What you need to know about COVID-19: Postmaster says election mail will go through despite cuts

Postmaster General Louis DeJoy is declaring it’s his “sacred duty” to ensure election mail delivery this fall. But he also told senators on Friday that he has no plans to restore curbside mail collection boxes or high-speed sorting machines that have been removed. He said he actually didn’t know they were being removed on his watch until the recent outcry but insisted they’re not needed. President Donald Trump has repeatedly railed against the idea of widescale mail-in voting, which many states are encouraging because of the coronavirus epidemic. The House has been called into a rare Saturday session to vote on billions of dollars in emergency help for the Postal Service. But the White House issued a veto threat on Friday for House Democrats’ proposed bill that would provide $25 billion to the U.S. Postal Service. It is not likely to be considered in the Republican-controlled Senate.CDC says incidence more than triple among Native AmericansThe coronavirus pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on Native American communities. The incidence of COVID-19 cases among American Indians and Alaska Natives was 3.5 times that among White people, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.The latest numbersMore than 5.6 million Americans have been infected and at least 175,000 have died, according to Johns Hopkins University.The CDC said Wednesday that it has provided more than $200 million in COVID-19 funding to American Indian and Alaska Native communities to support pandemic preparedness and responsive efforts, such as surveillance, laboratory capacity and infection control.”American Indian and Alaska Native people have suffered a disproportionate burden of COVID-19 illness during the pandemic,” CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield said in a news release. “This funding approach will broaden access to COVID-19 resources across tribal communities.” Deaths should decline across US by next week, CDC chief saysCOVID-19 deaths in the U.S. should start dropping around parts of the country by next week as Americans stick to mitigation efforts that help curb the spread of the virus, according to Redfield.Mitigation measures like controlling crowds and shutting down bars work, Redfield said Thursday, but it takes time until they’re reflected in the numbers.”It is important to understand these interventions are going to have a lag, that lag is going to be three to four weeks,” Redfield said in an interview with the Journal of the American Medical Association. “Hopefully this week and next week you’re going to start seeing the death rate really start to drop.”The daily average of new cases in the U.S. has been on the decline for weeks.But Redfield warned that while officials have observed cases fall across red zones in the country, cases in yellow zones across the heart of the U.S. aren’t falling.”Middle America right now is getting stuck,” he said. “That is why it’s so important for Middle America to recognize the mitigation that we talked about … it’s for Middle America too, the Nebraskas, the Oklahomas.””We don’t need to have a third wave in the heartland right now,” he said. “We need to prevent that.” Superspeading events help drive pandemicIn rural areas, superspreading events have been especially important in helping drive the pandemic, researchers in Georgia said this week.Superspreading events like parties, conferences and large gatherings have been cautioned against by leaders throughout the country. Earlier this month, experts raised concern about a motorcycle rally in a small South Dakota town which was expected to bring tens of thousands of visitors.Biostatistician Max Lau of Emory University and a team analyzed Georgia health department data in more than 9,500 COVID-19 cases in four metro Atlanta-area counties and Dougherty County in rural southwestern Georgia between March and May.”Overall, about 2% of cases were directly responsible for 20% of all infections,” they wrote in their report.Younger people were more likely to spread the virus than people over 60, the Georgia study showed.In Ohio, the governor said that while the state has seen a significant decrease in cases across urban areas, infections have increased in rural areas.”Spread is primarily, we’re seeing in social situations, family gatherings where people are unmasked, and in close contact and basically let their guard down,” Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said Thursday. Administrators prepared for COVID-19 changes. Students partied anywayAs thousands of students return to campuses, and in spite of the risks, some are proving the urge to socialize and party too tempting to resist.Duncan Donahue is a junior at the University of Notre Dame living off campus. He describes refreshing his university’s COVID-19 case tracking dashboard as “harrowing.”Now that his university halted in-person classes for two weeks in an attempt to curtail the rising number of COVID-1 cases, which have surpassed 300 as of Thursday, Donahue has mixed feelings about the parties his classmates threw.”We’ve all been cooped up for six months and not been able to enjoy certain social events that we normally do. And so, I think that for a lot of students, coming back to Notre Dame was sort of like a chance to return to normalcy” Donahue told CNN. “Obviously that’s a terrible idea, but I sympathize with the idea.”When Notre Dame President Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C announced the university’s decision, he addressed why students so far had not been punished for reporting parties.”We have a policy that information gained through such inquiries will not be used in any disciplinary action. We will continue to adhere to this policy because we want students to be forthright with us, so that we can discover the source of the infections in order to keep the community safe” Jenkins said on Tuesday.”If, however, we learn a serious violation of our policies from other sources we will take disciplinary action” Jenkins added, stating that several reports of this nature have already been submitted and are under review by the university conduct process. Several students at the University of Connecticut were evicted from their dorms when the university learned that students had an unapproved party that ignored social distancing rules in a residence hall.”It’s something everyone coming back to campus knew would happen,” editor-in-chief of the Daily Campus, UConn’s student newspaper, Peter Fenteany told CNN about the parties. “But it’s not something that I expected on the first weekend.” At Syracuse University in New York, Vice Chancellor for Strategic Initiatives and Innovation J. Michael Haynie wrote a letter on Thursday admonishing students after learning about a party on campus.”Last night, a large group of first-year students selfishly jeopardized the very thing that so many of you claim to want from Syracuse University — that is, a chance at a residential college experience,” Haynie wrote. “I say this because the students who gathered on the Quad last night may have done damage enough to shut down campus … before the academic semester even begins.”Haynie referred to the behavior of the partiers as “selfish and unsettling” and said that the university’s Department of Public Safety is reviewing security camera video to try to identify students who were there.”The world is watching, and they expect you to fail. Prove them wrong. Be better. Be adults,” he wrote. Penn State University President Thursday warned gatherings on campus of those not wearing masks or practicing physical distancing is unacceptable and will not be tolerated after reports and video surfaced of students appearing to flout campus rules amid the pandemic.A video obtained by CNN appears to show college students gathered on Penn State campus Wednesday evening — appearing in close proximity. Masks are visible on some of the students seen from a distance in the video provided to CNN.Penn State University president Eric Barron in a stern message said, “I ask students flouting the University’s health and safety expectations a simple question: Do you want to be the person responsible for sending everyone home?”Stop the spread of COVID-19To help stop the spread of the coronavirus, the CDC recommends wearing a face mask.Masks are required in public places in some states and businesses. Multiple major retailers have announced mask requirement policies as the nation continues to see a large number of cases reported in certain areas.The CDC also recommends you keep 6 feet of distance between yourself and others.Make sure to wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.For more tips on how to stay safe, CLICK HERE.The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Postmaster General Louis DeJoy is declaring it’s his “sacred duty” to ensure election mail delivery this fall.

