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Your July 4th Update: Four Miami Marlins Test Positive for Coronavirus, Much of US Scales Back on Celebrations, States Shatter Coronavirus Records Over Holiday

Photo: Camylla Battani

Four Miami Marlins players test positive for coronavirus

The Associated Press

The Miami Marlins say four players have tested positive for the coronavirus, including one during this week’s screening that preceded the start of summer camp.

The other positive tests occurred earlier.

The players are self-quarantining, and the team didn’t disclose their identities.

Much of US scales back on holiday, but Trump is going big

WASHINGTON (AP) — It’s Independence Day and public health officials are urging Americans to hold more muted celebrations, given the spike in coronavirus cases.

But President Donald Trump is going big in the nation’s capital. He’s promising a “special evening” in Washington, with a “Salute for America” celebration.

It’ll include a speech from the White House South Lawn that he says will honor the country’s heritage. There will be a military flyover and a fireworks display that’s expected to draw thousands to the National Mall.

Many communities elsewhere have decided to scrap fireworks, parades and other holiday traditions to try to stem further spread of the virus.

States shatter coronavirus records as officials eye holiday weekend with alarm

Colin Dwyer, NPR

The grim news has taken no respite this Fourth of July.

On Saturday, just as residents across the country celebrated the holiday, state authorities once more reported a record-breaking number of new coronavirus cases. Florida and South Carolina on Saturday both reported passing their previous single-day highs, while states such AlabamaTexas and a slew of others continued to reel from recent records of their own.

In Florida alone, Friday saw more than 11,400 newly confirmed cases of the virus. That sum shatters a record that was set in the state just a couple of days ago — around the same time that the U.S. as a whole recorded the world’s highest-ever daily tally, with more than 55,000.

In a desperate bid to curtail the latest spike in the statewide caseload, local leaders in Florida implemented a slew of measures to tamp down on the weekend’s usual holiday festivities. Miami-Dade County, for one, has instituted a curfew beginning at 10 p.m. each night “until further notice,” while beaches across much of South Florida are closed.

Read the full article here.

MLS is Back tournament match postponed

The Associated Press

The MLS Is Back tournament match between FC Dallas and the Vancouver Whitecaps has been postponed after six FC Dallas players tested positive for COVID-19.

The group stage match was scheduled to take place Thursday. MLS officials announced the postponement Saturday and said a new time and date would come later.

FC Dallas confirmed Wednesday that players had tested positive upon their arrival in Florida for the month-long tournament. The entire FC Dallas delegation is quarantining in their rooms at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort.

Vancouver’s team is scheduled to arrive in Orlando on Monday.

MLS said the postponement would allow both teams to have additional training days in Orlando before opening tournament play.

FC Dallas will now play its first tournament match July 15 against the Seattle Sounders.

With fleets of planes, artists take to skies nationwide to protest mass detention during pandemic

Mandalit Del Barco, NPR

As Americans celebrate Independence Day, a group of artists and activists are writing pro-immigrant, anti-incarceration messages in the skies.

They hired fleets of airplanes to sky-write their slogans over 80 locations, including immigration detention facilities, jails, courts and the U.S./Mexico border.

The performance artist who goes by the name Cassils flew in one of the planes in a fleet over the West Coast headquarters of Geo Group, which is one of the biggest operators of adult detention centers for Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Cassils left a message to ICE in the sky: “Shame. #Defund Hate.”

Cassils, a Canadian immigrant who recently became an American citizen, was appalled to learn there are so many detention centers around the United States in plain sight — three words that became the name of the art project they helped create.

“We hear about these detention centers as being located amongst the southern border,” says Cassils. People don’t really understand, Cassils says, that detention centers are in practically every state in the country, “like near an IKEA in Brooklyn.”

Read the full article here.

Across Sun Belt, hopes for economy give way to renewed fears

The Associated Press

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — For residents across America’s Sun Belt — business owners and workers, consumers and home buyers —  the past three months have delivered about the scariest ride in memory.

With coronavirus cases surging through the region, it’s far from clear whether the stops, starts  and bumps in the economy are over.

Or are they new normal?

