Trump rally likely contributed to surge
President Donald Trump’s campaign rally in Tulsa in late June that drew thousands of participants and large protests “likely contributed” to a dramatic surge in new coronavirus cases, Tulsa City-County Health Department Director Dr. Bruce Dart said Wednesday. Tulsa County reported 261 confirmed new cases on Monday, a one-day record high, and another 206 cases on Tuesday. By comparison, during the week before the June 20 Trump rally, there were 76 cases on Monday and 96 on Tuesday. Although the health department’s policy is to not publicly identify individual settings where people may have contracted the virus, Dart said those large gatherings “more than likely” contributed to the spike. “In the past few days, we’ve seen almost 500 new cases, and we had several large events just over two weeks ago, so I guess we just connect the dots,” Dart said.
Universities sue over student visa policy
Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology sued the Trump administration in federal court, seeking to block a directive that would strip foreign college students of their visas if the courses they take this fall are entirely online. University leaders and immigrant advocates across the country called the new policy cruel and reckless, saying it would force students to choose whether to risk their health or be deported. The universities argued that the policy was politically motivated and would throw higher education into chaos. It was widely seen as an effort by the White House to pressure colleges and universities into reopening their gates and abandoning the cautious approaches that many have adopted to reduce coronavirus transmission. Harvard is planning to teach its classes entirely online, and many other universities are planning a hybrid model, with some in-person instruction but mostly remote classes. MIT will have a small selection of in-person classes but said most will be online.
People can now sign up for vaccine studies
A network of more than 100 clinical trial sites at hospitals and medical clinics across the United States will take on the unprecedented challenge of testing COVID-19 vaccines and other preventive treatments, federal officials announced Wednesday. The COVID-19 Prevention Trials Network, which knits together existing federal clinical trial infrastructure developed largely to test HIV vaccines and treatments, launched with a website for volunteers to join the roster of people to be considered when the first trials begin later this month. The scientific effort to develop a COVID-19 vaccine will depend crucially on tens of thousands of volunteers, in a gargantuan scientific, medical and logistical undertaking, with the aim of providing “substantial quantities of a safe, effective vaccine by January 2021,” Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said.
Australia is fighting spike in Melbourne
Australia is grappling with a COVID-19 spike in the city of Melbourne, which prepared for a second lockdown to contain the virus’ spread. Melbourne’s virus woes contrasted sharply with other areas of the country that have been reporting low or no daily infections. Authorities in the state of Victoria announced 134 coronavirus cases Wednesday, down from a daily record 191 cases Tuesday. The rest of Australia recorded 13 cases, including three Melbourne-linked infections in the national capital, Canberra. The Canberra infections are the first recorded there in almost a month.