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Coronavirus updates: Florida reaches new record daily death toll

Ovidiu Dugulan/iStockBy MORGAN WINSOR and EMILY SHAPIRO, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- A pandemic of the novel coronavirus has now killed more than 737,000 people worldwide.

Over 20 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 national governments are hiding or downplaying the scope of their outbreaks.

Since the first cases were detected in China in December, the United States has become the worst-affected country, with more than 5 million diagnosed cases and at least 163,681 deaths.

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

6:47 p.m.: CDC issues guidance on dealing with 'mask bullying'

The CDC has released new guidance for K-12 schools on face masks, including having a plan in place to address bullying and angry parents.

"Stigma, discrimination, or bullying may arise due to wearing or not wearing a cloth face covering," the CDC states. "Schools should have a plan to prevent and address harmful or inappropriate behavior."

The CDC also notes that since not all families may agree with mask policies, "schools should have a plan to address challenges that may arise and refer parents, caregivers, and guardians to CDC's guidance on cloth face coverings."

The CDC recommends that people ages 2 and up who do not have trouble breathing should wear cloth face coverings in public settings and when around those outside their household, as part of mitigation measures to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

In its new school guidance, the CDC also suggests that schools remind parents and staff to avoid touching the outside of the mask, and to wash their hands after they do. It also recommends adding cloth face coverings to "back to school" shopping lists.

4:30 p.m.: Pac-12, Big Ten postpone all sports including football

The Pac-12 Conference is postponing all sports through the end of 2020 due to the pandemic.

"Unlike professional sports, college sports cannot operate in a bubble," Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said in a statement. "Our athletic programs are a part of broader campuses in communities where in many cases the prevalence of COVID-19 is significant. We will continue to monitor the situation and when conditions change we will be ready to explore all options to play the impacted sports in the new calendar year."

The Big Ten Conference said earlier Tuesday that it too is postponing the football season as well as all other fall sports.

"As time progressed and after hours of discussion with our Big Ten Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases and the Big Ten Sports Medicine Committee, it became abundantly clear that there was too much uncertainty regarding potential medical risks to allow our student-athletes to compete," Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren said in a statement.

4:20 p.m.: Over 800 students quarantined in Georgia school district

Georgia's Cherokee County school district has ordered 826 students and 42 teachers to quarantine due to possible exposure in the six days schools have been open, The Atlanta Journal Constitution reported.

Of the more than 42,000 students in the district, about 25% of them chose to do virtual learning, according to the outlet.

One high school in the district has announced that it will close through at least Aug. 30 following 14 confirmed cases. Remote learning for those students will begin Thursday.

Cherokee district staff must wear masks but students do not, the outlet said.

Cherokee County is about 40 miles north of Atlanta.

11:45 a.m.: Florida sees new record daily death toll

Hard-hit Florida reached a new record daily death toll with 276 additional fatalities reported on Monday, according to the state's Department of Health.

The previous high record was 257 deaths reported on July 31.

Florida, with more than 542,000 diagnosed coronavirus cases, has the second highest number of cases in the U.S. behind California.

At least 8,684 people in Florida have died, according to the state's Department of Health.

11:25 a.m.: Cuomo adds Hawaii, South Dakota, Virgin Islands to travel list

Hawaii, South Dakota and the Virgin Islands have been added to New York state's travel advisory list, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Tuesday.

Alaska, New Mexico, Ohio and Rhode Island have been removed from the list.

Those traveling to New York from states on the list must quarantine for two weeks when arriving.

A state or territory is added to the list if it has a positive test rate higher than 10 per 100,000 residents over a one-week average or a 10% or higher positivity rate over a one-week average.

Here are the states and territories currently on New York's travel advisory list: Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Iowa, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota, Nebraska, Nevada, Oklahoma, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Virgin Islands and Wisconsin.

In New York state, once the U.S. epicenter of the pandemic, .86% of those tested on Monday were positive, Cuomo said.

10:40 a.m.: UMass cancels football season

The University of Massachusetts is canceling its football season, athletic director Ryan Bamford announced Tuesday.

"The continuing challenges surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic posed too great of a risk," he said in a statement.

Football players started returning to campus in June. In the last seven weeks, there has been one positive coronavirus test among the more than 600 tests administered to the team, the school said.

7:29 a.m.: 'The point is not to be first with a vaccine,' Azar says

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said "transparent data" from phase three clinical trials is necessary to determine whether a vaccine is actually safe and effective.

Azar made the comments during an interview Tuesday on ABC's Good Morning America, following news that Russia had become the first country in the world to officially register a COVID-19 vaccine and declare it ready for use. Moscow approved the vaccine before completing its final Phase III trial, and no scientific data has been released from the early trials so far.

"The point is not to be first with a vaccine; the point is to have a vaccine that is safe and effective for the American people and the people of the world," Azar said on GMA.

The U.S.-led Operation Warp Speed initiative, which the Trump administration introduced in early April, currently has six vaccines in development, including two that are in Phase III trials -- the final stage before a vaccine candidate could potentially be authorized for use by the Food and Drug Administration. Azar said he believes the United States "could have FDA-authorized or approved vaccines by December."

"We believe that we are on track towards having tens of millions of doses by December of FDA gold-standard vaccine, and hundreds of millions of doses as we go into the new year," Azar said. "It will really depend on the speed at which the clinical trials enroll and people are vaccinated and then are exposed to the virus."

6:31 a.m.: New Zealand returns to lockdown after finding local transmission

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced Tuesday that the city of Auckland would temporarily return to lockdown, after four new locally-transmitted cases of COVID-19 were identified in a household in the region.

New Zealand had gone 102 days without recording any locally-transmitted cases -- until now.

Auckland will be placed under level three restrictions for three days, starting Wednesday afternoon. The rest of the country will go into level two until midnight on Friday.

Residents of Auckland will be asked to stay home where possible, while restaurants, bars and non-essential shops will shutter. Schools across the city will also be closed for those three days and gatherings of over 10 people will be prohibited.

"We're asking people in Auckland to stay home to stop the spread," Ardern said at a press conference Tuesday. "Act as if you have COVID, and as though people around you have COVID."

5:10 a.m.: Russia becomes first country to approve COVID-19 vaccine, Putin says

Russian President Vladimir Putin announced Tuesday that his country has become the first in the world to grant regulatory approval to a COVID-19 vaccine.

Speaking at a meeting with his cabinet ministers on state television, Putin said the vaccine had "passed all the needed checks" and had even been given to one of his daughters. The vaccine will soon be administered to Russian health workers, he said.

The vaccine, developed by the state-run Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology in Moscow, was officially registered and declared ready for use after less than two months of human testing, without completing its final Phase III trial. So far, the drug has been tested on fewer than 100 people and Russia has yet to release any scientific data from those early trials.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says Phase III trials must involve a minimum of 3,000 volunteers to be recognized.

Dozens of COVID-19 vaccine candidates are being developed by teams of researchers around the world, and several are in final Phase III human trials, according to the latest data from the World Health Organization.

3:45 a.m.: US records under 50,000 new cases for second straight day

There were 49,544 new cases of COVID-19 identified in the United States on Monday, according to a count kept by Johns Hopkins University.

