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COVID-19 live updates: Nearly 72,000 kids tested positive in US last week

Lubo Ivanko/iStock

(NEW YORK) -- The United States is facing a COVID-19 surge this summer as the more contagious delta variant spreads.

More than 614,000 Americans have died from COVID-19 and over 4.2 million people have died worldwide, according to real-time data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.

Just 58.2% of Americans ages 12 and up are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC last week, citing new science on the transmissibility of the delta variant, changed its mask guidance to now recommend everyone in areas with substantial or high levels of transmission -- vaccinated or not -- wear a face covering in public, indoor settings.

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

Aug 04, 3:08 pm
Delta variant now 93% of all sequenced cases in US

The delta variant now accounts for 93% of all sequenced cases in the U.S., according to the latest CDC data, which was collected over the last two weeks of July.

Delta accounted for just 3% of cases sequenced in late May.

Across the Midwest, described as HHS regions 7 and 8, delta made up 97% to 98% of cases. This includes Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming.

-ABC News’ Cheyenne Haslett

Aug 04, 2:55 pm
WHO chief: No booster shots until at least end of September

The World Health Organization is calling for a moratorium on booster shots until more people from low-income countries have received a vaccine.

Low-income countries have only been able to administer 1.5 shots for every 100 people due to lack of supply, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, said Wednesday.

A moratorium on boosters until at least the end of September will "enable at least 10% of the population of every country to be vaccinated," he said.

But White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in response that the U.S. doesn't have to choose.

"We feel that it's a false choice and that we can do both," Psaki said Wednesday.

The U.S. has ordered enough supply for every American to get vaccinated, plus get a booster shot, according to the White House. The U.S. has already pledged to donate 580 million doses to the international community by 2022.

-ABC News’ Sarah Kolinovsky and Zoe Magee

Aug 04, 2:27 pm
Hospitalizations could more than triple this month

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention forecasts that daily hospitalizations "will likely increase over the next four weeks."

About 7,000 new COVID-19 patients are hospitalized each day right now. That may soar to 24,000 per day, according to the COVID-19 Forecast Hub at U Mass Amherst.

Aug 04, 2:11 pm
Fully vaccinated people susceptible to 'long COVID': Fauci

Dr. Anthony Fauci is warning that fully vaccinated people are also susceptible to "long COVID" if they have a breakthrough infection.

"We already know that people who get breakthrough infections and don’t go on to get advanced disease requiring hospitalization, they too are susceptible to long COVID,” Fauci told McClatchy. "You’re not exempt from long COVID if you get a breakthrough infection."

As the delta variant surges, Fauci said, "there could be a variant that’s lingering out there that can push aside delta."

"If another one comes along that has an equally high capability of transmitting but also is much more severe, then we could really be in trouble," he said.

-ABC News’ Cheyenne Haslett

Aug 04, 1:40 pm
NY auto show canceled

The New York International Automobile Show, set to begin Aug. 20 in New York City, has been canceled due to the spread of the delta variant.

"All signs were positive" when planning began "but today is a different story," show organizers said.

Aug 04, 1:30 pm
Louisiana hospitalizations reach all-time high

Louisiana now has 2,247 COVID-19 patients in hospitals -- a new all-time high for the state.

This surpasses the previous record set Tuesday of 2,112 patients, the state's Department of Health said.

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards has reinstated a mask mandate for the month of August.

The governor said Wednesday that he won't mandate vaccinations for state employees until the FDA grants full approval.

He said 37.1% of the Louisiana population is fully vaccinated.

Aug 04, 11:47 am
The Offspring drummer says he's not playing at upcoming shows because he's unvaccinated

Pete Parada, the drummer for pop-punk band The Offspring, says he is not playing with the band at upcoming shows because he is unvaccinated.

Parada wrote on Instagram that he's avoiding the shot on his doctor’s advice, saying he’s had a lifelong battle with the rare neurological disorder Guillain-Barré syndrome and the vaccine's "risks far outweigh the benefits."

Because he's unvaccinated, "it has recently been decided that I am unsafe to be around, in the studio, and on tour," Parada said.

"I have no negative feelings towards my band," he continued. "They're doing what they believe is best for them, while I am doing the same."

-ABC News’ Evan McMurry

Aug 04, 11:15 am
Florida hospitalizations reach highest point in pandemic

Florida has 12,408 COVID-19 patients in hospitals -- the highest number to date of the entire pandemic.

Florida hospitals report that more than 95% of COVID-19 patients are not fully vaccinated, according to state data.

-ABC News’ Arielle Mitropoulos

Aug 04, 10:01 am
WHO chief: No booster shots until at least end of September

The World Health Organization is calling for a moratorium on booster shots until more people from low-income countries have received a vaccine.

Low-income countries have only been able to administer 1.5 shots for every 100 people due to lack of supply, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, said Wednesday.

A moratorium on boosters until at least the end of September will "enable at least 10% of the population of every country to be vaccinated," he said.

Aug 04, 9:20 am
Alabama hospital sees deadliest day of pandemic

Four COVID-19 patients at Regional Medical Center in Anniston, Alabama -- all unvaccinated -- died within 24 hours, marking the hospital’s deadliest day of the pandemic, The Anniston Star reported.

As delta surges, patients are now getting sicker faster, a doctor at the hospital told the newspaper.

Only 28% of residents in Calhoun County are fully vaccinated, according to The Anniston Star.

Aug 04, 8:24 am
Obama to ‘significantly scale back’ 60th birthday party

Former President Barack Obama has decided to "significantly scale back" his 60th birthday party on Martha’s Vineyard due to the spread of the delta variant, according to a spokesperson. Hundreds of guests were expected to attend.

