Testing for the new coronavirus vastly under-counted the true number of COVID-19 infections in the U.S. from March to May, according to a new federal study relying on antibody testing.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study shows that COVID-19 rates were more than 10 times higher than what was reported.

Meanwhile, the Justice Department has accused two Chinese hackers of targeting the computer networks of companies known to be developing a potential coronavirus vaccine and treatment. Prosecutors say the hackers allegedly stole information for themselves as well as information they knew would be of interest and value to the Chinese government.

Some recent developments: 

📈 Today’s stats: The U.S. has about 3.8 million cases and more than 140,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. Globally, there have been 14.7 million cases and more than 610,000 deaths.

📰 What we’re reading: Wearing face masks and protective suits, FBI investigators recently raided a medical building in Detroit over an alleged fake treatment being sold for COVID-19. It looked like a drug bust. But they were actually looking into a scheme tied to Vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant that has become more popular than ever, with religious-like claims about its effectiveness against COVID-19 despite not even having the power to cure the common cold.

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CDC: Antibody tests show virus rates 10x higher

Federal data suggest that the true rates of infection of the new coronavirus were more than 10 times higher than number of cases reported across the country from late March to early May.

The study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention underscores how underrepresented the actual number of COVID-19 cases in the United States are. Researchers relied on antibody tests on routine blood samples from 16,000 people in 10 U.S. regions, and found that infections were actually six to 24 times the number of reported cases.

In ten of the seven sites — Connecticut, Florida, Louisiana, Missouri, New York City metro area, Utah, and western Washington state — infections were estimated to be great than 10 times the number of reported cases.

Many of the infections detected in the study were likely people with COVID-19 who had no or mild symptoms and never got a test for the virus. The study was published Tuesday in JAMA Internal Medicine.

DOJ: Chinese hackers targeted COVID-19 vaccine research

The Justice Department accused two Chinese hackers on Tuesday of targeting firms developing a coronavirus vaccine.

The hackers allegedly looked into the computer network vulnerabilities of companies known to be researching potential vaccines and treatment.

Officials are expected to discuss the indictment later Tuesday. The two hackers are facing charges of trade secret theft and wire fraud conspiracy. Prosecutors say they stole information not only for themselves but also that they knew would be of interest and value to the Chinese government.

Oral lesions may be new COVID-19 symptom, study suggests

A small study based on preliminary data from Spain suggests that a rash inside the mouth could be another symptom of COVID-19.

The research, published last week in JAMA Dermatology, found that of 21 COVID-19 patients with skin rashes, six patients also had  skin rashes and enanthems, or a rash or lesion inside the body.

The study is small and more data is needed before drawing widespread conclusions, said Dr. Esther Freeman, a member of the American Academy of Dermatology’s COVID-19 task force, but it does provide an “interesting hint” on a potential tie between COVID-19 and oral lesions.

Freeman said it’s possible that the presence of oral lesions in COVID-19 patients may be underreported as patients’ mouths are not always systematically examined with the primarily respiratory virus. More research on the timing of when the potential symptom appears in relation to infection would also be helpful to aid public health officials and patients, she added.

More than 300,000 immigrants may not become citizens in time to vote as COVID-19 stalls process

More than 300,000 immigrants are at risk of not becoming citizens in time to cast ballots after the federal agency in charge of processing naturalization applications suspended in-person interviews and oath ceremonies this spring amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Alex Beric, a 44-year-old immigrant from England, applied for naturalization in May 2019. “It would be fairly disappointing,” said Beric, who came to the U.S. in 2004.

U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services, the agency that processes immigration benefits, notified Beric in early March that his naturalization interview, which is done in-person, had been scheduled for April 21. Shortly after, Beric said he received another notification that his naturalization interview would be rescheduled due to the pandemic. More than three months later, Beric is still waiting.

– Daniel Gonzalez, Arizona Republic

Marriott will require guests to wear masks in lobbies, other public spaces

Marriott hotels will require guests to wear masks in lobbies and other public spaces starting July 27.

