Coronavirus (COVID-19) tally as compiled by Johns Hopkins University. (Previous numbers in parentheses.)
Total U.S. confirmed cases: 33,951,558 (33,921,025)
Total U.S. deaths: 608,152 (607,863)
Total global cases: 188,565,395 (188,015,773)
Total global deaths: 4,061,263 (4,052,630)
Surgeon General Murthy wages war on misinformation
Posting something on social media might seem harmless enough, but U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy says it could do great harm if it’s some unverified piece of nonsense about the coronavirus. In an interview with NPR, he called misinformation “an urgent threat.”
Murthy said erroneous information about the vaccines has spread on social media because people, often without giving it much thought, have shared it with others who might not even know its source.
"COVID has really brought into sharp focus the full extent of damage that health misinformation is doing," Murthy said. "Every life that is lost to COVID-19 when we have vaccines available, is a preventable tragedy,"
Unemployment claims fall to new pandemic low
Fewer people are losing jobs as the economy continues to ramp up. The Labor Department reports that initial claims for unemployment benefits fell to 360,000 last week, the lowest number since the pandemic shut down the economy in March 2020.
Two weeks ago, there were 386,000 new claims for benefits. Since the beginning of the year, claims have mostly trended lower.
The number of people still drawing unemployment benefits also continues to fall but remains elevated as many states continue to pay an extra $300 a week in benefits. According to a poll conducted by Axios, an estimated 1.8 million Americans have turned down job offers because of the benefits they receive.
U.S. Olympic basketball player on COVID-19 protocols
Olympic officials say they have taken every precaution possible against COVID-19, but as the postponed Olympic games are about to get underway in Tokyo, a USA basketball player has been placed on COVID-19 protocols and may miss much of the action.
"A member of the USA Basketball Men’s National Team has been placed under USA Basketball’s health and safety protocols," a team statement said.
Though the team did not identify the player, two media reports said the player is Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal. The games were supposed to be played in 2020 but were postponed because of COVID-19 risks.
Around the nation
Massachusetts: Some Android users have reported that the state’s COVID-19 notification app was automatically installed on their mobile devices. Google confirmed that the app was installed automatically but said users still have to activate it.
Arkansas: New cases of the virus are still on the rise statewide. Health officials reported more than 1,300 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday as the state's hospitalizations for treatment of the coronavirus increased for the 15th straight day.
Missouri: The pandemic is far from over in Missouri. Halfway through the month of July, health officials have recorded more cases of the virus than the entire month of June. There were 12,680 cases in June, but there were 13,000 cases in July as of Wednesday.
Washington: State health officials are celebrating a milestone, reporting this week that Washington achieved a 70% vaccination rate. As of July 12, 70% of people 16 and older have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
Maryland: Several states have ended enhanced unemployment benefits before the September expiration, but Maryland won’t be one of them. State officials tried to eliminate the extra benefit to encourage more people to return to work, but a judge blocked the move this week.