Stimulus package deal expected by end of week; US nears 5M cases; Clorox wipes shortage could stretch into 2021

Christel Deskins

A second round of coronavirus stimulus checks? Maybe. Top Democrats and negotiators from the White House say a stimulus deal could be reached by the end of the week and approved as early as the following week, That could be good news for tens of millions of unemployed Americans whose $600 […]

A second round of coronavirus stimulus checks? Maybe.

Top Democrats and negotiators from the White House say a stimulus deal could be reached by the end of the week and approved as early as the following week, That could be good news for tens of millions of unemployed Americans whose $600 weekly boost in unemployment benefits has expired.

“We have to have an agreement, and we will have an agreement,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said.

Novavax Inc., of Gaithersburg, Maryland, became the fifth vaccine developer to release promising results of an early trial. The federal government is paying $1.6 billion to Novavax for 100 million doses.

Here are some significant developments:

  • Democrats, White House optimistic stimulus deal could be reached this week after both sides make concessions.

  • A group of voters backed by Republican lawmakers sued Minnesota state and local officials to try to block a face mask requirement at polling places.

  • Attorneys general from more than 30 states asked the federal government to allow more manufacturing of a crucial drug, remdesivir.

  • New York City’s health commissioner, who clashed with city officials on their COVID-19 response, has resigned, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced.

📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has recorded more than 156,000 deaths and almost 4.8 million cases of COVID-19, according to Johns Hopkins University. Worldwide, there have been more than 700,000 deaths and 18.5 million cases. 

📰 What we’re reading: Kids are less likely to die from coronavirus, but schools could become hot spots for spread.

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Democrats, White House report progress on stimulus negotiations

Top Democrats and White House negotiators expressed optimism on Tuesday that a deal on a second coronavirus stimulus package could be done by the end of the week.

The movement followed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., meeting for another day with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. 

“Even though there remains a number of unresolved issues, I would characterize the conversations as productive and a step in the right direction,” Meadows said after the meeting. “Probably the most productive meeting we’ve had.” 

Mnuchin added that while both sides still differ on a number of policy items, “we did try to agree to set a timeline that we’re going to try to reach an overall agreement, if we can get one, by the end of this week, so that the legislation could be then passed next week.”

– Christal Hayes

By the numbers: Record deaths in California, Florida, Georgia

A USA TODAY analysis of Johns Hopkins data through late Tuesday shows one state set records for new cases in a week while three states had a record number of deaths in a week. New case records were set in Hawaii, and also Puerto Rico. Record numbers of deaths were reported in California, Florida and Georgia. The United States has reported 4,771,080 cases and 156,801 deaths.

– Mike Stucka

Fifth vaccine developer releases promising early results

More good news in the pursuit of a COVID-19 vaccine: A fifth vaccine developer has released promising results from a small, early trial. Novavax Inc., of Gaithersburg, Maryland, released the results via a press release and call with media late Tuesday, showing the vaccine appeared safe and elicited a similar immune response to an active infection with COVID-19.

“Good news,” said Dr. William Schaffner, a professor and infectious disease expert at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville, Tennessee. “I think it clearly boosts confidence that we will have one or more vaccines.”

Novavax has received $1.6 billion from the federal government to complete development of NVX‑CoV2373 and to scale up manufacturing. The government will own 100 million doses of the developmental vaccine.

Moderna, AstraZeneca and Pfizer have all released promising Phase 1 results, with the first two publishing in major journals. Chinese researchers also have published early trial results, and have begun providing their candidate vaccine to members of the military, Reuters reported.

– Karen Weintraub

Shortage of Clorox disinfecting wipes could stretch into 2021

Although Clorox officials said in May that they expected retail shelves to be stocked by this summer, they now anticipate it will take longer.

“Given the fact that cold and flu (season) sits in the middle of the (fiscal) year, and we expect the pandemic to be with us for the entirety of the year, it will take the full year to get up to the supply levels that we need to be at,” Linda Rendle, president and CEO-elect of The Clorox Co., said in an earnings call Monday.

Rendle and Clorox CEO and chairman Benno Dorer both said the demand for the company’s disinfecting wipes has outpaced expectations and isn’t expected to slow. 

“We’re certainly not at all happy with our service levels for our retail customers on many products, as demand for our products exceeded our own expectations in the face of this persistent pandemic,” Dorer said during the call. “We have a high sense of urgency on this with all hands on deck.”

– Kelly Tyko

Four Station Casinos in Las Vegas may never reopen after COVID-19 closures

There’s a chance four Station Casino resorts in Southern Nevada have closed for good. Frank Fertitta III, CEO of Station’s parent company, Red Rock Resorts, revealed in an earnings call Tuesday the company is uncertain whether Texas Station, Fiesta Henderson, Fiesta Rancho and the off-Strip Palms will reopen in the wake of COVID-19.

“We don’t know if — or when — we’re going to reopen any of the closed properties,” Fertitta said. “We think it’s too early to make that decision at this time.”

Station Casinos had closed 20 properties in Southern Nevada for almost three months following Gov. Steve Sisolak’s sweeping shutdown order in March.

– Ed Komenda, Reno Gazette Journal

Disney lost nearly $5 billion while theme parks were closed

The Walt Disney Company lost nearly $5 billion April, May and June, while its theme parks were shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to a presentation Disney executives made Tuesday. It cost the company $3.5 billion just to close the parks during the third quarter, on top of the $1 billion it cost to shut them down the second half of March.

In all, the company posted a loss of nearly $5 billion for the third quarter, including a $2 billion loss in its parks, experiences and products segment. Disney’s domestic parks – Disney World and Disneyland, as well as Disneyland Paris, resorts and cruise operations were closed for the entirety of the quarter and the final two weeks of the previous quarter.

“This is obviously a very uncertain time,” CEO Bob Chapek said during an earnings webcast Tuesday. “We should be in good shape once consumer confidence returns.”

– Curtis Tate

One of first school districts to reopen in Georgia reports first positive case

A day after a high school in Georgia reopened for the 2020-2021 school year, one of the first school districts to reopen in the state confirmed its first COVID-19 case. Columbia County School District Superintendent Sandra Carraway said in an email that a student at Harlem High School who was previously tested as part of a pre-op process received positive results.

“Because the Columbia County School District has 3400 employees and more than 20,000 students, unfortunately it can be expected that there will be instances of positive cases of COVID-19, hopefully on a very limited basis given expectations of our Collective Responsibility agreement,” Carraway said.

In her email, Carraway asked families to not send their children to school if they have been tested for the virus until test results are returned and are negative.

– Miguel Legoas, The Augusta (Ga.) Chronicle

What we’re reading

California has undercounted COVID-19 cases, state health official says

The number of COVID-19 infections in California may not be accurate due to a technical problem in the state’s system that tracks positive results and conducted tests, a top state health official said Tuesday.

Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly said the state’s seven-day positivity rate reported on Monday has been “absolutely affected.” Hospitalization data, however, has not been impacted, Ghaly said.

On Monday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom reported that daily cases dropped by an average of 2,200 in the last week and the infection rate of 6.1% was significantly lower than the nearly 8% recorded last month.

More COVID-19 resources from USA TODAY

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Contributing: The Associated Press

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: COVID updates: Novavax vaccine news; Clorox wipes shortage; Cali cases

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