"This outdoor event was planned months ago in accordance with all public health guidelines and with covid safeguards in place. Due to the new spread of the delta variant over the past week, the President and Mrs. Obama have decided to significantly scale back the event to include only family and close friends," spokesperson Hannah Hankins said in a statement.

Obama’s office did not give a new estimate of how many guests will attend.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Gusty winds expected to spread massive wildfires in West

Neal Waters/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

(NEW YORK) -- Gusty winds are fanning the already giant flames of wildfires scorching Western states and forcing thousands of residents to leave their homes.

A frontal system moving into the region will bring winds with speeds up to 40 mph, which, combined with extremely dry vegetation, won't bode well for firefighters battling the blazes. Dry lightning is also a threat to Oregon and Northern California, which are facing some of the largest fires in the country.

About 90 large wildfires, many of them uncontained, are currently burning in the West.

Red flag warnings and fire weather watches have been issued from Washington down the Pacific coast to California. Heat alerts are also in effect from Washington to Arizona, and some areas in the Southwest could reach 120 degrees.

The Dixie Fire, the largest wildfire in California that has been burning near Feather River Canyon for weeks, has now burned through nearly 255,000 acres after the flames jumped a containment line Tuesday.

Video taken out of Greenville, California, shows firefighters struggling to battle control massive flames from the Dixie Fire, which has been exhibiting extreme fire behavior due to the current conditions.

Images taken Tuesday also showed the Meadow Valley in Plumas County engulfed in smoke and flames from the Dixie Fire.

The Monument Fire in Big Bar, California, had grown to more than 9,000 acres, more than doubling by Wednesday, and is 0% contained.

The spread of the wildfires had slowed last week but increased again as moisture from the monsoons in the Southwest disappeared, with lightning strikes alone sparking nearly three dozen more fires over the weekend.

Evacuations have been ordered due to the Dixie Fire, the Monument Fire and the Boulder 2700 Fire -- near Polson, Montana -- which have destroyed multiple structures.

ABC News' Max Golembo contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Former Minneapolis cops want separate federal trial from Derek Chauvin after conviction in George Floyd case

Marilyn Nieves/iStock

(MINNEAPOLIS, Minn.) -- Three former Minneapolis police officers facing federal charges of violating George Floyd's civil rights have filed motions asking that their cases be severed from Derek Chauvin's, arguing they won't get a fair trial if they have to go to court with the convicted murderer of the 46-year-old Black man.

Attorneys for J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao filed separate requests in U.S. District Court in Minnesota. Thomas Lane's attorney filed a motion to join his two former colleagues in their requests to be tried separately from Chauvin.

"There is a conflict of interest between the defendants. The conflict flows from Mr. Chauvin's level of culpability," Kueng's attorney, Thomas C. Plunkett, argued in court papers filed on Monday. "Due to this conflict, the jurors will not be able to follow the Court's instructions and compartmentalize the evidence as it related to Mr. Kueng."

Thao's lawyer, Robert M. Paule, made a similar argument in a motion he filed on Tuesday, but added that he wants Thou to be tried separately not from just Chavin but also Kueng and Lane.

"Mr. Thao will obtain a fair and more impartial trial [if] he is tried separately from his co-defendants," Paule wrote, arguing that a jury "will have insurmountable difficulty distinguishing evidence presented on one count from that evidence presented on the other counts, and will inevitably consider the evidence cumulatively."

In May, a federal grand jury indicted Chauvin, 45, Thao, 35, Kueng, 27, and Lane, 38, of federal civil rights crimes for their roles in Floyd's May 25, 2020, death as they attempted to place him under arrest on suspicion of using a counterfeit $20 bill to buy cigarettes at a convenience store.

The three-count indictment alleges Chauvin, Thao, Kueng and Lane deprived Floyd his rights when they saw him lying on the ground "in clear need" of medical care but "willfully failed to aid Floyd, thereby acting with deliberate indifference to a substantial risk of harm."

All four former officers are scheduled to be arraigned on Sept. 14 on the federal charges. A trial date has yet to be set.

During the encounter, Chauvin held his knee on the back of Floyd's neck for more than nine minutes. Floyd, who was handcuffed and in a prone position on the pavement, repeatedly said he couldn't breathe before falling unconscious and losing a pulse, according to evidence presented at Chauvin's state trial. Floyd was later pronounced dead at a hospital.

Video footage -- from police body cameras, security cameras and civilian witnesses -- played at the trial showed Kueng and Lane helping Chauvin hold Floyd down, and Thao keeping away witnesses who were expressing concerns for Floyd.

Floyd's death triggered massive protests and prompted police agencies across the nation to promise reforms.

On April 20, a state court jury found Chauvin guilty of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. He was sentenced on June 25 to 22 1/2 years in prison by Judge Peter Cahill.

Cahill cited four aggravating factors in the case that allowed him to give Chauvin a longer sentence than the 12 1/2 years recommended under state sentencing guidelines. The aggravating factors included Chauvin abusing a position of trust and authority as a police officer, his treatment of Floyd with "particular cruelty" and that he committed the crime as part of a group with at least three other people in front of children.

Chauvin was tried separately from his co-defendants in the state case due to COVID-19 restrictions that limited the number of people allowed in the courtroom.

Thao, Kueng and Lane are awaiting a joint trial in state court scheduled for March 2022 on charges of aiding and abetting second-degree murder, and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Former Cuomo aide Charlotte Bennett reacts to AG investigation findings: 'He's a danger'

Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

(NEW YORK) -- Charlotte Bennett, a former aide to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and one of the 11 women accusing him of sexual misconduct, is calling for the governor's immediate impeachment.

