Governor extends state of emergency
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Friday extended Michigan’s state of emergency through Sept. 4 amid continued high daily case numbers, ongoing pushback from GOP lawmakers and an accelerated petition drive to sharply curtail her emergency powers. The state of emergency had been set to expire at midnight Tuesday. Michigan’s state of emergency should not be confused with the stay-at-home order, which Whitmer lifted June 1. A state of emergency does not by itself place any restrictions on residents, but it authorizes the governor to issue such restrictions as requiring mask-wearing or limiting restaurant capacity to 50%.
Schools statewide get green light to reopen
Schools across New York can reopen for in-person instruction this fall, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Friday. But Cuomo’s announcement does not guarantee that school buildings in the state’s roughly 700 local districts will actually reopen in the coming weeks. It is now up to local politicians and superintendents to decide whether to reopen and how to do so. Their in-person reopening plans must also be approved by the state’s education and health departments.
Sturgis motorcycle rally gets underway
Thousands of bikers poured into Sturgis as the 80th Sturgis Motorcycle Rally rumbled to life despite fears it could lead to a massive virus outbreak. The rally could become one of the largest public gatherings since the pandemic began, with organizers expecting 250,000 people from all over the country. That would be roughly half the number of previous years, but local residents — and a few bikers — worry that the crowds could create a “super-spreader” event. South Dakota has no special limits on indoor crowds, no mask mandates, and a governor who is eager to welcome visitors and the money they bring.
Mounting cases could force a faster vaccine
Surging coronavirus cases across the United States may offer one upside, increasing the chances of a vaccine breakthrough before November, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the leading infectious disease expert on the White House coronavirus task force, told McClatchy in an interview Friday. That could be a silver lining for President Donald Trump, who has been pushing for the discovery of a COVID-19 vaccine before the Nov. 3 election amid sinking poll numbers over his handling of the pandemic. The sheer scope of the current outbreak could speed up clinical trials currently underway for potential vaccines, Fauci said, by generating data on their effectiveness more quickly from volunteers located in coronavirus hot spots.
Health volunteers strike, cite resources
As India hit another grim milestone, crossing 2 million cases and more than 41,000 deaths, community health volunteers went on strike complaining they are ill-equipped to respond to the wave of infection in rural areas. Even as India has maintained comparatively low mortality rates, the disease trajectory varies widely across the country, and just like in Africa, the burden is shifting from cities with relatively robust health systems to rural areas, where resources are scarce or nonexistent.