U.S. virus cases fall­ing.

Chicago Sun-Times - - TOP NEWS - BY CARLA K. JOHN­SON AND ADAM GELLER

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.

ALYSSA POINTER/AT­LANTA JOUR­NAL-CON­STI­TU­TION VIA AP

U.S. Sec­re­tary of Ed­u­ca­tion Betsy DeVos in­ter­acts with Forsyth Cen­tral High School Honors Chem­istry stu­dents while at the school Tues­day in Cum­ming, Ge­or­gia.

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