"September is not soon enough," Bennett, 25, said Wednesday on Good Morning America. "This needs to happen now. He's a danger."

On Aug. 3, a months-long probe by New York State Attorney General Letitia James found that Cuomo sexually harassed multiple women, including current and former state employees. Following the announcement, Cuomo released a recorded video in which he denied any sexual misconduct and addressed Bennett directly.

"It wasn't an apology and he didn't take accountability for his actions," Bennett said. "He blamed me and said that I simply misinterpreted what he had said."

After working with the governor last year, Bennett lodged a harassment complaint, saying that the governor asked her inappropriate questions and made her feel uncomfortable.

"His line of questioning was not appropriate," she said. "He was coming onto me and he insinuated that survivors of trauma and sexual assault can't tell the difference between mentorship and leadership and sexual harassment itself -- which is not only insulting to me but every survivor who listened to him yesterday."

She added, "The victim blaming is not OK."

Bennett's complaint was the second of two sexual misconduct accusations against Cuomo at the time and it sparked the attorney general investigation. The first person to accuse Cuomo, Lindsey Boylan, tweeted her allegations in December 2020.

"I actually DM'ed her on Twitter and we had a private conversation in which I told her what I was experiencing and why I left public service earlier that same year," Bennett said. "And, you know, when there are two women, there are more than two. We know from experience that it's not just one person and that's why we need to believe every woman who makes these allegations."

After watching Cuomo's response to the attorney general's findings, Bennett said she felt "overwhelmed but mostly vindicated."

"I had just listened to the New York State attorney general tell me and the 10 other women that we were believed ... that was powerful and so much more important than anything the governor had to say," she said.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Five Miami Beach police officers face criminal charges in hotel beating of Black men

Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office

(MIAMI) -- Five Miami Beach police officers are now facing criminal charges after they were seen on body camera and security video kicking a handcuffed Black man in a hotel lobby and tackling and pummeling a Black witness who was recording the incident on his cellphone.

Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle announced the officers have been suspended and charged with first-degree misdemeanor battery.

"Excessive force can never, ever, ever be an acceptable foundation for policing in any community," Fernandez Rundle said at a news conference on Monday. "Officers who forget that fact do a grave disservice to the people they have sworn to serve."

Fernandez Rundle, with Miami Beach Police Chief Richard Clements standing behind her, played a four-minute compilation of body camera and security camera footage showing the episode that unfolded in the early hours of July 26 in the lobby of the Royal Palm Hotel in South Beach.

The state attorney went over the footage in detail, stopping and rewinding it several times to point out the individual officers who were charged and even running the video in slow motion to show two officers kicking the handcuffed detainee in the head.

"With my team, when we saw that kick to the head, and then we replayed it and saw all the kicks that preceded it -- it was just unfathomable. It was unspeakable. It was just inexcusable," Fernandez Rundle said.

She said the incident started when a police officer chased 24-year-old Dalonta Crudup into the hotel and stopped him at gunpoint as he tried to take an elevator.

A police report obtained by Miami ABC affiliate WPLG alleged that Crudup was involved in a confrontation with a Miami Beach bicycle police officer over illegally parking a motorized scooter and allegedly struck the officer with the scooter. Fernandez Rundle said the officer's leg was injured in the encounter with Crudup and that he had to be hospitalized.

Once stopped by a police lieutenant inside the hotel, security camera footage showed Crudup appearing to comply with the officer's orders to step out of an elevator with his hands up.

"Crudup exits the elevator with his hands raised and drops down to the ground with his arms outstretched in front of him," Fernandez Rundle said.

After he was handcuffed with his arms behind his back, the security video showed 21 officers rushing into the lobby, swarming around Crudup and assisting in his arrest, Fernandez Rundle said.

"It is at this point the situation begins to change, in our opinion, from a legitimate arrest of a criminal suspect into an ongoing investigation of the use of force by five Miami Beach police officers," Fernandez Rundle said.

The security video appeared to show Sgt. Jose Perez allegedly kick Crudup in the head while he was face down on the ground with other officers on top of him. At one point, Perez appears to also be seen in the video lifting Crudup and slamming him to the ground.

The video showed Perez walk away briefly twice before returning and appearing to kick Crudup in the head.

The hotel security video allegedly showed Officer Kevin Perez, who Fernandez Rundle said is not related to Jose Perez, kicking Crudup at least four times.

Other officers then turned their attention to 28-year-old Khalid Vaughn, who Fernandez Rundle said was standing 12 to 15 feet away recording Crudup's arrest.

Body camera video appeared to show officers Robert Sabater allegedly tackling Vaughn, who was backing away. Officers David Rivas and Steven Serrano allegedly helped Sabater pin Vaughn against a concrete pillar. The body camera video appears to show Sabarter, Rivas and Serrano taking turns pummeling Vaughn with body blows.

"Body-worn cameras played a critical role in this case," Fernandez Rundle said.

She said Vaughn was initially arrested on charges of impeding, provoking and harassing officers. Fernandez Rundle said those charges were dropped as soon after she viewed the videos.

She said the investigation is ongoing and the officers could face more charges.

Fernandez Rundle praised Clements for taking swift action and immediately informing her office of the incident.

"This is by no means at all a reflection of the dedicated men and women of the Miami Beach Police Department," Clements said at Monday's news conference. "Moving forward, I can tell you that my staff and I promise you, as individuals and as an agency, that we will learn from this. And we will grow from this."

Upon his release from custody, Crudup told WPLG, "I got beat up, I got stitches, went to the hospital." He denied parking the scooter illegally and striking the officer with it.

Vaughn told WPLG he started video recording the incident after Crudup was already handcuffed and on the ground.