The Bethesda, Maryland-based hotel giant — which has more than 7,300 hotels worldwide — has been requiring employees to wear masks for several months. But in a video message released Monday, CEO Arne Sorenson said the mandate is being extended to guests.

Marriott is the largest hotel chain to issue a mask requirement. Hyatt Hotels already require guests to wear masks in public areas in U.S. and Canadian hotels, though that will expand to indoors, too, beginning next week.

21 test positive after high school graduation, prom in Missouri 

At least 19 students and two guests at a private Missouri high school have tested positive for COVID-19 after attending a graduation or prom earlier this month.

St. Dominic High School in O’Fallon, Missouri, canceled all school events through Aug. 9 after the outbreak at the July 8 outdoor graduation and the July 10 offsite prom. The school said those who have tested positive began experiencing symptoms after the events, and students who attended either event were contacted following the first confirmed positive case.

The announcement of the outbreak came the same day the Archdiocese of St. Louis unveiled a reopening plan that calls for students who attend the more than 100 Catholic schools in the St. Louis area to return to the classroom starting next month.

N95 masks with valve can protect you but may not protect others

A certain type of N95 mask can protect the mask wearer but not necessarily people around them, health officials say.

N95 masks with vents or valves are commonly used in construction, but they filter only the air coming in, not the air going out.

In May, the San Francisco Department of Public Health shared side-by-side images of medical and construction N95 masks and urged residents not to use the kind with valves.

“Respirators with exhalation valves should not be used in situations where a sterile field must be maintained (e.g., during an invasive procedure in an operating or procedure room) because the exhalation valve allows unfiltered exhaled air to escape into the sterile field,” the CDC says on its website.

– Anna Staver

California allows outdoor haircuts, manicures and massages

Hair and nail salons in California can operate outside, Gov. Gavin Newsom said, offering support to an industry decimated by coronavirus shutdowns.

Some hair and personal care services are still banned, but many hair stylists, barbers, manicurists, massage therapists and estheticians can offer outdoor personal care services under the new rules. Businesses can operate under a tent or canopy as long as no more than one side is closed. 

Newsom made the announcement as the state has seen infections, hospitalizations and intensive care cases continue to increase but at a slower rate than when the state scaled back its reopenings earlier this month.

Fred Jones, attorney for the Professional Beauty Federation of California, said that while the new rules will help some of the group’s members, many barber shops and beauty salons will struggle to find space to operate outside.

EU leaders reach historic coronavirus recovery deal

Leaders of European nations reached an unprecedented budget deal that would provide a massive aid package for countries hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.

An agreement on the $2.1 trillion budget, which includes a more than $850 billion coronavirus fund to be sent as loans and grants to the hardest-hit countries, was reached early Tuesday after four days and nights of negotiations.

The E.U. is facing the biggest recession in its history, and the bloc has seen 135,000 deaths from COVID-19.

Connecticut discovers ‘flaw’ in coronavirus testing system with 90 false positive test results

Connecticut discovered a “flaw” in a manufacturer’s coronavirus testing system resulting in 90 false COVID-19 positive test results, the state’s Department of Public Health announced Monday.

Officials said the 90 false results were from the one-month period from June 15 to July 17 where 144 people were tested. Many of them are nursing home residents, officials said.

The manufacturer system is run by Thermo Fisher Scientific, which labs across the country use. The “flaw” is being investigated and has been reported to the manufacturer and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, according to a news release.

Coronavirus found at Yosemite National Park’s raw sewage

With no confirmed case of the coronavirus, Yosemite National Park appeared to be a safe haven from the pandemic. But tests of the park’s raw sewage have confirmed the presence of the virus, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Saturday, and dozens of people are believed to have been infected.

No park employee or resident has tested positive at the park’s health clinic, and no visitors have reported being sick since Yosemite began a phased reopening on June 11 after being closed for nearly three months.