Will the Sun Belt remain gripped by doubt and uncertainty for months or years?

What is clear is that no one feels able to relax and assume the best. No one, not even the top experts, can say when a vaccine or an effective treatment might be in sight.

NBA emphasizes mental health as teams await Disney ‘bubble’

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The resumption of the NBA season during the coronavirus pandemic is making mental health a priority.

Pelicans general manager David Griffin says it is “critical” and that New Orleans will have mindfulness training every day.

Other teams say they have similar plans in place as 22 clubs prepare to resume play in a so-called bubble near Orlando, Florida.

The mental health and wellness director of the players’ union says down time in Orlando and restrictions on player movement will present challenges.

William Parham adds that he anticipates some increased anxiety, tension and restlessness.

Some New Smyrna Beach beaches close Saturday morning after reaching capacity

Danielle Prieur, WMFE

The Volusia County Beach Services says New Smyrna Beach beaches between Flagler Ave. and Crawford Ave. are closed for the day after reaching capacity.

In a Tweet on Saturday morning shortly after 8:30 am, the NSB Police said to “seek other beaches” and “do not park where prohibited.”

A separate Tweet, showed cars and trucks being towed after they had parked illegally.

Volusia County beaches remain open over the July 4th holiday weekend, after popular beaches in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties closed to locals and guests ahead of the holiday.

Signs on the beaches encourage six feet of social distancing.

Progressives surge in Congressional Democratic primaries

Susan Davis, NPR

The progressive wing of the Democratic Party couldn’t break through in the presidential race, but in congressional races, younger, more diverse, progressive candidates are enjoying a recent surge in support.

“The logic of COVID-19 as well as the logic and the righteousness of the movement for Black lives, I think, is forcing all of us to re-imagine both what is necessary and what is possible, and I think it’s having an impact on our politics,” said Maurice Mitchell, national director of the Working Families Party, a New York-based minor political party.

Progressive Black, male candidates in New York’s June 23 primaries (results have not yet been officially called by the Associated Press) are on track to win in three safe Democratic seats, virtually ensuring they will win in November and serve in the next Congress.

“Have I benefited from the newfound realization by some folks that we live in a severely unjust society as it concerns issues of race? Yes. Is that why I won? No,” Mondaire Jones told NPR.

Jones, 33, is also openly gay. He is on track to win a contested open seat primary for the seat of retiring Rep. Nita Lowey, who represents a mostly white, wealthy, suburban district home to Bill and Hillary Clinton.

International flights are ramping up. Slowly. And with plenty of caveats

Jessica Craig, NPR

I’ve been stranded in Kenya since March, trying to get a “repatriation” flight to return home to the United States.

I was finally able to book a flight but I’m still not sure I’ll be able to board at the scheduled departure time – a week from Saturday. Not only are cancellations part of the new normal for international flights, but passengers in some countries need to present evidence they’re likely not infected with the novel coronavirus before being allowed to board.

In Kenya, that means going to a private laboratory chain within 72 hours of my scheduled departure time and undergoing a COVID-19 test, which will cost about 8,000 shillings — about $80. The lab will provide documentation of my test results which I must present to airline staff at check-in.

As governments worldwide ease lockdown restrictions and lift bans on international travel, travelers will have lots of questions about how to proceed. Whether you are an expatriate hoping to return to your home country, a traveler with an urgent personal or business matter that requires an international trip or a tourist willing to consider a holiday in another country, here is what you need to know.

Read the full article here.

Why some young people fear social isolation more than COVID-19

Yuki Noguchi, NPR

Audrey just turned 18 and relishes crossing into adulthood: She voted for the first time this year, graduated high school, and is college-bound next month.

The honors student typically wakes up “a bundle of nerves,” she says, which has fueled her work volunteering, playing varsity sports, and leading student government.

But for years, she also struggled with anxiety, depression and obsessive compulsive disorder — all of which drove her to work harder.

“I was spending so much time on my homework, I felt like I was losing my friends — so my thoughts would race over and over again about my friends,” says Audrey. “And then I would have the difficult thoughts about suicide and some scarier stuff.” (NPR agreed to use only her first name to protect her medical privacy.)

