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As cases surge in US, rural areas seeing increases as well

For many states and counties in the U.S., the dark days of the coronavirus pandemic in April unfolded on their television screens, not on their doorsteps. But now, some places that appeared to have avoided the worst are seeing surges of infections, as worries shift from major cities to rural areas. Much of the focus of concerns that the United States is experiencing a dangerous second wave has been on big Sunbelt states that are reporting thousands of new cases a day. But the worrying trend is also happening in places like Kansas. In early June, Kansas looked to be bringing its outbreak under control, but its daily reported case numbers have more than doubled in recent weeks. 


The Latest: Florida records new daily high in COVID-19 cases

The state of Florida has set another record in daily confirmed coronavirus cases. Florida health officials said Saturday that more than 9,500 new COVID-19 cases have been confirmed, surpassing the previous day’s total by more than 600 confirmed cases. The Department of Health said 24 more Floridians had died with COVID-19, raising the death toll to 3,390. Miami-Dade County announced late Friday it would reclose beaches from July 3 to July 7 to prevent large gatherings and the spread of the new virus during Fourth of July celebrations. Hospitalizations for COVID-19 also are ticking upward statewide. 


Nurses, doctors feel strain as virus races through Arizona

PHOENIX (AP) — After weeks of anxiously waiting and preparing, Arizona nurses and doctors find themselves on the front line as the coronavirus rips through the state. It’s one of the world’s newest coronavirus hot spots. The trickle of a few virus patients in March became a steady increase two weeks after Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey ended a stay-home order in mid-May, and is now a scourge with no end in sight. For younger nurses, some of the hardest deaths are young, previously healthy patients who succumb, including a woman under age 25 who died in Scottsdale. One nurse said she’s never seen so many deaths. 


Ethiopian monk said to be 114 years old survives coronavirus

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) — An Ethiopian Orthodox monk whose family says he is 114 years old has survived the coronavirus. Tilahun Woldemichael was discharged from a hospital on Thursday after almost three weeks. He received oxygen and dexamethasone, a cheap and widely available steroid that researchers in England have said reduced deaths by up to one third in severely ill hospitalized patients. Ethiopia’s health minister has said the ministry recommends the emergency use of the drug for COVID-19 patients who require ventilation or oxygen. The country has more than 5,200 confirmed cases of the virus.


Spanish colonial monuments fuel race strife in US Southwest

RIO RANCHO, N.M. (AP) — A decades-long fight between some Hispanics and Native Americans over the removal of statues honoring Spanish colonial figures in New Mexico and California is boiling over again. Hispanics who venerated Spain’s historical ties to the U.S. say the monuments celebrate their cultural heritage. Native Americans say that history ignores the pain of colonialism. The historical markers highlight a complicated past that has spanned centuries. Spain’s enduring hold over the territory that is now New Mexico made it unlike other areas in the Southwest and opened the door for memorializing the Spanish influence.


‘Occupy City Hall’ protest urges budget cuts for NYC police

NEW YORK (AP) — Hundreds of protesters camped outside City Hall are demanding that lawmakers slash the New York City police budget. The encampment in City Hall Park in lower Manhattan began forming earlier this week following weeks of street protests sparked by the death of George Floyd and other Black Americans killed by law enforcement. The protesters are part of a national “defund the police” movement seeking more spending on other needs like housing and education. Police officials have warned that the budget cut would come at a time when the city has seen a surge in shootings during the first three weeks in June. Mayor Bill de Blasio has committed to reducing the police budget, but hasn’t said by how much.


Apparent noose found in Black Minnesota firefighter’s locker

BLOOMINGTON, Minn. (AP) — City officials in Bloomington, Minnesota, have asked the FBI to investigate after a piece of rope resembling a noose was found in a Black firefighter’s locker. Officials of the Minneapolis suburb said in a news release Saturday that the rope was tied into what appears to be a crude noose and was discovered at a Bloomington fire station on June 15. The discovery was reported to Bloomington Fire Department leaders on Tuesday. The fire chief says such acts that “embody hate, intimidation, and aggression will not be tolerated.” Mayor Tim Busse says he’s  “disgusted, angry, and embarrassed by this cowardly act.” 


Virginia man charged in connection with cross burning

MARION, Va. (AP) — A Virginia man was charged in federal court this week in connection with the burning of a cross on the front lawn a Black teenager who had recently organized a civil rights protest. U.S. Attorney Thomas Cullen’s office announced the arrest Friday afternoon of 40-year-old James Brown of Marion. Brown was charged with lying to federal agents and criminal interference with fair housing based on the victim’s race following an investigation into the June 14 overnight cross-burning in Marion, a small town in southwest Virginia. Court records show Brown made a brief initial appearance in court Friday and remained in custody. 


Speedway loses partnerships after ‘Bubba rope’ post

PINE HALL, N.C. (AP) — A North Carolina racetrack has lost some partnerships after its owner advertised “Bubba Rope” for sale online days after NASCAR said a noose had been found in the garage stall of Bubba Wallace, the top series’ only Black driver. A concrete company and a driver series ended their partnerships Friday with the half-mile, dirt track 311 Speedway in Stokes County, the Winston-Salem Journal reported. The racetrack owner’s “Bubba Rope” post on Facebook Marketplace earlier this week sparked a backlash on social media and a condemnation from a spokesman for Gov. Roy Cooper. 


American jailed in Spain was unwitting drug mule, US says

WASHINGTON (AP) — The family of a Virginia man who has been held in Spain for the last year on drug trafficking charges says he was an unwitting courier for a criminal syndicate. The Justice Department is backing that conclusion. It told the Spanish government in a letter obtained by The Associated Press that there’s no evidence 76-year-old Victor Stemberger knew that he was transporting cocaine to the country at the time of his arrest. Stemberger is set for trial in Madrid later this month. His family says he has not been the same since a brain injury nearly 15 years ago.


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