"They beat him, turned around, charged me down, beat me ... punched me, elbowed me in the face," Vaughn told WPLG. "I literally got jumped by officers."

Paul Ozeata, president of the Fraternal Order of Police, told the Miami Herald that the five charged officers are being represented by the police union's attorneys. He told the newspaper that he hadn’t viewed the video evidence close enough to comment on the officers' actions.

"They deserve their day in court, just as everyone else does," Ozeata said.

In an interview with ABC News Live Prime anchor Linsey Davis, Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber said he viewed the video footage and called the incident "unacceptable in every way."

"This is not who our department is," Gelber said, adding, "And what our department did was exactly the right thing they should do, which is relieved the officers of duty immediately, and then within hours refer the entire matter to the state attorney's office for a review."

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Newly released body cam footage shows chaos, shock minutes after Surfside building collapse

Monica McGivern/Xinhua via Getty Images

(SURFSIDE, Fla.) -- The screams of people shouting for help can be heard in newly released body cam footage from police officers responding to the collapse of Champlain Towers South in the minutes after the Surfside, Florida, building fell to the ground.

Ninety-eight people were killed when the 12-story condominium building collapsed in the early morning of June 24. Investigators are still trying to determine the cause of the collapse.

The three videos released by the Town of Surfside on Tuesday show the chaos and shock as first responders and bystanders try to grasp what had just happened.

The footage begins at around 1:24 am, minutes after the collapse of the building.

The videos show Surfside Police officers arriving at the scene, speaking for the first time with survivors and witnesses, and working with other first responders to secure the area.

In one video, Officer Craig Lovellete is seen arriving at the site of the collapse at around 1:27 a.m. He walks up to other officers and asks if there was a fire.

"No," one officer replies. "The building collapsed."

Lovellete peeks over a concrete wall and sees the fallen garage with debris everywhere. Screaming can be heard in the background.

Back in his car, he says, "Oh my god" and sighs heavily.

Later Lovellete encounters Champlain Towers South security guard Shamoka Furman, who was in the building when it came down. Furman describes explosion-type noises she says she heard right before the collapse of the building. In another video clip, Officer Kemuel Gambirazio joins parts of the conversation.

"I hear a boom-boom but I'm thinking it's the elevator ... no beeps or nothing goes off ... another boom-boom,'" Furman says. She makes hand motions to show Lovellete that after she heard the noises, the building came down.

After seeing two residents exit the building after the loud noise, Furman said she called 911.

"This never happens, I didn't even know we had earthquakes -- I don't even know what this was," Furman says. "I don't even know how I made it out of there ... through the grace of God."

Asked if the building had any work done lately, Furman says she only works overnight.

Officer Ariol Lage's body cam footage also shows him encountering Furman earlier, while she was still covered in debris.

"What collapsed?" Lage asks.

"I don't know, I don't know," Furman says. "All I heard was boom. The garage, the pool -- if they don't get out..."

"It's OK, fire rescue is here," Lage replies.

Lage's bodycam footage also shows him at the garage, which was the area of the building that collapsed first.

"There's a lot of dust, I can barely see anything," Lage says into his radio. He then hears a woman scream so he calls out for survivors, shining a flash light toward the noise. A woman is seen next to an overturned car, but cars and debris block Lage from getting to her.

"Are you OK?" Lage asks.

"No," the woman replies.

Footage then shows Lage leaving the garage and making his way to a colleague, and the two walk around the building trying to determine how to get closer as screams can be heard from people in the area. It’s unclear what happened to them.

Lage and his colleagues are also seen trying to move bystanders away from the scene, fearing that the rest of the building could fall. They encounter a woman who appears to be in shock, standing in front of the building.

When told to move back, the woman replies slowly, "I'm just standing here cause I'm the building president and if you need something..."

Lage interrupts the woman and tells her the rest of the building might collapse, then ushers her away.

Another clip shows Officer Gambirazio talking with a someone who says he just made his way down from the 12th floor penthouse.

The man, who appears to be in shock and out of breath, says he was on his phone watching YouTube when he heard something falling.

He says he initially thought it wasn't a big deal, but then "all of a sudden, I hear, like, it was a jet right through the front of my balcony. So I get up, and was like, 'Was that a plane?'"

The video shows another person running toward Gambirazio from the direction of the collapse. The man, appearing distressed and shocked, keeps pointing and shouting toward the direction of the building.

As another officer tries to calm him down, Gambirazio tells him, "Listen, right now, we were told by Rescue not even we can help right now. ... They're coordinating something to help get everybody out."

"Please" the man says, pointing toward the collapsed structure, but Gambirazio interrupts him and says, "I understand, but we have to do whatever they say."

The man asks the officers if he can make a call to the building, and Gambirazio responds that he can, but adds that he can't let him back into the area.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Governor pardons St. Louis couple who pointed guns at Black Lives Matter protesters

Laurie Skrivan/St. Louis Post-Dispatch/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

(ST. LOUIS, Mo.) -- Missouri Gov. Mike Parson announced Tuesday that he had pardoned Mark and Patricia McCloskey, the St. Louis couple who were charged with waving guns at a group of Black Lives Matter protesters outside their home last year.

Mark McCloskey was seen holding a semi-automatic rifle while his wife was holding a handgun on their property on June 28, 2020, as a group of protesters passed by their house, prosecutors said. The couple were filmed shouting "Get out" to the crowd, but there was no physical confrontation between them and the protesters.

They contended they were protecting their property during the protests.

Several prominent conservative leaders, including President Donald Trump, defended the couple. The McCloskeys were guest speakers at the 2020 Republican National Convention.

A grand jury indicted the couple in October and Pearson told reporters he would consider pardoning them.

