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    Coronavirus update: U.S. buys more vaccines, Congress deadlocks on stimulus payments

    Tyson Foods is beefing up medical support at processing plants

    Coronavirus (COVID-19) tally as compiled by Johns Hopkins University. (Previous numbers in parentheses.)

    Total U.S. confirmed cases: 4,496,737 (4,447,648)

    Total U.S. deaths: 152,074 (151,077)

    Total global cases: 17,334,539 (17,084,446)

    Total global deaths: 674,038 (668,250)

    U.S. paying another $2.1 billion for vaccine doses

    The U.S. government is writing another big check to drug companies for a potential coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine. Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) will receive $2.1 billion for 100 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine they are developing.

    Much of the money will be used to continue development of the vaccine, including clinical trials. The rest will pay for manufacturing and delivery of the 100 million doses. After that, the government has the option to order 500 million more doses.

    “The global need for a vaccine to help prevent COVID-19 is massive, and no single vaccine or company will be able to meet the global demand alone,” said Thomas Triomphe, executive vice president and global head of Sanofi’s vaccine division.

    No agreement to extend $600 a week jobless benefit

    With the clock running out, Republicans and Democrats in Congress have failed to reach agreement on legislation to extend the extra $600 a week jobless benefit that expires at midnight tonight.

    The two parties are mostly in agreement on the major bullet points of a new aid package, but the additional unemployment benefit most out-of-work Americans have been receiving since April has emerged as the major sticking point.

    Democrats support extending the bonus payments through January, arguing that the generous payments have kept the economic collapse caused by the pandemic from being even worse. Republicans argue that many benefit recipients are getting more money than when they were working and have no incentive to look for a job.

    Tyson Foods beefs up medical support at meat plants

    Tyson Foods has announced that it plans to hire a chief medical officer, as well as 200 nurses, and implement stringent coronavirus testing for employees at 140 meat production facilities. The move came as the Food & Environment Reporting Network reports that more than 10,000 Tyson employees had tested positive since the beginning of the pandemic. 

    The COVID-19 monitoring strategy was designed with the assistance of outside medical experts and includes ongoing, data driven COVID-19 testing of workers without symptoms. It also addresses those who exhibit certain symptoms or have been in close contact with someone who has the virus.

    “While the protective measures we’ve implemented in our facilities are working well, we remain vigilant about keeping our team members safe and are always evaluating ways to do more,” said Donnie King, Tyson Foods group president and chief administrative officer. 

    The pandemic has fanned retirement worries

    The COVID-19 pandemic threw a big monkey wrench into the financial plans of millions of Americans, especially when it comes to retirement plans. About 38 percent of Americans in a survey by Nationwide report that there has been some detrimental effect.

    Nearly 20 percent of respondents say the financial disruption caused by the coronavirus means they’ll have to keep working longer. About 10 percent express doubts about ever retiring at all.

    "Americans are facing complex retirement scenarios as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and market volatility," said Tina Ambrozy, senior vice president of Strategic Customer Solutions at Nationwide. "On top of this, adults across generations lack a basic understanding of Social Security benefits and ways to maximize those benefits."

    The NBA tries to salvage its season

    The National Basketball Association (NBA) is the second major sports league to try to salvage what’s left of its season after it was suspended in late February by the coronavirus. 

    The Los Angeles Clippers and Los Angeles Lakers got things started last night in a mostly empty arena, with the Lakers winning 103-101. More games are scheduled for tonight.

    Games are being played amid stringent safety protocols, but Major League Baseball (MLB) has already found that doesn’t always work. The baseball season got off to a rocky start when 14 players on the Miami Marlins tested positive for the coronavirus during the first week.

    Around the nation

    • New York: Gov. Andrew Cuomo has announced a number of positive statistics. Hospitalizations dropped to 586 Thursday, a new low since March 17. The number of patients in intensive care units fell to 142, the lowest number since mid-March.

    • Washington: The state has placed new limits on restaurants and bars as cases of the coronavirus move higher. Alcohol can’t be served after 10 p.m., and restaurants can’t seat more than five people at a table.

    • Virginia: Tourist spots in the state, including Williamsburg and Virginia Beach, will take an economic hit because several states have added Virginia to quarantine lists. After being under control for weeks, Virginia coronavirus cases have moved sharply higher.

    Coronavirus (COVID-19) tally as compiled by Johns Hopkins University. (Previous numbers in parentheses.)Total U.S. confirmed cases: 4,496,737 (4,447,64...
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      Amazon reports huge surge in sales due to the coronavirus pandemic

      The company said its online grocery sales tripled in the second quarter

      In its second quarter earnings report, Amazon said a pandemic-related surge in consumer demand resulted in a tripling of its online grocery sales compared to the same quarter last year. 

      The company said it had to increase grocery delivery capacity by more than 160 percent to meet demand during the unexpected health crisis.

      “This was another highly unusual quarter, and I couldn’t be more proud of and grateful to our employees around the globe,” Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said in a statement. 

      Surge in business

      While buying was initially focused on consumables and groceries, consumers eventually shifted to buying a more normal mix of products as the pandemic continued. Amazon said third-party sales increased by 52 percent year-over-year during the quarter, while first-party sales increased 48 percent year-over-year. 

      Shipping times were significantly slower at the start of the pandemic. Amazon CFO Brian Olsavsky said on a call with analysts that shipping rates have returned to a somewhat normal rate but are still “probably considerably behind the going rate before any of this happened.” 

      Amazon said it ramped up spending on equipment and services to keep its employees safe. 

      “As expected, we spent over $4 billion on incremental COVID-19-related costs in the quarter to help keep employees safe and deliver products to customers in this time of high demand—purchasing personal protective equipment, increasing cleaning of our facilities, following new safety process paths, adding new backup family care benefits, and paying a special thank you bonus of over $500 million to front-line employees and delivery partners.” 

      Amazon expects its overall sales in the third quarter to amount to between $87 billion and $93 billion, which would represent an increase of around 24 to 33 percent compared to the third quarter of 2019. 

      The company also confirmed on Thursday that its Prime Day sales event, which typically takes place in July, will now be held in the fourth quarter due to the coronavirus pandemic. Amazon said it's working closely with its selling partners to ensure the event goes smoothly. 

      In its second quarter earnings report, Amazon said a pandemic-related surge in consumer demand resulted in a tripling of its online grocery sales compared...
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      Gas prices remain stable as motorists curb their driving

      The summer driving season hasn’t really materialized this year

      Consumers continued to enjoy stable gasoline prices this week as many cars remained parked and demand for fuel continued to fall.

      The AAA Fuel Gauge Survey shows the national average price of regular gas is $2.18 a gallon, nearly the same as last week and 53 cents a gallon less than last year at this time. The average price of premium gas is $2.80 a  gallon, a penny more than last Friday. The average price of diesel fuel has remained at $2.43 a gallon for several weeks.

      At midweek, GasBuddy’s head of petroleum analysis, Patrick DeHaan, reported falling usage, with demand on Tuesday 6 percent lower than seven days earlier. 

      The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported this week that energy use in April, when Americans were sheltering in place, plunged to a 30-year low. Since then, consumers have literally kept their foot off the gas.

      “Pump prices are mostly pushing cheaper across the country as gasoline demand wanes over the past few weeks,” said Jeanette Casselano, AAA’s spokesperson. “Gas prices are likely to fluctuate throughout the rest of the summer due to COVID-19 concerns, with the national average possibly reaching $2.25.”

      When prices fluctuated this week, it was mostly to the downside. Prices fell a few cents a gallon in Michigan, Indiana, and North Carolina. 

      The states with the most expensive gas

      These states currently have the highest prices for regular gas, according to the AAA Fuel Gauge Survey:

      • Hawaii ($3.23)

      • California ($3.17)

      • Washington ($2.80)

      • Oregon ($2.66)

      • Nevada ($2.65)

      • Alaska ($2.52)

      • Colorado ($2.44)

      • Pennsylvania ($2.41)

      • Idaho ($2.40)

      • Illinois ($2.38)

      The states with the cheapest regular gas

      The survey found these states currently have the lowest prices for regular gas:

      • Mississippi ($1.83)

      • Louisiana ($1.86)

      • Texas ($1.88)

      • Arkansas ($1.89)

      • Alabama ($1.89)

      • Missouri ($1.90)

      • Oklahoma ($1.90)

      • South Carolina ($1.91)

      • Tennessee ($1.93)

      • Kansas ($1.97)

      Consumers continued to enjoy stable gasoline prices this week as many cars remained parked and demand for fuel continued to fall.The AAA Fuel Gauge Sur...
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      Jamaican Tastee Patties recalls meat and poultry patties

      The products were produced without undergoing inspection

      Jamaican Tastee Patties of Miami, Fla., is recalling approximately 60,457 pounds of meat and poultry patties.

      The products were repackaged, relabeled and sold without undergoing federal inspection.

      The firm also applied the mark of inspection of another federal establishment without proper authorization.

      There have been no confirmed reports of adverse reactions.

      The baked and unbaked, frozen beef and chicken items, produced on from September 2018, through July 2020, are being recalled:

      • 18-oz. boxes containing 4 pieces of “AUTHENTIC Jamaican STYLE TASTEE Patties JERK CHICKEN TURNOVERS BAKED” with various sell-by dates represented on the label.
      • 18-oz. boxes containing 4 pieces of “AUTHENTIC Jamaican STYLE TASTEE Patties BEEF TURNOVERS SPICY BEEF BAKED” with various sell-by dates represented on the label.
      • 18-oz. boxes containing 4 pieces of “Jamaican STYLE TASTEE Patties TURNOVERS CURRY CHICKEN BAKED” with various sell-by dates represented on the label.
      • 18-oz. boxes containing 4 pieces of “AUTHENTIC Jamaican STYLE TASTEE Patties BEEF TURNOVERS MILD BEEF BAKED” with various sell-by dates represented on the label.
      • 112-oz. (7-lb.) cases containing 24 pieces of “Authentic Jamaican STYLE TASTEE Patties BEEF TURNOVERS SPICY BEEF UNBAKED” with various sell-by dates represented on the label.
      • 112-oz. (7-lb.) cases containing 24 pieces of “Authentic Jamaican STYLE TASTEE Patties BEEF TURNOVERS MILD BEEF UNBAKED” with various sell-by dates represented on the label.

      The recalled products, bearing establishment number “EST. 2390” or “P-2390” inside the USDA mark of inspection, were shipped to retail and restaurant locations in Florida.

      What to do

      Customers who purchased the recalled products should not consume them, but discard or return them to the place of purchase.

      Consumers with questions may contact Lance Williams, at (305) 878-2716 or by email at lanceprt@bellsouth.net.

      Jamaican Tastee Patties of Miami, Fla., is recalling approximately 60,457 pounds of meat and poultry patties. The products were repackaged, relabeled an...
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      Summer home fixes for the fall season

      From landscaping to rainspout checks, here is our list of home repair you can do to prep for fall

      The following companies participate in our Authorized Partner Program: HomeAdvisor

      With the longer days and the better weather, summer is a great time to get a head start on all your home fixes. Prepping your home with repairs done in the summer sunshine may save you serious cash and time during fall. Check out our list of things you can do now that will help your home run smoother in the autumn.

      Check your rainspouts and gutters

      Because most of the country deals with less rain and storms now than later in the season, you should definitely check your rain gutters' efficiency. Get topside with your usual cleaning equipment and make sure the pathways are clean. Then, with a controlled flow of water, safely check to see if you have any leaks or pooling — both can be detrimental to your property.

      If you feel safer on the ground but still want to approach a home improvement project, check out our partners at HomeAdvisor. They can match you with prescreened, local service professionals.

      Learn More

      Check for pest entrances and exits

      During the fall season, pests like mice and rats are desperately looking for spaces to nest during the inclement weather. You should be diligent while the sun is out and check for small entrances into your residence that can be used by these animals. Look around the outside of your property for even the most minor holes, then properly fill or cover them with mesh. If you suspect an infestation, make sure to check out or pest control guide for a company that can help.

      Test all safety devices

      Events happen at the most inconvenient times, so make sure to check things are in working order, like fire alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. As the weather gets colder, windows stay shut more often, which leaves a greater necessity for these devices. While you’re doing that, resupply your fire safety equipment, make sure your first-aid kit is restocked and confirm any other emergency kit — such as an earthquake kit — is ready for use.

      Get your heating system serviced

      With the colder weather comes our dependency on a home heating system. Whether you have an HVAC or simply stay toasty with your chimney, it’s time to make sure those heating systems are suitable for use. Have your chimney, boiler and furnace cleaned. You should also have all gas lines checked, and make sure your ducts and filters are clear. If you’re looking to upgrade your current HVAC system, check out our helpful guide on heating and cooling system companies.

      Get your yard ready

      We may have enjoyed the fruits of our yardwork over spring and summer, but the weather will be changing, and we need to get ready. As soon as your leaves start turning color, make sure to hedge your plants back for the healthy leaves. You may also want to scan the yard for any dangerous tree limbs that could fall in heavy wind, rain or snow. If plants have completely taken over during the growing months, make sure to check out our guide on landscaping equipment to help tame that yard.

      Your property is a valuable asset, so take the time to protect that investment from the upcoming winter months. Another way you can protect your home is through the right homeowners insurance coverage. Check out our guide on home insurance companies for a breakdown of what they can do for you and how they work.

      We’ve got great home fixes you should do to prepare for fall....
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      Top 5 Hulu shows to binge at the end of summer

      Beat the heat with these great Hulu shows

      As we enter the hot months that will round out our summer, staying indoors and cooling down is a must. But what can we do to pass the time? One answer, of course, is marathoning your favorite series! If you’ve found yourself scanning channels and menus for far too long, here is our list of great streaming shows featured on Hulu you should check out.

      1. Little Fires Everywhere

      "Little Fires Everywhere" is a Hulu original drama packed with all-stars giving electric performances. Based on the award-winning book series of the same name, "Little Fires Everywhere" features Reese Witherspoon (Elena Richardson), Kerry Washington (Mia Warren) and a great supporting cast. If you are looking for an excellently crafted show with emotional drama and surprises you won't see coming, "Little Fires Everywhere" is something you should check out.

      • Rated: TV-MA
      • Available: Hulu

      Get Started

      2. The Handmaid’s Tale

      "The Handmaid's Tale" is a dark, dystopian series set in a near-future where women struggle to survive under a militarized patriarchal government. This Emmy-award winning series beautifully adapts Margaret Atwood's novel, and performances by Elisabeth Moss (June Osborne/Offred/Ofjoseph) and Joseph Fiennes (Commander Fred Waterford) drive a plot filled with danger, emotion and intrigue.

      • Rated: TV-MA
      • Available: Hulu

      Get Started

      3. Love, Victor

      "Love, Victor" is a fantastic coming-of-age series that premiered this year. The series follows the trials and tribulations of Victor (Michael Cimino), a new kid in a new town, and how he navigates popularity, romance and home life with the help of Simon (Nick Robinson). It's a spin-off of the popular film "Love, Simon," and this series doesn't lose a step from the original content. If you are looking for a modern take on young love, "Love, Victor" is a great place to start.

      • Rated: TV-14
      • Available: Hulu

      Get Started

      4. Letterkenny

      "Letterkenny" is a hilarious half-hour comedy from Canada that recently made its way to the US. Set around the small town of Letterkenny, this show follows its ridiculously funny and risqué citizens as they live their daily lives. Although relatively new to the U.S., this series has been running for over eight seasons, so there's plenty to watch. You'll find the circumstances side-splitting, yet you'll start to fall in love with each goofy resident!

      • Rated: TV-MA
      • Available: Hulu

      Get Started

      5. What We Do in the Shadows

      "What We Do in the Shadows" is a comedic/horror series about a reality tv program following real-life vampires. Based on Jemaine Clement’s and Taika Waititi's fantastic film of the same name, this hilarious series will leave you guessing what these entertaining vampires will do next.

      • Rated: TV-MA
      • Available: Hulu

      Get Started

      If you want to marathon a huge list of amazing entertainment — from your favorite classic TV shows to top films — Hulu has you covered. Try a free one-month trial today!

      Get Started

      Our 5 favorite Hulu shows to binge at the end of the summer....
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      Amazon rolls out redesigned Alexa app with personalized suggestions

      The new Alexa app will focus on how and when consumers use Alexa

      Amazon announced on Monday that it’s starting to roll out a revamped version of its Alexa app. The app will be available for iPhones, tablets, and smartphones running Google's Android platform, as well as for Amazon’s Fire tablets.

      The redesigned app will have a new home screen featuring a more personalized experience. Instead of emphasizing third-party skills, the new homepage will focus on “how consumers are actually using Alexa.”

      The new home screen will be updated with personalized recommendations based on how each individual utilizes their Alexa device. For example, users who play music frequently will see music commands featured on their home screen. Previously, users may have seen irrelevant prompts on the home screen. The redesign de-prioritizes third-party voice apps or skills. 

      Meanwhile, first-time users will see suggestions on how to get started with Alexa, how to add to their Amazon shopping list, or how to use other services like Amazon Music. Amazon said it’s also moving the Alexa button from the bottom of the app to the top in the interest of making it easier to find.  

      Amazon expects all users to be granted access to its updated digital assistant by late August. 

      Amazon announced on Monday that it’s starting to roll out a revamped version of its Alexa app. The app will be available for iPhones, tablets, and smartpho...
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      Google tells employees they can work remotely for at least another year

      Working remotely is quickly becoming the new norm, especially for tech and investment-oriented companies

      Google is telling its 200,000 full-time and contract employees to sit tight from a remote location, at least until July 2021, according to the Wall Street Journal. Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai reportedly made the call last week following a meeting with company brass.

