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(BIRMINGHAM, Al.) -- A mother of three from Kansas has now been missing for a week after leaving on a trip to visit family in Alabama.

Marilane Carter, 36, left her home in Overland Park, Kansas, just outside Kansas City, on the night of Saturday, Aug. 1, according to police. She was last seen in surveillance footage checking into a hotel in West Plains, Missouri, the following morning.

Law enforcement said Carter last spoke to family on that Sunday near Memphis, Tennessee, before her phone went dead. Police confirmed her cellphone last pinged in that area.

Her husband, Adam Carter, told Kansas City ABC affiliate that his wife spent about three hours at the Missouri hotel before leaving and was speaking to her when her phone died. She spoke to her mother minutes later and her phone died again.

The Overland Park police said she "made concerning statements to her family and has not been heard from since later Sunday, August 2nd."

Authorities did not specify what was said.

"She was seeking some mental health care and she didn't want to go to any place in Kansas City, but she wanted to go to a place she was familiar with," Adam Carter, who works as a pastor in Kansas, told KMBC on Saturday.

Marilane Carter's mother lives in Birmingham, Alabama, and she was also going to see her newborn niece.

Carter said the family has been searching in the area of the Interstate 55 bridge over the Mississippi River in Memphis where the cellphone last pinged her location. She has not used her phone or credit card since speaking to her husband and mother on Sunday evening.

"We are devastated because she has three children and they cry every night," Marlene Mesler, Marilane's mother, told Birmingham ABC affiliate WBMA. "They are asking for their mommy. Her husband loves her so much."

Police said she was driving a gray 2011 GMC Acadia with the Kansas license plate, 194 LFY.

Carter is about 5-foot-8 and 130 pounds with long brown hair and green eyes. Police said she was last seen wearing a green T-shirt and black yoga pants.

"She's a loving mother, loving wife. We have a great relationship ship. I miss her terribly. I want her home. I want her home with our kids," Adam Carter said.

ABC News' Erin Calabrese and Ahmad Hemingway contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



(NEW YORK) -- A pandemic of the novel coronavirus has now killed more than 721,000 people worldwide.

More than 19.3 million people across the globe have been diagnosed with COVID-19, the disease caused by the new respiratory virus, according to data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. The actual numbers are believed to be much higher due to testing shortages, many unreported cases and suspicions that some national governments are hiding or downplaying the scope of their outbreaks.

The United States is the worst-affected country around the world, with more than 4.9 million diagnosed cases and at least 161,358 deaths.

Here's how the news is developing today. All times Eastern. Please refresh this page for updates.

4:26 p.m.: Ohio governor tests negative again

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said that he has again tested negative for coronavirus, according to a statement released by his office.

DeWine had tested positive earlier in the week, but then later that day announced that via a separate test he tested negative.

The test that DeWine originally took was a rapid-result test and, according to The Associated Press, considered to be less accurate than the one he took later.

His office called the first positive result a "false positive."

DeWine's wife, Fran, had the same results.

10:49 a.m.: Hospitalizations and deaths continue to increase in Florida

The Florida Department of Health reported increases in both hospitalizations and deaths Saturday.

Hospitalizations were up by 521 in the last 24 hours, with 6,991 active hospitalizations, while deaths rose by 182, putting the total number at 8,233, according to the department.

Cases also increased by 8,502 and 86,175 tests have been conducted. The state has now seen 526,577 confirmed cases of coronavirus.

Bay County, of which Panama City is the county seat, has the highest positivity rate in the state at 16.3%.

However, Miami-Dade County, the most populous county in the state, has the highest number of new cases at 1,801.

8:54 a.m.: Princeton shifts learning plan for fall semester

Princeton University will not bring freshman and juniors back to campus in the fall, as originally planned, due to coronavirus cases that have "soared" in recent weeks, according to a statement from the president of the university.

Courses will now be fully remote for undergraduates in the fall semester, president Christopher L. Eisgruber said. Graduate students will be allowed on campus because of the "different instructional and residential programs."

"This combination of health concerns and restrictions will significantly diminish the educational value of the on‑campus experience. It will also render that experience confining and unpleasant for most students," Eisgruber said.

He also noted that students from 34 states would have to quarantine upon arrival in New Jersey for 14 days and that the phased opening for the state has been paused over fear of rising cases.

"New Jersey’s careful approach has helped to keep the pandemic in check, but public health principles and state guidance still limit very substantially what we can do on campus," Eisgruber said.

The president said that the university will accommodate students who aren't able to return home or study from home, as well as a limited number of students with previously approved exceptions, which recognized their need to be on campus for their senior thesis research or other work essential to their degree programs.

Eisgruber said that while he knows the news is "disheartening and disappointing," the university is doing its best to prepare to welcome students back in the spring.

New Jersey was among the states hit hardest in the early stages of the pandemic, but has since seen some of the lowest daily infection rates. Gov. Phil Murphy has warned of late about rising numbers.

5:57 a.m.: Georgia school district reports 100 COVID-19 cases among students, staff

As the debate about reopening schools continues across the country, many children are already back in classrooms or are about to start. One state that has grabbed headlines this week is Georgia, where photos of crowded hallways showing students without masks went viral.

Now, one of the largest school districts in the Peach State is reporting that 100 of its students and staff are suspected of having tested positive for COVID-19, even before in-person classes have started. Those figures were provided to the district by the Georgia Department of Health.

Cobb County Schools Superintendent Chris Ragsdale said the district would remain virtual "until public health data in Cobb County changes and guidance from state and local public health officials recommends it," according to ABC News Atlanta affiliate WSB. The district, which has about 113,000 students, starts remote learning on Aug. 17.

Georgia exceeded 200,000 COVID-19 cases on Aug. 5, according to an internal Federal Emergency Management Agency memo obtained by ABC News. It took four months for the state to reach 100,000 cases and just four weeks to reach 200,000.

Cobb County, according to the Georgia Department of Health, has more than 13,000 confirmed coronavirus cases, with 1,363 current hospitalizations. The county has at least 317 COVID-19 deaths, the second most in the state, trailing only Fulton County's 420 deaths.

The state has more than 209,000 confirmed cases, with at least 4,117 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins.

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(LOS ANGELES) -- The remains of seven Marines and a Navy Sailor who were killed when their amphibious assault vehicle (AAV) sank during a training exercise on July 30 off of San Clemente Island in Southern California have been recovered, the Marine Corps announced Friday night.

