Police in Indiana investigating alleged gang assault of Black man caught on video


(LAKE MONROE, Ind.) -- Viral videos depicting a group of white men allegedly assaulting a Black man in an Indiana park on the Fourth of July has caught the attention of Indiana investigators who are seeking more answers and community leaders who are seeking justice.

Vauhxx Rush Booker of Bloomington, Indiana, posted a video on his Facebook page of his confrontation in Lake Monroe, where the alleged attackers are seen cursing and using racial epithets against him. A bystander who came to Booker's aid also filmed the incident and the video showed several white men pin a Black man to a tree with his arms behind him, while several other people shouted for the alleged attackers to let him go.

Booker, an activist who is on the Monroe County Human Rights Commission according to his Facebook page, told ABC News that he suffered a minor concussion, ripped hair and some abrasions, and that he was grateful that his friends and bystanders came to his aid.

"How many Black people had the same surreal and terrifying experience of strangers talking about their own murders in front of them, who then didn't live to see another day?" Booker, 36, wrote in his Facebook post.

Booker told ABC News that the incident took place when he and his friend were on their way to an organized event to view the lunar eclipse on Saturday. While he and a friend were walking on a path, they encountered a white man with "an oversized hat with a confederate flag print on it." The man followed Booker and his friend from behind in an ATV, he said.

The man informed Booker and his friend that they were on private property, and the pair apologized and made their way to the event, Booker said. Then Booker was approached by members of the group participating in the park event, who said that some people had blocked their access to the beach.

"As more group members arrived they informed us they had encountered this gentleman and he blocked off the beachway with a boat and several ATVS and he had yelled 'White Power' at them, along with some other slurs," Booker said.

Booker said he and the group decided to go talk with the people to clear the air, but when they approached the individuals, things escalated.

"We were calm and polite, but looking back now, it's apparent that these individuals began targeting our group the moment they saw myself, a Black man, and were looking to provoke a conflict," Booker said in his Facebook post.

Booker said he and a friend backed away and tried to leave the scene but several people followed and yelled at them. Two of them allegedly jumped Booker and eventually five men overwhelmed him, according to Booker.

Booker said the men dragged him, pinned him to a tree, pounded his head and ripped his hair, and at one point one of them jumped on his neck. Another group of people came to intervene, according to Booker.

"While they were beating me against this tree and people were pleading for them to let me go and struggling to get towards me, one of the gentleman yells to his friend to get a noose," Booker said. "Not a rope, but literally a noose. And I hear a white woman yell, 'Don’t kill him.' And I realize that she’s talking about them killing me."

"They were literally referring to me as a boy," he added. "They didn’t even see me as human. They didn’t stop to care if I had family that loved me. Or if I had children that depended on me. They just saw me as something they could abuse and get away with."

Booker said the people who came to his aid, who were white, got the attackers off him and got him out of the situation, according to the Facebook post. The group called 911 and told officers about the incident, Booker said.

The officers allegedly didn't make any arrests, despite viewing footage of the incident, according to Booker.

"They didn’t seem overly concerned that I might need medical attention or anything else," Booker told ABC News. "I didn’t even feel like they were going to do an investigation. It wasn’t until those same folks who intervened demanded that they arrest these folks that they even started to investigate, to make sure that they had these individuals' names."

"I was heartbroken when the supervising officer, the major, showed up. I felt re-traumatized as I recounted to him how I was afraid for my life," Booker said. "It was mind-blowing. What this officer said to me was, 'Well I could go arrest these guys but they would tell me, "Hey, what about our property rights. We have a right to defend our property."' It was earth shattering."

A spokesman for the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Law Enforcement Division confirmed to ABC News that they responded to a 911 call about an alleged battery at the lake Saturday night, and that an investigation regarding the incident is underway.

"The Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Law Enforcement Division is working diligently with the Monroe County Prosecutor's Office to ensure a lawful resolution," the spokesman said in a statement.

Monroe County prosecuting attorney Erika Oliphant's office also said in a statement that it is anticipating "receiving the case soon."

"As soon as that happens, we will thoroughly review all of it and determine what charges are appropriate," the office said.

"I’m not sure what burden of proof they’re looking for," Booker told ABC News. "They had video tapes. They had testimonies from several individuals who were assaulted during the altercation."

News of the incident sparked outrage from Indiana elected officials. Mayor John Hamilton and Bloomington City Clerk Nicole Bolden released a statement Monday condemning the alleged violence against Booker and a separate incident where a sheriff was accused of racial profiling a Black resident.

"These separate incidents exemplify the persistence of racism and bias in our country and our own community. They deserve nothing less than our collective condemnation," they said in their statement.

Booker met with Indiana State Senator Eddie Melton Tuesday to discuss the incident.

"I was literally shaken but I’m resilient and hopeful," Booker told ABC News.

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Florida teen who died of COVID-19 attended large church gathering, was given hydroxychloroquine at home


(FORT MYERS, Fla.) -- A Florida teenager who died of complications from COVID-19 had attended a church event with a hundred other children two weeks before her death and was given hydroxychloroquine by her parents, health officials said.

Carsyn Leigh Davis of Fort Myers died on June 23, two days after turning 17, at Nicklaus Children's Hospital in Miami.

According to the Miami-Dade County Medical Examiner's report, Davis attended a "church function" on June 10 with 100 other children. She did not wear a mask and social distancing was not followed, the report states.

On the same day of the church event, her parents began a six-day treatment of the antibiotic azithromycin, the report says.

On June 13, Davis developed what her family thought was a sinus infection. On June 19, her mother, who is a nurse, thought Davis looked "gray" and tested her oxygen saturation, which was in the 40s, according to the report. Values under 60 might indicate the need for supplemental oxygen, according to the Mayo Clinic.

The report says that Davis' mother then borrowed a relative's home oxygen unit and that Davis' parents gave her a dose of hydroxychloroquine, the anti-malaria drug touted by President Donald Trump for the treatment of COVID-19.

In May, Trump revealed he was taking a combination of azithromycin and hydroxychloroquine because some researchers saw anecdotal evidence that the combination might help combat the coronavirus. But the FDA had warned people against taking it outside a hospital or clinical setting because of the risks involved. On June 15, the FDA pulled its emergency authorization for hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine phosphate, stating there wasn’t enough evidence of its effectiveness and that it could do more harm than good.

After giving her the hydroxychloroquine dose on June 19, Davis' parents took her to a local hospital. She was then transferred to the Golisano Hospital Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, where she tested positive for COVID-19. Her parents declined intubation, according to the medical examiner's report.

Over the next two days, the report says, Davis received convalescent plasma therapy. On June 22, she was intubated after her condition did not improve. Davis was then transferred to Nicklaus Children's Hospital for ECMO, or extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, a last-resort treatment for COVID-19 patients. But after "rapid deterioration and inability to bring up oxygen saturation," she died on June 23. The cause of death was listed as complications of COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) pneumonia.

Davis had a "complex medical history," according to the report, including a rare inflammatory neurological disorder as a child and morbid obesity. In a statement posted to a GoFundMe for the family, Davis' mother, Carole Brunton Davis, said her daughter "fought health challenges from the age of 2," including cancer and a rare autoimmune disorder.

"We are incredibly saddened by her passing at this young age, but are comforted that she is pain free," Brunton Davis said in the statement.