      Google had previously announced plans to reopen some of its offices for a limited number of employees starting on July 6, but the move was strictly optional for its employees.

      Pichai’s new timeline allows employees to better plan their personal lives, an aspect especially important for parents of school-aged children as school districts try to figure out whether going virtual or establishing new safeguards is the best path for them to follow.

      “To give employees the ability to plan ahead, we’ll be extending our global voluntary work-from-home option through June 30, 2021 for roles that don’t need to be in the office,” Pichai said in his message to employees. “I hope this will offer the flexibility you need to balance work with taking care of yourselves and your loved ones over the next 12 months.”

      The new norm continues to expand

      The shift to remote life -- especially for tech and investment companies -- is quickly becoming part of the new norm. A solid 65 percent of all workers are doing their jobs away from the office all the time, frequently, or very often

      Google joins Amazon, Zillow, PayPal, Salesforce, and others Microsoft, Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan, Capital One, Zillow, Facebook, Slack, Amazon, PayPal, Salesforce, and others that have extended their work-from-home options, according to SHRM, a human resources organization. However, Google is the first to extend the mandate out so far.

      The most conspicuously absent brand on that list is Apple. It was a little slow on its embrace of working from home, but it recently opted to convert its retail associates to remote-based customer assistants.

      Google is telling its 200,000 full-time and contract employees to sit tight from a remote location, at least until July 2021, according to the Wall Street...
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      Garmin confirms ransomware attack took down service

      After a five-day outage, systems are coming back online

      Garmin has confirmed that a ransomware attack was behind a system outage that customers dealt with for five days starting July 23. 

      "Garmin is currently experiencing an outage that affects Garmin services including Garmin Connect," the company said in a statement last week. "As a result of the outage, some features and services across these platforms are unavailable to customers."

      On Monday, the company said an external cyberattack “encrypted some of our systems” and disrupted many of its services.

      “As a result, many of our online services were interrupted including website functions, customer support, customer facing applications, and company communications,” the statement read. “We immediately began to assess the nature of the attack and started remediation.”

      Garmin said it has “no evidence” that any customer data, including activity and payment information, was compromised or stolen. The fitness tracker and GPS maker said it’s restoring service, but it will take a few days before everything is completely back to normal. 

      Sources told tech websites ZDNet, TechCrunch, and Bleeping Computer that the outage was caused by ransomware called WastedLocker, which is run by a cybercriminal group known as Evil Corp. 

      Garmin has confirmed that a ransomware attack was behind a system outage that customers dealt with for five days starting July 23. "Garmin is currently...
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      Ford recalls F-650s and F-750s

      The interior cabin floor and seat attachments could reach elevated temperatures

      Ford Motor Company is recalling about 1,300 model year 2021 F-650s and F-750s with a 7.3-liter engine.

      The vehicles were built without certain thermal protection components intended to reduce the interior cabin floor and seat attachment temperatures. These missing components may include an underbody heat shield, a thermal insulator patch under the floor mat, or covers for the seat bolts and seat pedestal.

      In vehicles without these components, the interior cabin floor and seat attachments could reach elevated temperatures during certain high-load, high ambient temperature driving conditions. Continuous skin contact with elevated temperatures may lead to skin irritation or a minor burn.

      There are no reports of accidents or injuries.

      What to do

      Ford will notify owners, and dealers will install the underbody heat shield, thermal insulator patch under the floor mat, seat base covers and seat bolt covers.

      Owners may contact Ford customer service at (866) 436-7332. Ford's reference number for this recall is 20S36.

      Ford Motor Company is recalling about 1,300 model year 2021 F-650s and F-750s with a 7.3-liter engine.The vehicles were built without certain thermal p...
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      5 tips to help with your hearing loss

      These great tips may be able to help you with your hearing loss

      Roughly 48 million Americans experience some degree of hearing loss, so you aren’t alone if you’re facing this issue. If you feel like your hearing has gotten worse recently, there are several steps you can take to help improve your situation. Below are our favorite tips that may help you with your hearing loss.

      1. Get your hearing tested

      Our first tip is to go to your doctor if you feel like you are experiencing hearing loss. You may be experiencing hearing loss for several reasons, including earwax buildup or your age. It may even be caused by the medications you’re taking. A doctor can tell you the next steps and refer you to specialists, such as audiologists, to find solutions for your hearing loss.

      2. Look into hearing devices

      There are several devices available that may help your hearing, including multiple multiple hearing aid types. Modern hearing aids include invisible devices and hearing aids with rechargeable batteries and Bluetooth connectivity. There are also alert systems for people with hearing loss, such as systems that provide loud notifications when someone is at your door. Finally, there are assistive hearing devices, such as FM systems, for classrooms and group settings.

      3. Communicate with others

      If you are suffering from hearing loss, you don’t need to handle everything on your own. Let your friends and loved ones know you may need some assistance or need them to speak a little louder. It’s OK to communicate your needs, and your friends will be happy to comply so that you can best hear your favorite people.

      4. Repeat what you hear

      This may be a simple tip, but repeating what you hear can be effective. To avoid mishearing information, repeat what someone tells you. For instance, if someone is giving you an address, be sure to repeat it back. Feel free to do this whenever vital information is being conveyed to you, including addresses, appointments or times. Doing this helps avoid any confusion.

      5. Find a support group

      If you’re dealing with hearing loss, it’s always good to talk to people who are in similar situations. Ask your doctor or search for hearing loss support groups near you. Going to a support group may help you feel less alone when dealing with this issue, and it might give you even more ideas for managing your hearing loss.

      Hearing loss can be frustrating for some, but with good community and tools, your life can be more satisfying! There are many modern solutions that help you live your best life. If you’re looking for a professional to have your hearing tested, check out our list of hearing aid companies near you.

      Check out 5 great tips that may help with your hearing loss....
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      Experts predict plastic pollution in the ocean will triple in the next 20 years

      Efforts from both lawmakers and consumers are needed to slow down this worrying trend

      Plastics, like straws and contact lenses, have been found to build up in the ocean, and it could take hundreds of years before they ever disintegrate. 

      Now, a new study suggests that plastic pollution will likely get much worse over the next two decades if left unchecked. Researchers are predicting that if the current rate of pollution keeps up without intervention, pollution could increase threefold by 2040. 

      “There’s no single solution to ocean plastic pollution, but through rapid and concerted action we can break the plastic wave,” said researcher Tom Dillon. “As this report shows, we can invest in a future of reduced waste, better health outcomes, greater job creation, and a cleaner and more resilient environment for both people and nature.” 

      Preventing a growing problem

      To measure and predict the plastic pollution in the oceans, the researchers created a model that helped them track current pollution progress. After adjusting the model for several potential interventions, they predicted what the oceans could look like in the next 20 years. 

      Though the study showed that plastic pollution will multiply if nothing changes, the researchers explained that there are several tangible ways to work to reduce pollution -- and they come with several benefits. 

      Improving recycling habits, opting for compostable items when possible, and increasing waste collection are just a handful of ways that real change can be made. And while all these efforts would work in reducing how much plastic lands in the ocean, there are more benefits than many consumers may realize. 

      For starters, adopting these habits would create hundreds of thousands of jobs while also providing a huge environmental boost by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, being more proactive about plastic pollution in these ways could ultimately reduce ocean pollution by 80 percent. 

      The researchers hope that consumers realize minor actions can add up and that plastic pollution in the oceans isn’t a doomed issue. With consistent efforts, significant strides can be made. 

      “Our results indicate that the plastic crisis is solvable,” said researcher Martin Stuchtey. “It took a generation to create this challenge; this report shows we can solve it in one generation. We have today all the solutions required to stem plastic flows by more than 80 percent. What we now need is the industry and government resolve to do so.” 

      Plastics, like straws and contact lenses, have been found to build up in the ocean, and it could take hundreds of years before they ever disintegrate....
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      Gas prices dip as COVID-19 cases spike

      Falling demand and rising supplies have kept prices in check this summer

      Gasoline prices drifted slightly lower across much of the U.S. this week as the rising number of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in many states discouraged travel.

      The AAA Fuel Gauge Survey shows the national average price of regular gas is $2.18 a gallon, down from $2.20 a week ago. The average price remains 57 cents a gallon less than at this time a year ago. The average price of premium gas is $2.79 a gallon, a penny less than last Friday. The average price of diesel fuel is $2.43 a gallon, the same as it has been for several weeks.

      AAA says prices have remained very stable this week; one-third of states saw gas prices fall slightly and only 10 states saw gas prices increase by two to four cents. State averages saw minimal fluctuation as demand roughly held steady over the last four weeks. 

      “During the last month, demand has averaged about 8.6 million barrels a day while gasoline stocks have steadily declined,” said Jeanette Casselano, AAA’s spokesperson. “Week by week, we are seeing mostly regional fluctuation at the pump based on gasoline supply and demand.”

      Because of the coronavirus, gasoline demand has not been anything close to normal for the last four months. The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) reports that consumers are using about 8.6 million barrels of gasoline a day.

      Demand for fuel is 6 percent less than at this time last year. Despite cutbacks at oil refineries, gasoline supplies are still 7 percent higher year-over-year.

      Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio saw average gas prices fall around six cents a gallon this week while prices were up around 4 cents in New Mexico.

      The states with the most expensive gas

      These states currently have the highest prices for regular gas, according to the AAA Fuel Gauge Survey:

      • Hawaii ($3.24)

      • California ($3.14)

      • Washington ($2.80)

      • Oregon ($2.66)

      • Nevada ($2.64)

      • Alaska ($2.53)

      • Colorado ($2.46)

      • Pennsylvania ($2.44)

      • Illinois ($2.37)

      • Arizona ($2.35)

      The states with the cheapest regular gas

      The survey found these states currently have the lowest prices for regular gas:

      • Mississippi ($1.84)

      • Louisiana ($1.86)

      • Arkansas ($1.89)

      • Alabama ($1.89)

      • Texas ($1.90)

      • Missouri ($1.91)

      • Oklahoma ($1.91)

      • South Carolina ($1.91)

      • Tennessee ($1.92)

      • Kansas ($1.98)

      Gasoline prices drifted slightly lower across much of the U.S. this week as the rising number of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in many states discouraged tr...
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      Nissan recalls model year 2020 LEAF electric vehicles

      Images for the back-up camera can disappear

      Nissan North America is recalling 6,157 model year 2020 LEAF electric vehicles.

      Under certain circumstances, the images for the back-up camera can disappear while in reverse.

      Lack of an image in the back-up camera display poses the risk of a crash.

      What to do

      Nissan will notify owners, and dealers will update the back-up camera software free of charge.

      This recall is expected to begin August 17, 2020.

      Owners may contact Nissan customer service at (800) 867-7669.

      Nissan North America is recalling 6,157 model year 2020 LEAF electric vehicles. Under certain circumstances, the images for the back-up camera can disap...
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      Polaris recalls Ranger, PRO XD and Bobcat vehicles

      The engine braking feature may fail, resulting in unexpected vehicle motion

      Polaris Industries of Medina, Minn., is recalling about 13,700 Ranger XP 1000 & Ranger CREW XP 1000 Off-Road Vehicles, PRO XD 4000D UTVs, and Bobcat UV34 and UV34XL UTVs sold in the U.S., and Canada.

      An improperly manufactured clutch component can cause the engine braking feature to fail, resulting in unexpected vehicle motion, posing a crash hazard.

      The firm has received 14 reports of unexpected motion or drive clutch locking, including one report of a crash resulting in property damage. No injuries have been reported.

      This recall involves model year 2020 Ranger XP 1000 & Ranger CREW XP 1000 Off-Road Vehicles, model year 2019-2020 PRO XD 4000D UTVs, and model year 2020 Bobcat UV34 & UV34XL UTVs.

      The vehicles were sold in maroon, black, sand, green, orange, blue, camo, gray and white, and have two or four seats.

      For PRO XD and Ranger models, “POLARIS” is stamped on the front grille and “POLARIS PRO XD” or “Ranger” is printed on the sides of the rear cargo area.

      For Bobcat models, “Bobcat” is printed on the sides of the rear cargo area.

      The VINs included in this recall can be found stamped into the left rear vehicle frame below the cargo box.

      The following model names are included in this recall:

      YEAR

      MODEL NAME

      2019

      PRO XD 4000D

      2020

      PRO XD 4000D

      2020

      Ranger XP 1000

      2020

      Ranger XP 1000 Crew

      2020

      Bobcat UV34

      2020

      Bobcat UV34XL

      The vehicles, manufactured in the U.S., and Poland, were sold at

      Polaris dealers nationwide from September 2019, through April 2020, for between $14,600 and $26,300.

      What to do

      Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled vehicles and contact a Polaris dealer to schedule a free inspection and repair, if needed. Polaris is notifying dealers and contacting registered owners directly.

      Consumers may contact Polaris at (800) 765-2747 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. (CT) Monday through Friday or online at www.polaris.com and click on “Off Road Safety Recalls” at the bottom of the page for more information.

      Polaris Industries of Medina, Minn., is recalling about 13,700 Ranger XP 1000 & Ranger CREW XP 1000 Off-Road Vehicles, PRO XD 4000D UTVs, and Bobcat UV34 a...
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      Mercedes-Benz recalls model year 2019 A220s

      The air conditioning condensation drain hose may not be installed properly

      Mercedes-Benz USA (MBUSA) is recalling 3,615 model year 2019 A220s.

      The air conditioning condensation drain hose may not be installed properly. This may allow water to enter the driver and passenger foot wells and the center tunnel area, potentially damaging certain electrical components.

      Water entering electrical components, can result in malfunctions of the supplemental restraint system (SRS), failure to start, activation of the limp-home mode while driving, and an impairment of other features, increasing the risk of injury or crash.

      What to do

      MBUSA will notify owners, and dealers will inspect the air conditioning drain hose installation, correcting it -- if necessary -- free of charge.

      This recall is expected to begin September 15, 2020.

      Owners may contact MBUSA customer service at (800) 367-6372.

      Mercedes-Benz USA (MBUSA) is recalling 3,615 model year 2019 A220s. The air conditioning condensation drain hose may not be installed properly. This may...
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      Coronavirus update: Airlines toughen mask rules, GOP offers stimulus plan

      Unemployment claims keep rising

      Coronavirus (COVID-19) tally as compiled by Johns Hopkins University. (Previous numbers in parentheses.)

      Total U.S. confirmed cases: 3,987,584 (3,915,780)

      Total U.S. deaths: 143,446 (142,095)

      Total global cases: 15,284,136 (15,000,424)

      Total global deaths: 624,665 (617,832)

      Airlines toughen mask requirements

      United Airlines isn’t the only carrier laying down tougher face-covering rules this week. American and Southwest have upped the ante as well.

      American says it will no longer allow any exceptions to its requirement that all passengers wear masks on its flights to prevent the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). The only exception to the mask rule is children under age two. It previously exempted passengers with medical conditions.

      Southwest has adopted a similar policy, requiring all passengers to mask up. The airline says passengers who can’t meet that requirement should stay home.

      GOP unveils its stimulus plan

      Talks continue between Republicans and Democrats on the next round of stimulus payments, including an extension of the extra unemployment payment that expires at the end of the month.

      Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, in an interview with CNBC today, said the GOP plan is based on providing out-of-work Americans with about 70 percent of their previous earnings. Some Republicans have said the current $600 a week bonus contained in the CARES Act pays many people more than they made when they had a job.

      Congress must get busy if it expects to hammer out a plan acceptable to both sides before a looming deadline. Not only do many benefits expire at the end of July, but lawmakers are going on a month-long vacation starting August 7.

      Unemployment rolls still growing

      Despite hopes that the job market is recovering from the hammer blow of the coronavirus pandemic, there was an increase last week in the number of people going on unemployment. The Labor Department reports that new claims for jobless benefits totaled 1.4 million, an increase from the week before.

      California, which is grappling with an outbreak of the virus and has reclosed a number of businesses, saw the biggest increase in new claims with another 292,673 people beginning to draw benefits. Georgia and Florida also reported a huge spike in claims.

      Yelp doesn’t expect many restaurants to reopen

      Yelp likes to think it has its finger on the pulse of small business, but its analysts lately aren’t finding much of a pulse for America’s smallest businesses, especially restaurants. It says many small eateries forced to close during the pandemic aren’t likely to reopen.

      In a report, Yelp says 60 percent of the 26,160 temporarily closed restaurants listed on the review site as of this month are now permanently closed. It further reports that temporary closures are declining while permanent shutdowns are increasing. 

      Back in April, Yelp reported 175,000 total businesses were closed in some way. Three months later, fewer than 25 percent of those businesses have reopened their doors.

      Credit availability continues to shrink

      A survey by credit card site CompareCards reveals that about 70 million people – more than one-third of credit cardholders –  involuntarily had a credit limit reduced or a credit card account closed in a 60-day period from mid-May to mid-July.

      In April, the site conducted a similar survey and was stunned to see that 50 million consumers had immediately lost access to credit as the economy began to shut down and layoffs began to skyrocket.

      Lenders appear to still be trying to minimize their risk as unemployment rises. So far at least, consumers appear to be managing to pay their credit card bills as credit defaults actually went down over the last four months.

      Around the nation

      • Georgia: Gwinnett County Public Schools, deciding it is too dangerous to teach students in person when classes restart this coming school year, will transition to all-online learning in the fall. The school district, the largest in Georgia, had previously planned a hybrid in-person/online school year.

