The latest on the coronavirus pandemic from around the U.S. and the world.

WASHINGTON — The White House and Democratic leaders agreed to try to finalize a deal to address lapsed unemployment benefits and eviction restrictions by the end of this week and hold a vote in Congress next week, suddenly trying to rush stalled talks in the face of growing public and political unrest.

Senior White House officials said Tuesday that they made “very concrete offers” to Democrats related to unemployment benefits and eviction protections, and after days of bickering both sides now appear to be trying to move closer to a compromise.

The agreement on a timeline came in a meeting with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows.

Senate Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi leave a meeting with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows on Tuesday. Mnuchin and Meadows told reporters that they are still trying to broker a deal with Democrats. Andrew Harnik/Associated Press

The four have been meeting nearly daily for a week. Their agreement Tuesday on a specific timeline to reach an overall deal constituted the most concrete progress yet. It suggests that the White House has backed off efforts to pass a stand-alone extension of unemployment benefits – and will stand down, at least for now, on more recent threats to act unilaterally through executive orders if no deal is reached with Congress.

“I may not have to sign (executive orders). Progress is being made,” President Trump told reporters at the White House.

Pelosi and Schumer pointed to signs of progress in earlier comments to reporters.

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Rhode Island added to nearby states’ quarantine lists

Travelers from Rhode Island have been added to the list of those who must quarantine while staying in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut as some Northeast states begin to see signs of rising infections.

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Parade goers are reflected in a storefront window posting a sign for customers to wear face masks before a Fourth of July parade in Bristol, R.I. Travelers from Rhode Island have been added to the list of those who must quarantine while staying in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut as some Northeast states begin to see signs of rising infections. David Goldman/Associated Press

There are 34 states and Puerto Rico on the travel advisory, which requires visitors from those areas to isolate themselves for 14 days in an attempt to prevent another surge of COVID-19 in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.

Rhode Island is the first neighboring state added to Connecticut’s advisory. Max Reiss, a spokesman for Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont said the restrictions will not apply to routine daily travel between the two states.

“Anyone who travels from CT to RI and spends less than 24 hours there does not have to quarantine upon return and they are strongly urged to limit their contacts while in the affected state,” he said in an email. “Additionally, anyone from RI who works in CT is under the same exemption. These individuals are strongly urged to work from home if possible.”

The quarantine applies to any person arriving from a state — or territory or Washington, D.C. — with a positive test rate higher than 10 per 100,000 residents over a 7-day rolling average or an area with a 10% or higher positivity rate over a 7-day rolling average.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Tuesday that Delaware and Washington, D.C. were dropped from the travel advisory. He said anyone traveling from states no longer on the advisory should still quarantine for 14 days.

“We cannot go back to the hell we experienced just a few months ago — and surging infection rates across the country threaten to bring us back there — so we must all remain vigilant,” Cuomo said in a statement.

Meanwhile, one of the three states behind the advisory, New Jersey, is showing signs of increased COVID-19 spread — though still not enough to exceed the metrics.

New Jersey has seen an average of around five new confirmed COVID-19 virus per 100,000 residents over the last week. That’s up from a low of 2.5 on July 22, and down from a peak of 41.4 new cases per 100,000 on April 7.

New York reported a daily rate Monday of 1.05, with a seven-day average of 3.44 per 100,00. Connecticut’s was 1.0, with a seven-day average of 2 per 100,000.

Cuomo has said New Jersey wouldn’t be subject to the advisory because the two states are so closely intertwined.

Rhode Island’s infection rate was reported to be at about 10 per 100,000 for a seven-day average, something that the state’s health department disputes. The state health department put its daily average for Monday at 2.7%

“We’ve reached out to The COVID Tracking Project several times to express concerns,” R.I. Department of Health spokesperson Joseph Wendelken told WPRI-TV. “The Rhode Island numbers they are using are inaccurate.”

U.S. nears 5 million virus cases, far outpacing other countries

BOSTON — Big house parties, no-mask weddings, crowded bars and restaurants — there are reasons the U.S. has racked up more than 155,000 coronavirus deaths, by far the most of any country, and is fast approaching an off-the-charts 5 million confirmed infections, easily the highest in the world.

Many Americans have resisted wearing masks and social distancing, calling such precautions an over-the-top response or an infringement on their liberty. Public health experts say such behavior has been compounded by confusing and inconsistent guidance from politicians and a patchwork quilt of approaches to containing the scourge by county, state and federal governments.

“The thing that’s maddening is country after country and state after state have shown us how we can contain the virus,” said Dr. Jonathan Quick of the Duke Global Health Institute, who is leading a pandemic initiative for the Rockefeller Foundation. “It’s not like we don’t know what works. We do.”