Brunton Davis' statement noted that the teen was actively involved in Youth Church at First Assembly of God, a Fort Myers church that hosted the June 10 event. Davis' death has drawn national attention amid allegations that the church function was a so-called "COVID party," where partygoers compete to see who can catch the virus. First Assembly of God refuted that claim on Tuesday, saying the reports are "absolutely false and defamatory."

"Over the past 24 hours First Assembly of God of Fort Myers has been accused of hosting 'COVID-19 parties.' Nothing could be farther from the truth," the church said in a statement. "First Assembly of God of Fort Myers is following all of the health protections and protocols recommended by the state and local government with regard to holding its church services."

According to its website, the Youth Church will be "back in service" on Wednesday, with a service for middle and high school students. It is unclear when the church ceased hosting services. The Facebook pages for the Youth Church and First Assembly of God have been taken down. Multiple calls from ABC News to First Assembly of God for clarification on its health protocols and the nature of the June 10 event were not returned.

Even if the point of the event wasn't to get COVID-19, "it was the likely outcome," one medical professional noted.

"High risk minor, attends an event with no masks, no distancing in a community with high disease burden. She gets sick and doesn't make it. This didn't have to happen," Dr. Dara Kass, an assistant clinical professor at Columbia University School of Medicine, said on Twitter Tuesday.

The health department of Lee County, which includes Fort Myers, is currently investigating this case and is unable to comment, a spokesperson told ABC News.

As of Tuesday, Lee County has 7,859 confirmed cases of COVID-19, and the positivity rate is 24.6%, among the highest in the state, according to data from the state's Department of Health. Florida has 213,794 total cases and a positivity rate of 16.1%.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

How Charmin workers adapted to the COVID-19 pandemic to meet demand for toilet paper


(BOX ELDER, Utah) -- In mid-March, as the coronavirus began to spread through the U.S. and the possibility of stay-at-home orders became real, scores of people became toilet paper hoarders.

As companies scrambled to meet the demand -- some, like Cottonelle, even encouraging people to “share a square” -- many people were left wondering, “Why toilet paper, of all products?”

“If you have ever been in the bathroom only to find out that the toilet paper roll is empty and, as loud as you yell, there’s nobody that is going to bring you any more, then you know that there was nothing irrational about people wanting to make sure that they had a stock of toilet paper,” said economist Austan Goolsbee, an ABC News consultant.

During the week of March 16, toilet paper sales rose 845% compared to the month prior, according to NCSolutions, a company that aggregates retail purchase data. During that week, toilet paper went from being a 20th to 30th best-seller in grocery and drug stores to the top one.

In Box Elder, Utah, a town of just over 55,000 people, residents were watching the panic buying closely. The town is home to one of Charmin-maker Procter & Gamble’s factories.

When ABC News correspondent Clayton Sandell visited the plant in May, human resources director Tommy Montoya showed how the company had implemented safety measures to allow these front-line workers to continue producing toilet paper for millions of customers across the country 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Montoya says that every day, employees entering the building must wear masks and get their temperatures scanned. Employees are also required to wear specific personal protective gear inside the factory, including a bump cap, safety goggles and heavy-duty shoes.

“Every day, you do it, but the breath of fresh air at the end of the day reminds you just how not normal it is,” Montoya said of using the masks.

“It’s an involved process getting in the building, but I’d say that process makes me feel safe at work,” said Kay Debow, a technician who’s worked at Procter & Gamble for 20 years. “I feel like we’re looking out for each other. We’re sanitizing, we’re distancing. So that, in itself, is a good thing. It’s changed the dynamics a little bit on the team. We wear a headset. Wearing a mask for 12 hours is uncomfortable, so we aren’t talking much.”

The process to make toilet paper involves turning dry paper pulp into a paper slur with water before putting the mixture into machines that press the pulp slur into giant so-called “parent rolls” of paper, which are then turned into paper towels and toilet paper, Montoya said.

Montoya said that each part of the plant has different zones so that “if someone gets sick, we can identify and isolate the zone.”

With precautions in place, the plant has been running nonstop, according to electrical planner Jared Kent, who said that while he doesn’t know exactly how much they produce, it’s “a lot.”

And yet, despite fierce competition among toilet paper-making companies, Procter & Gamble told ABC News that it had slowed down its machines during the visit to avoid exposing its actual production pace.

Kent said that never in his “wildest dreams” would he have thought people would be out of toilet paper during a pandemic.

“I think it’s crazy -- great for us -- but never would I have thought that,” he said.

The coronavirus pandemic is not the first time that the public has been prompted to panic buy toilet paper. In 1973, legendary “Tonight Show” host Johnny Carson joked during his show that there were shortages of toilet paper.

“Everybody went out to the store and my mom started having a rule that she will always have two weeks of toilet paper stored in the pantry, no matter what,” said Goolsbee,” because you never knew what would happen.”

Goolsbee says the urge to panic buy comes from the psychology of scarcity, which makes more people want to buy a product at a faster rate than it can be supplied.

“When you think you’re going to be locked in your house for a long time, there are certain things you want. … Whatever you might need in an emergency … those are absolutely the things that there’s a massive ramp up of demand,” Goolsbee said.

Although the supply of toilet paper has stabilized, Goolsbee said that other items may cause the same sort of panic buying -- especially as rates of the coronavirus, COVID-19, continue to rise again in the U.S.

“If the supply chain can’t deal with that, you will see the same things happen again and again,” he said, “whether it’s on medicines, whether it’s on staple paper goods, whether it’s on a whole bunch of things that … are storable and that people think they’re going to need or they’re anticipating there’s going to be a high demand for.”

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Trump says he'll 'put pressure' on governors to reopen schools in fall

Official White House Photo by Tia DufourBy JORDYN PHELPS and SOPHIE TATUM, ABC News

(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump has been clear about where he stands in the debate over whether schools should resume in-person learning amid the global pandemic, tweeting Monday in all-caps that “SCHOOLS MUST OPEN IN THE FALL!!!”

The president's push to reopen schools in the fall is tied to his broader push for the country to resume normal economic functions as he eyes his own reelection bid in the fall and his promise for a great American comeback despite the ongoing pandemic.

The administration is set to further spotlight the issue on Tuesday, when health and educational leaders, as well as students and parents, converge at the White House for an event with President Trump, billed as a “National Dialogue on Safely Reopening America’s Schools.” Cice President Mike Pence was also expected to discuss the issue on a call with the nation’s governors.

At the roundtable discussion, he bluntly said he would be “putting a lot of pressure” on governors to open schools, applauding Florida's Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis for saying his state would do so.

“He just announced that the schools will be open in the fall, and we hope that most schools are going to be open,” Trump said of DeSantis.

He then went on to claim that governors who didn't were trying to help themselves politically.

“And we don't want people to make political statements or do it for political reasons. They think it's going to be good for them politically so they keep the schools closed. No way," he continued.

"So, we’re very much going to put pressure on governors and everybody else to open the schools to get them open and it's very important. It's very important for our country. It’s very important for the well-being of the student and parents. So, we’re going to be putting a lot of pressure on opening your schools in the fall,” he said.

Later, Trump sharply criticized Harvard University for announcing plans to only partially reopen in the fall, conducting many classes online, calling that “an easy way out.”

Even as the president has been outspoken about his belief that students should return to the classroom, senior administration officials acknowledged in a call with reporters that local jurisdictions, not the federal government, hold authority over reopening decisions.