The couple pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault and harassment charges in June. They surrendered their weapons and Patricia McCloskey was fined $2,000 while her husband was fined $750.

When Judge David Mason asked Mark McCloskey if he acknowledged that his actions put people at risk of personal injury, McCloskey replied, "I sure did, your honor."

Mark McCloskey, who announced in May he was running for U.S. Senate, told reporters outside the courthouse after the hearing that he'd do it again.

"Any time the mob approaches me, I'll do what I can to put them in imminent threat of physical injury because that's what kept them from destroying my house and my family," he said.

The couple and the governor didn't immediately provide statements about the pardons.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Wildfires in West prompt new evacuations as they spread through region

Eisenlohr/iStock

(NEW YORK) -- Evacuation orders have been issued in several regions in the West due to spreading wildfires.

Thousands of residents in Northern California and Montana were ordered to flee their homes as both new and existing wildfires neared neighborhoods.

Currently, about 90 large wildfires are burning in 12 states in the West -- much of which is suffering from severe drought conditions.

The Dixie Fire, which has been burning near the Feather River Canyon in Northern California for weeks, prompted new evacuation orders in Greenville.

The Dixie Fire -- the largest in the state -- has been through more than 253,000 acres and is just 35% contained. The extreme fire behavior is being exacerbated by hot and dry conditions with gusty winds are persisting in the area, making it difficult for firefighters to battle the blaze.

The McFarland Fire in Wildwood, California, prompted evacuations in the area after it grew to more than 15,000 acres and remains just 5% contained. Critical fire weather is in effect in the region through Wednesday.

Evacuation warnings are in effect for the Monument Fire in Big Bar, California, after scorching through more than 6,000 acres. It is 0% contained.

The Boulder 2700 Fire near Polson, Montana, burned through nearly 1,500 acres by Tuesday afternoon and prompted evacuations over the weekend. Multiple structures have been destroyed by the fire, but cool, wet and humid weather will help to contain it.

The spread of the wildfires had slowed last week but picked back up as the moisture from the monsoons in the Southwest disappeared, with lightning strikes sparking more.

At least 35 new wildfires ignited over the weekend due to lightning strikes. Dozens of wildfires have sparked in Oregon alone over the last 48 hours, while 13 new fires have started in the last 24 hours in Montana.

Six states in the West, from Arizona to Washington, are currently under fire and heat alerts, while red flag warnings have been issued in Oregon and Northern California.

Excessive heat warnings are also in effect this week for the Southwest, including Las Vegas, Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona.

ABC News' Melissa Griffin and Max Golembo contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Cellphone snapshot of grizzly has Yellowstone tourist facing federal charges

Darcie Addington via US Park Rangers

(CHEYENNE, Wyo.) -- An Illinois woman is facing federal charges for allegedly disturbing wildlife in Yellowstone National Park after a video surfaced of her attempting to get an up-close cellphone photo of a momma grizzly bear and her three cubs.

Bob Murray, the U.S. attorney for the district of Wyoming, announced on Monday that charges have been filed against 25-year-old Samantha R. Dehring of Carol Stream, Illinois.

Dehring is ordered to appear before a magistrate judge in Mammoth Hot Spring, Wyoming, on Aug. 26 to answer to charges of willfully remaining, approaching and photographing wildlife within 100 yards. She is also charged with one count of feeding, touching, teasing, frightening or intentionally disturbing wildlife.

If convicted, she could be sentenced to up to a year in prison and ordered to pay a $10,000 fine, Murray said in a statement.

The allegations marked the latest in a series of incidents of Yellowstone visitors behaving badly, including a man authorities say was arrested for taunting a bison and two men charged with "thermal trespassing" for breaching barriers to take up-close photos of the park's famed Old Faithful geyser.

Attempts by ABC News to reach Dehring for comment were not successful.

With the help of tourists who witnessed and video-recorded Dehring's close encounter with a grizzly bear family, U.S. Park Police managed to identify her and track her down, Murray said.

The incident unfolded on May 10, in the Roaring Mountain area of Yellowstone, Murray said.

"While other visitors slowly backed off and got into their vehicles, Dehring remained," Murray said.

A video shot by a tourist showed Dehring standing roughly 15 feet from a grizzly bear taking a photo of the animal with her cellphone. She backed away only after the bear briefly charged at her and then retreated. Other bears nearby appeared to be startled by the encounter and ran into the forest.

Murray said U.S. Park Rangers from Yellowstone provided the results of their investigation to U.S. Rangers in the area where Dehring lives and they served her in person with the violation notices.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Police officer, suspect killed in shooting, stabbing incident at Pentagon: Sources

Ivan Cholakov/iStock

(WASHINGTON) -- A Pentagon police officer was stabbed in an attack at the Pentagon Transit Center Tuesday morning and later died, two law enforcement sources told ABC News.

The suspect also died as a result of the incident, law enforcement sources said.

Chief Woodrow Kusse, who leads the Pentagon Force Protection Agency, joined Pentagon spokesman John Kirby at an afternoon press briefing to address the incident, but he would not provide details about casualties, including whether an officer was wounded.

"This morning at about 10:37 a.m., a Pentagon police officer was attacked on the Metro Bus platform. Gunfire was exchanged. And there were -- there were several casualties. The incident is over, the scene is secure and -- most importantly -- there's no continuing threat to our community," he said.

"There were a number of people that fled and there were some erroneous reports," he added.

The FBI is leading the investigation into the attack.

While sources told ABC News there was no known motive, they added that there was no obvious connection to terrorism. Those same sources stressed it's still early in the investigation.

The medical examiner in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for a comment.