After initially saying recovery efforts would likely be unsuccessful, officials with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), I Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF), and the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) positively identified the AAV on Aug. 3, nearly 400 feet underwater. Specialized equipment on a diving and salvage ship to recover the remains and AAV arrived Aug. 6, officials said. Their remains were recovered Friday.

"Our hearts and thoughts of the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit are with the families of our recovered Marines and Sailor," Col. Christopher Bronzi, commanding officer of the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, said in a statement Friday. "We hope the successful recovery of our fallen warriors brings some measure of comfort."

The recovered Marines and Sailor will be transferred to Dover Air Force Base, Delaware, for preparation by mortuary affairs teams for burial.

There were 16 aboard the AAV when it began taking on water during a shore-to-ship maneuver about a mile off the coast of San Clemente Island last month. Eight were rescued that day, one of whom was pronounced dead at the scene. The eight other on board were presumed dead after a lengthy and intense search and rescue operation.

The Marines were making their way back to the U.S. Navy amphibious ship USS Somerset on their AAV, according to three defense officials, when the incident began.

The AAV was among a group of 13 AAVs returning to the ship, which was approximately a mile from shore, Lt. General Joseph Osterman, commander of I Marine Expeditionary Force, said at a July 31 press conference.

Osterman said that the personnel aboard the AAV signaled to other AAVs that they were taking on water. Immediate aid provided by personnel on two other AAVs and those on a safety boat accompanying the vehicles helped rescue eight of the imperiled Marines.

"It sank completely," said Osterman, adding that "the assumption is it went all the way to the bottom," several hundred feet below the surface, too deep for divers.

The cause of the training accident is still under investigation.

The Marine Corps released details of the nine dead service members. All eight Marines served as riflemen in 1st Battalion, 4th Marines based in Camp Pendleton. The sailor was a Fleet Marine Force corpsman serving alongside them in the infantry unit.

Their names, ages and hometowns are as follows:

LCpl. Guillermo S. Perez, 20, of New Braunfels, Texas (pronounced dead at the scene) Cpl Wesley A. Rodd, 23, of Harris, Texas Cpl. Cesar A. Villanueva, 21, of Riverside, California U.S. Navy Hospitalman Christopher Gnem, 22, of Stockton, California LCpl. Marco A. Barranco, 21, of Montebello, California LCpl. Chase D. Sweetwood, 19, of Portland, Oregon Pfc. Bryan J. Baltierra, 18, of Corona, California Pfc. Evan A. Bath, 19, of Oak Creek, Wisconsin Pfc. Jack Ryan Ostrovsky, 21, of Bend, Oregon

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Courtesy Frank WimberlyBY: ELLA TORRES, ABC NEWS

(NEW ORLEANS) -- Frank Wimberly began grieving for his brother, Quinnyon, last fall after learning that he was one of three construction workers killed in the collapse of the Hard Rock Hotel in New Orleans.

Yet 10 months later, Wimberly said the pain still feels fresh because his brother's body hadn't been recovered.

Authorities have been working to remove the 36-year-old's body and that of a second victim, 63-year-old Jose Ponce Arreola, since the hotel crumbled on Oct. 12, 2019, but safety concerns and the instability of the building have remained an issue.

The third victim, Anthony Magrette, was removed.

"I think we have gone through the beginning stages of grief, shock and denial, but we have been stuck at the third stage of pain," Wimberly told ABC News.

Quinnyon Wimberly's body was set to be removed July 1, but the weeks dragged on and it still hadn't been, Wimberly told ABC News.

On July 13, New Orleans council member-at-large Helena Moreno released a statement saying the bodies would "soon be removed from the wreckage."

"This tragedy should never have happened, and it has taken far too long to be able to deliver dignity to these men who unfairly perished due to the terrible mistakes and misdeeds of others," Moreno said.

The latest deadline for removal -- and what the Wimberly family hopes is the last -- is now Saturday.

When officials told the Wimberly family the removal would happen in the window of July 20 to July 24, Frank Wimberly bought a plane ticket from Atlanta, where he lives, to New Orleans.

Other family members also flew in, some from Cleveland.

By July 23, Wimberly said it was clear officials would not make the latest deadline.

Wimberly said his brother's eldest son had been there for a month, but couldn't stay any longer.

"He's not even gonna be able to see his dad coming out of the building," Wimberly said.

His own son was graduating from high school this year, and the graduation ceremony was planned for July 24, however Wimberly said his son chose to miss it because he would rather be there for his uncle.

"Now it's like he missed his graduation for nothing," Wimberly said.

Wimberly said that the toll of the delays has caused the family great stress. And in the time it's taken for his brother's body to be removed also caused physical damage to his remains. His brother's legs were seen sticking out of the building after the collapse, and in mid-July, Wimberly says he was told the left leg had fallen off.

"It's just a lot of things going on ... my family and I were fed up," Wimberly said.

A spokeswoman for New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell directed ABC News to 1031 Canal Development LLC, the property owner, for comment.

A spokesperson for 1031 Canal said that the main concern for the company has always been health and safety. The spokesperson also said that two tropical storms hindered the efforts and caused delays. However, the spokesman believes that a removal by the end of the day Saturday is plausible.

The New Orleans Fire Department, which Wimberly said was in contact with the family about the removal process, did not respond to ABC News' request for comment.

Workers on site had been attempting to reach the bodies by chipping away at the building from top to bottom. Wimberly's body was expected to be removed first, with Arreola's the week after.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited "willful" and "serious" violations of Heaslip Engineering, LLC., as the main reasons for the building's collapse, according to documents filed by the federal agency.

The alleged violations include workers being exposed to falling materials and building collapse, a lack of a health and safety program, and design flaws that affected the structural integrity of the building, according to OSHA. Heaslip Engineering, LLC., was fined $154,214.

James Heaslip, founder of the company, which was the principal engineer on the Hard Rock project, did not respond to ABC News' request for comment.

An attorney for the company told that OSHA's conclusions were "unwarranted" and cited its "impeccable work."

"We believe OSHA's conclusions are unwarranted, not supported by the facts and beyond the jurisdiction of OSHA's statutory authority," Kelly Theard, an attorney at DeutschKerrigan LLC, told "Heaslip unequivocally denies any 'willful' or 'serious' wrongdoing, and will vigorously contest all of the citations through the procedures required by OSHA."