      • Wisconsin: Four more Wisconsin cities -- Racine, Green Bay, Whitewater, and Superior -- have enacted mandatory mask orders, joining Madison and Milwaukee. The cities have acted as Gov. Tony Evers has declined to issue a statewide mask mandate.  

      • Arizona: Researchers modeling the state’s COVID-19 progress say things have gotten better since the spike in cases in June and early July, but they have urged Gov. Doug Ducey not to let up on restrictions they credit for the turnaround. Many of those restrictions are set to expire Monday.

      Coronavirus (COVID-19) tally as compiled by Johns Hopkins University. (Previous numbers in parentheses.)Total U.S. confirmed cases: 3,987,584 (3,915,78...
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      Rocky Mountain Bicycles recalls Instinct and Pipeline Bikes

      The bicycle’s front frame triangle can crack

      Rocky Mountain Bicycles of Canada is recalling about 3,000 Rocky Mountain non-electric alloy frame Instinct, Instinct BC and Pipeline bicycles sold in the U.S. and Canada.

      The bicycle’s front frame triangle can crack and cause separation of the head tube from the frame, posing fall and injury hazards.

      The firm has received 12 reports of front triangles cracking. There have been no reports of injuries.

      This recall includes the alloy models of Rocky Mountain model year 2018-2020 Instinct, Instinct BC and Pipeline trail bikes.

      Rocky Mountain is printed on the downtube. Instinct, Instinct BC or Pipeline are printed inside the seatstay on the left hand side.

      The bikes were sold with 29 inch and 27.5+ inch wheels.

      The recalled bikes include small, medium and large sizes with serial numbers starting with PRK17, PRK18 and PRK19-XXXXX. The serial number is located under the bottom frame bracket.

      Only non-electric bicycles with alloy frames in all colors in the following models serial numbers are being recalled:

      Recalled Rocky Mountain Bicycles

      PIPELINE ALLOY  50

      Pipeline Alloy 50  SM

      Pipeline Alloy 50  MD

      Pipeline Alloy 50  LG

      PIPELINE ALLOY  30

      Pipeline Alloy 30  SM

      Pipeline Alloy 30  MD

      Pipeline Alloy 30  LG

      INSTINCT ALLOY  70

      Instinct Alloy 70  SM  C1

      Instinct Alloy 70  SM  C2

      Instinct Alloy 70  MD  C1

      Instinct Alloy 70  MD  C2

      Instinct Alloy 70  LG  C1

      Instinct Alloy 70  LG  C2

      INSTINCT ALLOY 50

      Instinct Alloy 50 (29)  SM  C1

      Instinct Alloy 50 (29)  SM  C2

      Instinct Alloy 50 (29)  MD  C1

      Instinct Alloy 50 (29)  MD  C2

      Instinct Alloy 50 (29)  LG  C1

      Instinct Alloy 50 (29)  LG  C2

      INSTINCT ALLOY  30

      Instinct Alloy 30 (29)  SM  C1

      Instinct Alloy 30 (29)  SM  C2

      Instinct Alloy 30 (29)  MD  C1

      Instinct Alloy 30 (29)  MD  C2

      Instinct Alloy 30 (29)  LG  C1

      Instinct Alloy 30 (29)  LG  C2

      INSTINCT ALLOY 70 BC EDITION

      Instinct Alloy 70 BC Edition  SM

      Instinct Alloy 70 BC Edition  MD

      Instinct Alloy 70 BC Edition  LG

      INSTINCT ALLOY 50 BC EDITION

      Instinct Alloy 50 BC Edition  SM  C1

      Instinct Alloy 50 BC Edition  SM  C2

      Instinct Alloy 50 BC Edition  MD  C1

      Instinct Alloy 50 BC Edition  MD  C2

      Instinct Alloy 50 BC Edition  LG  C1

      Instinct Alloy 50 BC Edition  LG  C2

      Affected Serial Numbers

      All serial numbers beginning with PRK17

      All serial numbers beginning with PRK18

      The following serial numbers beginning with PRK19

      PRK190001 to PRK1900454

      PRK1900566

      PRK1900723 to PRK1900731

      PRK1900456 to PRK1900462

      PRK1900568 to PRK1900582

      PRK1900733

      PRK1900466 to PRK1900474

      PRK1900584 to PRK1900589

      PRK1900735 to PRK1900755

      PRK1900479

      PRK1900592 to PRK1900593

      PRK1900757 to PRK1900773

      PRK1900481 to PRK1900483

      PRK1900595

      PRK1900776 to PRK1900778

      PRK1900485 to PRK1900488

      PRK1900597 to PRK1900606

      PRK1900780 to PRK1900785

      PRK1900490 to PRK1900495

      PRK1900608 to PRK1900618

      PRK1900787 to PRK1900792

      PRK1900497 to PRK1900506

      PRK1900620 to PRK1900621

      PRK1900794 to PRK1900798

      PRK1900508 to PRK1900512

      PRK1900623 to PRK1900628

      PRK1900800 to PRK1900807

      PRK1900514 to PRK1900517

      PRK1900630 to PRK1900653

      PRK1900809

      PRK1900519 to PRK1900520

      PRK1900655 to PRK1900662

      PRK1900811 to PRK1900812

      PRK1900522 to PRK1900523

      PRK1900664 to PRK1900668

      PRK1900814 to PRK1900818

      PRK1900525 to PRK1900527

      PRK1900670 to PRK1900681

      PRK1900820 to PRK1900830

      PRK1900529 to PRK1900531

      PRK1900683 to PRK1900684

      PRK1900832

      PRK1900533 to PRK1900536

      PRK1900686 to PRK1900697

      PRK1900836 to PRK1900843

      PRK1900538 to PRK1900540

      PRK1900699

      PRK1900845 to PRK1900855

      PRK1900542 to PRK1900543

      PRK1900701

      PRK1900857 to PRK1900859

      PRK1900545 to PRK1900546

      PRK1900703

      PRK1900861

      PRK1900548 to PRK1900550

      PRK1900705

      PRK1900863 to PRK1900868

      PRK1900552 to PRK1900556

      PRK1900707 to PRK1900711

      PRK1900870

      PRK1900558 to PRK1900559

      PRK1900713 to PRK1900721

      PRK1900872- PRK1900874

      PRK1900562 to PRK1900563

      The recalled bicycles, manufactured in Taiwan and China, were sold at independent bicycle stores nationwide from August 2017, through June 2020, for between $2,600 and $4,700.

      What to do

      Consumers should stop using the recalled bicycles immediately and contact Rocky Mountain for information on how to receive a free replacement front triangle.

      Consumers may contact Rocky Mountain toll-free at (877) 744-1515 from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. (ET) Monday through Friday or online at www.bikes.com/en and click on Safety Recall at the top of the page for more information, and contact their authorized Rocky Mountain dealer.

      Rocky Mountain Bicycles of Canada is recalling about 3,000 Rocky Mountain non-electric alloy frame Instinct, Instinct BC and Pipeline bicycles sold in the ...
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      4 reasons you may want to bank your child’s cord blood

      There are many reasons to look into cord blood banking — here are our top 4

      The following companies participate in our Authorized Partner Program: Miraclecord and Americord

      Although cord blood banking has been around for more than 20 years, many parents-to-be don’t know about this process. In simple terms, cord blood banks store your child’s hematopoietic stem cells that are left from their umbilical cords and placenta after birth. These stem cells can be used to treat several types of diseases — chief among them leukemia and lymphoma. Here is our list of great reasons to explore cord blood banking.

      1. It may be a better option than bone marrow

      The hematopoietic stem cells found in cord blood are less likely to be rejected than bone marrow cells. A University of Colorado study found patients being monitored who received cord blood were less likely to suffer graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) than those who received marrow.

      MiracleCord’s lab has been processing and storing cord blood for more than 20 years. The company is headquartered in Chicago, and it offers high-quality cord blood and cord tissue stem cell banking to families in the U.S.

      Get Started

      2. Cord blood can be stored safely for years

      Your child’s cord blood can safely be stored for decades; in fact, there is a case of a patient receiving cord blood stored for more than 20 years. In comparison, bone marrow cells must be used within two to four days of extraction and have a loss of about 60% of cells within about three days.

      3. It is easier to collect than bone marrow

      Cord blood is collected after the umbilical cord has been cut, so it is entirely safe and does not harm the mother or child. Collecting bone marrow is a much more complicated process that poses risks and can be very painful.

      4. It can help treat more than 70 diseases

      As of today, cord blood can help treat almost 80 different conditions. Cord blood contains blood-forming stem cells called hematopoietic stem cells; this means it can medicate several blood cancers, including types of leukemia and lymphoma. It also helps treat blood and immune system disorders, such as sickle cell disease.

      Americord is a pioneer in the development of umbilical cord blood, cord tissue and placenta tissue banking. The company is registered by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and does not charge annual storage fees.

      Get Started

      If you’re expecting a child, you may want to look into cord blood banking as a possible safety net to protect your child in case of a worst-case scenario. If you would like to know more about cord blood banking, make sure to read our guide on finding the best cord blood banks.

      Here are some great reasons you should bank your baby’s cord blood....
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      Coronavirus update: U.S. commits nearly $2 billion to a vaccine, U.S. deaths on the rise

      Mitch McConnell is putting support behind more stimulus payments

      Coronavirus (COVID-19) tally as compiled by Johns Hopkins University. (Previous numbers in parentheses.)

      Total U.S. confirmed cases: 3,915,780 (3,850,134)

      Total U.S. deaths: 142,095 (141,118)

      Total global cases: 15,000,424 (14,763,911)

      Total global deaths: 617,832 (611, 322)

      Feds agree to pay nearly $2 billion for vaccine

      The U.S. government has agreed to spend nearly $2 billion for 100 million doses of the coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine being produced by Pfizer and BioNTech, should it be proven safe and effective. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) says any vaccine the government buys will be made available to Americans at no charge.

      The agreement, announced in a statement by both companies, would allow the government to acquire an additional 500 million doses of the vaccine. The companies have already begun work producing the vaccine at scale.

      “We’ve been committed to making the impossible possible by working tirelessly to develop and produce in record time a safe and effective vaccine to help bring an end to this global health crisis,” said Dr. Albert Bourla, Pfizer Chairman and CEO. 

      U.S. deaths tick back up

      The U.S. reported more than 1,000 deaths from the coronavirus Tuesday, the first time the death toll has exceeded that number in two months. Deaths had been in a sharp decline until recently.

      The COVID-19 Tracking Project at Johns Hopkins University shows deaths began to increase in the past seven days as the number of patients admitted to hospitals also rose. The U.S. health system reported more than 60,000 new positive coronavirus tests on Tuesday.

      Between the end of March and the end of April, the U.S. reported more than 57,000 deaths from the virus. From the end of May to the end of June, there were fewer than 28,000 deaths.

      McConnell calls for ‘another shot of adrenaline’ 

      Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has expressed his support for another round of stimulus, making it more likely that Congress will approve more help for consumers and businesses. McConnell said he believes the economy needs “another shot of adrenaline.”

      The devil, of course, is in the details. Republicans and Democrats still don’t see eye to eye on what the package should contain. Republicans, including McConnell, have said a key to GOP support is a reduction in the extra $600 a week in unemployment benefits, set to expire at the end of the month.

      Republicans have said many people getting the extra payments are receiving more money now than when they were working and have no incentive to look for a job.

      United extends mask requirement to airports

      Airlines in recent weeks have strengthened mask requirements for passengers and crew. United took it a step further today by declaring that masks must be worn in United’s areas of airports.

      The areas include United customer service counters and kiosks, United Club locations, United's gates, and baggage claim areas. If customers refuse to comply, they may be refused travel and banned from flying United, at least while the mask requirement is in place. 

      The new policy takes effect on Friday.

      Mask debate called ‘surreal’

      As the U.S. suffers a second wave of coronavirus cases, the debate over wearing masks in public shows no sign of ebbing. President Trump this week urged Americans to wear masks, something that is nearly universal in other nations.

      “We’ve seen a change in tone from the White House, the president talking about wearing masks at long last. But I must say being based in Europe that this whole debate and politicization of the mask issue, (it) becoming part of U.S. culture wars, is pretty surreal to observe,” Tina Fordham, head of global political strategy at Avonhurst, told CNBC Wednesday.

      The Wall Street Journal reports that masks were also a point of contention in the U.S. during the 1918 flu pandemic, with many citizens refusing to wear them.

      Around the nation

      • Florida: The state’s senior citizens are at increased risk from escalating cases of the coronavirus, according to a senior advocacy group. "If the coronavirus in Florida were a hurricane, its intensity in two weeks has reached Category 5 status," LeadingAge Florida CEO Steve Bahmer said during a video conference.

      • Pennsylvania: A spike in new COVID-19 cases has state health officials on alert, as they reported more than 1,000 additional cases Tuesday. Philadelphia and Pittsburgh accounted for a third of the new illnesses.

      • Vermont: Vermont is one state where the coronavirus appears to be under control and masks are not required in public, but that could change. Gov. Phil Scott says he’s particularly concerned about college students arriving in the fall from states where the virus is spiking.

      Coronavirus (COVID-19) tally as compiled by Johns Hopkins University. (Previous numbers in parentheses.)Total U.S. confirmed cases: 3,915,780 (3,850,13...
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      Fauci says COVID-19 may not ever be eradicated

      His remarks on the pandemic are at odds with Trump’s statements

      Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, said Wednesday that he doesn’t believe COVID-19 will ever be completely wiped out. 

      “I don’t really see us eradicating it,” Fauci said during an interview with the TB Alliance. He added that he does believe health officials and world leaders might be able to bring the virus down to “low levels.” 

      “I think with a combination of good public health measures, a degree of global herd immunity and a good vaccine, which I do hope and feel cautiously optimistic that we will get, I think when we put all three of those together, we will get control of this, whether it’s this year or next year. I’m not certain,” he said.

      Trump believes it will ‘disappear’

      To date, the novel coronavirus has infected more than 3.9 million Americans. Of that figure, at least 142,090 have died from complications of the virus, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. 

      “We are certainly not at the end of the game” of the pandemic, Fauci said. “Certainly we are not winning the game right now. We are not beating it.”

      Although Dr. Fauci doesn’t foresee an official end to the threat of the virus, President Trump believes just the opposite. 

      “The virus will disappear. It will disappear,” Trump said Tuesday during a White House briefing. However, he added that the situation in the U.S. will probably “get worse before it gets better.” 

      Fauci and other health experts say COVID-19 is a uniquely dangerous virus because of its wide range of symptoms and how efficiently it spreads from person to person. 

      “I have never seen infection in which you have such a broad range [with] literally no symptoms at all in a substantial proportion of the population to some who get ill with minor symptoms to some who get ill enough to be in bed for weeks,” he said. “Others get hospitalized, require oxygen, intensive care, ventilation and death. The involvement with the same pathogen is very unique.”

      Fauci said Tuesday that mask mandates and bar closures would help mitigate the spread of the virus. 

      Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, said Wednesday that he doesn’t believe COVID-19 will ever be completely wiped out. “I do...
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      AT&T tells some customers they need to get a new phone to keep receiving service

      An email sent out by the carrier doesn’t mention that users have a year and half to do so

      AT&T has emailed some customers to tell them that they need to replace their device in order to continue receiving service, Android Police reports. 

      Thousands of customers received a notice telling them that their device "is not compatible with the new network and you need to replace it to continue receiving service.” 

      The notice refers to the fact that the carrier is planning to drop its 3G network. However, AT&T didn’t explicitly mention in the email that consumers’ phones will continue to work until February 2022. That information was reportedly only mentioned in a link within the email. 

      The email went on to say that AT&T makes “getting a new device online easy” before naming various fast and free shipping options.

      “Someone who just skims over the mail without clicking the red ‘Learn More’ button might conclude they need a new phone right now,” Android Police noted. 

      More follow-up needed

      In a post on AT&T’s forum, one subscriber asked if the email they received was a scam since it was poorly worded and “sounded fishy.” 

      “I just received an email from AT&T that their network is no longer compatible to my device and I must upgrade. First off, this email to me sounded fishy. There was odd letters and numbers in the email address line,” the user wrote. “With this ongoing pandemic unfortunately you have to be very careful what's real and not a scam. Is this legit or no?” 

      While the email appears to be legitimitate, Android Police says AT&T should probably follow up with another email “explicitly making clear that genuinely unsupported devices will only stop working in a year and a half, not tomorrow.” 

      AT&T; has emailed some customers to tell them that they need to replace their device in order to continue receiving service, Android Police reports. Th...
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      Coronavirus update: A testing crunch this fall, Congress unlikely to come through with more help

      Volunteers are agreeing to test COVID-19 vaccines

      Coronavirus (COVID-19) tally as compiled by Johns Hopkins University. (Previous numbers in parentheses.)

      Total U.S. confirmed cases: 3,850,134 (3,774,769)

      Total U.S. deaths: 141,118 (140,563)

      Total global cases: 14,763,911 (14,538,115)

      Total global deaths: 611, 322 (606,922)

      Quest Diagnostics expects a testing crunch in the fall

      Quest Diagnostics, the largest medical laboratory in the U.S., has reportedly warned that it will not be able to keep up with demands for coronavirus (COVID-19) testing that are likely to surge this fall.

      The company says the increasing demand for COVID-19 test results will coincide with the annual flu season when it will be called upon to provide millions of tests for influenza.

      James Davis, executive vice-president of general diagnostics at Quest Diagnostics, told the Financial Times that “other solutions need to be found” to detect positive patients in addition to the nasal swab tests currently in use.

      Timely help from Congress appears doubtful

      A top Republican member of the House says it’s not likely that Congress will approve another coronavirus aid package for consumers and businesses before lawmakers go on vacation in August. 

