What we’ve learned about Covid-19 seven months after the first US case

By Mallory Simon, CNN

It has now been almost six months since Covid-19 was declared a pandemic in the United States. For all researchers have learned there’s still so much more to understand.

The key to moving forward is understanding where Covid-19 has spread around the country and what the science tells us about what to do next. What lessons can be applied in schools and universities? What can cities and counties learn from what others have already endured? Where are we in the search for treatments and a possible vaccine?

Here’s what’s clear so far about who is impacted by the virus how the virus has been controlled and where the global race for treatments and vaccines stands.

Who has been impacted

The human toll of the virus has grown by measures many could not imagine. When the pandemic first began little was known about who would be impacted and what factors might make people vulnerable. Those answers have shifted over time.

Where things stand: As of Monday at least 183000 people have died in the United States and more than 6 million have been infected according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

According to the CDC’s best estimate the average person has less than a 1% chance of dying from coronavirus. In the months since the pandemic began public health experts have learned a few key things about who is more likely to become seriously ill.

  • If infected people 85 and older are 20 times more likely to die than people in their 50s and 60 times more likely to die than people in their 40s.
  • Younger people are not immune to this disease. Over 60% of new infections in the United States are now in people under the age of 50. People ages 18 to 29 represent 22.3% of cases; ages 30 to 39 represent 17.1% of cases and ages 40 to 49 represent 15.7% of cases.
  • Pediatric cases rose 90% In July according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. And health departments in many states reported cases of inflammation overdrive in youngsters — possibly as a reaction to coronavirus infection. This rare complication is known as MIS-C or multi-system inflammatory syndrome in children.

Why that matters: Leaders at all levels need to know who to protect and how best to protect them. Dr. Anthony Fauci director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases has often repeated there are five things people can do to help stop the spread of the virus: Wear a mask all the time consistently when you’re outside and may be exposed; keep physical distance; avoid bars or if you can or close bars; keep away from crowds or congregations; maintain hand hygiene.

We are still seeing states struggle to contain rolling outbreaks of cases. As some states get their outbreaks under control cases have risen in others. That’s in part a factor of proper measures are being taken and if people are following the guidance.

To tackle this infection the focus must be two-fold: protecting the populations most at risk and ensuring those who are younger understand the impact they have on keeping the disease from spreading.

Reducing transmission among all groups — even children and young adults who are less likely to become seriously ill — can have a huge impact on protecting more vulnerable populations.

The state of testing

Where things stand: The United States has come a long way since its early struggles with testing for Covid-19 but that doesn’t mean there isn’t still a long way to go. While some major bottlenecks have cleared there is still not the adequate easy rapid testing that many public health officials say is needed to stay on top of this virus.

To diagnose Covid-19 there are two key types of tests available.

  • PCR tests: Molecular diagnostic tests also called PCR tests are the most common tests in the US for coronavirus. The tests look for the virus’ genetic material — a sign of active infection. Shortages of some PCR test components have led to bottlenecks for the entire process since the start of the pandemic frustrating patients doctors and public health experts alike.
  • Antigen tests: Antigen tests don’t need complicated chemicals viral transport media or RNA extraction kits. They don’t necessarily require appointments at specialized labs highly trained technicians or certain machines. And they can provide an answer in minutes rather than hours or days. They are often cheaper. They do not test for the full genetic code of the virus but rather a part of it. That can mean they are not as reliable as PCR testing.

Why that matters: There are still rolling outbreaks in cities counties and states or superspreader events. Quick and effective testing is needed for public health officials to isolate track and stop transmission of the virus.

For many Americans getting a coronavirus test has meant waiting several days — often too many days to make it worthwhile according to public health experts. Waiting too long can mean you’ve missed the opportunity to isolate someone and stop them from spreading the virus at their peak of infection. Rapid testing is one of the key tools South Korea used to help stop the spread of the virus so quickly.

Which is why rapid tests even if they aren’t as accurate are so important. Experts say that being able to take rapid tests more often makes up for the fact that they aren’t as accurate. For colleges to reopen for example students may need to be tested every two to three days and be able to get quick results within minutes or hours — and that’s in addition to continuing to wear masks wash hands and keep their distance from others.

According to data from the COVID Tracking Project the U.S. conducted a little over 4.7 million tests last week. While that might sound like a lot that still adds up to fewer than 20 million tests a month and it’s far less than the million-plus tests per day some public health experts say we should be doing.

Treatments and vaccines

Where things stand: There have been incremental advances strides with therapies for coronavirus. Three are approved and there were at least 270 active trials and 570 in planning stage for treatments as of August 31 according to the FDA.

