National Headlines

sonreir es gratis/iStockBy WILLIAM MANSELL, ABC NEWS

(NEW YORK) -- Over 12.5 million people across the globe have been diagnosed with COVID-19, the disease caused by the new respiratory virus, according to data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. The actual numbers are believed to be much higher due to testing shortages, many unreported cases and suspicions that some governments are hiding the scope of their nations' outbreaks.

The United States has become the worst-affected country, with more than 3.1 million diagnosed cases and at least 134,097 deaths.

Here is how the news is developing today. All times Eastern.

3:15 p.m.: Boston moves to phase 3 reopening

Boston joined the rest of Massachusetts in moving to its phase 3 of reopening from COVID-19 lockdown, reported the Boston Globe.

In phase 3, gyms, movie theaters, casinos and other activities are allowed to resume, with restrictions.

As of Friday, the state's death toll reached 8,081 and the number of confirmed cases was 105,290.

932,796 people have been tested in Massachusetts. The state is offering free, no-symptoms required testing in its hardest-hit communities including Chelsea, Everett, Fall River, Lawrence, Lynn, Lowell, Marlborough and New Bedford, the Boston Globe reported.

2:31 p.m.: DeSantis would like to see anything else 'in modern times' tested like Florida is currently testing for coronavirus, he says

In a press conference Saturday, Florida Gov. DeSantis insisted his state is a leader in coronavirus testing.

"Florida had more tests yesterday than the country as a whole did in March."

He added that he'd like to see anything else "in modern times" tested like Florida is currently testing for coronavirus.

Senate President Bill Galvano said Florida is "frankly better than most states in the union."

The governor said the state reported 95,000 tests on Friday and that it was getting shipments of remdesivir, the anti-viral drug being used to fight COVID-19. New York Gov. Cuomo announced Friday that he was sending a shipment of the drug to Florida.

"There are definitely areas where we think we may be seeing some declining positivity [rates] and some other areas where they're consistently 20%," DeSantis said. "We may be seeing some decline in this part of the Tampa Bay area," he said but said there's more positivity in Pasco County.

"We have a much better idea now versus March about what the viruses likes versus doesn't like," DeSantis said.

The governor said he's working with the White House to get more Lab Reagents in Florida. "The U.S. is testing more than any country by far and the lab resources are backed up."

He said the state signed contracts with companies that could provide tests in 48 hours and said that's just not happening anywhere in the country.


1:51 p.m.: Florida records 10,360 new cases

Cases continue to rise in Florida, with the Department of Health reporting 10,360 new cases, pushing the state's total to 254,511.

There were also 95 deaths in the last 24 hours, bringing the state's total to 4,298.

Testing has increased, with 82,737 tests being conducted.

Gov. Ron DeSantis touted the state's testing in a press conference and said some of the cases included asymptomatic people.

1:41 p.m.: Arizona reports record high hospitalizations


There are 3,485 people currently hospitalized in Arizona due to COVID-19, a record high, according to the state's Department of Health.

There were 3,038 new cases, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 119,930, the department reported. There were also 69 deaths, pushing that sum to 2,151.

1:19 p.m.: South Carolina sets new record of daily cases

South Carolina set a new record of daily confirmed COVID-19 cases, with 2,239, according to the state's Department of Health.

The state's previous record was more than 1,800 cases.

There are now 54,538 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 940 deaths in South Carolina, according to officials.

The total number of individual test results reported to the Department of Health on Friday was 10,083, with 22.2% of those being positive. The department also confirmed the first pediatric death linked to COVID-19.

12:25 p.m.: North Carolina reports more hospitalizations, another daily increase in cases


North Carolina set two somber records over the last 24 hours, with the state recording its highest number of hospitalizations and highest daily increase in cases to date.

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services reported 1,093 hospitalizations and 2,462 new cases Saturday.

"Record-high numbers like today are concerning," NCDHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen, M.D., said in a statement. "We all have a responsibility to one another to wear a face covering, avoid crowds and wash our hands often to get our trends going back in the right direction."

North Carolina has 83,793 confirmed cases from among more than 1.1 million tests.

11:23 a.m.: University reverses course, will be remote this fall

West Chester University, one of Pennsylvania's largest state-owned universities, with 18,000 students, has reversed course and said it no longer plans to bring students back in the fall.

Christopher Fiorentino, the university's president, said in a statement that learning will continue remotely through the fall semester.

"WCU cannot ignore the potential danger of bringing thousands back to campus," Fiorentino said.

Some classes will be taught in a hybrid format, meaning both in-person and remote learning for students with clinical placements, student teachers and certain internships, according to Fiorentino.

Chester County, where WCU is located, is currently in the Green Phase of reopening, meaning that some of the university's public buildings -- a library, a recreation center, the student union -- will be open but limited to 50% capacity.

"The University understands that students' lives have been turned upside down by a relentless pandemic that continues to sweep across the globe," Fiorentino said. "Our support for our WCU community will not waiver."

10:19 a.m.: New York hospitalizations drop below 800 for 1st time in four months


New York recorded 799 COVID-19 hospitalizations in the last 24 hours, making it the lowest number since March 18, according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

There was also the lowest three-day average death toll since March 16, with six recorded in the last 24 hours, Cuomo said in a statement.

New York was among the hardest-hit states in the early stages of the pandemic, with New York City especially devastated.

Cuomo applauded the good news, saying New Yorkers who practiced social distancing and wore masks "are central to our ability to slow the spread and save lives."

However, Cuomo also urged people not to become complacent.

"I urge residents to stay 'New York tough' and not give up the ground we've worked so hard to gain together, particularly in the face of rising cases throughout the country and compliance issues here at home," he said.

8:39 a.m.: Clusters of US soldiers test positive for COVID-19 in Japan


A "few dozen" U.S. Marines stationed at two different bases in Okinawa, Japan, have tested positive for COVID-19, according to the Associated Press.

After months of no confirmed coronavirus cases, the Marine Corps said it had two clusters of soldiers who tested positive for the virus this week, according to a statement from Marine Corps Installations Pacific.

"Preserve the force. Protect our families and the community," the statement continued.

The U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Air Force on Okinawa prefecture have now re-imposed strict limits on their personnel's movements and activities after the new coronavirus cases appeared, according to an internal FEMA memo obtained by ABC News.

Everyone who tested positive is in self-isolation and local commanders have initiated "soft shelter-in-place" orders for Camp Hansen and Marine Corps Air Station Futenma.

All orders are in place until further notice.

Officials said cleaning the base and contact tracing are ongoing.

"As we navigate the current environment we will continue to assess the situation and provide updates as frequently as permissible. We ask everyone to follow the social distancing and health protection measures to help us #KillTheVirus," Marine Corps Installations Pacific wrote on its Facebook page.

5:28 a.m.: Army medical task force heading to Houston as hospitals fill up

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced late Friday night that the United States Amry is sending a medical task force to Houston to help with the city's COVID-19 battle.

The additional resources, Abbott said, include an Urban Area Medical Task Force from the U.S. Department of Defense that will arrive on Monday and a Disaster Medical Assistance Team from U.S. Health and Human Services that has just been deployed.

“Texas is grateful to the federal government as well as the President and Vice President for working swiftly to provide additional resources to the state as we work to mitigate COVID-19 and care for our fellow Texans,” Abbott said in a statement Friday. “We will continue to work with our local and federal partners to ensure all resources and needs are met throughout the state.”

Houston has seen a significant rise in coronavirus cases in recent weeks, which caused many public health officials and hospitals to issue warnings that ICU bed availability is running low. Houston's Texas Medical Center is at 105% capacity.