Pressed on reports on whether an officer died, Kusse said he couldn't release those details as the investigation is ongoing.

"I don't want to compromise the integrity of that process right now," he said.

"I'm not confirming or denying those particular reports right now the investigation is ongoing. And I do promise to get back as soon as possible, with further details but I can't release those right now," he said.

Pressed for information about the assailant, he added, "We are not actively looking for another suspect."

Across town on the National Mall, Capitol Police officers on motorcycles led a ceremonial procession, passing by saluting law enforcement officers from Washington’s Metropolitan Police Department, the Pentagon Force Protection Agency and other police departments, to honor the Pentagon police officer reportedly wounded earlier -- though the Pentagon wouldn't confirm his injuries.

The Pentagon was placed on lockdown Tuesday morning after the incident at the Pentagon Transit Center involving a stabbing and a shooting, according to a separate U.S. official earlier.

The lockdown was later lifted and the Pentagon reopened, the Pentagon Force Protection Agency said shortly after noon.

The Pentagon had no details regarding the assailant's motivation Tuesday afternoon, but Kusse said they will review the results of the investigation before making a determination on whether security measures should change.

"Every time an incident occurs, whether it's here or anywhere else across the nation or in the world, we do after actions on those we examine them, we look for things that we can do to improve. But right now, again, it's still pending, we will certainly, as this investigation concludes, take another look at any measures," he said.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Gen. Mark Milley were not in the Pentagon at the time of the incident. They were both at the White House for their weekly meeting with President Joe Biden and they were all aware of the ongoing situation.

Kirby said Tuesday afternoon that Austin was back in the Pentagon and had a chance to visit the Pentagon police operations center to check in and express his gratitude for their work.

ABC News' Libby Cathey contributed to this report.

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Idaho police search for 'endangered' 5-year-old missing since last week

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(New York) — Police in Idaho are continuing to search for a 5-year-old boy who they say may be in danger after he went missing near his home.

Michael Joseph Vaughan was last seen near his home in Fruitland, Idaho, about 50 miles northwest of Boise, on the evening of July 27, according to the Fruitland Police Department.

Authorities described Michael as "missing and endangered" but did not provide any additional descriptions of his possible whereabouts. The boy's family has been "fully cooperative" in the investigation, police said.

Last week, police asked any potential witnesses who may have been in the area of Southwest 9th Street and Arizona Avenue in Fruitland to come forward, even if they do not believe they saw anything.

Investigators also asked that people who live in the immediate area where Michael was last seen to "thoroughly search" their property.

The Fruitland Police Department assured the public Tuesday that the search for Michael was still ongoing.

"Our search efforts are still ongoing and extensive," a post on the department's Facebook page read. "Our main focus is to locate Michael."

Police reminded volunteers engaged in their own personal searches to respect citizens' right to deny entry to their property and to not walk through cultivated fields without the property owner's permission.

The FBI, Idaho State Police and multiple Treasure Valley law enforcement agencies are all involved in the investigation.

Michael is described by authorities as being 3 feet, 7 inches tall, about 50 pounds, with blonde hair and blue eyes. He was last seen wearing a light blue shirt with a Minecraft graphic, dark blue boxer briefs and size 11 blue flip flops. He also answers to the nickname "Monkey," police said.

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Gov. Cuomo sexually harassed multiple women, NY AG probe finds

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(NEW YORK) -- New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo was found to have sexually harassed multiple women, including current and former state employees, New York State Attorney General Letitia James announced Tuesday morning after a four-month probe into the allegations.

In at least one instance, the investigation determined that the governor sought to retaliate against a woman who leveled accusations against him, identified in a report released by the AG's office as Lindsay Boylan.

According to James, the probe found that Cuomo and his staff fostered a toxic work environment. Cuomo, in a statement released after James' announcement, denied any wrongdoing.

The attorney general's 168-page report, released during her press conference, determined that "the governor engaged in conduct constituting sexual harassment under federal and New York State law."

"Specifically, we find that the Governor sexually harassed a number of current and former New York State employees by, among other things, engaging in unwelcome and nonconsensual touching, as well as making numerous offensive comments of a suggestive and sexual nature that created a hostile work environment for women," the report said.

At Tuesday's press conference, employment discrimination attorney Anne Clark, one of the investigators assigned to lead the probe, presented a litany of findings from the report, including specific examples of the governor making suggestive comments and engaging in unwanted touching that eleven women -- some named, others anonymous -- found "deeply humiliating and offensive."

In an instance involving one of Cuomo's unnamed executive assistants, the governor was found to have "reached under her blouse and grabbed her breast," according to the report.

The same woman also recounted a circumstance in which "the Governor moved his hand to grab her butt cheek and began to rub it. The rubbing lasted at least five seconds," the report said.

In another instance, the report describes how Cuomo sexually harassed a state trooper assigned to his protective detail, including by "running his hand across her stomach, from her belly button to her right hip, while she held a door open for him at an event" and "running his finger down her back, from the top of her neck down her spine to the middle of her back, saying 'Hey, you,' while she was standing in front of him in an elevator."

In his televised statement issued Tuesday afternoon in response to the report, Cuomo said that "the facts are much different than what has been portrayed" -- and gave no indication that he would heed calls for his resignation.

"I want you to know directly from me that I never touched anyone inappropriately or made inappropriate sexual advances," he said.

Without directly undermining the attorney general's report, Cuomo claimed that "politics and bias are interwoven into every aspect of this situation."

Cuomo met with investigators for 11 hours last month and offered "a combination" of denials and admissions, Clark said Tuesday.

"There are some incidents he admitted to but had a different interpretation of, and there were other things that he denied or said he didn't recall," Clark added.

