sonreir es gratis/iStockBy WILLIAM MANSELL, ABC NEWS
(NEW YORK) -- Over 12.5 million people across the globe have been diagnosed with COVID-19, the disease caused by the new respiratory virus, according to data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. The actual numbers are believed to be much higher due to testing shortages, many unreported cases and suspicions that some governments are hiding the scope of their nations' outbreaks.
The United States has become the worst-affected country, with more than 3.1 million diagnosed cases and at least 134,097 deaths.
Here is how the news is developing today. All times Eastern.
3:15 p.m.: Boston moves to phase 3 reopening
Boston joined the rest of Massachusetts in moving to its phase 3 of reopening from COVID-19 lockdown, reported the Boston Globe.
In phase 3, gyms, movie theaters, casinos and other activities are allowed to resume, with restrictions.
As of Friday, the state's death toll reached 8,081 and the number of confirmed cases was 105,290.
932,796 people have been tested in Massachusetts. The state is offering free, no-symptoms required testing in its hardest-hit communities including Chelsea, Everett, Fall River, Lawrence, Lynn, Lowell, Marlborough and New Bedford, the Boston Globe reported.
2:31 p.m.: DeSantis would like to see anything else 'in modern times' tested like Florida is currently testing for coronavirus, he says
In a press conference Saturday, Florida Gov. DeSantis insisted his state is a leader in coronavirus testing.
"Florida had more tests yesterday than the country as a whole did in March."
He added that he'd like to see anything else "in modern times" tested like Florida is currently testing for coronavirus.
Senate President Bill Galvano said Florida is "frankly better than most states in the union."
The governor said the state reported 95,000 tests on Friday and that it was getting shipments of remdesivir, the anti-viral drug being used to fight COVID-19. New York Gov. Cuomo announced Friday that he was sending a shipment of the drug to Florida.
"There are definitely areas where we think we may be seeing some declining positivity [rates] and some other areas where they're consistently 20%," DeSantis said. "We may be seeing some decline in this part of the Tampa Bay area," he said but said there's more positivity in Pasco County.
"We have a much better idea now versus March about what the viruses likes versus doesn't like," DeSantis said.
The governor said he's working with the White House to get more Lab Reagents in Florida. "The U.S. is testing more than any country by far and the lab resources are backed up."
He said the state signed contracts with companies that could provide tests in 48 hours and said that's just not happening anywhere in the country.
1:51 p.m.: Florida records 10,360 new cases
Cases continue to rise in Florida, with the Department of Health reporting 10,360 new cases, pushing the state's total to 254,511.
There were also 95 deaths in the last 24 hours, bringing the state's total to 4,298.
Testing has increased, with 82,737 tests being conducted.
Gov. Ron DeSantis touted the state's testing in a press conference and said some of the cases included asymptomatic people.
1:41 p.m.: Arizona reports record high hospitalizations
There are 3,485 people currently hospitalized in Arizona due to COVID-19, a record high, according to the state's Department of Health.
There were 3,038 new cases, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 119,930, the department reported. There were also 69 deaths, pushing that sum to 2,151.
1:19 p.m.: South Carolina sets new record of daily cases
South Carolina set a new record of daily confirmed COVID-19 cases, with 2,239, according to the state's Department of Health.
The state's previous record was more than 1,800 cases.
There are now 54,538 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 940 deaths in South Carolina, according to officials.
The total number of individual test results reported to the Department of Health on Friday was 10,083, with 22.2% of those being positive. The department also confirmed the first pediatric death linked to COVID-19.
12:25 p.m.: North Carolina reports more hospitalizations, another daily increase in cases
North Carolina set two somber records over the last 24 hours, with the state recording its highest number of hospitalizations and highest daily increase in cases to date.
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services reported 1,093 hospitalizations and 2,462 new cases Saturday.
"Record-high numbers like today are concerning," NCDHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen, M.D., said in a statement. "We all have a responsibility to one another to wear a face covering, avoid crowds and wash our hands often to get our trends going back in the right direction."
North Carolina has 83,793 confirmed cases from among more than 1.1 million tests.
11:23 a.m.: University reverses course, will be remote this fall
West Chester University, one of Pennsylvania's largest state-owned universities, with 18,000 students, has reversed course and said it no longer plans to bring students back in the fall.