It's the second consecutive day that the nation has recorded under 50,000 new cases. An additional 525 coronavirus-related deaths were also reported.

Sunday's caseload is well below the record set on July 16, when more than 77,000 new cases were identified in a 24-hour reporting period.

A total of 5,094,565 people in the U.S. have been diagnosed with COVID-19 since the pandemic began, and at least 163,465 of them have died, according to Johns Hopkins. The cases include people from all 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C. and other U.S. territories as well as repatriated citizens.

By May 20, all U.S. states had begun lifting stay-at-home orders and other restrictions put in place to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. The day-to-day increase in the country's cases then hovered around 20,000 for a couple of weeks before shooting back up and crossing 70,000 for the first time in mid-July.

Many states have seen a rise in infections in recent weeks, with some -- including Arizona, California and Florida -- reporting daily records. However, the nationwide number of new cases and deaths have both decreased in the last week, according to an internal memo from the Federal Emergency Management Agency obtained by ABC News Monday night.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Seattle police chief resigns in wake of 'personal' budget cuts to department


(NEW YORK) -- Seattle’s police chief resigned late Monday in the wake of protests against police brutality and a recent Seattle City Council vote to defund her department by 14%.

Carmen Best announced her shocking retirement in an email to staff, saying it was a “difficult decision,” but the department formally announced her departure in a press conference Tuesday afternoon.

"I'm sad to leave in some ways but you know when it's time it's time," Best told reporters. "You will always be in my heart. You are without a doubt the best police department in the country."

"What is important is you have remained committed to being the best to continuously improving and innovating," she added.

Best, who made history when she became the city’s first Black female police chief in 2018, said the resignation would be effective Sept. 2. She had been with the department for 28 years.

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan became emotional as she praised Best, calling her "the model for what we need."

"She loves the city she served. She loves the department and her officers. She has fought to keep her officers safe and healthy and get them the resources they need to do their jobs," Durkan said. "She has been a role model for so many women, especially young black women and girls. She does it always such grace was such a great sense of humor in such a great deep humility."

She said called her departure a "deep loss for our city," especially during the ongoing civil unrest happening throughout the city and across the nation.

She noted that Best helped the city grapple with a global pandemic "that's getting worse" and guided it through "a civil rights reckoning that has made our nation, our state and our city confront, acknowledge and begin to truly address the generational harms caused by systemic racism."

The mayor also criticized the city council for targeting Best with budget cuts while refusing to make cuts to their own salaries or other departments.

Durkan has appointed deputy chief Adrian Diaz as interim police chief. He has been in law enforcement for more than 20 years.

The announcement came came just hours after the city’s council voted to reduce the department’s spending plan by 14%, far below the 50% reduction that some council members had advocated for.

Approval of the measure first came with an 7-1 vote on several amendments introduced by the council that included cutting the pay of top police officers and eliminating the Navigation Team and SWAT unit.

Best and Durkan had both urged the council to delay the budget cuts until 2021.

"I definitely think it's personal, but with that said, I'm stepping out of the way and doing what a real leader would do and focusing on what's going to help the organization and the wheel forward," Best said. "The council gave us $1.6 million to make sure that we hired the best and the brightest and the most diverse and brought them on and less than a year later, we're gonna just turn them all away."

"It feels very duplicitous and, honestly, I just, I have my convictions I cannot do that," she added.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Downtown Chicago reopens for cleanup in wake of widespread looting

iStock/MelpomenemBY: KARMA ALLEN

(WASHINGTON) -- Downtown Chicago's expressways and bridges reopened on Tuesday as business owners and emergency workers rushed to recover in the wake of widespread looting and violence.

City officials had placed the area on lockdown, restricting access to residents and business owners, following hours of looting and vandalism that damaged businesses and resulted in more than 100 arrests, according to police.

Thirteen officers were injured, including a sergeant who was attacked with a bottle, and at least two civilians were shot during the unrest after midnight Sunday, as hundreds overran the city's upscale Magnificent Mile shopping district and surrounding areas with vandalism and violence, authorities said.

The travel restrictions lifted early Tuesday morning, but city officials said it would be a while for things to go back to normal with broken glass, trash and debris still strewn about the streets in some areas.

Much of the unrest happened along the Magnificent Mile, one of the city's most-popular tourist attractions, where looters were seen stuffing vehicles with shopping bags full of stolen merchandise and store equipment.

ATM machines were compromised, cash registers were stolen and at least one bank was broken into, police said.

The unrest came as a triple blow for businesses that are struggling to stay afloat amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Some business were targeted by looters earlier this summer in the wake of anti-racism and police brutality protests.

Lightfoot said this week's criminal activity had nothing to do with "legitimate" organized protests and described it as "an assault on our city.” Lightfoot has repeatedly knocked down calls for federal intervention.

“Again, no, we do not need federal troops in Chicago, period, full stop,” Lightfoot told reporters Monday.

Black Lives Matter Chicago claimed those involved were actually protesting.

About 200 protesters gathered outside a police station in the South Loop Monday night for a "solidarity rally" for those arrested, noting that they had been protesting against police brutality.

Investigators acknowledged the unrest started after inaccurate reports online about an unarmed juvenile being shot by police in the Englewood area. The shooting victim was actually a 20-year-old man who allegedly opened fire on police while being chased, authorities said.

“The mayor clearly has not learned anything since May, and she would be wise to understand that the people will keep rising up until the [Chicago Police Department] is abolished and our Black communities are fully invested in,” Black Lives Matter Chicago said in a statement. “When protesters attack high-end retail stores that are owned by the wealthy and service the wealthy, that is not ‘our’ city and has never been meant for us.”

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Teachers concerned over COVID-19 safety as schools reopen, new cases are reported


(NEW YORK) -- Nancy Shively, a lifelong educator in Oklahoma, says she’s always loved teaching. But with the coronavirus still raging and schools around the country beginning to reopen, she resigned from her job last week to protect herself and her family.

Shively has spent the last few years teaching special education. She said it’s been “rewarding” helping students to develop their strengths and overcome their weaknesses. After starting a job at a new school in the Skiatook Public Schools district last year, she’s disappointed she won’t be back to greet the second graders who are now entering third grade. Her school started in-person classes on Monday.

“I was really looking forward to it, and I have to finally come to the decision that I can’t [go back],” Shively told “Nightline.” “I was heartbroken. My children are grown but my daughters in particular asked me not to go back. And I lost my own mother when I was 30, and that’s about the age they are now and I don’t want them to go through that ... the choice became, do I resign to protect myself and my kids or do I keep going because I want to help my students?”

In her 60s and dealing with underlying health conditions, Shively said the potential exposure to COVID-19 at school not only puts her at risk but also her husband at home, who she says is also susceptible to the virus.

Shively’s concern is one shared by many students, parents and teachers as safety issues in some schools begin to emerge. At North Paulding High School in Dallas, Georgia, where in-person classes started last week, images of its packed hallways between classes went viral on social media. On Saturday, a letter received by one of the parents and provided to ABC News said six students and three staff members at the high school had tested positive for COVID-19.