      House Minority Leader Keven McCarthy (R-Calif.) told CNBC that he doesn’t see it getting done before the end of July. Democrats and Republicans are at odds over jobless benefits, direct payments to individuals, liability protections for businesses, rent and mortgage assistance, and funding to reopen schools in the fall. 

      President Trump has added his own conditions, insisting that any aid bill suspend or reduce the payroll tax and reduce or eliminate funding for testing.

      Volunteers agree to test vaccines

      A controversial plan to attempt to infect healthy people with the coronavirus to test an experimental vaccine is gaining some acceptance. Advocates say it’s the only way to find out quickly whether a vaccine candidate is effective.

      One such advocacy group -- 1 Day Sooner -- has signed up 30,000 volunteers in 140 countries who are willing to be exposed to the virus after taking a vaccine. 

      The group is urging the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to undertake immediate preparations for “human challenge trials” in young, healthy people, who are less likely to suffer severe disease from COVID-19. 

      Operation Quack Hack tries to weed out bogus cures

      The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has once again stepped in to protect consumers from coronavirus-related fraud, and it appears to be producing results. The agency launched Operation Quack Hack in March after it started receiving complaints.

      “Building upon our previous experience with illegal online pharmacies, a team of consumer safety officers, special agents, and intelligence analysts triage incoming complaints about fraudulent and unproven medical products,” the agency said in a press release.

      As of last month, the FDA had identified more than 700 fraudulent and unproven medical products related to COVID-19 after reviewing thousands of websites, social media posts, and online marketplace listings.

      Toy companies are thriving during the pandemic

      Supermarkets, online retailers, and pizza delivery companies have seen a surge in business during the pandemic. You can add toy companies to that list.

      The NPD Group reports that toy companies have enjoyed four straight months of rising sales as parents buy toys to keep their children occupied at home. March sales rose 19 percent and doubled that in May as warmer weather resulted in the purchase of more outdoor toys.

      “We would never see this kind of unprecedented growth, I’ve never seen it in my life,” Juli Lennett, an NPD Group toy industry analyst, told CNBC “Normally, we are up or down 3 percent or 4 percent, so this is certainly very unusual.”

      Around the nation

      • North Carolina: Gov. Roy Cooper’s March 12 order preventing utility companies from disconnecting service for unpaid bills expires at the end of the month. Consumer advocates warn that thousands of state residents could lose water and electricity in August.

      • Michigan: The University of Michigan has announced its protocol for the fall semester. Students attending classes must wear masks while on campus but will have the choice between classroom sessions or online courses.

      • Washington: One of the first U.S. locales for the coronavirus, Washington, has seen its cases spike again, along with many other states. Spokane Health Officer Dr. Bob Lutz warns that continued large gatherings without social distancing are putting the state at risk of another economic shutdown.

      Coronavirus (COVID-19) tally as compiled by Johns Hopkins University. (Previous numbers in parentheses.)Total U.S. confirmed cases: 3,850,134 (3,774,76...
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      Coronavirus aid package not likely to be approved until August

      Lawmakers aren’t likely to reach an agreement until after they return from vacation

      Another coronavirus relief package isn’t likely to be approved by Congress until August, according to a top Repupublican member of the House. 
      House Minority Leader Keven McCarthy (R-Calif.) told CNBC that his estimate is that early August, after lawmakers return from vacation, is a more likely time range for Congress to hash out an agreement on the legislation.
      “I envision that this bill doesn’t get done by the end of July,” McCarthy said Tuesday. “Probably the first week of August.” 

      Democrats and Republicans disagree

      As it stands now, Democrats and Republicans are trying to iron out differences in opinion over jobless benefits, direct payments to individuals, liability protections for businesses, rent and mortgage assistance, and funding to reopen schools in the fall. 
      Additionally, President Trump wants any aid bill to suspend or reduce the payroll tax and reduce or eliminate funding for testing.
      If the aid package agreements aren’t resolved before the end of the month, a $600 per week federal unemployment insurance benefit acting as a lifeline for millions of Americans will at least temporarily expire. Democrats are pushing to extend the assistance while Republicans want to change the policy or reduce the sum. 
      House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Tuesday that she hopes lawmakers “can resolve our differences and have a bill by the end of next week,” and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he hopes an agreement will be reached by the end of next week.
      Another coronavirus relief package isn’t likely to be approved by Congress until August, according to a top Repupublican member of the House.  Hous...
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      Amazon expands field test of delivery robot

      Trials are now taking place in Atlanta, Georgia and Franklin, Tennessee

      Amazon is expanding trials of its delivery robot, Scout, to additional states. The delivery robot started operating in a neighborhood in Snohomish County, Washington in early 2019 and later started delivering packages at a larger test site in Irvine, California. 

      The company announced Tuesday that it has now launched a “small number of Amazon Scout devices” in Atlanta, Georgia and Franklin, Tennessee. The delivery robots will operate Monday through Friday, during daylight hours only. 

      Amazon said customers in the test areas will order “just as they normally would,” but their packages could be delivered by Amazon Scout. All Scout devices will be accompanied by a human minder called an Amazon Scout Ambassador, at least “initially,” says Amazon.

      Meeting increased demand

      The e-commerce giant said it’s been working hard on ensuring that the cooler-sized autonomous devices can safely navigate around a number of objects. 

      “Amazon Scout delivery devices are built to be inherently safe. They’re the size of a small cooler and move at a walking pace. Each delivery device can navigate around pets, pedestrians, and other objects (including surfboards!) in its path,” the company said in a press release.

      Amazon added that its trials of Scout have continued during the pandemic. The robots are intended to help bolster the company’s mission of meeting increased customer demand during the health crisis and beyond. 

      “Amazon has been providing an essential service during the COVID-19 pandemic and working hard to get customers the products they need so they can continue to stay safe. Amazon Scout is quietly playing its part in this effort, too.” 

      Amazon is expanding trials of its delivery robot, Scout, to additional states. The delivery robot started operating in a neighborhood in Snohomish County,...
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      Polaris recalls model year 2015-2020 snowmobiles

      The fuel hose can be improperly secured, posing a fire hazard

      Polaris Industries of Medina, Minn., is recalling about 57,000 model year 2015-2020 AXYS Trail Performance and Crossover snowmobiles sold in the U.S. and Canada.

      The fuel hose can be improperly secured, posing a fire hazard.

      The firm has received 13 reports of improperly secured fuel hoses. No fires or injuries have been reported.

      This recall involves all Model Year 2015-2020 600cc and 800cc AXYS Trail Performance and Crossover snowmobiles with the following model names:

      Model Year

      Model Name

      2015

      RUSH

      SWITCHBACK

      2016

      RUSH

      SWITCHBACK

      2017

      RMK

      RUSH

      SWITCHBACK

      VOYAGEUR

      2018

      RMK

      RUSH

      SWITCHBACK

      VOYAGEUR

      2019

      INDY

      RMK

      RUSH

      SWITCHBACK

      VOYAGEUR

      2020

      INDY

      RMK

      RUSH

      SWITCHBACK

      VOYAGEUR

      The model year and VIN are stamped on the right side of the tunnel. Polaris and the model name are printed on both sides of the hood and on the side panels of the vehicles.

      The snowmobiles, manufactured in the U.S., were sold at Polaris dealers nationwide from December 2013, through April 2020, for between $7,400 and $15,100.

      What to do

      Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled snowmobiles and contact a Polaris dealer to schedule a free inspection and, if needed, a free repair. Polaris is notifying dealers and contacting registered owners directly.

      Consumers may contact Polaris at (800) 765-2747 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. (CT) Monday through Friday or online at www.polaris.com and click on “Product Safety Announcements” at the bottom of the page for more information.

      Polaris Industries of Medina, Minn., is recalling about 57,000 model year 2015-2020 AXYS Trail Performance and Crossover snowmobiles sold in the U.S. and C...
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      Chill summertime treats for 2020

      Make these 6 delicious snacks and drinks at home

      We like to take advantage of the longer days by spending time outdoors with family. But after a day of running around outside, nothing tastes better than a fruity snack or bubbly beverage. Find some of our top recipes for easy summertime treats below.

      1. Homemade popsicles

      Homemade popsicles are a great frozen treat for pool days! Pour your favorite juice or soda into a BPA-free mold and freeze it overnight — the next day, you’re ready to go.

      • Makes 6 3.3-oz popsicles
      • Premium food-grade silicone

      Buy on Amazon

      2. Lavender basil soda

      The summer heat makes some of us want to sit around and sip all day. This lavender-basil mocktail (alcohol-free!) is easy to make in batches for the whole family. First, muddle a few sprigs of basil from your garden or the grocery store in a pitcher. Then, stir in lavender syrup and chilled club soda or seltzer and pour over ice. You can garnish with basil as the final touch.

      • 750 ml
      • Allergen-free, dairy-free, gluten-free

      Buy on Amazon

      3. Acai bowls

      Acai bowls are simple and full of antioxidants. Blend raw acai powder with frozen bananas and apple juice, then top it with honey, granola and other fruits. This healthy treat is a favorite with both children and adults.

      • 8-oz bag
      • Low in simple sugar

      Buy on Amazon

      4. Grilled peaches and ice cream

      Easily pit and slice ripe peaches with this handy tool. Then, coat the peaches with oil, throw them on the grill for a few minutes until golden brown — about four to five minutes — and top with a dollop of ice cream. Pro tip: You can be sure a peach is ripe if the stem is white or golden.

      • Cuts 12 slices
      • Dishwasher safe

      Buy on Amazon

      5. Avocado toast

      The hype is real and it’s easy — simply smoosh avocado slices onto your choice of toasted bread and top with salt. With this little avocado cutter, you can easily slice each half into perfect pieces. Try adding a smidge of lemon juice for some zest!

      • 3-in-1 slicer
      • Nonslip grip

      Buy on Amazon

      6. Homemade ice cream

      Homemade ice cream is another treat that the family can make together during hot summer afternoons! This ice cream maker comes with an instruction book and recipes. It makes up to two quarts of frozen yogurt, sorbet and other yummy frozen desserts.

      • 8.25” x 8.00” x 11.25”
      • Double-insulated 2-quart bowl

      Buy on Amazon

      These super simple recipes should make it easy to beat the heat! For upgraded kitchen appliances that help you bring even more to the table, check out our guide to appliance brands.

      Chill summertime treats for 2020...
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      June was a good month for home sellers

      A report suggests that the median home price rose to a record $311,300

      It turns out that a pandemic is a pretty good time to sell a home, but it’s not such a good time to try to buy one.

      The pent-up demand from a postponed spring homebuying season has vastly increased competition for homes and driven up prices. Real estate brokerage firm Redfin reports that the median home price of its transactions in June surged 2.8 percent to a record $311,300.

      With the pace of home building still slow and fewer single-family homes coming on the market, the company says prices could continue to rise over the second half of the year.

      "The coronavirus hasn't dragged home prices down; in fact we've seen just the opposite—prices are rising in spite of the pandemic," said Brian Walsh, a Redfin agent in Tampa, where the median home price was up 8 percent year over year in June. 

      "Every house that is the slightest bit cute, fixed-up and priced right gets multiple offers--some up to 10 or 15. The winning offers are almost always all cash with zero contingencies."

      Buyers face competition

      This is an abrupt change from April when the coronavirus (COVID-19) shutdown immediately halted open house events and most home showings. At the time, the market was fairly balanced, with an absence of both buyers and sellers.

      Now, buyers have returned to the housing market but sellers have not. Redfin reports that new listings dropped 11.6 percent last month, the fourth straight month of double-digit declines.

      As a result, Redfin says the balance of supply and demand remains strongly tilted in sellers' favor.

      Buyers were active in June, making offers on the properties that were on the market. Pending home sales -- contracts for homes that were signed but not yet closed -- were up 5.4 percent year-over-year. For Redfin properties, it was the first increase since February, though the National Association of Realtors (NAR), which collects more data, reported a 44.3 percent increase in pending sales in May.

      Sales drop

      The number of homes selling in June fell sharply, but only because there were fewer homes for sale. For people wanting to sell a home, the job is relatively easy. Buyers have their work cut out for them.

      Real estate professionals say there are steps buyers can take, short of paying cash, to make their offer stand out. The first is to make it a “clean” offer with no contingencies. If you’re confident in knowing what the property is worth, you can even waive the appraisal contingency.

      It goes without saying that you should be pre-approved for the loan amount by your lender and have a letter proving it. If you’re going to be competing with other buyers who want the home, offer above the asking price. Also, offer to put down more than the usual amount of earnest money.

      You can also consider writing an escalation clause into your contract that automatically raises your bid to meet or exceed others, up to a set amount.

      Finally, try to connect emotionally with the sellers. Some agents believe it is a good idea to write a personal letter to the sellers, telling them how much you appreciate their home and would love to live there. In this market, buyers apparently need any edge they can get.

      It turns out that a pandemic is a pretty good time to sell a home, but it’s not such a good time to try to buy one.The pent-up demand from a postponed...
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      Mercedes-Benz recalls AMG and GLC vehicles

      The Electronic Stability Program software may be programmed incorrectly

      Mercedes-Benz USA (MBUSA) is recalling 5,039 model year 2019-2020 C63 AMG, C63 AMG S, AMG GT 53, AMG GT 63, AMG GT 63 S, and model year 2020 GLC 63 AMG, GLC 63 AMG S vehicles.

      An incorrect Electronic Stability Program (ESP) software version may cause the ESP system to react inaccurately.

      Improper ESP reaction to a driving situation may increase the risk of a crash.

      What to do

      MBUSA will notify owners, and dealers will update the ESP software free of charge.

      The recall is expected to begin August 28, 2020.

      Owners may contact MBUSA customer service at (800) 367-6372.

      Mercedes-Benz USA (MBUSA) is recalling 5,039 model year 2019-2020 C63 AMG, C63 AMG S, AMG GT 53, AMG GT 63, AMG GT 63 S, and model year 2020 GLC 63 AMG, GL...
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      9 items to help your teenager drive safely

      Tools to help kids get home safely

      There's nothing quite as terrifying as the first time your teenager hops into the driver's seat without you. To help alleviate some of that worry, we've put together some top products that help make your teen a safer driver on and off the road.

      1. Blind-spot mirrors

      These mirrors help your teen quickly check their blind spots without constantly looking over their shoulder. These are fantastic for any driver, but they are especially reassuring for those new behind the wheel.

      • Adjustable side mirrors
      • Comes with adhesive

      Buy on Amazon

      2. Jumper cables with battery packs

      Jumper cables are an essential item for any driver. Unlike other cables, these are battery-powered so that your teen can get a jump without another car nearby. No stranger danger!

      • Mistake-proof design
      • 1-year warranty

      Buy on Amazon

      3. Flat tire repair kit

      Flat tires happen everywhere, from highways to backroads. Make sure your teen is prepared to fix a flat in a pinch with a repair kit that comes in handy if they forget (or never listened to) your tire-changing lesson.

      • 3-month money-back guarantee
      • 62-piece repair kit

      Buy on Amazon

      4. Electric car jack

      In case your new driver needs to change their tire completely, an electric car jack makes the process much simpler. This electric jack comes with a built-in flashlight and a toolbox set with the equipment needed to change out a tire. Plus, it only takes two minutes to reach full extension.

      • Includes toolbox
      • Built-in flashlight

      Buy on Amazon

      5. Bluetooth adapter

      Teens driving older cars can use this Bluetooth device to make it hands-free. Once set up, smartphones automatically connect to play music, make calls and provide navigation — all by using voice commands.

      • Flexible gooseneck
      • LCD display

      Buy on Amazon

      6. Car dashcam

      If you really want to keep an eye on your driver, you can install a driving cam that records your teen's driving patterns. Bonus features include a backup mirror and a motion detector to avoid collisions.

      • Clear night image
      • 24-hour parking monitor feature

      Buy on Amazon

      7. Cell phone holder

      It's hard to find the right phone holder for your car. Sometimes they fall off the air vent, and other times they're just too complicated to install. This holder has a simple installation process and a magnetic clip for easy release.

      • Rotates 360 degrees
      • Easy setup

      Buy on Amazon

      8. Roadside lights

      Roadside strobe lights are an excellent safety measure for your new teen. If their car dies on the side of the road at night, these lights ensure that other vehicles see them.

      • Requires 12 AAA batteries
      • 100% satisfaction guarantee

      Buy on Amazon

      9. Console organizers

      Sometimes, a messy car is enough to distract an inexperienced driver. Avoid that distraction with these organizers that slide between consoles. Your teen can put everything they need there and keep their vehicle clean.

      • 100% satisfaction guarantee
      • Fits space between 0.47” - 2.1”

      Buy on Amazon

      Living with a teen driver doesn't have to be scary with the right tools and preparation. The more confident they feel, the better they can focus on the road. For all those possible mishaps, it’s important to have the right auto insurance coverage. To help you find the right carrier, check out our car insurance guide.

      9 items to help your teenager drive safely...
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      Google to start banning COVID-19 conspiracy theory advertising content

      Tech giants are continuing to fight misinformation about the health crisis

      Google is set to begin banning ads from publishers pushing content that contradicts scientific consensus on the COVID-19 pandemic.

      The tech giant said Friday that it will begin prohibiting “dangerous content,” such as the claim that the COVID-19 vaccine is “an attempt to genetically modify the population,” starting August 18. 

      Google said it will remove ads from pages that promote theories that aren’t supported by “authoritative scientific consensus” about the health crisis and its origins. Additionally, advertisers will not be allowed to create their own ads that promote coronavirus conspiracy theories. 