None of the companies cited in OSHA's report on the collapse responded to multiple requests for comment from ABC News. It's unclear whether they challenged the citations or paid their stated penalties. OSHA did not immediately respond to additional requests for comment on Friday.

Frank Wimberly told ABC News he's hopeful to finally see his brother be removed from the building.

As he and the family prepare for what should be the culmination of their months-long ordeal, rife with grief and anticipation, Frank Wimberly said the feeling is bittersweet.

The family held a memorial service back in November, but it's clear Quinnyon Wimberly's loved ones are looking forward to having some closure.

"We're tired of being patient," Frank Wimberly said.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



(NEW YORK) -- Summer storms brought another round of heavy rain, flooding and damaging winds to parts of the eastern U.S. on Friday.

An 89 MPH wind gust was reported in Cumberland County, New Jersey, on Friday night, and damaging winds downed some trees in Delaware as well. Over 4 inches of rain also fell in Winterthur, Delaware.

These summer storms come just days after Isaias went through the region, bringing damaging winds and torrential rainfall. A city like Allentown, Pennsylvania, has seen more than 7 inches of rain so far in August, which is 6 inches above its month to date average.

The good news is the summer storms are calming down in the eastern U.S. The threat for additional flash flooding is quite slim now, with only isolated storms possible.

Attention turns to a new severe weather threat, this time in the Midwest.

A couple of systems will combine to cause summer thunderstorms to develop later Saturday and into early Sunday. The threat Saturday will be from Nebraska to Minnesota, and then will move into central Minnesota and Wisconsin by Sunday.

The main threat will be damaging winds and large hail. Any slow-moving thunderstorm could produce flash flooding as well.

Meanwhile, in the south-central U.S., some of the summer heat will try to build this weekend. The heat index in parts of Oklahoma and Kansas is expected to be over 100 degrees. Therefore in some spots, a heat advisory has been issued.

After Isaias, the Tropics are briefly much quieter. There is a system that is being monitored for development in the Atlantic, which only has a 10% chance of developing further. It is almost guaranteed that the Atlantic will fire up again with activity as we head further into August.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Leonsbox/iStockBy LUKE BARR, ABC News

(WASHINGTON) -- The Bureau of Prisons has spent almost $3 million dollars on ultraviolet sanitizing devices to combat COVID-19 at 122 federal prisons, regional offices and its central office in Washington, D.C., according to the Bureau of Prisons, which confirmed the purchase to ABC News.

The contract, which was obtained by ABC News and dated May 15, says that GM Hill Engineering, based in Jacksonville, Florida, is providing the BOP with ultraviolet sanitizing gates -- even though the World Health Organization says UV light technologies should not be used on human beings and there is no definitive scientific research on the use of UV light to protect against COVID-19.

GM Hill did not respond to ABC News' request for comment.

The technology that the BOP has purchased involves people passing through a "gate" of UV light, which, according to the industry, will kill any germs related to COVID-19. BOP says that portals have already begun to be installed at its facilities and that all machines will be delivered by Oct. 31.

According to the Bureau of Prisons, 108 inmates have died of COVID-19 and over 10,000 inmates have tested positive. More than 1,200 corrections officers have been infected by COVID-19.

"These portals are a supplement to the BOP's overarching efforts to ensure the safety and health of our staff and inmates during the pandemic," the BOP said in a statement to ABC News.

While widely touted as a multifaceted solution, the use of UV light involving humans is not without controversy. A month before the contract was written, the International Ultraviolet Association, an organization that seeks to make the use of UV technology more prevalent in public health, discouraged the use of UV light on the human body to fight against COVID-19.

"We would like to inform the public that there are no protocols to advise or to permit the safe use of UV light directly on the human body at the wavelengths and exposures proven to efficiently kill viruses such as SARS-CoV-2," the group said in a statement.

Dr. Jay Bhatt, the former chief medical officer at the American Association of Hospitals and an ABC News contributor, said that this is an emerging field with limited scientific study.

"I think the technology is relatively new, and has to be proven. Further, I think that businesses should be thoughtful and careful as they're deploying various UV light technology to use for for disinfection because, ultimately, we've got to keep people safe and we don't want further increasing cases, when we're really just getting a handle on it, and in parts of the country," he said.

Additionally, the World Health Organization has recommended that UV light technologies not be used on people.

"The use of tunnels or other physical structures (booths, cabinets, gates) with disinfection aspersion, spray devices or UV-C radiation are not recommended for use on humans," the organization writes.

The WHO says, "UV-C radiation can cause harmful health effects. These include skin and eye irritation, sunburn, eye injury, digestive tract irritation and cancer. Looking directly at irradiating UV-C light can cause cornea damage. UV-C radiation can generate ozone, a harmful air pollutant."

The Bureau of Prisons Union has also sounded the alarm on the use of UV light technology, saying it is potentially dangerous to its members.

"Spending $3 million on unproven technologies is waste, fraud and abuse. That money should have been allocated to hiring staff," Rojas said. "We have institutions at critical levels like USP Thompson, FCC Beaumont, Yazoo, etc. They are at critical levels."

Rojas says he filed a complaint with the Department of Justice inspector general.

The Food and Drug Administration is allowing UV light to be used in disinfection of surfaces, but has not approved the use of the BOP's technology. U.S. airlines, such as JetBlue, have also tested the use of a UV light machine on empty planes that the airline says can disinfect the cabin of a plane in less than 10 minutes.

Other companies, such as Magnolia Bakery in New York, the Seattle Space Needle in Washington and United Airlines have also deployed this little-known technology.

The technology is safe, Fred Maxik, the chief scientific officer of Healthe Lighting, said.

Healthe Lighting is a company that develops technology for UV air and surface sanitation. It is unknown if BOP is using Healthe lighting products.

"The system that we are proposing is a 220 nanometer system that's been found to be safe for our skin and eyes and we can occupy that space at the same time the light's been turned on," Maxik told New York ABC station WABC.

The Metropolitan Transit Authority, which operates the New York City subway system, has also deployed the use of UV technology.

"Ultraviolet light is proven to be an effective technology for eliminating viruses, and has been previously used to combat the SARS virus," they said in a statement.

The International UV Association said that UV light "will be effective in a wide range of disinfection applications for air and surface treatment. However, more work is required to understand the variation of its efficiency against a wider range of pathogens of interest and the suitability of each application must be assessed on a case-by-case basis."