Tiffany Robbins' daughter, Elyse, goes to Sequoyah High School, which faced similar criticism after a photo surfaced of students not wearing masks or social distancing on the first day of classes. She said she wasn't surprised by the North Paulding image. As an English teacher who returned to work last week at Dean Rusk Middle School in Cherokee County, Georgia, she says the excitement of being back at school turned into stress and anxiety by the end of the week.

“We are happy to be face to face. We’re happy to be in the building,” Robbins, who is also the president of the Cherokee County Teachers Association, told “Nightline.” “But we don’t feel like we can guarantee the safety of our students -- the safety of our coworkers.”

Robbins said “it took a lot of soul searching,” but she chose to go back to school because she loves to teach. “And if this is the only way I can do it in this county, at this point in my life, then I have to go back into the classroom,” she said.

She also updated her will and looked into life insurance “because I am worried,” she explained.

Georgia saw a record number of COVID-19 deaths over the weekend even as new cases and hospitalizations have started going down. In the Cherokee County School District, more than 250 students and staff have been quarantining after at least 11 students and two staff members tested positive for COVID-19.

In her community, Robbins says one of the challenges she faces is that some parents don’t believe the virus is real.

“There are many students across the county who come in declaring to their teachers that their parents don’t believe in COVID,” Robbins said. “There are parents who’ve reached out to me to express their dislike of my requests for a safe school. Across the board, there are people who believe in science and there are people who don’t believe in science, and having a conversation between the two is almost pointless. We’re not going to change each other's minds.”

Robbins said she can have between 25 and 35 students in each of her four classes, or about 120 students a day. At the middle school level, many of these students then go on to different classes, “not really moving together as a team,” she noted.

She said that even with several precautions in place, like making hand sanitizer, cleaning supplies and masks available, the risk of exposure to the virus is still there.

“Every day you leave your house and you walk into the building, you’re exposing yourself to hundreds and hundreds of students who are exposing themselves to multiple people when they’re outside of school,” Robbins said.

Dibett Lopez, a language arts teacher in Gwinnett County, Georgia, says she’s feeling a lot of anxiety about returning to school. Classes in her county are scheduled to begin on Wednesday, first through virtual learning until Aug. 26 and then by phasing in students for in-person learning thereafter.

Lopez said even this plan is risky for her and her family. She lives in a multigenerational home with her grandfather, her parents, her children and her sister’s family, and she’s also a Type 1 diabetic.

“For Type 1 diabetics, fevers can impact our blood sugar," she said. "It can put us in different ranges with our blood sugar, it can mess with our insulin and the production of our insulin and our hormones. And so, all of that can mess with how medicine comes into us.”

Lopez said that like her, many of her students live in multigenerational homes, and she’s concerned her students may become asymptomatic carriers and inadvertently pass the virus on to someone in their families.

“Gwinnett is the most diverse county in all of Georgia, and so I have students from last semester who live with grandparents or live with aunts and uncles or live with extended families,” she said. “So I know that multigenerational homes are definitely going to be impacted. I know that they were impacted in the spring, so I can only imagine when schools reopen in the fall.”

When students return to school, Lopez said she expects them to face “a lot of confusion and chaos” as they try to adjust to the new protocols. Like Robbins, she said her classes have upwards of 36 students.

“There’s just no way that I’m not going to be within 3 [feet], 2 feet of a student,” she said. “You know, even if I wore a face shield and both of my masks, I’m still going to be in direct contact with those students.”

Lopez also said “there’s nothing else we would rather do” than teach students in-person. But she said teachers shouldn’t be placed in a position where they’re risking their own health or that of their students, some of whom may also have underlying health conditions.

“We are still in a pandemic. We’re still in crisis mode. We’ve just learned how to handle it better,” she said. “And so, I think it’s important to tell parents this is about our community. This is about making sure that we are all OK, because I can’t deliver a lesson if I’m constantly thinking about, ‘Oh my God, are they getting too close?’”

Shively said she’s concerned for younger teachers, who aren’t at the end of their career and don’t have the option to resign. In an op-ed she wrote for USA Today, she called out President Donald Trump and the federal government as well as local governments for what she says is failed leadership.

“It’s like a cascade of failure of leadership, starting with our president who abdicated his responsibility to handle the pandemic,” she told “Nightline."

“I’m not willing to take the consequences for these failed leaders by risking my life in school,” she added.

Shively said she doesn’t “see how they are going to avoid outbreaks in schools.”

“I think what we’re doing is conducting this big experiment with schools reopening,” she said. “And the people who are gonna pay the price are the teachers and children, and it’s wrong.”

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

More than a million without power in Midwest from severe storms, heat wave continues Northeast


(NEW YORK) -- A derecho moved through the Midwest Monday from Nebraska to Ohio producing more than 500 damaging severe storm reports and leaving more than one million people without power.

A derecho is a powerful line of severe storms that produces straight line winds that can cause major damage.

The highest winds in this derecho were in Linn County, Iowa, of 112 mph.

In Lee County, Illinois, winds gusted to 92 mph and in Chicago’s Lincoln Square, a weather observation recorded a wind gust to 85 mph.

Meanwhile, the Northeast still has thousands of people that are without power from last week’s Tropical Storm as the heat wave is set to continue there.

Eight states from New Jersey to Maine are under Heat Advisory where some areas could feel like it’s 95 to 102 degrees.

So when will this sauna-like weather will be over in the Northeast? Looks like not until Thursday, and Wednesday will be another hot and humid day.

In the West, it’s bone dry with erratic gusty winds that are spreading wildfires quickly.

Because of these dry and windy conditions, the Grizzly Creek Fire in western Colorado spread so quickly that interstate 70 had to be shut down overnight.

The fire is now covers 1,300 acres and containment is currently unknown.

Ten western states are under Red Flag Warnings, Fire Weather Watches and Excessive Heat Watches.

Western Colorado is expected to see gusty winds to near 30 mph with relative humidity as low as 7%.

An Excessive Heat Watch has been issued for southern California deserts and into Arizona including Phoenix, where temperatures are expected to reach 110 to 120 by the end of the week.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

ASU staff, students protest return to school


(TEMPE, Ariz.) -- Even as students have begun moving into housing at one of the biggest colleges in the United States, debate rages over if they should even be there in the first place.

With the fall term scheduled to begin Aug. 20, Arizona State University is facing backlash from students and staff for insisting on opening in-person amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Five hundred staff and students signed a letter to ASU's president with concerns over COVID-19 safety on campus.

"Communication regarding the reasoning for ASU’s return to in-person instruction at this time and regarding what will happen when an eventual outbreak occurs on campus has been lacking," the letter explained.

The school announced in May that it would be opening with in-person classes in spite of a rise in coronavirus cases in the state and advice from a state official for schools to be careful about reopening.
"Arizona is not currently in place to resume traditional in-person instruction or hybrid learning models. Every indicator says that there is high community spread across the state," Arizona State Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman said in an Aug. 4 statement.

The school president and provost are working to address the concerns expressed in the letter, an ASU spokesperson told ABC News in a statement, saying the letter included "very legitimate ideas, questions, requests and concerns."

