Nikki Haley, former U.S. ambassador to the UN, praises the efforts of President Trump while being critical of former Vice President Joe Biden.

Associated Press

A Florida judge ruled Monday that the state’s order to reopen schools amid the coronavirus pandemic was unconstitutional, instead deciding that local lawmakers should make such decisions.

Circuit Judge Charles Dodson struck down any requirement that brick-and-mortar schools be open at least five days a week and that reopening plans have to be approved by state Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran.

Meanwhile, in California, firefighters are battling massive wildfires that have worsened the state’s air quality when residents are already at a high risk of pulmonary disease because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Experts say the air quality is worse in the Bay Area than cities known for poor air quality like New Delhi.

Some significant developments:

📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has 5.7 million confirmed infections and more than 177,00 deaths. Worldwide, there have been more than 813,000 deaths and 23.7 million cases, according to John Hopkins University data. 

📰 What we’re reading: USA TODAY’s expert panelists, increasingly optimistic about the prospect of a readily available vaccine, are concerned about who will get it first, how doses will be shipped, and what messages the government must send so Americans trust getting one.

This file will be updated throughout the day. For updates in your inbox, subscribe to the Daily Briefing.

Florida university suspends fraternities after off-campus parties that broke COVID-19 rules

Two fraternities at Florida Gulf Coast University have been suspended after allegedly throwing large, off-campus parties Friday night, ignoring the school’s new COVID-19 health and safety rules. 

School officials were made aware of the events held by Sigma Chi and Phi Delta Theta fraternities, which were allegedly “not compliant with the university’s COVID-19 health and safety measures for crowd size, masks and social distancing,” said Susan Evans, chief of staff for the Fort Myers-based university. 

The two organizations are now cut off from normal activities, including holding meetings and recruitment efforts, until adjudicated through the process outlined in the student code of conduct.

Last week, the university re-opened to in-person classes. The university has about 15,000 students enrolled in fall courses, which are being offered in a variety of virtual and face-to-face options.

– Pamela McCabe, Fort Myers News-Press

Olympic gold medalist Usain Bolt tests positive for COVID-19

Eight-time Olympic gold medalist Usain Bolt has tested positive for COVID-19, a top Jamaican public health official confirmed in a news conference Monday night. The sprinter previously said in a statement on social media Monday that he took a COVID-19 test on Saturday, one day after celebrating his 34th birthday, and was waiting on the result.

“I’m trying to be responsible, so I’m going to stay in and stay away from my friends,” Bolt said in the message, which he posted early Monday afternoon. “I’m having no symptoms (but) am going to quarantine myself.”

Nationwide News Network, a Jamaican radio station, first reported that Bolt had tested positive Monday morning.

Bolt is the latest notable athlete to contract COVID-19, which has infected more than 23 million people worldwide, according to data from the World Health Organization. Jamaica has recorded 1,529 cases of COVID-19 to date.

– Tom Schad

At least 6 states trying to track outbreaks from the 10-day Sturgis bike rally

The hundreds of thousands of bikers who attended the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally may have departed western South Dakota, but public health departments in multiple states are trying to measure how much and how quickly the coronavirus spread in bars, tattoo shops and gatherings before people traveled home to nearly every state in the country.

From the city of Sturgis, which is conducting mass testing for its roughly 7,000 residents, to health departments in at least six states, health officials are trying to track outbreaks from the 10-day rally which ended on Aug. 16. 

An analysis of anonymous cell phone data from Camber Systems, a firm that aggregates cell phone activity for health researchers, found that 61% of all the counties in the U.S. have been visited by someone who attended Sturgis, creating a travel hub that was comparable to a major U.S. city.

Health departments in four states, including South Dakota, Minnesota, Nebraska and Wyoming, have reported a total of 81 cases among people who attended the rally. South Dakota health officials said Monday they had received reports of infections from residents of two other states — North Dakota and Washington. The Department of Health also issued public warnings of possible COVID-19 exposure at five businesses popular with bikers, saying it didn’t know how many people could have been exposed. Read more. 

– Stephen Groves, Associated Press

COVID-19 and the RNC: Republicans defend Trump’s pandemic response

Republicans defended President Donald Trump’s response to the coronavirus pandemic and slammed Joe Biden on Monday during the first night of a GOP convention.

In a series of videos and remarks, some of them live and others taped, Republicans touted the president’s response to the coronavirus, promised to lift the economy back to pre-pandemic levels and generally attempted to present the election as a choice between Biden and Trump rather than as a referendum on the president’s last four years.

Trump plans to appear every night of the mostly virtual four-day virtual Republican National Convention. After Monday’s kickoff in Charlotte, North Carolina, most of the GOP convention will take place in Washington, D.C., at and around the White House, as well as by video.

