Daily Briefing

10 things you need to know today: July 6, 2020

Harold Maass
Health-care workers in Texas
MARK FELIX/AFP via Getty Images

1.

U.S. reports 27th straight day of record COVID-19 cases

Increasing daily coronavirus infections in 39 states put a damper on Fourth of July weekend celebrations. The rolling seven-day average daily increase in coronavirus cases reached 48,606 on Sunday, setting a record high for the 27th day in a row. Local authorities in Florida, Texas, and Arizona said their states' early reopenings had fueled a spike in new infections and time was running out to contain the spread of the pandemic. "We opened way too early in Arizona," Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego (D) said on ABC. Hospitalizations linked to the virus rose in Arizona and Nevada, and Austin, Texas, Mayor Steve Adler (D) said on CNN's State of the Union that his city was "within two weeks of having our hospitals overrun." [Reuters, The Washington Post]

2.

Experts reject Trump's claim that 99 percent of COVID-19 cases are 'harmless'

Public health experts on Sunday rejected President Trump's claim in his July 4th speech that 99 percent of coronavirus cases were "totally harmless." Trump also doubled down on his argument that the nation's rising number of infections was a reflection of stepped up testing, not an increase in the spread of the virus. Former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb, speaking on CBS's Face the Nation, said that "certainly more than 1 percent of people get serious illness," with roughly 2 percent to 5 percent of those infected needing hospitalization. Current FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn, questioned on several Sunday shows, declined to comment on Trump's claim, saying he wasn't "going to get into who is right and who is wrong." He said the way out of the crisis "for all Americans is to follow the CDC and the White House task force guidelines." [The New York Times, USA Today]

3.

Atlanta's mayor tells protesters to leave after 8-year-old girl killed

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms (D) said Sunday that protesters should "clear out" of an area near the Wendy's where Rayshard Brooks was killed by police in June, after an 8-year-old African-American girl was fatally shot nearby. "Enough is enough," Bottoms said at a news conference. The child, Secoriea Turner, was riding in a car with her mother and a friend when the driver tried to pull into a parking lot that had been barricaded during protests against racial injustice. A group of armed people confronted the driver and someone opened fire. "We understand the frustration of Rayshard Brooks," the girl's mother, Charmaine Turner, said. "My baby didn't mean no harm." "They say Black lives matter," the girl's father, Secoriya Williamson, said. "You killed your own." [The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, NBC News]

4.

8 feared dead after 2 planes collide over Idaho lake

Eight passengers and crew members were presumed dead after two planes collided over Lake Coeur d'Alene in Idaho on Sunday. The Kootenai County Sheriff's Office confirmed that two bodies had been recovered. No survivors were found. Witnesses saw the two planes hit each other, then crash into the water near Powderhorn Bay. The National Transportation Safety Board said the aircraft were both single-engine planes, a Cessna TU206G and a de Havilland DHC-2. Lt. Ryan Higgins of the sheriff's office said the planes were located by sonar at a depth of 127 feet. A commercial dive team probably will be needed to explore the wreckage because the Kootenai County dive team is not equipped to go that deep. [The Spokesman-Review]

5.

Developers cancel long-delayed Atlantic Coast Pipeline

The developers of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline announced Sunday that they were canceling the long-delayed, $8 billion natural gas project. The companies, Dominion Energy and Duke Energy, won a Supreme Court battle over a key permit last month, but they said "recent developments have created an unacceptable layer of uncertainty and anticipated delays" for the 600-mile pipeline, which was to cross West Virginia and Virginia into North Carolina. The problems included permitting, costs, and lawsuits. The huge infrastructure project was announced in 2014, but faced intense opposition from landowners and environmental activists. Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune said in a statement that the decision marked a major defeat for fracking and "a historic victory for clean water, the climate, public health, and our communities." [The Associated Press]

6.

Frederick Douglass statue toppled in New York

Vandals toppled a statue of abolitionist Frederick Douglass in Rochester, New York, on Sunday, on the anniversary of his July 5, 1852 speech, "What to the Slave is the Fourth of July." The statue was torn from its pedestal and left about 50 feet away, near the Genesee River gorge. Douglass, a former slave, delivered his famous speech to the Ladies' Anti-Slavery Society at Corinthian Hall in downtown Rochester, telling listeners that the United States could not claim to be living up to its ideals as long as slaves were not free. Douglass said the signers of the Declaration of Independence were "great" men, but it was hypocritical to celebrate the Fourth of July while permitting slavery. To a slave, he said, Independence Day is "a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim." [USA Today]

7.

Croatia's conservatives win early elections

Croatia's ruling conservatives won Sunday parliamentary elections, pushing the country further to the right as coronavirus cases spike in the European Union's newest member. With 90 percent of the vote counted, the Croatian Democratic Union appeared to have won 66 seats in the 151-seat parliament. That would put it in position to form a new governing coalition with the participation of smaller right-wing parties. The Croatian Democratic Union (or HDZ) leader and acting prime minister, Andrej Plenkovic, said the party "had a tough mandate full of challenges behind us, and challenges ahead of us are even bigger." Plenkovic held early elections as Croatia experienced a spike in coronavirus infections after the country eased lockdown rules and reopened its borders in a bid to restart tourism on the Adriatic coast, a key source of revenue. [The Associated Press]

8.

Remains found near Texas base identified as missing soldier Vanessa Guillen

Army investigators have confirmed that remains found last week in a hollow grave near Fort Hood in Texas were those of Spc. Vanessa Guillen, members of her family told The Washington Post on Sunday. Guillen had been missing for more than two months. Investigators now believe she was bludgeoned to death near where she was last seen on April 22. The discovery of the remains touched off a search for suspects that ended when one of them, Spc. Aaron Robinson, killed himself as officers got close to catching him. Robinson's girlfriend was accused of helping him dispose of the body. Guillen's family had said she was sexually harassed, and they accused the Army of not making the search for Guillen, 20, a high enough priority. "Her leadership failed her," family attorney Natalie Khawam said. "The Army failed her." [The Washington Post]

9.

Italian film composer Ennio Morricone dies at 91

Ennio Morricone, the prolific Italian film composer best known for his iconic scores of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly and other Sergio Leone "spaghetti Westerns," died early Monday at a hospital in Rome. He was 91, and died of complications from a fall last week in which he broke his femur. Morricone scored more than 500 films. He won an Oscar for Quentin Tarantino's The Hateful Eight (2015), an honorary Oscar in 2007 for his "magnificent and multifaceted contributions to the art of film music," a Grammy for his soundtrack to Brian de Palma's The Untouchables (1987), plus 11 David de Donatello Awards, Italy's top cinematic honor. His other famous scores include Cinema Paradiso (1988), The Mission (1986), and The Battle of Algiers (1966). [The Hollywood Reporter, The Associated Press]

10.

Broadway star Nick Cordero dies of COVID-19 complications

Broadway actor Nick Cordero, who was nominated for a Tony Award in 2014 for his role in Bullets Over Broadway, died Sunday after battling coronavirus complications for 13 weeks. He was 41. Cordero's wife, Amanda Kloots, had shared updates on her husband's condition on social media. She confirmed the news of his death on Instagram. "My heart is broken as I cannot imagine our lives without him," Kloots wrote on Instagram. "Nick was such a bright light." Cordero was hospitalized in Los Angeles in late March for what appeared to be pneumonia. He later tested positive for COVID-19. The Canadian-born actor suffered several serious complications, including infections in his lungs, and a leg amputation. Doctors also had to insert a temporary pacemaker. [USA Today]