U.S. virus cases falling.
NEW YORK — The number of Americans newly diagnosed with the coronavirus is falling — a development experts say most likely reflects more mask-wearing but also insufficient testing — even as the disease continues to claim nearly 1,000 lives in the U.S. each day.
About 43,000 new cases are being reported daily across the country, down 21% from early August, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. While the U.S., India and Brazil still have the highest numbers of new cases in the world, the downward trend is encouraging.
“It’s profoundly hopeful news,” said Dr. Monica Gandhi, an infectious-diseases expert at the University of California at San Francisco, who credits the American public’s growing understanding of how the virus spreads, more mask-wearing and, possibly, an increasing level of immunity.
“Hopefully all those factors are coming into play to get this virus under control in this country that’s really been battered by the pandemic,” she said.
But insufficient testing is probably concealing the full extent of the crisis, said Dr. Jonathan Quick, who leads the pandemic response for the Rockefeller Foundation, which has recommended the U.S. test 4 million people a day by fall.
“We’re grossly under-testing in some of the places that are still having high caseloads,” Quick said, singling out Mississippi, Texas, Georgia and North Dakota as hot spots with high rates of positive test results.
Even at 43,000 new cases per day, the U.S. remains far above the numbers seen during the spring, when new daily cases peaked at about 34,000, he said.
The virus is blamed for more than 5.7 million confirmed infections and about 178,000 deaths in the U.S. Worldwide, the death toll is put at more than 810,000.
In Georgia, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos softened earlier comments that called for schools to reopen for in-person instruction for all, saying during a visit to a high school Tuesday that what she really wants to see is “100% learning.”
“I think perhaps there’s been a little bit of a misunderstanding that going back to school meant 100% of the students had to be in-person 100% of the time,” DeVos said at Forsyth Central High School in suburban Atlanta. “No, the expectation is that there’s 100% learning in a way that’s going to work for each family and each student, and importantly, in each community and each school.”
DALLAS — American Airlines said Tuesday it will cut more than 40,000 jobs, including 19,000 through furloughs and layoffs, in October as it struggles with a sharp downturn in travel because of the pandemic.
American executives said the furloughs can be avoided only if the federal government gives airlines another $25 billion to help them cover labor costs for six more months.
The airline said 23,500 employees have accepted buyouts, retired early or taken long-term leaves of absence, but that was not enough to avoid involuntary cuts. The furloughs of union workers and layoffs of management staff announced Tuesday will fall heaviest on flight attendants, with 8,100 being terminated in October.
American began the year with about 140,000 employees but expects fewer than 100,000 to remain in October.
In March, passenger airlines got $25 billion from the government to save jobs for six months, and American was the biggest beneficiary, receiving $5.8 billion. The money, and an accompanying ban on furloughs, expire after Sept. 30, although airlines and their labor unions are lobbying Congress for another $25 billion and a six-month reprieve from job cuts.
When the federal relief was approved, “it was assumed that by Sept. 30, the virus would be under control and demand for air travel would have returned. That is obviously not the case,” American CEO Doug Parker and President Robert Isom said in a letter to employees on Tuesday.
U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos interacts with Forsyth Central High School Honors Chemistry students while at the school Tuesday in Cumming, Georgia.