History-making NASA-SpaceX astronauts undock from International Space Station, set for splashdown

NASAby CATHERINE THORBECKE, ABC News

(NEW YORK) — Two months after a history-making launch, the first NASA-SpaceX astronauts have undocked from the space station and are set for splashdown on Sunday.

Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken, who left Earth on May 30, undocked from the International Space Station at about 7:30 p.m. ET on Saturday and will splash down off the coast of Florida at 2:48 p.m. ET on Sunday. Their journey will be broadcast live by NASA.

Although weather was a top concern as Hurricane Isaias heads to Florida, NASA’s forecasters were encouraged enough to press ahead with undocking.

Stakes are high as the astronauts only have 48 hours of oxygen in their capsule now that the Crew Dragon spacecraft has undocked from the ISS.

Behnken said a day prior to the undocking he wasn’t concerned about a possible delay.

“I still don’t feel nervous about it — we’re focused on the things we need to do to be as safe as possible,” Behnken said about the weather. “We won’t leave the space station without good landing opportunities in front of us. We don’t control the weather, we know we can stay up here longer, there’s more chow.”

Their return would mark the first time a commercially built American spacecraft returned from space. It’s also NASA’s first crewed water landing since 1975.

Hurley said every spaceflight is a “once-in-a-lifetime experience” for astronauts, but “this one probably is a great topper, at least for me, personally.”

“The water-landing portion of it is pretty challenging from a physiological standpoint,” he noted, especially after being in a microgravity environment for months. He said they have exercised “very hard” to help prepare.

In addition, Hurley said if they get physically ill during their return they will have the “appropriate hardware.”

“Just like an airliner, there are bags if you need them, and we’ll have those ready,” he added. “If that needs to happen, it certainly wouldn’t be the first time it’s happened in a space vehicle.”

Splashdown expectations

There are seven possible splashdown sites near coastal cities — Pensacola, Tampa, Tallahassee, Panama City, Cape Canaveral, Daytona and Jacksonville — and NASA said it will make a final selection based on several factors, primarily weather. As of Saturday, near Pensacola was considered the primary site.

Once the spacecraft enters Earth’s atmosphere, it will deploy two sets of parachutes at about 18,000 feet in altitude and then four more at about 6,000 feet in altitude, according to NASA.

After the splashdown, SpaceX will send two boats to first check the capsule and make sure the area around it is free of hypergolic propellant vapors. The second boat will recover the parachutes.

The first boat then will hoist the capsule with Hurley and Behnken in it and move it to a stable location for the hatch to be opened as medical professionals look on. After a medical check, Behnken and Hurley will board a NASA plane to Houston.

Behnken said Friday he is most excited to see his family and his 6-year-old son upon returning to Earth, saying, “He’s changed a lot in the couple of months that we’ve been up here.”

Behnken added that he already has some tips for his wife, fellow astronaut Megan McArthur, who will be on a NASA-SpaceX mission scheduled to launch next spring.

“A lot of them will be about how life on the space station goes,” he said. “I’ll definitely have some advice about living inside of Dragon and where best to pack all your personal items so you can get to them conveniently.”

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Posted On 01 Aug 2020
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Live updates: Isaias, heading for Florida, downgraded to tropical storm

Joe Raedle/Getty ImagesBY: IVAN PEREIRA AND DANIEL MANZO, ABC NEWS

(MIAMI) — Isaias, previously a Category 1 hurricane, delivered torrential rains and high winds to the Bahamas Friday before heading toward Florida, according to forecasters.

Early Saturday evening, Isaias was downgraded to a tropical storm.

Forecasters predict the storm will travel northwest and arrive in southeast Florida on Saturday and Sunday. Parts of the state could see 2 to 4 inches of rain, with isolated maximum totals of 6 inches, according to the current forecast.

“These rainfall amounts could result in isolated flash and urban flooding, especially in low-lying and poorly drained areas,” the National Hurricane Center said.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced on Friday that he’s declared a state of emergency in every coastal county on the east side of the state, from Miami-Dade to Nassau Counties.

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam also declared a state of emergency in advance of the storm, which is expected to affect parts of coastal Virginia starting on Monday.

Here’s how the news is developing. All times Eastern. Please refresh for the latest updates.

8 p.m. Isaias remains a tropical storm

As of 8 p.m. ET, Isaias remains a tropical storm with sustained winds of 70 mph. Movement has slowed down further, now northwest at 9 mph and the center is currently about 100 miles southeast of Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Isaias continues to batter the northwestern Bahamas bringing heavy rain, strong winds and storm surge.

The hurricane warning was canceled for the central Bahamas. No other changes to alerts were made with the 8 p.m. update.

Isaias’ forward speed will continue to decrease overnight and into Saturday. The latest forecast has Isaias becoming a minimal category 1 hurricane once again as it moves near the east coast of Florida throughout the day on Sunday. However, either as a hurricane or tropical storm the impacts will be essentially the same and most dependent on the exact track the storm takes up the Florida coast.

5 p.m.: Isaias downgraded

With sustained winds of approximately 70 mph, Isaias was downgraded from a hurricane to a tropical storm early Saturday evening.

The storm’s movement has slowed a bit, with Isaias now heading northwest at about 10 mph. The storm’s center is about 115 miles southeast of Fort Lauderdale.

It’s possible the storm could regain strength overnight and transform back into a hurricane.

2 p.m.: Isaias batters Bahamas but slightly weakens

As of 2 p.m. ET, Isaias remains a minimal Category 1 hurricane with sustained winds now at 75 mph. It is moving NW at 12 mph and the center is currently about 140 miles SE of Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

There is now the chance that Isaias could weaken to a tropical storm at some point later today, according to forecasters.

