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Without masks and a vaccine, we could reach Herd Immunity from COVID-19, but deaths would skyrocket. We break down the science of it.

USA TODAY

A 25-year-old man from Nevada has been identified as the first American to contract COVID-19 twice, raising questions about the amount of immunity developed by those infected with the coronavirus.

In Nashville, Tennessee, health authorities said Monday they would investigate and possibly levy penalties against the organizer of a religious concert that drew thousands of people, the majority of them not wearing masks. The organizer acknowledged changing venues three times because of opposition to the event.

The previous day, a protest leader in New York City decrying new restrictions issued by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo was arrested in connection with an attack on a journalist covering the demonstration last week. Heshy Tischler, a City Council candidate and activist in the Orthodox Jewish neighborhood of Borough Park, is facing charges of inciting people to riot and unlawful imprisonment.

New York is working to stave off new COVID-19 hot spots that have cropped up in clusters in and around New York City in recent weeks, many of them in Orthodox communities. The new restrictions include limits to religious gatherings, and some have accused Cuomo of unfairly targeting Orthodox Jews with his new order.

More than a dozen states have set records for the number of new COVID-19 cases in a week, a USA TODAY analysis of Johns Hopkins data shows.

Through late Sunday, 13 states – Alaska, Colorado, Indiana, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota and Wisconsin – had topped their own records for new cases in a seven-day period.

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Since the coronavirus pandemic started, the United States has recorded more than 7.6 million cases of COVID-19 and 213,000 deaths.

USA TODAY

Some significant developments:

📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has reported more than 7.7 million cases and 215,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins data. There have been more than 37.6 million confirmed cases around the world and more than 1 million deaths.

🗺️ Mapping coronavirus:Track the U.S. outbreak, state by state.

This file will be updated throughout the day. For updates in your inbox, subscribe to The Daily Briefing newsletter.

First American to twice catch virus raises doubts about immunity

The reinfection of an otherwise healthy 25-year-old Nevada man, the first American known to contract COVID-19 twice, casts further doubts on the level of immunity developed by those who get the coronavirus. In his case, the second infection prompted stronger symptoms than the first. There have been more than 20 confirmed cases of reinfection worldwide.

It’s too soon to know whether the man from Washoe County, Nevada, was highly unusual or if many people could easily get infected more than once with SARS-CoV-2, said Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University.

“There’s hardly an infectious disease doctor in the country who hasn’t encountered a patient who thinks they’ve had a second infection,” he said. “Whether that’s true or not, we don’t know. There are lots of respiratory infections out there.”

— Karen Weintraub

Biden again tests negative for COVID-19

Democratic nominee and former Vice President Joe Biden again tested negative Monday for COVID-19, his campaign said. Biden has routinely been tested since sharing the debate stage with President Donald Trump last month. Trump was hospitalized for treatment for COVID-19 just days after the event.

On Sunday, Trump claimed he no longer has COVID-19 even though the White House refuses to say whether he has tested negative for the disease. Trump’s physician said in a memo Saturday that he was “no longer considered a transmission risk to others.”

Nashville religious concert draws thousands, and a rebuke from health officials

Health officials in Nashville, Tennessee, said they will take “appropriate penalties against the organizer” of an unpermitted religious concert that drew thousands of people to the grounds of the city’s courthouse Sunday night. Most of those in attendance did not appear to be wearing masks.  

California-based Christian worship leader Sean Feucht hosted the so-called “worship protest” that is now under investigation. Feucht posted a video of the gathering, saying the event faced resistance and had three venue changes before landing in front of the courthouse.

Dr. Alex Jahangir, leader of Nashville’s coronavirus task force, said events like the concert could damage the city’s progress against COVID-19, which the mayor often describes as fragile. “From the pictures I saw online, good lord, did you see people wearing masks? I didn’t,” Jahangir said. “That is not helpful to our cause.”

— Rachel Wegner, Nashville Tennessean

Infected mothers may stay with newborns, study says

Mothers infected with the coronavirus may not have to endure the added hardship of being separated from their newborns as long as they take measures to avoid transmission, a new study indicates.

Researchers at Columbia University Irving Medical Center found no evidence of transmission from infected mothers to newborns, according to an observational study published Monday in the peer-reviewed journal JAMA Pediatrics.

In March, the CDC and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecology recommended pregnant women who become infected with COVID-19 possibly be separated from their newborns for up to a week or more to avoid spreading the virus from mother to child.

— Adrianna Rodriguez

Americans plan to stockpile food this fall over fears of COVID-19 surge

Slightly more than half of Americans in a poll from Sports and Leisure Research Group say they already have or plan to stockpile food and other essentials this fall. The chief reason: fears of a resurgent pandemic, which could lead to disruptions such as new restrictions on businesses. 

“We still see a majority of Americans are concerned that we will see more spikes in COVID, and it’s beginning to rear its head in a number of states,” says Jon Last, president of the Sports and Leisure Research Group.

Of those who are stockpiling, the majority are concerned about an increase in infection rates, but a smaller share of people say they are worried about unrest surrounding the election next month. Still, shoppers are unlikely to see the types of shortages experienced in March and April, when states enacted stay-at-home orders and grocery shelves were emptied of essentials such as toilet paper and flour.

CDC: More than 70% in U.S. at higher risk for severe COVID because of weight

Based on their weight, more than 70% of Americans are at an increased risk of experiencing severe illness if they contract the coronavirus, according to new guidance posted by the CDC.

The agency’s previous guidance had said those who are obese, defined as having a body-mass index of 30 or higher, were at elevated risk for harsh effects from COVID-19. Now the CDC says the same applies to those who are overweight, meaning a BMI higher than 25 but lower than 30.