Remdesivir an antiviral has been approved by the FDA to treat hospitalized patients with severe Covid-19. The drug must be administered intravenously.

Dexamethasone a widely available steroid has been found to help hospitalized Covid patients. One study found that it may be able to help the sickest in hospitals who require ventilation or oxygen. A low dose regimen for 10 days was found to reduce the risk of death by a third among those on ventilators or with oxygen.

Convalescent plasma is the most recent Covid-19 treatment to be granted emergency use authorization by the FDA. It uses blood donated by people who have recovered from coronavirus infections. There’s hope for this treatment — it has been used to treat other deadly coronaviruses — but many health experts said it needed more studies that prove its benefit. Much of the data publicly available does not include randomized control trials the gold standard in research. The data that has been shared shows those treated with plasma were often treated with other drugs too making it hard to know the impact of the plasma.

Monoclonal antibodies are currently being studied by several companies as a possible treatment for patients infected with Covid-19 and as prevention. Monoclonal antibodies are immune system proteins that specifically home in on a single target. In coronavirus they are targeted to a single structure on the body of the virus. The hope is to slow or even prevent infection. The treatments can be expensive and difficult to manufacture though.

As for vaccines 33 are in human trials around the world as of August 31 according to the World Health Organization.

The US government’s vaccine development effort Operation Warp Speed is supporting eight vaccines six of which have been announced. Operation Warp Speed’s goal is to have 300 million doses of a vaccine that’s safe and effective by January 2021.

Moderna: The vaccine developed by Moderna and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases began Phase 3 trials in the United States in late July. Early results from studies of the the mRNA-1273 vaccine showed it brought about an immune response and a T-cell response in all age groups which is what researchers wanted to see. The higher the dose the higher the immune response was in the people who got it — but the side effects were worse too. More than half of participants had side effects including fatigue chills headache muscle pain and pain at the injection site.

Pfizer/BioNTech: A vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech also began Phase 3 trials in the United States in late July. The companies moved into a combined Phase 2/3 trial with their vaccine candidate called BNT162b2. In the combined Phase 1/2 trial the vaccine also induced both a T-cell and antibody response a “double-arm” effect that the companies hope will provide longer protection. Preliminary data from the Phase 1/2 trial showed “a favorable overall tolerability profile” for the vaccine Pfizer said in a news release “with generally mild to moderate” side effects that lasted one to two days “such as fever fatigue and chills and no serious adverse events.”

AstraZeneca: A vaccine made by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford launched its Phase 3 trial in the United States on Monday. Results from early trials released previously showed the vaccine prompted an antibody response within 28 days and a T-cell response within 14 days. Neutralizing antibodies — so-called because they can neutralize the virus — were detected in most participants after one shot and in all of them after two. There were no serious adverse events related to the vaccine; fatigue and headache were the most commonly reported reactions.

More vaccines in the works: The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is expected to begin Phase 3 US trials in mid-September. Novavax’s vaccine is expected to begin US Phase 3 trials by the end of the September and Sanofi/GlaxoSmithKline is expected begin Phase 3 later this year.

Why they matter: Until a vaccine is approved it’s important to note that of the treatments available most are to be used in patients who are sick in the hospital. That leaves out a lot of people who are very sick with this disease but perhaps not the sickest of all. In an ideal scenario doctors would like to have treatments that can be used in all scenarios: for the sickest in the hospital but also a treatment for people who are at home.

Think about flu season and how those who test positive are given an option like Tamiflu. It can be taken at home and help reduce symptoms and reduce the need to be at a hospital. A medication like that would also help Americans feel more comfortable about “resuming normal life.” But so far treatments are limited to the sickest who are in hospitals or those who are currently using oxygen or ventilation.

These treatments are the bridge or a stop gap until a vaccine is developed. And that won’t likely be until spring 2021 according to most public health experts.

A vaccine must first and foremost be safe but it must also protect a wide swath of the population. That’s why its so important to have trials that include older patients and minorities. There’s been a discussion about both the importance of and the difficulty recruiting both of those groups. And that’s a concern. One bit of good news is there has been data from Moderna’s vaccine that shows an immune response in all ages and also no difference in symptoms across ages.

CNN-National & Wolrd

Breonna Taylor, John Lewis and Rosa Parks are among the people Americans have nominated for Trump’s garden of American heroes

By Amanda Jackson, CNN

Civil rights activists athletes and musicians are among the people Americans’ have suggested be featured in President Donald Trump’s proposed National Garden of American Heroes.