      The company already prohibits the monetization of harmful medical misinformation, such as claims about “miracle” health cures or treatments or ads promoting the anti-vaccine movement. The policy update announced Friday builds upon the company’s existing efforts to combat misinformation. 

      Tech giants clamping down on misinformation

      Regulators recently sent letters to a number of major tech companies requesting actions to curb a “troubling rise of false or misleading information related to COVID-19.” 

      “This disinformation has ranged from false statements about certain groups being immune from contracting the virus to unsubstantiated assertions about masks and vaccines,” a group of Democratic lawmakers said in letters to Google, Facebook, and Twitter last week. “This type of disinformation is dangerous and can affect the health and well-being of people who use this false information to make critical health decisions during this pandemic.” 

      Facebook has announced that it plans to roll out a new “Facts About Covid-19” section to dispel common but inaccurate myths about the virus, such as the one that drinking bleach will cure the virus or that hydroxychloroquine can cure, treat, or prevent the illness. Facebook has also launched notifications encouraging everyone to wear a mask and has begun labeling misleading posts about the virus as false. 

      Google is set to begin banning ads from publishers pushing content that contradicts scientific consensus on the COVID-19 pandemic.The tech giant said F...
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      IRS debunks myths about income tax refunds

      The only real trick to a quicker refund is going the electronic route and checking the status online

      Now that most of America has gotten their July 15 tax deadline out of the way, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) wants to remind taxpayers that there is no secret formula they can use to find out when their refund will show up in the mail or in their bank account.

      Actually, there are several myths that the IRS would like to debunk, with each one representing a heading shown below.

      Getting a refund this year means there's no need to adjust withholding for 2020

      Not true. To help avoid being surprised next year, the IRS says taxpayers should make changes now. One suggestion consumers can follow is to adjust their tax withholding with their employer to help guarantee that neither too much nor too little tax is withheld from their paycheck. 

      There’s also a tool called the Tax Withholding Estimator which will help taxpayers figure out the right amount.

      Calling the IRS or a tax professional will provide a better refund date

      Again, not true. You can call the IRS or a tax professional all you want, but that will not expedite getting a refund. If someone tells you they know someone on the inside at the IRS or their tax preparer can get you a refund faster, don’t take the bait. 

      Sure, you can call the IRS’s automated refund hotline at 800-829-1954, but you’ll get the same information from the "Where's My Refund?" widget on the IRS’ website. If the IRS needs a taxpayer to call them, they will be notified via that same widget.

      Ordering a tax transcript is a secret way to get a refund date

      Another no. Ordering a tax transcript does nothing -- zero, zilch, nada -- to help taxpayers find out when they will get their refund, and it does not accelerate the issue date of a refund. 

      The “Where's My Refund?” tool is wrong because there's no deposit date yet

      Straight from the horse’s mouth, the IRS says this about that: 

      “When Where's My Refund? shows the tax return status is received it means that we have received the tax return and are processing it. Some returns may take longer to process than others and needs further review. This includes when a return:

      • Includes errors

      • Is incomplete

      • Is affected by identity theft or fraud

      • Includes a Form 8379, Injured Spouse Allocation, which could take up to 14 weeks to process”

      If the IRS needs more information to process a tax return, they will contact the taxpayer by mail, not phone or email.

      Something is wrong when the refund amount is less than expected

      There are instances when a taxpayer gets a refund that is smaller than what they think it should be. The IRS says that happens, but the agency has these reasons why:

      • Taxpayer math errors or mistakes

      • Owing federal or state taxes, child support, student loans, or other federal non-tax obligations

      • A portion of the refund is held while IRS reviews an item claimed on the return

      If and when this situation happens, the IRS will mail a letter explaining why adjustments were made. Some taxpayers may also receive a letter from the Department of Treasury's Bureau of the Fiscal Service if their refund was reduced to offset certain financial obligations. If you’re curious about what those “financial obligations” are, the Treasury has a complete rundown here.

      Now that most of America has gotten their July 15 tax deadline out of the way, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) wants to remind taxpayers that there is n...
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      T-Mobile unveils ‘Scam Shield’ robocall-blocking initiative

      The carrier is offering the service for free

      In an effort to curb unwanted robocalls, T-Mobile has announced that it will offer a free scam-blocking service to all T-Mobile, Metro, and Sprint customers. 

      The carrier said Thursday that it’s opting to offer the service for free, unlike rival Verizon, which charges many customers $7.99 per month for the service. 

      "People are being robbed. People are being scammed," CEO Mike Sievert said on a call with reporters. "This industry shouldn’t be profiting from this phenomenon.” 

      T-Mobile’s scam-blocking services are now part of a program called Scam Shield. The service includes free caller ID and call blocking, free enhanced caller ID (which lets people know when an incoming call is “verified”), and a free second “proxy” number to prevent scam calls from coming to personal phone lines. Customers can also change their number if they are getting too many spam calls.

      Scam Shield is the first initiative to be taken by T-Mobile since it merged with smaller rival Sprint. 

      “Now that Sprint is a part of T-Mobile, we can take on even bigger problems, so today, we’re taking on one of the biggest pain points in wireless — scams and unwanted robocalls,” Sievert said in a press release Thursday. 

      He added that the COVID-19 pandemic has only increased the number of scam calls consumers are receiving. 

      “Scam Shield has never been more needed than it is right now. Scammers see COVID-19 as an opportunity to take advantage of Americans at their most vulnerable. When we saw that happening, we knew we had to take bold, swift action. With Scam Shield, T-Mobile customers get fewer scam calls, period … and it’s all because of our advanced network.”

      In an effort to curb unwanted robocalls, T-Mobile has announced that it will offer a free scam-blocking service to all T-Mobile, Metro, and Sprint customer...
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      Gas prices are slightly higher as more states reopen

      Fuel supplies are tightening, putting pressure on prices at the pump

      As more states try to get back to normal after a coronavirus (COVID-19) shutdown, consumers are driving more miles. In the last week, prices rose slightly in nearly every state.

      The AAA Fuel Gauge Survey puts the national average price of regular gasat $2.20 a gallon, about a penny more than last week but much lower than mid-July 2019. The average price of premium gas is $2.80 a gallon, one cent more than last Friday. The average price of diesel fuel is $2.43 a gallon, the same as a week ago.

      Motorists are driving a little more, and refineries are cutting back on supplies. The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported at mid-week that gasoline stockpiles fell by more than 3 million barrels in the previous week. But compared to this time a year ago, supplies are up nearly 7 percent.

      Jeanette Casselano, a spokesperson for AAA, says supply and demand appear to be in a state of flux, especially since some states, such as California, are in the midst of reclosing parts of its economy. 

      “The Energy Information Administration’s data shows gasoline demand and supply continue on a roller coaster ride,” Casselano said. “As motorists react to unfolding COVID-19 information, we are seeing driving behaviors related to filling-up ebb and flow.”

      As a result, gasoline prices, though slowly rising, have been stable over the last few weeks, with Indiana, Michigan, and Delaware among the states experiencing the largest increase in price at the pump this week.

      The states with the most expensive gas

      These states currently have the highest prices for regular gas, according to the AAA Fuel Gauge Survey:

      • Hawaii ($3.23)

      • California ($3.13)

      • Washington ($2.79)

      • Nevada ($2.64)

      • Oregon ($2.65) 

      • Alaska ($2.52)

      • Colorado ($2.47)

      • Pennsylvania ($2.44)

      • Illinois ($2.39)

      • Idaho ($2.34)

      The states with the cheapest regular gas

      The survey found these states currently have the lowest prices for regular gas:

      • Mississippi ($1.84)

      • Louisiana ($1.87)

      • Arkansas ($1.90)

      • Texas ($1.92)

      • Alabama ($1.90)

      • Missouri ($1.93)

      • Oklahoma ($1.91)

      • South Carolina ($1.94)

      • Tennessee ($1.94)

      • Kansas ($1.98)

      As more states try to get back to normal after a coronavirus (COVID-19) shutdown, consumers are driving more miles. In the last week, prices rose slightly...
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      DaVinci issues second recall of bassinets

      The mattress support can become disengaged

      DaVinci of Pico Rivera, Calif., is recalling about 3,300 DaVinci Bailey bassinets sold in the U.S. and Canada originally recalled in December 2019.

      The bassinet’s mattress support can become disengaged, posing fall and entrapment hazards to babies.

      The firm has received 13 reports of the mattress support becoming disengaged. No injuries have been reported.

      This recall involves wooden DaVinci Bailey Bassinets for infants sold in gray (M0934G), espresso (M0934E), natural (M0934N) and white (M0934W). The model number “0934” is printed on a white label attached to the mattress support board and on the external product package.

      The assembled bassinets measure 38 inches long by 20 inches wide by 30 inches high, and each weighs about 21 pounds. The bassinets were sold with a 1-inch waterproof cradle pad.

      “DaVinci” is printed on the product packaging, instruction manual and product registration card.

      The bassinets, manufactured in Taiwan, were sold online at Amazon.com, buybuybaby.com, Target.com jcpenney.com and other online retailers from August 2018, through September 2019, for about $110.

      What to do

      Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled bassinets and contact DaVinci for a free repair kit that will reinforce the mattress support. In the meantime, parents should find an alternate, safe sleeping environment for the child, such as a crib that meets current safety standards. DaVinci is contacting all known purchasers directly.

      Consumers may contact DaVinci toll-free at (833) 932-0208 Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (PT), by email at bailey@milliondollarbaby.zendesk.com or online at www.davincibaby.com/baileyrepair or www.davincibaby.com and click on “Recalls” under the Help tab at the bottom of the page for more information.

      DaVinci of Pico Rivera, Calif., is recalling about 3,300 DaVinci Bailey bassinets sold in the U.S. and Canada originally recalled in December 2019. The ...
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      Coronavirus update: No mandatory masks in Georgia, Disney’s reopening draws fire

      COVID-19’s economic toll keeps growing

      Coronavirus (COVID-19) tally as compiled by Johns Hopkins University. (Previous numbers in parentheses.)

      Total U.S. confirmed cases: 3,499,771 (3,454,190)

      Total U.S. deaths: 137,420 (136,807)

      Total global cases: 13,589,273 (13,391,024)

      Total global deaths: 584,990 (580,038)

      Georgia governor overturns local mask orders

      Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp has moved to overturn mandatory mask orders imposed by some local jurisdictions in the state. He signed the executive order as new cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19) have continued to mount.

      Kemp’s order, which “strongly encourages” wearing masks in public, argued that mandatory mask orders are unlawful. However, the governor’s order extends social distancing requirements statewide.

      Elected officials in cities and counties that enacted mask mandates did not take kindly to the governor’s order, with many expressing outrage.

      Abigail Disney questions company’s theme park reopening

      Abigail Disney, the granddaughter of Disney Company co-founder Roy Disney, has stepped up her criticism of the company that bears her name. In an interview with CNBC, she questioned Disney’s reopening of its Florida theme parks at a time when cases of the coronavirus have spiked in the state.

      “I’m confused about how they think they can possibly protect their guests and their employees,” Disney told the network.

      The Disney Company began Disney’s phased reopening of its Florida theme parks over the weekend after implementing safety protocols such as a mandatory mask policy and temperature screening. Capacity restrictions also were implemented. 

      Weekly jobless claims remain above 1 million

      In a sign that the coronavirus’ economic blow may be worse than expected, more Americans were added to the unemployment rolls last week. The Labor Department reports that initial claims for jobless benefits totaled 1.3 million in the previous week, the 17th straight week claims have been more than 1 million.

      In a note to investors, Michael Pearce, senior U.S. economist at Capital Economics, cited the numbers as “clear signs” of long-term damage to the economy. He said the unemployment rate will likely remain high.

      “Absent a vaccine, the need for ongoing physical distancing will prevent a full recovery,” he predicted.

      Johnson & Johnson ahead of schedule on a vaccine

      Johnson & Johnson, just one of the pharmaceutical companies working on a COVID-19 vaccine, said it hopes to begin late-stage clinical trials on its candidate in September, ahead of schedule.

      The company made the announcement during today’s earnings call, in which it reported a second-quarter decline of 9 percent. The company also does not expect to profit from any successful vaccine.

      “We are bringing together our best minds, our global footprint and our sophisticated supply chain technology to deliver on our commitment to provide the vaccine on a not-for-profit basis for emergency pandemic use, globally,” said CEO Alex Gorsky.

      Survey: employees generally satisfied with workplace reopenings

      After having employees work from home for several weeks, many businesses are reopening their doors to workers. A new survey by the American Staffing Association shows employees are generally satisfied with the process.

      Seventy-nine percent of those in the Harris Poll survey said they were satisfied with their employers' pandemic-related return-to-work plans, with men slightly more satisfied than women.

      Companies’ cleanliness protocols, remote work policies, communication, and COVID-19 benefits all drew at least an 80 percent approval rating from employees.. 

      Around the nation

      • Virginia: The Richmond School Board has voted to conduct all classes online for the first half of the school year. The board rejected a proposed hybrid plan that cities in other states have adopted or are considering.

      • Arizona: The Arizona Department of Health Services is bringing in 600 out-of-state nurses to help hospitals deal with the recent surge in coronavirus cases. “We’ve prioritized providing these staffing resources to fill critical resource gaps in hospitals and ensure they can continue to provide excellent care across the state,” said Health Services Director Dr. Cara Christ.

      • California: State officials say they will once again restrict COVID-19 tests to the most vulnerable population. California has experienced a shortage of tests as the number of new cases has set several single-day records.

      Coronavirus (COVID-19) tally as compiled by Johns Hopkins University. (Previous numbers in parentheses.)Total U.S. confirmed cases: 3,499,771 (3,454,19...
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      Toyota recalls model year 2018-2020 Tundras

      Front turn signal bulbs may not illuminate as brightly as intended

      Toyota is recalling about 183,000 model year 2018-2020 Tundra pickup trucks.

      The wire harness connected to the front turn signal bulbs was assembled incorrectly, causing them not to illuminate as brightly as intended.

      What to do

      Toyota will notify owners, and dealers will modify the wire harness connected to the front turn signal bulbs free of charge.

      The recall is expected to begin in mid-September 2020.

      Owners may contact Toyota customer service at (800) 331-4331

      Toyota is recalling about 183,000 model year 2018-2020 Tundra pickup trucks. The wire harness connected to the front turn signal bulbs was assembled inc...
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      Coronavirus update: Vaccine hopes surge, but new coronavirus cases also rise

      Chipotle is adding more drive-thru lanes

      Coronavirus (COVID-19) tally as compiled by Johns Hopkins University. (Previous numbers in parentheses.)

      Total U.S. confirmed cases: 3,454,190 (3,366,845)

      Total U.S. deaths: 136,807 (135,802)

      Total global cases: 13,391,024 (13,135,616)

      Total global deaths: 580,038 (573,869)

      Study raises vaccine hopes

      Moderna, one of the first biopharma firms to start work on a coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine, has reported what it says is a promising result from a small trial on healthy subjects.

      The company reports that the results showed mRNA-1273 “induced rapid and strong immune responses against SARS-CoV-2,” the clinical name for COVID-19. The study was led by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

      Some health experts see hope in the findings because the vaccine produced robust antibodies that were stronger than those normally produced in people with the virus. In an interview with Bloomberg News, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of NIAID, said the fact that the vaccine produced “neutralizing” antibodies is a big deal.

      U.S. sets another single-day record for new cases

      Another day, another record number of coronavirus cases. The tally kept by Johns Hopkins University shows there were 67,417 confirmed cases of the virus Tuesday, eclipsing the old record set last week.

      Nearly half the new cases were reported in just three states -- Texas, California, and Florida. President Trump says the pace has accelerated in recent weeks because of an increase in testing.

      Medical technicians reportedly processed 760,282 tests on Tuesday, the second-highest number of tests conducted in a single day.

      Chipotle pivots to more drive-thru lanes

      Starbucks can thank its lucky stars that it began adding drive-thru lanes to its stores a decade ago. When the coronavirus shut down restaurants, it was able to weather the economic shock.  Chipotle Mexican Grill is playing catch up.

      The popular Mexican food chain said it is adding more drive-thru locations to stores and plans to hire 10,000 more employees to handle the business from customers placing digital orders. 

      The company said it plans to add drive-thru windows at more than 60 percent of the stores it will open in the future, demonstrating how the pandemic may be permanently changing the restaurant business.

      Attention Walmart shoppers: mask up

      Walmart is the latest national retailer to require customers to wear face coverings while in its stores. The requirement to wear a mask will apply to all Walmart and Sam’s Club locations.

      For about 5,000 locations, the order is actually a moot point. Those locations are in jurisdictions where local or state governments have mandated the wearing of masks in public spaces.

      The new policy goes into effect on July 20.

      COVID-19 shook up the digital services landscape

      When Americans were ordered to stay home during March and April, they became increasingly reliant on their digital service providers. A new survey shows they also became much more intolerant when those services failed to deliver.

      The survey by Sunguard Availability Services found about 55 percent of consumers changed providers or reduced service levels due to technical issues experienced during stay-at-home orders. Nearly 75 percent said the pandemic was a wake-up call, emphasizing the critical nature of digital services.

      Specific digital services flourished during the shutdown, with prescription delivery rising 200 percent and the use of telehealth services rising 154 percent. Grocery delivery jumped 139 percent during the lockdown.

      Around the nation

      • New York: Gov. Andrew Cuomo has added four more states to the state’s travel advisory, requiring visitors from those states to self-quarantine for 14 days. Minnesota, New Mexico, Ohio, and Wisconsin were added to the list to control the spread of the virus. Delaware was removed from the list.