But he also told senators on Friday that he has no plans to restore curbside mail collection boxes or high-speed sorting machines that have been removed.

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He said he actually didn’t know they were being removed on his watch until the recent outcry but insisted they’re not needed. President Donald Trump has repeatedly railed against the idea of widescale mail-in voting, which many states are encouraging because of the coronavirus epidemic.

The House has been called into a rare Saturday session to vote on billions of dollars in emergency help for the Postal Service. But the White House issued a veto threat on Friday for House Democrats’ proposed bill that would provide $25 billion to the U.S. Postal Service. It is not likely to be considered in the Republican-controlled Senate.

CDC says incidence more than triple among Native Americans

The coronavirus pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on Native American communities. The incidence of COVID-19 cases among American Indians and Alaska Natives was 3.5 times that among White people, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The latest numbers

More than 5.6 million Americans have been infected and at least 175,000 have died, according to Johns Hopkins University.

The CDC said Wednesday that it has provided more than $200 million in COVID-19 funding to American Indian and Alaska Native communities to support pandemic preparedness and responsive efforts, such as surveillance, laboratory capacity and infection control.

“American Indian and Alaska Native people have suffered a disproportionate burden of COVID-19 illness during the pandemic,” CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield said in a news release. “This funding approach will broaden access to COVID-19 resources across tribal communities.”

Deaths should decline across US by next week, CDC chief says

COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. should start dropping around parts of the country by next week as Americans stick to mitigation efforts that help curb the spread of the virus, according to Redfield.

Mitigation measures like controlling crowds and shutting down bars work, Redfield said Thursday, but it takes time until they’re reflected in the numbers.

“It is important to understand these interventions are going to have a lag, that lag is going to be three to four weeks,” Redfield said in an interview with the Journal of the American Medical Association. “Hopefully this week and next week you’re going to start seeing the death rate really start to drop.”

The daily average of new cases in the U.S. has been on the decline for weeks.

But Redfield warned that while officials have observed cases fall across red zones in the country, cases in yellow zones across the heart of the U.S. aren’t falling.