The nominations which were made public this week follow an executive order issued July 3 in which the President called for a park to feature statutes of historically significant Americans.

The order designated a task force to identify potential locations for the park determine whether states or counties had statues to donate and provide recommends of American heroes who should be featured. The committee sent out more than 2000 letters to state governors and county officials for recommendations according to the the Department of the Interior. While every state was invited to give input some declined to participate including California Louisiana and New Mexico.

The department has been collecting the proposals and is expected to report the findings to Trump on Tuesday according to the order.

Several states nominated civil rights activists and pioneers including Congressman John Lewis Rosa Parks and the Little Rock Nine. Lehigh County Pennsylvania officials used their nominations to bring awareness to Black Americans whose deaths have sparked unrest across the nation.

“Most recently we can acknowledge that George Floyd Breanna Taylor Trayvon Martin and others have shaped the future of America by finally bringing the systemic racial injustices present in our policing to the forefront of politics” Amy Zanelli Lehigh County Commissioner wrote in a letter to the task force.

“We are making great advancements and it would be prudent to remember them as historically significant Americans.”

Some recommendations highlighted American women who became the first in their field. Arizona nominated Sandra Day O’Connor the first woman to serve on the Supreme Court. Oklahoma submitted Wilma Pearl Mankiller the first woman elected as chief of a major Native American tribe. Wyoming nominated Louisa Ann Swain the first woman in the US vote in a general election.

Sacagewea a Native American teenager who helped lead explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark westward in the 1800s was nominated by both North Dakota and Montana

Indiana nominated Madam C.J. Walker who founded a cosmetics and hair care line focusing on Black women. The success of the line led Walker to become the first female self-made millionaire in America according to the Guinness Book of World Records.

Other nominations include Olympian Gretchen Fraser who was the first American to win gold in skiing legendary basketball player and coach John Robert Wooden along with Johnny Cash one of the best selling music artists of all time. The recommendation letters can be viewed on the Department of the Interior’s website.

“The Task Force has received hundreds of recommendations for American heroes by a bipartisan group of governors and locally elected officials in addition to the general public” the agency said in a statement submitted to CNN on Monday. “The robust responses and enthusiasm to highlight hometown American heroes has been overwhelming.”

The order listed the following 31 Americans that were predetermined be honored in the outdoor park; John Adams Susan B. Anthony Clara Barton Daniel Boone Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain Henry Clay Davy Crockett Frederick Douglass Amelia Earhart Benjamin Franklin Billy Graham Alexander Hamilton Thomas Jefferson Martin Luther King Jr. Abraham Lincoln Douglas MacArthur Dolley Madison James Madison Christa McAuliffe Audie Murphy George S. Patton Jr. Ronald Reagan Jackie Robinson Betsy Ross Antonin Scalia Harriet Beecher Stowe Harriet Tubman Booker T. Washington George Washington and Orville and Wilbur Wright.

The task force is chaired by Interior Secretary David Bernhardt and includes; Jon Peede National Endowment for the Humanities Emily Murphy General Services Administration Aimee Jorjani Advisory Council on Historic Preservation Mary Anne Carter National Endowment for the Arts and Chuck Laudner Department of the Interior.

The executive order states the National Garden should be opened for the public prior to the 250th anniversary of the proclamation of the Declaration of Independence on July 4 2026.


Niecy Nash marries singer Jessica Betts

By Kelsie Smith, CNN

Actress Niecy Nash shared some happy news on Monday, announcing she is now married to singer Jessica Betts.

Nash, 50, posted a photo with her bride to Instagram and Twitter with a caption sharing her new married named, “Mrs. Carol Denise Betts” and the hashtag #LoveWins.”

In the photo, the happy couple, both dressed in white, joyously hold hands at an outdoor wedding ceremony. Nash wore a white lace gown, while Betts dressed in a cream suit with no jacket.

“I got a whole Wife @niecynash1 #Bestofbothworlds #LoveWins,” Betts captioned in her own post celebrating their new nuptials.

The actress, known for her performances in the television shows “Reno 911” and “Claws,” also posted another photo to her Instagram story, captioned “#PlotTwist” with a rainbow emoji.

It is unclear when the wedding ceremony took place.


Coco Gauff exits US Open as organizers use ‘enhanced protocol plan’ after positive Covid test

By Ravi Ubha and Jill Martin, CNN

Coco Gauff lost her opening match at a different looking US Open against former semifinalist Anastasija Sevastova, while two fellow pros who came into contact with a player who tested positive for the coronavirus were allowed to compete on the opening day.