      • Kentucky: After keeping coronavirus cases in check for months, Kentucky has seen what appears to be an outbreak. Gov. Andy Beshear says nearly 4 percent of recent tests for the virus are coming back positive.

      • Texas: Doctors warn that hospitals in parts of the state are running out of drugs, hospital beds, and ventilators to treat the surging number of coronavirus patients. Cases of the new coronavirus have surged in Texas since Memorial Day weekend at the end of May, one month after Gov. Greg Abbott allowed a phased reopening of businesses.

      Coronavirus (COVID-19) tally as compiled by Johns Hopkins University. (Previous numbers in parentheses.)Total U.S. confirmed cases: 3,454,190 (3,366,84...
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      Our favorite summertime backyard toys for kids

      Get your kids outside this summer with these items

      Kids today have an abundance of entertainment options, but most of them involve staying indoors and staring at a screen. However, it’s vital all kids get a chance to go outside and get some exercise. To help draw your little ones outdoors, we’ve picked a few of our favorite items to keep them occupied.

      Splash pad

      This large splash pad will provide hours of fun for your kids and their friends. The water height is adjustable, and all you need is a hose.

      • 18-months and up
      • 100% money-back guarantee

      Buy on Amazon

      Tot slide

      This beginner slide for toddlers is an interactive way to start incorporating more playground activity into their day.

      • 3-feet long
      • Can be used inside or outside

      Buy on Amazon

      Outdoor sandbox

      This sandbox comes with built-in benches and a shade to keep your kids out of the sun while they play. Bring some water into the play area to make sandcastles!

      • ASTM and CPSIA certified
      • Waterproof canopy included

      Buy on Amazon

      Platform swing

      Hang this giant swing from a sturdy mount and watch the good times roll! Your kid can even fit a group of their friends on it and swing away. Pro tip: It could be a great pretend pirate ship!

      • 30-day money-back guarantee
      • Portable

      Buy on Amazon

      Cornhole game

      Introduce your kids to the classic game of cornhole with this small and portable board. You can also reverse the board for a fun game of tic-tac-toe!

      • Comes with 10 beanbags
      • Lightweight storage bag included

      Buy on Amazon

      Water blasters

      These easy-to-fill water blasters can be taken to the park, camping or the backyard for some major fun.

      • 6 water blasters included
      • 10.24-inches long

      Buy on Amazon

      A spinning water sprinkler

      Who didn’t love running and yelling through a water sprinkler as a kid? This cute turtle sprinkler will splash water around, and the giggles won’t stop!

      • Ages 3+
      • Water spray at all angles

      Buy on Amazon

      Waterslide

      Perfect for hosting a summer party or everyday use, this waterslide will keep kids active, outside and playing without a video game in sight.

      • Suitable for parents and children
      • 18-feet long

      Buy on Amazon

      Summer is the best time to get out and enjoy the outdoors. Enjoy these picks for keeping cool and active during the hot vacation months!

      Check out these great outdoor items to get your kids some fresh air....
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      Coronavirus update: California closes up, Miami is the new epicenter

      Having virus antibodies may only provide limited protection

      Coronavirus (COVID-19) tally as compiled by Johns Hopkins University. (Previous numbers in parentheses.)

      Total U.S. confirmed cases: 3,366,845 (3,323,432)

      Total U.S. deaths: 135,802 (135,272)

      Total global cases: 13,135,616 (12,970,605)

      Total global deaths: 573,869 (570,220)

      California shuts down again

      California Gov. Gavin Newson has rolled back the state’s reopening plans amid a month-long spike in new cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19). In essence, it’s a return to April, with houses of worship, gyms, and barbershops closing their doors again.

      The shutdown order has also closed bars in the state and limited restaurants to take-out and outdoor seating. In announcing the move, Newsom said it’s necessary to contain the virus.

      "We were able to suppress the spread of this virus, we were able to knock down the growth of this in the beginning," Newsom said as he announced the order. "We're going to do that again, there's no doubt in my mind."

      Miami is the new epicenter

      As coronavirus cases have spiked in Florida, Miami and Dade County are taking the brunt of it. Infectious disease expert Lilian Abbo, at a press conference with the mayor of Miami, compared the city to the Chinese city where the virus is believed to have originated.

      "What we were seeing in Wuhan -- six months ago, five months ago -- now we are there," she said.

      Miami now has more than 2,000 people hospitalized with the virus, with hundreds in intensive care units (ICU). The area has seen the largest surge in cases over the past two weeks.

      Antibodies may not provide lasting protection

      Scientists racing to find a vaccine for the coronavirus have assumed that antibodies from people who have recovered could provide protection against getting sick. They may, but researchers at Kings College in London now believe that protection may be limited.

      In a study of 90 subjects, the researchers found that the potency of antibodies in the blood, and the protection they provide, subsided over time. 

      Sixty percent of the subjects had what is considered a “potent” level of antibodies an average of 23 days after first developing symptoms. However, that dropped to 16.7 percent of those tested 65 days after the first signs of symptoms.

      Making a case for masks

      Wearing face masks in public places, mandated by an increasing number of states, has proved to be a contentious issue as the nation grapples with the coronavirus. But Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce.com, says if everyone in the nation would simply wear a mask for three weeks, the virus would no longer be a problem.

      “Masks are so important,” Benioff told CNBC. “If everyone in the United States wore a mask for 3 weeks — just 3 weeks — we would not have anymore coronavirus, because there would be no more spread, but people do not want to wear masks.”

      Wearing masks has increased in importance since scientists have determined that cases of the virus spread the most from absorbing aerosol droplets from an infected person and not from touching a contaminated surface.

      3M partners with MIT on new antigen test

      Scientists at 3M are partnering with researchers at MIT to develop a new antigen test for COVID-19. The test would be easy to produce at scale and would yield results quickly.

      Tests are especially needed in the southern and western states that have seen huge increases in the number of cases. Getting results quickly would also aid in preventing the spread of the disease.

      The test would detect viral antigens and deliver highly accurate results within minutes via a paper-based device. The test could be administered at the point-of-care and would not need to be sent to labs for testing.

      Around the nation

      • Massachusetts: As some states struggle with huge spikes in cases of the virus, Massachusetts appears to have things under control. On Monday, the moving three-day average of deaths and hospitalizations dropped to the lowest level in months.

      • Nevada: Nevada, one of the early states to reopen, is also one of the states tightening up again. The state has ordered bars in several jurisdictions, including Las Vegas, to close again as cases continue to mount.

      • Missouri: Getting a test to see if you have the coronavirus will cost nothing in Missouri. Gov. Mike Parson has signed a bill to pay the cost of being tested for COVID-19 if the test is ordered by a doctor.

      Coronavirus (COVID-19) tally as compiled by Johns Hopkins University. (Previous numbers in parentheses.)Total U.S. confirmed cases: 3,366,845 (3,323,43...
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      Coronavirus update: Scientists try to explain the summer spike, the school debate goes on

      State and local jurisdictions are getting tough on enforcement

      Coronavirus (COVID-19) tally as compiled by Johns Hopkins University. (Previous numbers in parentheses.)

      Total U.S. confirmed cases: 3,323,432 (3,131,953)

      Total U.S. deaths: 135,272 (133,420)

      Total global cases: 12,970,605 (12,323,502)

      Total global deaths: 570,220 (555,977)

      Scientists miscalculated how summer would affect the virus

      During the lockdown days of March and April, scientists all agreed that the coronavirus (COVID-19) would be less of a threat once summer rolled around. Instead, the pandemic has only gotten worse.

      In Florida on Sunday, there were more than 15,000 new cases reported, the most in any one day in any state. Scientists now say several factors could be responsible for the miscalculation.

      They say early models were based on a higher level of immunity in the population, which hasn’t materialized. They also say they expected warm weather to kill the virus on surfaces, but it turns out very few cases are caused by contaminated surfaces.

      No agreement on reopening schools

      This is normally the time for back-to-school planning and shopping, but as of now, the school year is one big question mark in many jurisdictions. At the national level, political and public health leaders can’t seem to get on the same page.

      The New York Times has published what it says is an internal memo from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that makes a case against sending children back to the classroom in the fall.

      The 69-page document warns that a full reopening of schools this fall -- including colleges and universities -- would carry the “highest risk” for the spread of the virus. The internal memo was reportedly produced to guide policymakers as they make decisions about how to handle the school year.

      Governments step up enforcement penalties

      They tried asking nicely, but that doesn’t seem to be working. So now some state and local jurisdictions are stepping up penalties for citizens who defy pandemic mitigation measures.

      A Calfornia county upped its fine for businesses that violate COVID-19 virus prevention orders to $10,000. Arizona suspended one gym’s liquor license for not closing as the governor ordered.

      Even individuals may face stiffer penalties. Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer says people who don’t wear masks in public in accordance with an order taking effect today will face a $500 fine.

      Two experimental vaccines get ‘fast track’ status

      The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has reportedly granted “fast track” status to two COVID-19 vaccines being jointly developed by Pfizer and Germany’s BioNTech. The companies announced the new designation in a joint statement.

      The vaccines, identified as BNT162b1 and BNT162b2, are said to have shown the most promise in tests so far as the companies have worked with various experimental medicines. 

      The companies say they hope to make up to 100 million doses by the end of 2020 if the trials produce the desired results and the vaccines receive FDA approval.

      Tensions grow between White House and Dr. Fauci

      Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), has been a key White House health adviser since the beginning of the pandemic. Lately, he’s been getting the cold shoulder from the White House.

      Fauci in recent weeks has expressed alarm at the spiking number of coronavirus cases and has called for increased mitigation measures, a stance at odds with President Trump’s push to reopen the economy.

      Over the weekend, the tension became public as a White House official issued a statement to CNN saying that "several White House officials are concerned about the number of times Dr. Fauci has been wrong on things." 

      Around the nation

      • Florida: Despite a record-setting outbreak of the coronavirus in the state, bar owners are pushing back against restrictions. Some Orlando bar owners have joined a lawsuit against Gov. Ron DeSantis over the state’s prohibition on alcohol sales during the pandemic.

      • California: While some “hot spot” states continue to see increases in new COVID-19 cases, California has seen cases level off and even decline. However, the state health department reports that the number of hospitalizations from the virus is still climbing.

      • Utah: Utah suffered its deadliest week of the pandemic last week. The Utah Health Department reported 629 new cases of the virus Sunday, along with three more deaths.

      Coronavirus (COVID-19) tally as compiled by Johns Hopkins University. (Previous numbers in parentheses.)Total U.S. confirmed cases: 3,323,432 (3,131,95...
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      Shipt workers plan walk-out protest for July 15

      Workers say the platform’s new pay model cuts their pay by at least 30 percent

      Shipt workers are planning to walk out on July 15 in protest of a controversial new pay model at the company. 

      Workers for the grocery delivery service say the new algorithm-based pay structure, internally dubbed “V2,” would shave at least 30 percent off their total pay. The new model replaces Shipt’s previous flat-fee model.

      “The company replaced our transparent, fairer pay with a shady algorithm. Workers saw their pay plummet,” a group of Shipt shoppers wrote in a Medium post. 

      “This seismic company shift is occurring at the same time that its shoppers — essential workers taking unprecedented risks during this pandemic — are already suffering significantly.” 

      Business is booming for Shipt

      The workers pointed out that Shipt, a service where customers pay a monthly fee in exchange for the ability to receive deliveries from grocery stores and retailers, is concurrently “experiencing obscene increases in its sales” amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

      “This isn’t a company that has to cut pay because its core business crashed. The company has intentionally over-hired, preying off the millions of displaced workers who were furloughed or laid off during a pandemic,” the Medium post continued. 

      “Shipt’s intention all along was to introduce the pay cut when it had more workers than it needed. That way it is still able to roll profitably forward even if a sizable percentage of Shipt’s existing workforce is forced to quit due to drastic cuts to our pay.” 

      Workers plan to walk out Wednesday, the day the new pay model launches in a dozen new markets. Shipt maintains that it's “committed to helping shoppers succeed” and is open to feedback on the new pay model. 

      “Our commitment to shoppers is stronger than ever, and any operational changes we make balance the interests of shoppers with the longer-term needs of the business,” Shipt said.

      Shipt workers are planning to walk out on July 15 in protest of a controversial new pay model at the company. Workers for the grocery delivery service...
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      Our favorite sunglass styles of 2020

      Looking for a great pair of sunglasses? We got you covered

      Summer fashion is different from the other seasons. In the fall or winter, you can wear a sweater or fun socks to bring your outfit together. In the summer, fashion relies on little touches like a great pair of sunglasses perched on your head. Take a look (pun intended) at our top styles for sunglasses this year to bring your summer style together.

      Oversized round sunglasses

      Oversized round glasses, especially tortoiseshell versions, bring a vintage look to any outfit. These men’s and women’s sunglasses are big and fresh and match most styles.

      • UV400 protection
      • 4 colors available

      Buy on Amazon

      Small and round sunglasses

      These sunglasses are the opposite of the larger-frame glasses. Their small round frames are highly reflective, very on-trend right now and look great for a fun day outdoors.

      • UV400 protection
      • 6 colors available

      Buy on Amazon

      Rimless sunglasses

      Rimless sunglasses continue to be popular for a reason! These glasses give a splash to any outfit - whether it’s for work or play.

      • Polarized
      • 29 colors or duo-packs available

      Buy on Amazon

      Classic sunglasses

      These classic-shaped sunglasses make a subtle statement without too much effort.

      • Polarized
      • 100% UV (UVA & UVB) protection

      Buy on Amazon

      Cat-eye white sunglasses

      Take white sunglasses to the next level with these ultra-fun cat-eye glasses. These shades bring a sassy and fun look for those summertime afternoon cocktail parties.

      • Nonpolarized
      • UV400 protection

      Buy on Amazon

      Green sunglasses

      These vintage sunglasses are fun! The transparent green frames bring freshness to any adventure; plus, they come with a cute case to tuck them away.

      • Polarized
      • UV400 protection
      • 30-day money-back guarantee

      Buy on Amazon

      Futuristic framed sunglasses

      These chunky glasses exude cool vibes. Pair them with pretty much anything for an extra-edgy look that goes with a European summertime style.

      • Nonpolarized
      • UV400 protection
      • 5 colors available

      Buy on Amazon

      Small and vintage

      These little sunglasses are slightly cat-eye and completely charming. The small frames will complement most face shapes and lend an air of sophistication.

      • Polarized
      • UV400 protection

      Buy on Amazon

      Polygon sunglasses

      A twist on the small round glasses, these polygon-edged frames will add some sass to your outfit.

      • Polarized
      • 9 colors available

      Buy on Amazon

      Flattop sunglasses

      Unconventionally cool, these flattop frames add just a hint of sporty to an oversized look.

      • Nonpolarized
      • 25 colors or duo packs available

      Buy on Amazon

      Classic Black

      Occasionally, you might want a style that sticks around through the years. These simple black frames are just plain timeless.

      • Polarized
      • 100% UV protection

      Buy on Amazon

      Round flower sunglasses

      These sunglasses have just the right touch of floral for this summer.

      • 100% UV protection
      • 3 colors available

      Buy on Amazon

      Sunglasses go with you everywhere during the summer, from work to the beach. Choose your favorites — the pair that makes you smile the most — because you’ll be seeing a lot of them in the next few months!

      The summer season is in full effect, so here are our favorite sunglass styles of 2020....
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      Coronavirus update: Another record number of cases, hopeful treatment news

      The effect on gas prices may be ending

      Coronavirus (COVID-19) tally as compiled by Johns Hopkins University. (Previous numbers in parentheses.)

      Total U.S. confirmed cases: 3,131,953 (3,067,780)

      Total U.S. deaths: 133,420 (132,498)

      Total global cases: 12,323,502 (12,093,782)

      Total global deaths: 555,977 (550,689)

      Another daily record number of cases

      The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic shows no sign of slowing down, setting one daily record after another. On Thursday, researchers at Johns Hopkins University counted 63,000 new cases, eclipsing the record of 60,000 cases set the day before.

      The total number of cases of the virus in the U.S. is more than 3.1 million, accounting for nearly 25 percent of the world’s cases. The country with the next largest number of cases is Brazil, with just over 1.7 million.

      In the U.S., the surge in cases has largely been limited to southern and western states. The latest victims have tended to be young people, whose symptoms are generally less severe. Some states, like Texas, have reclosed bars and nightclubs frequented by young people.

      Encouraging news about treatment drug

      Gilead Sciences has more news about its experimental antiviral drug remdesivir, and it’s encouraging. The drug company says the drug appears to reduce the risk of death in patients with the most severe symptoms of the virus.

      The company said use of the drug not only reduced the risk of death by 62 percent, but it is also associated with “significantly improved clinical recovery.” The conclusions are based on an analysis of 312 patients enrolled in a Phase 3 clinical trial.

      “While not as vigorous as a randomized controlled trial, this analysis importantly draws from a real world setting and serves as an important adjunct to clinical trial data,” said Dr. Susan Olender of Columbia University Irving Medical Center.

      Pandemic’s effect on fuel prices may be ending

      One silver lining to the pandemic has been extremely low gasoline prices throughout the spring, but that bonus may be ending, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). It reports that oil demand was sharply lower in the first half of 2020 because of the economic shutdown associated with the coronavirus.

      Going forward, the IEA said demand will still be lower, but the decrease should be about half of what it was in the first half of the year. It notes that the industry has already started to recover.

      Consumers, meanwhile, continue to enjoy gasoline prices about 60 cents a gallon cheaper than at this time last year. AAA reported Friday that the national average price of regular gasoline is $2.19 a gallon, just two cents more than a week ago.