“Middle America right now is getting stuck,” he said. “That is why it’s so important for Middle America to recognize the mitigation that we talked about … it’s for Middle America too, the Nebraskas, the Oklahomas.”

“We don’t need to have a third wave in the heartland right now,” he said. “We need to prevent that.”

Superspeading events help drive pandemic

In rural areas, superspreading events have been especially important in helping drive the pandemic, researchers in Georgia said this week.

Superspreading events like parties, conferences and large gatherings have been cautioned against by leaders throughout the country. Earlier this month, experts raised concern about a motorcycle rally in a small South Dakota town which was expected to bring tens of thousands of visitors.

Biostatistician Max Lau of Emory University and a team analyzed Georgia health department data in more than 9,500 COVID-19 cases in four metro Atlanta-area counties and Dougherty County in rural southwestern Georgia between March and May.

“Overall, about 2% of cases were directly responsible for 20% of all infections,” they wrote in their report.

Younger people were more likely to spread the virus than people over 60, the Georgia study showed.

In Ohio, the governor said that while the state has seen a significant decrease in cases across urban areas, infections have increased in rural areas.

“Spread is primarily, we’re seeing in social situations, family gatherings where people are unmasked, and in close contact and basically let their guard down,” Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said Thursday.

Administrators prepared for COVID-19 changes. Students partied anyway

As thousands of students return to campuses, and in spite of the risks, some are proving the urge to socialize and party too tempting to resist.

Duncan Donahue is a junior at the University of Notre Dame living off campus. He describes refreshing his university’s COVID-19 case tracking dashboard as “harrowing.”

Now that his university halted in-person classes for two weeks in an attempt to curtail the rising number of COVID-1 cases, which have surpassed 300 as of Thursday, Donahue has mixed feelings about the parties his classmates threw.

“We’ve all been cooped up for six months and not been able to enjoy certain social events that we normally do. And so, I think that for a lot of students, coming back to Notre Dame was sort of like a chance to return to normalcy” Donahue told CNN. “Obviously that’s a terrible idea, but I sympathize with the idea.”

When Notre Dame President Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C announced the university’s decision, he addressed why students so far had not been punished for reporting parties.

“We have a policy that information gained through such inquiries will not be used in any disciplinary action. We will continue to adhere to this policy because we want students to be forthright with us, so that we can discover the source of the infections in order to keep the community safe” Jenkins said on Tuesday.

“If, however, we learn a serious violation of our policies from other sources we will take disciplinary action” Jenkins added, stating that several reports of this nature have already been submitted and are under review by the university conduct process.

Several students at the University of Connecticut were evicted from their dorms when the university learned that students had an unapproved party that ignored social distancing rules in a residence hall.

“It’s something everyone coming back to campus knew would happen,” editor-in-chief of the Daily Campus, UConn’s student newspaper, Peter Fenteany told CNN about the parties. “But it’s not something that I expected on the first weekend.”

At Syracuse University in New York, Vice Chancellor for Strategic Initiatives and Innovation J. Michael Haynie wrote a letter on Thursday admonishing students after learning about a party on campus.

“Last night, a large group of first-year students selfishly jeopardized the very thing that so many of you claim to want from Syracuse University — that is, a chance at a residential college experience,” Haynie wrote. “I say this because the students who gathered on the Quad last night may have done damage enough to shut down campus … before the academic semester even begins.”

Haynie referred to the behavior of the partiers as “selfish and unsettling” and said that the university’s Department of Public Safety is reviewing security camera video to try to identify students who were there.

“The world is watching, and they expect you to fail. Prove them wrong. Be better. Be adults,” he wrote.

Penn State University President Thursday warned gatherings on campus of those not wearing masks or practicing physical distancing is unacceptable and will not be tolerated after reports and video surfaced of students appearing to flout campus rules amid the pandemic.

A video obtained by CNN appears to show college students gathered on Penn State campus Wednesday evening — appearing in close proximity. Masks are visible on some of the students seen from a distance in the video provided to CNN.

Penn State University president Eric Barron in a stern message said, “I ask students flouting the University’s health and safety expectations a simple question: Do you want to be the person responsible for sending everyone home?”

Stop the spread of COVID-19

To help stop the spread of the coronavirus, the CDC recommends wearing a face mask.

Masks are required in public places in some states and businesses. Multiple major retailers have announced mask requirement policies as the nation continues to see a large number of cases reported in certain areas.

The CDC also recommends you keep 6 feet of distance between yourself and others.

Make sure to wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.

For more tips on how to stay safe, CLICK HERE.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.