The city reported 670 new diagnosed COVID-19 cases Friday, bringing Houston's total to at least 26,682. The coronavirus death toll for the city increased by nine, which now stands at 259.

Numbers are just as jarring throughout the Lone Star State. Texas' statewide COVID-19 death toll reached a single-day high of 105 Friday. The state had a 15.56% positivity test rate, according to an internal Federal Emergency Management Agency memo obtained by ABC News.

Nearly 14% of all new U.S. coronavirus cases in the past seven days have been identified in Texas, the memo said.

The rise in cases also led to Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner to cancel the in-person Republican Party convention in the city, prompting a lawsuit by the state GOP.

ABC News' Josh Margolin contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



Andrei Stanescu/iStockBy CATHERINE THORBECKE, ABC NEWS

(MERRITT ISLAND, Fla.) -- SpaceX scrubbed its launch of dozens of Starlink satellites Saturday from Florida's Kennedy Space Center.

SpaceX wrote on Twitter that the mission needed "more time for checkouts" and the team was working to identify the next launch opportunity.

The launch -- which was scheduled for 10:54 a.m. ET -- would have been the 10th of its Starlink missions and included 57 satellites as part of Elon Musk's goal to create a constellation of satellites that can bring high-speed internet to large, remote swaths of the globe.

It would also have carried two satellites from BlackSky, a SpaceX customer through the private firm Spaceflight.

As of Friday afternoon, the weather was a 60% go for launch, according to the Launch Mission Execution Forecast. SpaceX did not cite the weather as its reason for canceling.

The satellites were to have launched aboard a Falcon 9 rocket.

Saturday's mission would have marked the third SpaceX Starlink satellite launch in less than two months.

The Starlink satellites previously courted controversy within the astronomical community, when many expressed fears that their brightness impeded visibility of the night sky. When the first batch launched last year, some people even reported UFO sightings, the American Astronomical Society said.

In April, SpaceX announced a series of updates, pledging to make the new batch of satellites "invisible to the naked eye within a week of launch" and darkening the satellites "so they do not saturate observatory detectors." The company added that by June, all future Starlink satellites will have "sun visors" that will block sunlight from hitting the brightest parts of the spacecrafts.

In a statement ahead of the scheduled launch, SpaceX confirmed that "all Starlink satellites on this flight are equipped with a deployable visor to block sunlight from hitting the brightest spots of the spacecraft -- a measure SpaceX has taken as part of our work with leading astronomical groups to mitigate satellite reflectivity."

Saturday's canceled mission also comes on the heels of the private space firm's first manned launch in late May, when SpaceX teamed up with NASA to send astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken to the International Space Station. The historic flight sent U.S. astronauts into space on U.S. equipment and from U.S. soil for the first time in nearly a decade.

ABC News' Ella Torres contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



gregobagel/iStockBy ARIELLE MITROPOULOS, ABC NEWS

(BOSTON) -- Every year, more than 20 million visitors flock to Boston's Faneuil Hall Marketplace, which, after being closed for several months, reopened July 1.

But for the first time in its nearly 300-year history, it's largely empty.

"There is no foot traffic," business owner Sara Youngelson told ABC News. "It is so far and few between, it's just been really, really tough."

For Youngelson, who owns five businesses in the Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market area, the past five months have been some of the most difficult of her 30-year career as a merchant in the historic marketplace

Many merchants and shop owners across the Northeast were optimistic that reopening later in the summer could help offset economic damage caused by the pandemic, but with newly instated state travel restrictions affecting tourism, many are no longer as hopeful.

As novel coronavirus cases surged across the country, Massachusetts and seven other Northeast states -- Rhode Island, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, New York and New Jersey -- implemented a 14-day self-quarantines, albeit with regulations that varied by state.

"Tourism is a major part of our business," Youngelson explained. "We rely on the tour buses, we rely on planes coming in at Logan Airport. We rely on trains, we rely on cruise ships."

The new restrictions have only further reduced the number of tourists, who, from mid-May through October, help generate most of the revenue for these businesses.

There are nearly 150 businesses in Faneuil Hall, mostly small businesses. Many already have closed or are facing a "bleak future," according to Youngelson, who said her sales down 88%, on average, compared with last year.

Small businesses have been particularly hard hit during the pandemic, with many forced to lay off employees as bills and rent payments mounted. A study by the National Bureau of Economic Research projects that about 2% of U.S. small businesses, approximately 100,000, have permanently closed since the pandemic ramped up in March.

In New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, travelers from states with high rates of COVID-19 are required to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival.

"As states around the country experience increasing community spread, New York is taking action to ensure the continued safety of our phased reopening," New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on Tuesday. "Our entire response to this pandemic has been by the numbers, and we've set metrics for community spread just as we set metrics for everything."

Similarly, although although Maine has lifted its 14-day quarantine requirement for travelers from five states -- New Hampshire, Vermont, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut -- people arriving from Massachusetts and Rhode Island still must quarantine upon arrival.

Maine typically sees some 22 million summer tourists, who help account for 17% of the state's employment. More than a third of those visitors, especially day-trippers, were from Massachusetts in 2019.

Popular destinations such as Bar Harbor and Mount Desert Island, for which tourism is "the lifeblood of the economy," are really struggling, said Alf Anderson, executive director of the Bar Harbor Chamber of Commerce.

"Overall, most seasonal businesses are reporting losses in the neighborhood of 70% to 75% compared to 2019, and are just hoping to be able to hold on and be around for a fresh start in 2021," Anderson told ABC News.

Not all business owners see eye-to-eye on coronavirus-related safety measures.

Joe Minutolo, co-owner of Bar Harbor Bicycle Shop, said that although business has slowed he "respects what the state has come up with."

But Jean Ochtera, who co-owns Innat Bay Ledge Inn in Bar Harbor with her husband, Jack, strongly disagrees with the steps taken by Gov. Janet Mills, saying she's "being unrealistic."

"There are many families who are losing everything, who no longer have a livelihood. They can't support their children," Ochtera told ABC News. "I understand our key cases will increase if Governor Mills opens up the state, but at least it will give some viability."

Much of the money these businesses earn during the summer sustains them throughout the winter, explained Ochtera, who said she's only making about 20% of what she earned in 2019.

"I have returned over $60,000 by the first of May for summer reservations. We can never make up the losses," she added.

A spokeswoman for Mills said in a statement to ABC News, in part, that the governor "is working hard to protect the health of Maine people and ensure that our state is a safe place for people to visit this summer. She, too, is deeply concerned about our economy, but she can think of nothing more devastating than an outbreak or resurgence of this deadly, untreatable virus during the height of tourism season."

Other states nearby still are uncertain about the long-term economic consequences.

Among the nearly a dozen small businesses along the Jersey Shore contacted by ABC News, many reported that while some local customers had returned, overall foot traffic remained down.

"People would rather stay home and barbecue," said Julia Kurdyla, manager of the Country Kettle Fudge shop in Beach Haven.

Caroline Ranoia, who owns the speciality soap store Blue Eden in Stone Harbor, New Jersey, told ABC News that it has been especially difficult because "90% of my customers are tourists."

"We have a really short season -- it's only about 10 weeks for us to really make our money," she added.

Josephine Guarnaccia, a long-time innkeeper at the Mermaid Inn, in Mystic, Connecticut, told ABC News she's seeing about a third as many visitors compared to normal levels.

Randy Fiveash, Director of the Connecticut Office of Tourism, told ABC News that the state’s leisure and hospitality industry was the sector hardest hit by the pandemic. However, he said that although tough decisions about travel advisories had to be made, he is “cautiously optimistic” that tourism will come back in the long run.