      Researchers hope antibody treatment can be done outpatient

      Texas researchers say they are investigating whether plasma from COVID-19 survivors can be used in outpatient settings to prevent the onset and progression of the virus. Currently, the treatment is administered to hospital patients, in many cases those in intensive care units (ICU).

      Two clinical trials are underway at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth). The tests will determine whether convalescent plasma can prevent infection or severity of disease in outpatients, including health care workers who have had a high-risk exposure to COVID-19.

      Some health experts believe the combination of blood plasma antibody treatments and remdesivir could serve as a bridge until a safe and effective vaccine against COVID-19 is approved.

      Gottlieb: ‘We’re not counting nearly all the cases’

      Former Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb has long suggested that the U.S. has a lot more COVID-19 cases than are being counted. In an appearance on CNBC this morning, Gottlieb suggested one in 150 people in the U.S. have been infected.

      “We must have well over 700,000 infections a day, even though we’re only diagnosing about 60,000,” Gottlieb said.

      The former FDA commissioner said the U.S. should have had a national policy to contain the virus, suggesting early reopenings in some states are now posing threats to states where aggressive action was taken. 

      Around the nation

      • New York: The pandemic has already had an effect on New York City’s rental market. According to industry sources, rents are falling because tenants are leaving the city in droves. The city’s apartment vacancy rate in June was double that of June 2019.

      • Michigan: New outbreaks of the coronavirus are not just happening in the South and West. Michigan’s top medical official says that the state is seeing an alarming rise in cases. “So right now, the data is not looking so good,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun.

      • Virginia: Doctors addressing a Richmond School Board meeting said reopening schools probably would not contribute to a spike in coronavirus cases. Dr. Danny Avula, the Director for Richmond and Henrico County health districts, gave a virtual presentation suggesting that schools are not a significant source of community transmission.

      Coronavirus (COVID-19) tally as compiled by Johns Hopkins University. (Previous numbers in parentheses.)Total U.S. confirmed cases: 3,131,953 (3,067,78...
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      Google to ban ads for ‘stalkerware’

      The search giant will no longer allow ads for tools or software designed to track people without their knowledge

      Google has announced that it will ban advertisements for products or services that secretly track or monitor people. 

      In an update to its “Enabling Dishonest Behavior” policy, Google said the changes will apply to spyware and technology used for “intimate partner surveillance,” including tech used to monitor texts, phone calls, or browsing history. 

      The update will also apply to GPS devices touted as tools for spying on someone without their knowledge, as well as surveillance equipment such as cameras, audio recorders, dash cams, and nanny cams. 

      “We constantly evaluate and update our ad policies to ensure we are protecting users,” a Google spokesperson said in a statement. “We routinely update our language with examples to help clarify what we consider policy violating. Spyware technology for partner surveillance was always in scope of our policies against dishonest behavior.” 

      The ad policy change will go into effect globally on August 11. 

      “Stalkerware” use on the rise during lockdown

      COVID-19 lockdowns have led to a rise in the use of GPS trackers and surveillance software marketed with the sole purpose of spying.

      Earlier this week, cybersecurity software firm Avast reported that there was a 51 percent increase in the use of spyware and stalkerware from March through June when compared to the period between January and February. 

      “Stalkerware is unethical software that allows people to track someone's location, access their personal photos and videos, intercept emails, texts and app communications such as WhatsApp and Facebook, as well as eavesdrop on phone calls and make covert recordings of conversations over the internet, without the target's knowledge or consent,” the company said. 

      In 2018, a group of researchers discovered tens of thousands of ads in the Google ecosystem that promoted software designed to monitor an intimate partner without their consent. 

      The ads discovered included: “How to catch a cheating spouse with his cell phone” and “Track My Wife’s Phone — Want to Spy on your Wife? Track your Wife without her knowing. Discover Who Are They messaging. Download! 24-Hour Support Price Superiority No Jailbreaking and App Results Guaranteed.”

      Google said its ad policies already prohibit ads for products and services that enable users to gain unauthorized access to systems, devices, or property. The update now loops in spyware and surveillance technology designed to provide unauthorized access to intimate partners’ devices.

      Google has announced that it will ban advertisements for products or services that secretly track or monitor people. In an update to its “Enabling Dish...
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      Misinformation about COVID-19 likely spreads because of consumers' urge to share

      Researchers say social media is the main source of this sharing

      Misinformation was circulating around the internet well before the COVID-19 pandemic; however, since the start of the pandemic, popular sites like Facebook and YouTube have been in the news for contributing to the spread of misinformation about the virus. 

      Now, a new study conducted by researchers from MIT shows that it’s consumers’ natural inclination to share things on social media that is a big factor in the spread of misinformation. 

      “There is just something more systemic and fundamental about the social media context that distracts people from accuracy,” said researcher David Rand. “I think part of it is that you’re getting this instantaneous social feedback all the time. Every time you post something, you immediately get to see how many people liked it. And that really focuses your attention on: How many people are going to like it? Which is different from: How true is this?” 

      Thinking critically about social media posts

      The researchers conducted two online experiments to understand how false COVID-19 information is spread on social media. In the first study, over 850 participants were split into two groups and shown 30 Facebook-style news posts related to COVID-19; half of the posts contained misinformation while the other half were pieces of factual news content. 

      The researchers wanted to gauge two measures with this study. First, they wanted to see which of the stories were the participants more inclined to share to their own personal social media feeds. Secondly, they wanted to know whether the participants could identify which news stories were accurate. 

      When it came to sharing stories, the participants were split pretty evenly between sharing the stories that were true and ones that were fabricated. However, the group who had to determine the accuracy of the posts did so correctly nearly 70 percent of the time. 

      The second study took things a step further. Another 850 participants were shown the same headlines as the first group. The main difference is this study was that participants looking for accuracy first looked at a news headline unrelated to COVID-19 and then were asked to identify the true or false pandemic-related stories. 

      Taking this extra step, considering a non-COVID headline and being pressed to discern factual information, turned out to be an effective practice; the group outperformed those in the first study who were asked to perform the same task. 

      “The idea is, if you nudge them about accuracy at the outset, people are more likely to be thinking about the concept of accuracy when they later choose what to share,” Rand said. “So then they take accuracy into account more when they make their sharing decisions.” 

      Social media distraction 

      Rand and his team think these patterns have emerged with COVID-19 misinformation for two main reasons: social media lends itself to fast news and easy shares, and consumers already have a heightened sense of anxiety around the pandemic. 

      “A lot of people have a very cynical take on social media and our moment in history, that we’re post-truth and no one cares about the truth anymore,” said researcher Gordon Pennycook. “Our evidence suggests it’s not that people don’t care; it’s that they’re more distracted.” 

      Misinformation was circulating around the internet well before the COVID-19 pandemic; however, since the start of the pandemic, popular sites like Facebook...
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      Gas price rise stalls as coronavirus cases spike

      Demand dipped as many people reconsidered travel plans

      The recent steady rise in gasoline prices appeared to stall this week as a number of states reported a surge in coronavirus (COVID-19) cases.

      The AAA Fuel Gauge Survey shows the price of regular gas is $2.19 a gallon, two cents more than last week. The average price of premium gas is $2.79 a gallon, just a penny more than last Friday. The average price of diesel fuel remains nearly the same as last week -- $2.44 a gallon.

      In spite of last weekend’s Independence Day holiday, gasoline demand remained tepid over the last few days. Analysts suggest that the sharp rise of cases in Arizona, California, Texas, and Florida may have caused many people to reconsider holiday outings.

      “Independence Day weekend gas prices were nearly 60 cents cheaper than last year and on top of that, they were the most inexpensive prices seen for the holiday since 2004,” said Jeanette Casselano, AAA’s spokesperson.

      Most states reported stable prices at the pump over the last week. In areas where prices did rise, it wasn’t always a matter of supply and demand. Several states increased their gasoline tax effective July 1, including California, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Nebraska, South Carolina and Maryland.

      The states with the most expensive gas

      These states currently have the highest prices for regular gas, according to the AAA Fuel Gauge Survey:

      • Hawaii ($3.23)

      • California ($3.10)

      • Washington ($2.75)

      • Nevada ($2.63)

      • Oregon ($2.62) 

      • Alaska ($2.51)

      • Colorado ($2.47)

      • Pennsylvania ($2.44)

      • Illinois ($2.40)

      • Idaho ($2.34)

      The states with the cheapest regular gas

      The survey found these states currently have the lowest prices for regular gas:

      • Mississippi ($1.83)

      • Louisiana ($1.85)

      • Arkansas ($1.88)

      • Texas ($1.88)

      • Alabama ($1.89)

      • Missouri ($1.89)

      • Oklahoma ($1.90)

      • South Carolina ($1.92)

      • Tennessee ($1.94)

      • Virginia ($1.98)

      The recent steady rise in gasoline prices appeared to stall this week as a number of states reported a surge in coronavirus (COVID-19) cases.The AAA Fu...
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      Polaris recalls Ranger and General UTVs

      The throttle can fail to return to the idle position after the engine stalls

      Polaris Industries of Medina, Minn., is recalling about 28,000 model year 2019 - 2020 Ranger XP 1000 & model year 2020 General XP 1000 Utility Vehicles (UTVs) in the U.S., and Canada.

      The throttle can fail to return to the idle position after the engine stalls and is restarted in gear without switching the key to the off position due to a software problem, causing the vehicle to accelerate suddenly, posing a crash hazard to the user.

      No incidents or injuries are reported.

      This recall involves model year 2019 Polaris Ranger XP 1000 EPS, Ranger CREW XP 1000, and model year 2020 Polaris Ranger XP 1000, Ranger CREW XP 1000, General XP 1000 Deluxe and General XP 4 1000 Deluxe.

      The vehicles were sold in gray, blue, white, red, green camo, orange, sand and maroon, and have two or four seats.

      “POLARIS” is stamped on the front grille and “Ranger” or “General” is printed on the sides of the rear cargo area. Vehicle identification numbers (VIN) included in this recall can be found stamped into the left rear vehicle frame below the cargo box.

      The following model names are included in this recall:

      YEAR

      MODEL NAME

      2019

      RANGER XP 1000 EPS 

      RANGER CREW XP 1000

      2020

      RANGER XP 1000

      RANGER CREW XP 1000

      GENERAL XP 1000 DELUXE 

      GENERAL XP 4 1000 DELUXE


      The UTVs, manufactured in the U.S., Mexico and Poland, were sold at Polaris dealers nationwide from June 2018, through March 2020, for between $15,890 and $29,000.

      What to do

      Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled vehicles and contact a Polaris dealer to schedule a free inspection and repair. Polaris is notifying dealers and contacting registered owners directly.

      Consumers may contact Polaris at (800) 765-2747 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. (CT) Monday through Friday or online at www.polaris.com and click on “Off Road Safety Recalls” at the bottom of the page for more information.

      Polaris Industries of Medina, Minn., is recalling about 28,000 model year 2019 - 2020 Ranger XP 1000 & model year 2020 General XP 1000 Utility Vehicles (UT...
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      Coronavirus update: Officials say some states may shut down again, CDC pushes back against the White House

      More workers are losing their jobs

      Coronavirus (COVID-19) tally as compiled by Johns Hopkins University. (Previous numbers in parentheses.)

      Total U.S. confirmed cases: 3,067,780 (3,009,611)

      Total U.S. deaths: 132,498 (131,594)

      Total global cases: 12,093,782 (11,884,799)

      Total global deaths: 550,689 (545,398)

      Fauci: some states should shut down again

      White House health adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci, increasingly worried about the huge spike in coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in some southern and western states, says those states should consider shutting down again, ordering businesses to close and people to shelter in place.

      Interviewed on a Wall Street Journal podcast, Fauci said it is alarming that the country has gone from 20,000 new cases a day to 60,000 on Wednesday.

      “If you continue doubling, two times 50 is 100,” Fauci said. “Any state that is having a serious problem, that state should seriously look at shutting down. It’s not for me to say because each state is different.”

      CDC won’t loosen school reopening guidelines

      The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is standing up to the White House, saying it won’t soften guidelines for school districts planning to reopen schools in the fall. President Trump this week called the guidelines too restrictive and ordered the agency to revise them.

      CDC Director Robert Redfield told Good Morning America today that the agency will soon issue additional guidelines but will not change its original recommendations that the White House found too tough.

      “It’s not a revision of the guidelines, it’s just to provide additional information to help schools be able to use the guidance that we put forward,” Redfield said.

      Unemployment rolls continue to grow

      More Americans continue to lose their jobs as a result of the pandemic. The Labor Department reports new claims for unemployment benefits increased by 1.3 million last week. While it was a smaller number than the weeks before, it still means layoffs are continuing at a rapid pace.

      On the bright side, the number of people receiving payments fell to the lowest level since mid-April. New claims peaked in mid-March at 6.9 million.

      Disney World will reopen Saturday

      Even though Florida is suffering a huge spike in cases of the virus, Disney says it will reopen Disney World in Orlando on Saturday after a nearly four-month shutdown. 

      The company says its Walt Disney World theme parks are reopening with “a deliberate, responsible approach drawing on experience from Shanghai Disney Resort, Hong Kong Disneyland and Disney Springs.”

      Disney describes its plan as a phased reopening with a significant reduction in capacity. Beginning Saturday, the company will open Magic Kingdom Park and Disney's Animal Kingdom Theme Park. EPCOT and Disney's Hollywood Studios will follow July 15.

      Testing delays return

      It was difficult to be tested for the coronavirus in the early days of the pandemic, and it was nearly impossible to get the results back in a timely manner. It’s easier to get a test now, but because more people are being tested, health officials say the delay in getting the results has returned.

      Health experts, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, say the delays are complicating efforts to trace the source of infections. In some cases, test results take as long as seven days.

       “You might as well not do contact tracing because it’s already too late,” Fauci told The Wall Street Journal.

      Around the nation

      • South Carolina: State officials are using social media to persuade residents to wear masks in public in response to a significant surge in cases. "The coronavirus and the disease it causes, COVID-19, can only be stopped by you taking personal health and safety precautions for yourself and those around you," the state’s emergency management agency said in a post.

      • Pennsylvania: Allegheny County has extended its current emergency order by another two weeks. The order bans indoor dining and drinking at bars and restaurants but allows outdoor dining until 11 pm.

      • Louisiana: Gov. John Bel Edwards is warning state residents that Louisiana “is going in the wrong direction” on the coronavirus. Noting the recent spike in cases throughout the state, Edwards singled out bars and restaurants as hotspots for the spread of the virus.

      Coronavirus (COVID-19) tally as compiled by Johns Hopkins University. (Previous numbers in parentheses.)Total U.S. confirmed cases: 3,067,780 (3,009,61...
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      Child seat tether issue prompts BMW recall

      The rear middle seat child seat tether anchor may be inaccessible

      BMW of North America is recalling 16 model year 2020-2021 740Li, 740 Li xDrive, 750Li xDrive, M760Li xDrive, and Alpina B7 vehicles.

      The top child seat tether anchor on the rear middle seat may not be readily accessible.

      A child restraint system placed on the vehicle's rear middle seat without utilizing the three-point safety belt, could increase the risk of injury in a crash.

      What to do

      BMW will notify owners, and dealers will install a top tether anchor cover at the rear middle seating position.

      This recall is expected to begin August 24, 2020.

      Until these vehicles are remedied, owners should utilize the outboard rear seating positions which are equipped with an accessible top tether anchor, or, the middle rear seating position and the vehicle's three-point safety belt.

      Owners may contact BMW customer service at (800) 525-7417.

      BMW of North America is recalling 16 model year 2020-2021 740Li, 740 Li xDrive, 750Li xDrive, M760Li xDrive, and Alpina B7 vehicles. The top child seat ...
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      Garland Ventures recalls Five Cheese Stuffed Shells

      The product may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes

      Garland Ventures of Garland, Texas, is recalling 1095 cases of Five Cheese Stuffed Shells trays.

      The product may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

      No illnesses have been reported to date.

      The recalled product, comes in 10.76 ounces containing shells with marinara sauce, mozzarella cheese and parsley, and packed in a comes in 10.76-oz. aluminum foil container with a clear lid marked lot# F080SS/F090SS on the bottom of label.

      It was sold in a limited number of retail stores nationwide.

      What to do

      Customers who purchased the recalled product should return it to the place of purchase for full refund.

      Consumers with questions may contact Bob Cocat anytime at (972) 795-5313.

      Garland Ventures of Garland, Texas, is recalling 1095 cases of Five Cheese Stuffed Shells trays. The product may be contaminated with Listeria monocytog...
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      Best practices for summer grass care

      We ask an expert how to treat the most common types of grass

      The following companies participate in our Authorized Partner Program: TruGreen

      The summer heat can be detrimental to your lawn, especially the grass. We asked Brian Feldman, who has a degree in plant science and directs technical operations at TruGreen, to break down how to keep the common types of grasses green.

      Tall fescue

      Tall fescue is a robust species of grass that thrives in many environments. It’s resistant to drought and has the best heat tolerance of the northern grasses. These grasses have a medium-fine texture, very prominent veins on the leaf blades and a pinkish color at the stems.

      • Popular areas: Mid-Atlantic, parts of the Northeast and Midwest, Central Plains and Southeast

      Recommended treatments: Tall fescue grass should be mowed as high as possible, roughly three to four inches. Try to mow about once per week, or less often if you live in an area affected by drought. It’s best to water in the mornings three or four times per week (not every day). Usually, there’s no need to fertilize or apply weed control treatments in the summer.

      Kentucky bluegrass

      Kentucky bluegrass has a good tolerance for traffic and cold but poor shade tolerance. Under the right conditions, it can grow lush and vibrant. These grasses have a boat-shaped tip, a prominent midvein and medium texture.