Christopher Fiorentino, the university's president, said in a statement that learning will continue remotely through the fall semester.
"WCU cannot ignore the potential danger of bringing thousands back to campus," Fiorentino said.
Some classes will be taught in a hybrid format, meaning both in-person and remote learning for students with clinical placements, student teachers and certain internships, according to Fiorentino.
Chester County, where WCU is located, is currently in the Green Phase of reopening, meaning that some of the university's public buildings -- a library, a recreation center, the student union -- will be open but limited to 50% capacity.
"The University understands that students' lives have been turned upside down by a relentless pandemic that continues to sweep across the globe," Fiorentino said. "Our support for our WCU community will not waiver."
10:19 a.m.: New York hospitalizations drop below 800 for 1st time in four months
New York recorded 799 COVID-19 hospitalizations in the last 24 hours, making it the lowest number since March 18, according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
There was also the lowest three-day average death toll since March 16, with six recorded in the last 24 hours, Cuomo said in a statement.
New York was among the hardest-hit states in the early stages of the pandemic, with New York City especially devastated.
Cuomo applauded the good news, saying New Yorkers who practiced social distancing and wore masks "are central to our ability to slow the spread and save lives."
However, Cuomo also urged people not to become complacent.
"I urge residents to stay 'New York tough' and not give up the ground we've worked so hard to gain together, particularly in the face of rising cases throughout the country and compliance issues here at home," he said.
8:39 a.m.: Clusters of US soldiers test positive for COVID-19 in Japan
A "few dozen" U.S. Marines stationed at two different bases in Okinawa, Japan, have tested positive for COVID-19, according to the Associated Press.
After months of no confirmed coronavirus cases, the Marine Corps said it had two clusters of soldiers who tested positive for the virus this week, according to a statement from Marine Corps Installations Pacific.
"Preserve the force. Protect our families and the community," the statement continued.
The U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Air Force on Okinawa prefecture have now re-imposed strict limits on their personnel's movements and activities after the new coronavirus cases appeared, according to an internal FEMA memo obtained by ABC News.
Everyone who tested positive is in self-isolation and local commanders have initiated "soft shelter-in-place" orders for Camp Hansen and Marine Corps Air Station Futenma.
All orders are in place until further notice.
Officials said cleaning the base and contact tracing are ongoing.
"As we navigate the current environment we will continue to assess the situation and provide updates as frequently as permissible. We ask everyone to follow the social distancing and health protection measures to help us #KillTheVirus," Marine Corps Installations Pacific wrote on its Facebook page.
5:28 a.m.: Army medical task force heading to Houston as hospitals fill up
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced late Friday night that the United States Amry is sending a medical task force to Houston to help with the city's COVID-19 battle.
The additional resources, Abbott said, include an Urban Area Medical Task Force from the U.S. Department of Defense that will arrive on Monday and a Disaster Medical Assistance Team from U.S. Health and Human Services that has just been deployed.
“Texas is grateful to the federal government as well as the President and Vice President for working swiftly to provide additional resources to the state as we work to mitigate COVID-19 and care for our fellow Texans,” Abbott said in a statement Friday. “We will continue to work with our local and federal partners to ensure all resources and needs are met throughout the state.”
Houston has seen a significant rise in coronavirus cases in recent weeks, which caused many public health officials and hospitals to issue warnings that ICU bed availability is running low. Houston's Texas Medical Center is at 105% capacity.
The city reported 670 new diagnosed COVID-19 cases Friday, bringing Houston's total to at least 26,682. The coronavirus death toll for the city increased by nine, which now stands at 259.
Numbers are just as jarring throughout the Lone Star State. Texas' statewide COVID-19 death toll reached a single-day high of 105 Friday. The state had a 15.56% positivity test rate, according to an internal Federal Emergency Management Agency memo obtained by ABC News.
Nearly 14% of all new U.S. coronavirus cases in the past seven days have been identified in Texas, the memo said.
The rise in cases also led to Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner to cancel the in-person Republican Party convention in the city, prompting a lawsuit by the state GOP.
ABC News' Josh Margolin contributed to this report.
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.
Terraxplorer/iStockBy WILLIAM MANSELL, ABC NEWS
(ZUURBEKOM, South Africa) -- At least five people are dead and more than 40 people arrested in South Africa Saturday following an attack at a church in Zuurbekom, a town in the Gauteng Province of South Africa.