The 16-year-old Gauff fell 6-3, 5-7, 6-4 to the 45th-ranked Latvian on what normally would have been a packed house at New York’s Louis Armstrong Stadium, the event’s second biggest court.

But amid the coronavirus pandemic, no fans are allowed. Instead, simulated crowd noises tried to fill the void Monday.

Gauff told reporters she didn’t think the lack of a crowd factored into the result.

“I think I compete just as hard with fans or not,” Gauff said. “I could have played better today. Just going to get back to work and get ready for the French Open.”

The French Open, normally the second major on the tennis calendar, has been postponed until September. Wimbledon was canceled earlier this year.

Gauff rose to stardom at Wimbledon last year as a first-time qualifier when she upset Venus Williams, before losing to eventual champion Simona Halep.

She also lost to the eventual champion at the Australian Open in January, Sofia Kenin, while exiting to two-time grand slam winner Naomi Osaka in New York a year ago.

Indeed, it has taken some of tennis’ finest to get the better of her. Sevastova fits the description, especially since she has reached the quarterfinals or better at the US Open in three of her past four visits and upset Serena Williams prior to the pandemic.

“I think it’s tough for everybody coming here,” Sevastova said. “But, yeah, this first hurdle, I won a match again. I think it’s going to give me a bit of confidence. I just thought, like, I will fight till the end of this match, we will see how it goes. Coco, she’s a great player. I mean, she’s 16 years old and she’s playing like that. I wish I would play like that at 16.”

Gauff’s all-around game and intelligence have won her plaudits, along with — like Osaka — taking a stand in the aftermath of Black people killed at the hands of police in the US.

The former junior standout spoke at a protest rally in her home city of Delray Beach, Florida, in June following the death of George Floyd and said following the shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin this month that she would continue to use tennis to “build my voice and make it louder so I can reach more people and create change.”

“This summer I learned a lot about myself,” Gauff said. “I learned that I can overcome a lot of things on and off the court. I still hope I can be that way and use my platform in that way.”

Naomi Osaka wins, wears Breonna Taylor mask

Gauff and Osaka could have met again at Flushing Meadows in the third round. On Monday, the big-hitting Japanese baseliner faced compatriot Misaki Doi in the night session.

Ahead of her match, Osaka entered Arthur Ashe Stadium wearing a mask that said “Breonna Taylor” on it. After defeating Doi, 6-2, 5-7, 6-2, Osaka was asked about the mask.

“I have seven,” Osaka told ESPN on court. “It’s quite sad that seven masks isn’t enough for the amount of names, so hopefully I’ll get to the finals and you can see all of them.”

Osaka — who pulled out before Saturday’s final at the Western & Southern Open because of a left hamstring injury — will face Italy’s Camila Giorgi in the second round.

“I just have to see what happens tomorrow and how I feel,” Osaka said.

The Western & Southern Open is usually held just outside of Cincinnati, Ohio, but was moved to the US Open grounds to strengthen the bubble, a concept similarly used in the NBA, NHL and soccer’s Champions League and MLS.

The US Open revealed Sunday, however, that an unnamed player had tested positive for Covid-19.

US Open spokesman Chris Widmaier told CNN in an email that the player couldn’t be named due to health laws, but he was identified as the outgoing Frenchman, Benoit Paire, by French sports daily L’Equipe. He has since been widely identified in other news outlets and on social media. CNN has reached out to a representative for Paire.

Paire’s name was subsequently removed from the official draw and replaced by an alternate from the doubles field, Marcel Granollers.

France’s Adrian Mannarino, Kristina Mladenovic cleared to play, win in first round

Paire was named by his fellow Frenchman Adrian Mannarino as testing positive and Paire took to Instagram on Monday evening New York time to say he was “well for the moment” and did not have any symptoms.

“I hesitate to say what is really happening in the fake bubble,” he added.

Mannarino and France’s Kristina Mladenovic — who both had been in contact with Paire — contested their first-round matches Monday.

Asked why the French pair were cleared to play despite the CDC and New York State Department of Health stating that those coming into contact with infected people should quarantine, Widmaier said “enhanced protocols were in place.”

“Together with the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, the USTA has built an enhanced protocol plan for those players who might have been potentially exposed to the infected player,” he said. “As part of these enhanced protocols, potentially exposed players will now be tested on a daily basis, rather than every four days.”

Widmaier confirmed that French doubles specialist Edouard Roger-Vasselin was one of those in the enhanced protocol plan after he was named by L’Equipe as also coming into contact with Paire and quoting him.

