Latest coronavirus news for July 12, 2020: Live updates


The Latest

Long lines for COVID tests nationwide, stressed labs delay results as demand spikes

| Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

America’s testing system is once again strained and labs are struggling to keep pace as coronavirus rages faster than ever in the South and West.

From Florida to California, large and small labs running 24/7 can’t process samples quickly enough from millions of Americans tested every week. That means COVID-19 test results are delayed a week or longer in hotspot communities, undercutting public health efforts to track, isolate and prevent spread.

The number of daily tests reached an all-time high of more than 719,000 on July 3 and averaged nearly 640,000 each day this past week, according to data from the COVID Tracking Project.

Testing centers in Sunbelt cities such as Tallahassee, Florida and Phoenix, Arizona routinely attract long lines and at times must turn away people. Other than hospital patients, whom labs are prioritizing, delays are widespread in the South and West at drive-thru and walk-up testing centers, urgent care, doctor’s offices and government-supported testing sites.

Read the full story here.

News

10:56 a.m. Coronavirus surge in Eastern Europe prompts new restrictions

BUDAPEST, Hungary — Countries in Eastern Europe are facing rising waves of coronavirus infections, leading to riots in Serbia, mandatory face masks in Croatia and travel bans or quarantines imposed by Hungary.

The new restrictions come as the World Health Organization reports that daily global infections hit over 228,000 last week, and the U.S. confirmed over 66,600 new cases on Friday, another record, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Virus deaths are rising in the U.S., especially in the South and West, with the seven-day rolling daily average increasing from 578 two weeks ago to 664 on Friday — still well below the heights hit in April — according to an Associated Press analysis of data from Johns Hopkins. Daily infection records were hit in at least six states.

“It’s consistently picking up. And it’s picking up at the time you’d expect it to,” said William Hanage, a Harvard University infectious diseases researcher.

Researchers expect U.S. deaths to rise for weeks, but some think the count will not go up as dramatically as it did in the spring.

Read the full report here.

9:42 a.m. Pandemic, racism compound worries about Black suicide rate

Jasmin Pierre was 18 when she tried to end her life, overdosing on whatever pills she could find. Diagnosed with depression and anxiety, she survived two more attempts at suicide, which felt like the only way to stop her pain.

Years of therapy brought progress, but the 31-year-old Black woman’s journey is now complicated by a combination of stressors hitting simultaneously: isolation during the pandemic, a shortage of mental health care providers and racial trauma inflicted by repeated police killings of Black people.

“Black people who already go through mental health issues, we’re even more triggered,” said Pierre, who lives in New Orleans. “I don’t think my mental health issues have ever, ever been this bad before.”

Health experts have warned of a looming mental health crisis linked to the coronavirus outbreak, and the federal government rolled out a broad anti-suicide campaign. But doctors and researchers say the issues reverberate deeper among Black people, who’ve seen rising youth suicide attempts and suffered disproportionately during the pandemic.

Mental health advocates are calling for more specialized federal attention on Black suicides, including research funding. Counselors focusing on Black trauma are offering free help. And Black churches are finding new ways to address suicide as social distancing has eroded how people connect.

“There has been a lot of complex grief and loss related to death, related to loss of jobs and loss of income,” said Sean Joe, an expert on Black suicides at Washington University in St. Louis. “There’s a lot of hurt and pain in America going on right now, and you only are getting a sense of depth in the months ahead.”

Read the full report here.
8:30 a.m. ICYMI: Trump wears a mask in public for first time during pandemic to visit military hospital

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump wore a mask during a visit to a military hospital on Saturday, the first time the president has been seen in public with the type of facial covering recommended by health officials as a precaution against spreading or becoming infected by the novel coronavirus.

Trump flew by helicopter to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in suburban Washington to meet wounded service members and health care providers caring for COVID-19 patients. As he left the White House, he told reporters: “When you’re in a hospital, especially … I think it’s expected to wear a mask.”

Trump was wearing a mask in Walter Reed’s hallway as he began his visit. He was not wearing one when he stepped off the helicopter at the facility.

Read the full report here.

7:10 a.m. Trump wears a mask in public for first time during pandemic to visit military hospital

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump wore a mask during a visit to a military hospital on Saturday, the first time the president has been seen in public with the type of facial covering recommended by health officials as a precaution against spreading or becoming infected by the novel coronavirus.

Trump flew by helicopter to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in suburban Washington to meet wounded service members and health care providers caring for COVID-19 patients. As he left the White House, he told reporters: “When you’re in a hospital, especially … I think it’s expected to wear a mask.”

Read the full story here.

New cases

Analysis & Commentary

7:16 a.m. We can’t fly; we can’t hug; at least let us grin

When my boss asked me to gather thoughts on Alinea’s new novel coronavirus-shaped canapé, conscientious newsman that I am, I suggested heading over right away to try the tidbit. To comment intelligently, I had to first sample the purplish sphere of coconut custard with Szechuan peppercorn, dotted with freeze-dried raspberries that caused some on Instagram to grouse that lives lost to COVID-19 are being mocked by a confection.

Shoe-leather reporting. Direct experience. Can’t beat it.

Alas, time is of the essence. So all I could do is acquaint myself with the thorough treatment by Block Club Chicago, which sadly chose to quote one, count ’em, one disgruntled person, complaining on Instagram.

“This isn’t ok … this isn’t ‘cute.’ This is shameful,” wrote the irked individual.

No, what’s shameful is Donald Trump insisting America’s schools re-open in the fall, pandemic be damned. As is the same people who are willing to sacrifice Grandma to stay behind him now tossing Junior onto the pyre as well. Our nation marinates in humiliation like Hawaiian chicken.

Read Neil Steinberg’s full column here.