Four people were found shot and burnt to death in a car while a fifth victim, a security guard, was also fatally shot, local authorities said.
The National Commissioner of Police General Khehla John Sitole said the quick response by authorities averted even more destruction and death.
"I am certain that the speedy response by the joint security forces has averted what could have been a more severe blood bath," Sitole said in a statement Saturday. " ... It is rather unfortunate that such an incident takes place during a time when South Africa is being plagued by a deadly virus and violent crimes."
The South African Police Service and National Defense Force responded Saturday to reports of a shooting and an alleged hostage situation at the International Pentecostal Holiness Church at 3 a.m. local time.
Authorities do not believe a terrorist group is responsible for the attack, but "may have been motivated by a feud between conflicted parties of the church."
A group of armed people, police said, came to the church and allegedly attacked people who were inside, indicating that they were coming to take over the premises.
Responding authorities said they also rescued multiple men, women and children, who were said to be living in the compound and being allegedly held hostage.
Police said they have arrested over 40 suspects, including six people who have been taken to hospital.
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.
ABC NewsBy DEVIN DWYER and JANET WEINSTEIN, ABC NEWS
(WASHINGTON) -- The resurgence of COVID-19 across the country this summer has deepened anxiety for millions of American small business owners who face another imminent cash crunch in their battle to survive a historic pandemic.
The government’s $660 billion Paycheck Protection Program, first rolled out in April, was supposed to help many businesses and their employees weather the storm. Nearly half of all American workers are employed by a small business.
But now many of the nearly 5 million US companies that got loans say the relief money is running out with little sign the virus is loosening its grip on the economy.
"We're literally the guy who was jogging and got hit by the meteor like the one in a trillion chance," said Will Eastman, owner of U Street Music Hall, a nightclub in Washington, D.C., shuttered since March. "We were the first to close and we'll be the last to reopen."
In May, Eastman received a $120,000 PPP loan to help keep five full-time staff on payroll and pay for rent and utilities. He says those funds run dry in less than two weeks; his only revenue is from T-shirt sales and online donations.
"It is a psychological trauma not to know if your entire industry will be here next year," he said.
Hope that phased reopenings of local economies would lead to a financial rebound are now overshadowed by customers' renewed health fears, more forced business shutdowns and a possible vaccine still months or years away.
Farid Nouri, who’s owned Eighteenth Street Lounge in D.C. for 25 years, recently made the decision to fold after his PPP loan ran out.
"We’re looking at at least a year and a half of staying idle and accruing more rent debt, more insurance debt," said Nouri in an interview as he prepared to auction off the club furniture and leftover liquor stock. "We’re talking about hundreds of thousands of dollars at the end of the day before we can even be able to reopen."
Karen G. Mills, former Small Business Administrator who helped guide the recovery from the 2008 Great Recession, predicts as many as 20-30% of all American small businesses could close for good during the pandemic.
"Cash is the number one need for small businesses -- money that is not a debt burden to them, that helps tide them over until we get our arms around this health crisis and they can open safely," said Mills.
Since March, Congress has allocated more than $670 billion in guaranteed loans to help businesses with fewer than 500 employees. If recipients use at least 60% of the loan to cover payroll or rent, the loan will be forgiven.
Businesses can only apply once, and data shows that many of the nation’s smallest businesses still have not taken advantage of the program.
There is roughly $130 billion up for grabs before the program expires on Aug. 8.
Mia Stewart, who owns Haute Hair in Washington, D.C., a custom wig and hair extensions shop, is among the small business owners who have struggled with the PPP application process, which requires accounting and legal skills that some say they don’t have.
"I think there needs to be more of a streamlined process to allow us access to these funds," Stewart said. "It should have happened months ago, and here we are still waiting. It’s July."
To make matters worse, Stewart’s shop was looted during the recent protests after the death of George Floyd, who was killed in Minneapolis police custody in May. She says more than $150,000 in merchandise was stolen.
"The PPP loan has just been a really difficult process," Stewart said. "And I just think it’s completely unfair that these other corporations were allowed to get such large sums of money."
The Trump administration this week revealed for the first time the names of the biggest recipients of PPP loans so far.