The BOP has been under scrutiny for its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, so much so that Pennsylvania Republican Rep. Fred Keller introduced a bill to require Senate confirmation for the BOP director.

Heightened COVID-19 risk to inmates and staff comes as BOP tactical teams were deployed to protests in Washington, D.C., and other cities throughout the summer.

Shane Fausey, the Council of Prison Locals president, said that 700 correction officers were deployed, "in less than 72 hours, to multiple locations across the nation."

"Quietly, you protected our nation's historical monuments, countless businesses, and cities, you even protected those exercising their Constitutional right to peacefully assemble. With violence and looting in check, America was once again allowed to be America," Fausey wrote in a letter to his members.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



(LOUISVILLE, Ky.) -- Kentucky officials offered new details on Friday in the investigation into the death of Breonna Taylor, a young Black medical worker who was fatally shot in Louisville, Ky., by plainclothes police officers who had entered her home.

Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron has said little about the case since taking over the investigation in May amid ongoing protests and calls for immediate charges against the officers involved.

Taylor's death on March 13 helped ignite civil unrest across the country as people protested against racism and police brutality. Louisville police officers had executed a no-knock search warrant and used a battering ram to forcefully enter the young woman's apartment. She was not the person they were looking for, according to police.

Amid mounting pressure for a decision in the probe, Cameron reiterated his commitment to the case, but he said investigators were still gathering information.

In a statement Friday, the AG's office said it was still waiting for key evidence, specifically related to the guns and bullets involved in the shooting.

"Attorney General Cameron remains committed to an independent and thorough investigation into the death of Ms. Taylor," the office said in a statement Friday. "The investigation remains ongoing, and we currently await additional testing and analysis from federal partners, including a ballistics test from the FBI crime lab."

The FBI confirmed that it collected a "significant amount of ballistic evidence" after searching Taylor's home in June.

“As many saw on June 19th, FBI Louisville returned to Breonna Taylor's apartment to execute a federal search warrant," FBI officials told ABC News in a statement Friday. "Over two days of searching, the FBI collected a significant amount of ballistic evidence and completed a shooting reconstruction. This evidence is being tested and analyzed at the FBI Laboratory in Quantico, Virginia."

Cameron has routinely refused to put a timeline on his office's decision.

Officers had executed a no-knock entry "due to the nature of how these drug traffickers operate," according to the arrest warrant obtained by ABC News.

Taylor was accused of accepting USPS packages for an ex-boyfriend whom police were investigating as an alleged drug trafficker who used her address, according to the warrant.

Taylor and her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, got out of bed around midnight when they heard a commotion outside. After a short exchange with police, Walker says he fired his gun in self-defense, saying he thought the home was being broken into, according to police.

The plainclothes officers returned gunfire, firing several shots and fatally hitting Taylor, police said.

Attorneys for Taylor's estate claimed that more than 20 shots were fired into her apartment, hitting her multiple times.

"I haven't had time to sit and grieve," Taylor's mother, Tamika Palmer, told ABC News in June. "I'm still trying to figure out why my daughter was killed. I'm still trying to figure out, why did it have to come to her being murdered. Why did Breonna have to die?"

ABC News' Luke Barr contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



(NEW YORK) -- (NEW YORK) -- A pandemic of the novel coronavirus has now killed more than 716,000 people worldwide.

More than 19.1 million people across the globe have been diagnosed with COVID-19, the disease caused by the new respiratory virus, according to data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. The actual numbers are believed to be much higher due to testing shortages, many unreported cases and suspicions that some national governments are hiding or downplaying the scope of their outbreaks.

The United States is the worst-affected country around the world, with more than 4.8 million diagnosed cases and at least 160,255 deaths.

Here's how the news is developing Friday. All times Eastern:

3:30 p.m.: California surpasses 10,000 deaths

California, the state with the most coronavirus cases in the U.S., has now passed the grim milestone of 10,000 fatalities, according to the California Department of Public Health.

Over 538,000 people in the state have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and at least 10,011 people have died, according to state data.

In the last two weeks, the number of hospitalizations in California has dropped by 15%, the data showed.

3 p.m.: Fauci expects 'tens of millions of doses' of vaccine in early 2021

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Friday he expects "tens of millions of doses" of the COVID-19 vaccine in the early months of 2021.

"They've already guaranteed they're gonna have hundreds of millions of doses in 2021." Fauci said in a livestreamed conversation with incoming Brown School of Public Health dean Dr. Ashish K. Jha. "If you look at the first couple of months of 2021, we're not gonna have 100 million doses, we're gonna have tens of millions of doses, which means that we gotta prioritize."

Health care employees, front-line workers and vulnerable, elderly people will likely be prioritized, Fauci said, noting that an independent committee from the National Academy of Medicine will help advise the CDC on distribution.

"We don't know yet what the efficacy might be," Fauci added. I believe we'll get an effective vaccine, but we don't know if it's going to be 50% or 60%. Hopefully, I'd like to see 75% or more."

"But the chances of it being 98% effective is not great, which means you must never abandon the public health approach," he added.

1:20 p.m.: Surgeon General says this will be 'most important flu season' in his lifetime

Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams is warning that this fall and winter will be the most important flu season in his lifetime, explaining that it's crucial to increase confidence in vaccines to prevent overwhelming ICUs with both COVID-19 and flu patients.

In an interview on Doctor Radio Reports on SiriusXM, Adams said slightly less than 50% of adults get their flu shot and that number is even lower among Blacks.

Adams said a potential COVID-19 vaccine must be more widely accepted.

"If we have that level of compliance for [a] COVID vaccine, then it doesn't matter how effective or how safe this vaccine is -- it's still not going to help us stop this outbreak. And it still could actually worsen disparities," Adams warned.

He said there's "a real opportunity" for "health influences ... to go and tell people: 'vaccines are safe. They are effective. Here is how they work.'"

"You need to both get a flu vaccine, and when it becomes available, you need to get a COVID vaccine," Adams said. And I am hopeful. I'm hopeful that because of coronavirus, we may actually see vaccine uptake increase across the country, particularly for vaccinations like the flu vaccine.”

11:40 a.m.: All New York school districts can open, Cuomo says

In New York state, which was once the U.S. epicenter of the pandemic, all school districts can open for the fall based on the infection rate, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on a conference call Friday.

