July 3, 2020

As coronavirus cases continue to surge in the U.S., overwhelming hospitals and bringing state-wide reopening plans to a halt, many might be wondering where the next hotspots will be. Unfortunately, that's somewhat hard to predict, as "the infection curve rose in 40 of the 50 states heading into the July Fourth holiday weekend," The Associated Press reports. But we can make some educated guesses.

The states with the most severe outbreaks at present are Arizona, Florida, Texas, and California, which "reported a combined 25,000 new confirmed coronavirus cases Thursday," AP says. But Georgia "is among the most worrying states right now," says Robinson Meyer at The Atlantic. Over the last week, the Peach State reported more than 14,800 new cases, and this can't be chalked up to more testing: "At the beginning of June, about one in 14 tests came back positive. Last week, about one in nine tests did; today, one in seven tests did," Meyer says.

Another state to watch is Ohio, "which saw new cases rise much faster than tests this week," Meyer reports. The percentage of positive tests has also doubled in Kansas, Montana, Michigan, Missouri, Tennessee, Mississippi, and South Carolina. "In Nevada, it has tripled. In Idaho, it is five times higher," according to AP.

Meanwhile, the Northeast, which was the early epicenter for the virus, has seen new infections drop significantly. Of the states seeing a downward trend in infections, only two — Nebraska and South Dakota — are outside the Northeast. "What seems to unite many of the most affected states is that they reopened indoor dining, bars, and gyms," Meyer says. "What will distinguish them is how they react now." Jessica Hullinger

10:10 p.m.

Collin Morikawa won the 2020 PGA Championship Sunday in San Francisco, the 23-year-old golfer's first career major title.

He closed with a 6-under-64, giving him a two-shot victory over Paul Casey and Dustin Johnson. His weekend rounds of 65-64 were the lowest 36-hole weekend score in PGA Championship history, Golfweek reports. Morikawa is the third-youngest winner of the PGA Championship since World War II, behind Rory McIlroy and Jack Nicklaus, and the sixth-youngest winner overall.

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the PGA Championship was moved from May to August, and there were no spectators. Catherine Garcia

9:29 p.m.

New Zealand's Ministry of Health on Sunday reported that the country hasn't had any new cases of coronavirus due to community transmission in 100 days.

This is a "significant milestone," Director-General of Heath Dr. Ashley Bloomfield said, but he warned that people "can't afford to be complacent. We have seen overseas how quickly the virus can re-emerge and spread in places where it was previously under control, and we need to be prepared to quickly stamp out any future cases in New Zealand."

The country has had 1,219 confirmed cases of COVID-19, and there are now 23 people with active cases who are in managed isolation facilities, the Ministry of Health said. New Zealand's borders are closed to nearly everyone, and the new cases that have been recently reported are tied to individuals who were able to enter the country.

New Zealand reacted quickly to the pandemic, going into lockdown on March 25. Since June 8, the country has been at Alert Level 1, meaning the disease is contained inside New Zealand but "uncontrolled overseas," CBS News reports. Under Alert Level 1 guidelines, schools and workplaces are open and there are no restrictions on gatherings or domestic travel. Catherine Garcia

8:54 p.m.

Election officials in Puerto Rico said Sunday's primary was temporarily suspended because several precincts on the island did not receive ballots.

The State Elections Commission later announced that in precincts that were unable to open by 1:45 p.m., voters will have the chance to cast their ballots on August 16 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., CNN reports. In some areas, voters waited for hours in the heat, wearing their required face masks, only to be turned away and told there weren't any ballots.

Puerto Rico Gov. Wanda Vázquez Garced on Twitter said this was "totally unacceptable and outrageous! What the State Elections Commission did today is unprecedented and there is no excuse that can support it." She called on the head of the commission to step down, and said they "lied" to make it appear they were prepared for the election. Catherine Garcia

8:10 p.m.

In Belarus, protesters took to the streets of Minsk on Sunday night after a government exit poll predicted the authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko will win a sixth term, with 80 percent of the vote.

Witnesses said riot police fired stun grenades, rubber bullets, and water cannons at the demonstrators in order to break up the crowd, BBC News reports. Lukashenko, 65, has been in power since 1994, and is often referred to as "Europe's last dictator." Leading up to the election, the government cracked down on journalists and activists, and officials blocked two challengers from appearing on the ballot and arrested another.