Back in Boston, Youngelson remains concerned, particularly for many families who own businesses in Faneuil Hall Marketplace have done so for generations.

"It is going to be very difficult to stay afloat if this continues," she said. "I don't know how many people are going to be able to keep their doors open."

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



Myriam Borzee/iStockBy ELLA TORRES, ABC NEWS

(SAN ANTONIO, Texas) -- "I think I made a mistake. I thought this was a hoax, but it's not."

Those were the final words of a 30-year-old patient who died at a San Antonio, Texas, hospital this week after attending a so-called "COVID party," according to the hospital's chief medical officer.

Dr. Jane Appleby said in a recorded statement that the unidentified patient told nurses about the party, which she said is hosted by someone diagnosed with coronavirus.

"The thought is people get together to see if the virus is real and if anyone gets infected," Appleby said.

Appleby said she shared the story not to scare people, but to make sure they understand that the virus can affect anyone.

Bexar County, where San Antonio is located, currently has 18, 602 confirmed cases, with an increase of 923 on Friday, according to the Department of Health.

The age range with the most cases were in people aged 20 to 29, making up 24%, and 30 to 39, making up 20%, according to the department.

Appleby said her hospital is seeing more cases in people in their 20s and 30s.

She said while some can be treated and discharged, others become seriously ill.

Appleby warned that the virus "doesn't discriminate" and encouraged the public to wear a mask and stay home as much as possible.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



ABC NewsBy DANIEL MANZO, ABC NEWS

(NEW YORK) -- Tropical Storm Fay has now transitioned to a post-tropical cyclone, with winds of 35 mph. The storm’s center is located about 30 miles south of Albany, New York, on Saturday and is moving north at 17 mph.

As the storm came ashore on Friday, Fay brought significant rainfall to parts of Delaware and New Jersey. Sussex County, Delaware saw 6.97inches of rain, while Margate City, New Jersey, received 5.5 inches of rain. Even some inland areas, such as Somerset and Middlesex Counties in New Jersey, saw over 2 inches of rainfall.

Recorded wind gusts were generally 40 to 50 mph along the immediate coastline of New Jersey, New York and southern Connecticut.

Now that Fay is weakening and heading towards Canada, a separate low pressure will come in behind it. Due to lingering tropical moisture, and upper-level wind shear, there is a good chance for scattered strong to severe thunderstorms in the Northeast Saturday. Some of those storms will have gusty winds, large hail and torrential rainfall.

Meanwhile, in the Midwest, another large area is at risk for severe weather Saturday from Oklahoma to Illinois. The threat will be damaging winds and large hail. Brief tornadoes cannot be ruled out.

Widespread summer heat alerts are in effect for nearly the entire southern U.S. from California to Florida. It will be very hot in the Southwest this weekend.

Near-record heat will be possible in Abilene, Texas, Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Tucson, Arizona, Saturday with temperatures well into the triple digits. Records will be possible in Las Vegas, Phoenix, and Tucson with temperatures well over 110 degrees on Sunday.

In Phoenix, temperatures will likely reach 116 degrees or higher on Sunday, with some isolated locations in the desert reaching 120 degrees. This would be the hottest temperature since 2017 for that region.

Some of the heat will continue to expand next week, with another period of widespread heat from coast-to-coast looking likely as we head into the middle of July.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



Myriam Borzee/iStockBy WILLIAM MANSELL and EMILY SHAPIRO, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- A pandemic of the novel coronavirus has now killed more than 556,000 people worldwide.

Over 12.3 million people across the globe have been diagnosed with COVID-19, the disease caused by the new respiratory virus, according to data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. The actual numbers are believed to be much higher due to testing shortages, many unreported cases and suspicions that some governments are hiding the scope of their nations' outbreaks.

The United States has become the worst-affected country, with more than 3.1 million diagnosed cases and at least 133,542 deaths.

Here is how the news is developing Friday. All times Eastern:

6:23 p.m.: Atlanta mayor announces rollback, governor refutes plan

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, who has risen to the national stage in recent months and is a candidate for vice president on Joe Biden's ticket, said she is rolling back the city's reopening plans, according to Atlanta ABC affiliate WSB.

The rollback to phase 1 would require people to shelter-in-place at their homes and only leave for essential tasks. The city had moved to phase 2 in late May, at the behest of Republican Gov. Brian Kemp, which allowed for businesses to reopen with restrictions.

Kemp's office quickly released a statement saying the mayor had no authority to return to phase 1.

"Mayor Bottoms' action today is merely guidance -- both non-binding and legally unenforceable. As clearly stated in the Governor's executive order, no local action can be more or less restrictive, and that rule applies statewide," the governor's statement said. "Once again, if the Mayor actually wants to flatten the curve in Atlanta, she should start enforcing state restrictions, which she has failed to do."

"We ask citizens and businesses alike to comply with the terms of the Governor's order, which was crafted in conjunction with state public health officials," the statement added. "These common-sense measures will help protect the lives and livelihoods of all Georgians."

Bottoms herself tested positive for the virus earlier this week, but has shown few symptoms, she said.

5:42 p.m.: Texas still setting records for hospitalizations

Texas, one of the virus's current hotspots, continues to struggle with overcrowding in hospitals as cases surge.

There are currently 10,002 patients hospitalized statewide, with Houston's Texas Medical Center at 105% capacity.

Texas reported 95 new fatalities on Friday -- down slightly from Thursday's one-day record of 105 -- bringing the state's total to 3,013 deaths.

Among the deaths is a 6-month-old baby in Corpus Christi. The positivity rate for testing in Bexar County, which includes San Antonio, is 22%.

Also, a 30-year-old man in San Antonio died after attending a party, according to the chief medical officer at Methodist Hospital.

"One of the things that was heart wrenching that he said to his nurse was, you know, I think I made a mistake. And this young man went to a COVID party," Dr. Jane Appleby told San Antonio ABC affiliate KSAT. "He didn’t really believe. He thought the disease was a hoax. He thought he was young and he was invincible and wouldn’t get affected by the disease."

A bipartisan group of Texas lawmakers, led by Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, are asking Health and Human Services for a new field hospital, along with personnel, oxygen, ventilators, personal protective equipment and dialysis machines to help battle the coronavirus in the Rio Grande Valley.

"To quote a local hospital administrator, 'We cannot wait 30 days,'" they wrote in a letter to Secretary Alex Azar.

Cases in Texas now total 240,111 with 9,765 new cases since yesterday.

4:30 p.m.: California to release 8,000 inmates

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said Friday it will release more inmates to help protect the prisons from COVID-19.

The department said it estimates 8,000 inmates could be eligible for release by the end of August, in addition to the about 10,000 people released since the pandemic began.

Everyone will be tested for COVID-19 within seven days of release, the department said.

"These actions are taken to provide for the health and safety of the incarcerated population and staff," California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Secretary Ralph Diaz said in a statement. "We aim to implement these decompression measures in a way that aligns both public health and public safety."

Over 1,000 have been infected and several inmates have died at California's San Quentin prison, reported ABC San Francisco station KGO. COVID-19 also broke out at California Institution for Men in Chino, where an inmate told KGO that the virus "spread like wildfire."

4 p.m.: Georgia reports new daily record of coronavirus cases

Coronavirus is on the rise on Georgia, and on Friday, the state reported its highest daily increase of cases so far, according to ABC Atlanta affiliate WSB.

Georgia state reported 4,484 new cases and 35 new fatalities on Friday.

Until now, the highest single-day case increase in Georgia was last Thursday when the state recorded nearly 3,500 new cases, WSB reported.

