Coronavirus live updates: ‘Vicious virus’ may be in North Korea; $1T pandemic relief bill on tap; Florida COVID-19 cases pass New York’s

White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin were at the Capitol on Sunday to put what Meadows described as “final touches” on a $1 trillion relief bill Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is expected to bring forward Monday afternoon. 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has assailed Republican “disarray” over the new pandemic relief package as the White House says a narrower effort might be needed for now.

Also over the weekend, Florida surpassed New York State in having the second-highest caseload in the U.S., trailing only California.

Meanwhile, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un placed the city of Kaesong on lockdown after a person was found there with suspected COVID-19 symptoms, saying “the vicious virus” may have entered the country, state media reported Sunday.

Here are some significant developments:

📈 Today’s stats: The U.S. has more than 4.2 million confirmed cases and over 146,900 deaths. Worldwide, there have been more than 16.2 million cases and 648,900 deaths, according to data maintained by Johns Hopkins.

📰 What we’re reading: The COVID economy, in 6 striking charts.

Our live blog is being updated throughout the day. Refresh for the latest news, and get updates in your inbox with The Daily Briefing.

Florida now has second-most confirmed COVID-19 cases

More than 9,300 new cases were reported in Florida on Sunday, along with 78 new deaths. The state has recorded more than 5,000 new cases per day for 33 consecutive days.

Florida’s nearly 424,000 coronavirus cases as of Sunday are surpassed only by California, which has more than 450,000. With 39.5 million residents, California has almost double Florida’s population of 21.4 million. 

New York, slightly less populous than Florida with 19.4 million residents, has close to 412,000 cases and was once the epicenter of the virus in the U.S. Texas, the only state besides California with more people than Florida, has about 390,000 cases.

– Rachael Thomas, Florida Today; Associated Press

North Korean border city put on lockdown amid virus fears

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un placed the city of Kaesong near the border with South Korea under total lockdown after a person was found there with suspected COVID-19 symptoms, saying “the vicious virus” may have entered the country, state media reported Sunday.

If the person is officially declared a coronavirus patient, he or she would be North Korea’s first confirmed case. The North has steadfastly said it has had no cases of the virus, a claim questioned by outside experts.

The lockdown was declared Friday afternoon. The North’s official Korean Central News Agency said the suspected virus patient is a runaway who fled to South Korea three years ago before illegally crossing the border into the North early last week.

Plandemic segment pulled from Sinclair TV stations

The Sinclair Broadcast Group said this weekend it is pulling an edition of its “America This Week” program that discusses a conspiracy theory involving Dr. Anthony Fauci and the coronavirus. A spokesman said Sinclair hopes to add context and other viewpoints and still air the controversial segment next week.

“America This Week” is hosted by Eric Bolling, a former Fox News Channel personality, and sent to stations in 81 markets. The show it initially distributed for this weekend’s show featured an interview with Judy Mikovits, maker of the widely discredited “Plandemic” video, and her lawyer, Larry Klayman.

Mikovits, an anti-vaccine activist, said she believed that Fauci manufactured the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 and shipped it to China. There has been no evidence that the virus was produced in a lab, much less any of Fauci’s involvement.

Viral ‘Plandemic’ video:Claim ‘could lead to imminent harm,’ Facebook says

Home test for coronavirus may not be far away

A quick, inexpensive and readily available home test to detect the coronavirus would be a critical tool in helping curb its spread, and it might be getting closer to reality.

With support from the National Institutes of Health, researches at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are collaborating with a team at 3M to develop and scale such a test. The diagnostic exam would work similarly to an early pregnancy test, using an individual’s body fluids to reveal on a specially made piece of paper whether the virus is present in that person.

“That could be one of our most important interventions as we come into the fall to prevent large outbreaks from happening,” said Stephen Kissler, a research fellow at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

– Karen Weintraub

COVID-19 group testing saves resources, not time

With results from COVID-19 tests routinely taking one week or longer to complete, some labs are trying a new approach called sample pooling.

The idea is labs can save coveted supplies if they test samples from multiple patients at once. If the test finds no signs that a pooled sample contains the coronavirus, the group of people tested are considered negative. A positive result requires each sample to be tested individually.

The testing method is a new option; however, it won’t deliver results more quickly. That’s a hurdle for labs struggling to keep pace in hotspot communities. Read more here.

– Ken Alltucker 

More COVID-19 resources from USA TODAY

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Contributing: The Associated Press

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