Mladenovic and Mannarino said they were, too.

Mladenovic, who beat Hailey Baptiste 7-5, 6-2, said she tested negative twice in the aftermath of Paire’s positive test.

She looked drained speaking with reporters in a Zoom call.

“I don’t know how we’re going to keep going,” she said. “I’m not allowed to do any fitness, to any like public bubble thing. I’m completely on my own with my brother/coach. It’s literally a bubble in a bubble. I don’t know how to be more precise. Literally seeing no one else. Not allowed to any of the facilities that have been put in place for the players. It’s mentally very tough.”

After defeating Lorenzo Sonego 6-1, 6-4, 2-6, 6-3, Mannarino said he had been left mentally exhausted.

“I have not been sleeping much,” said Mannarino in a Zoom call. “I had no idea if I was going to be withdrawn from the tournament. If I was still going to be in the tournament, then in which conditions? So I’ve been thinking a lot.”

“On Sunday the ATP told us they were discussing with the health department what was going to be the decision concerning all the players who’ve been in contact with Benoit. So it took a while for them to first make the decision to leave us in the tournament.”


Kamala Harris makes cameo appearance in record-breaking Brandy vs. Monica Verzuz battle

By Amir Vera, CNN

At least 1.2 million people tuned in for the much anticipated Verzuz battle between R&B legends Brandy and Monica on Instagram Monday.

Not only that, but Sen. Kamala Harris — rocking a Howard University sweater — made a surprise cameo appearance encouraging viewers to vote. Former First Lady Michelle Obama was also commenting on the live feed, encouraging people to vote.

“I just wanted to thank you ladies, just you queens, you stars, you icons,” Harris said.

Monday’s battle featured hits from both Monica and Brandy, including “I Wanna Be Down” and “Don’t Take It Personal.”

Brandy read several poems, one of which she dedicated to stars who recently passed — like Kobe and Gianna Bryant, Nipsey Hussle and Chadwick Boseman — before playing her hit “Missing You.”

Monica sang her hit “U Should’ve Known Better” a cappella and premiered her new song “Trenches” with Lil Baby.

The singers’ battle on Instagram was part of an ongoing series by producers Swizz Beatz and Timbaland as a way to entertain fans during quarantine. It has since become a cultural phenomenon on social media.

Previous battles have featured singers Alicia Keys and John Legend, rappers Nelly and Ludacris as well as reggae singers Beenie Man and Bounty Killer.

CNN’s Alexander Pineda contributed to this report.


AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine becomes third to begin Phase three trials in the United States

By Andrea Kane, CNN

British drugmaker AstraZeneca said Monday it has started Phase 3 trials of its experimental coronavirus vaccine in the United States, becoming the third company to start late-stage trials of a vaccine to prevent Covid-19.

The vaccine, developed in partnership with Oxford University, has the backing of the US federal government. Rivals Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTec already have Phase 3 trials under way, also with federal government funding.

AstraZeneca said it is “recruiting up to 30,000 adults aged 18 years or over from diverse racial, ethnic and geographic groups who are healthy or have stable underlying medical conditions, including those living with HIV, and who are at increased risk of infection from the SARS-CoV-2 virus.”

Participants will receive two active or placebo doses, spaced four weeks apart. Currently, Phase 3 trials of AstraZeneca’s vaccine are going on in Britain, Brazil and South Africa. Trials are also planned for Japan and Russia.

The US trial is funded by the federal government’s Biomedical Advanced Development Authority and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health.

“NIH is committed to supporting several Phase 3 vaccine trials to increase the odds that one or more will be effective in preventing COVID-19 and put us on the road to recovery from this devastating pandemic,” said NIH director Dr. Francis Collins said in a statement. “We also know that preventing this disease could require multiple vaccines and we’re investing in those that we believe have the greatest potential for success.”

AstraZenca says it intends to enroll more than 50,000 volunteers globally, including 30,000 in the United States, as well as participants in Latin America, Asia, Europe and Africa.

The vaccine, called by its experimental name AZD1222, combines a weakened version of a common cold virus that infects chimpanzees and a protein from the virus that causes Covid-19 to induce an immune response. The vaccine was created by Oxford University before being licensed to AstraZeneca for further development.

AstraZeneca said it will work with governments and other organizations to produce billions of doses and create broad and equitable access to the vaccine, once it’s authorized.

“Recent supply announcements with Russia, South Korea, Japan, China, Latin America and Brazil take the global supply capacity towards three billion doses of the vaccine,” AstraZeneca said in a statement.