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Diana Vega, a registered respiratory therapist, instructs Nevada National Guardsman on how to test people during the setup of a temporary coronavirus testing site Monday in Las Vegas. John Locher/Associated Press

The number of confirmed infections in the U.S. has topped 4.7 million, with new cases running at over 60,000 a day. While that’s down from a peak of well over 70,000 in the second half of July, cases are rising in 26 states, many in the South and West, and deaths are climbing in 35 states.

On average, the number of COVID-19 deaths per day in the U.S. over the past two weeks has gone from about 780 to 1,056, according to an Associated Press analysis.

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Closing schools globally would cause a ‘generational catastrophe,’ UN secretary-general warns

The world is facing a “generational catastrophe” due to ongoing school closures, U.N. Secretary General António Guterres warned Tuesday, calling the coronavirus pandemic “the largest disruption of education ever.”

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U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Tuesday that allowing students to safely return to classrooms must be a top priority. K.M. Chaudhry/Associated Press file

Allowing students to safely return to classrooms must be a “top priority” as countries get local transmission under control, Guterres said in a video message released early Tuesday morning.

A policy brief published alongside Guterres’s message emphasized that suppressing transmission of the virus is “the single most significant step” leaders can take toward reopening schools.

Guterres’ comments come as countries around the world wrestle with how to keep students engaged while limiting the risk of coronavirus transmission, and as parents struggle with child-care challenges.

As of August 2, more than 1 billion students in more than 160 countries were affected by school closures, according to data collected by the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, and more than 40 million children had missed out on the “critical preschool year,” Guterres said. Countrywide closures remain in place in 106 countries.

Read the full story here.

Wave of evictions expected as moratoriums end in many states

BALTIMORE — Kelyn Yanez used to clean homes during the day and wait tables at night in the Houston area before the coronavirus. But the mother of three lost both jobs in March because of the pandemic and now is facing eviction.

The Honduran immigrant got help from a local church to pay part of July’s rent but was still hundreds of dollars short and is now awaiting a three-day notice to vacate the apartment where she lives with her children. She has no idea how she will meet her August rent.

“Right now, I have nothing,” said Yanez, who briefly got her bar job back when the establishment reopened, but lost it again when she and her 4-year-old daughter contracted the virus in June and had to quarantine. The apartment owners “don’t care if you’re sick, if you’re not well. Nobody cares here. They told me that I had to have the money.”

Yanez, who lives in the U.S. illegally, is among some 23 million people nationwide at risk of being evicted, according to The Aspen Institute, as moratoriums enacted because of the coronavirus expire and courts reopen. Around 30 state moratoriums have expired since May, according to The Eviction Lab at Princeton University. On top of that, some tenants were already encountering illegal evictions even with the moratoriums.

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Natasha Blunt poses for a portrait in New Orleans, Friday, July 31, 2020. Blunt owes thousands of dollars in back rent after she lost her banquet porter job. She has yet to receive her stimulus check and has not been approved for unemployment benefits. Her family is getting by with food stamps and the charity of neighbors. AP Photo/Dorthy Ray

Now, tenants are crowding courtrooms — or appearing virtually — to detail how the pandemic has upended their lives. Some are low-income families who have endured evictions before, but there are also plenty of wealthier families facing homelessness for the first time — and now being forced to navigate overcrowded and sometimes dangerous shelter systems amid the pandemic.

Experts predict the problem will only get worse in the coming weeks, with 30 million unemployed and uncertainty whether Congress will extend the extra $600 in weekly unemployment benefits that expired Friday. The federal eviction moratorium that protects more than 12 million renters living in federally subsidized apartments or units with federally backed mortgages expired July 25. If it’s not extended, landlords can initiate eviction proceedings in 30 days.

Read the full story here.

France to pay home caregivers virus bonus

PARIS — French President Emmanuel Macron announced that home caregivers who helped the elderly and people with disabilities during the pandemic will receive a bonus of up to 1,000 euros ($1,175) by the end of the year.

During a visit to the French southern city of Toulon on Tuesday, Macron paid tribute to about 320,000 caregivers who provided essential at-home services to 1.1 million people in the country.

He says the bonus will be financed by a 160-million euros package from the state and local authorities.

The French government had previously announced a bonus of up to 1,500 euros ($1,760) for healthcare staff in hospitals and nursing homes working in areas most impacted by the virus.

France, which has confirmed 30,294 virus-related deaths since the pandemic, brought the virus nearly under control with a strict two-month nationwide lockdown.

Yet the country is now seeing an uptick in virus infections, notably as young people gather at cafes or dance parties and families get together for summer vacation.