3:35 p.m.: California's hospitalizations jump by 40%


California's number of coronavirus hospitalizations reached a new high on Friday, jumping 40% in two weeks, to 6,171 patients.

The number of people in ICUs increased by 28% in the last two weeks.

California reported 140 additional deaths on Friday, bringing the state's death toll to 6,851.

California had reported 149 new deaths on Thursday -- the state's highest daily number of fatalities so far.

3 p.m.: NY nursing homes can resume visits

New York nursing homes -- which have been severely impacted by the pandemic -- can resume limited visits, with strict rules applying, State Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker announced Friday.

Visits can resume at nursing homes that have been without COVID-19 for at least 28 days.

Two people can visit at a time and the visitors must get their temperature checked, wear face coverings and stay socially distant. Only 10% of nursing home residents can have visitors at once.

"We will continue to closely monitor the situation in each facility, and make adjustments based on the facts and data moving forward," Zucker said in a statement. "I know how painful it has been for residents of these facilities to endure such a long period of time without seeing family and loved ones, and my hope is that this adjustment to the visitation policy will provide some comfort to everyone."

More than 6,400 residents have died in New York state nursing homes and longterm care facilities, The New York Times reported Wednesday.

2:20 p.m.: Connecticut reports another day of no COVID-19 deaths


For the second time this week, Connecticut reported a day of no COVID-19 fatalities on Friday.

No deaths were reported on Tuesday, while the state reported five fatalities on Wednesday and another five on Thursday.

Gov. Ned Lamont said Friday that the state has reached a .6% positivity rate, down from 1% on Thursday.

Connecticut has 77 people in hospitals on Friday, a decrease of 13 since Thursday.

1:30 p.m.: Michigan businesses must refuse service to those not wearing masks

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has signed a new executive order requiring face coverings in indoor spaces and in crowded outdoor spaces. The order also requires businesses to refuse entry or service to people who won't wear a face covering.

"Those who are exempt from wearing a mask in Michigan businesses include people younger than five years old, those who cannot medically tolerate a face covering, and those who are eating or drinking while seated at a food service establishment," a statement from the governor said.

Every region in Michigan has seen an uptick in COVID-19 cases in the last week, Whitmer said

The executive order takes effect on Monday. Those who violate the order could face a $500 criminal penalty.

1 p.m.: Arizona's ICUs are 89% full

In hard-hit Arizona, intensive care units are 89% full on Friday.

This comes as the state reports 4,221 new cases, reaching a total of 116,892 cases.

At least 2,082 people in Arizona have died from the virus.

12:30 p.m.: Texas county shuts down testing centers due to heat


Harris County, Texas, which includes the city of Houston, said Friday it was shutting down all of its COVID-19 testing centers due to the extreme heat.

The National Weather Service warned the heat index values would reach between 105 and 110 degrees during the day.

Houston reported 412 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, bringing the city's total to 26,012, the mayor said.

Texas hit a record number of daily coronavirus fatalities on Thursday, with 105 new deaths recorded.

The state's positivity rate stood at 15% Thursday.

12 p.m.: Mexico looking to extend border closing with US

Mexico's Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard said Friday that Mexico's border closure with the U.S. should be extended to August or until there is a "decline" in U.S. cases.

"Our perspective and the one from the Secretary of Health is that it would not be prudent to reopen because what we are going to cause is an impact towards a new outbreak." Ebrard said at a news conference. "So what we are looking with the local authorities is to prolong the nonessential travel restrictions."

11:30 a.m.: South Carolina order restricts alcohol sales


In South Carolina, where COVID-19 is surging, Gov. Henry McMaster said he is issuing an executive order prohibiting the sale of alcohol at bars and restaurants after 11 p.m. each night.

The order begins Saturday and lasts until further notice, he said Friday.

Restaurants and bars that violate the order may be fined or have their alcohol permits suspended or revoked, the governor warned.

Alcohol can still be purchased at wine and liquor stores.

South Carolina's positivity rate stood at 20.6% on Thursday. Three-quarters of the state's hospital beds were in use as of Thursday.

11 a.m.: Florida reports over 11,000 new cases, 11-year-old girl among fatalities

Florida reported 11,433 new cases on Friday, bringing the state's total cases to 244,151.

Florida's positivity rate is down to 12.7%, a 5.5% drop from Thursday.

Among the state's 4,203 fatalities is an 11-year-old Fort Lauderdale girl, reported ABC Miami affiliate WPLG, citing the local medical examiner. The young girl suffered from underlying conditions including cerebral palsy, epilepsy and asthma, WPLG said.

Miami-Dade County, which includes Miami, and Broward County, which includes Fort Lauderdale, are especially hard-hit, but both counties showed improvement on Friday.

Miami-Dade reported 2,360 new cases and a positivity rate of 20.2%, down from 26.2% on Thursday.

Broward County reported 1,627 new cases and a positivity rate of 15%, a drop from 22.7% one day earlier.

9:40 a.m.: Dog in Texas confirmed to have COVID-19

A dog in Tarrant County, Texas, was confirmed to have SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 in humans, according to federal officials and the Texas Animal Health Commission.

The dog was tested after its owners were confirmed to have the coronavirus, the animal health commission said.

The 2-year-old dog is considered healthy, officials said.

"Based on current knowledge, there is no evidence that pets play a significant role in spreading SARS-CoV-2 to people,” Texas' state veterinarian, Dr. Andy Schwartz, said in a statement. "It’s always important to restrict contact with your pets and other animals, just like you would other people, if you are infected with COVID-19 in order to protect them from infection."

8:45 a.m.: Boston's moratorium on evictions extended through end of year

As the pandemic continues to wreak havoc on the economy, Boston is extending its moratorium on nonessential evictions through the end of the year, Mayor Marty Walsh said Friday.

This moratorium, which began in March, applies to Boston Housing Authority's public housing residents.

"These are extraordinary times, and right now, we all need to come together to ensure that our city's most vulnerable residents are able to continue to live and work in the city they call home," the mayor said in a statement.

8:03 a.m.: Judge rules against Texas GOP

A Harris County District Court judges has ruled against the Republican Party in Texas, after it sued the city of Houston and Mayor Sylvester Turner after the mayor canceled the state's GOP convention in the city.

Turner, citing the surge in coronavirus cases in the state and city, canceled the Texas Republican Party's in-person state convention, which was scheduled to start on July 16 in Houston.

"Look, these are some very serious times, and the safety of people attending the convention, the employees, their family members, the people in the city of Houston, have their public health concerns," Turner said in a statement. "First responders and municipal workers will all be in contact or in proximity to the indoor gathering. Public health concerns outweigh anything else."

The Texas GOP, said it was expecting the "liberal" court's ruling and said it would appeal to the Texas Supreme Court.

“It didn’t matter in which court this case landed, we expected a denial from the liberal Harris County courts,” Texas Republican Party Chairman James Dickey, said in a statement Thursday. “We thank them for a speedy denial so we can move forward with the appeal we had prepared.”

Turner canceled the convention, which was to be held at the George R. Brown Convention Center, after the city's Local Health Authority, Dr. David Persse called the GOP convention "a clear and present danger."

5:13 a.m.: US COVID-19 deaths begin to climb again

National coronavirus case counts, hospitalizations and deaths continue to climb, according to the COVID Tracking Project. At least 867 people died of COVID-19 Thursday in the U.S.

Nationally, the seven-day average has begun to climb after an extended decline, the COVID Tracking Project said.

The last three days were the highest numbers the organization has reported since early June. This rise in deaths is concentrated in states with large outbreaks. Texas, California and Florida all reported their single highest day of deaths for the entire pandemic on Thursday.