Among them are major restaurant chains like P.F. Chang’s China Bistro; hedge funds; real estate firms; and clothing lines, including Kanye West’s sneaker brand Yeezy LLC.
At least a dozen businesses have ties to political leaders, including a hotel partially owned by the husband of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and a shipping company run by the family of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao.
"I was very disappointed, because the most vulnerable small businesses out there are the little ones," said Mills of the data released by the Small Business Administration and Treasury Department. "Overall the program is going to have saved a lot of businesses, but if you were a bad actor, do not do that again."
President Trump’s small business chief Jovita Carranza says she’s "ecstatic" about the PPP, telling SirusXM radio in an interview that it is "one of the most successful and consequential federal disaster response programs in memory."
Many economists have credited the program with helping to blunt the tide of job losses. After a historic spike this spring, the unemployment rate fell from 14.5% in April to 11.1% in June, according to the Labor Department.
Pia Carusone, owner of Republic Restoratives in Washington, D.C., one of the world’s only women-owned distilleries, says she considers her business a PPP success story -- with a caveat.
A $150,000 PPP loan the distillery received this spring helped "save well over 50% of our team," she said.
"But I don’t know why anyone’s taking a victory lap about anything. You can’t claim a huge success when, first of all, many businesses are going under today," Carusone noted. "It has been very helpful but we’re not anywhere near done with this yet."
Working in her favor is steady demand from walk-up customers who are trickling back and restaurants slowly resuming orders of craft vodka and bourbon.
Other retailers see a similar cautiously upward trajectory but remain on edge.
"I was able to bring back a majority of my staff" with a PPP loan, said Adam Waterreus, owner of Lost City Books in Washington’s Adams Morgan neighborhood, where increased foot traffic has meant renewed book browsing and sales.
"I’m still fairly uneasy about the next few months," Waterreus added. "I was listening to the news this morning about Texas and these big surges [in COVID-19 cases]. There seems to be little reason to think that won’t come back to us."
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.
Adene Sanchez/iStockBy HALLEY FREGER, ALLISON PECORIN, and MATTHEW MOSK, ABC NEWS
(AUSTIN) -- The senior citizens who populate Texas nursing homes were not jammed into bars or packed onto beaches on Memorial Day, but officials there now fear that coronavirus that began spreading among younger people over the past month is imperiling the lives of the state’s most vulnerable.
It was a grim but predictable development for a state with more nursing homes – 1,218 – than any state in the nation, experts told ABC News. Some said they already suspect a link between the recent spread of the virus and a rise in deaths in the state's nursing homes over the past weeks, and said they fear the worst could be yet to come.
Back in mid-May, nursing homes in the state had reported 561 deaths from COVID-19, according to an ABC News review of state data. By last week, that number had nearly doubled at 1,035 deaths.
“As [the infections] continue to grow in numbers in the community, we would expect it to continue to grow in numbers in nursing facilities,” said Amanda Fredriksen, the Associate State Director for Advocacy for AARP Texas.
While nursing homes nationwide are continuing to experience casualties from the virus, some states that have seen decreases in their case rates are also seeing fewer nursing home deaths. Connecticut, for example, was reporting over 80 probable deaths in congregate care facilities daily in April, when the state was at its peak number of coronavirus cases. Now, Connecticut is reporting fewer than five deaths in these facilities daily as case counts decline.
Derrick L. Neal is the executive director of Williamson County and Cities Health District in Texas, near Austin. That district is home to Trinity Care Center, the facility in Texas that has reported one the highest number of fatalities to the federal government. In mid-June the facility had reported 138 resident deaths.
The region has also seen a rise in cases in the wider community, which he attributes to the state’s late-April opening and Memorial day festivities. Now, Neal said, he’s fearful that what he described as a continued failure by residents to adhere to social distancing guidelines could have a devastating impact on those living in congregate care facilities.
“The overarching concern is really a community, not everyone, but a large segment of society refusing to care for their neighbor by masking up and social distancing,” Neal said. “The same things that kept me up in March keeps me up in July.”
Since the beginning of the pandemic, nursing homes have been at the epicenter of the coronavirus crisis. Nationwide, those who’ve died in nursing homes account for nearly a third of all COVID-19 deaths, according to a recent survey of state-by-state data by ABC News – a figure that advocates believe may actually be undercounted.
