CORONAVIRUS UPDATE… The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in he U.S. has reached 3,431,574 and the death toll stands at 136,466, according to figures released last night by Johns Hopkins University. Alabama, Florida and North Carolina reported record daily increases in deaths yesterday. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield said during an interview with medical journal yesterday that the U.S. could get the coronavirus pandemic under control in one to two months if every American wore a mask. “The time is now,” he warned. Meanwhile, the first COVID-19 vaccine tested in the U.S. has produced positive results in 45 volunteers who were administered the drug last March. The vaccine produced by the Biotech company Moderna reportedly produced coronavirus antibodies in all participants in the initial safety trial. A late-stage trial is scheduled to begin on July 27, when 30,000 will participate in 87 locations.
TRUMP RESCINDS VISA RULE… The Trump administration yesterday rescinded its rule that would have required international students to transfer or leave the U.S. if their schools held classes entirely online because of the pandemic. The rule faced widespread criticism following its announcement last week and was facing eight federal lawsuits and opposition from hundreds of universities. Its withdrawal was revealed at the start of a hearing in a federal lawsuit in Boston brought by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. U.S. District Judge Allison Burroughs said federal immigration authorities agreed to pull the July 6 directive and “return to the status quo.”
TRUMP IMPOSES CHINA SANCTIONS… President Donald Trump yesterday announced the signing of legislation that imposes sanctions on China in response to its interference with Hong Kong’s autonomy. Trump said the order also ends the preferential treatment that the U.S. has long afforded Hong Kong. In response, the Chinese Foreign Ministry announced retaliatory sanctions against a handful of U.S. officials and entities, including Republican Senator Ted Cruz.
GHISLAINE MAXWELL HELD WITHOUT BOND… British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell was ordered to be held without bail yesterday after pleading not guilty in a New York court to charges she conspired to traffic minors. Her trial was set for July 12, 2021. The 58-year-old Maxwell, an associate of the late financier Jeffrey Epstein, has denied helping him Epstein sexually exploit and abuse multiple minor girls as young as 14 from 1994 to 1997. The eight counts against her include conspiracy to entice minors to travel to engage in illegal sex acts, enticement of a minor to travel to engage in illegal sexual acts, conspiracy to transport minors with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity, transportation of a minor with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity and perjury.
TUBERVILLE BEATS SESSION IN ALABAMA PRIMARY… Former Auburn University football coach Tommy Tuberville defeated former Attorney General Jeff Sessions in yesterday’s runoff for the Republican nomination for an Alabama U.S. Senate seat. With 92 percent of precincts reporting, Tuberville held a 61- to 39-percent lead. He moves on to face Democratic Senator Doug Jones in November. Jones ran unopposed in the primary.
VIACOM DISMISSES NICK CANNON… Viacom has announced that it is terminating its long-running relationship with Nick Cannon after the actor and TV show host allegedly spread anti-Semitic conspiracy theories on his podcast. The “Cannon’s Class” on June 30 featured Cannon’s interview of Professor Griff, a rapper who was fired from the group Public Enemy in 1989 for blaming Jews “for the majority of the wickedness in the world.” In the interview, the two shared conspiracy theories about the Rothschild banking family and claims that people of African descent are the “true” Jews.
NAYA RIVERA AUTOPSY RESULTS… Autopsy results released yesterday confirmed that “Glee″ star Naya Rivera died from accidental drowning in a Southern California lake. Authorities said the body showed no signs of traumatic injury or disease that might have contributed to the drowning at Lake Piru and there was no initial indication that drugs or alcohol may have played a role in her death. The results were consistent with the preliminary findings of the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office.
BRAVES SIGN YASIEL PUIG… The Atlanta Braves have reportedly reached agreement with outfielder Yasiel Puig on a free-agent contract. The 29-year-old Puig was a 2014 All-Star for the Los Angeles Dodgers. He batted .267 in 149 games last season with the Cincinnati Reds and Cleveland Indians. The signing comes after Braves outfielder Nick Markakis announced earlier this month that he is opting out of the 2020 season.