This news comes as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its COVID-19 death toll forecast Thursday to say it expects between 140,000 to 160,000 deaths by Aug. 1

The CDC forecasts suggest that the number of new deaths over the next four weeks in Arizona, Alabama, Florida, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, Nevada, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, the U.S. Virgin Islands and West Virginia, will likely exceed the number reported over the last four weeks. For other states, the number of new deaths is expected to be similar to the number seen in the previous four weeks or to decrease slightly.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



ABC NewsBy MAX GOLEMBO and EMILY SHAPIRO, ABC News

(NEW YORK) --Tropical Storm Fay is bringing pounding rains to New Jersey and New York City and slamming the coastline with gusty winds.

Just before 5 p.m., Fay made landfall near Atlantic City, New Jersey, with sustained winds of 50 mph.

A tropical storm warning is in effect from Fenwick Island, Delaware, up through to Watch Hill, Rhode Island. Flash flood watches remain in effect from Delaware to Massachusetts.

.

NOAA's #GOES16 #satellite is tracking #TropicalStorm #Fay this morning with its visible and infrared bands. You can see the center of circulation spinning just off the mid-Atlantic coast. #DEwx #NJwx #NYwx #CTwx #RIwx https://t.co/eb2LIAxGRD pic.twitter.com/fLZg5ufwS8

— NOAA Satellites - Public Affairs (@NOAASatellitePA) July 10, 2020

 

A tropical storm warning was issued from Delaware to Connecticut while a flash flood watch is in effect from Maryland to Massachusetts.

On Friday morning flash flooding struck Delaware, Maryland and the New Jersey shore, where some areas are seeing as much as six inches of rain.

 

Driving down to Ocean City pic.twitter.com/26NWhJRat9

— Katie Katro (@KatieKatro6abc) July 10, 2020

 

 

Absolutely pouring in Ocean City. Flash flood warning in effect. pic.twitter.com/L62qAdll30

— Katherine Scott (@KScott6abc) July 10, 2020

 

 

The flooding at the shore in Margate is covering the sidewalk. Be careful as the center of Tropical Storm Fay is now less than 90 miles from Cape May. ⁦@6abcpic.twitter.com/VtGWMCx1h8

— Karen Rogers (@karenrogers6abc) July 10, 2020


Fay will bring heavy rain into New York City by the afternoon.

The storm will then head north up the Hudson Valley and into Vermont on Saturday.

The biggest threat with Fay will not be damaging winds but flash flooding. In some areas, seven inches of rain is possible.

Winds will be gusty along the coast, 40 to 50 mph, but no major wind damage is expected.

Tornadoes cannot be ruled out in the Mid-Atlantic and the Northeast on Friday and Saturday.

Tropical Storm Fay is already the sixth named storm of the 2020 hurricane season, which is the earliest at this point in the year ever. In 2005, the busiest hurricane season on record, the sixth named storm was recorded on July 22.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



iStock/WachiwitBY: MIKE DOBUSKI, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- News this week that the US is considering banning TikTok, a social media app that’s wildly popular among young people, sent shockwaves through the community of users on the platform.

Morgan Eckroth started posting on TikTok last May, under the handle @morgandrinkscoffee. She now has nearly four million followers, and mostly posts videos about her experiences working at a coffee shop outside of Portland, Oregon.

"I've really really enjoyed it," she says. "It's my first time, kind of, building a platform for myself that's turned into something that's led to me being like, kind of, a micro-public figure."

When Eckroth first heard the news of a potential ban on TikTok, she said her initial reaction was of “fear and frustration."

Nigel Braun, another TikTok creator, found the news funny.

"I laughed because I was like, 'of course TikTok's going to shut down.'" he says. "Now that we actually got established on it- that's just when it all gets shut down."

Braun, alongside his brother and a mutual friend, runs a TikTok account that focuses on science. A recent video shows Braun demonstrating the reactive properties of white phosphorus by lighting a piece of the toxic substance on fire.

 

@nilered

white phosphorus is scary ☠️ ##tiktokpartner ##learnontiktok ##science ##nilered

♬ original sound - nilered

 

Braun and his team, who go by @nilered on TikTok, began making videos on YouTube in 2014. They only started putting content on TikTok at the beginning of this year, but have since accumulated nearly three million followers. Though they operate out of Canada, Braun says most of his viewers are American. A few months ago, TikTok even offered to partner with them as part of a science initiative on the platform.

As for the news of a potential ban on TikTok in the US, Braun says he’d be sad to see the app go.

“It's unfortunate because I was happy with how well we were doing.”

Some creators were skeptical from the outset.

"My first thought was that it's not going to happen,” says Sally Darr Griffin, who mainly posts comedy videos on the app.

But at the same time, she did encourage her followers on TikTok to follow her on other platforms.

"It's important to diversify your platforms," says Griffin. "Send people to your YouTube or your Twitter, or your Instagram. Just so you can kind of, cover all your bases."

Eckroth agrees, saying "I think right now with the realization that TikTok is a little bit in jeopardy, I think it's a big wake-up call for creators who haven't necessarily, like, diversified their platform usage to be like, 'hey, I need to get these people who are interested in me - and interested in following my life - onto these other platforms.'"

 

@morgandrinkscoffee

i have the same username on all platforms, go follow because I’m not going anywhere! ✌️

♬ Chhromatica II Into Cant get you out of my head - nerukessa

 

Some of those platforms are working on services of their own that mirror TikTok's short-form video format. Instagram this week announced it would bring an app called “Reels” to India, after testing it in Brazil, France, and Germany. YouTube is reportedly working on a competitor called “Shorts.”

"It's not like there's nowhere else to pivot to," says Braun. "Whatever other company comes up with a replacement, whether it's YouTube, Instagram, whatever- I'm sure a huge [part] of their base that TikTok had would just shift over, says Braun.

On Thursday, TikTok experienced a glitch that caused the amount of "likes" on certain videos to disappear. In a statement to ABC News, a TikTok spokesperson said, "the issues appear to have been caused by higher traffic than normal on our servers in Virginia, causing temporary service disruptions." TikTok added they have since resolved the issue.

But that didn't stop some TikTok users from thinking the glitch was related to recent events.

"All of the sudden my comments section was flooded with 'this is the end! Goodbye!'" says Eckroth.

And many were quick to follow their favorite creators on other platforms. “I think I gained about 2000 [followers] on Instagram in under 24 hours,” says Griffin.



Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



Kirkikis/iStockBy JADE LAWSON and BRIANA STEWART, ABC News

(STONE MOUNTAIN, Ga.) -- Stone Mountain Confederate Memorial often called “the granddaddy of all Confederate monuments ” and a former Ku Klux Klan meeting place is once again at the center of an ongoing debate over what some see as a symbol of southern heritage and American history and others see as a depiction of white supremacy etched into stone.

The fight over the monument, which is located in Dekalb County, Georgia and prior to COVID-19's spread could get more than 4 million visitors in a year, is unfolding as the U.S. grapples with civil unrest following the recent Black Lives Matter protests. Cities across America are being forced to reckon with a dark history and are facing growing pressure to confront the racist past of confederate leaders honored in monuments across the country.

Though many statues and monuments have been quickly uprooted, both willingly by government officials or forcefully by protestors, some -- like Georgia’s Stone Mountain--- the largest confederate memorial in the country which was christened with a cross burning when the Ku Klux Klan initiated 700 new members in 1948--are almost indelible.

Calls for racial equality have swelled in Georgia following the death of Ahmaud Arbery and Rayshard Brooks. As part of the growing movement, state officials are once again facing pressure to remove the controversial carvings etched into the historic monument.