The World Health Organization cautioned countries Monday against rushing to develop coronavirus vaccines and advised taking great care in granting emergency use authorization — a quicker route to getting a vaccine in wide use than full approval, which can take many months.

Both China and Russia say they will start deploying vaccines before completing late-stage clinical trials, and US Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. r. Stephen Hahn has said if the US gets enough data from advanced stage trials, it might be possible to authorize a vaccine before the trials are completed.

AstraZeneca released a statement emphasizing its commitment to science and safety.

The company also said the vaccine will meet the strict requirements set by by global regulators.

Both Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech are still in the process of enrolling their stated goals of 30,000 volunteers each.

Lauren Mascarenhas contributed to this story.


Fact-checking Biden’s speech on Social Security, fracking and crime

By Holmes Lybrand, CNN

During a speech Monday billed as one focused on public safety and law enforcement Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden took several swipes at President Donald Trump and defended himself against Trump’s attacks.

Biden ridiculed Trump’s response to the pandemic blamed him for sowing chaos and accused him of falsely representing Biden’s position on fracking. Here’s a look at some of the context and facts around several claims Biden made.

Cops and the coronavirus

“More cops have died from Covid this year than have been killed on patrol” Biden said in his speech.

Facts First: This is true.

According to the Officer Down Memorial Page a national nonprofit organization “dedicated to honoring America’s fallen law enforcement heroes” 97 officers have died from Covid-19 while 80 officers died by other means as of this reporting.

The second highest cause of death is gunfire which has killed 30 officers this year according to the memorial page.

Violence and chaos

Biden claimed that a political adviser for Trump had said that “the more chaos … and violence … the better it is” for Trump.

Facts First: This needs context. It appears Biden is referencing comments that White House counselor Kellyanne Conway made last week on “Fox and Friends.” Here’s what she said: “[T]he more chaos and anarchy and vandalism and violence reigns the better news for the very clear choice on who’s best on public safety and law and order.”

Biden is taking the step to connect Conway’s “clear choice” with the President’s campaign.

Murder and other violent crimes

Biden contrasted the Obama administration’s record on violent crime rates to the Trump administration’s.

“When I was vice president violent crimes fell 15% in this country” Biden said adding later that “the murder rate now is up 26% across the nation this year under Donald Trump.”

Facts First: Biden is correct on violent crimes falling from 2008 to 2016. Statistics on the murder rate this year are not yet available nationwide — though some major cities have seen an uptick in the rate.

According to the FBI’s estimates in 2008 the US saw 458.6 violent crimes per 100000 people and in 2016 that number was 386.3 a 15% decrease. The murder rate decreased nearly 2% from 2008 to 2016.

On Monday Biden veered from his prepared remarks which included the words “in cities” making it “[t]he murder rate is up 26% in cities across the nation.” But Biden did not include these two words in his speech and we don’t know what the US murder rate for this year is.

While a nationwide murder rate for this year so far from the FBI is not available from May to June 2020 homicides in 20 major US cities increased by 37% as CNN reported on August 16 led by Chicago Philadelphia and Milwaukee according to data from the nonpartisan Council on Criminal Justice think tank.

Jeff Asher a co-founder of the consulting firm AH Datalytics and former crime analyst for the city of New Orleans found that in 25 cities “with data publicly available through July” the murder rate was up 26% compared with this time in 2019.


“I am not banning fracking no matter how many times Donald Trump lies about me” Biden said during his speech.

Facts First: Biden is not running on a proposal to completely ban fracking (hydraulic fracturing a drilling method used to extract natural gas or oil). However there is at least some basis for Trump’s claim: During the Democratic primary Biden sometimes suggested he was proposing to get rid of all fracking. He’s also pledged to “establish an enforcement mechanism to achieve net-zero emissions no later than 2050” which would almost certainly require a significant reduction in fracking.

Biden’s written plan never included a full ban on fracking; rather it proposes “banning new oil and gas permitting on public lands and waters” not ending all new fracking anywhere or ending all existing fracking on public lands and waters. Biden has explicitly said he does not support a nationwide fracking ban (though in part because he doesn’t believe such a ban would pass).

Biden created confusion about his stance with some of his comments during the Democratic primary. For example he had this exchange with CNN’s Dana Bash during a July 2019 debate:

Bash: “Thank you Mr. Vice President. Just to clarify would there be any place for fossil fuels including coal and fracking in a Biden administration?”

Biden: “No we would — we would work it out. We would make sure it’s eliminated and no more subsidies for either one of those either — any fossil fuel.”

Could a president even ban fracking alone? No.