"ASU will continue to provide a university-wide framework for managing and mitigating the spread of COVID-19, which to the maximum extent possible empowers individual members of the ASU community to live, work, teach, research, and serve the people of Arizona in whatever ways best address the needs of each individual member of the ASU community," the statement continued.

Some of ASU's plans for when students and staff return to campus for in-person learning include in-person courses with less than 100 students, staggered in-person learning, mandatory face-coverings in all ASU buildings and no visitors in ASU resident halls, according to the school's website.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Jeffrey Epstein's suicide still looms over the BOP one year later

Florida Dept. of Law EnforcementBy LUKE BARR, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- One year after Jeffrey Epstein's suicide inside New York's Metropolitan Correctional Center there have been no answers from the federal Bureau of Prisons on what happened Aug. 10, 2019 after a promised investigation and a call for more transparency.

"We will get to the bottom of it, and there will be accountability," Attorney General William Barr said just days after the suicide.

In an interview with Axios last week, President Donald Trump suggested that he believes that Epstein's death wasn't a suicide, despite his attorney general and medical experts concluding it was.

"People are still trying to figure out how did it happen. Was it suicide? Was he killed?" Trump asked.

That contradicts what Barr has said on several occasions about the death of the former financier and convicted sex offender.

The attorney general told ABC News' Chief Justice Correspondent Pierre Thomas in July, he was "livid' about the suicide.

"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," Barr said.

Barr said that at the surface the motives seemed nefarious, but it wasn't once he took a look at the whole picture.

The Bureau of Prisons declined to make the director available for an interview and declined to comment citing ongoing investigations.

A week after Epstein's death, the attorney general appointed a new Bureau of Prisons director -- Kathleen Hawk Sawyer. Barr also promised to get to the bottom of what happened in MCC New York.

Hawk Sawyer, a BOP veteran, lasted less than a year in the institution, and new director Michael Carvajal was appointed by the attorney general in March.

The relocation of the warden in charge of the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York, was stalled by the Bureau of Prisons in January. The BOP said Lamine N'Diaye, who was the warden at the time of Epstein's death, has been "deferred pending the conclusion of investigations."

Shane Fausey, the president of the Council of Prison Locals, the union that represents corrections officers said that the bureau has serious staffing issues, that have yet to be addressed.

"Until we have enough correctional officers to properly supervise inmates, we can't increase the level of safety and incidents will continue to happen. The agency is reactionary," Fausey explained. "Reacting to problems instead of being proactive. You can only be proactive, if you're adequately staffed. The COVID response, the suicide rates, the rates of inmate violence. The statistics speak for themselves and they depict an agency in the midst of a staffing crisis."

In November, two corrections officers, Tova Noel and Michael Thomas, were charged with "making false records and conspiring to make false records and to defraud the United States by impairing the lawful functions of the Metropolitan Correctional Center, a Manhattan detention facility that houses federal inmates," a release from the Southern District of New York said.

"For a period of approximately two hours, Noel and Thomas sat at their desk without moving, and appeared to have been asleep," the indictment says. "Noel used the computer periodically throughout the night including to search the internet for furniture sales and benefit websites. Thomas used the computer briefly around 1 a.m., 4 a.m. and 6 a.m. to search for motorcycle sales and sports news."

Both Noel and Thomas have pleaded not guilty.

"These indictments don't address the core issues inside of the Metropolitan Correctional Center New York or the Federal Prison system in its entirety. These staff were placed in an assignment where the tools and resources needed to be successful were not available. Simply assigning blame will not correct the staff shortages that put this chain of events in place," Tyrone Covington, who represents the Correctional Officers Union, and is president of union Local 3148 said.

Federal Bureau of Prisons sources told ABC News, that "nothing" has changed inside the agency -- despite pledges to do so.

One federal source said there has been no movement on the internal investigation looking at BOP's shortfalls with Epstein's death, and none on the investigation into the 2018 death of Whitey Bulger, the legendary leader of the Boston-based Winter Hill Gang. Bulger was beaten to death at United States Penitentiary Hazelton in West Virginia.

Even with the added scrutiny, BOP facilities have been in the headlines.

At MCC, a gun was found inside the facility in March 2020.

From May 2019 to December 2019, there were 11 assaults of MCC officers, while there have been 15 in just the first two months of 2020, a source said.

A source familiar with the matter says that the very place where Epstein died by suicide, the Special Housing Unit, is “routinely” understaffed highlighting a major safety issue for the inmates in the SHU.

One source described the prison as a "nightmare" to work in and outlined what they describe as a revolving door of leadership, where some members of upper management are only in their positions for 18 months before they move on to different facilities.

Typically, the source said, wardens and associate wardens stay at a facility much longer.

MCC has had their share of high profile inmates, such as Michael Avenatti, the former lawyer to Stormy Daniels who was convicted in mid-February for extorting Nike.

Although Avenatti was released from MCC in March due to COVID-19, a source familiar with his conditions at MCC said he was kept in the Special Housing Unit, the same unit as Epstein.

Across the river, at the Metropolitan Detention Center, where Ghislaine Maxwell is being held, a Department of Justice Inspector General review found that MDC, which left 1,700 inmates in below-freezing temperatures after a fire last year, had "longstanding" problems with its heating system.

"We determined that heating issues had been a longstanding problem at the jail that existed before, during, and after the fire and power outage and were unrelated to these events," said Horowitz, adding, "Rather, they were the result of the facility's lack of proper equipment to continuously monitor temperatures, which the BOP (Bureau of Prisons) was aware of and had not addressed."

When asked about Epstein's accomplice Maxwell, Trump wished her well.

"She's now in jail. Yeah, I wish her well. I'd wish you well. I'd wish a lot of people well. Good luck. Let them prove somebody was guilty," Trump said.

The attorney general said last month that he's committed to making sure she makes it to trial, and has asked those responsible for her safety to relay, "specifically the protocols they're following, and we have a number redundancy systems to monitor the situation."

One of those protocols, sources said, is that she was given paper clothes upon checking into the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, New York, over fears that she might take her own life.

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.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Retired NYPD chief sues department over alleged 'glass ceiling' for female officers

tillsonburg/iStockBy AARON KATERSKY and IVAN PEREIRA, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- A "glass ceiling" keeps women from climbing to the highest ranks of the nation's largest police force, a retired New York Police Department chief alleged Monday in a new lawsuit.

Lori Pollock, the department's first female chief of Crime Control Strategies, contends she was forced into retirement last week after 33 years of service due to "intolerable, difficult and unpleasant" working conditions that prevent women from advancing to "the most prestigious executive positions within the NYPD."

Pollock, one of five women to achieve the rank of three-star chief in the department's 175-year history, contends that NYPD Police Commissioner Dermot Shea mocked her and made her feel unwelcome during internal meetings.

"Shea deliberately implemented, condoned, sanctioned and ratified a glass ceiling policy and practice within the NYPD," the suit says.

During a November 2019 meeting when Pollock gave a presentation to Shea, who had recently been promoted to commissioner, the suit claims he was distracted by his phone. Pollock told the commissioner at the meeting that she had interest in the chief of detectives position, which Shea had vacated when he got his promotion.

On Dec. 9, the department unveiled a new Bureau of Community Partnerships that was going to be led by Chauncey Parker, a civilian, with Pollock serving as a subordinate, the suit said. The suit contends that Pollock was never included in any of the discussions about the new bureau or her role.