      • Popular areas: Northeast, Midwest, Plains, Upper Midwest, Pacific Northwest and Mountain region

      Recommended treatments: Since Kentucky bluegrass has a relatively shallow root system, it’s essential to keep it watered during dry spells. During the summer, it should be mowed at 2.5 to 3.5 inches. Keep an eye out for white grubs and sod webworms — insecticides may be required.

      Perennial ryegrass

      Perennial ryegrass is known for its fast germination and annual regrowth. It has excellent traffic tolerance but the least heat and drought tolerance of northern grasses. These grasses have prominent midveins, glossy leaf surfaces and reddish coloring at the base of the stems.

      • Popular areas: Northeast, Midwest, Plains, Upper Midwest, Pacific Northwest and Mountain region

      Recommended treatments: Perennial ryegrass requires medium levels of water, so you need to water two or three times weekly during the summer. It should be mowed at 2.5 to 3.5 inches once or twice each week. Ryegrass is prone to thatch development, which can be remedied with annual aeration.

      Zoysia grass

      Zoysia grass is a popular grass in warmer climates because it’s known to do well against heat. It has a medium to fine texture and no prominent midvein on the leaf surface.

      • Popular areas: Zoysia grass is common throughout the U.S. but most prominent in the Southeast

      Recommended treatments: It’s smart to water Zoysia grass an inch or so each week. It should be mowed at one to 2.5 inches. Applications to treat crabgrass, sand spurs and other weeds are sometimes necessary during the summer. Depending on the type of soil where you live, aerification might also benefit your yard.

      St. Augustine grass

      St. Augustine tends to do very well in southern states, especially around the gulf, because it thrives in heat and humidity. This grass has the best shade tolerance of the southern grasses. However, it’s also the most susceptible to insects and diseases and has poor cold resilience. It has a coarse texture and a prominent midvein.

      • Popular areas: Florida, Texas and parts of California

      Recommended treatments: St. Augustine grass will likely require fertilizer and insecticides during the summer to treat chinch bugs and patches. Bluish patches mean the grass is too dry — try irrigating with about an inch of water. Yellow spots typically indicate a nutrient deficiency that can be cleared up with potassium and nitrogen applications. Like tall fescue grass, it should be mowed as high as three to four inches.

      Bermuda grass

      Bermuda grass handles heat, humidity and high traffic very well. These grasses are known for efficient water usage, good drought tolerance and poor shade tolerance. It has a fine texture and no prominent midvein on the leaf surface.

      • Popular areas: Southeast, Florida, South Central and Southern California

      Recommended treatments: Bermuda grasses benefit from summer fertilizer applications. It should be mowed at one to 2.5 inches — try to mow often enough that each time you cut less than one-third of the blade. You can water Bermuda grass up to four times each week but should only use about half an inch of water at a time.

      Taking care of your lawn is a critical step to beautifying your house, and we hope Brian Feldman at TruGreen was able to guide you in the right direction. For more information about caring for your lawn, check out our guides on lawn care services and garden equipment.

      Expert summer grass advice...
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      7 tax tips in the era of COVID-19

      Handle tax debt and take advantage of tax credits in 2020

      The IRS is back at work and sending notifications as the July 15 tax deadline quickly approaches. Due to the economic impact of COVID-19, more people are looking for tax relief than ever before. If you need some advice on paying taxes this year, here are some tips that can help.

      1. File by July 15 or ask for an October extension

      Good for: Anyone filing a tax return

      This spring, the federal government announced it extended the usual April 15 tax deadline to July 15. Most states have also allowed for delays for payments and filing, but it’s smart to check your state’s website. If you want help filling out your taxes, consider using tax filing software.

      Like any other year, you can apply for an October extension to file your taxes. However, this doesn’t extend the deadline for paying taxes, so only use it if you need more time to file. The IRS website has more information on filing extensions with the right forms.

      If you know you can’t make these deadlines for payment, look into tax relief services. Professional tax relief experts have experience negotiating with the IRS and can help you deal with unpaid taxes and make payment plans.

      2. Borrow cash from your IRA

      Good for: People with an IRA

      Usually, withdrawing money from an IRA before the age of 59½ comes with a hefty penalty (this rule encourages individuals to save up for retirement). However, the IRS has temporarily changed this rule.

      You can now withdraw up to $100,000 from an IRA account without penalty. If repaid within three years (i.e., recontribute the withdrawn amount back into the account), there are no tax consequences. This penalty-free withdrawal option is currently in effect through the rest of 2020.

      3. Apply for the Earned Income Tax Credit

      Good for: Working people with lower incomes

      If you have a moderate or low income, you might qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit. This credit can help you pay less in taxes, but certain restrictions apply. Visit the IRS website to learn more and see if you qualify for EITC.

      4. Apply for the child tax credit benefits

      Good for: Taxpayers with at least one child claimed as a dependent

      With child tax credit benefits, taxpayers can receive up to $2,000 per qualifying child. The credit applies to a wide variety of incomes, so almost all households qualify. Visit the IRS website to find out if your child or dependent qualifies.

      5. Apply for the Child and Dependent Care Credit

      Good for: Those with a child under 13 or a spouse incapable of self-care

      The Child and Dependent Care Credit covers up to 35% of the expenses needed to provide for a child or an adult incapable of self-care. The total costs used to calculate the credit can be up to $3,000 per person or $6,000 for two or more. You can find out if you’re eligible to claim this credit on the IRS website.

      6. Follow up on your stimulus check

      Good for: Consumers who haven’t received a stimulus check yet

      Congress passed the CARES Act to provide financial assistance through stimulus checks, but some people have not yet received the funds. Here are some possible reasons why your stimulus check is missing:

      • You aren’t eligible: Check to make sure you’re eligible for stimulus payments.
      • Invalid banking information: The IRS is using information from 2018 or 2019 tax returns for payments. If the information is incorrect, the IRS should send a check in the mail instead, but this could cause a delay.
      • You didn’t file in 2018 or 2019: If you didn’t file previously but are still eligible for a stimulus check, consult the IRS page on nonfilers to see what to do next.

      The IRS website has more useful information on stimulus checks, including an online tracker.

      7. Work with a tax relief company

      Good for: Those with tax debt more than $10,000

      If you already have tax debt and are worried about not being able to pay your taxes, consider working with a tax relief company. Common tax relief options include:

      • Offer-in-compromise: This program decreases your tax liability, so you pay less.
      • Installment agreement: Under this program, you pay off your tax debt monthly.
      • Penalty abatement: This administrative waiver is for those with outstanding failure-to-file, failure-to-pay and failure-to-deposit penalties.

      To learn more about tax relief, read the ConsumerAffairs Tax Relief Guide, or get matched with our Authorized Partner quiz.

      7 tax tips for 2020...
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      Smucker recalls canned cat food

      The product may contain elevated levels of choline chloride

      The J. M. Smucker Company is recalling one lot of Natural Balance Ultra Premium Chicken & Liver Paté Formula canned cat food.

      Health concerns likely associated with elevated levels of choline chloride have been raised.

      The company has received reports of adverse reactions.

      The following product, most commonly sold in pet specialty retailers and online throughout the U.S., and Canada, are being recalled:

      Product NameRetail UPC CodeLot CodeBest If Used By Date
      Natural Balance® Ultra Premium Chicken & Liver Paté Formula canned cat food
      5.5 oz can
      2363353227921780308 04 2021

      What to do

      Customers who purchased the recalled product should stop feeding it to their cats and dispose of it.

      Consumers with questions or who want to report adverse reactions may contact the company at (888) 569-6828, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. (ET), or by email at info@naturalbalanceinc.com.

      The J. M. Smucker Company is recalling one lot of Natural Balance Ultra Premium Chicken & Liver Paté Formula canned cat food. Health concerns likely ass...
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      Coronavirus update: Feds bankrolling speedy drug development, vaccine might require a booster

      The FDA has approved another antigen test

      Coronavirus (COVID-19) tally as compiled by Johns Hopkins University. (Previous numbers in parentheses.)

      Total U.S. confirmed cases: 2,948,397 (2,897,613)

      Total U.S. deaths: 130,430 (130,007)

      Total global cases: 11,662,574 (11,495,412)

      Total global deaths: 539,058 (535,185)

      Feds increase funding for drug development

      The U.S. government has opened its checkbook to support pharmaceutical companies working on coronavirus (COVID-19) treatments and vaccines, in hopes of reducing the time it will take to get them to market.

      Novavax has received $1.6 billion from the government as part of “Operation Warp Speed,” a program created to accelerate drug development. Novavax currently has a vaccine candidate in late-stage clinical trials. 

      Under that same program, Regeneron has signed a $450 million contract with the government to ramp up production of its double-antibody cocktail designed to treat or prevent COVID-19. As we reported here yesterday, the drug is in late-stage clinical trials.

      Fauci: vaccine may require ‘booster’

      Health officials have long assumed that any vaccine approved to prevent the coronavirus would provide lasting immunity, much like the vaccine against measles. White House health adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci is now calling that assumption into doubt.

      In a public discussion at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Fauci said it’s unclear whether a vaccine would provide lasting protection or might require an occasional “booster” shot.

      Spanish health officials, meanwhile, report that some early recovered patients no longer show evidence of antibodies in their blood, calling into question whether “herd immunity” will be able to slow the spread of the virus.

      Emergency authorization for another test

      As coronavirus cases continue to spike across the U.S., testing becomes an even more critical function. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for another COVID-19 antigen diagnostic test, the BD (Becton Dickinson) Veritor System for Rapid Detection of SARS-CoV-2. 

      It’s the second antigen test the FDA has authorized for the detection of SARS-CoV-2 antigens. Under the EUA, it can be used in patient care settings operating under a CLIA Certificate of Waiver, Certificate of Compliance, or Certificate of Accreditation. 

      "Antigen tests play an important role in the overall response against COVID-19, including as a point-of-care test that can potentially scale up to test millions of Americans quickly," said FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn.

      Problems with contact tracing

      The spike in coronavirus cases in some southern states has been so sudden that at least one health expert says the surge is making it difficult to perform contact tracing. When someone tests positive for the virus, tracing the people with whom they have had recent contact may identify the source and prevent others from spreading the virus.

      But Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of tropical medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, says the outbreaks are so numerous that many health officials have simply given up on tracing efforts.

      "I don't see how it's possible to even do that," Hotez told CNN.

      Survey: consumers ready to travel again

      Hoping to shake off that cabin fever after weeks of being homebound? You aren’t alone.

      New research from Oracle and Skift found that 51 percent of people surveyed in both North America and Latin America plan to book trips in the next six months. But with the coronavirus still very much a threat, nearly half said they want to stay fairly close to home.

      The survey also found travelers will likely be highly selective about the hotels they choose, expressing a preference for those that advertise enhanced sanitation and offer contactless technology for check-in, food ordering, and concierge services.

      Around the nation

      • Ohio: Ohio residents who lost their jobs as a result of the coronavirus shutdown may be eligible for additional unemployment compensation. State officials say residents whose benefits have expired can receive up to an additional 20 weeks of payments through the U.S. government. 

      • California: Gov. Gavin Newsom says California’s recent surge in coronavirus cases is being fueled by young people “who believe they’re invincible.” California is now averaging nearly 2,000 new cases per day, with young, working-age adults making up an increasing percentage and seniors making up a declining share.

      • Washington: Starting today, consumers will not be allowed inside Washington state businesses if they are not wearing a mask. The new statewide order is in response to a recent surge in virus cases. 

      Coronavirus (COVID-19) tally as compiled by Johns Hopkins University. (Previous numbers in parentheses.)Total U.S. confirmed cases: 2,948,397 (2,897,61...
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      Foot traffic falling again as states report surges in COVID-19 cases

      An analysis of phone location data suggests consumers are wary of going out as case numbers rise

      Foot traffic patterns in businesses and retail chains dipped recently amid concerns that states may have begun reopening too early, according to cell phone data analyzed by SafeGraph

      SafeGraph, which compared anonymized location data against its database of business listings and points of interest, said there was an initial increase in foot traffic when states first began reopening. However, now that cases have begun rising again in several states, consumers appear to be more hesitant to venture out. 

      On April 14, roughly a month after lockdowns began, foot traffic fell to its lowest level. Consumer patronization of businesses and chain stores tumbled 55 percent from January levels, according to SafeGraph. 

      Foot traffic began rising during the latter half of April and in May as states gradually began reopening. But now, a reticence to go out appears to be setting in once again as states like Arizona, California, and Florida report huge increases in COVID-19 cases. 

      Trend reversing course

      The gradual increase in foot traffic seen as states began allowing businesses to reopen is “starting to flatline and turn reverse course in the past few days," SafeGraph spokesperson Nick Singh told CBS News

      The drop in foot traffic is even more pronounced in states that recently reported spikes in confirmed cases. Although experts had hoped reopening quickly would help invigorate the ailing economy, the data suggests we’re seeing an economic consequence of reopening too soon. 

      Former CDC chief Dr. Tom Frieden warned in May that reopening too quickly could have a negative impact on people’s health as well as the economy. 

      “We do have to balance our economy and public health measures, and what we found from around the country and around the world is that the places that implemented public health measures the best also protect their economy the best,” Frieden told CBS. “If people are impatient to go out, you hope at least when they go out, they will do so as safely as possible.”

      To help reduce transmission of the virus, health authorities continue to recommend that people practice social distancing and wear a face covering when out in public.

      Foot traffic patterns in businesses and retail chains dipped recently amid concerns that states may have begun reopening too early, according to cell phone...
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      Health expert says COVID-19 flare-ups have made contact tracing impossible in some parts of U.S.

      ‘We’re still knee-deep in this,’ said Dr. Fauci

      Due to the sudden spike in COVID-19 cases across the nation, contact tracing may no longer be possible in the South and Southwest of the United States. That’s according to Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of tropical medicine at Baylor College of Medicine. 

      In an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper on Monday, Hotez said cases are rising so rapidly that “we cannot even do contact tracing anymore.” 

      Contact tracing was initially thought to be one of the most crucial ways of controlling the spread of the virus, as tracing the people a COVID-19 positive individual may have been in contact with could help identify the source and prevent others from spreading the virus. 

      But given the dramatic increase in cases as of late, Hotez says, “I don't see how it's possible to even do that.” 

      Rising numbers 

      The U.S. is nearing 3 million reported cases and more than 130,300 people in the nation have died from complications of the virus, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. As of Tuesday morning, 31 states are seeing an increase of at least 10 percent in average new daily cases. 

      Over the last week, there were close to 50,000 new cases each day -- the highest rate recorded so far in the pandemic. Florida and Texas reported particularly high numbers over the weekend, and at least 24 states are now pausing their reopening plans in response to the alarming increase in cases. 

      "We are still knee-deep in the first wave of this," Dr. Anthony Fauci said in a Facebook and Twitter livestream Monday. "I would say, this would not be considered a wave. It was a surge, or a resurgence of infections superimposed upon a baseline ... that really never got down to where we wanted to go."

      Dr. Francis Collins, the National Institutes of Health director, joined the livestream with Fauci and said Americans need to keep up their optimism and “do the right thing.” That means everyone should continue heeding the recommendations of health officials by wearing masks, social distancing, washing hands frequently, and avoiding small indoor spaces that could become crowded.  

      Due to the sudden spike in COVID-19 cases across the nation, contact tracing may no longer be possible in the South and Southwest of the United States. Tha...
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      Toyota recalls RAV4s and RAV4 Hybrids with steering issue

      The vehicles may lose electric power steering assist

      Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing is recalling 46 model year 2019-2020 RAV4s and model year 2020 RAV4 Hybrids with electric power steering (EPS).

      Water may enter through the steering gear box cover and cause a loss of electric power steering assist.

      A loss of power steering assist could increase steering effort at low vehicle speeds, increasing the risk of a crash.

      What to do

      Toyota will notify owners, and dealers will replace the power steering gear box free of charge.

      This recall is expected to begin August 10, 2020.

      Owners may contact Toyota customer service at (888) 270-9371. Toyota's number for this recall is 20TB11 / 20TA11.

      Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing is recalling 46 model year 2019-2020 RAV4s and model year 2020 RAV4 Hybrids with electric power steering (EPS). ...
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      Belecoo baby strollers recalled

      A child’s torso can pass through the opening between the activity tray and the seat bottom

      A Better You!, of Hebron, Ky, is recalling about 750 Belecoo 535-S baby strollers.

      A child’s torso can pass through the opening between the activity tray and the seat bottom and his/her head can become entrapped, posing entrapment and strangulation hazards.

      Additionally, the location of the crotch restraint creates a large opening between the seat bottom and the restraint, and it can become detached, posing a fall hazard to children.

      No incidents or injuries are reported.

      This recall involves Belecoo 535-S convertible baby strollers sold in black, pink, blue, khaki and gray that convert into carriages in the bassinet position.

      Belecoo is printed on the stroller’s frame and on the shoulder straps. The model number 535-S is printed on a label on the inside of the rear frame of the stroller.

      The strollers, manufactured in China, were sold exclusively on Amazon.com from January 2019, through March 2020, for about $200.

      What to do

      Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled baby strollers and contact A Better You! for instructions on how to receive a full refund including taxes and original shipping cost. The firm is contacting all known purchasers directly.

      Consumers may contact A Better You! at (800) 715-7302 or by email at Belecoorecall@gmail.com for more information.

      A Better You!, of Hebron, Ky, is recalling about 750 Belecoo 535-S baby strollers. A child’s torso can pass through the opening between the activity tra...
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