Here’s what you need to know:
- The U.S. reels as July cases more than double the total of any other month.
- Top U.S. officials work to break an impasse over the federal jobless benefit.
- Its outbreak untamed, Melbourne goes into even greater lockdown.
- Thousands in Berlin protest Germany’s coronavirus measures.
- Another U.S. lawmaker tests positive for the coronavirus.
- Florida, already reeling from the virus, faces a new threat from Tropical Storm Isaias.
- A golfer tests positive midway through a PGA Tour event, withdrawing while tied for second place.
The U.S. reels as July cases more than double the total of any other month.
The United States recorded more than 1.9 million new infections in July, nearly 42 percent of the more than 4.5 million cases reported nationwide since the pandemic began and more than double the number documented in any other month, according to data compiled by The New York Times. The previous monthly high came in April, when more than 880,000 new cases were recorded.
The virus is picking up dangerous speed in much of the Midwest — and in states from Mississippi to Florida to California that thought they had already seen the worst of it.
Gone is any sense that the country may soon get ahold of the pandemic. The seven-day average for daily new infections has hovered around 65,000 for the past two weeks, more than doubling the peak average from the spring, when the country experienced what was essentially its first wave.
In many states, distressed government officials are re-tightening restrictions on residents and businesses, and sounding warnings about a rise in virus-related hospitalizations.
Across the country, deaths from the virus continued to rise after a steep drop from the mid-April peaks of about 2,200 a day. At the start of July, the average death toll was about 500 per day. Over the last week, it has averaged more than 1,000 daily, with many of those concentrated in Sun Belt states.
The Northeast, once the virus’s biggest hot spot, has improved considerably since its peak in April. Yet cases are now increasing slightly in New Jersey, Rhode Island and Massachusetts, as residents move around more freely and gather more frequently in groups.
The picture is similarly distressing overseas, where even governments that would seem well suited to combating the virus are seeing surges.
New daily infections in Japan, a country with a long tradition of wearing face masks, rose more than 50 percent in July. Australia, which can cut itself off from the rest of the world more easily than most, is battling a wave of infections in and around Melbourne. Hong Kong, Israel and Spain are also fighting second waves.
None of those places has an infection rate as high as the one in the United States, which has the most cases and deaths in the world.
Top U.S. officials work to break an impasse over the federal jobless benefit.
Hours after unemployment benefits for tens of millions of Americans lapsed, administration officials arrived on Capitol Hill on Saturday morning for a rare meeting with top congressional Democrats to discuss a coronavirus relief package and work to break an impasse over new aid as the American economy continues to shudder.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California, who hosted the meeting with Senator Chuck Schumer of New York in her Capitol Hill suite, emerged after three hours and said the discussion “was productive in terms of moving us forward,” but they remained far apart on a number of issues. They declined to offer specifics, but said that staff would meet on Sunday and that the principal negotiators would again convene on Monday for another meeting.
“Here we have this drastic challenge and what they were saying before is, ‘We’re going to cut your benefit,” Ms. Pelosi said. “That’s, shall we say, the discussions we’re having.”
“This is not a usual discussion, because the urgency is so great healthwise, financial health-wise,” she added.
Also in attendance were Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff, and Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary. (Mr. Mnuchin observed before entering Ms. Pelosi’s suite that it was “just another working day in the Capitol.”)
Among the largest sticking points in the discussion is a $600 weekly federal jobless benefit that became a lifeline for tens of millions of unemployed Americans, while also helping prop up the economy. The aid expired at midnight as officials in Washington failed to agree on a new relief bill, but Mr. Meadows and Mr. Mnuchin said there were signs that the two sides could begin to reach common ground, including on reviving a federal moratorium on evictions and funding for schools and child care.
“There’s things we agree on. There’s things we don’t agree on,” Mr. Mnuchin said after the meeting. “We’re trying to narrow down the things we don’t agree on. Obviously any negotiation is a compromise.”
Joblessness remains at record levels, with some 30 million Americans receiving unemployment benefits. More than 1.4 million newly filed for state unemployment benefits last week — the 19th straight week that the tally had exceeded one million, an unheard-of figure before the pandemic.
Nearly 11 percent of Americans have said that they live in households where there is not enough to eat, according to a recent Census Bureau survey, and more than a quarter have missed a rent or mortgage payment.
The benefit’s expiration will force Louise Francis, who worked as a banquet cook at the Sheraton Hotel in New Orleans for nearly two decades before being furloughed last spring, to get by on just state unemployment benefits, which for her come to $247 a week.
“With the $600, you could see your way a little bit,” said Ms. Francis, 59. “You could feel a little more comfortable. You could pay three or four bills and not feel so far behind.”
The aid lapsed as Republicans and Democrats in Washington remained far apart on what the next round of virus relief should look like.
Democrats wanted to extend the $600 weekly payments through the end of the year, as part of an expansive $3 trillion aid package that would also help state and local governments. Republicans, worried that the $600 benefit left some people with more money than when they were working, sought to scale it back to $200 per week as part of a $1 trillion proposal and have begun to push the prospect of doing a short-term package that deals with just a few issues, including the unemployment insurance benefit.
“They’ve made clear that there’s a desire on their part to do an entire package,” Mr. Mnuchin said of Democrats. “We’ve made clear that we’re really willing to deal with the short-term issues, pass something quickly and come back to the larger issues so we’re at an impasse on that.”
Democrats have rejected a short-term proposal.