– Courtney Subramanian, Maureen Groppe, Ledyard King, John Fritze, David Jackson, William Cummings

Louisiana governor: Do not throw a hurricane party

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards says please just don’t to Louisiana residents thinking of planning a hurricane party.

“Hurricane parties are never a good idea, and they’re an absolutely horrible idea during COVID. There’s multiple dangers there,” Edwards said in a press conference Monday. “And I would say rather than doing that, they need to spend their time preparing for this particular hurricane.” 

Laura, projected to be a hurricane at landfall, is approaching the Gulf coastline. Health officials advise against gatherings of large groups of people to reduce the spread of COVID-19. 

– Daniella Medina, Lafayette (La.) Daily Advertiser

Tuesday numbers: Record deaths, cases across the US

A USA TODAY analysis of Johns Hopkins data through late Monday shows three states set records for new cases in a week while two states had a record number of deaths in a week. New case records were set in Kansas, North Dakota and South Dakota, and also Guam. Record numbers of deaths were reported in Arkansas and Wyoming.

– Mike Stucka

Inaccurate results from rapid COVID-19 tests raise concerns about mass screening

Dozens of people who took quick-result coronavirus tests at a Manchester, Vermont, clinic in July were told they had the virus, only to be informed days later that more accurate lab tests concluded they didn’t.

But last week, Quidel, the company that makes the rapid antigen test used by the clinic, stood by the original results. The top executive said it’s “highly likely” his company’s test was correct, and the state of Vermont’s conflicting lab-based test was “at risk of providing inaccurate results.”

As companies and universities create their own strategies to widely test employees and students – even those with no symptoms of COVID-19 or no known exposure to the virus – experts warn such confusion over conflicting results is inevitable. Read more.

– Ken Alltucker

Colleges need COVID-19 tests to reopen. Some don’t have much of a plan.

What the pandemic means for California’s firefighters

Leaders battling blazes across the West say they’re holding their own, despite the pandemic. Some adjustments to COVID-19 are proving more effective than previous tactics. But as more fires erupt in California and elsewhere, first responders are bracing for a long battle that will force them to revamp time-tested strategies on the fly.

“We’re building the bridge as we cross it,” said George Geissler, Washington state forester and deputy supervisor for wildfire.

Like many states, California’s strategy this year involves an aggressive early response, trying to squelch fires quickly in the hopes that will prevent some from becoming large blazes. The fewer massive fires, the fewer large camps will be required, lessening COVID-19 risk. Read more from Pew/Stateline.

NFL’s Miami Dolphins want 13,000 fans in the stadium for Sept. 20 game

Fifteen of the NFL’s 32 teams have so far ruled out spectators to start the season, but the Miami Dolphins won’t be joining them.

The Dolphins are one of at least eight teams hoping to have a limited number of spectators, allowing up to 13,000 socially distancing fans to attend their home opener against the Buffalo Bills on Sept. 20. The same plan will be followed for the University of Miami’s home opener against UAB at the Dolphins’ stadium on Sept. 10.

Crowd size will be about 20% of the stadium’s 65,326-seat capacity, with the limitation imposed because of the coronavirus pandemic. Groups of spectators will be spaced 6 feet apart.


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KFC scraps use of ‘Finger Lickin’ Good’ in its ads amid coronavirus pandemic

Fried chicken chain KFC is suspending the slogan “It’s Finger Lickin’ Good” after 64 years because use of the slogan “doesn’t feel quite right.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one of the steps people can take to protect themselves from spreading COVID-19 is washing hands often, and keeping hands away from your mouth, nose and eyes.

KFC said the slogan will not go away forever. The chain said they will bring it back “when the time is right.”

– Brett Molina

JFK, LaGuardia airports to get COVID-19 testing sites for incoming travelers

New York will set up COVID-19 testing sites for incoming passengers at its two largest airports as part of the latest effort to stop travelers from bringing the coronavirus to the state.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Monday the sites slated for John F. Kennedy and LaGuardia airports in Queens, saying it will allow the state to more quickly determine whether incoming travelers have the virus at the center of a global pandemic.

“We’re actually setting up testing sites at our airports. We’ll be able to do faster testing of people coming in, including hospital staff,” Cuomo said Monday at a news conference on Long Island.

Cuomo did not offer details on when the testing will be rolled out, what the cost for inbound travelers will be or what happens when someone tests positive. The USA TODAY Network has reached out to his office and the Port Authority for specifics about the plan.

– Jon Campbell, New York State Team

COVID-19 resources from USA TODAY

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Contributing: The Associated Press

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