Audrey’s psychological struggles landed her in mental health treatment last fall. There, she says, the coping skills she learned gave her perspective on quarantine: “I know all about how seeing friends and seeing people outside — and social interaction — is vital for survival.”

Read the full article here.

Curfews, closures as COVID-19 burdens Florida hospitals

The Associated Press

MIAMI (AP) — Florida’s most populous county is imposing an overnight curfew and beaches and businesses are closing down again as the state’s coronavirus caseload rose with a record number of new hospitalizations.

Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez ordered the overnight curfew as hospitals keep close watch on their available intensive-care beds. Starting Friday night, the curfew runs from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. and will be in place indefinitely.

The mayor also ordered casinos, movie theaters and strip clubs to close.

Florida reported about 9,500 confirmed coronavirus cases Friday and 67 deaths.

Florida also reported 341 new hospital admissions, the biggest daily jump since the pandemic began.

Widespread use of face masks could save tens of thousands of lives, models project

Mary Louise Kelly, NPR

More widespread wearing of face masks could prevent tens of thousands of deaths by COVID-19, epidemiologists and mathematicians project.

A model from the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation shows that near-universal wearing of cloth or homemade masks could prevent between 17,742 and 28,030 deaths across the US before Oct. 1.

The group, which advises the White House as well as state and local governments, is submitting the model for peer review, says Theo Vos, Professor of Health Metrics Sciences at IHME.

Read the full article here.

Planning to celebrate the 4th? What to know about the risks of parties and bars

Will Stone, NPR

Wanting to get together with friends and family to celebrate this holiday weekend but nervous about the coronavirus?

With new infections climbing in most states, infectious disease experts discourage group get-togethers, especially one that involves drinking. Bottom line: Watch out for parties or bars.

These settings tend to lead to a breakdown of the very behaviors that help prevent new infections. It’s a dangerous mix: socializing in large groups, sometimes in tight spaces and drinking, which lowers inhibitions and makes it less likely people will follow pandemic precautions like wearing masks and practicing good hygiene. Plus party-goers end up talking loudly, which only increases the chance of spraying virus-laden particles on other guests, especially indoors.

“It’s really hard to wear a mask in a bar. It’s hard to stay six feet apart. It’s hard to constantly wash your hands and not touch surfaces other people have touched,” says Dr. Thomas Tsai, a professor at Harvard University’s T. H. Chan School of Public Health.

If you or those you live with are high risk, or you live in a place with a lot of community spread right now (look up your state or county here), it’s probably best to sit out any situation where you will be drinking in a group. If you are planning to go out — or to host a shindig — read on for advice to stay safe.

Read the full article here.

Discourse over national anthem looms for NBA, other leagues

Kneeling during the national anthem is a hot topic in pro sports again as America gets set to celebrate a pandemic-clouded Fourth of July holiday.

The NBA has required players to stand during the playing of “The Star-Spangled Banner” for nearly 40 years.

The question is how many will kneel assuming the season resumes late this month near Orlando, Florida.

Colin Kaepernick started the movement nearly four years ago to protest racial inequality and police mistreatment of minorities. The NFL could see more kneeling in the fall.

It’s already happened in the women’s soccer league.

England to lift quarantine rule for more than 50 nations — but not for the U.S.

Jason Slotkin, NPR

England will lift a 14-day quarantine requirement on travelers from more than 50 countries and territories that have been deemed a “reduced risk” for spreading the coronavirus, the U.K. government has announced.

The rule change will go into effect on July 10 and will apply to places such as Italy, Spain, Germany and France, according to the government. The U.S., however, is not listed among the countries exempt from the self-isolation rule.

All international forms of travel to England will be included, and travelers from a smaller list of countries will also be exempt from contact tracing requirements.

Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland set their own public health policies and have not announced changes to the restrictions.

Currently, with more than 285,000 cases, the United Kingdom leads Western Europe in the number of reported coronavirus infections.

The Department for Transport said officials will continue to review the list of exempt countries and reinstate the quarantine rule if the risk of coronavirus spread increases.

