But the US economy remains in a deep recession, and a full job market recovery is far from certain. America is dealing with a severe joblessness crisis and millions of people are relying on government aid to make ends meet.
The Department of Labor reported Thursday that 1.4 million workers -- more than expected -- filed for first-time unemployment benefits last week. Continued claims, which count people filing at least two weeks in a row, stood at 19.3 million, slightly more than the revised number of the prior week.
8:55 a.m. ET, July 2, 2020
Hospitals prepare for another Covid-19 surge as at least 12 states see uptick in hospitalizations
The trend is worrying: A sharp increase in patients can once again overwhelm hospitals, putting critical resources including staffing, beds and ventilators in short supply.
Some hospitals are already so swamped they've transferred patients elsewhere, while others are taking steps to prepare for a coming surge.
The increases come weeks after many states began reopening their economies after extended closures intended to stem the spread of coronavirus. Meanwhile, at least 37 states across the country are seeing an increase in Covid-19 cases compared to the previous week, according to John Hopkins University data.
The relaxed measures fueled the rapid spread of the virus and an influx of new patients needing hospitalization, some doctors say.
"I live close to a beach, and you can see it's like a party every single day," says Dr. David De La Zerda, the ICU medical director and a pulmonologist at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami.
Among the states seeing an increase are Florida and Texas, which are expected to see nearly 2,000 new hospitalizations per day by mid-July, according to forecasts published by the CDC.
In Arizona and California, the forecasts project about 1,500 new patients each day in the next two weeks.
Arizona hospital beds are currently at 85% capacity and ICU beds are “only” at 88% capacity, Vice President Mike Pence said during a briefing in Phoenix on Wednesday. The state is also asking for 500 additional medical personnel to deal with what Pence called a “dramatic” surge in coronavirus cases in the state.
Here is a look at some of the latest hospitalization figures:
8:22 a.m. ET, July 2, 2020
Atlanta-area county urges residents to wear a mask in emergency alert
Some residents in the Atlanta area received a public safety alert on their phones this morning, during them to wear a mask when they're outside and to stay home when possible.
The alert from DeKalb County also urged people to "get tested!" Here's a look at the alert:
The safety alert comes as cases of coronavirus are rising across the state of Georgia. The state is one of 37 across the country seeing increases in coronavirus in the past week compared to the week before — and it's one of 10 reporting a greater than 50% increase in new cases.
Hospitalizations across the state are also increasing.
8:22 a.m. ET, July 2, 2020
University of Southern California reverses decision to resume in-person classes this fall
From CNN's Stella Chan
Citing rising cases of coronavirus in Los Angeles county, the University of Southern California will modify its plans for fall undergraduate classes to mostly online courses.
“Public health guidelines continue to change, and Los Angeles County has yet to approve our plans for returning to full campus operations. Los Angeles is experiencing an alarming spike in coronavirus cases, making it clear we need to dramatically reduce our on-campus density and all indoor activities for the fall semester,” according to a statement to students Wednesday.
In June, USC announced it would resume in-person classes in the fall.
Administrators also cited Gov. Gavin Newsom’s announcement limiting indoor activities as well as deadlines for student leases for the update.
“While not what we hoped, we are now recommending all undergraduates take their courses online, and reconsider living on or close to campus this semester. We are continuing with limited in-person, on-campus activity because we believe we can keep students, researchers, staff, and faculty safe with our low-density plan,” said the letter.
Dorms will be limited to one student per room, and the university needs to keep several available for quarantine or surge capacity. Dining halls will adhere to social distance guidelines and offer pre-packaged food and pick-up options.
8:09 a.m. ET, July 2, 2020
He posted his regrets over attending a party in California. The next day, he died of coronavirus
From CNN's Faith Karimi and Alexandra Meeks
A Southern California man who tested positive for coronavirus after attending a party expressed his fear and regret a day before he died.
Thomas Macias, 51, went to a barbecue last month near his community in Lake Elsinore, about 70 miles from Los Angeles.
Shortly after the party, he started feeling sick. On June 20, he posted a poignant message on Facebook to warn his loved ones about the risks of the virus, his family said.
"I went out a couple of weeks ago ... because of my stupidity I put my mom and sisters and my family's health in jeopardy," he wrote. "This has been a very painful experience. This is no joke. If you have to go out, wear a mask, and practice social distancing. ... Hopefully with God's help, I'll be able to survive this."
At least five states -- Arizona, California, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas -- had record-high totals of new case reports on Wednesday.
Here's what you need to know about the pandemic today:
US "on target to reach a vaccine by year's end, or early next year," FDA commissioner says: The United States remains on target to have a Covid-19 vaccine available by the end of 2020 or early next year, US Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn said Thursday.
"We expect two of these vaccines to go in the late stage of clinical trials, which are large clinical trials, in this month," Hahn said on ABC's Good Morning America. "We are on target to reach a vaccine by year's end or early next year, so I'm cautiously optimistic.