“School decisions are local decisions. And so we're going to provide folks with resources both the dollars that we've referenced, but also help identify best practices which the CDC has done, but also other organizations have done as well, to make sure that this can be done safely moving forward,” a senior official said.

The White House focus on education amid the ongoing pandemic comes the day after Florida’s education commissioner signed an emergency order saying, “all school boards and charter school governing boards must open brick and mortar schools at least five days per week for all students,” subject to change based on future executive orders and advice of local health departments.

The move, which comes as Florida is experiencing a surge in cases, received quick backlash from Florida Education Association President Fredrick Ingram, who said, “It’s clear in communications with our members that educators are scared.”

“They don’t trust politicians to make sure things are safe -- rightly so, with the record-breaking number of cases being reported. The governor is trying to brush that off. Safety for students and school employees needs to be at the center of our conversations about reopening schools,” Ingram said.

Teachers and advocates across the country have voiced concerns about how the reopening of schools is being handled, from concerns about underlying health conditions or the possibility of infecting family members to uncertainty surrounding child care for their own kids.

Meanwhile, school systems have been looking at ways to creatively reopen, such as offering hybrid schedules and monitoring students’ health.

Even as the administration is now pushing localities to reopen schools for the fall semester, a senior administration official said Tuesday that “the most important thing” in doing so is that “we double down in our commitment to protect the vulnerable.”

When questioned about concerns that reopening puts vulnerable populations at risk, a senior official maintained that it is not an either-or situation.

“We do believe there are a variety of different strategies that schools can adopt that really minimize the risk and open these schools quite safely. And I think that's really the intent here,” a senior official said.

Though the decision of whether to reopen for in-person instruction is ultimately beyond federal control, a reporter asked senior officials on a call whether the federal government might seek to leverage federal funds as a carrot-and-stick approach to encourage schools to comply. A senior official did not directly answer the question, except to note that schools have already received funds as part of the government’s stimulus efforts.

However, advocates say state budget shortfalls from the pandemic could impact schools’ ability to reopen.

“Without federal assistance, we will see educator layoffs that will be particularly harsh for those who struggle most to make ends meet even during normal times, such as our wonderful, amazingly devoted education support professionals,” National Education Association President Lily Eskelsen García said in a prepared statement to Congress on Tuesday.

“Many of these workers have stayed on the job, putting themselves in harm’s way to deliver meals to students and families, drop off work packets to students, and keep our schools sanitized and safe,” she said.

Republican leaders on Capitol Hill have signaled they are in lockstep with the president in calling for schools to resume normal teaching in the fall, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has signaled there is a way to exert federal influence through the latest coronavirus relief package under negotiation. McConnell has specifically stressed the importance of securing liability protections for schools.

"To step back toward normalcy, our country will need K-12 and college students to resume their schooling," McConnell said during a floor speech last week.

GOP Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, who chairs the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, said that while COVID-19 poses some health risks to children and young adults in school, "in my view the greater risk is not going back to school at all.”

Beyond funding, it’s unclear exactly how the next relief package will seek to pave a path for schools to reopen given that decision around opening and closures are ultimately in the hands of state and local governments.

In the House, Democrats have proposed a $100 billion fund for the Department of Education to support schools at every level, as part of the $3 trillion HEROES Act the Senate has not taken up.

The majority of that pot, $90 billion, would be for grants to states to support local funding schools and public universities, colleges and trade schools -- to be used for personnel costs, counseling and mental health services, and to offset new cleaning and technological expenses.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Meatpacking facilities still present challenge to containing COVID-19, CDC says


As COVID-19 cases continue to surge across the country this summer, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday meatpacking plants still present challenges in preventing transmission of the virus and that racial or ethnic minority workers are at much higher risk of getting sick and dying.

A new CDC analysis found that 16,233 workers in meat and poultry processing plants were infected with COVID-19 in April or May, according to data reported by 23 states. Eighty-seven percent of the workers were racial or ethnic minorities and 86 have died.

Of the 14 states that reported the total number of workers in affected meat and poultry facilities, 9% of all workers were diagnosed with COVID-19. In specific facilities the positive rate ranged from 3.1% to 24.5% per facility.

"High population-density workplace settings such as meat and poultry processing facilities present ongoing challenges to preventing and reducing the risk for SARS-CoV-2 transmission," CDC wrote in its report, saying more widespread strategies like universal testing could help limit the risk for workers.

"Targeted, workplace-specific prevention strategies are critical to reducing COVID-19–associated health disparities among vulnerable populations."

Experts in workplace safety like David Michaels, an epidemiologist at George Washington University and former head of the Occupational Health and Safety Administration, say the federal government is missing opportunities to do more to help workers in these high-risk jobs by requiring all employers to implement more protections.

Michaels said that while new cases among young Americans returning to social activities or bars and restaurants are part of the problem right now, many Black, Hispanic, and Asian Americans have also been exposed at work since the beginning of the epidemic. He cited an analysis of new data from The New York Times that confirmed Black and Latino people have been impacted by the coronavirus at higher rates than whites.

"So what's going on here? You know, these are frontline workers. They're not able to stay at home like like many of us, they have to go into work every day. They work in factories on farms and grocery stores, nursing homes. Driving buses. They're making sure that we have food on our table. They're taking, taking care of our senior citizens. They need income to put food on their tables they can't afford these are low paying jobs. They can't afford to stay home," he said in an interview on ABC News Live.

Michaels said the new surges support the argument that agencies like OSHA need to require more protections.

"It's clear proof that recommendations suggestions aren't enough. We need a rule that says employers have to protect workers, they've got to get the right personal protective equipment," he told ABC News Live.

"Look, we know that they're going to have to get some help from the government because we have a shortage of masks right now. And this is another area I think the government has to step up to the plate and use all of its resources to make sure that industry is producing respirators, gloves, gowns, all the things they're needed in nursing homes and farms, in assembly line operations, every sort of workplace workers aren't getting what they need."

Under the Trump administration OSHA has said it doesn't need to issue any new rules to deal with COVID-19 cases because it can enforce it's current requirements on workplace hygiene and safety, as well as use other authorities to enforce CDC guidance. But Michaels says that approach doesn't do enough.

"The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which I ran for seven years, under the law can issue an emergency standard right now. That would tell every employer in the country there that what they need to do is they need to make a plan figure out exactly how people are being exposed their workplace. And how they're going to protect them up to the Secretary of Labor. Eugene Scalia has said OSHA has all the tools that they need. And we don't need to do anything more. But they're not really doing anything real.

CDC also wrote that "expanding interventions" could help protect workers. Many companies have taken steps like screening employees before they come to work, staggering shifts, installing plastic barriers between work stations and requiring face coverings. But some experts say more changes are needed to allow for social distancing or even installing the type of air filtration system used in hospitals.

But CDC found those steps are not universal in all facilities. While 80% of the facilities in the state data reported screening workers and 77% said they required face coverings, only 37% offered coronavirus testing.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Coronavirus updates: Three new states added to NY's travel advisory


(NEW YORK) -- A pandemic of the novel coronavirus has now killed more than 539,000 people worldwide.

Over 11.6 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.

Since the first cases were detected in China in December, the United States has become the worst-affected country, with more than 2.9 million diagnosed cases and at least 130,546 deaths.

