There was promising news Monday (July 20th) on an experimental COVID-19 vaccine being developed by scientists at Oxford University. Published research showed that in an early trial, the vaccine produced a protective dual immune response in hundreds of people who got the shot that lasted at least two months. Dr. Adrian Hill said the immune response produced antibodies and also caused a reaction in T-cells, which destroy cells that have been taken over by the virus. The head of emergencies at the World Health Organization called it "good news," but said, "there’s a long way to go." There are nearly two dozen potential vaccines in different stages of human testing around the world.
Meanwhile, there were some hopeful signs in two of the U.S. states that have been hard-hit with surges in recent weeks. Arizona said hospitalizations were at their lowest level in more than two weeks, and that the number of people on ventilators and in intensive care also fell. In Texas, health officials in Houston said the number of people who needed to be hospitalized seemed to have "tapered off a bit." Overall, the U.S. has had more than 140,900 deaths as of early this morning, according to Johns Hopkins University's count, and more than 3,830,000 confirmed cases.
Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy met with President Trump yesterday about a fifth coronavirus aid package, which Congress is trying to get passed as previous emergency relief is set to expire. However, there are some divisions between Republicans and the White House, with the administration against more money for coronavirus testing, and wanting a payroll tax repeal. McConnell's approximately $1 trillion package will, among other things, likely replace the expiring $600 weekly in extra unemployment benefits with a smaller amount of money, and may also include new round of stimulus checks. The House Democrats passed their own $3 trillion new relief package back in May, which the Republican Senate has not taken up.
Trump to Do Briefings Again: President Trump said yesterday that he's going to start doing his daily coronavirus briefings again, the move coming as cases are continuing to surge in large parts of the country. The briefings ended in late April, after Trump made remarks suggesting injecting disinfectants could help against the virus. Additionally, after resisting wearing a face mask in public for months, Trump yesterday tweeted a photo of himself in a face mask, calling mask-wearing an act of "patriotism."
Florida Teachers' Union Sues Over Back-to-School Order:Florida's largest teachers union, the Florida Education Association (FEA), sued yesterday over the state Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran's order to next month reopen schools with in-person learning five days a week. The suit names both Corcoran and Governor Ron DeSantis. FEA president Fedrick Ingram said Sunday that the state of the pandemic in Florida, which has been one of the hardest-hit states in the recent surge, means it's too soon to reopen public schools. The union argues that the order violates the state constitution, which requires schools to be operated safely.