“The entire nation has worked tirelessly to get to this stage, therefore safety must remain our watch word and we will not hesitate to move quickly to protect ourselves if infection rates rise in countries we are reconnecting with,” Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said in the announcement.

Read the full article here.

Drill down to the county level and the U.S. COVID-19 outbreak looks even worse

Nurith Aizenman, NPR

Across the United States the coronavirus is once again on the march. On Wednesday alone there were nearly 50,000 new cases — a record. The case counts for each state suggest the disease is mainly spreading in a band stretching from Florida across much of the southernmost states and westward to California, with Idaho and Iowa also in trouble.

But when you use tools to drill down to more local data, the picture gets more complicated — and even more concerning. Here are five takeaways:

It may be time for a statewide lockdown in Arizona and Florida

A key measure that epidemiologists track is the number of new coronavirus cases each day as a percentage of the population. (This per capita approach is key because it flags less populous locations that may have a large amount of spread relative to their size — and potentially more cases than their health systems are set up to deal with.)

This week a team led by researchers at Harvard came up with a rating tool with four tiers: The highest “red” alert level — triggered if a location has more than 25 new cases per day per 100,000 people — means the virus is spreading to such a degree that evidence suggests the only way to get a handle on it is to revert to stay-at-home mode. At this stage even less drastic measures such as massively ramped-up testing and contact tracing probably won’t cut it.

Technically, three states currently fall in this category: Arizona, Florida and South Carolina. But use the tool to check the situation at the county level, and the virus’s reach through Arizona in particular becomes apparent. Nearly two-thirds of the state’s counties are in the red zone — compared with about a third of South Carolina’s counties.

Read the full article here.

MLS players balance health history with virus risk

SEATTLE (AP) — The majority of Major League Soccer players will be taking part when the league resumes play next week with a tournament in Florida.

For some like Vancouver Whitecaps midfielder Andy Rose, that will include balancing underlying health concerns with the opportunity to take the field again.

Rose has Type 1 diabetes, putting him at a higher risk of complications if he contracts the coronavirus.

Another player going into the tournament with underlying health concerns is Seattle’s Jordan Morris, who is diabetic.

Columbus goalkeeper Matt Lampson is high risk after having survived cancer.

Major League Baseball cancels 2020 All-Star Game because of coronavirus

Jason Slotkin, NPR

Major League Baseball is canceling the 2020 All-Star Game over concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic and restrictions on mass gatherings, the league says.

This year’s Mid Summer Classic, planned for July 14, is the first All-Star Game cancelled since World War II. A week of fan activities around the American and National League exhibition match-up — including the Home Run Derby — will also be put on hold this year.

The Los Angeles Dodgers were set to host for the first time since 1980.

“Once it became clear we were unable to hold this year’s All-Star festivities, we wanted to award the Dodgers with the next available All-Star Game, which is 2022,” baseball Commissioner Robert D. Manfred Jr. said in a statement.

Canceling the All-Star Game is the latest hit the league has taken since the pandemic began.

In March, the league put a stop to spring training, just two weeks shy of what would have been opening day. Disagreements between the player’s union and MLB over money and safety concerns further delayed the league’s shortened 60-game season.

Read the full article here.

America relied on ‘individual decisions’ to slow the virus. It didn’t work

Consider This, NPR

It can feel a bit like headline deja vu: New cases on the rise; bars and restaurants closing down. More than 130,000 people are dead in the United States. Hotspots cropping up across the country.

How — after four months — are we here?

We’ll look at the steps being taken across the country.

On the brink, rural hospitals brace for new surge in COVID-19 cases

Kirk Siegler, NPR

In the Idaho mountain town of Grangeville, population 3,200, signs in windows on Main Street advertise that Border Days “is on.”

The annual Fourth of July celebration boasts street dances, Idaho’s longest-running rodeo and even the world’s largest egg toss. Like in a lot of small towns, Grangeville’s economy has been struggling throughout this pandemic.

Border Days planners decided to go ahead with an altered, if slightly scaled back version of the festival this year amid worries about a possible spike in coronavirus cases.

Grangeville’s population tends to skew older and underinsured.

