COVID-19 surge moves to Midwest, as young people fuel US case rise

Many states initially spared from the COVID-19 pandemic in March, April, and May are now reporting increasing transmission rates in non-metropolitan counties fueled by community spread.

According to the Wall Street Journal, in Ohio, Missouri, Wisconsin, and Illinois, the weekly change in COVID-19 cases has been higher in rural regions compared with metro areas, and outbreaks are linked to social events rather than workplace exposure or congregate living situations.

A summer of waning social distancing restrictions has made bars and restaurants common COVID-19 outbreak sites, on par with nursing homes and prisons states across the country. In Louisiana, the New York Times reports bars and restaurants are linked to 25% of the state's cases, and in Maryland, that percentage is 12%.

Fueling these outbreaks are the twin forces of a national "quarantine fatigue" and young adults, who are more likely than older, more at-risk Americans, to be both patrons and employees in dining and drinking establishments. Young adults are driving outbreaks in many states, and experts worry those with mild or asymptomatic cases are spreading the disease to more vulnerable household members.

In Texas and Florida, bars and restaurants were closed as case counts started to rise in June and July, and in New York City, indoor dining is still prohibited nearly 3 months after the city saw its peak of cases.

US averaging 1,000 deaths per day

In total, the United States has 5,171,343 COVID-19 cases and 165,328 deaths, according to the dashboard maintained by Johns Hopkins University.

Both Florida and Georgia yesterday set new records for daily high death counts. The nation reported 1,332 deaths in total on Tuesday, with Florida counting 277 and Georgia tracking 122. Yesterday marked the first day Georgia reported more than 100 deaths in a single day.

The country’s 7-day average for deaths is 1,052, according to the Washington Post.

Pac-12 cancels fall sports, as college towns brace for COVID-19

Echoing the decision made by the Big 10 conference yesterday, the Pac-12 conference canceled their fall sports season yesterday and said they hoped to play a football season in the spring of 2021. The conference includes major universities from Colorado to California.

"Unlike professional sports, college sports cannot operate in a bubble," said Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott. "Our athletic programs are a part of broader campuses in communities where in many cases the prevalence of COVID-19 is significant. We will continue to monitor the situation and when conditions change we will be ready to explore all options to play the impacted sports in the new calendar year."

Meanwhile, in college towns from Chapel Hill, NC, to West Lafayette, Ind., mayors and health departments are preparing for a surge of COVID-19 cases as students arrive back on campus in the coming weeks.

Most colleges and universities moved to distance learning in March, so August and September will be the first major test to understand how and if dormitories and dining halls contribute to COVID-19 outbreaks. Many worry the congregate living environments will host super-spreading events that will spill over into neighboring towns and communities.

According to Politico, many colleges and universities are making students sign health pledges and will maintain a daily COVID-19 campus case count.

Trump announces plan to buy 100 million doses of Moderna's vaccine

Yesterday, after Russia announced it was ready to produce and distribute a vaccine against COVID-19, President Donald Trump said his administration had reached a deal with vaccine maker Moderna to purchase 100 million doses of the company's COVID-19 vaccine, mRNA-1273.

Trump said Moderna's vaccine was one of six being invested in by Operation Warp Speed, the White House's effort to develop a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine in record time.

"We are investing in the development and manufacture of the top six vaccine candidates to ensure rapid delivery. The military is ready to go, they're ready to deliver a vaccine to Americans as soon as one is fully approved by the FDA and we're very close to that approval," Trump said.

According to Moderna, the deal is worth $1.525 billion and will give the federal government the option to purchase up to 400 million additional doses.

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