California lockdown’s job losses spell trouble for the nation

California’s second round of coronavirus-related shutdowns, among the nation’s strictest measures, are already causing pain for the most populous state’s labor market and portend a deterioration in the overall U.S. employment picture for July.

When Gov. Gavin Newsom announced on July 13 that indoor operations at businesses including salons and gyms would close to curb the resurgent virus — cases in the state have doubled in the last month — owners scrambled to figure out whether they could stay open. Some establishments, particularly restaurants, took advantage of outdoor space, but many closed completely, causing workers to be laid off a second time.

Jessica Van Auken, a hair stylist at Define Mi Hair Salon in San Diego, was finishing her final appointment on July 13 when her client received a text message about the state’s new shutdown measures. Suddenly, her last client of the day became her last client for the foreseeable future, and she found herself applying for unemployment insurance for a second time since March.

Read the rest of this story here.

Outbreak at German food plant tallies 166 positive tests

BERLIN – Local government officials say 166 employees have tested positive for the coronavirus at a canned food plant in a southern German town, where some 230 workers at a nearby vegetable farm already have been infected.

The local council in Bavaria’s Dingolfing-Landau county says the facility in Mamming has been closed temporarily, news agency dpa reported. All its employees are in quarantine.

The first 43 infections were reported at the weekend after an initial round of tests. Officials believe the virus was transmitted from workers at the vegetable farm to employees of the canned food plant and hope they are dealing with a single outbreak.

New infections in Germany have been creeping higher in recent weeks as officials deal with a variety of small outbreaks in different parts of the country.

Air traffic beginning to rebound in Italy

MILAN — Italian air traffic controller provider ENAV says that air traffic in July showed signs of recovery from the coronavirus shutdown.

Air traffic in July was three times higher than a month earlier in Italy, as the first Western nation to be hard hit by the coronavirus epidemic started to emerge from lockdown, ENAV reported Tuesday.

ENAV said 75,200 flights were recorded last month, down 60% from a year earlier but significantly higher than June’s 26,000. Further recovery is expected in August. On the first August weekend, flights were down by just half from last year’s number.

Nearly half of flights in July were international, one quarter domestic and one-third were fly-overs with no take-off or landing in Italian airspace.

Divorces rise in Belgium

BRUSSELS — In sickness and in health? Not so much in Belgium amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The Belgian notary federation said Tuesday that divorces have risen since the second half of May, when the lockdown and pandemic restrictions began easing in the country, allowing married couples whose relationship didn’t survive to get out and get a divorce.

Divorces rose nearly 25% in the second half of May, compared to the same period last year, the federation said. The trend continued in June, with divorces up 19.3% compared to the same month in 2019, while July saw 13.2% more Belgian couples sign divorce papers.

The federation did not release the actual number of divorces, but said the increase was in the hundreds.

Bart van Opstal of Belgium’s online notary portal notaris.be said there are two explanations for the rise.

“There was a catch-up effect because it was difficult to sign divorce papers during the lockdown,” he said. “In addition, the lockdown was a tough relationship test for many married couples. For many, it became clear over the last few months that there were serious problems in their marriage.”

All passengers on outbreak ship in Tahiti are disembarking

PARIS — All passengers aboard a cruise ship in Tahiti are disembarking after one traveler tested positive for the virus.

Following the discovery of the infection, the 340 passengers and crew members aboard the Paul Gauguin ship underwent tests and were confined to their cabins pending results.

All turned out negative, according to a statement Monday night from the commissariat for French Polynesia. Those aboard are disembarking in Papeete, the capital of French Polynesia on the island of Tahiti, it said. They will start seven days of quarantine and then undergo new tests.

French Polynesia reopened last month to visitors, but requires them to take a test before entry and again four days after arriving.

Cruise ships stopped sailing in March after several high-profile virus outbreaks hit cruises around the world.

43 passengers test positive on Norwegian cruise ship

COPENHAGEN, Denmark — The number of passengers on a Norwegian cruise ship who have tested positive for the coronavirus has reached 43, authorities said Tuesday.

The city of Trondheim reported the two new cases — a man in his 70s with light symptoms and a child under age 10 with no symptoms — saying both had been passengers on the MS Roald Amundsen. They were not identified.

Trondheim is about halfway to Tromsoe, north of the Arctic Circle, where the empty ship is docked.

Since the cruise line often acts like a local ferry, traveling from port to port along Norway’s west coast, some passengers disembarked along the route and may have spread the virus to local communities.

The outbreak raised new questions about safety on cruise ships during the pandemic even as the industry is pressing to resume sailings after shutting down in March.

The ship’s owner on Monday halted all trips and Norway closed its ports to cruise ships for two weeks.


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