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

4:40 p.m.: For 1st time since March, CT reports no COVID-19 deaths

For the first time since March, Connecticut had no COVID-19 deaths to report on Tuesday, said Gov. Ned Lamont.

Connecticut reported 57 new cases Tuesday, bringing the state's total diagnosed cases to 47,033.

The state's positivity rate is down to .99%.

2:35 p.m.: At least 21 states have reversed, paused reopening

At least 21 states have either reversed or paused reopening measures, ABC News has found.

Six states -- Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Michigan and Texas -- have reversed some aspect of their economic reopening.

Arizona, for example, began reopening on May 8. But on June 29, Gov. Doug Ducey announced the state would close all bars, gyms and movie theaters until July 27. The executive order also included a delay in state school openings.

These 15 states have either paused reopening plans or delayed any further action: Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.

New Jersey, for example, started reopening on May 18.

But on June 29, Gov. Phil Murphy said after seeing a surge in cases in other states, he would postpone reopening indoor dining indefinitely.

Then on July 7, Murphy said New Jersey would remain in phase two until further notice, explaining, "we’re not gonna be jumping the gun."

Beyond those 21 states, two states -- Maine and Virginia -- as well as major cities like New York City and Philadelphia, have postponed some aspect of reopening, such as indoor dining.

2:15 p.m.: NJ, PA report cases linked to Myrtle Beach trips

Officials in New Jersey and Pennsylvania are reporting coronavirus cases in their states linked to trips to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, reported ABC Philadelphia station WPVI.

The "small spike" in New Jersey is linked to people who went to a wedding in Myrtle Beach, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said, according to WPVI.

"We need to be smarter and we need to work harder," Murphy said.

1:10 p.m.: Miami-Dade mayor reverses course, says gyms can remain open

One day after announcing gym closures, Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez reversed course on Tuesday and said fitness centers can remain open.

"All doing activities inside must wear a mask or do strenuous training outside staying 10 feet apart w/outmask," he tweeted.

As cases in Florida surged, Gimenez on Monday said he was signing an emergency order to close gyms, as well as restaurants, short-term rentals and party venues.

"We are still tracking the spike in the number of cases involving 18- to 34-year-olds that began in mid-June, which the county's medical experts say was caused by a number of factors, including young people going to congested places -- indoors and outside -- without taking precautions such as wearing masks and practicing social distancing," Gimenez said Monday.

On Tuesday, Gimenez said he had a "productive" meeting with medical experts and the county's wellness group and arrived at the "compromise" to keep gyms open.

12:30 p.m.: WHO says there's 'emerging evidence' around airborne transmission

There's "emerging evidence" around airborne transmission, according to the World Health Organization.

"We acknowledge there's emerging evidence in this field -- as in all other fields regarding the COVID-19 virus and pandemic -- and therefore we believe we have to be open to this evidence and understand its implications regarding the modes of transmission and regarding the precautions that need to be taken," said Benedetta Allegranzi, the WHO technical lead for the infection prevention task force.

WHO epidemiologist Dr. Maria Van Kerkove said they're looking "at the possible role of airborne transmission in other settings ... particularly close settings where you have poor ventilation."

Van Kerkhove said the WHO has been engaged with the group of scientists reporting growing evidence of airborne transmission of the COVID-19 virus since April.

She said many of the signatories are engineers which adds important information in the area of ventilation.

Allegranzi said, "We do recommend as much as possible avoiding closed settings and crowded situations. We do recommend appropriate and optimal ventilation of indoor environments, and also physical distancing. And when this is not possible, in areas with community transmission of the virus, we recommend the use of face masks."

11:25 a.m.: Brazil's President tests positive for COVID-19

Jair Bolsonaro, President of Brazil, said he has tested positive for COVID-19 after he repeatedly downplayed the dangers of the virus.

Bolsonaro said Tuesday that he feels better than he did Monday. Bolsonaro says he is taking hydroxychloroquine.

Two sources close to the president told ABC News that Bolsonaro began exhibiting symptoms of the virus on Saturday.

On Saturday Bolsonaro had a private lunch with the U.S. Ambassador to Brazil, Todd Chapman. Bolsonaro and Chapman posted photos together on social media, without masks or social distancing.

10:50 a.m.: Florida's positivity rate climbs to 16.1%

Florida's positivity rate has climbed to 16.1%, up 1.3% from Monday, according to data from the state's Department of Health.

Miami-Dade County, which includes Miami, has a positivity rate of 21%. In Lee County, which includes Fort Myers, the positivity rate stands at 24.6%

Florida is reporting 7,347 new cases, with the total number of diagnosed cases now at 213,794.

The number of people hospitalized rose by 380 in one day and now stands at 16,425.

The state's death toll has reached 3,943.

10:50 a.m.: Florida's positivity rate climbs to 16.1%

Florida's positivity rate has climbed to 16.1%, up 1.3% from Monday, according to data from the state's Department of Health.

Miami-Dade County, which includes Miami, has a positivity rate of 21%. In Lee County, which includes Fort Myers, the positivity rate stands at 24.6%

Florida is reporting 7,347 new cases, with the total number of diagnosed cases now at 213,794.

The number of people hospitalized rose by 380 in one day and now stands at 16,425.

The state's death toll has reached 3,943.

10:23 a.m.: Delaware, Kansas, Oklahoma added to NY's travel advisory list

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday added three more states to New York's travel advisory.

Those traveling to New York from Delaware, Kansas and Oklahoma now must quarantine for two weeks.

Cuomo said the quarantine applies to anyone coming from a state with a positive test rate higher than 10 per 100,000 people over a one-week rolling average, or a state with a 10% or higher positivity rate over a one-week rolling average.

These are the current states on the travel list: Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Nevada, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas.

"As states around the country experience increasing community spread, New York is taking action to ensure the continued safety of our phased reopening. Our entire response to this pandemic has been by the numbers, and we've set metrics for community spread just as we set metrics for everything," Cuomo said in a statement. "New Yorkers did the impossible -- we went from the worst infection rate in the United States to one of the best -- and the last thing we need is to see another spike of COVID-19."

9:35 a.m.: India's death toll tops 20,000

According to India's Health Ministry, 467 people have died from the coronavirus in the last day, bringing the nation's death toll to 20,160.

The number of diagnosed infections are increasing rapidly. Authorities reported a one-day increase of 22,252, bringing India's total number of coronavirus cases to 719,665.

Delhi, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu are India's hardest-hit states with a total of 427,788 diagnosed cases.

India is the third-most affected country for diagnosed cases, behind the U.S. and Brazil. India ranks eighth for total number of fatalities.

6:26 a.m.: Woman in viral video who deliberately coughed on a baby has been fired from her job

A woman who deliberately coughed on a baby in a stroller at a restaurant following a verbal altercation with the child's mother has been fired from her job.

The incident, which went viral, occurred in the afternoon of June 12 at approximately 5:25 p.m. at a Yogurtland establishment in San Jose, California, when the suspect was standing in line in front of a mother and her 1-year-old child, who was in a stroller, when she allegedly became upset with the mother for not maintaining proper social distancing.

“The preliminary investigation revealed the suspect was upset the female was not maintaining proper social distancing, so the suspect removed her face mask, got close to the baby’s face, and coughed 2-3 times,” said Sergeant Enrique Garcia in a press release from the San Jose Police Department.

Oak Grove School District recently released a statement confirming that the woman in the video worked for them and that she has been terminated following the incident that was caught on tape.