Without an act of Congress the President could not issue an outright ban on fracking across the US. There are however a number of regulatory and executive actions an administration could take to prevent or shrink the use of fracking technology particularly on federal land. The problem is that most fracking takes place on private land and any attempts to limit it would likely face legal challenges.

Social Security

The former vice president said that Trump had a plan to defund Social Security quoting a report from the Social Security Administration.

“The Social Security Administration’s chief actuary just released a report saying that if a plan like the one Trump is proposing goes into effect” Biden said “the Social Security Trust Fund would be and I quote ‘permanently depleted by the middle of calendar year 2023 with no ability to pay benefits thereafter.’ “

Facts First: This is basically true. The Social Security Administration found that Trump’s plan to eliminate payroll taxes would deplete the Social Security funds in three years if no other revenue source were put in place. Trump has suggested that the funds would come from the general fund.

The Social Security Administration’s Office of the Chief Actuary conducted an analysis at the request of Democratic senators on the effects Trump’s plan to eliminate the payroll tax would have on Social Security funds. It found that the Social Security Trust Fund could be depleted in 2023 if there were no new source of revenue.

During a news briefing on August 12 Trump said if reelected he would “terminate the payroll tax” adding that Social Security would be paid for through the general fund. “It works out very nicely” he said.

The next day Kayleigh McEnany the White House press secretary added confusion telling reporters that Trump meant that “he wants permanent forgiveness of the deferral” instead of permanently eliminating the payroll tax. But that’s not what Trump said.

Only Congress can terminate the payroll tax and it’s unclear with the House controlled by Democrats and the difficulty of rallying Senate Republicans behind such a proposal how Trump would get rid of the tax by the end of the year.

During the briefing when pressed by Fox News’ John Roberts on his assertion that the general fund would finance Social Security after the payroll tax was eliminated Trump claimed that strong economic growth would cover the loss of the payroll taxes.

But with the general fund already incurring trillions of dollars in debt paired with the fact that the payroll tax brings in more than a third of federal revenue some see Trump’s belief that economic growth could recoup these loses as fantastical.

Small business

Biden said that “nearly 1 in 6” small businesses have closed this year.

He made a similar claim during the Democratic National Convention. Here’s what we found:

Facts First: That number could be right but we don’t know if those closures are permanent.

There’s little real-time data on small business closures because they don’t often file for bankruptcy when they shut their doors. State and city lockdown orders forced many small businesses to close for weeks if not months this year. Even some of those owners who have reopened may not know if they can remain afloat as they struggle to get customers back and the pandemic lingers on.

Research by a Harvard University-based team called Opportunity Insights found that the number of small businesses operating as of August 7 was down 19.4% compared with January. A separate survey of small businesses conducted by the US Chamber of Commerce in mid-July found that 12% of owners said their businesses were temporarily closed another 1% said they were permanently closed and 1% said they didn’t know.

Following the convention speech Biden campaign spokesman Michael Gwin told CNN that it had taken the average of the two studies.

CNN’s Daniel Dale and Tara Subramaniam contributed to this article.

CNN-National & Wolrd

Alabama football players’ march for equality ends at the spot where Blacks were told they weren’t welcome years ago

By Theresa Waldrop, CNN

It was a powerful moment rife with symbolism.

A march for equality Monday organized by University of Alabama football players ended at the spot on campus where then-Gov. George Wallace stood to block Black students from entering in 1963.

“We walked to this little house door intentionally because while much has changed in the last 57 years too many things have not” Alabama running back Najee Harris told the crowd wearing a “Defend Black Lives” T-shirt.

Droves of young people marched bearing “Black Lives Matter” banners and signs.

The event comes amid the civil unrest that’s rocked the country since George Floyd’s death during an arrest in Minnesota in May with protests against racial injustice taking place daily in places like Portland Oregon and Kenosha Wisconsin where Jacob Blake was shot seven times by police.

The football team had posted a moving anti-racist pro-equality video on Twitter in June. The march was the team’s idea Coach Nick Saban said.

“We want all Alabama athletes to join us” Harris said in a tweet Friday publicizing the march. “This isn’t a fan day … this isn’t a football game … this is about lasting CHANGE!”

“Today I’m like a proud parent” Saban said.

“I’m very proud and supportive of what they are trying to say in a peaceful and intelligent way.”

Marching students held up signs that read: “Until Black lives matter all lives can’t matter” and “Stand for something or fall for anything.”

“I’m only a 22-year-old man” Chris Jones a student told march attendees. “But the things I’ve seen and experienced in my life have been enough for me to grow tired of the struggles people have to deal with in this society.”