In part, that is because national statistics have not fully accounted for some of the fatalities during the early days of the pandemic. Local news outlets in Texas also report that nursing homes in Texas have been among the worst in reporting conditions to federal officials tracking the outbreak.
The official count of the federal agency responsible for regulating nursing homes and tracking coronavirus cases in nursing homes says that 35,517 nursing home residents have died nationwide.
That number has continued to grow despite an evolving toolkit of preventative measures that began in March with the federal guidance to nursing homes to restrict visitors, isolate the sick, and require staff wear protective equipment.
In June, Texas followed the lead of Maryland and other states in forming “strike teams,” which could mount a rapid response when a nursing care facility showed the early signs of an outbreak.
Representatives for the Texas Department of State Health Services did not immediately respond to ABC News' request for comment for this report. The Texas governor has previously stated that protecting seniors in nursing facilities is a priority and earlier this month encouraged nursing homes to apply to receive parts of over $9 million in federal funding being allocated to Texas nursing homes.
"We know that older Texans are more susceptible to COVID-19, and Texas is committed to ensuring that nursing facilities have the tools they need to keep their residents and staff safe,” Abbott said in a press release. “We must continue to protect our most vulnerable populations, mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in Texas, and protect public health.”
But last month, when the state started seeing a rise in infection among young people, advocates for the elderly began to worry that their defenses would not be strong enough to prevent the virus' spread into nursing homes. That, said Patty Ducayet, the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman for the Texas Health and Human Services Department, appears to be happening now.
“We are still seeing new cases identified in both our nursing facilities and assisted living facilities,” Ducayet said.
Neal said he’s also concerned that staff, many of whom are low paid and lack the luxury of social distancing in their own living situations, are proving to be a vulnerability in the chain of transmission.
“It's really extremely difficult to stabilize a group of patients when you have a lower pay individual going in there to support them,” Neal said.
Organizations that advocate on behalf of nursing homes are urging that the rise in cases be met with a surge in testing and personal protective equipment for nursing homes. According to a survey by the Association for Health Care Associations, nursing homes report that they are still struggling to get tests processed in a timely fashion, and many report they do not have adequate access to protective equipment.
Testing is once again becoming a challenge nationwide as some facilities report being overwhelmed by the recent surge in cases. Jo Lynn Garing, a spokesperson for a leading high-volume test manufacturing company Roche Diagnostics, said the company is focusing on vulnerable states like Texas.
Garing said the company not only has been expanding its production capacity but also continues to be “very intentional” on its allocation and distribution of supplies, “prioritizing labs with the broadest geographic reach and highest patient impact.” Garing said the current priority areas are the same areas seeing surges, including Florida, Arizona, Texas and California.
On Friday, Governor Abbott announced a new partnership with Omnicare, a CVS health company, to provide COVID-19 point-of-care testing for assisted living facilities and nursing homes throughout the state. A release states that this partnership will help the state meet its goal of processing up to 100,000 tests in the first month it is operational.
"Our collaboration with public and private entities is crucial to ramping up testing in Texas and mitigating the spread of this virus—especially among our most vulnerable populations," Gov. Abbott said in a statement provided to ABC news after an inquiry for this report.
Aggressive use of preventive measures now could help, advocates say. But while community spread continues, nursing homes remain vulnerable.
“As long as those cases keep rising and as long as they're active in the community where these facilities are, it's going to be a concern for all of these nursing home residents,” Fredriksen said.
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.
Win McNamee/Getty ImagesBy QUINN SCANLAN, ABC NEWS
(WASHINGTON) -- The senior Maine senator has represented the state in the upper chamber since 1997, and she’s pursuing a fifth term in a vastly different political environment, one where her disposition is increasingly out of step with elected leaders and voters, and her vote in favor of President Donald Trump’s second Supreme Court justice nominee continues to be weaponized against her.
“The big picture is that she's in a fight for her electoral life here that she's really never seen before since she was first elected to the seat,” said Mark Brewer, a professor of political science at the University of Maine.
New England used to be a stronghold for Republicans, but the party “was changing underneath Susan Collins' feet before Donald Trump even became a possible reality as an elected official,” Brewer said. When Trump entered the political arena, and then won the presidency, that move to the right only accelerated.
“Today’s GOP… is Trump’s GOP – and she doesn’t fit in that party,” he told ABC News.