Opposition leaders said they expected the vote to be rigged, and observers were not allowed to monitor the election. The exit poll gives Lukashenko's primary challenger, former teacher Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, seven percent of the vote, but she said during a press conference that she believes "my eyes, and I see that the majority is with us." Catherine Garcia

2:37 p.m.

President Trump just signed a series of coronavirus pandemic-related executive orders in an attempt to bypass a congressional stalemate over an economic relief bill. Naturally, the people who were at the negotiating table the last few weeks had some thoughts.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Sunday echoed critics who have called the president's orders unconstitutional and weak. Pelosi told Fox News' Chris Wallace the orders are "illusions," with Schumer adding during an appearance on ABC's This Week that they don't "do the job."

Meanwhile, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who sat on the other side of the table, defended the actions, arguing that Pelosi and Schumer had a chance to accept the White House's offer of continuing to pay $600/week enhanced unemployment benefits — which would be reduced to $400/week under Trump's order — during negotiations, but "turned that down." Mnuchin said Democratic lawmakers will have "a lot of explaining to do" if they challenge the executive actions in court, which seems likely at this point. Read more at The Hill. Tim O'Donnell

1:40 p.m.

Face the Nation host Margaret Brennan repeatedly pushed National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien on Sunday to say whether President Trump has told Russian President Vladimir Putin "to knock it off" when it comes to U.S. election interference. O'Brien said he doesn't get involved with his boss' conversations with other world leaders, but said the Trump administration remains committed to keeping Moscow out of the picture.

Trump, O'Brien said, has been tougher than his predecessors. So much so, he argues, that there's little else Washington can do since they've already "sanctioned the heck out of" individuals, companies, and the government in Russia, kicked Russian spies out of the U.S., and closed down consulates and other diplomatic facilities. "Nevertheless we continue to message the Russians, and President Trump continues to message the Russians: don't get involved our elections," O'Brien said, adding that the warning extends to Beijing and Tehran, as well.

Brennan, however, pointed out throughout the interview that intelligence reports indicate that the messaging — and the sanctions — don't seem to have gotten through to the Kremlin, as there's still evidence Russia is working to undermine the electoral process stateside. Foreign policy experts have also suggested current sanction policy doesn't always prove to be a deterrent, since Moscow views them as permanent and therefore has little incentive to change its behavior purely based on those actions. Tim O'Donnell

12:38 p.m.

The coronavirus is a serious, often-deadly pathogen, yet the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates 40 percent of all cases are asymptomatic. In some isolated outbreaks in prisons and food processing plants where thousands of people contracted COVID-19, as many as 94 percent of infected individuals presented no symptoms. The Washington Post spoke to experts and suggested four possible reasons as to why, though it's important to note the research in all cases is in early stages.

T-Cells: T-cells, a type of white blood cell that generally provides longer-lasting immunity than antibodies, may be the key to understanding resistance. One research group found that, among uninfected blood samples donated to a blood bank between 2015 and 2018, a "remarkable" 40 to 60 percent recognized the coronavirus, suggesting some people may have an immune response based on memory of other, less potent coronaviruses.

Vaccines: The Mayo Clinic is studying whether vaccines for other pathogens can protect against the virus, as has been proven in other situations. Seven types of vaccines given one, two, or five years in the past were found to be associated with a lower rate of coronavirus infection, particularly pneumonia and polio vaccines.

Allergies: Scientists have noted children with asthma and allergies surprisingly don't seem to be at high risk of developing serious cases of COVID-19. One theory is that those children have a reduced number of ACE2 receptors, the protein the virus latches onto before replicating inside the body. Without those receptors, the virus' chance of causing damage could decrease, meaning allergies may offer protection in this case.

Masks: Masks are discussed as a preventative measure, but they may contribute to more mild infections, as well. The most direct evidence of this theory is a comparison of two cruise ships. On the Diamond Princess, where masks weren't used, 47 percent of the positive cases were asymptomatic, whereas an Antarctic-bound Argentine cruise ship that had a similar outbreak, but provided masks to all passengers and crew, saw an 81 percent asymptomatic rate. Read more at The Washington Post. Tim O'Donnell

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