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U.S. sees spreading infection, spiking deaths and dwindling supply of PPE

The summer surge in coronavirus cases is now fueling a corresponding spike in deaths, with over 1,000 recorded in just 24 hours for the first time in weeks. In California, which now has the most confirmed infections in the nation, officials are working to ensure additional hospital capacity. And Texas has an outbreak of more than 500 women at a federal prison in Fort Worth. Stephanie Sy reports.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    More deaths, more infections, and more restrictions.

    The spread of the coronavirus pandemic shows no sign of easing, and officials are scrambling to respond.

    Stephanie Sy begins our coverage.

  • Stephanie Sy:

    This summer surge of infections is now fueling a surge in deaths, more than 1,000 over 24 hours for the first time in weeks.

    As of today, California leads the nation and confirmed infections, with state officials hoping they can cope.

  • Mark Ghaly:

    I think we all looked at our initial strategy of trying to be prepared for a number of days with a high number of cases and ensuring that we have the surge capacity in our hospital system.

  • Stephanie Sy:

    In Texas, more than 500 women at a federal medical prison in Fort Worth have tested positive, one of the largest prison outbreaks to date.

    Elsewhere, Washington, D.C., Ohio, and Minnesota joined the growing list of governments issuing mandatory mask orders. And the surge has forced more schools that planned to reopen in the fall to opt for remote instruction instead.

    All of this as testing delays, and shortages in personal protective equipment, are again growing acute. At a House hearing in Washington today, the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Pete Gaynor, acknowledged shortcomings.

  • Peter Gaynor:

    The majority of PPE is made offshore, China, Malaysia, Vietnam. This is a national security issue, PPE, and we have seen how critical that is to protecting lives and minimizing suffering. So, I — we are on a path to increase U.S. — production in the U.S.

  • Stephanie Sy:

    And the Department of Health and Human Services signed a nearly $2 billion contract today with Pfizer and a German-led biotech firm for the first 100 million doses of a potential virus vaccine by December. But the vaccine has not completed clinical trials, much less been FDA-approved.

    Meanwhile, in The New York Times, Tom Frieden, the former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, warned of critical data gaps in an opinion piece. And he said the government's lack of coordination is hampering efforts to stop COVID-19's spread.

    On the economic front, efforts continue at the Capitol to craft a new relief package. Senate Republicans remain divided on how much to spend and on what. But there is talk of a short-term extension of unemployment benefits. They're due to expire on July 31.

    For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Stephanie Sy.

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