"Every region is well below our COVID infection limit," Cuomo tweeted. "If the infection rate spikes, the guidance will change accordingly."

Each of the 749 school districts must have a reopening plan approved by the state's Department of Health, the governor said. So far, 127 districts have not submitted plans to the department of health.

Each district should also post a remote learning plan and a plan for testing, he said.

11:20 a.m.: Florida has 4 counties with no ICU beds

Hard-hit Florida has 47 hospitals with no available intensive care unit beds, according to the state's Agency for Healthcare Administration.

Four counties -- Bay, Monroe, Nassau and Putnam -- had no open ICU beds as of Friday morning, the agency said.

Thirty-one hospitals in the state had just one available ICU bed.

These numbers are expected to fluctuate throughout the day as hospitals and medical centers provide updates.

Florida has over 518,000 coronavirus cases, according to state Department of Health data. Florida has the second-highest number of cases in the country behind California.

9 a.m.: Entire high school football team quarantined in Alabama

The entire football team at Alabama's Oneonta High School is under quarantine due to coronavirus cases, ABC Birmingham affiliate WBMA-TV reported.

Practice will resume on Aug. 18 and the team's first game is set for Aug. 21, WBMA reported.

Oneonta High School's school year has been delayed to start on Aug. 18 after an emergency school board meeting vote on Thursday, the school said.

Classes will have a hybrid in-person/remote learning schedule. Some students have registered for full-time remote learning, the high school said.

7:38 a.m.: CDC says up to 190,000 dead by end of August

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its COVID-19 death projections, saying the coronavirus death toll could reach 190,000 by the end of August. The government’s ensemble forecast predicts “deaths may decrease,” but another 15,000 to 30,000 more Americans may die from COVID-19 over the next 23 days.

This week’s national ensemble forecast predicts that weekly reports of new COVID-19 deaths may decrease over the next four weeks, with 4,500 to 10,600 new deaths reported during the week ending Aug. 29. Its forecast predicts that 175,000 to 190,000 total COVID-19 deaths will be reported by that date.

State-level forecasts, according to the CDC, predict that the number of reported new deaths per week may increase over the next four weeks in Hawaii and Puerto Rico and may decrease in Florida, Mississippi, New Mexico, the Northern Mariana Islands, Ohio, Texas, Vermont and the Virgin Islands.

The COVID Tracking Project reported that for the first time since early March, the number of people tested for COVID-19 is down. This week’s tests were 9.1% lower than last week’s national peak of 5.7 million tests.

New cases of COVID-19 were also down this week by 10.4% , according to the COVID Tracking Project.

5:20 a.m.: US weekly COVID-19 cases, deaths down

Another day, another grim milestone for the U.S. as the coronavirus pandemic continues across the globe. Overnight, the U.S. surpassed 160,000 deaths, bringing its total to at least 160,104 as of 4:30 a.m., according to Johns Hopkins. The U.S. crossed 150,000 deaths last week.

In good news, however, an internal Federal Emergency Management Agency memo obtained by ABC News shows that the U.S. is slightly coming down from its recent national surge. New cases and deaths in the last week have both decreased in week-over-week comparisons. At least 396,559 new cases were confirmed during the period of July 29 and Aug. 5, which is a 12.6% decrease from the previous seven-day period.

There were 7,348 deaths recorded in the same time frame, marking a 2.4% decrease in new deaths compared with the previous week.

The national test-positivity rate is also going down. In the last seven days, the rate was 7.5%, which is down from 8.6% from the previous week.

Only two states and territories, according to the FEMA memo, are in an upward trajectory of new cases, while eight are at a plateau and 46 states and territories are going down.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Glynn County Sheriff's OfficeBy EMILY SHAPIRO, ABC News

(COBB COUNTY, Ga.) -- The white father and son accused of killing Ahmaud Arbery, who was Black and was jogging down a Georgia street, are looking to have bond set and two charges dropped, according to new court documents.

Attorneys for the son, Travis McMichael, 34, called him an "excellent candidate for low bond."

He was never charged with a crime until this case, according to court documents filed Thursday.

Travis McMichael has a 3-year-old son who lived with him every other week until his arrest, the documents said.

"Travis is an extremely devoted father who dotes" on his son, the defense attorneys wrote.

Travis McMichael has lived all of his life in the Brunswick, Georgia, area and was living with his parents at the time of his arrest, the documents said.

His attorneys said he isn't a flight risk because he doesn't have a passport "and most importantly, his family, including his parents and three-year-old son are here in Georgia," the documents said.

Travis McMichael's father and fellow defendant, former police officer Gregory McMichael, also "meets the conditions for pretrial release on reasonable bond," his attorneys said in documents filed Thursday.

Gregory McMichael's attorneys asked the court to set a hearing within 20 days.

Gregory and Travis McMichael were arrested in May and face charges of malice murder, felony murder, aggravated assault, false imprisonment and criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment

A third suspect, neighbor William "Roddie" Bryan, faces the same charges as the McMichaels. Bryan's bail was denied last month.

All three have pleaded not guilty.

Arbery was on a jog in Brunswick when he was shot and killed on Feb. 23. Prosecutors claim that 25-year-old Arbery tried to run for his life before he was struck by a car, gunned down and then called a racial slur by one of the suspects.

The three arrested told police they thought Arbery was a suspect in a series of break-ins. They were charged after video showing the deadly struggle appeared online.

The McMichaels and Bryan also want the charges of malice murder and criminal attempt to commit a felony dropped.

The malice murder count "charges two crimes in one count, making it duplicitous," the McMichaels' attorneys claimed. "It does so by trading on vague and uncertain allegation regarding 'unlawfully chasing' in pickup trucks, which inserts an unspecified separate crime from malice murder, namely, 'unlawfully chasing [Ahmaud Arbery] through the public roadways.'"

The McMichael's attorneys argued that the criminal attempt to commit a felony count is also duplicitous because the count "alleges both a completed crime -- 'unlawfully chase Ahmaud Arbery in pickup trucks' and an attempted crime 'attempt to confine and detain Ahmaud Arbery without legal authority on Burford Road using Ford F150 pickup truck and Chevy Silverado pickup truck.'"

Bryan's attorney filed a motion Thursday looking to adopt the claims made by the McMichael's attorneys to also get those two charges dropped.