"This is a starkly different career trajectory for Pollock as compared to her male predecessors," the suit says.

Later that day, Shea held a meeting to install the new members of the unit and over 30 top NYPD executives attended, according to the suit. In the past Pollock would sit three seats removed from the commissioner, but due to her reassignment she was placed at the other end of the table, the suit said.

"During the meeting, and in front of the entire executive staff, Shea shouted to Pollock and stated: 'Hey Lori how do you like it at the other end of the table?'" the suit said.

Pollock said she tried to meet with Shea to talk about her reassignment but he could not find time, and in March, she requested to resign from the force, the suit said. The commissioner said he wouldn't accept her resignation and conceded, "Structurally her transfer was wrong," according to the suit.

Over the next couple of months, Shea promoted several men to high-ranking positions without affording women the opportunity to interview for them, the suit contends. Pollock resigned on Aug. 6, "finding she had no alternative because it was more than clear to her that she could not advance her career," the suit said.

A spokeswoman for the NYPD told ABC News that the department will review the suit when it is served.

"The contributions of women, both in leadership roles and in their representation in the uniformed and civilian ranks, across the Police Department, cannot be overestimated," the spokeswoman said in a statement.

The suit contends Shea violated New York's laws against gender discrimination and seeks compensatory damages that will be determined at a future date.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

New COVID-19 cases, deaths both down from previous week: FEMA memo


(NEW YORK) -- A pandemic of the novel coronavirus has now killed more than 733,000 people worldwide.

Over 20 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 national governments are hiding or downplaying the scope of their outbreaks.

Since the first cases were detected in China in December, the United States has become the worst-affected country, with more than five million diagnosed cases and at least 163,400 deaths.

Here's how the news developed Monday. All times Eastern:

10:28 p.m.: New cases and deaths both down from previous week

New COVID-19 cases and deaths have both decreased in the last week nationally, according to an internal FEMA memo obtained by ABC News.

In the last seven days, there was an 11.5% decrease in new cases and a 7% decrease in new deaths compared to the previous week, the memo said.

The national test-positivity rate is also going down: In the last week, the rate was 6.6%, down from 8% the previous week, according to the memo.

Cases and deaths have generally been on an upward trend nationwide, but this is the second time in the last four days that the week-over-week numbers have been down for both.

8:15 p.m.: Total number of global COVID-19 cases surpasses 20 million

There are now more than 20 million confirmed COVID-19 cases worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University.

The total number of global confirmed cases is currently 20,001,019. There have been 733,897 deaths reported globally.

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases around the world passed the benchmark of 15 million nearly three weeks ago, on July 22.

7:08 p.m.: Pediatric cases 90% from last month, report finds

There were nearly 180,000 new COVID-19 cases in children over the last month, according to a weekly report from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association.

The latest report found that between July 9 and Aug. 6, there were 179,990 new child cases, an increase of 90% over the previous month.

There have been 380,174 child COVID-19 cases reported so far, representing 9.1% of all cases, the survey found.

The report compiles state-by-state data on COVID-19 cases in children. Most cases in children are less severe and do not require hospitalization, the AAP noted.

In the 20 states plus New York City that reported hospitalizations, children were 0.5%-5.3% of total reported hospitalizations, according to the latest report. In the 44 states and New York City reporting mortality data, children were 0%-0.4% of all COVID-19 deaths.

4:50 p.m.: California's hospitalizations, ICU numbers trending down

The number of hospitalizations and ICU patients in hard-hit California have been trending down for weeks, Gov. Gavin Newsom said.

Hospitalizations fell by 19.6% and ICU admissions fell by 15.4% in the last two weeks, according to the California Department of Public Health.

California has more coronavirus cases than any other state in the U.S., with over 561,900 people diagnosed.

At least 10,359 people in California have died, according to state data.

3:40 p.m.: Royal Caribbean says testing 'very likely'

It's "very likely" that COVID-19 testing will be part of Royal Caribbean's new safety plan when operations resume, cruise line executives said during a second quarter earnings call. No final decision has been made, they added.

The executives said they've been "humbled and surprised" by the amount of bookings made for 2021, calling the demand "remarkable."

"The tone of our bookings, especially as we get into the second half of 2021 has been encouraging," CEO Richard Fain said. "Our guests want to come back. Families want and need to vacation."

The CDC's no-sail order is set to expire at the end of September, but it may be extended. Major cruise lines have voluntarily suspended operations in the U.S. until the end of October.

"We will not rush to return to service until we are confident that we have figured out the changes that we must make," Fain said.

Royal Caribbean expects to submit a return-to-sailing plan to the CDC by the end of the month.

1:20 p.m.: Philadelphia school sports suspended until 2021

The Philadelphia Public League is suspending all interscholastic sport competitions until 2021 following a recommendation from Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, ABC Philadelphia station WPVI reported.

Wolf said Thursday, "We ought to do everything we can to defeat that virus ... the guidance from us, recommendation, is that we don't do any sports until January first."

The Philadelphia Public League said, according to WPVI, "If guidelines released by the Governor's office change, or are updated in a way that would allow programming to resume, we reserve the right to revisit our decision and provide further guidance on a safe return to play."

12:40 p.m.: COVID-19 is not demonstrating a seasonal pattern, WHO says

COVID-19 "has demonstrated no seasonal pattern" so far, World Health Organization (WHO) emergencies chief Dr. Mike Ryan said Monday.

"What it has clearly demonstrated is: you take the pressure off the virus, the virus bounces back," Ryan warned.

"You can call that a second wave, you can call that a second spike, you can call it a flare-up, you can call it anything you like," he said. "Take the pressure off the virus, the virus will bounce back. And that's what we would say to countries in Europe: keep the pressure on the virus."

Many countries in Europe -- like France, Germany, Spain and Italy -- had major outbreaks but when they took action they were able to suppress it, WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.

"We all want to see schools safely reopened but we also need to ensure that students, staff and faculty are safe. The foundation for this is adequate control of transmission at the community," Tedros said. "My message is crystal clear: suppress, suppress, suppress the virus. If we suppress the virus effectively, we can safely open up societies."

12:15 p.m.: DC adds 5 new states to its quarantine list

Washington, D.C. has added Alaska, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky and Minnesota to the district's quarantine list.

Those traveling to D.C. from these high-risk states must quarantine for two weeks: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and Wisconsin.

States are added to the list if their seven-day moving average of daily cases is 10 or more per 100,000 people.

Traveling to and from D.C.'s neighboring states, Maryland and Virginia, will not apply to the list.

11 a.m.: 20% of Florida's ICU beds available

In hard-hit Florida, 20.79% of the state's ICU beds were available as of Monday morning, the state's Agency for Healthcare Administration reported.

Thirty-eight hospitals had no available ICU beds Monday while 22 hospitals in the state had just one available bed, the agency said.

These numbers are expected to fluctuate throughout the day as hospitals and medical centers provide updates.

Florida has the second-highest number of coronavirus cases in the U.S. behind California.