“It’s going to be a little risky,” said Joel Gomez, owner of The Trails Restaurant & Lounge. “I feel like we’re going to get hit with the corona after this.”

With so many other July Fourth events canceled in the rural Northwest, local business owners such as Gomez are preparing for an onslaught of potentially thousands of tourists descending on the town.

Trails is one of the festival’s street dance and live music venues. Gomez is moving everything he can outside, taking reservations and spacing out tables.

Border Days organizers say they’re taking similar COVID-19 precautions. There have been only three confirmed cases in Idaho County since March. People around here have been taking the virus seriously, Gomez says, but after two months of shutdowns, his business is barely hanging on.

“It’s one of those things that you have to survive,” he said. “You’ve got people out there [trying] to feed their family. We are in the same boat.”

Up the street, at the 16-bed Syringa Hospital and Clinic, CEO Abner King says his staff is prepared for a possible surge in coronavirus infections in a couple of weeks.

Read the full article here.

NBA shutdown allowed many in the league unexpected time to heal

Plenty of aches and pains around the NBA have healed in the almost-four-month span since the league had to suspend its season because of the pandemic.

That means the 22 teams that will be arriving at the Disney campus near Orlando, Florida next week should be coming in with mostly healthy rosters.

Keeping players healthy once they get to Disney will be another challenge, as workloads ramp up quickly for the July 30 resumption of games.

But at least at the start of camps, rosters will be deeper than they were when the league shut down on March 11.

Locals and visitors conflicted about South Florida beaches being closed for the holiday

Danny Rivero, WLRN

The Fourth of July weekend in South Florida has faced a sudden change, as beaches are closed throughout the region.

Most of the restaurants with outdoor seating on South Beach had relatively few people sitting outside on Friday. Even the main strip on Ocean Drive was mostly empty.

“It’s actually super disappointing.”

Vonshay Crenshaw is sitting on a cooler under the shade of a coconut palm. He knew the beaches were closed – but was hoping to have a picnic with friends on the grass in front of the beach.

“We just thought that we could come out here and find a space that was a little distance away from other people and just relax and be outside. But apparently not. They came with four wheelers and stuff with the police and told us to take our tent down,” Crenshaw said.

Anthony Joseph drove down from Virginia and just got in last night. He had been planning the vacation for six months.

“I spent 300 dollars a night for me not to enjoy the beach. Luckily I got a nice pool at the hotel. I mean it sucks, but the weather is nice,” Joseph said.

The weather is nice, and people are exercising on the path running parallel to the water. Nashlly Sokoli lives in Brickell, and just finished with a jog.

“It’s nice, I think the locals appreciate the quietness of a Fourth of July weekend. Usually it’s kind of crazy down here. So it sucks that the beaches are closed, but I think safety comes first,” Sokoli said.

A few blocks away, the scene is centered around the reason the beaches are closed.

The state’s mobile testing unit for COVID-19 is parked in front of the Miami Beach Police Department. A line of people circles around the block.

Alexa Hincapia says it took her two hours to get a test.

“Porque donde estoy trabajando hay una persona con COVID-19 positivo. Entonces pues nos pidieron que todos nos hicieramos el examen,” Hincapia said.

She says – one of her coworkers at a restaurant recently tested positive.

Hincapia is not expecting the results for three to four days.

Listen again: Meditations on loneliness

TED Radio Hour, NPR

Original broadcast date: April 24, 2020.

We’re a social species now living in isolation.

But loneliness was a problem well before this era of social distancing.

This hour, TED speakers explore how we can live and make peace with loneliness. Guests on the show include author and illustrator Jonny Sun, psychologist Susan Pinker, architect Grace Kim and writer Suleika Jaouad.

Like what you just read? Check out our other coronavirus coverage. 

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Danielle Prieur

About Danielle Prieur

Reporter & Fill-in Host

Danielle Prieur is a general assignment reporter at WMFE. You can hear her reporting on a daily basis on the station. She also fills-in as a host during the morning and afternoon drive times. Her reporting has been featured on NPR, Marketplace, Here & Now, and Vox. Danielle is originally from Rochester Hills, ... Read Full Bio »