Quarantine hotel sex scandal linked to coronavirus outbreak in Melbourne: Australian officials have launched a judicial inquiry amid allegations a fresh coronavirus outbreak in the state of Victoria was sparked by some contracted workers not following protocols at a hotel used to quarantine international arrivals -- including reportedly having sex with people under lockdown.
Middle East at crucial point: The Middle East is at a “critical threshold” as countries across the region have started to ease their lockdowns and the coronavirus pandemic speeds up, Dr Ahmed Al-Mandhari, regional director for World Health Organization’s Eastern Mediterranean Regional Office.
New cases of coronavirus in Israel and Palestinian Authority at record levels: Weeks after appearing to have the spread of coronavirus firmly under control, both Israel and the Palestinian Authority are now seeing new cases emerging at record levels. Israel recorded 966 new cases of coronavirus Wednesday, according to the Ministry of Health -- the number of new infections per day has tripled in the last two weeks and has jumped nearly 50-fold since mid-May. The Palestinian Authority reported 330 new cases Wednesday, which was also a record daily high.
Groom died of coronavirus two days after his wedding and 80 guests have been infected: In India, a man died two days after his wedding after becoming infected with novel coronavirus in the eastern state of Bihar. Then 80 guests tested positive for the virus.
German slaughterhouse placed under extended quarantine: Germany’s Toennies meat processing plant -- the epicenter of a fresh coronavirus outbreak in the country -- will have its mandatory quarantine period extended for a further two weeks, until July 17, the Health Ministry in North Rhine-Westphalia said Wednesday.
7:57 a.m. ET, July 2, 2020
Pool testing is "significant strategy" to get more Covid-19 tests completed, Hahn says
From CNN Health's Jacqueline Howard
White House officials have been eyeing "pool testing" as a way to increase testing for the coronavirus in the United States -- and US Food and Administration commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn on Thursday called the approach a "significant strategy."
"It is one strategy and a significant strategy to increase our testing capacity," Hahn told ABC's Whit Johnson during an appearance on Good Morning America.
To conduct pool testing, "you take multiple samples and run them as one test. It saves on test supplies, reagents, et cetera," Hahn said. "Laboratories have to do this under special conditions."
FDA published guidance for laboratories last month on how to conduct pool testing.
The guidance laid out guideposts for making tests that could be used for widespread screening of people showing no symptoms -- as opposed to person-by-person testing by a provider. The FDA also laid out steps for making and using tests for pooling samples.
7:55 a.m. ET, July 2, 2020
US "on target to reach a vaccine by year's end or early next year," FDA commissioner says
From CNN Health's Jacqueline Howard
The United States remains on target to have a Covid-19 vaccine available by the end of the year or early next year, US Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn said on Thursday.
"FDA has given authorization to proceed with clinical trials for four separate vaccines and we've seen a number of vaccine developers come forward -- double digit numbers -- so we have a lot of different, if you will, shots on goal with respect to vaccines. That's good news," Hahn told ABC's Whit Johnson during an appearance on Good Morning America.
Cautiously optimistic: "We expect two of these vaccines to go in the late stage of clinical trials, which are large clinical trials, in this month," Hahn said. "We are on target to reach a vaccine by year's end or early next year, so I'm cautiously optimistic. Of course it depends upon the data that are generated from the trial."
Hahn added that FDA's job is to assess the data and science from the trials to determine the safety and efficacy of that vaccine. According to the World Health Organization, there are 17 candidate vaccines in clinical evaluation globally.
7:53 a.m. ET, July 2, 2020
Fauci warns US lockdown restrictions were eased too soon as coronavirus cases surge
From CNN's Nada Bashir
White House coronavirus task force member, Dr. Anthony Fauci, has warned that individual states across the US may have relaxed lockdown regulations too soon, adding that the country has so far been unsuccessful in gaining control over the national outbreak.
“In the United States, even in the most strict lockdowns, only about 50% of the country locked down -- that allowed for the perpetuation of the outbreak, which we never did get under very good control,” Fauci told BBC Radio 4 on Thursday.
“The problem we’re facing now is the attempt to re-open or open the government and get it back to some form of normality. We’re seeing very disturbing spikes in different individual states in the United States,” he added.
Speaking to the Todayprogram, Fauci highlighted that the easing of lockdown restrictions has allowed members of the public to congregate in groups beyond the recommended number, without the use of face masks -- a factor, he says, which has contributed to the “kind of outbreaks” the US is now seeing.
US at risk of "greater outbreak": Pressed on how the US has fared in comparison to the UK and Europe in handling the pandemic, the nation’s top infectious disease expert conceded that the situation has been “more problematic” in the US.
“It’s a serious situation… we got hit very badly, worse than any country with regard to the number of cases and the number of deaths,” Fauci said.
“What we’ve seen over the last several days is a spike in cases that is way beyond the worst spikes that we’ve seen. That is not good news... we’ve got to get that under control, or we risk an even greater outbreak in the United States,” he added.