Florida has over 536,900 diagnosed cases and at least 8,406 fatalities, according to the state's Department of Health

9:40 a.m.: TSA screens over 800K people for 1st time since March

The Transportation Security Administration screened 831,789 people on Sunday, marking the first time over 800,000 people traveled in one day since March 17.

This is still down about 70% compared to the same day last year when the TSA screened 2,647,897 travelers.

Major U.S. airlines don't expect recovery to be linear as infection rates and state quarantine rules change over time in different parts of the country.

9:10 a.m.: Cases rising in Lebanon after explosion

Coronavirus cases are rising in Lebanon after the explosion in Beirut last week that killed at least 160 people.

Lebanon reported 294 new cases on Sunday, according to Health Ministry data. Seven days earlier, the daily number of new cases was 155, according to the data.

Lebanon now has a total of 6,517 diagnosed cases and at least 76 COVID-19 fatalities.

8:35 a.m.: Clorox says demand for its wipes is up 500%

Clorox says demand for its wipes is up 500% during the pandemic.

"We are making wipes in record numbers and shipping them to stores in record numbers," Clorox CEO Linda Rendle told ABC News' Good Morning America on Monday.

Since January, Clorox has made 100 million more disinfecting products than before -- a 50% increase, Rendle said.

Clorox is now making nearly one million packages of disinfectant wipes every day, Rendle said.

7:25 a.m.: UK has 'moral duty' to fully reopen schools next month, PM says

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson reiterated Monday that he's "very keen" for all schools to fully reopen in England next month.

"It’s not right that kids should spend more time out of school," Johnson told reporters while visiting a school in East London. "It’s much, much better for their health and mental wellbeing, obviously their educational prospects, if everybody comes back to school full-time in September."

"It's our moral duty as a country to make sure that happens," he added.

Johnson said he's been "impressed" by the work administrators and teachers have done to make sure schools are safe.

Last month, the U.K. government outlined a plan for the "mandatory" return to classrooms across England in September, with students being restricted to "class or year sized bubbles" and teachers being told to "address gaps in knowledge."

Schools across the United Kingdom shuttered in mid-March at the start of the pandemic. Some pupils returned to classrooms in England in June.

Meanwhile, Scotland is set to fully reopen its schools on Tuesday.

6:49 a.m.: India's former president tests positive for COVID-19

India's former president, Pranab Mukherjee, has tested positive for COVID-19.

"On a visit to the hospital for a separate procedure, I have tested positive for Covid-19 today," Mukherjee, who served as president of India from 2012 to 2017, announced via Twitter on Monday. "I request the people who came in contact with me in the last week, to please self isolate and get tested for Covid-19."

With more than 2.2 million diagnosed cases of COVID-19, India has the third-highest tally in the world, behind the United States and Brazil.

5:36 a.m.: Coronavirus testing site opening along U.S.-Mexico border

A coronavirus testing site will open soon near the U.S.-Mexico border in Southern California's San Diego County, according to a report by San Diego ABC affiliate KGTV.

The appointment-free, walk-up testing site will be located at the San Ysidro Port of Entry’s PedWest crossing, one of the world's busiest pedestrian international border crossings. The site, among more than two dozen others across San Diego County, will be the closest one to the border with Mexico so far for the region.

The United States and Mexico are two of the worst-affected nations in the coronavirus pandemic.

The Hispanic community makes up just 34% of San Diego's population and yet, as of Sunday, they accounted for 62% of the city's COVID-19 cases, according to KGTV. That figure will likely rise after the new testing site opens up within the next couple weeks, since the area is dominated by Spanish speakers.

However, Chicano Federation Chief Strategy Officer Roberto Alcantar said many in the Latino community are still afraid of getting tested.

"Our community is nervous about losing their jobs, not being able to go to work, the real economic impact that comes from being positive and feeling that that might hinder them in a way," Alcantar told KGTV.

4:21 a.m.: Australia sees record rise in virus-related deaths

An additional 19 coronavirus-related deaths were recorded in the Australian state of Victoria on Sunday -- the highest single-day increase in fatalities that the country has seen since the start of the pandemic.

"This news is devastating no matter what age COVID affects people, and we just want to reaffirm again our support through every channel we can provide it," Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters in Canberra on Monday.

Victoria’s Department of Health and Human Services also reported 322 new cases of COVID-19 -- the lowest daily count recorded in the state since July 29.

"We are seeing some stability. That's a good thing. But that's not enough," Victoria's state Premier Daniel Andrews told reporters in Melbourne. "And that's the product of masks and Stage 3. That's what the experts tell us. The next stage, though, is all about these restrictions that we've had to painfully impose."

Andrews declared a state of disaster in Victoria on Aug. 2, giving authorities additional powers to ensure people are complying with public health directions. Victoria is home to Australia's second-largest city, Melbourne, which has become a hotspot in the country's novel coronavirus outbreak.

In total, Australia has reported more than 21,000 diagnosed cases of COVID-19 with at least 313 deaths.

3:45 a.m.: US records under 50,000 new cases for first time in six days

There were 46,395 new cases of COVID-19 identified in the United States on Sunday, bringing the nationwide total soaring past five million, according to a count kept by Johns Hopkins University.

It's the first time in six days that the nation has recorded under 50,000 new cases. An additional 516 coronavirus-related deaths were also reported.

Sunday's caseload is well below the record set on July 16, when more than 77,000 new cases were identified in a 24-hour reporting period.

A total of 5,044,864 people in the U.S. have been diagnosed with COVID-19 since the pandemic began, and at least 162,938 of them have died, according to Johns Hopkins. The cases include people from all 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., and other U.S. territories as well as repatriated citizens.

By May 20, all U.S. states had begun lifting stay-at-home orders and other restrictions put in place to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. The day-to-day increase in the country's cases then hovered around 20,000 for a couple of weeks before shooting back up and crossing 70,000 for the first time in mid-July.

Many states have seen a rise in infections in recent weeks, with some -- including Arizona, California and Florida -- reporting daily records. However, new data published last week in an internal memo from the Federal Emergency Management Agency suggests that the national surge in cases could be leveling off.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Downtown Chicago under lockdown in wake of looting, violent unrest

Kathryn Kirsch/iStockBy KARMA ALLEN, ABC News

(CHICAGO) -- At least 100 people were arrested in Chicago overnight as looting and violence overtook the streets, injuring multiple police officers, authorities said.

Thirteen officers were injured, including a sergeant who was attacked with a bottle, and at least two civilians were shot during the unrest after midnight Sunday, in the early hours of Monday morning, as hundreds overran the city's upscale Magnificent Mile shopping district and surrounding areas with vandalism and violence, authorities said.

The suspects face several charges, including looting, battery against police and disorderly conduct, authorities said. Investigators are also searching for suspects who fired shots at police, Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown said on Monday.

"In one incident, officers were arresting a suspect who was seen carrying a cash register he had looted out of a store," Brown said. "As officers were making the arrest, another vehicle passed by the officers and fired shots at the officers, as their vehicle turned the corner, resulting in an exchange in gunfire between officers and the suspects. A bullet was found lodged in the cage of the police vehicle."

The officers were not wounded by gunfire.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said she implemented a community protection program -- a lockdown with massive police presence -- that will be in place “for foreseeable days until we know our neighborhoods are safe.”

