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June 12, 2020 — A roundup of the latest news about COVID-19

As we head into the weekend, fears of a second wave are growing around the world. Here at home, cases are rising in nearly half the states. And the races to find both an effective treatment and a vaccine that works are heating up. Get caught up on the latest coronavirus news:

As of this morning, the world has more than 7.5 million confirmed cases, with 422,000 deaths and more than 3.5 million recoveries. Here in the U.S., we’ve seen more than 2 million cases. Almost 114,000 Americans have died, and another 540,000 have recovered. Fears of a second wave are growing with a record daily increase in India, warnings against complacency in Europe, and word from half a dozen U.S. states that their hospital beds were filling up fast.
States are rolling back lockdowns, but the coronavirus isn’t done with the U.S. Cases are rising in nearly half the states, according to an Associated Press analysis, a worrying trend that could intensify as people return to work and venture out during the summer.
After a six-week trial of screening wastewater for the coronavirus, Utah public health officials plan to scale up a program to test sewage flowing into 40 treatment plants serving three-quarters of the state’s population. The study detected a big viral surge in wastewater the week before one rural area’s COVID-19 caseload exploded.
As part of President Trump’s push for America to return to life as it was before the coronavirus pandemic, he is resuming indoor campaign rallies this month even while health officials continue to say people should avoid crowded places. But the president’s optimism has its limits: Attendees cannot sue the campaign or the venue if they contract the virus at his June 19 rally in Tulsa, OK. And the Republican National Committee announced yesterday that President Trump’s renomination speech and other convention festivities will move to Jacksonville, FL., from Charlotte, NC, after the original site refused to go along with Trump’s demands for a crowded large-scale event amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Right now, there is only one drug shown by rigorous scientific testing to be helpful for treating COVID-19. But remdesivir’s proven benefits are modest, so there’s an urgent need for better therapies. The good news is that there are some on the horizon. Survivors of COVID-19 are donating their blood plasma in droves in hopes it helps other patients recover from the coronavirus. And while the jury’s still out, now scientists are testing if the donations might also prevent infection in the first place. The “cytokine storm” was once an arcane phenomenon familiar mainly to rheumatologists who study when and how the immune system’s safeguards fail. But it has become increasingly clear in the past few months that, at least in a subset of people who have the virus, calming the storm is the key to survival. 
The federal government’s goal is to have a COVID-19 vaccine ready by January 2021. To achieve that objective, the White House formed Operation Warp Speed, a public-private partnership, to push the development, testing and manufacture of a vaccine at a breakneck pace. But how government officials are picking vaccine candidates to back has been kept largely under wraps. Yesterday biotech company Moderna, one of the Warp Speed candidates, announced it had finalized plans for phase 3 testing vaccine. The late-stage trial will include 30,000 participants and is expected to begin in July. Meanwhile, two tried-and-true vaccines — a century-old inoculation against tuberculosis and a decades-old polio vaccine once given as a sugar cube — are being evaluated to see if they can offer limited protection against the coronavirus.
Strict coronavirus lockdown measures have been eased this week in Russia’s capital as the nationwide tally of confirmed COVID-19 infections surpassed 500,000. New data released by the government are also painting a clearer picture of the number of deaths caused by the disease, and it’s not good news.
The public health crisis caused by the COVID-19 epidemic in Europe is not over yet, the European Union’s top health official warned on Friday, urging governments to remain vigilant and plow ahead with testing and tracing the population. The continent is emerging from a monthslong lockdown. But the universe in which Europeans are resurfacing is neither the reality they knew, nor an entirely new one. As cities there emerge from quarantines, bicycles are playing a central role in getting the work force moving again.

Australia has eliminated the novel coronavirus in many parts of the country, its chief medical officer said today, clearing the way for sports fans to soon return to stadiums and for foreign students to prepare to fly back to classes.
The shutdown due to the coronavirus pandemic hit musicians hard, with concert halls and rehearsal spaces shuttered and silent. But a new music initiative from the Library of Congress embraces the constraints of COVID-19. 


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