Health officials are voicing concern about the federal government’s lack of tracking Covid-19 outbreaks in K-12 schools, just as the fall semester has begun nationwide. In addition, some states are not publicly reporting them and are instead, relying on local officials to decide which information to make public and which information to share only with affected students and families.
Critics believe a lack of accounting will be detrimental to efforts to identify effective safety measures to put into place to slow the spread of the virus.
“Without good data that tracks cases over time — and shows how one case turns into many cases — there’s just no way to answer that question,” said Emily Oster, an economist at Brown University and co-founder of COVID Explained, a team of researchers studying the pandemic. “In January, we’ll be in the same position that we are in now, and kids still won’t be in school.”
Hundreds of students and staff members have been asked to self-quarantine due to possible COVID-19 exposure in several states including Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi.
MORE ON THE PANDEMIC
The CDC will begin a program to track the spread of coronavirus by evaluating sewage. The sewage from U.S. homes and workplaces can be tested for genetic material from the coronavirus through human waste. Studies show that traces of the virus can be found in human waste from people who are sick and from asymptomatic individuals.
As the White House, Democrats and Republicans remain at a standstill in negotiating the next round of coronavirus relief, tens of millions of Americans continue to collect unemployment benefits. Over a week ago, Trump signed an executive order to provide an extra $300 per week in federal aid. But that $300 a week will not be provided for very long. A new memo from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) says it’s planning an initial payment equal to three weeks of benefits. Previous estimates declared the money would last up to six weeks.
At least 20 states are requesting the extra $300 per month in unemployment aid from the Trump administration that will allow them to increase benefits to their residents.
Under Trump’s scaled-down program, additional weekly benefits of up to $300 will be made available to unemployed residents who are already receiving at least $100 a week in state unemployment.
FHA-borrowers, many of whom are in lower-income and minority households, are struggling to make their mortgage payments amid the economic downturn. The Mortgage Bankers Association reports nearly 16% of Federal Housing Administration-insured loans are delinquent, the highest level of delinquencies in records going back to 1979.
But due to rules in the CARES Act put into place at the end of March, foreclosures are not expected in the case for these borrowers. The act allows homeowners to skip mortgage payments for up to a year if they’ve been hurt financially during the pandemic.
People who visited a bar in South Dakota during the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally last week are being asked to monitor their health after a person who occupied the business tested positive for coronavirus. Rallygoers were encouraged but not mandated to wear masks.
The popular rally drew almost 460,000 bikers over the 10-day event. Local officials estimated that 250,00 people would attend this year.
Southwest Airlines has announced that it will scale back on flights this fall due to the pandemic. Reporting only a “modest improvement” in sales, the airline attributes its decision to inconsistent consumer demand.
Johns Hopkins University’s latest tally of confirmed coronavirus cases stands at more than 22 million globally. Almost 800,000 people have died from the virus.
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