"As many know, there have been allegations that a District employee was involved in a videotaped incident in which the person appeared to have intentionally coughed on a baby at a local Yogurtland," the Oak Grove School District statement read. "We want to inform our community that the District employee who was alleged to have engaged in this conduct is no longer an employee of our District. The Oak Grove School District’s highest priority is the safety of our students and the well-being of all of the children in the community we serve. We do not tolerate conduct from any employee that compromises any child’s safety. As we welcome our students back for learning this summer and in the fall in these unprecedented times, the District’s commitment to creating and maintaining a safe environment for our students is unwavering."

5:17 a.m.: Georgia public universities to make face coverings mandatory

The University System of Georgia said Monday it will require everyone to wear face coverings while inside campus facilities and buildings at all 26 of its public institutions where 6 feet of social distancing may not always be possible.

The new policy will take effect July 15 and will be in addition to -- not a substitute for -- social distancing.

"Face coverings are not required in one’s own dorm room or suite, when alone in an enclosed office or study room, or in campus outdoor settings where social distancing requirements are met," the University System of Georgia wrote in the updated guidance. "Anyone not using a face covering when required will be asked to wear one or must leave the area. Repeated refusal to comply with the requirement may result in discipline through the applicable conduct code for faculty, staff or students."

The change comes after more than two-thirds of the Georgia Institute of Technology's academic faculty protested the school's plans to reopen this fall without making face masks mandatory.

An open letter to the Board of Regents and the University System of Georgia voiced concerns that the current reopening plans only make masks mandatory for professors, while students are "strongly encouraged" to wear them. The letter, dated July 2, has garnered the signatures of more than 800 professors out of the roughly 1,100 faculty members at the prestigious public university in Atlanta.

4:33 a.m.: Florida teen who died from COVID-19 attended large church gathering

A Florida teenager who died from coronavirus complications last month had attended a large church gathering two weeks earlier, according to a medical examiner's report.

Carsyn Davis, 17, did not wear a face mask when she attended a church function with about 100 other children on June 10. Social distancing was also not followed, according to the report by the Miami-Dade County Medical Examiner Department.

Three days later, Davis developed symptoms of what her parents thought was a sinus infection

On June 19, Davis' mother noted that her daughter looked "gray" and tested her oxygen saturation, which was in the 40s. The mother borrowed a home oxygen machine belonging to Davis' grandfather, and the teen's levels rose to the 60s. Her parents also gave her a dose of hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malarial drug that President Donald Trump controversially endorsed to treat COVID-19.

Davis' parents then took her to a local hospital where she tested positive for COVID-19, according to the report.

The parents declined intubation but Davis was given convalescent plasma therapy on June 20 and 21.

Intubation was required on June 22 after Davis' condition did not improve. She died on June 23, according to the report.

The report notes that Davis had a "complex medical history" and that hypothalamic-pituitary axis dysfunction, morbid obesity and bronchial asthma were all contributory causes to her death.

3:30 a.m.: US reports 45,000 new cases; death toll tops 130,000

More than 130,000 people in the United States have now died from the novel coronavirus, according to a count kept by Johns Hopkins University.

Some 45,000 new cases of COVID-19 were identified across the nation on Monday. The latest daily caseload is lower than the country's record high of more than 54,000 new cases identified last Thursday.

The national total currently stands at 2,938,624 diagnosed cases with at least 130,306 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins. The cases include people from all 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., and other U.S. territories as well as repatriated citizens.

By May 20, all U.S. states had begun lifting stay-at-home orders and other restrictions put in place to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. The day-to-day increase in cases then hovered around 20,000 for a couple of weeks before shooting back up and crossing 50,000 for the first time last week.

Many states have seen a rise in infections in recent weeks, with some -- including Arizona, California and Florida -- reporting daily records.

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'We're paying for it': COVID-positive Atlanta mayor says state reopened too soon

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms appears on "Good Morning America," July 7, 2020. - (ABC News)By BILL HUTCHINSON, ABC News

(ATLANTA) -- Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said Tuesday that she, her husband and one of their children are now among a rising number of Georgia residents who have tested positive for COVID-19 and are "paying the price" for the state reopening its economy too soon.

"Prayerfully my symptoms won’t get any worse," Bottoms said during an interview on Good Morning America with ABC News' Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos.

"What they’ve told me is I have a low-positive test," she said. "So it either means I’m on the way up or down. They don’t know which one. But they’ve told me to treat it as if I’m positive, just in terms of quarantining and all other things that are recommended that people do."

Bottoms, a 50-year-old Democrat, broke the news of her diagnosis to her constituents in a Twitter post on Monday, writing, "COVID-19 has literally hit home. I have had NO symptoms and have tested positive."

On Tuesday, Bottoms said she has only suffered headaches in recent days, but chalked it up to allergies.

She said her husband, Derek W. Bottoms, and one of their four children have tested positive. She said one of her children tested negative and she plans to get the other two children tested on Tuesday.

"My husband literally slept from Thursday until yesterday and that’s what gave me some concern. I’ve just never seen him sleep that much, but he’s feeling better," Bottoms told Stephanopolos, who along with his wife, author Ali Wentworth, tested positive for coronavirus in April and have since recovered.

Bottoms' diagnosis comes at a particularly turbulant time for Atlanta, one of several major U.S. cities that saw a surge in gun violence over the Fourth of July weekend.

On Monday, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp declared a state of emergency and activated 1,000 National Guard troops to help restore order in the Atlanta. The order followed an incident early Sunday in which about 60 to 100 protesters allegedly descended on the Georgia Bureau of Public Safety headquarters in Atlanta, vandalized the building and sparked a fire injuring two employees of the law enforcement agency, authorities said.

Since the May 25 police-involved death of George Floyd in Minneapolis and the June 12 fatal police-involved shooting of another Black man, Rayshard Brooks, in Atlanta, the Georgia capital has become a flashpoint for protests that have spread across the nation, fueling calls for police reform.

Bottoms said she was against Kemp, a Republican, deploying the National Guard to Atlanta, adding that the move was made without consulting her or other city officials.

"The irony of that is I asked him to allow us to mandate masks in Atlanta and he said no," Bottoms said. "But he has called in the National Guard without asking if we needed the National Guard."

Asked about the uptick in violence in recent days in Atlanta, Bottoms blamed it on "a perfect storm of distress in America."


COVID-19 has literally hit home. I have had NO symptoms and have tested positive.

— Keisha Lance Bottoms (@KeishaBottoms) July 6, 2020


"I think that people are obviously anxious and even angry about COVID-19. Loved ones are dying, people are losing their jobs and I think there’s a lot of frustration, a lot of angst and I think that the rhetoric that comes out of the White House doesn’t help at all," she said. "It doesn’t give people much hope. And I think it's all converging together."

Bottoms, who has been talked about as a potential running mate for Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, also expressed disappointment in the governor for reopening the economy while the state is still in the throes of the pandemic. Georgia is one of several states that continue to see a rising number of coronavirus cases.

On Monday, the Georgia Department of Public Health confirmed 97,064 coronavirus cases in the state, an increase of 6,571 cases since Friday.

Bottoms said that while Atlanta has taken a phased approach to reopening, elsewhere the reopening has been "too aggressive."

"It was too soon and we're paying for it not just in Georgia but we're paying for it across the country and people are paying for it with their lives," Bottoms said.