CDC figures indicate nearly 72% of Americans are overweight, including 40% who are obese. Researchers have found a strong link between obesity and COVID-19 hospitalizations.

Vanderbilt-Missouri postponed due to virus spread

The Vanderbilt Commodores on Monday joined the Tennessee Titans as Nashville football teams sidelined by the coronavirus. Vanderbilt’s game Saturday against Missouri has been postponed because of positive COVID-19 tests and quarantines on the Commodores’ roster, the SEC announced.

The game has been tentatively rescheduled for Dec. 12 in Columbia, Mo. It is the first SEC game not to be played on time in the 2020 season during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Titans’ Oct. 4 game against the Steelers was postponed, and their game against the Bills was moved from Sunday to Tuesday. The Titans have had 24 team members — 13 players and 11 staffers — test positive for the virus since Sept. 24.

Adam Sparks, Nashville Tennessean

UK’s Boris Johnson unveils 3-tiered lockdown plan

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson unveiled his plan to curb a resurgence of the coronavirus with a three-level approach to lockdowns, extending more expansive shutdowns to the areas most affected by the virus.

Johnson said the plan would “simplify and standardize” British rules around virus restrictions, which had been localized. The new categories – medium, high or very high risk – allow for varying degrees of closures, limits or curfews in public gatherings, bars, restaurants, gyms, casinos and other high-risk settings.

The city of Liverpool met the requirements to be considered “very high risk,” meaning all pubs, gyms, leisure centers, betting shops and casinos are to close Wednesday.

Judge denies GOP effort to end Wisconsin mask mandate

A Wisconsin judge has blocked an effort by Republicans to end Democratic Gov. Tony Evers’ statewide mask mandate at a time when coronavirus cases are surging. The seven-day average of new confirmed cases reached a record high of 2,547, up from 2,395 a week ago.

St. Croix County judge R. Michael Waterman on Monday denied the effort, backed by  Republican lawmakers, and ruled the governor has the power to issue multiple health emergency orders over the same pandemic. For now, the ruling hands a win to Evers, who has been challenged by Republicans over his ability to issue new health orders without legislative input. The judge noted in his ruling that lawmakers could vote to overturn Evers’ order but haven’t so far.

Republican lawmakers say Evers has to use a process known as rulemaking to implement such health safety policies after a May state Supreme Court ruling in a lawsuit brought by GOP legislative leaders over Evers’ stay-at-home order. Attorneys for the plaintiffs said they will appeal Waterman’s decision.

– Molly Beck and Patrick Marley, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Study: 75,000 more Americans died from pandemic than reported in spring and summer

The coronavirus pandemic may have caused nearly 75,000 more deaths in the spring and summer than previously thought, a new study published Monday from researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University has found.

By examining death certificates, the study in the peer-reviewed journal JAMA found more than 150,000 deaths were officially attributed to COVID-19 from March to July. However, researchers determined nearly 75,000 additional deaths were indirectly caused by the pandemic – bringing the total number of deaths for those four months to more than 225,000.  

Johns Hopkins University data puts the total COVID-19 death toll in the U.S. at just below 215,000.

“There have been some conspiracy theories that the number of deaths from COVID-19 have been exaggerated,” said Dr. Steven Woolf, director emeritus of the Center on Society and Health at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond. “The opposite is the case. We’re actually experiencing more death than we thought we were.”

– Adrianna Rodriguez

Stimulus negotiations ‘at an impasse’

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told House Democrats “we remain at an impasse” on stimulus negotiations as both sides have been unable to agree to the total amount of funding to fight the pandemic and a COVID-19 testing plan, among other provisions. 

Pelosi rejected the latest $1.8 trillion stimulus offer from the White House, calling the proposal “one step forward, two steps back” in their negotiations.

Trump said Sunday on Fox News that “Republicans want to do it,” citing Pelosi as an obstacle. Director of the National Economic Council Larry Kudlow said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union” that Republicans would “go along with it” if a deal were struck despite Senate Republicans’ reluctance to spend too much on a relief deal. 

Kudlow also said Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin may move the administration’s position up from its current offer of $1.8 trillion, though fewer Senate Republicans are likely to accept a deal the higher the price tag goes.

– Nicholas Wu

China to test entire city of 9 million people after new cases

After nine cases of COVID-19 were detected in China’s Qingdao, all 9 million people in the city will get tested, state health officials said Monday.

Eight patients at Qingdao’s Municipal Chest Hospital and one family member have tested positive, sparking the new concern. The National Health Commission said the citywide testing would take place over five days.

Before the nine new cases, China hadn’t reported new virus cases in two months. However, the country has a practice of not reporting asymptomatic cases. 

Fauci says Trump campaign ad takes him ‘out of context,’ insists he didn’t endorse anyone

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, released a statement Sunday reproaching how his comments were used in a new advertisement from President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign meant to tout the White House’s handling of the pandemic.

The 30-second spot seeks to highlight how Trump, who caught COVID-19 this month, and the U.S. economy are recovering from the contagion. “I can’t imagine that anybody could be doing more,” Fauci says in the ad.

But Fauci rebuked the use of the snippet, which made it seem as if he were endorsing Trump’s effort. He said that in his “nearly five decades of public service” he has never endorsed a candidate publicly.

“The comments attributed to me without my permission in the GOP campaign ad were taken out of context from a broad statement I made months ago about the efforts of federal public health officials,” Fauci said Sunday in a statement provided to CNN.

– Phillip M. Bailey

Contributing: Michael Stucka, USA TODAY; The Associated Press

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