All three major race raters – Inside Politics, Cook Political Report and Sabato’s Crystal Ball – rate Collins’ race as a toss-up, meaning it’s basically anyone’s guess at this point whether she’ll be able to hold onto her seat, or lose to her Democratic challenger.
"This is an atmosphere like nobody has never seen in Maine before. Everything is so polarized. Everything you see happening in the country, you see in Maine," the Collins campaign told ABC News. "You've got Democrats and Republicans at each other's throats, and you have Senator Collins’ opponents flooding Maine with $20 million worth of false attack ads in an attempt to try to make this Senate race a referendum on Donald Trump. Senator Collins is going to run her own race, like she always does, on her own impressive legislative record."
The state will hold its primary election on Tuesday, and the winner is widely expected to be Sara Gideon, the two-term speaker of Maine’s House of Representatives, who’s been a state lawmaker since 2014. Gideon must first beat two other candidates – attorney Bre Kidman and businesswoman Betsy Sweet – but during the primary, she’s basically been running a general election campaign, contrasting herself with the sitting senator rather than her primary competitors.
The DSCC, national Democrats’ Senate campaign arm, backed Gideon early, just one day after she announced she was running in June 2019. She’s out-fundraised Collins by millions of dollars. According to the most recent pre-primary Federal Election Commission filings, which cover the entirety of the campaign through June 24, Gideon raised nearly $22 million while Collins had raised about $15 million.
“She's got a lot of things going for her, and Collins has a lot of things going against her,” said Brewer.
But the race is less about Gideon than it is about other prominent political figures.
“I'd say it's about Donald Trump, and second would be Collins, and third would be (Justice Brett) Kavanaugh, and fourth would be Sara Gideon,” said Larry Sabato, the director of University of Virginia’s Center for Politics who serves as the editor-in-chief for Crystal Ball’s race ratings analysis.
Sabato said that Collins’ “fate is tied to Donald Trump’s,” and right now, the president’s electoral fate is not looking good. According to FiveThirtyEight’s general election poll tracker, former Vice President Joe Biden is leading Trump nationally by an average of nearly 10 percentage points.
But right now is not November, and as exhibited by everything that’s happened with a global pandemic and national reckoning over race in the last four months, a lot can change in a short amount of time.
Trump’s base of supporters aren’t Collins’ base of supporters, but that’s not necessarily her problem this election, said Brewer. Trump supporters will still back her because she’s supported the president on some big votes, like the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in 2017 and to give then-Judge Brett Kavanaugh a seat on the nation’s highest court. Plus, she’s running unopposed.
But the voters Collins – and any Maine politician – really needs to win over are the ones who aren’t registered as Republicans or Democrats. According to the Maine secretary of state’s office, of the over 1 million active registered voters as of early March, nearly a third are unaffiliated.
For a lot of these moderate voters, especially among women, Collins – one of just a few pro-choice Republicans in Congress – voting to confirm Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh is a thorn in her reelection campaign’s side.
“The Kavanaugh vote clearly is one that has landed… he was not especially popular, and he certainly wasn't in moderate to liberal states,” Sabato said. “That hasn't faded, and it's being used daily out there in one way or another, and will continue to be through November.”
“The Kavanaugh vote is the one thing that she just can’t get away from,” echoed Brewer, bringing up the Court’s recent ruling on an abortion case out of Louisiana.
On June 29, in a 5-4 decision, the Court ruled that a Louisiana law that essentially outlawed abortion by requiring abortion providers to have admitting privileges with a nearby hospital was unconstitutional. Kavanaugh sided with the minority dissenting, and wrote his own opinion.
"While a welcome victory, this decision does not undo years of systematic attacks on reproductive rights by the Trump administration and Republicans across the country. Senator Collins has consistently enabled those efforts by voting to confirm anti-choice nominees like Justice Kavanaugh," Gideon said in a statement the day of the ruling.
In Collins' nearly hour-long October 2018 speech on the Senate floor announcing she’d vote for Kavanaugh, whose nomination was marred by a decades-old allegation of sexual misconduct, Collins directly addressed the issue of abortion, and how she believed Kavanaugh would respect the precedent that a woman has a right to a safe and accessible abortion, which was established in the landmark 1973 Supreme Court case, Roe v. Wade, and held up more recently in Planned Parenthood vs. Casey, in 1992.