While President Donald Trump has said at recent rallies that schools across the country should reopen in the fall and he and First Lady Melania Trump were scheduled to participate on Tuesday in a National Dialogue on Safely Reopening America's Schools, Bottoms suggested that schools in Atlanta, which are controlled by independently elected boards, may not be ready to reopen by the beginning of August, when classes traditionally begin.

"I expect that we'll have more announcements soon but with the way the numbers are up I don't know how it can possibly be safe to send kids back into the school for the sake of our teachers," Bottoms said. "The kids may be OK but our teachers will certainly be at risk."

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Ghislaine Maxwell transitions from lavish lifestyle to troubled lockup

FILE photo - stocknroll/iStockBy LUKE BARR and AARON KATERSKY, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- Ghislaine Maxwell’s temporary new home is a far cry from the 156-acre New Hampshire estate where she was arrested for enabling Jeffrey Epstein’s sex offenses.

Maxwell, who was charged with conspiring with Epstein to sexually abuse minors, arrived Monday in New York where she was transferred to the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, a problem-plagued federal lockup that has been under scrutiny in the past year.

MDC is across the river from the Metropolitan Correction Center in Manhattan, where Epstein -- who was charged last year with sex trafficking of minors and conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of minors -- died by suicide and where two of his guards were charged with falsifying records.

MDC Brooklyn has had its own share of controversy, including an inmate’s death following the use of pepper spray and a heating outage in the dead of winter. There have also been 12 confirmed cases of COVID-19 there.

Last month, an inmate died at MDC after being pepper sprayed while in his cell, the Bureau of Prisons announced. The New York Medical examiner’s office is conducting an autopsy on the cause of death.

A source familiar with the investigation told ABC News that the inmate died of a heart attack.

The inmate, Jamel Floyd, was being "disruptive and potentially harmful to himself and others" after he barricaded himself inside his cell and broke the cell-door window with a metal object, the BOP said.

James Floyd, Jamel Floyd’s father, however, told PIX 11 in June that there was a cover up.

"They’re trying to cover it up, that’s why they didn’t give us no phone call, they didn’t give us any information at all," he said.

The year got off to disturbing start at the facility. From Jan. 27 to Feb. 3 it had no power. Hot water, preparations to handle inmates who used continuous positive airway pressure machines, electronic prescription refill requests as well as communications with inmates' counsel and relatives were not available during that time, the Department of Justice Inspector General concluded in his report on the facility.

Initially, investigators believed there was a fire that caused the power to go out, but Michael Horowitz, the DOJ IG concluded that there were "longstanding" issues with the power grid.

The safety and security of the inmates were not a concern, according the 65-page report released earlier this year, which gave nine undisputed recommendations to the BOP as a result of the investigation.

"The BOP’s initial silence about the fire and power outage was interpreted by defense counsel, the courts, the public, and ultimately members of Congress as apathy and indifference," it said.

The troubled lockup will take some adjusting to by Maxwell, who is used to a lavish lifestyle.

The government’s detention memo says it has identified more than 15 different bank accounts held by or associated with Maxwell between 2016 and the present -- with balances in those accounts ranging from hundreds of thousands of dollars to more than $20 million.

Federal prosecutors allege in court documents that Maxwell is an extreme flight risk and hope that MDC Brooklyn will be her temporary home until she stands trial. They have requested her first court appearance in New York to be on July 14.

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Cops investigating human head found by road

vmargineanu/iStockBy IVAN PEREIRA, ABC News

(ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.) -- Homicide detectives in Florida are investigating a shocking discovery in St. Petersburg: a human head that was found in the street.

A jogger informed St. Petersburg police officers of the remains at the intersection of 38th Ave. S and 31st St. around 7 a.m. local time, according to a police spokeswoman. Detectives arrived at the scene and closed off the street to traffic as they conducted their investigation, according to the spokeswoman.

St. Petersburg police said they did not have any details about the discovery as of Tuesday afternoon and the investigation was ongoing. They are urging anyone with information to call 727-893-7780.

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Suspect in Vanessa Guillen case appears in court; remains confirmed as Guillen's


(WACO, Texas) -- A woman accused of helping to hide the body of murdered Fort Hood Army Specialist Vanessa Guillen made her first court appearance Monday to face conspiracy charges.

Cecily Aguilar, 22, appeared via closed-circuit television in the Waco, Texas, courtroom to face conspiracy to tamper with evidence for her alleged role in the death of the 20-year-old soldier. The U.S. Attorney's office of the Western District of Texas said 20-year-old U.S. Army Specialist Aaron Robinson told Aguilar, who was his girlfriend, that he killed Guillen with a hammer on April 22 and transferred her body off the Army base, according to the criminal complaint.

Aguilar is currently cooperating with the FBI.

Robinson, who died by suicide when he was confronted by police last week, allegedly enlisted Aguilar to help dispose of the body, and the pair allegedly dismembered and buried the remains in Bell County, according to the complaint.

Last week, investigators found remains in Bell County. Natalie Khawam, an attorney representing Guillen's family, said Sunday the remains belonged to Guillen. The Army Criminal Investigation Command confirmed the news at a press conference Monday.

"The Armed Forces forensic examiner has determined through DNA analysis that the remains found near the Leon River are in fact those of Vanessa Guillen," Maj. Gen. Scott Efflandt said.

Aguilar did not make any statement other than to acknowledge the charges against her, and she didn't enter a plea. She's due back in court on July 14 for a preliminary hearing to determine bond. Aguilar is being held at the Jack Harwell Detention Center in Waco, a U.S. Marshals representative confirmed to ABC News.

If convicted, she faces up to 20 years in federal prison and a maximum $250,000 fine, the U.S. Attorney's Office said.

Lewis Berray Gainor, the federal public defender assigned to Aguilar, declined ABC News' request for comment.

According to an updated criminal complaint, Aguilar cooperated with the FBI in the case by allowing investigators to tape a phone call between her and Robinson on June 30, during which Robinson didn't deny any of the alleged crimes. Aguilar also assisted law enforcement in locating Robinson before he was confronted and died by suicide, according to the document.

Guillen's family has called for a congressional investigation into Guillen's death. Nearly 100 lawmakers have also called for an independent review of Fort Hood's handling of Guillen's disappearance. On Monday, the House Oversight Committee announced it has requested a briefing on the Army's response and investigation into the disappearance and murder of Guillen.

While the Army hasn't commented on a possible motive, Khawam previously said investigators told her that Guillen and Robinson had an argument in the base's armory after she discovered his alleged affair with the estranged wife of a former soldier.

The family has also alleged that a man had walked in on Guillen and watched her as she showered, but the Army said it didn't hasn't found evidence of sexual harassment. On Monday, Efflandt said Army CID will complete that investigation and "take actions against those findings."

“Please know that every person who raises their right hand to serve their family in their country in uniform deserves to be safe and treated with dignity and respect to the victims of sexual harassment assault," he said. "We hear you. We believe you. And I encourage you to come forward."

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Severe storms and flash flooding in the East, gusty winds spread fires in West


(NEW YORK) -- There were more than 220 damaging storm reports from the Plains to the Northeast Monday.

Winds gusted to 71 mph in Mamaroneck, New York, just north of New York City, and there were winds of up to 66 mph in New Jersey as well as 69 mph in Washington, D.C.

