The Latest: Oklahoma breaks one-day record

In this Thursday, May 28, 2020 file photo, a fence outside Brooklyn's Green-Wood Cemetery is adorned with tributes to victims of COVID-19 in New York. The memorial is part of the Naming the Lost project which attempts to humanize the victims who are often just listed as statistics. The wall features banners that say "Naming the Lost" in six languages — English, Spanish, Mandarin, Arabic, Hebrew, and Bengali. Some worry a large new wave of coronavirus might occur in the fall or winter of 2020 — after schools reopen, the weather turns colder and less humid, and people huddle inside more. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

The Associated Press

The Latest reports about the COVID-19 outbreak

The Associated Press

OKLAHOMA CITY — The number of newly confirmed coronavirus cases in Oklahoma has set a new daily record of 478.

The Oklahoma State Department of Health department reported Sunday that total confirmed cases rose to 10,515 from 10,037 a day earlier. 

The state's previous record of 450 new cases in one day was set Thursday. Interim state health Commissioner Dr. Lance Frye has said a surge in coronavirus cases was expected after the state began reopening in late April.

The new wave comes amid ongoing demonstrations to protest police killings of Black citizens, Juneteenth celebrations and a Saturday campaign rally U.S. President Donald Trump held at an indoor arena in Tulsa.

The health department on Sunday reported one virus-related death. Oklahoma's COVID-19 death toll how stands at 369. 

Florida reissues advisory urging social distancing

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Florida has reported nearly 3,500 more new coronavirus cases as public health officials reissued advisories urging social distancing.

Some businesses are reevaluating decisions to reopen their doors, and some Floridians had to rethink Father's Day brunch plans because of health concerns.

The number of new cases reported Sunday was a drop from the record high of 4,000 reported the day before.

Florida now has more than 97,000 confirmed coronavirus cases in all. The number of COVID-19 deaths eclipsed 3,160 with the addition of 17 more announced by health officials on Sunday.

Meanwhile, the infection rate remains high, with nearly 12 percent of recent tests coming back from laboratories as positive.

Despite rising cases in recent days, Gov. Ron DeSantis has not signaled the possibility of any retreat from reopening the state after three months of closures.

Arizona passes 50,000 mark for COVID-19 cases

PHOENIX — The U.S. state of Arizona has now passed the 50,000 mark in confirmed COVID-19 cases after reporting 2,952 new ones.

The additional cases reported by the state Department of Health Services on Sunday took Arizona's statewide total in the coronavirus pandemic to 52,390.

Health officials also reported one more known death, pushing the statewide death toll so far to 1,339.

The state's recent surge in new confirmed cases has set daily records for hospitalizations, ventilator use and use of intensive care beds for coronavirus patients.

Arizona reported record new cases numbering 3,109 on Saturday, 3,246 on Friday and 2,519 on Thursday. Health officials have attributed the increases to wider testing and to community spread of the virus.

Government official: Trump administration is doing a 'great job'

WASHINGTON -- The acting U.S. homeland security secretary says he thinks the Trump administration is doing a "great job" with reopening the country during the coronavirus epidemic despite infections rising in key states.

Chad Wolf told NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday that the White House coronavirus task force has been working with governors to make sure the United States "can open up this economy in a safe and reasonable way" and "I think that's what we're seeing."

About 120,000 Americans have died from the new virus, and reported cases have been increasing in the South and West of the U.S..

Wolf said on CBS's "Face the Nation" that the White House task force is "on top of all of these outbreaks," including in Arizona, Texas, Florida and other states that "are having hot spots."

Slow testing? It was only a joke

WASHINGTON -- White House trade adviser Peter Navarro says U.S. President Donald Trump was being "tongue in cheek" when he claimed at a campaign rally in Oklahoma that he asked officials to slow down coronavirus testing.

Navarro said on CNN's "State of the Union" on Sunday that Trump made the comment in a "light moment."

During Saturday's rally in Tulsa, Trump explained that the "bad part" of widespread testing is that it leads to logging more virus cases. New cases have recently spiked in several U.S. states, but not just due to testing.

The United States has tested over 25 million people for the novel coronavirus. The country has reported more than 2.2 million confirmed cases and about 120,000 COVID-19 deaths. according to a count by Johns Hopkins University. The real numbers are believed to be higher.

In response to Trump's remarks, Democratic presidential rival Joe Biden criticized Trump for putting politics ahead of the safety and health of Americans.

Virus reveals beauty 'free from traffic and noise'

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis is encouraging grassroots movements to protect the environment after coronavirus lockdowns have "revealed once more the beauty of so many places free from traffic and noise."

Francis, speaking to a few hundred people gathered in St. Peter's Square on Sunday, encouraged initiatives to care for the planet that began as a result of the pandemic, such as one on Sunday to clean up the banks of the Tiber River in Rome.

Francis has made environmental protection a hallmark of his papacy and just this past week, the Vatican released a guide on implementing his 2015 encyclical "Praised Be," which blamed wealthy countries and corporate interests for destroying the Earth in search of profit.

Scientists around the world are studying the effects of lockdowns and industrial shutdowns on air and sea pollution as well as wildlife.

Second wave? Still in the first

What's all this talk about a "second wave" of U.S. coronavirus cases?

In The Wall Street Journal last week, Vice President Mike Pence wrote in a piece headlined "There Isn't a Coronavirus 'Second Wave'" that the nation is winning the fight against the virus.

Many public health experts, however, suggest it's no time to celebrate. About 120,000 Americans have died from the new virus and daily counts of new cases in the U.S. are the highest they've been in more than a month, driven by alarming recent increases in the South and West.

But there is at least one point of agreement: "Second wave" is probably the wrong term to describe what's happening. 

"When you have 20,000-plus infections per day, how can you talk about a second wave?" said Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health. "We're in the first wave. Let's get out of the first wave before you have a second wave." 

Clearly there was an initial infection peak in April as cases exploded in New York City. After schools and businesses were closed across the country, the rate of new cases dropped somewhat.

But "it's more of a plateau, or a mesa," not the trough after a wave, said Caitlin Rivers, a disease researcher at Johns Hopkins University's Center for Health Security.

Scientists generally agree the nation is still in its first wave of coronavirus infections, albeit one that's dipping in some parts of the country while rising in others.

"This virus is spreading around the United States and hitting different places with different intensity at different times," said Dr. Richard Besser, chief executive of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation who was acting director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention when a pandemic flu hit the U.S. in 2009.

Dr. Arnold Monto, a University of Michigan flu expert, echoed that sentiment. 

"What I would call this is continued transmission with flare-ups," he said.

Flu seasons sometimes feature a second wave of infections. But in those cases, the second wave is a distinct new surge in cases from a strain of flu that is different than the strain that caused earlier illnesses.

That's not the case in the coronavirus epidemic.

Monto doesn't think "second wave" really describes what's happening now, calling it "totally semantics." 

"Second waves are basically in the eye of the beholder," he said. 

But Besser said semantics matter, because saying a first wave has passed may give people a false sense that the worst is over. 

Some worry a large wave of coronavirus might occur this fall or winter — after schools reopen, the weather turns colder and less humid, and people huddle inside more. That would follow seasonal patterns seen with flu and other respiratory viruses. And such a fall wave could be very bad, given that there's no vaccine or experts think most Americans haven't had the virus.

But the new coronavirus so far has been spreading more episodically and sporadically than flu, and it may not follow the same playbook.

"It's very difficult to make a prediction," Rivers said. "We don't know the degree to which this virus is seasonal, if at all."

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