“Protecting this right is important to me,” Collins said. “(Kavanaugh) believes that precedent is not just a judicial policy, it is constitutionally dictated to pay attention and pay heed to rules of precedent. In other words, precedent isn’t a goal or an aspiration. It is a constitutional tenet that has to be followed except in the most extraordinary circumstances.”
The Louisiana case was not a case of the same caliber as Roe v. Wade, but any abortion case Kavanaugh votes on shores up that ghost of Collins’s recent past. The senator has maintained that she does not regret voting for Kavanaugh’s confirmation.
Fortunately for Collins, there won’t be any more opinions from the Supreme Court before the election.
But unfortunately for her, while the country may be living in daily uncertainty, Trump will be a constant presence throughout the rest of this campaign.
The coronavirus pandemic has been a full-circle moment for Collins. In her 1996 Senate campaign, she pushed a pro-small business platform and won. Small businesses are essential to her home state’s economy, and when the virus outbreak hit the United States, Collins co-authored the bipartisan Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), a forgivable loan program that incentivizes businesses to retain their employees and prevent layoffs.
While the initiative got off to a rocky start, it has ultimately been successful, even needing a financial refuel in May, and now having approved nearly 5 million loans, including to more than 27,000 Maine companies totaling $2.2 billion, according to an analysis of the loan data done by Maine Public Radio.
Meanwhile, back in Maine, the House of Representatives adjourned its session on March 17, and Gideon, her likely Democratic competitor, has not called lawmakers back to take up any coronavirus-related legislation. While the legislature is out of session, there still have been committee discussions, work sessions and public hearings.
Gideon had been critical of the loan program and Collins’ role in crafting it.
“While Maine’s small businesses struggle to stay afloat, the Paycheck Protection Program has allowed big corporations like Ruth’s Chris and the Los Angeles Lakers to step to the front of the line and secure millions of dollars in loans,” an early May campaign email from Gideon’s team read. “Meanwhile, many small businesses in Maine’s hard-hit restaurant and hospitality industry have been left behind by a program that doesn’t offer enough flexibility to be helpful to them.”
Maeve Coyle, a spokesperson for Gideon's campaign, provided ABC News with this statement about the loan: "The firm where Sara’s husband works is one of more than 450 firms in Maine that received assistance from the program following the closure of courts in Maine. From when this crisis began, Sara has been clear that this is a time when Washington needs to put politics aside and do what’s best for workers and small businesses, not large corporations and the special interests. Unfortunately, as we’re still seeing today, that’s not what Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans have done."
Brewer, the University of Maine professor, told ABC News he thinks the pandemic has helped Collins.
"She’s been very active… she's been out there, and people have seen her trying to get stuff done in Washington," he said.
As for her competitor, Brewer said that Gideon, along with state Senate President Troy Jackson, has gotten “a lot of heat” in Maine for not calling back the legislature, and blasting a program her husband’s place of work benefited from was “a pretty big error that should have been easily avoided.”
But even with that potential win for Collins and loss for Gideon, Trump looms overhead.
Maine is one of only two states to split its electoral votes among congressional districts. The president only lost statewide by 2.9 percentage points, and Trump won in the 2nd Congressional District in 2016. But while that district is much more conservative, there are a lot more voters in the 1st Congressional District, where the city of Portland is, and that district encompasses a much different, more liberal Maine.
Sabato told ABC News that the United States rebuilding a strong economy before November could make all the difference for Collins - because of how it impacts Trump’s prospects. In nearly every poll, the economy is Trump’s number one seller. Voters trust him more on that issue over any other than compared to Biden, and at the ballot box, the economy is often top of mind.
“If Trump can be competitive again and come as close as he did in 2016 to winning Maine, she will win Maine – even if Trump will lose narrowly,” said Sabato. “But Trump has a long way to go to get competitive again.”
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.
Emma McIntyre/Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) -- "Thirteen years as best friends, soulmates, partners and then parents." That's how Armie Hammer and his wife of 10 years, Elizabeth Chambers Hammer announced on Instagram that they're breaking up.
"It has been an incredible journey, but together, we've decided to turn the page and move on from our marriage," the post continues, captioning a throwback picture of the pair. "As we enter into this next chapter, our children and relationship as co-parents and dear friends will remain our priority."