The highest wind gust due to thunderstorms was in South Dakota where it gusted to 83 mph and some downed trees were reported from the Northeast and in the Dakotas.

Elsewhere, golf ball-sized hail was reported in Bergen County, New Jersey just outside of New York City.

These thunderstorms also brought very heavy rain to the Northeast and the Plains.

Just north of Philadelphia, up to 5 inches of rain was recorded in just a few hours causing significant flash flooding in the metro area.

Just south of Washington, D.C., more than a half a foot of rain was reported and street and road flooding was reported as well.

There will be storms in the Northeast Tuesday but they won’t be as severe as they were Monday though gusty winds and heavy rain is still possible.

Severe storms Tuesday are expected in the Upper Midwest and the northern Plains from Montana all the way to Minnesota where damaging winds and large hail will be the biggest threat and a possible threat for a few tornadoes.

In the West, several dozen fires are continuing to burn.

Some of the most significant fires are the Soledad Canyon Fire in Santa Clarita, California which is 1,500 acres and is 48% contained as evacuation orders have lifted.

The Crews Fire in Santa Clara County, California is now 5,400 acres and is only 20% contained as evacuations continue.

Wildfires are also burning in Nevada and one of them, called the Numbers Fire in Douglas County, is 2,500 acres with some evacuations occurring.

Another fire in Nevada is the Mountain Meadows Fire also in Douglas County and, at some point, 30 homes were threatened but not evacuated as the fire has been brought under control.

Five states in the West are under a Red Flag Warning with winds forecast to gust 30 to 40 mph and, locally, 45 mph winds are possible.

A tropical system is trying to develop in the Southeast and, at the moment, the National Hurricane Center is giving it a 40% chance to develop into a Tropical Depression or a Tropical Storm late this week as it moves off the coast of the Carolinas.

This southern system could bring very heavy rain to the Southeast from Florida to the Carolinas where, locally, some areas could see more than 5 inches of rain with flash flooding possible.

Heavy rain is expected due to a stationary front from Texas through the Gulf Coast where flash flooding is also possible.

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As shootings surge across US, police see COVID-19 enabling crime

carlballou/iStockBy BILL HUTCHINSON, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- For the last six weekends, Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown has awakened to word of another eruption of shootings in his city.

On Monday, Brown stood at another news conference and admitted he was "biting my tongue," trying desperately to maintain his emotions as he spoke of 7-year-old Natalia Wallace, one of two children fatally shot on the Fourth of July, a week after 20-month-old Sincere Gaston and 10-year-old Lena Nunez were shot to death in the city.

"I am representative of 13,000 cops, so if I lose my emotional bearing they all take their cues from me," Brown said. "So it's important that I maintain as much as I can my emotions. But 20-month-olds, and 7-year-olds, 13-year-olds being shot with impunity... there's no regard for innocence in the crowds as these criminals shoot to kill."

Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, cities across the country have seen a dramatic increase in shootings, and police in large cities like Chicago and New York said they are bracing for one of the most violent summers in decades.

"We cannot allow this to be normalized in this city, we cannot get used to hearing about children being gunned down in Chicago every weekend," Brown said.

Between 6 p.m. Thursday and midnight Sunday, 87 people were shot in Chicago, 17 fatally, police said. Natalia Wallace and 14-year-old Vernado Jones Jr. where among the latest casualties.

In New York City, 64 people were shot over the Fourth of July weekend, police said. Ten people were killed by gun violence, making a total of 14 shot dead in the first six days of the month, according to the New York Police Department (NYPD).

The grim tally came after 270 people were shot in New York City in June, 39 fatally -- numbers the city hasn't seen since 1996 when nearly 3,000 people were shot, almost 1,000 fatally. Officials said that all of the homicides involved minority victims and 88% of the slayings occurred on the streets.

In Philadelphia, at least 25 people were shot over the Independence Day weekend, five fatally, police said.

At least 23 people were shot in Atlanta over the weekend, including 8-year-old Secoriea Turner who was among five killed. The shootings came as protesters descended on the Georgia Department of Public Safety headquarters, hurled rocks at the windows, spray-painted graffiti on the walls and ignited a small blaze with fireworks, causing two state employees to be treated for smoke inhalation.

The weekend of violence was so bad in Atlanta that Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp declared a state of emergency on Monday and activated 1,000 National Guard troops to help restore order in the city.

In Washington, D.C., 11-year-old Davon McNeal was killed on the Fourth of July when he was hit by a stray bullet that entered his home after teens got into a gunfight outside his apartment, police said. And in San Francisco, 6-year-old Jace Young was fatally struck by a stray bullet while on a sidewalk with friends watching fireworks, police said.

On Monday, Brown said that while his officers made 98 gun arrests and seized 173 firearms between Thursday and Sunday, his police force keeps struggling to curb the escalating rate of shootings.

"There are no words, no words to describe this pain, not anymore. That's also why none of us are giving up. In every police district, every corner of this city, this is on all of us," Brown said.

Brown said he thinks he knows why shootings are surging in Chicago, explaining that violent criminals are not being held in jails and prisons long enough and that many released in an effort to blunt the spread of COVID-19 are not being monitored as closely as they should be.

"We must keep violent offenders in jail longer. We should revamp the electronic monitoring program. It's clearly not working," Brown said.

Police officials in New York City echoed Brown's suspicions and presented statistics on Monday that they say proves the uptick in violence is linked to reducing the inmate population at Rikers Island jail by about half amidst the pandemic.

"We recommended 96% of that population not to be released. It was ignored and now we have more victims and we see the lawlessness on the streets," said Chief Michael Lipetri, head of the NYPD's Crime Control Strategies and co-chair of the department's CompStat crime trends tracking system.

He said that of the roughly 2,500 inmates released from Rikers due to COVID-19 concerns since mid-March, 275 have been rearrested, some multiple times. He added two of those individuals committed murders after their release and nine others committed violent acts across the city.

NYPD Chief of Department Terence Monahan alleged that the wave of violence is also linked to the passage in January of state bail reform law intended to make bail, which has long favored the rich who can afford it, more equitable. The law requires judges to release defendants on their own recognizance while awaiting trial on misdemeanors and nonviolent felonies, and limits prosecutors asking for bail or pretrial detention in certain felony cases, including nearly all violent crimes.

Monahan said that since courts have been closed due to the pandemic, many people indicted by grand juries on gun charges have been released on their own recognizance.

"Hundreds of more criminals who have been arrested for possession of a gun have yet to be indicted by a grand jury because the courts are not in session. They, too, are not behind bars," Monahan said.

He added that an "explosion" of gun violence occurred after the May 25 police-involved death of George Floyd in Minneapolis ignited protests and violence across the country.

"If these tremendous challenges were not enough, New York City had days and days of anti-police marches that honestly crushed the morale of our cops," Monahan said. "And it created a large sense of animosity towards the police, and I'm not speaking about the peaceful protests that took place."

He said that on May 29, the NYPD was dealing with only a small uptick in shootings over 2019, when there were 319 murders and 923 victims in 777 shooting incidents.

"The explosions started after the murder of George Floyd, after the protests here in the city, after the animosity towards the police within this city, after a feeling of emboldenment by the criminals on the streets that the cops can't do anything anymore, that no one likes the police, that they can get away with things and that it's safe to carry a gun on the street," Monahan said.

Lipetri added that gangs have also upped their criminal activity. He said that 28% of the murders in June were gang-motivated, compared to only 3% during the same month last year.

