Tuesday, June 22

Coronavirus updates: People sick with COVID-19 can vote in person, CDC says; Dr. Deborah Birx reportedly warns of most deadly phase – USA TODAY

People who are in quarantine or sick with COVID-19 are allowed to vote in person for the U.S. elections on Tuesday, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Voters have the right to vote, regardless of whether they are sick or in quarantine,” the CDC’s recently updated guidelines say. But you should let poll workers know that you are sick or in quarantine, the agency said. Voters should also wear a mask, stay 6 feet apart from others and wash their hands before and after voting.

Meanwhile, Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus task force coordinator, warned top officials on Monday that the country is entering the “most deadly phase of this pandemic … leading to increasing mortality,” according to a report obtained by the Washington Post.

Birx’s warning contradicts President Donald Trump’s message that the U.S. is “rounding the turn” on the coronavirus. The U.S. will likely see more than 100,000 new cases a day this week, Birx said.

Here’s what to know today:

  • Twenty-one states set records for new cases in a week, according to a USA TODAY analysis of Johns Hopkins data through late Monday, with five states reporting a record number of deaths: Alaska, Montana, North Dakota, Oklahoma and South Dakota.
  • President Donald Trump hinted at the prospect of firing Dr. Anthony Fauci in a Florida rally Sunday night, but experts say the president cannot directly fire him as he’s protected by federal civil service regulations, according to several outlets.  
  • Today is Election Day but an estimated 100 million ballots were already cast before the first poll site opened as voters took precautions against COVID-19 community spread. 

📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has reported more than 9.2 million cases and 231,500 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The global totals: 46.8 million cases and 1.2 million deaths.

🗺️ Mapping coronavirus: Track the U.S. outbreak in your state.

This file will be updated throughout the day. For updates in your inbox, subscribe to The Daily Briefing newsletter.

AI technology detects coronavirus infection through voice recordings

Artificial intelligence technology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology can detect virus infection in a COVID-19 patient using a voice recording of their cough, according to a report published Tuesday in the IEEE Open Journal of Engineering in Medicine and Biology.

The technology detected 99.9% of COVID-19 cases in groups of 25 people where five people tested positive, and 95% of groups with three positives. Overall, researchers were able to detect 98.5% COVID-19 positives from a forced-cough recording, including 100% of asymptomatic cases.

The study organized a 1 to 10 ratio of positive cases to control subjects, comprising of 2,660 people who were COVID-19 positive. Participants from all of over the world provided a voice recording of them coughing on an average of three times and filled out a questionnaire about symptoms and diagnosis.

“This non-invasive, free, real-time pre-screening tool my prove to have a great potential to complement current efforts to contain the disease in low-infected areas as well as to mitigate the impact in high-infected areas, where unconscious asymptomatics may spread the virus,” researchers said.

Cases of COVID-19 in children are increasing across the country, report finds

While children represent only 11.1% of all coronavirus cases in the United States, that number is steadily growing, according to a report released Monday by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association. A look at its findings:

  • Over 61,000 new child COVID-19 cases were reported this week – the highest since the pandemic began.
  • Nearly 200,000 new child COVID-19 cases were reported from Oct. 1 to Oct. 29.
  • Over 853,000 children have tested positive for COVID-19 since the onset of the pandemic.

Forty-nine states, New York City, Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and Guam provided age distributions of reported cases. Texas reported age distribution for only 6% of cases, Massachusetts only reported cases added in the past two weeks, and the state of New York does not provide age distribution.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo says New York will not share resident info with feds for COVID-19 vaccine

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday said the federal government is requiring states to share residents’ personal information as part of its COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan. But the Democratic governor said he will not take part in the plan as the information can be used to track undocumented immigrants.

“The data use agreement says the information will be used by CDC, HHS, and other federal partners,” Cuomo said during a conference call.

He added, “Why would you possibly need a person’s driver’s license number or Social Security number or passport number before they receive a vaccine? Why? There is no legitimate health reason. This is just another example of them trying to extort the state of New York to get information at DHS and ICE to deport people.”

California museums push state to loosen ‘restrictive’ reopening rules

About three-quarters of the nation’s museums have reopened with precautions designed to stop the spread of the coronavirus. But California is taking a slower approach that some say is overly cautious.

“From what I’m seeing, California is one of the – if not, the most – restrictive,” Laura Lott, president and CEO of American Alliance of Museums, told USA TODAY.

While the focus has been on whether to let theme parks like Disneyland and Universal Studios Hollywood to reopen, California’s museums are also urging state officials to take a less restrictive approach. They say they can take steps like temperature checks, timed tickets and mandatory mask wearing.

El Paso, Texas, COVID-19 patient hospitalizations break records

El Paso hospitals reached a record number of COVID-19 patients Monday as intensive care units hit overcapacity, officials said.

The growing hospitalizations occurred amid continuing confusion, debate and legal wrangling over El Paso County Judge Ricardo Samaniego’s ordered shutdown of nonessential businesses.

As of Monday morning, there were 978 people hospitalized for COVID-19, including 273 in intensive care and 234 on ventilators, city-county public health officials said.

Sri Lanka postpones school reopening for two more weeks amid COVID crisis

Authorities in Sri Lanka on Tuesday announced schools would not resume until Nov. 23 amid a surge in COVID-19 patients in the Columbo and the capital’s suburbs. Schools had been scheduled to reopen on Nov. 9.

Schools were suddenly closed last month as a precautionary measure after a new cluster of coronavirus infections centered on a garment factory erupted in the densely populated Western province, where the capital is. Another cluster centered on the country’s main fish market arose later.

COVID-19 resources from USA TODAY 

Contributing: The Associated Press

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