Lightfoot said the criminal activity had nothing to do with "legitimate" organized protests and described it as "an assault on our city.”

"These individuals engaged in what only could be described as brazen and extensive criminal looting and destruction. To be clear, this had nothing to do with legitimate, protected First Amendment expression," Lightfoot said on Monday.

Investigators said the unrest was sparked Sunday afternoon by inaccurate reports online about an unarmed juvenile being shot by police in the Englewood area. The shooting victim was actually a 20-year-old man who allegedly opened fire on police while being chased, authorities said.

"Tempers flared, fueled by misinformation as the afternoon turned into evening. CPD became aware of several social media posts encouraging looting downtown," Brown said. "Officers were dispatched to our downtown area once we got word of the social media posts. Four hundred officers were dispatched to our downtown."

Much of the unrest happened along the Magnificent Mile, one of the city's most-popular tourist attractions, where looters were seen stuffing vehicles with shopping bags full of stolen merchandise and store equipment.

ATM machine were compromised, cash registers were stolen and at least one bank was broken into, according to the Chicago Tribune.

City officials said residents should expect a heavy police presence downtown until further notice. Lightfoot said the city was still "working on the specifics" of a looming lockdown that could include closing some bridges and expressways.

"We are working on the specifics now," Lightfoot told reporters Monday. "We are looking at the bridges. But we want to make sure obviously that the people who work and live downtown have easy access to the downtown area."

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Southern California church holds indoor services in defiance of restraining order


(NEW YORK) -- A Southern California church that was sued and issued a restraining order over hosting indoor services defied state and local mandates when it opened its doors on Sunday.

Godspeak Calvary Chapel in Ventura County hosted three indoor services, marking its latest run-in with orders that the church's pastor said are an attack on "religious liberty."

The county, meanwhile, has referred to the church's actions as a "callous disregard of public health orders during a global pandemic," according to court records.

As alleged in a lawsuit filed by Ventura County, Godspeak has hosted several indoor services in recent weeks, despite a July 13 statewide order prohibiting several businesses and activities -- including places of worship -- from holding indoor operations in the county amid a rise in cases of COVID-19.

In its complaint, filed Wednesday, the county also alleged that the church "allowed and encouraged" its attendees to violate mandates to wear face coverings and practice physical distancing.

The suit stated that the church's actions will cause "great and irreparable injury" to the public "by creating a significant risk of further community spread of COVID-19, including hospitalizations and deaths, which in turn is likely to result in continued and further restrictions on businesses and other operations and activities within Ventura County, detrimentally affecting the quality of life of the entire community."

On Friday, a judge issued a two-week restraining order banning the church from holding indoor services.

Immediately following the hearing, the church's pastor, Rob McCoy, said in an update posted to YouTube that they would be "violating the judge's order" and opening Sunday.

"We want to worship. And we're going to worship," McCoy said in the video.

Sunday's 9 a.m. service drew several hundred attendees, according to Los Angeles ABC station KABC-TV. There was also a mix of protesters -- those against and those in support of the church reopening -- who briefly clashed outside.

The local sheriff's office didn't plan to cite people attending the services, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Godspeak is allowed to host services outdoors, such as in a park -- a notion McCoy has rejected as "impossible" due to the size of the congregation.

"Fifteen-hundred people -- what park?" he said in Friday's video.

He also said that the church has received threats, "so our people would be in danger" at the park.

In a second update, posted Saturday to the church's YouTube page, McCoy called the measures "unprecedented" and "draconian."

"This is a religious liberty issue," said McCoy, a former City Council member who resigned in April, after Gov. Gavin Newsom declared churches a nonessential service.

Throughout the pandemic, churches have often been the source of outbreaks. McCoy said his church hasn't had any cases of COVID-19 since it reopened on May 31.

On Friday, Ventura County reported 111 new cases of COVID-19, pushing the total number of cases the area has seen to 8,146. There were also seven new deaths, totaling 89.

A hearing in the county's lawsuit is scheduled for Aug. 31.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Heat Advisory from the Plains to the Northeast, fire and heat in West


(NEW YORK) -- Another heat wave is developing across the eastern United States Monday all the way from Texas to Massachusetts.

There are 12 states from Oklahoma to Massachusetts under Heat Advisory and some areas will feel like its near 110 degrees.

For the Northeast, there could be another heat wave from Washington, D.C. to Boston but in order for this to be officially considered a heat wave, temperatures have to be 90 degrees or higher for three consecutive days or more.

Meanwhile in the West, more than 80 wildfires are burning from Texas to Washington state.

One of the bigger fires is the Pine Gulch Fire in western Colorado where it is 25,026 acres and only 7% contained.

It is not the best news for firefighters in the West Monday either as the forecast looks windy with gusts near 50 mph in some areas.

There are also numerous fire weather watches and Red Flag Warnings issued from Washington down to California and east to Wyoming with erratic winds from thunderstorms.

A heat wave is also developing in the Southwest with Heat Watches and Warnings posted for Phoenix where the city could see temperatures near record highs by the end of the week.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Helicopter crash kills wildlife researchers conducting aerial sheep survey

georgeclerk/iStockBy IVAN PEREIRA, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- Three wildlife researchers were killed in a helicopter crash in West Texas while they were conducting an aerial survey, officials said.

Wildlife biologist Dewey Stockbridge, fish and wildlife technician Brandon White and state wildlife veterinarian Dr. Bob Dittmar were researching desert bighorn sheep in Black Gap Wildlife Management Area in Brewster County on Saturday when their helicopter crashed, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department said in a statement.

The pilot, a private contractor, survived the incident and was rushed to an El Paso hospital, the agency said. His condition was unknown as of Sunday evening.

Carter Smith, the TPWD executive director, said in a statement the three researchers spent years documenting and studying the state's wildlife.

"No words can begin to express the depth of sadness we feel for the loss of our colleagues in this tragic accident," he said in a statement. "Wildlife conservation in Texas lost three of its finest as they so honorably and dutifully carried out their calling to help survey, monitor and protect the bighorns of their beloved west Texas mountains."

Gov. Greg Abbott asked Texans to remember the researchers in their thoughts.

"Our hearts ache today for those who died in this tragic accident," he said in a statement.

The Texas Department of Public Safety, the Federal Aviation Administration and the Texas Game Wardens are investigating the crash.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Minneapolis activists launch efforts to preserve Black Lives Matter protest art


(MINNEAPOLIS) -- As protests over the police killing of George Floyd spread across all 50 states, Black Lives Matter art popped up on walls, streets, signs and thousands of boarded up businesses that have been shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The murals and graffiti by protesters and professional artists tell a story of pain and resistance -- expressions that will become historical artifacts from the largest civil rights movement in U.S. history.

But in some cases, the art has already been destroyed or taken down.

A Black Lives Matter painting calling for an end to racism was vandalized in Fayetteville, North Carolina; a Black Lives Matter painting outside Trump Tower in New York City was defaced with buckets of black paint as the vandals shouted “all lives matter;” a 140-foot colorful mural in Spokane, Washington was vandalized with splashes of white paint and in Lansing, Michigan and Brownsville, Texas artists worked to restore defaced murals of George Floyd. Moreover, as businesses opened up across the country, art-covered plywood started to disappear.