ABC News has reached out to the Cobb County District Attorney's office for comment.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



(NEW YORK) -- Another round of summer storms is getting ready to impact parts of the eastern U.S. Friday as more than one million people are still without power in the region.

This comes after a week that saw Tropical Storm Isaias hit the East Coast, downing thousands of trees and causing widespread wind damage, especially from North Carolina to Connecticut.

Some summer storms caused some flash flooding in parts of Virginia overnight. Those came after storms brought some damaging wind gusts from the Carolinas to New Jersey on Thursday.

Flash flood watches are in effect from Virginia to New Jersey Friday. This alert includes Washington, D.C., Baltimore and Philadelphia.

The total forecasted rainfall is 1-2 inches, which ordinarily is not incredibly significant, but given the ground is extremely saturated from Isaias, flash flooding can occur rather quickly.

High-resolution forecast models are showing several rounds of storms affecting the region Friday and into early Saturday. Some of these storms could have gusty winds, but the main threat will be flash flooding.

Meanwhile in the West, there is still a fire danger threat this weekend.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


franckreporter/iStockBy WILLIAM MANSELL, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- Large portions of Manhattan in New York City were without power Friday morning as at least 1.3 million people are still without power along the East Coast after Isaias wreaked havoc on the region earlier this week.

Con Edison, the city's main power company, said there are at least 123,808 customers without power, including those who had previously lost power as a result of the storm, as of 6:30 a.m. Friday.

The new power outages in New York City Friday, according to Con Ed's outage map, were in the Upper West Side, Harlem and Upper East Side neighborhoods.

ConEd, in a statement to ABC News, said the supply has been restored to those areas.

"We are investigating a problem on our transmission system that caused three networks in Manhattan to lose their electric supply at about 5:13 this morning," ConEd said in a statement.

A live camera from ABC News New York City station WABC-TV showed a large section of the Upper West Side completely dark. A station camera also showed the electricity out in the Upper East Side.

Subways in the city are also being impacted because of the Manhattan power outage, according to the Metropolitan Transit Authority.

Lines impacted, according to the MTA, include the A, B, C, D, 1,2,3, E, F, N, Q, and R trains.

"Expect delays as we are getting reports of power outages in some parts of uptown Manhattan," the MTA tweeted. "This is also affecting stations and third-rail power."

Thousands have been without power in the city this week as a result of Isaias.

"We realize it is incredibly frustrating to be without power and that is why we are working around the clock to get customers back in service," Robert Schimmenti, Con Edison's senior vice president, Electric Operations, said in a statement Thursday. "We have additional mutual aid and contractor workers arriving each day to help us restore service safely. We assure our customers that our crews will remain on the job 24-7 until everyone has their power back."

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


UnCruise Adventures CEO Captain Dan Blanchard. (ABC News)By AMANDA MAILE and MINA KAJI, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- One of the first U.S. cruises to resume sailing amid the novel coronavirus pandemic was cut short after a passenger tested positive for COVID-19.

The 63 passengers and crew aboard the UnCruise Adventures' ship were just three days into their Alaskan vacation when they were informed Wednesday the guest had tested positive and they would have to return to port.

"This was the guest's second test following a negative test result," UnCruise Adventures said in a statement. "The guest is showing no symptoms and no other guests or crew are showing outward symptoms of any kind."

UnCruise Adventures was able to circumvent the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention no-sail order because its ships carry less than 250 people.

"Social distancing was actually a reality aboard our boat," UnCruise Adventures CEO Captain Dan Blanchard told ABC News, "as well as all the standard things you would think of masks, no buffets, plated meals, separated tables. So we felt, and still do feel, that the actual vessel itself and the way that our trips run, provide a very low opportunity for transmission."

The cruise line has now decided to suspend all future 2020 Alaska departures as the entire industry struggles with how to weather the coronavirus crisis.

"It has affected our life immensely," Blanchard said. "This year we'll have about 2% of our normal revenue and -- and that's devastating."

The CDC's no sail-order expires at the end of September, but major U.S. cruise lines have voluntarily suspended operations until at least the end of October.

"This has been a bit of a come to Jesus moment," Blanchard said, "about how easily even with proper testing, somebody got on board."

Blanchard hopes they can start operations again in the winter in Hawaii, but acknowledged the situation is still very fluid.

"We've been really lobbying Congress for rapid testing," Blanchard said. "That would change the game and would allow sailing before an absolute vaccine."

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


deepblue4you/iStockBy ANDY FIES, ABC News

(STURGIS, S.D.) -- Despite concerns about large gatherings during the COVID-19 pandemic, as many as 250,000 motorcycle enthusiasts from around the country are expected to roll into western South Dakota for the 80th annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally beginning Friday and lasting 10 days.

Such a crowd would make it the largest event in the country to take place during the pandemic.

In a survey by the city in May, 60% of Sturgis residents said they preferred to cancel the event. But local business owners who rely on this once-a-year gathering for a huge percentage of their revenues, combined with a realization by city managers that the bikers were going to come to the area no matter what, prompted the city council to sanction the rally.

"The city fathers here wouldn't cancel this rally if it were the middle of World War 7," said Brent Bertlson, who has a home in Sturgis and will be attending his 26th rally this year. He said that "the money the city takes in is a number that Ripley wouldn't believe."

He's not wrong. Sales tax revenue from the rally brought Sturgis, a town of 7,000 people, $26 million last year, according to City Manager Daniel Ainslie.

The event generated $655 million in 2019 across South Dakota, because many of the visitors spend time and money throughout the state as they travel to the rally, and often buy big-ticket items like motorcycles and motor homes while there.

"That's a lot of money for a small state," said Ainslie.

Rod Woodruff, owner of the Buffalo Chip, a campground and concert venue just outside the city where thousands of bikers will stay, explained how critical the rally can be.

"We spend the whole year getting ready to host the motorcycle rally and music festival," he said. "And without it, we wouldn't have a business."

But even though the rally is going ahead, Ainslie noted the city is concerned about COVID-19. It has taken measures both to shrink the event, which normally draws close to 500,000 people, and to mitigate the potential for the virus to spread. It eliminated advertising and canceled parades, events and contests.

During the 10 days, any Sturgis resident who does not want to venture into the crowd can call upon city volunteers to have them shop for and deliver food and other necessities. In the week after the rally, the city will offer mass testing to any resident who interacted with the visitors.

Woodruff said he and other business owners have also taken precautions prompted by the pandemic.

