COVID-19 widespread testing is crucial to fighting the pandemic, but is there enough testing? The answer is in the positivity rates.


Labor Day is typically summer’s final hurrah. It could be the difference between life and death this year, warned governors from across the U.S. as the nation’s coronavirus death toll approached 190,000, about 62,000 more than any other country.

“We’re facing the challenge of our lifetimes and we must do better,” Kentucky’s Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear said Sunday while announcing that The Bluegrass State had set a record for the second straight week for most positive cases with 4,742, up from 4,503 the previous week.

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican, expressed similar worry as The Peach State surpassed 6,000 deaths: “This #LaborDayWeekend, I am urging all Georgians to wear a mask, practice social distancing, wash their hands … By staying vigilant in the fight against COVID-19, we can continue to protect people & paychecks in GA!,” he said on Twitter.

Mapping coronavirus: Tracking the U.S. outbreak, state by state

Some significant developments:

  • A USA TODAY analysis of Johns Hopkins data through late Saturday shows three states had a record number of deaths in the last week: Kentucky, Missouri and North Dakota.
  • Ahead of the Jewish New Year, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has ordered overnight curfews in many cities beginning Monday amid a surge in COVID-19 cases.
  • At least 7,000 health care workers worldwide have died from the coronavirus, according to Amnesty International. That total includes more than 1,000 deaths in the U.S.

📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has almost 6.3 million confirmed cases and nearly 189,000 deaths. Globally, there are more than 27 million cases and almost 900,000 fatalities.

📰 What we’re reading: Do you need a COVID-19 test if you plan to travel? It’s confusing. That’s in part because states have different views on COVID-19 risks, the role of testing and the need for quarantine.

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

Black patients’ outcomes improve when treated by Black physicians

Research suggests Black patients have better outcomes when treated by Black doctors and nurses. Yet, only 5% of doctors nationwide are Black, and only 2% are Black women, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges. Kay McField, a 51-year-old single mother in Jackson, Mississippi, is a patient at the Central Mississippi Health Services clinic on the campus of historically Black Tougaloo College.

“It’s meaningful to be taken care of by someone who looks like you, who understands you,” said Kay McField, a patient in Jackson, Mississippi. “Other doctors go into the exam room, and they don’t ask your name. And me, when I go there and be treated that way, I’m not going back no more.”

Workplace of tomorrow may look like home

As the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic drags on, there have been many questions about what – or even where – the workplace will be in the future. Video-based conference calls on platforms such as Zoom, Skype and Microsoft Teams are with us to stay. It’s an approach that literally overnight went from something unusual to completely mainstream, and the remote workplace has created habits that we’re not going to be able to walk away from. Further down the road, we may well fall back into some of our old work habits and environments. For the next year or so, however, and especially as we enter into a more uncertain cold weather, indoor-focused fall and winter season, it seems likely that work is going to be pretty similar to what we’ve been experiencing. Home is where the work is.

– Bob O’Donnell

School daze: Child care, pre-school programs forced to change protocols

Many child care centers and preschools that survived COVID-19 shutdowns are reopening their doors this fall, but the first day of class looks a little different this year, leaving some kids and guardians feeling anxious.To keep kids, families and staff safe, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that child care programs implement an array of new safety measures, such as reducing class sizes, requiring kids and staff to wear face masks, staggering drop-off and pick-up times, spreading nap mats out six feet apart, ending family-style mealtimes and more. Many states and counties have additional guidance.

“Kids are really resilient, and they follow their parents’ and teachers’ cues,” said Dr. Erica Lee, a psychiatrist at Boston Children’s Hospital. “The more calm and predictability we can create for them at home and at school, the better kids will do.”

Grace Hauck

Trump, Newsom agree on one thing: Wear masks today

While Californians contending with record-breaking temperatures of 110 degrees and higher flocked to the beaches, creating the potential for further spread of the virus in the state with the most reported cases, New Orleans was warning against “unacceptable” gatherings that “could have serious consequences that show up in the data two weeks from now,” city officials said. There were 36 calls about large gatherings and 46 calls for businesses not following the rules on Friday and Saturday in New Orleans, according to the city.

President Donald Trump urged safety ahead of the holiday weekend, pushing for “social distancing, wearing a mask whenever the distancing is not possible.” California Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat who has many times sparred with Trump, did the same: “Wear a mask. BE SMART. I know we’re tired of #COVID19 but literal lives are at stake,” he said on Twitter.

Frances Tiafoe, last hope for US men at Open, ‘ready’ for Labor Day match

Frances Tiafoe, the last American male standing at the U.S. Open, began his summer by announcing on the Fourth of July that he had tested positive for COVID-19. He’s hoping for a different sort of positive on Labor Day, in Arthur Ashe Stadium, in a round-of-16 matchup against No. 5 Daniil Medvedev, who battled Rafael Nadal over five sets in last year’s final.

“I’m ready to go now,” Tiafoe told USA TODAY Sports on Sunday. “Feeling good and playing well. My (COVID-19 result) was definitely a shock to everybody. My symptoms weren’t too bad, thank God.”

Nicknamed “The Foe,” Tiafoe, 22, is one of the best stories in American tennis. He is the son of refugees who fled Sierra Leone amid a civil war. His father, Constant, helped on the construction of the Junior Tennis Champions Center (JTCC) in College Park, Maryland, then worked as a maintenance man there, where his 5-year-old boy would hit the ball against the wall, pretending he was playing Roger Federer at the U.S. Open.

– Wayne Coffey, Special to USA TODAY Sports

Israel imposes overnight curfews in hardest-hit cities amid COVID-19 surge

With new infections at record levels less than two weeks before the Jewish New Year, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has ordered overnight curfews in about 40 cities and towns, beginning Monday at 7 p.m. It’s unknown how long the curfews will remain in place. People will not be allowed to venture more than 500 yards from their homes, and nonessential businesses must close.

Netanyahu, however, resisted reported recommendations for full lockdowns after an uproar by politically powerful religious politicians following hours of consultations on Sunday.

CDC to oversee ‘mind-boggingly complex’ vaccine supply chain

When a COVID-19 vaccine becomes available, there’s a plan in place for its distribution from manufacturers to the American public. The process will be run by the CDC, which for decades has overseen vaccine distribution in the United States and ran the last national vaccination effort during the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic.

Still, Tinglong Dai, a professor of operations management who studies health care analytics at the Johns Hopkins University, told USA TODAY he expects the vaccine supply chain to be “mind-bogglingly complex.”

  • Who will get it first? While the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is still finalizing plans, front-line medical workers, first-responders and people at high risk for severe disease are likely to get first dibs.
  • Who will pay for it? All the vaccine supplied in the initial phases will be purchased by the U.S. government and no one will be charged for the actual dose.
  • What about availability? The vaccine is expected to be in short supply, at least in the beginning, though CDC planning documents say significantly more will be available by January 2021.

– Elizabeth Weise


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COVID-19 toll on health workers: 7K deaths, Amnesty International says

At least 7,000 health workers worldwide have died after contracting COVID-19, human rights organization Amnesty International said last week.

“For over seven thousand people to die while trying to save others is a crisis on a staggering scale. Every health worker has the right to be safe at work, and it is a scandal that so many are paying the ultimate price,” Steve Cockburn, Head of Economic and Social Justice at Amnesty International, said in a statement.

At least 1,320 health workers are confirmed to have died in Mexico alone, the highest known figure for any country, the group said. The U.S. has seen the second-highest number of health care worker deaths, Amnesty International said, with more than 1,000 deaths.

COVID-19 resources from USA TODAY

Contributing:  The Associated Press


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