INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana's coronavirus death toll is approaching 2,900 in little more than four months as state health officials on Saturday added 11 fatalities to the total.
The state health department also announced 934 additional confirmed COVID-19 infections, a day after the number of new cases topped 1,000 for the first time since the outbreak hit Indiana during March.
In Allen County, another resident has died from COVID-19, and 32 have tested positive, bringing the total to 3,311 cases and 151 deaths Saturday.
Gov. Eric Holcomb pointed to the renewed growth in coronavirus infections and hospitalizations in announcing a statewide face mask mandate that starts Monday.
Indiana hospitals had 824 coronavirus patients as of Friday in a slight drop from a day earlier. Indiana had seen a steady decline in hospitalizations since being over 1,400 a day through April into early May before a recent trend back upward.
The new deaths of people infected with COVID-19 push to 2,895 the state's total including confirmed and presumed cases.
Mnuchin says new aid package coming
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Saturday that Republicans were set to roll out the next COVID-19 aid package Monday and assured there was backing from the White House after he and President Donald Trump's top aide met to salvage the $1 trillion proposal that had floundered just days before.
Mnuchin told reporters at the Capitol that extending an expiring unemployment benefit – but reducing it substantially – was a top priority for Trump. The secretary called the $600 weekly aid “ridiculous” and a disincentive for people to go back to work. He also promised a fresh round of $1,200 stimulus checks would be coming in August.
“We're prepared to move quickly,” Mnuchin said after he and Mark Meadows, the president's acting chief of staff, spent several hours with GOP staff at the Capitol. He said the president would “absolutely” support the emerging Republican package.
Mnuchin's optimistic assessment came before Democrats weighed in publicly on the updated proposal, which remained only a starting point in negotiations with House and Senate leaders in the other party. He said he recently called House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer ahead of shuttle negotiations this week on the broader deal.
The White House and Senate Republicans were racing to regroup after plans to introduce a $1 trillion virus rescue bill collapsed Thursday amid GOP infighting over its size, scope and details.
It was expected to bring $105 billion to help schools reopen, new money for virus testing and benefits for businesses, including a fresh round of loans, tax breaks and a sweeping liability shield from COVID-related lawsuits.
March in Illinois opposes face masks
Just weeks away from the ringing of the schoolhouse bell, scores of people rallied at the Illinois Capitol on Saturday against the state's requirement that schoolchildren must wear face coverings this fall.
In a state where the numbers of cases of COVID-19 are rising, if not as quickly as they are surging in several other states, the protesters took aim at Gov. J.B. Pritzker's broadside this week that people who forgo face coverings are “the enemy.”
“I don't think all this pressure needs to be put on the kids,” said Adam Dunn of Decatur, whose kids are out of school. “They need freedom to go play, have a childhood.”
The “Million Unmasked March,” which took its name from the social-justice march a quarter-century ago, drew about 250 people.
Florida passes NY in confirmed cases
Florida jumped ahead of New York in confirmed cases of COVID-19 according to the CDC's data, after the Sunshine State reported another 12,199 infections Saturday.
The state says 414,511 people have been diagnosed with the disease, placing it No. 2 in the nation and now in front of New York and its 406,506 cases. California leads the way with 425,616, based on the COVID Data Tracker from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Health departments in the three states also are reporting similar data that confirm Florida has vaulted over New York.
The New York State Department of Health on Saturday announced a total of 411,200 infections; California listed 445,400 cases. Texas, another current hot spot, reported 375,846 cases.
UK removes Spain from safe travel list
Britain is advising people not to travel to Spain and has removed the country from the list of safe places to visit after a surge of COVID-19 cases.
The Department for Transport issued a statement Saturday warning that as of midnight, anyone returning from Spain would have to self-isolate.
“Following a significant change over the last week in both the level and pace of change in confirmed cases, Spain has been removed from the list of countries where people do not have to self-isolate when arriving into to the UK,'' the Department for Transport said in a statement.
Spain has reported more than 900 new daily infections for the last two days as authorities warn that the country that lost over 28,000 lives before getting its outbreak under control could be facing a second major outbreak.