The Stone Mountain monument is a reminder of "white supremacy", a "racist" history that cannot be cast simply as southern confederate heritage, said The Official Grand Master Jay, NFAC founder and lead organizer of a protest march over the July 4th weekend, told ABC News.

“The United States has allowed [Stone Mountain] to exist but it's become a pain point. It's gotten to the point where it's more so fuel to the fire than it does to remind folks of their heritage. And of course, there are both sides to that, but I do believe that this particular monument is the pink elephant in the room,” he said.

Viral video of a protest caused a stir on social media on July 4, when nearly 200 marchers, armed with rifles, sought to bring national attention to the growing stand against the historic civil war monument. The peaceful demonstration, led by the Not F****** Around Coalition (NFAC), a self-proclaimed black militia group called for the removal of Confederate leaders carved into the monument.

Other organizations such as Black Lives Matter and the NAACP have also called for the removal of the monument.

Gerald Griggs, an African American civil rights attorney and vice president of the Atlanta NAACP, says the local chapter has marched on Stone Mountain over the last five years.

The organization spoke with the Stone Mountain Association on numerous occasions and has attempted to reach out to Gov. Brian Kemp about the possible removal of the Confederate monument, Griggs said.

“They don't believe that Georgia has the appetite to remove those symbols,” he said, explaining that state resistance comes as local county officials have recently voted to remove confederate flags and symbols in their cities.

“Several other counties are in the process of removing, so I think that there's a groundswell of support throughout the state to revisit this conversation,” Griggs added.

The “Granddaddy of Confederate Monuments"

The massive carving surrounded by a recreational theme park is just 19 miles outside of Atlanta, a major urban city where over 50% of the population is Black according to the U.S. Census.

In 1914, Helen Plane, a charter member of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, fought for a Confederate memorial carving honoring Southern Civil Leaders after their defeat in the Civil War. Gen. Robert E. Lee, Gen. Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson and President of the Confederacy, Jefferson Davis faces were carved detail-by-detail on horseback with hats over their hearts, according author and historian David Freeman, who detailed the timeline of Stone Mountain in his book "Carved in Stone: The History of Stone Mountain." The sculpture is so grandiose it's often compared to Mt. Rushmore National Park in South Dakota.

“They intended it to be the granddaddy of all Confederate memorials,” Freeman said.

Freeman, who considers the carving environmental vandalism, says the monument perpetuates Confederate culture.

“People wanted to exploit it, even the KKK wanted to attach their name and their organization to it," Freeman told ABC News

Decades later, the monument completed in 1972 is now Georgia's most visited attraction drawing nearly 4 million guests each year, according to the Smithsonian.

Griggs, a fifth generation Georgian, says America needs to reevaluate its history.

“We have to talk about [the monuments] in their historical context. And to have the largest shrine to the Confederacy in the world in DeKalb County, which is a fairly diverse County, just one county over from the birthplace of Dr. King and the birthplace of civil rights, speaks volumes to hypocrisy.”

While thousands have called for the monument’s removal, experts from the Atlanta Geological Society say, it would cost millions to obliterate the carving with explosives due to its size and location.

There are also legal complications since Stone Mountain Monument has been under Georgia preservation since 2001. Georgia law states that “the memorial to the heroes of the Confederate States of America graven upon the face of Stone Mountain shall never be altered, removed, concealed, or obscured in any fashion.”

Freeman considers the monument ‘a remarkable achievement’ and it's unlikely it will be removed but suggests altering the nature of the park itself to contextualize the monument as a compromise.

“People of all races want to come to the park and enjoy it... and they can add a monument honoring the civil rights struggle to counterbalance the narrative,” he added.

However, Griggs says Georgians should not compromise their principles.

“When you talk about the enslavement of my forefathers, my ancestors, I'm not compromising,” Griggs said.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



Nathalia Bruno survived a flash flood after her car was swept away by the water. - WABCBy ELLA TORRES, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- A New Jersey woman survived a harrowing ordeal after her car was swept away in a flash flood, leaving her to be dragged through the waters.

Nathalia Bruno, 24, said that she was making a delivery for DoorDash on Monday when flash flood warnings were in place for multiple counties, including Passaic, where she was.

Bruno was driving her car when it got sucked into an underground viaduct, she told ABC New York station WABC.

"I didn't even know what I was going through," she told the station.

Bruno said she tried to exit the car, but was pulled under with it as the water dragged it towards the Passaic River.

"For me it was five minutes, all dark, trying to breathe, trying to put my feet on the ground, to pull me and get me some air," Bruno said.

She said she thought of her boyfriend in those moments, unsure if she was going to make it.

"This is the last time he's going to see me, gonna talk to me, and thinking about my mom," Bruno told WABC.

Flash flood warnings were in place until 7 p.m. Monday in Passaic as thunderstorms slammed the area.

Gov. Phil Murphy had urged New Jersey residents in the affected areas to only travel when necessary.

DoorDash released a statement. "At DoorDash, we take the safety of our community extremely seriously, and our thoughts and sincerest condolences are with the Dasher who endured this frightening event. We have reached out to offer our support during her recovery and are providing her with financial assistance as well as occupational accident insurance to cover expenses incurred."

Bruno said the harrowing ordeal ended when her car slammed into a support beam in the tunnel

She managed to swim into the Passaic River through the tunnel, coming out behind a house.

When her car was eventually pulled out, she said she saw the damage.

However, she could only think one thing: "Unbelievable, I'm alive."

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



Paul Zimmerman/WireImageBy JAMES HILL, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- An attorney for Ghislaine Maxwell, the former companion of sex-offender Jeffrey Epstein, has issued the first on-the-record response to the criminal indictment against Maxwell for perjury and sex crimes against minors, calling the federal charges “meritless.”

“The United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York on June 29, 2020, caused a meritless indictment to be issued against Ms. Maxwell,” wrote Laura Menninger, a Colorado-based lawyer who represents Maxwell in both the criminal case and multiple civil lawsuits.

The court filing comes in Maxwell’s answer to a separate civil lawsuit brought against Maxwell and Epstein’s estate in January by an anonymous accuser, Jane Doe, who alleges that she was first approached by the pair in 1994 at a summer music camp in Michigan, when Doe was 13 years old.

“Jane Doe was their first known victim and was subsequently abused by Epstein and Maxwell for years as a young girl, suffering unimaginable physical and psychological trauma and distress,” her complaint alleges. “Maxwell also regularly facilitated Epstein’s abuse of Doe and was frequently present when it occurred.”

Maxwell was arrested by federal authorities last week in New Hampshire and is facing a six-count federal indictment alleging that she conspired with Epstein in a multi-state sex trafficking scheme involving three unnamed minor victims between 1994 and 1997. Prosecutors contend Maxwell not only “befriended” and later “enticed and groomed multiple minor girls to engage in sex acts with Epstein, through a variety of means and methods,” but was also, at times, “present for and involved” in the abuse herself.

The details in Doe’s lawsuit are substantially similar to the allegations pertaining to one of the three minor victims that are detailed in the federal indictment of Maxwell.

Maxwell's attorney noted in the Thursday filing that Maxwell was answering Does' complaint "to the extent that she can without waiving the right against self-incrimination under the United States and New York constitutions and otherwise will invoke that right."

"Ms. Maxwell’s denials of factual allegations [in Doe's lawsuit] shall be interpreted the same as pleading not guilty to the various counts in any criminal indictment," Menninger wrote.

According to Doe’s civil complaint, “Epstein’s system of abuse was facilitated in large part by his co-conspirator and accomplice, Maxwell, who helped supply him with a steady stream of young and vulnerable girls - many of whom were fatherless, like Jane Doe, and came from struggling families.”