He said that out of the city's 77 police precinct areas, most of the shootings in June and, so far in July, have occurred in 10 precincts in the boroughs of the Bronx, Brooklyn and the northern part of Manhattan.

"Those communities are being overrun by gang members who have no regard for their own lives and absolutely zero regards for the community," Lipetri said.

Monahan said the problems are not irreparable but will require the community to work with the NYPD to combat crime, adding that under the current climate, that may be a tall order.

"The animosity toward police out there is tremendous," Monahan said. "Just about everyone we deal with is looking to fight a police officer when we go to make an arrest."

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Students on F-1, M-1 visas can't remain in US if all their fall classes are online

travelview/iStockBy SOPHIE TATUM, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- International students studying in the United States on an F-1 or M-1 student visa won't be able to continue their studies in the fall if their school only offers online classes, according to an announcement from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

The ruling comes as schools across the country attempt to navigate how to safely reopen this fall as COVID-19 cases continue to tick upward in many areas.

Students enrolled in a school "operating entirely online" must either leave the country or transfer to a school that is offering in-person classes, ICE said.

"If not, they may face immigration consequences including, but not limited to, the initiation of removal proceedings," a news release said.

The Department of Homeland Security's Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) normally limits the number of online classes a nonimmigrant student can take under its student visa program. SEVP officials had relaxed those limits for the spring and summer semesters due to the coronavirus, but the new order eliminates those temporary exemptions for the fall 2020 semester.

The University of Southern California announced earlier this month that undergraduate students will "primarily or exclusively" be taking online classes during the fall semester and that "on-campus housing and activities will be limited."

On Monday, Harvard University announced only 40% of undergraduate students would return to campus in the fall.

The ICE announcement said that students enrolled in schools that offer a combination of in-person and online classes will be permitted to continue as long as the school certifies that the program is not all online, that the student is not exclusively taking online classes, and that "the student is taking the minimum number of online classes required to make normal progress in their degree program."

F-1 and M-1 visas are given to foreign nationals who are pursuing academic or vocational studies in the United States, according to ICE.

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Descendants weigh in on debate over Confederate symbols

Xtremest/iStockBy DANA SCHAEFFER, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- In recent weeks, statues of Confederate leaders have toppled to the ground amid nationwide protests, and Mississippi lawmakers have decided to remove the Confederate battle emblem from the Mississippi state flag.

Mississippi was the last state in the country to still have the emblem on its flag, but last week state officials made the decision to officially remove it.

"I know there are people of goodwill who are not happy to see this flag change," Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves said as he signed the bill. "They fear a chain reaction of events, erasing our history, a history that is no doubt complicated and imperfect."

But, the governor said, "We need a new symbol."

A state commission will now come up with a new design that residents will accept or reject in November.

While Mississippi looks ahead, the nation continues to debate whether certain monuments and statues dedicated to the past should be removed.

ABC's Lionel Moise spoke with the descendants of Robert E. Lee and Thomas Jefferson about the debate raging across the country.

Rev. Robert Lee IIII, is the great, great, great nephew of Confederate General Robert E. Lee and shares his name. As a child, he was taught about Lee's legacy as a Christian who wanted to fight for states' rights. But in his journey to become a pastor, he says he realized he needed to change his thought process.

"Why are we protecting statues that symbolize oppression instead of protecting the people that were oppressed?" Lee asked.

Amid the protests, President Donald Trump has signed an executive order to protect monuments, memorials and statues, and has tweeted about jailing protesters for up to 10 years. But as some fight to preserve the monuments, Rev. Lee believes they should be taken down now.

"This is not about erasing history," Lee said. "This is about being honest, that our history has been filled with a heritage of hate, with the heritage of racism, and if that's something that we want in our city squares, then we need to examine that."

Shannon LaNier, a journalist based in Houston, is a ninth generation descendant of President Thomas Jefferson and his slave, Sally Hemings, with whom Jefferson had a relationship.

LaNier, one of the couple's six great grandsons, is the author of Jefferson's Children: The Story of One American Family. He recently published an opinion piece calling for statues of Jefferson and other similar monuments to be taken down.

"For many years, I used to give Thomas Jefferson a pass because of all the great things that he's done for this country," LaNier told ABC News. "But you really do have to look at the whole person and what else he did. Thomas Jefferson wrote that 'All men are created equal.' When he wrote those words, they did not include black people, they didn't include women, they didn't include people who didn't own land."

LaNier says history has been erased by not telling the entire story.

"We have to tell his full story and give validity and a voice to all those other people that gave their blood, their sweat and their tears to make his life possible," LaNier said.

LaNier, however, believes that monuments should be preserved -- moved to a museum or a library where the public can be educated on their full history.

He likens it to putting yourself in someone else's shoes.

"Imagine if you or your loved one, the person you love the most in your life, was killed or raped by someone," LaNier said. "And then someone came along and said, 'We're going to put a statue in the town square or in your front yard of the person who killed or raped your loved one.' How would you feel?"

Rev. Lee acknowledges that the conversation is a difficult one -- and one he continues to have with his own family. But he says that now is the time for the country to come together.

"Someone asked me the other day, do I think that the statue should be replaced with anything?" Lee said. "I actually think we should leave just the mount there for a while, because that in and of itself has become a monument to what might be, what could be, what could be possible if we actually listen to the voices of the people."

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Father's loss to son in arm wrestling leads to shooting, 8-hour police standoff

kali9/iStockBy JON HAWORTH

(FLORENCE, Ky.) -- A father is in jail after losing an arm wrestling contest to his young son which led to a shooting and an 8-hour standoff with the police.

The incident occurred on July 6 shortly before 1 a.m. in the morning when Boone County Sheriff’s Office deputies were dispatched to Florence, Kentucky, about a 20-minute drive southwest of Cincinnati, Ohio, to a report of a person in a home with a weapon.

When authorities arrived, they found two family members had vacated the premises safely and were unharmed but 55-year-old Curtis Zimmerman was still inside the home and refused commands to come out, according to a statement by the Boone County Sheriff’s Office.

“Deputies learned that Zimmerman was intoxicated and challenged his juvenile son to an arm-wrestling contest,” said Boone County Sheriff’s Office. “When Zimmerman lost multiple times, he became agitated which led to a physical altercation with his son.”

Zimmerman then reportedly grabbed a gun and fired two shots in the house as his son was going upstairs.

It is not known if Zimmerman was aiming at his son, whose identity and age has not been disclosed, but he would later tell authorities that he fired the shots into the ceiling.

The suspect subsequently refused to listen to orders from the police to come out of the house which resulted in an 8-hour standoff with authorities.

Zimmerman was the only person inside the home during the standoff.

The Boone County Sheriff’s Office Hostage Negotiation Team spoke with Zimmerman throughout the morning and ultimately negotiated his safe surrender approximately 8 hours later at 8:25 a.m. on the morning of July 6.

The suspect was then taken into custody without incident by members of the Boone County Sheriff’s Office SWAT Team and the Florence Police Department SWAT Team.

Zimmerman was transported to St. Elizabeth in Florence to be evaluated and once he is medically cleared from the hospital, he is expected to be placed under arrest on one count of Wanton Endangerment in the First Degree, a Class D Felony, and taken to the Boone County Detention Center.

The arrest warrant for Zimmerman lists a $5,000 cash bond, according to the Sheriff.

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