coronavirus pandemic

Virus Updates: Biden Says He'll Take COVID-19 Vaccine; Hopes Fade for Relief Deal

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The United States topped 190,000 coronavirus-related deaths early Monday morning, according to a tally by NBC News. With 6.2 million confirmed cases, the U.S. has the largest outbreak of any country in the world.

Prior to Labor Day weekend, several U.S. officials urged people to maintain social distancing practices during the unofficial last weekend of the summer. Top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci warned seven states in the Midwest – North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, Arkansas, Missouri, Indiana and Illinois – were at risk of experiencing a surge in virus cases.

President Donald Trump also urged Americans to remain "vigilant" and wear masks. "We need everybody to be careful," he said Friday.

But a heat wave over the holiday weekend sent thousands of Californians to beaches as temperatures reached triple digits in much of the state, raising concerns about the spread of the coronavirus.

Colleges and universities also began to send students home over COVID guideline violations. New York University said it suspended 20 students Sunday, West Virginia University suspended 29 members of a fraternity house, and Northeastern University in Boston dismissed 11 students for allegedly hosting a party in a hotel room.

The Ebb and Flow of New Coronavirus Cases and Deaths

The graphs below illustrate the distribution of new coronavirus cases and deaths in the U.S. While New York accounted for the lion’s share of new cases and deaths in March and April, its numbers have declined in May as some states have increased. Hover or tap to see new daily cases and deaths across the country. States with the most are ordered top to bottom.

Source: The COVID Tracking Project
Credit: Amy O’Kruk/NBC

Here are the latest updates on the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S.:

Biden Says He'll Take Coronavirus Vaccine

Joe Biden is willing to take a coronavirus vaccine — as long as scientists say it’s OK.

Speaking to reporters after a campaign stop in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Biden said first he’d want to see what the scientists said about any potential vaccine. But he said he would like to see a vaccine tomorrow, even if if would cost him the election by helping President Donald Trump.

Biden also called for “full transparency on the vaccine,” warning that Trump’s repeated misstatements and falsehoods with respect to the virus are “undermining public confidence.”

He said he's worried that “if we do have a really good vaccine people are going to be reluctant to take it.”

As the world awaits an effective Covid-19 vaccine, the New York Times reports on commonly held anti-vax fallacies that provides yet another challenge to eradicating the disease.

Hopes Fading for Coronavirus Deal as Congress Returns

Hopes are dimming for another coronavirus relief bill from Washington as Congress returns to session. Talks between top Democrats and the Trump administration broke off last month and remain off track.

Recent conversations among the key players have led to nothing. And toxic relationships among those players are making it harder to break the impasse.

The legislation was supposed to deliver another round of $1,200 direct payments to most Americans, help schools and local governments and restore more generous unemployment benefits. Now all of that is at risk. If talks continue to falter, it's possible that lawmakers will simply leave Washington to campaign.

“I personally would like to see one more rescue package, but I must tell you the environment in Washington right now is exceedingly partisan because of the proximity to the election," said GOP Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell at an appearance in Kentucky last week. “We’ve been in discussion now for the last month or so with no results so far. So I can’t promise one final package.″

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnel, R – Ky., angrily warned Democrats to quit stalling on “political games” and strike a deal. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., fired back at McConnell over the bill’s failure to put restraints on a proposed $500 billion “slush fund” for corporations.

Virus Still Throwing Theme Park Attendance for a Loop

U.S. theme parks are still finding it tough to bring back guests this summer despite the wide number of safety measures they’ve put in place.

Attendance has been less than expected across the industry. And now there are worries over what the virus will bring this fall. Some parks are reducing operating days, slashing ticket prices, and closing early for the year.

Disney this week will begin cutting an hour or two from each day at its four Florida theme parks. California’s parks have been closed since mid-March and are pushing the state to tell them when they can reopen.

Six Flags expects its numbers to rebound when the health crisis settles down, Mike Spanos, the company’s CEO said at the end of July. But attendance at its parks around the U.S. has gone up and down depending on whether there are coronavirus surges in those areas, he said.

“We’re surveying guests every week and what they’re telling us is when they see a flattening of the curve, they want to get out,” Spanos said. “And we also see a chunk of guests that are saying when they’re comfortable with the vaccine, they want to get out.”

'Reckless & Selfish': San Francisco Mayor Rails Against Burning Man Gathering

San Francisco Mayor London Breed closed parking lots at a popular local beach Sunday after she said more than 1,000 people gathered there to celebrate Burning Man in defiance of coronavirus restrictions, NBC News reports.

"This was absolutely reckless & selfish," she tweeted. "You are not celebrating. You are putting people's lives at risk. You are putting our progress at risk. No one is immune from spreading the virus."

To avoid a repeat, Breed said she was closing the parking lots at Ocean Beach, on the city’s western edge, and law enforcement would patrol the 3.5-mile strip of Pacific coast Sunday.

Thousands of people attend a Burning Man celebration in San Francisco over Labor Day weekend.
Kyle Helfrich
Thousands of people attend a Burning Man celebration in San Francisco over Labor Day weekend.

The annual event, which takes place around Labor Day in the Black Rock Desert, north of Reno, Nevada, is virtual this year. But Burning Man began in 1986 at San Francisco’s Baker Beach, and a social media post appeared to show a handful of people there celebrating on Saturday.

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