CNN-National & Wolrd

A Republican student group at Arizona State University is raising money for the legal defense of the Kenosha shooting suspect

By Alaa Elassar, CNN

A conservative student organization at Arizona State University announced it will be donating half of all funds collected this semester to the legal defense of Kyle Rittenhouse.

Police have named the 17-year-old Rittenhouse as a suspect in a shooting during protests in Kenosha Wisconsin last week that left two people dead and a third person seriously wounded.

Rittenhouse now faces homicide charges as well as a felony charge for attempted homicide court records show.

Republicans United which split from the ASU College Republicans chapter in 2018 said it will donate the money to efforts to help defend Rittenhouse who the group says was “protecting his life and (shot) three attackers.”

“Kenosha has devolved into anarchy because the authorities in charge of the city abandoned it” the group says on its website. “They stood back and watched Kenosha burn. Kyle Rittenhouse is not a vigilante but a citizen who attempted to help in a city in chaos.”

ASU College Republicans which is not affiliated with Republicans United released a statement Saturday slamming the group for its “history of blatantly racist and antisemitic conduct.”

“We condemn and call for a formal administrative investigation into the conduct and operation of the organization dubbed ‘College Republicans United’ at ASU” the statement read. “We do not associate with nor condone their recent actions involving contributing to the legal defense fund of a man who shot and killed several Americans in Wisconsin.”

While the university does not restrict student groups from fundraising for whatever causes they choose ASU President Michael M. Crow told CNN in a statement the university considers actions associated with anti-social justice efforts “appalling and misguided.”

“It is important to note that the long-standing College Republicans student organization at ASU has repudiated the CRU and its agenda” Crow said. “The university takes very seriously its duty to establish a culture where differences of opinion are shared but protecting that freedom does not signal an endorsement or approval by the university nor does it remove student organizations from having responsibility for their words and their actions.”

“We do not condone the death of these individuals but take note that these are not model citizens. Kyle Rittenhouse does not deserve to have his entire life destroyed because of the actions of violent anarchists during a lawless riot” Republicans United said.

The shooting came amid protests over the police shooting of Jacob Blake a 29-year-old Black man. Blake survived but is paralyzed from the waist down.


Woman decides to move 82-year-old mother out of nursing home due to visitation restrictions

By Russell Kinsaul

Click here for updates on this story

    WOOD RIVER IL (KMOV) — Before the pandemic Barb Kruse said she could visit her mother in person at a nursing home and enjoy fun activities with her.

“We’d play solitaire we would do very simple puzzles sing songs take her dancing” she said.

Kruse said her 82-year old mother Marbelene Froman has Alzheimer’s Disease. She said her mother benefited mentally and emotionally from the face-to-face meetings but has declined rapidly after the pandemic limited visits to talking through a closed window at Integrity Healthcare of Wood River.

The Illinois Department of Public Health allows outdoor visits in person at long-term care facilities if social distancing is allowed. Kruse said she asked for outdoor in person visits and was repeatedly denied. She said the situation came to a head in a phone call with the facility director.

“I said I want my mom to be able to come outside she’s declining. And she said fine move your mom out” said Kruse.

Integrity Healthcare released a statement:

“With the rise of coronavirus cases nationwide and locally here in Madison County Integrity Healthcare of Wood River has closely monitored our residents and staff and taken precautionary measures recommended by the Illinois Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). We continue to test all of our residents and all of our staff each week.

Today we can confirm a staff member has tested positive for COVID-19. The nursing home has followed CDC procedures and has been in contact with the local health department. The individual has been isolated from the other residents and being followed by the local health department. The individual is asymptomatic.

The nursing home has canceled communal activities and dining to protect other residents. In addition to visitor restrictions and employee screening protocols we are monitoring all residents and staff carefully. Family members with questions about residents are encouraged to call our facility.

We will continue to follow guidelines provided by public health officials and government leaders communicate updates with residents and families and take all precautions necessary for our residents staff and community at large.”

The director of the facility indicated to News 4 on the phone that the health department doesn’t permit in person visits right now because of the elevated number of coronavirus cases in Madison County. But Kruse said a company executive told her she should have been allowed to visit her mother in person.

Kruse told News 4 “Monday 12-o’clock I show up at the nursing home and they’re supposed to have everything packed up and she walks out of there and into my house.”

But the discovery that an employee tested positive has complicated her plans to move her mother in with her. The nursing home said her mother needs to quarantine for 14 days or if Kruse brings her mother home Monday she’ll need to quarantine for 14 days. She’ll decide on Monday.

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