"We will have hand sanitizer everywhere," Woodruff said. "All our food will be takeout. We have signs everywhere reminding people to keep 6 feet apart."

But the Buffalo Chip is not mandating masks. And those familiar with the rally say mask-wearing and social distancing will not be common.

"Those who attend are mavericks," said Joel Heitkamp, a frequent Sturgis attendee. "This is the rebel crowd and they think they are cool because they don't do what society tells them to do."

This attitude might seem fitting in South Dakota, a state that never imposed a lockdown.

"South Dakota is fairly conservative, very independent," said Christine Paige Diers, the former director of the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum. "The same could be said for the motorcyclists. They're an independent lot. They don't want you telling them what you can and can't do."

The age of the motorcyclists is a factor that is both concerning and possibly reassuring. Most of those in attendance are an older demographic -- and more at risk for serious complications from the virus.

"It's not a young person's sport anymore," said Heitkamp. Only half-joking, this rally veteran added, "I'm 58 and if I went this year, I'd be among the youngest people there."

But while an older crowd may be more vulnerable to the disease, Woodruff believes their better judgment will balance those risks.

"This is not a college kid crowd. These are mature people, accustomed to having made their own decisions about how to live their lives," he said. "They know what is necessary to calculate and minimize the risks of catching a COVID virus."

Another factor that may minimize the potential spread of the disease is the spread of the land around Sturgis. The hundreds of thousands that come to the rally will not all be in one place. Bertlson pointed out that "the vast majority of people coming here are camping, staying in tents, campers or motor homes. They are all spread out over the Black Hills. And a vast majority of events happen outside."

But in the town itself, Paige Diers painted a troubling picture: "Main Street will be packed with people. Crowds walking up and down the sidewalk, checking out the vendors, looking at the motorcycles. So social distancing would be extremely difficult."

Sturgis itself has not been hit hard by the virus. The city is in Meade County, which has had only one death so far. But this huge gathering comes in a state that had severe outbreaks in meatpacking plants early in the pandemic and that even now is renewing concerns among health officials. According to an internal Federal Emergency Management Agency memo obtained by ABC News, cases are on the rise in the Sioux Falls area with 298 new cases reported in the week ending Aug. 2, a 22.2% increase from the week before.

"You're just adding fuel to a fire," said Dr. John Brownstein, an epidemiologist and ABC News Medical Contributor. "South Dakota is already experiencing increases in transmission. COVID is not under control in South Dakota; it's just not."

He is worried that gatherings like this, with visitors from different locations, have brought infections back to other communities during the pandemic and Sturgis being located in a rural part of the state should be of no comfort. The rally, said Brownstein, could put a huge strain on an area that "does not have the capacity to handle a surge in cases, hospitalizations and deaths."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a statement to ABC News about the rally, "Large gatherings make it difficult to maintain CDC's recommended social distancing guidelines, which may put attendees at risk of exposure to SARS-CoV-2. Any identification of cases following a large gathering would not likely be confirmed until 2-3 weeks after the event."

For Bertlson, such concerns are overblown.

"I think people will be cautious," he said. "But rational people informed of the facts are not that scared of this COVID."

He called Sturgis "a freedom rally," adding, "Bikers are big believers in freedom. I've heard from people tired of being locked down and being told what they can and can't do. A lot of these people are saying, 'I'm going to Sturgis.'"

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



(NEW YORK) -- The number of unauthorized crossing attempts by migrants at the southern border increased in July when President Donald Trump's administration used a controversial public health order to rapidly send them back, citing COVID-19 concerns, according to data released by Customs and Border Protection Thursday.

Last month, border agents conducted more than 35,000 rapid returns or "expulsions" of unauthorized migrants under the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's direction.

Since the CDC order was first issued in March, immigration agents have used it more than 105,000 times.  

"We're trying to remove them as fast as we can to not put them in our congregate settings, to not put them into our system, to not have them remain in the United States for a long period of time, therefore increasing the exposure risk of everybody they come in contact with to include the work force of all those different entities that would be impacted," Mark Morgan, the acting CBP commissioner, told reporters Thursday.

Morgan said more than 90% of people subjected to the order were removed within two hours of their arrest by CBP. Others that qualified under the Convention Against Torture guidelines were referred to agents in citizenship and immigration services for humanitarian review. 

Asked about plans to eventually end or scale back the order, Morgan deferred to the CDC.

"They will be the ones that make the decision ultimately from a public health perspective," Morgan said.

This week, government lawyers defended ICE's use of private hotels to hold minors before they're sent back under the order, after ICE was accused of violating a decades-old court agreement that sets requirements for immigrant minors in custody.

"DHS's use of hotels to house minors pending their expulsion pursuant to the Title 42 process comports with CDC's general guidance to detention facilities, which state that the ideal quarantine conditions are individual rooms with solid walls and a closed door," the government said in a Tuesday court filing, citing Title 42, the United States Code dealing with public health, social welfare and civil rights which CBP says grants them the authority to quickly send migrants back across the border without a hearing in immigration court.

Asked why the minors can't be housed at the Office of Refugee Resettlement while following social distancing measures -- the federal agency that typically houses unaccompanied minors and connects them with family or sponsors -- Morgan said the risk to public health is too great.

"If we introduce these individuals to ORR, we're defeating the entire purpose of Title 42," Morgan said. "We're still introducing these individuals into our system throughout and creating a greater exposure risk to the American people."

More than 180 immigrant advocacy organizations and human rights groups -- including Americans for Immigrant Justice, Center for Justice and International Law, Columbia Law School Immigrants' Rights Clinic and Freedom Network USA -- wrote to Chad Wolf, the acting secretary of Homeland Security, in April, urging him to end the practice.

"The Trump Administration has proposed to expand the national security bar for asylum to include certain infectious diseases as a national security threat. During this time of pandemic, it would bar asylum seekers from countries where COVID-19 is prevalent," Immigrant Legal Center tweeted Thursday.

The Uncage Reunite Families Coalition held a press conference Thursday morning to call on Arizona's congressional delegation to investigate the detention of unaccompanied minors at a Hampton Inn hotel in Phoenix. 

Rep. Raquel Teran, D-Ariz., spoke at the presser and strongly criticized the Trump administration for its ill treatment of undocumented immigrant children. Teran cited major issues including the pandemic, systemic racism and the detainment of undocumented children, saying it all shows that the current administration is "[willing] to sacrifice children to further a heartless political agenda."