The pair have two children: five-year-old daughter Harper Grace and 3-year-old son Ford Douglas Armand. The family had been staying in the Cayman Islands, after a planned vacation turned into an extended stay because of the COVID-19 travel restrictions.
By Stephen Iervolino
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.
fstop123/iStockBy: ERIC MOLLO, ABC News
(NEW YORK) -- With America in the midst of a reckoning over racial inequality, more athletes are continuing to speak out across the sports world. Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray, Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield, and star running back Adrian Peterson are just a few of several athletes announcing they plan to kneel during the playing of the National Anthem this upcoming season. They are doing so in solidarity with former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who knelt during the playing of the national anthem to protest police brutality and social injustice in America.
Over the past week, there has been another reckoning in sports: whether to change team names or logos that contain Native American emblems and stereotypes.
Major League Baseball’s Cleveland Indians announced they are considering changing the team’s name. Manager Terry Francona said he feels now is an appropriate moment for change.
The announcement comes a little over a year after Cleveland removed its “Chief Wahoo” logo—a cartoonish caricature of a Native American man that has long been considered racist.
It also came shortly after the announcement that Washington’s NFL franchise is weighing whether to change its team name, which is widely regarded as a racial slur.
Julian Brave Noisecat, who contributes to ESPN’s “The Undefeated," writes that Washington's NFL team's name is a racial slur thought to reference Native Americans’ skin color and the bloody scalps of Indigenous people taken as bounty by white colonists.
The team's owner, Dan Snyder, has vowed for years he would never to change the name, saying the term actually embodies honor and respect.
Protesters and advocacy groups have called for change for decades, but only in the face of mounting economic pressure did Snyder finally announce the franchise would consider a name change. Investors with major team sponsors Pepsi, FedEx, and Nike sent letters asking the companies to terminate their relationship with Washington unless it agrees to a name change.
Nick Martin is a member of the Sappony Tribe and a staff writer for the New Republic. He spoke with ABC News' "Perspective" podcast this week about Washington’s and Cleveland’s statements.
Martin says Washington and Cleveland are not the only professional sports franchises perpetuating Native American stereotypes:
"It's become a very normalized thing, which I think is commonplace with a lot of systems and forms of institutional oppression. These things... we don't think of them in the moment as being particularly egregious because they've become so normalized in society. And the idea that we would get rid of the Washington NFL team and keep the Kansas City Chiefs, it speaks to a certain hollowness that I think these kind of corporate social justice campaigns often involve."
The Kansas City Chiefs, Atlanta Braves, and Chicago Blackhawks are among professional franchises that continue to employ Native American imagery on their jerseys, in their team names, and in cheers by fans.
They are not following the lead of Washington and Cleveland though. None of them announced they would be changing their team names, but Atlanta is reportedly considering no longer allowing “Tomahawk Chop” chants at games. The Blackhawks released a statement claiming their team name and logo symbolize an important Native American figure, so they do not want to remove any of it.
President Trump even weighed in this past week on Twitter, saying the names of Washington’s and Cleveland’s teams signify “Strength, not weakness” and are merely considering the change to be “politically correct."
The president’s statement and the varied decisions of these franchises do raise questions: is it important to distinguish between the offensiveness of each individual team name, and does any of this iconography actually honor or respect Native Americans? And is saying that team names and logos honor native people merely perpetuate cultural appropriation and stereotypical depictions of Native Americans?
Martin says it is not that slippery of a slope: "If you're saying our mascot, our team name is not as racist as Washington NFL team, that's still an admission that it is racist."
Washington’s head coach, Ron Rivera, told The Washington Post “it would be awesome” if the team changed its name. The National Congress of American Indians have long opposed the use of Native American stereotypical imagery in professional sports.
As professional sports franchises are choosing to re-examine these issues in the midst of America’s reckoning over race relations, they are faced with a new choice: will economic pressures determine what they choose, or will they listen to decades’ long calls from Native American advocacy groups to eliminate the use of these emblems?
Martin believes either way, America has already seen a shift in attitudes as this issue gets re-examined:
"What this moment, this kind of larger cultural reckoning has become is just kind of an impetus to say, 'OK, you know, now's the time to finally get rid of these things.'"
Listen to the rest of this past week’s highlights from Perspective here.Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.