But in Minneapolis where Floyd was killed, local activists have launched efforts to preserve the art and keep it in the community.

How art inspired a movement

As video of a police officer kneeling on Floyd's neck for nearly 8 minutes went viral, Minneapolis native and activist Kenda Zeller-Smith tried to avoid the images.

“I don't really watch those videos anymore only because I feel like they are very detrimental to my mental health and my emotional well-being,” she told ABC News. “I felt really afraid and scared, but at the same time, I wasn't processing my emotions … I just feel like I was numb and I wasn't I wasn't able to emotionally feel much."

Similarly, for activist Leesa Kelly, who has been working with Zellner-Smith on the “save the boards” effort, Floyd’s killing was “a really intense, and a really devastating experience.”

Protesting daily took a toll on her physical and mental health.

“I would have days where I couldn't get out of bed,” Kelly told ABC News.

But a few days later as Zellner-Smith drove to work, a piece of new protest art caught her eye and the emotions it elicited allowed her to experience a “really powerful” and “uplifting” moment.

“It wasn't a big, colorful piece it was something more just straight to the point. And I remember that was like the first time, you know, in my car that I felt something -- like really felt something that wasn't these weird kind of gray area emotions,” she said.

“I felt like we've been hurt and I felt like people this time get it, like it's not just Black people that are watching this video and being like this has happened again and again and again,” she added. "This time everyone has heard and it's our city is heard.”

When Zellner-Smith got to work and shared her experience, one of her co-workers mentioned that she noticed that some new Black Lives Matter art created amid the protests had already been taken down.

It was then that she felt a sense of urgency and created an Instagram account to “save the boards.”

Meanwhile, seeking other ways to support the protest and keenly aware of the power of visual art, Kelly said that she also became intrigued by the idea of preserving the murals honoring Floyd.

Kelly launched her own project, “Memorialize the Movement,” and has since connected with Zellner-Smith to join efforts in saving the art.

“[These] beautiful elaborate murals have been an expression of grief. It's been a way for Black people to cope with what's happening, and to express their pain, their anger and the hope that they have for a better America, for a better Minneapolis,” Kelly said.

Keeping the art in the community

Over the past couple of months, Zellner-Smith has been working with other activists to track down artists and convince businesses to donate the art instead of getting rid of it. She has been picking up the plywood art in a truck and has so far, collected more than 40 pieces in a warehouse. Zellner-Smith hopes to find a home for the pieces -- one that would keep them in Minneapolis and accessible to the city’s Black community.

“I feel like that art just deserves to be here and serve as a reminder of our power as a community,” she said, adding that it’s important to preserve all forms of expression and not just the “pretty” art because the authentic messages of expression were the pieces that “really started my healing process.”

Meanwhile, Kelly said she has collected 30-40 boards, which make up six or seven large murals.

She said that she felt it was critical for history to be recorded and documented through these murals for people to be able to visualize what had happened, and thus gain a deeper and better understanding of these historically significant demonstrations against systemic racism.

The artwork speaks to the severity of the situation, Kelly continued, and therefore, “we need the story told in a way that people will absorb it. But not in a way that makes them feel comfortable, they don't need to feel comfortable. They need to know what's happening.”

Zellner-Smith and Kelly’s long-term plans for the plywood murals is still in the works. They, alongside several other organizations, and activists across Minneapolis, are working to find a long-term solution to exhibit and preserve the art permanently.

But both women stressed the importance of the art remaining accessible to the Black community in Minneapolis.

“If all of a sudden this stuff disappears, and it goes into these spaces, you know, that are generally predominantly white spaces, or these institutions, it takes away from the people that don't have access to get over there,” Zellner-Smith said.

“Our pain, our suffering and our healing is not something to be bought, and it's not something to be put on display for others outside of the community,” she added. “… I didn't want people to be coming to pay or not pay, but to look at something that is a really raw, real and current representation of our pain and our trauma.”

Kelly said that she reached out to the Minnesota African American Heritage Museum and Gallery, the only Black-owned and operated museum in Minnesota, to see if they would be willing to host an exhibit of the murals, and “tell the story the way that it needs to be told, which is really honest and really raw and told by Black people.”

“This is something we're still facing every single day. And so we need to tell that story in a way that makes people understand that this is an ongoing issue, and it needs a solution,” Kelly said.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

NASA drops 'insensitive' celestial nicknames in effort to address systemic discrimination

LaserLens/iStockBy JON HAWORTH, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has announced that they will stop using nicknames of celestial bodies that are culturally insensitive.

In a statement released on Wednesday, Aug. 5, NASA said that it had become clear that certain cosmic nicknames were not only insensitive but actively harmful and that they were taking these initial steps to address systemic discrimination and inequality in all aspects of the field.

“As an initial step, NASA will no longer refer to planetary nebula NGC 2392, the glowing remains of a Sun-like star that is blowing off its outer layers at the end of its life, as the 'Eskimo Nebula,'” NASA said in the statement. “'Eskimo' is widely viewed as a colonial term with a racist history, imposed on the indigenous people of Arctic regions. Most official documents have moved away from its use.”

NASA also said that they would stop referring to a distant galaxy as the “Siamese Twins Galaxy.”

“NASA will also no longer use the term ‘Siamese Twins Galaxy’ to refer to NGC 4567 and NGC 4568, a pair of spiral galaxies found in the Virgo Galaxy Cluster,” the statement from NASA said. “Moving forward, NASA will use only the official, International Astronomical Union designations in cases where nicknames are inappropriate.”

“Siamese twins” is an antiquated term that references a pair of Siamese-American conjoined twins in the 1800s who regularly appeared in what was known as “freak shows” at the time.

Nicknames are often given to celestial bodies and are often referred to by them rather than their official names, such as Barnard 33, also known as "the Horsehead Nebula" because of how it looks.

But NASA said these “seemingly innocuous” nicknames can be harmful and ultimately take away from the science.

“I support our ongoing reevaluation of the names by which we refer to astronomical objects,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate at Headquarters, Washington. “Our goal is that all names are aligned with our values of diversity and inclusion, and we’ll proactively work with the scientific community to help ensure that. Science is for everyone, and every facet of our work needs to reflect that value.”

Going forward, NASA said that they will be working with diversity, inclusion and equity experts to provide advice and guidance for designated nicknames.

"These nicknames and terms may have historical or culture connotations that are objectionable or unwelcoming, and NASA is strongly committed to addressing them," said Stephen T. Shih, associate administrator for Diversity and Equal Opportunity at NASA Headquarters. "Science depends on diverse contributions, and benefits everyone, so this means we must make it inclusive.”

There has been a cultural reckoning in the months after the death of George Floyd at the hands of four police officers in Minneapolis and NASA is the latest organization to join the likes of an ever-growing list -- alongside the likes of the Washington Football Team, musical groups “The Chicks” and “Lady A,” and food products such as Aunt Jemima, Mrs. Butterworth’s and Dreyer's Grand Ice Cream who announced it was dropping the brand "Eskimo Pie" after a century -- in examining the power of names.

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