In the Thursday night court filing, Maxwell issued broad denials to nearly every allegation in Doe’s complaint and argued that whatever damages may have been suffered by Doe, they were not caused by Maxwell.

“[Does’s] damages, if any, were the result of her own conduct,” her attorney wrote, contending that Doe had “voluntarily or negligently assumed a known risk” and had “consented to the alleged conduct.”

Maxwell’s attorney contends that the case should be dismissed and is barred by statutes of limitations.

Doe’s attorney Robert Glassman told ABC News Thursday that “Ms. Maxwell is once again deflecting blame on the victims themselves for the significant role she played in causing the victims irreparable damage. We are disappointed that she is taking this position, but look forward to holding her responsible for what she did.”

Maxwell has not yet entered a plea to the criminal charges. She is currently being held at a federal jail in Brooklyn. Federal prosecutors argue that she is an extreme flight risk and should be held in custody until trial. A bail hearing is scheduled for July 14.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



Louisville Metro Police DepartmentBy ENJOLI FRANCIS, STEVE OSUNSAMI, KELLY MCCARTHY, SABINA GHEBREMEDHIN and STEPHANIE WASH, ABC News

(LOUISVILLE, Ky.) -- New audio has emerged from the investigation into the death of Breonna Taylor, who was shot at home by police during the execution of a no-knock warrant.

Newly released interviews with police and her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, who spoke to authorities hours after he survived the encounter that killed Taylor at their home on March 13, reinforce that the couple had no idea who was attempting to break into the apartment that night.

Walker told Public Integrity Unit officials, who investigate officer-involved shootings, why he fired a shot inside their Springfield Drive apartment.

"It's a loud boom at the door. First thing she said was, 'Who is it?' No response," he said.

"We both get up, start putting on clothes, another knock at the door. She's like, 'Who is it?' Loud, at the top of her lungs. No response," Walker, 27, said. "I grab my gun, which is legal, like I'm licensed to carry, everything. I've never even fired my gun outside of a range. I'm scared to death."

After another knock at the door, Walker said Taylor yelled "at the top of her lungs," but there was "no response, no anything." Walker added that he and Taylor put on clothes to answer the door, which then came "off the hinges."

"I just let off one shot. Like, I still can't see who it is or anything. So now the door's, like, flying open," he continued. "I let off one shot, and then all of a sudden there's a whole lot of shots and we like we both just dropped to the ground."

Taylor, 26, who worked for Louisville Metro Emergency Medical Services as a licensed EMT, was killed when police returned fire.

Officers had executed a no-knock entry "due to the nature of how these drug traffickers operate," according to the arrest warrant obtained by ABC News.

Taylor was accused of accepting USPS packages for an ex-boyfriend whom police were investigating as an alleged drug trafficker who used her address, according to the warrant.

Newly released video showed the moment Walker was arrested in the parking lot of their apartment. Initially, authorities charged him with attempting to kill police officers, but those charges were dismissed.

On Thursday, ABC News obtained Walker's audio statement to police from his attorney. His lawyer also released another audio interview, conducted March 25, with the highest-ranking officer who was at the couple's front door when Taylor was shot to death.

In the audio, Walker could be heard expressing concern for the officer he shot. "[Is] the police officer that got hit OK?" he says in the audio.

At one point he says that he aimed down when he fired.

"Yeah, like, because I wouldn't, of course ... I don't need to kill anybody. ... If I could just get you out of here just by you hearing that," he said.

When investigators asked Sgt. Jon Mattingly, who with officers Myles Cosgrove and Brett Hankison used a ram to break open the door and were involved in Taylor's shooting, whether he could remember the name of the target on the search warrant, he said "not offhand."

Mattingly also said during the interview, which happened 12 days after the fatal incident, that the officers did not initially announce who they were when they started banging on the door just after midnight.

"The first banging on the door, [we] did not announce," he said. "I think after that we did. ... After that, each one of them said, 'Police, come to the door. Search warrant. Police, search warrant.'"

Walker, however, told police that he didn't hear police saying this.

"All can hear is a knock at the door," he said. "Even if somebody was saying something on the other side, you probably couldn't hear them. But as loud as we were screaming to say who it is, I know whoever will be on the other side of the door could hear us."

Once inside Taylor's home, Mattingly recalled, "I could see enough to see a male on the right. A female on the left. Could identify their faces."

"But I could actually see the handgun in his hand," he said. "I remember seeing the barrel of that soon as we turned that corner."

The lawsuit, filed in Jefferson District Court on April 27 by attorneys Sam Aguiar and Lonita Baker, seeks damages for battery, wrongful death, excessive force, negligence and gross negligence. Hankison, Cosgrove and Mattingly are named as defendants in the suit filed by Aguiar and Baker on behalf of Taylor's mother, Tamika Palmer.

"The recorded statements of Kenny Walker and Sergeant Jonathan Mattingly released today clearly reveal that there has been a conspiracy to cover up Breonna's killing since day one," Aguiar, Baker and their co-counsel, renowned civil rights attorney Ben Crump, said in a statement Thursday. "They substantiate what we've maintained all along: that police did not announce themselves when they broke into the residence with a battering ram and released a shower of gunfire into the apartment, killing Breonna, that the warrant and its execution were based on erroneous information and that Louisville police actively worked to cover up Breonna's brutal murder."

Hankison, who fired the shots that killed Taylor, was terminated from the Louisville Metro Police Department in late June, with Police Chief Robert J. Schroeder writing in a letter that he "displayed an extreme indifference to the value of human life" by firing 10 shots upon entering Taylor's home unannounced.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



amphotora/iStockBy JACK DATE, ABC News

(WASHINGTON) -- A Justice Department investigation into a specialized narcotics unit of the Springfield, Massachusetts, Police Department found officers routinely used excessive force, including punching people in the face and using head strikes in violation of the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution.

"We found in that case there was a drug unit in the Springfield Police Department that was engaged in a pattern and practice of using excessive force," Attorney General William Barr told ABC News Chief Justice Correspondent Pierre Thomas in an exclusive interview.

The investigation, the only pattern or practice investigation initiated during the Trump administration, began in 2018 after the federal indictment of an SPD narcotics sergeant who, two years prior, had allegedly kicked and spat on a teen boy and said, "Welcome to the white man's world." The officer also allegedly threatened to crush a youth's skull and said he would "f---ing get away with it." That case is still pending trial.

Investigators "identified a specific trend of Narcotics Bureau officers striking suspects in the head, or otherwise using force that results in blows to the head, in situations where such force is not justified."

According to a newly released report on the investigation, conducted jointly by the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney's Office of Massachusetts, the "routine reliance on punches during arrests and other encounters ... indicates a propensity to use force impulsively rather than tactically, and as part of a command-and-control approach to force rather than an approach that employs force only as needed to respond to a concrete threat."

The investigation "revealed chronic issues with the use of force, poor record keeping on that subject and repeated failures to impose discipline for officer misconduct," U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts Andrew Lelling said in a statement.

The Springfield Police Department has approximately 500 sworn officers with 24 serving on the narcotics unit that was the subject of the investigation.

"Narcotics Bureau officers repeatedly punch individuals in the face unnecessarily, in part because they escalate encounters with civilians too quickly, and resort to unreasonable takedown maneuvers that, like head strikes, could reasonably be expected to cause head injuries," the report said.

Plainclothes officers failed to take basic steps to identify themselves, DOJ investigators found, which "resulted in pursuits that ultimately escalated into unreasonable uses of force." In two cases, drivers stated that they didn't stop because they did not know they were being pursued by police in unmarked cars and instead "feared they were being chased by criminals."