Once considered a leading voice among national Democrats for his aggressive response to the coronavirus pandemic, Cuomo has suffered a meteoric fall from grace in recent months under a deluge of negative headlines.

When sexual harassment claims against Cuomo emerged in March, federal investigators were already reportedly probing his administration over concerns that it withheld damning data about nursing home deaths in New York. Cuomo has also faced scrutiny over reports that he prioritized testing for his family in the early days of the pandemic.

At least six women, including several who previously worked for the three-term governor, have accused Cuomo of inappropriate behavior and unwanted advances -- claims that he has either dismissed as an exaggeration or outright denied.

"Wait for the facts," Cuomo said in March. "An opinion without facts is irresponsible."

Reports of the alleged misconduct prompted James to launch an independent investigation, tapping two seasoned investigators to lead the probe.

As part of the fallout from the sexual harassment claims, Cuomo faced calls from several high-profile Democrats --- including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, D-N.Y., and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. -- to resign. Cuomo has rebuffed those calls.

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Employee allegedly shoots three co-workers at Smile Direct Club in Nashville

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(NASHVILLE, Tenn.) -- An employee allegedly shot and injured three co-workers at a Smile Direct Club manufacturing facility in the Antioch neighborhood of Nashville, Tennessee, early Tuesday, officials said.

One worker was struck in the chest, one in the abdomen and one in the leg, Nashville police spokesman Don Aaron said at a news conference. One of the victims was in critical condition, he said.

The shots were fired around 6 a.m. inside and outside the business, officials said.

The suspected gunman left the building as officers responded to the call, but officers spotted him at an intersection and demanded he drop the weapon, police said.

The suspect, armed with a semi-automatic pistol with an extended magazine, instead directed the gun toward officers, according to Aaron.

The suspect, identified by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation as 22-year-old Antonio King, was shot by police and taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead, police said.

King started working at Smile Direct Club in June, police said. He also worked there from late 2019 to early 2020.

It appears the suspect acted alone, police said.

Smile Direct Club said in a statement, "The safety of our team members is a top priority for our Company and we maintain strict security protocols and a no weapons policy at all of our facilities. We are working with the local police as they investigate this matter."

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Renters brace for evictions as moratorium expires, virus cases resurge

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(NEW YORK) -- A major lifeline for millions of Americans was precipitously cut off over the weekend, leaving many families that are still reeling from the economic shock wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic now also at risk of losing their homes.

Notwithstanding last-minute scrambles from some lawmakers to extend it, the federal eviction moratorium instituted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) expired at midnight on Saturday.

The lapse in the pandemic-era protection that shielded vulnerable Americans from homelessness during the health crisis also comes as coronavirus cases resurge across the country. Millions of renters are now bracing for what happens next.

"It's more than stress, it's depression -- this is rock bottom," Jim Shock, 53, a West Virginia native who lost his job amid the pandemic and now faces eviction, told ABC News. "I don't see an upside, and I don't mind being humbled, being humbled doesn't bother me. Struggles give you strength, and I'm all about all that. But yeah, this is probably as bad as it's been, and I don't know what I'm going to do."

Terriana Julian Clark, 27, a mother of two from Harvey, Louisiana, said the past year has been marked by sickness, unemployment and homelessness before she moved into a home in February. In April, she became sick and suddenly unable to work at her in-person job. As bills and back-rent have piled up, she said she's now waiting for an eviction notice from her landlord with the moratorium expired.

"He already told me, if I don't have any type of money for him on the first day, he's going to put out a 5 to 10 day eviction notice," Clark said in an interview with ABC News' "Start Here."

"I slept in my car from January 2020 to January 2021," she said, adding that she expects to move back into her Ford Mustang if she loses her home again -- though she said she doesn't want to put her children through that experience again.

"It was really hard," Clark said, "to get gas, food, water. Making sure they have clothes on their back -- because we couldn't wash every day. So, like, having clean clothes is not like a necessity, not an option for us. I literally could feel the weight of the sweat from us in the seats."

"I literally filled out 64 job applications in one month and only heard from two people," the mom said, adding, "I'm trying to do the best that I can to stay up and not ever go back to where I was."

More than 15 million people live in households that are currently behind on their rental payments, which puts them at risk of eviction, according to a report released last week by the nonprofit Aspen Institute think tank. Broken down further, researchers said that figure includes 7.4 million adults -- which is in line with separate census data that says some 7.4 million adults are not caught up on rent payments as of July 5.

In the next two months alone, approximately 3.6 million American reported that they will likely face eviction, according to the Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey.

Aspen researchers also said the threat of eviction disproportionately impacts communities of color. Some 22% of Black renters and 17% of Latino renters are in debt to their landlords, compared to 11% of white renters and 15% overall, the report said.

Shock lamented how the moratorium is ending despite the pandemic not being over in the U.S., saying, "the COVID compassion disappeared so quickly."

"It's not over," he added of the health crisis. "It's probably going to get worse if people don't get vaccinated because of the delta strain."

Data suggests the nation is grappling with a new summer surge in cases. The seven-day moving average of daily new cases in the U.S. shot up more than 64% compared with the previous week’s, the CDC said in data released last Friday. Presently, the U.S. is averaging some 66,606 new cases of COVID-19 per day.

Moreover, citing new science on the transmissibility of the delta variant, the CDC last week reversed course on its indoor mask guidance -- recommending everyone in areas with substantial or high levels of transmission wear a face covering in public indoor settings whether they are vaccinated or not.

Diane Yentel, the president and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC), told ABC News via email that a vast majority -- an estimated 80% -- of families currently behind on rent live in communities where the delta variant is surging.