Eddie Chavez Calderon, the campaign organizer for Arizona Jews for Justice, spoke at the presser and called for advocacy groups to help migrant children, saying that action can be taken without government assistance. He also demanded that no children be deported by themselves. 

"There is no moral high ground on this to counter," said Calderon. "This is simply an ugly smudge on who we are right now... this is about revolution both morally and communal."

Members of the URFC called the detainment a violation of basic human rights and the law, alleging that taxpayer dollars are being used to keep the children detained in hotels without taxpayers knowing the full extent of how their money is being spent.

The presser ended with a message asking citizens to call the House of Representatives to demand answers about the whereabouts of undocumented migrant children that have been deported and full reports about the conditions of the hotels where the children stayed.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


EMPPhotography/iStockBy KARMA ALLEN, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves has ordered some residents to wear masks, bowing to political pressure as COVID-19 infection rates continue to shatter records in the state which saw 1,775 new cases in a single day.

Reeves made the announcement on Tuesday as the coronavirus infection rate shot up to 23.3%, pushing the state one step closer to becoming the nation's next COVID-19 hot spot.

Doctors administered about 1.7 tests per 1,000 people over the past week, the highest in the country, according to hospital trade publication Becker's Hospital Review.

Reeves had previously resisted the idea of making mask use a requirement in the state, but he partly changed his mind Tuesday, when he issued an order requiring masks at public gatherings statewide for two weeks, in a push to allow schools to safely reopen. The state now ranks second in new cases per million people, behind Florida.

At least 33 states, along with Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico, have orders in place that require people to wear face coverings in public. Health officials say it helps curb the spread of the deadly virus, but many states, including Mississippi and neighboring Tennessee, have refused to do so.

Mississippi residents still aren't mandated to wear masks while in public, but the governor said "wearing a mask is critical" if the state wants to move forward with its plan to reopen schools.

"We have got to be prepared to change -- this is what we are doing for the initial reopening of our schools," Reeves said Tuesday. "We have to balance the very real risk of the virus and the lifelong damage from school closures."

State crisis by the numbers

The Mississippi State Department of Health reported 956 new cases and 21 new deaths Wednesday. The state reported as many as 1,775 new infections in a day last week.

As of Wednesday, the state had at least 64,400 cases, more than double what it had last month (30,900).

State officials are also investigating a large ongoing outbreak within the state's legislative body.

Last month, about 870 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 in Mississippi, compared to nearly 1,120 on Tuesday. Even worse, the state reported 52 new deaths on July 31, a record high and nearly three times as much as the number of new daily deaths reported a month ago, according to state data.

With many school districts returning to school this week, the governor noted that older students might be more likely to get infected and spread the virus. Because of that, he ordered eight "hot spots" to delay reopening schools for grades seven to 12. Experts say that while research is ongoing about children and COVID-19, limited scientific studies indicate that older children are more likely to transmit the virus than younger children.

Dr. LouAnn Woodward, vice chancellor of the University of Mississippi Medical Center, confirmed on Wednesday that the hospital is lacking 14 ICU beds because there's been so many COVID-19 patients in need of intensive care. She said those patients are still being treated as ICU patients, but in other parts of the hospital.

The hospital is on track to lose between $60 million and $100 million for the fiscal year, Woodward said, citing the ongoing pandemic.

Protecting the state's most vulnerable

Several health experts have sounded the alarm on Mississippi as well as neighboring Alabama, saying particular counties could be on track to become new U.S. hot spots based on their population demographics.

Mississippi has a large Black population with high poverty levels. Poor and underprivileged populations, especially those of color, are particularly vulnerable to suffering from the novel coronavirus due to their lower access to quality care.

Black people made up about 50% of COVID-19 cases and deaths in the state, with Black women being the majority.

As of Monday, Black women accounted for nearly 13,300 of Mississippi's infections, with white women making up about 8,100, according to state data. Black men, on the other hand, accounted for about 7,860 of overall infections, compared to 6,848 for white men.

Dr. Olubukola Nafiu, director of pediatric anesthesia research at Michigan State University, said people color, especially those living in poverty, are more likely to experience lower quality of care. That makes them more prone to experience complications when battling illnesses like the novel coronavirus, he said.

"In the past, many medical professionals have explained that African Americans tend to be sicker than their white peers, in general, but that's not always true," Nafiu told ABC News. "I believe if we targeted preventive measures towards the most vulnerable populations, then we will have a substantial effect on reducing mortality rates, across the board, within the African American population."

Overall, more than 19 million people across the globe have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. The actual numbers are believed to be much higher due to testing shortages, many unreported cases and suspicions that some national governments are hiding or downplaying the scope of their outbreaks. America has become the worst-affected country, with more than 4.8 million diagnosed cases and at least 160,104 deaths.

COVID-19 legislation

Medical experts have pointed to the number of legislative failures when explaining the trends behind the increase in infections.

The first is when states fail to reimplement social distancing restrictions or statewide mask mandates, according to researchers with Boston University who called the lack of restrictions in states like Mississippi concerning among public health experts.

Reeves has now implemented mask orders for hot spot counties -- including Boliver, Coahoma, Forrest, George, Hines, Panola, Sunflower and Washington -- and urged residents to avoid large social gatherings. He also warned that he might close down bars statewide if the virus continues to surge.

"There are a handful of counties that certainly reach that threshold of being hot spots," Reeves said Tuesday. "For this standard, we are mandating a delay [opening schools] in counties with more than an absolute number of 200 cases and 500 per 100,000 residents in the last two weeks. We must pump the brakes in hardest hit areas."

His administration pushed forward with opening schools this month, but school districts have already reported that students tested positive for the coronavirus upon returning to in-person classes. Medical experts said they expect that will continue to be the case if there is no strict public guidance.

So far, the main guidance has been for residents to avoid large gatherings and only leave home for work, school or other essential activities.

"Don't go to funerals, don't go to weddings, don't have large gatherings at your house with 30 to 40 people to cook out," Reeves said. "Only do what you have to do -- go to work and go to school if your school chooses."

When asked how he plans to keep students safe while returning to school, the governor said: "In my opinion, the best way to accomplish that is to provide guidelines by local school leaders to tailor them and step in with the authority of state movement if and when and where it is absolutely necessary."

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


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