One such chase ended with one man being slammed to the pavement, leaving him with "severe contusions and dark bruising on the right side of his face, a large black eye, a gash on the bridge of his nose, and additional abrasions on the left side of his face and the left side of his nose," that investigators said were "consistent with repeated strikes of his head."

A second case involved a person who reported "he was kicked in the face and upper body area 10-12 times with multiple officers taking turns kicking him" after being stopped.

"This report is disturbing and disappointing. No one, no one is above the law, including police officers," Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno said at a press conference Thursday.

The report recommends enhanced reporting and review procedures, and new use-of-force training that addresses "the importance of avoiding fist strikes to the head, neck, and face area, and avoiding kicking suspects."

Unlike most other police departments, current "SPD policies do not require officers to report 'hands on' uses of force such as punches and kicks," the report stated.

The report also calls for new procedures to ensure civilian complaints are properly handled and increased accountability mechanisms that include "meaningful, consistent and appropriate" office discipline.

"Some of the changes that are recommend in the report have already been started," Police Commissioner Cheryl Clapprood told reporters. "Some of the rules and regulations of the Springfield Police Department are outdated."

The city of Springfield and its police department have cooperated with the investigation and are working to institute some reforms, but without an enforceable agreement, any changes they make are voluntary.

"The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution protects all people in our nation from excessive force by law enforcement," Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband of the Civil Rights Division said in a statement. "The Department of Justice looks forward to working with the City of Springfield and its Police Department to protect this very important Constitutional right."

Trump's Justice Department has not embraced the use of courts to enforce reforms on police departments using tools like consent decrees.

"I'm not adverse to using pattern or practice" investigations, Barr told ABC News. "Sometimes there are other ways of getting at it rather than through using court consent decrees. Sometimes you can work with the police department through contracts and other things to work with them to improve the particular problem you find without necessarily bringing the courts into it."

"These consent decrees can drag out for a long time and, you know, become more of a checklist item versus effectuating real change. At the end of the day, if we think something has to be changed, we're going to use whatever tool we think is going to be successful in accomplishing that," Barr added.

The three prior administrations -- under Presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama -- conducted 70 pattern or practice investigations and secured 41 consent decrees mandating court supervised reforms or settlements with police departments.

Then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued new guidance effectively raising the bar for using consent decrees in 2018, just one day before he was fired. Sessions' memo stated that decrees, while sometimes necessary, could deprive local elected officials of control of their government.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



DanHenson1/iStockBy MEREDITH DELISO and MEREDITH LONGO, ABC News

(SAN QUENTIN, Calif.) -- San Quentin State Prison in California has erected tents and is converting a warehouse to treat a coronavirus outbreak that's infected more than 1,800 inmates and staff.

Aerial footage shows nine tents on the institution's baseball field, part of the prison's efforts to treat inmates with COVID-19 right on the grounds while opening up space for social distancing, quarantine and isolation in the crowded facility.

The tents are currently operational, a spokesperson for the California Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation (CDCR) confirmed to ABC News. Each tent can house 10 patients. The spokesperson did not know how many patients were currently being treated in the tents.

The prison is also converting a warehouse into a 220-bed care site to treat COVID-19 patients at the institution. The California Prison Industry Authority furniture facility is currently being deep-cleaned and sanitized, with plans to begin housing patients by early next week, the spokesperson said.

More than 40 nursing staff from California Correctional Health Care Services have been redirected from other institutions and headquarters to assist in health care operations at San Quentin, CDCR has said.

San Quentin has the largest outbreak among California's 35 CDCR adult detention facilities, and is the site of the third-largest cluster of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., behind two correctional institutions in Ohio, according to the New York Times.

San Quentin didn't have any confirmed cases of COVID-19 until after CDCR transferred 121 inmates there on May 30 from a Chino prison that was experiencing an outbreak. San Quentin's first active case was May 31, CDCR data shows.

As of Thursday, the prison has had 1,642 confirmed cases among inmates and at least 200 among staff, according to figures from CDCR. Seven inmates have died.

Health experts at UC Berkeley and UC San Francisco recommended in mid-June that the population at San Quentin be reduced to at least half its capacity to prevent a "full-blown local epidemic and health care crisis" in the prison and nearby communities.

As the outbreak has grown, a coalition of prison advocates, California state legislators and members of the incarcerated community has been calling on Gov. Gavin Newsom to reduce the prison population at San Quentin to below 50%, as well as stop transfers between prisons and ICE detention centers.

"People in there feel abandoned, left alone, like no one cares if they die," James King, state campaigner for the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, said Thursday at a press conference organized by the Stop San Quentin Outbreak coalition.

A mother who said her son has tested positive for COVID-19 while incarcerated at San Quentin pleaded for his safety.

"My son's life is important," Shawanda Scott said. "Bring him home."

At his daily coronavirus briefing on Thursday, Newsom said the situation at San Quentin is "the biggest concern," with population reduction a focal point.

In recent weeks, the state has been working to reduce the inmate population through expedited and natural releases, as well as the suspension of intake from county jails. In March, the prison was at 131% capacity, with a population of 4,051, Newsom said. In a few weeks, the plan is to have that number down to 3,076, "below 100% capacity," he said. As of Wednesday the population was 3,392, according to CDCR.

The state is also working to expedite COVID-19 test results, the governor said.

"All of us are now accountable to addressing this issue," Newsom said. "That's precisely what we're doing."

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



Laura Cavanaugh/Getty ImagesBy LUKE BARR and MARK OSBORNE, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- Ghislaine Maxwell, the recently arrested confidant of convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, was given paper clothes upon checking into the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, New York, over fears that she might take her own life, two federal law enforcement sources confirm to ABC News.

It's unclear whether Maxwell has been placed on suicide watch.

Sources stressed to ABC News that it is standard procedure for high-profile inmates or new inmates. However, one source told ABC News that the federal Bureau of Prisons has gone to "great measures" to ensure Maxwell's safety.

The Bureau of Prisons declined to comment.

Maxwell, 58, was charged by the Southern District of New York with conspiring to entice minors to travel to engage in illegal sex acts, perjury and other offenses.

From at least 1994 to 1997, Maxwell assisted, facilitated and contributed to Epstein's alleged abuse of minor girls, according to the six-count indictment.

Attorney General William Barr told ABC News on Wednesday that he is keeping a close watch to make sure that Maxwell makes it to trial after Epstein died by suicide in a Manhattan jail while awaiting trial last year.

"We have asked [the Bureau of Prisons] to tell us specifically the protocols they're following and we have a number of redundant systems to monitor the situation," Barr said.

Barr said he was "livid" Epstein died while in custody last August. The investigation into Epstein has continued even after his death.

"I believe very strongly in that case," Barr told ABC News on Wednesday. "And I was very proud of the work done by the department, the Southern District [of New York], on that case. And as you will recall, after he committed suicide, I said that I was confident that we would continue to pursue this case vigorously and pursue anyone who's complicit in it. And so I'm very happy that we were able to get Ms. Maxwell."

A source said the BOP is taking extra preventative measures to regain the public's trust and confidence as well as preserving the integrity of the Justice Department.

Epstein's death set off an investigation that has not yet concluded, but has resulted in the indictment of two of the corrections officers who stood watch of Epstein that night.

Authorities have accused the two officers of falsifying government records.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



Keep Informed
Local News

WJTN Headlines for Sat., July 11, 2020

Wendel and Berke express concerns over COVID-19 case spike, and people in isolation or quarantine... Chautauqua County officials are expressing serious concerns about a new peak in COVID-19 cases... ...

Read More