The U.S. death toll from the coronavirus pandemic has topped 155,000 as the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 soared in July by nearly 50%. On Sunday, top White House coronavirus adviser Deborah Birx appeared on CNN and warned the country has entered a new phase in its fight against the pandemic.
Dr. Deborah Birx: “What we’re seeing today is different from March and April. It is extraordinarily widespread. It’s into the rural as equal urban areas. And to everybody who lives in a rural area, you are not immune or protected from this virus.”
Over the weekend, California became the first state to record more than 500,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases. California reported 219 deaths on Friday — a new single-day high. Meanwhile, the COVID-19 death toll at San Quentin State Prison has reached 20. This comes as more than 7,000 people in Southern California have been forced to flee their home due to a massive wildfire east of Los Angeles.
The global death toll from the coronavirus is approaching 700,000, with nearly 18 million confirmed cases, as the pandemic continues to accelerate. During the month of July, more than 8 million people tested positive — almost as many as in the first six months of the pandemic combined. The World Health Organization reports cases are now doubling every six weeks.
In India, the death toll has topped 38,000 — the fifth highest in the world, surpassing Italy. One of India’s top officials, Home Affairs Minister Amit Shah, has been hospitalized after testing positive.
The Philippines reported over 5,000 new coronavirus infections Sunday, its largest single-day increase on record, bringing its total confirmed cases to over 100,000. Authoritarian President Rodrigo Duterte announced he is reimposing a stricter lockdown around the capital Manila, as medical workers around the country warned the healthcare system could collapse.
In Australia, a state of disaster has been declared in Victoria, which has instituted a nightly curfew to fight the outbreak.
The coronavirus is still surging in South Africa, where over 500,000 have now tested positive for the virus. Medical workers say the surge in cases has brought South Africa’s healthcare system close to collapse.
Medical worker: “The cracks that have been there even before coronavirus are getting bigger every day. Our healthcare system, public healthcare system, is failing our people. It’s failing the entire country. It was not ready for this virus.”
In Arizona, Border Patrol officers raided the medical camp of humanitarian group No More Deaths Friday, detaining 30 migrants. This was the second such raid in just two days. The camp provides water, food and medical attention to refugees crossing into the U.S. through the scorching Sonoran Desert. Last week, No More Deaths published documents revealing the Border Patrol Union, a pro-Trump and anti-immigrant extremist group, had instigated a 2017 raid of the same camp. Volunteers say their phones were confiscated and border agents disconnected power to the property’s only water source.
In a 5-4 ruling, the Supreme Court said Friday President Trump can move ahead with building his U.S.-Mexico border wall, using $2.5 billion in military funds, while the legal battle to stop the construction continues. The Sierra Club and other groups argue Trump circumvented Congress to divert the funds and that the border wall will cause irreparable environmental damage.
The Trump administration will start charging fees to apply for asylum. “This is a penalty against asylum applicants,” an anonymous asylum officer told BuzzFeed News. The U.S. will charge $50 for asylum petitions, and joins Fiji, Iran and Australia as the only countries that require people to pay for seeking legal refuge. Citizenship and Immigration Services will also hike up the cost of other immigration services, including an 80% increase in the fee for applying for U.S. citizenship.
In Afghanistan, at least 29 people have been killed, and 50 others wounded, after gunmen raided a jail Sunday night in Jalalabad, in Nangarhar province. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack, which comes a day after one of its senior commanders was killed by Afghan forces in the same region.
Hong Kong has postponed legislative elections, citing the pandemic, as it intensifies its crackdown on opposition leaders and critics. A dozen pro-democracy candidates were blocked from running, including prominent activist Joshua Wong. This comes as Hong Kong has issued arrest warrants for at least six pro-democracy figures under its new national security law, including a U.S. citizen, Samuel Chu, who works at the D.C.-based Hong Kong Democracy Council and lives in the United States.
Microsoft says it is in talks to acquire U.S. operations for the popular app TikTok, after Trump said he would ban the Chinese-owned video-sharing platform. Reuters is reporting Trump told Microsoft it has 45 days to close the deal, after he previously said he opposed the idea. This comes amid ongoing tensions between the U.S. and China over the coronavirus, trade and the situation in Hong Kong. TikTok says it has 100 million users in the U.S.
President Trump has installed a nominee for a top Pentagon job in another, nearly identical position, after the Senate abruptly canceled his hearing last Thursday when it became clear they didn’t have enough votes to confirm him. Retired general and Fox News contributor Anthony Tata, Trump’s pick to be the next undersecretary of defense for policy, will now instead be “performing the duties of” the deputy undersecretary of defense for policy — a temporary position that does not require Senate confirmation. Tata has come under fire for promoting Islamophobic conspiracy theories, including calling former President Barack Obama a “terrorist leader”; calling Islam the “most oppressive violent religion I know of”; as well as pushing a conspiracy theory that former CIA Director John Brennan ordered the assassination of Trump in 2018 via a coded tweet.
A federal appeals court overturned the death penalty sentence of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who was convicted of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings, after the court determined the judge in his case did not thoroughly review jury members for bias. Tsarnaev will now have a new trial to determine his penalty. The attack killed three people and injured hundreds of others.
An active-duty U.S. Army sergeant has been identified as the man who killed antiracist protester Garrett Foster in Austin, Texas, last weekend. Daniel Perry said he acted in self-defense when he opened fire after driving his car into a crowd, but eyewitnesses have challenged this account. In June, Perry retweeted a post by President Trump referring to protesters as “anarchists” and “lowlifes,” adding the comment, “Send them to Texas we will show them why we say don’t mess with Texas.”
Meanwhile, in Portland, Oregon, antiracist and anti-police-brutality protests continued this weekend — now entering their third month — as federal agents drew down their presence last week after a widely condemned violent crackdown on the demonstrators.
In Washington, D.C., the Homeland Security official whose office put together intelligence reports on protesters and journalists covering protests in Portland has reportedly been removed from his post. Brian Murphy was reassigned to an administrative role within the agency on Friday. The intelligence reports compiled information on two journalists — from The New York Times and the blog Lawfare, respectively — who published leaked documents about DHS’s tactics to repress antiracist protesters, as well as some of the protesters.
In Michigan, a court of appeals freed a 15-year-old student Friday who had been locked up since mid-May for not doing her online schoolwork, pending an appeal of her case. Students have rallied behind the teen, known simply as “Grace” to protect her identity, saying she was unfairly targeted because she is Black.
In New York City, sex workers and their allies took to the streets Saturday for the Black Sex Worker Liberation March and Vigil. Among protesters’ demands were the decriminalization of sex work and a repeal of the so-called Walking While Trans ban, an anti-loitering and anti-sex-work law that activists and rights groups say is disproportionately used to attack trans people.
Madame Namio: “This work is the only work that has allowed me to regain agency over a body I was taught to hate my whole life.”