"Having millions of families lose their homes would be tragic and consequential at any time," Yentel said. "It will be especially so as COVID surges and with abundant resources to pay the rent that may not reach them in time."

"This urgent situation demands immediate action by policy makers and stakeholders at all levels," she added, calling on Congress and the Biden administration to extend the moratorium and local governments to improve and expedite getting assistance to tenants who need it to stay housed.

Moreover, Yentel called on the Department of Justice to direct courts to stop evictions for renters who are applying for emergency rental assistance, and on the Treasury Department to eliminate barriers that prevent emergency rental assistance from flowing where it needs to go. Finally, Yentel said the CDC should require landlords provide 30-days notice to renters before beginning eviction actions.

The NLIHC implored the Biden administration to "prevent a historic wave of evictions" in a June letter, arguing that with COVID-19 still present the expiration could lead to a rise in cases and virus deaths.

Research released from Princeton University's Eviction Lab similarly argued in a June report that neighborhoods with the highest eviction filing rates have had the lowest levels of COVID-19 vaccinations. The researchers said their findings suggest "those most at risk of being evicted are still at high risk of contracting and passing the virus."

Shock said another major concern about the eviction ban lifting is that, "Once you're homeless, it's going to be a lot harder for you to get a home."

Aspen Institute policy researchers stated in their report that rental housing debt is "uniquely toxic" due to its lingering consequences in addition to eviction.

"People evicted on the basis of rental debt are likely to face a series of cascading consequences," the report stated. "These may include civil legal actions or debt collection to recover outstanding balances, negative credit reporting that makes it difficult or impossible to rent a new home, short-term or extended homelessness, and a significant decline in physical and mental health."

Researchers added that these long-term consequences can be particularly acute for children.

A majority (57%) of Americans say the eviction and foreclosure moratorium is still needed, according to an Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll, though support divides sharply based on partisan lines as 75% of Democrats say this compared to 34% of Republicans.

Some Republican lawmakers have argued the moratorium unfairly punishes landlords, and could have unintended consequences such as higher rents if landlords account for the possibility of these moratoriums occurring again in the future. Others, including the Biden administration, have argued that the rental assistance meant to go toward landlords needs to be more efficiently dispersed by state and local governments.

Still, local authorities and renters are now bracing for the fallout of the protections expiring.

Shock said that many Americans who weathered the pandemic and financial downturn may be acting like everything is now going back to normal, but he predicts the nation is now on the precipice of a new housing crisis. The unemployment rate in the U.S. was 5.9% as of the most-recent Labor Department report, still well above the pre-pandemic 3.5% seen in February 2020.

"I think that the worst is yet to come. I think you're going to see a homeless problem spike, you're going to see food banks strained beyond anything that they can imagine," he told ABC News. "After the COVID compassion wears off, then people are going to start bickering about homelessness: 'Where are we going to put them? Where are we going to send them?'"

"It's just the beginning," he added. "I think we're going to see just a surge of homelessness, and all the things that come with that."

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One of the five people shot on Bourbon Street in New Orleans is an alleged gunman: Chief

(NEW YORK) -- One of five people shot over the weekend on Bourbon Street in the heart of New Orleans' French Quarter was identified on Monday as one of two suspects in a gunfight that sparked panic in the popular tourist destination, police said.

New Orleans Police Chief Shaun Ferguson made the announcement at a news conference Monday in which he called an eruption of weekend gun violence "very disturbing, very alarming."

He said police are searching for a second man suspected of being involved in the shooting. He released a grainy security camera image of the suspect and asked anyone with information about his identity to contact the police immediately.

The shooting broke out just after 2 p.m. Sunday on Bourbon Street and Orleans Avenue about two blocks from Jackson Square and around the corner from the famed Preservation Hall, according to police.

Ferguson said a city security camera captured the shooting giving police clear images of the two men involved.

Meanwhile, an EarthCam video camera mounted on Cat's Meow Karaoke Bar, which normally provides a live feed of the party scene on Bourbon Street, captured the sound of multiple gunshots followed by chaos with panicked people running for cover in all directions. Several people narrowly avoided being hit by cars crossing Bourbon Street.

“One of the victims we do believe was a shooter in this incident," Ferguson said. "We do believe there was an exchange of gunfire between two individuals."

The chief did not release the wounded suspect's name.

"His involvement is still under investigation. That is why we have not made a formal arrest," Ferguson said.

He described the second suspect as a heavyset Black man, in his 30s, 5-foot-6 to 5-foot-7, with short dreadlocks or curly long twists.

Ferguson said a motive for the shooting remains under investigation.

About two-and-a-half hours after the Bourbon Street shooting, four people were shot in the adjacent Iberville neighborhood just northeast of the French Quarter. Ferguson said a 15-year-old boy was killed in the incident and another 15-year-old boy was arrested in the homicide after his mother turned him in, police said.

''It was the parent of this 15-year-old suspect that turned him in to ensure that that family has closure," Ferguson said. "I have spoken to the mother of this 15-year-old suspect and, understandably so, she is very shaken up. She’s upset, she was very emotional. She had to make a difficult but courageous and the right decision."

He said a motive for the shooting is under investigation, but that the suspect's mother told him her son and the victim were once friends.

Ferguson said Sunday's gun violence came after the city saw homicides fall to 23 in July compared to 25 in June.

New Orleans has recorded more than 250 shootings and more than 100 homicides already this year. In 2020, New Orleans police investigated 195 homicides, a 63% increase from 2019, according to police department crime statistics.

"Overall crime was down last week compared to the previous week," Ferguson said. “This weekend just put a black eye and dampened the spirit of what we’ve been actually accomplishing over the last few weeks."

 

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Will the St. Louis Cardinals make the playoffs this year?