Working with the National Park Service, Mariposa County health officials began taking samples of untreated wastewater and sent it to a lab in Cambridge, Massachusetts, for analysis. The lab, Biobot Analytics, told the county this week that based on how much of the virus they counted, it’s possible about 170 people were infected in Yosemite Valley.

At least two pharmaceutical companies promise affordable COVID-19 vaccines

At least two COVID-19 vaccine companies receiving millions of dollars from the U.S. government plan to eschew profits or set a single global price if their vaccines prove successful. A House subcommittee on Tuesday is set to grill the heads of five pharmaceutical companies leading the effort, revealing differing timelines and thoughts on cost and access. They are AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, Merck, Moderna and Pfizer. 

AstraZeneca said it will make two billion doses of its vaccine on a non-profit basis, according to prepared remarks posted Monday night by Executive Vice President Menelas Pangalos.   

“The cost of the doses of the vaccine under those agreements will provide no profit for AstraZeneca,” the statement said. AstraZeneca, which is creating a vaccine in conjunction with the University of Oxford, said Monday it hopes to have a vaccine available by early next year.

– Elizabeth Weise

What we’re readingFlorida governor sued by teachers over school reopening plan

Florida reached its sixth straight day of 10,000-plus new coronavirus cases Monday as the state’s largest teachers union sued the Gov. Ron DeSantis administration over plans to reopen schools for in-person instruction next month.

In its lawsuit filed in Miami state circuit court, the Florida Education Association said the school reopening order violates the Florida Constitution, which requires that a “uniform, efficient, safe, secure and high quality system” of public schools exist.

FEA President Fedrick Ingram cited Monday’s case numbers and deaths as the “backdrop,” for the union’s action. “No one wants to be back in a classroom and reopen our school buildings more than educators,” Ingram said. “We are teachers … that’s what we live for … but we want to do it safely and we don’t want to put people at risk.”

The state added 10,347 new COVID-19 cases overnight, bringing Florida’s total cases to 360,394. Another 90 deaths occurred, with 5,072 Florida people now lost to the disease in the state.

– John Kennedy

Report: Blacks, Latinos, the poor were less likely to get stimulus checks

With another round of stimulus checks in the works, a study concluded that people who are poor, Black or Latino were less likely to get the $1,200 payments distributed last spring under a new federal law aimed at blunting the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic.

The study, by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, concluded that while the rollout of the cash payments was a success in many ways, there were significant disparities by income, race, ethnicity and family citizenship in terms of who received the money.

The report cited various reasons for the disparities, such as some people having no bank account or lacking access to the internet. Among Latinos, some adults may have been ineligible because they or their spouse were undocumented or did not qualify as residents of the United States, the report said.

– Michael Collins

Trump to resume coronavirus briefings at the White House amid spike in cases

President Donald Trump said Monday he plans to resume daily coronavirus briefings at the White House in part because of a recent spike in cases. 

“We have had this big flareup in Florida, Texas and a couple of other places so I think what we’re going to do is I’ll get involved and we’ll start doing briefings,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office, adding that the first briefing may come as soon as Tuesday.

The briefings were also a chance for Americans to hear from public health experts advising the White House, including Dr. Deborah Birx and Dr. Anthony Fauci.

– John Fritze

More on the coronavirus from USA TODAY

Where a face mask is required: Many governors are instituting or renewing orders requiring people to wear face coverings in public as cases continue to rise. Is your state on the list? See it here. 

Coronavirus Watch: We have a few ways for you to stay informed. Sign up for our daily coronavirus newsletter here, and come together and share the latest information about the coronavirus, coping with lifestyle changes and more by joining our Facebook group.

Where are states on reopening? More than half of all states, including California and Michigan, have paused reopening plans or are taking steps to halt the spread of COVID-19. Here’s the list.

What went wrong in Florida? Two months after Gov. Ron DeSantis boasted about proving the experts wrong by flattening the curve and getting COVID-19 under control, Florida has become the state that other states don’t want to become.

Contributing: The Associated Press

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: COVID updates: US accuses Chinese hackers of targeting research



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