to data in the state’s Department of Public Health's daily release.

The data also shows a downward trajectory in all four of the state’s public health indicators: the seven-day positive test rate, the three-day average of hospitalized patients, the number of hospitals at surge capacity, and the three-day average of deaths.

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker said at a press conference Tuesday that the state does “not want to take one step forward and two steps back as we keep climbing out of this horrific pandemic.”

Baker announced that the state will exempt travelers from Rhode Island, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, New York, and New Jersey from the state’s two week self-quarantine advisory. “COVID-19 will not be taking a summer vacation,” Baker said, referencing the Fourth of July weekend. Massachusetts has reported at least 8,054 fatalities from the pandemic – the first death on March 20.

– Elinor Aspegren

California Gov. Gavin Newsom will 'tighten' coronavirus restrictions

California Gov. Gavin Newsom will announce new coronavirus restrictions Wednesday to "tighten things up" as cases surge in the state.

"The framework for us is this: If you're not gonna stay home and you're not gonna wear masks in public, we have to enforce, and we will and we'll be making announcements on enforcement tomorrow," Newsom said at a news conference Tuesday.

He said the state will be “a little bit more aggressive as it relates to guidelines on Fourth of July.” California has nearly 223,000 infections with close to 6,000 deaths reported. However, officials are concerned about the hospitalization rates, which increased by 43% in the last two weeks.

Senate passes surprise extension of application deadline for PPP loans

The Senate passed a surprise extension for the Paycheck Protection Program to August 8 by unanimous consent Tuesday night, just hours before it was set to close down.

The legislation would extend the deadline for when the PPP can accept applications for forgivable loans. The bill gives the Small Business Administration the authority to continue approving loans to businesses that apply.

However, the House of Representatives will need to pass the legislation, and send it to President Donald Trump for his signature to keep the money flowing. Both chambers of Congress are set to adjourn for recess by the week’s conclusion.

The massive loan program has helped keep millions of small businesses afloat during the coronavirus pandemic and already has disbursed more than $500 billion to roughly 4.8 million businesses, most of them mom-and-pop outfits such as nail salons and retail stores.

– Savannah Behrmann

What we're reading

Aeromexico: Mexico's legacy airline files for bankruptcy hoping to survive coronavirus pandemicGoldman Sachs:A national mask mandate could lower virus infections and help recoveryCoronavirus baby boom may actually be a 'baby bust' as experts see spike in birth control orders.'This is hell': Parents and kids hate online learning, but they could face more of it

Arizona gyms defy Gov. Doug Ducey's closure order; 1 owner files lawsuit

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey is in a showdown with many gyms that are refusing to follow his Monday executive order that they close until at least July 27 to help slow the spread of COVID-19 as hospitals near their capacity to care for everyone who gets sick.

Ducey also ordered the closure of bars that don't serve food and water parks, but gyms are putting up the loudest resistance, even though some already have been fined for defying the order.

First was Mountainside Fitness, which declared soon after the governor's news conference that the chain would sue to remain open. Many other gyms followed Tuesday saying they would defy the order, including the EōS and Life Time chains across the Phoenix metro area. Tuesday, Mountainside filed that lawsuit.

The complaint, filed in Maricopa County Superior Court, calls Ducey's closure "arbitrary and irrational" and seeks to keep the 18 Mountainside gyms in Maricopa County open for their 90,000 members. "It's not about Mountainside," CEO and Founder Tom Hatten said Tuesday. "It's about business and our choices and our civil liberties and where our leadership is taking us at this point in time."

– Ryan Randazzo, Grace Oldham, Maria Polletta and Rachel Leingang, Arizona Republic

FDA: Coronavirus vaccine needs to be at least 50% effective to be approved

The Food and Drug Administration said on Tuesday that a coronavirus vaccine would need to be at least 50% more effective than a placebo in preventing or at least decreasing the severity of COVID-19 in order for them to approve it.

That threshold "would have been what I would have chosen since that is around what flu vaccines do that save lives," said Barry Bloom, an immunologist and professor of public health at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston. "Greater would, of course, be ideal."

With the FDA being under an Emergency Use Authorization rather than the typical process, some have expressed concern that the agency might face pressure from the White House to approve a COVID-19 vaccine as quickly as possible.

The first vaccine to be approved must go through the full FDA licensure process, including Phase 3 clinical trials to show it protests people against disease or infection

– Elizabeth Weise

More on the coronavirus from USA TODAY

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How do you stay safe on flights during the pandemic? Experts say flying is safer than it was earlier in the COVID-19 pandemic because of airlines' changes, but travelers can take precautions, too. Here's how.

Contributing: The Associated Press


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