Little change in strength is forecast over the next 24 hours as Isaias moves near the east coast of Florida later tonight through Sunday.

Isaias will then race up the East Coast Monday into Tuesday, continuing to weaken, but likely remaining a tropical storm bringing heavy rain and gusty winds up the coast early next week.

In the coming hours and into this evening, more of the outer bands will begin to impact the south Florida coast with downpours and gusty winds.

Sunday morning, the storm will pass near the southeast coast of Florida, bringing areas of heavy rain and strong winds. The magnitude of the impacts will come down to how close the storm actually gets to the coast tomorrow.

Right now there it looks like wind gusts of 40 to 60+ mph will be possible right along the coast, from West Palm Beach to Jupiter and Port St. Lucie, Florida.

11:04 a.m.: Isaias makes landfall on Northern Andros Island in the Bahamas

The brunt of Isaias is hitting northern Andros, New Providence, (including Nassau) and other parts of the central/northwestern Bahamas right now.

Heavy rain, strong winds and storm surge will continue to impact these areas and overspread the rest of the northwestern Bahamas through the afternoon hours.

As of 11 a.m. ET, Isaias remains a Category 1 hurricane with sustained winds at 80 mph. It is moving NW at 12 mph and the center is currently about 135 miles SSE of Freeport, Grand Bahamas Island.

In the U.S., a tropical storm watch has now been issued for portions of the southeast coast of Georgia. A hurricane /tropical storm warning remains in effect along most of the east coast of Florida.

Further decrease in forward speed is forecast over the next 24 hours, with little change in strength expected as Isaias moves near the east coast of the Florida Peninsula tonight through Sunday.

Isaias batters Bahamas but slightly weakens

As of 2 p.m. ET, Isaias remains a minimal Category 1 hurricane with sustained winds now at 75 mph. It is moving NW at 12 mph and the center is currently about 140 miles SE of Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

There is now the chance that Isaias could weaken to a tropical storm at some point later today, according to forecasters.

Little change in strength is forecast over the next 24 hours as Isaias moves near the east coast of Florida later tonight through Sunday.

Isaias will then race up the East Coast Monday into Tuesday, continuing to weaken, but likely remaining a tropical storm bringing heavy rain and gusty winds up the coast early next week.

In the coming hours and into this evening, more of the outer bands will begin to impact the south Florida coast with downpours and gusty winds.

Sunday morning, the storm will pass near the southeast coast of Florida, bringing areas of heavy rain and strong winds. The magnitude of the impacts will come down to how close the storm actually gets to the coast tomorrow.

Right now there it looks like wind gusts of 40 to 60+ mph will be possible right along the coast, from West Palm Beach to Jupiter and Port St. Lucie, Florida.

10:43 a.m.: North Carolina governor declares state of emergency

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper declared a state of emergency in preperation for Hurricane Isaias.

The declaration allows trucks and supplies to move where help is needed. The state’s Emergency Operations Center — already activated for COVID-19 — is preparing for the storm as well, and state and local response teams are at the ready.

“Although the track and arrival of the hurricane could still change, now is the time for North Carolinians to prepare,” said Gov. Cooper. “Hurricane preparations will be different given the COVID-19 pandemic, and families need to keep that in mind as they get ready.”

The current forecast is for Hurricane Isaias to increase in intensity over the next 24 hours. The storm shifted west Friday afternoon, and its speed and path indicate it could reach North Carolina as early as Monday, making its greatest impact Monday night and Tuesday. However, the state is already seeing signs of the storm with high risk of dangerous rip currents along the coast, and the danger of tropical storm force winds is increasing.

The North Carolina National Guard has 75 guardsman and high-water vehicles on standby should they be activated to respond. The state’s Department of Transportation has more than 1,800 personnel, 1,550 pieces of equipment and more than 1,000 chainsaws ready to respond if needed.

They have also suspended passenger ferry today, began voluntary evacuations of Ocracoke, waived tolls on evacuation routes, and are preparing facilities and mooring plans for vessels for storm conditions.

Some local governments have already issued evacuation orders. While the state is still combating the COVID-19 pandemic, the state is urging people to make every effort to stay with family and friends, or even a hotel, as a first option. The state will coordinate shelters for those who need to evacuate.

9:00 am: President approves Federal Disaster Declaration ahead of Isaias

During a press conference Saturday morning, Florida Gov. DeSantis said that the president signed a Federal Disaster Declaration in expectation of Hurricane Isaias.

On Friday, DeSantis signed an executive order for a state of emergency for every coastal Florida county on the East Coast yesterday.

Twelve Floria counties have declared a state of emergency. The Division of Emergency Management is sending 25 shelter kits with PPE to counties in the path of the storm. Each kit provides PPE for up to 400 people for 96 hours, the governor said.

“The State of Florida is fully prepared for this,” DeSantis said and that his administration has been in contact with local area hospitals. The hospitals aren’t anticipating the need to evacuate patients at this time, but one smaller hospital is going to move some COVID patients to another hospital in Brevard county.

DeSantis said everyone in Isaias’ path “should have enough food, water and medicine for seven days” and said there is still time to get supplies.

7:53 a.m.: Hurricane Isaias has winds of 85 mph, approaching Florida later today.

Hurricane Isais remains a Category 1 storm sustaining winds of 80 mph. The hurricane’s eye is near Andros Island Bahamas. Isaias is expected to move through the Bahamas today and near Florida tonight into Sunday.

Forecasts warn of a dangerous storm surge. Heavy rains are a main concern as Isaias nears the Florida coast. The storm is expected to run up the East Coast and impact the Carolinas, the Mid-Atlantic and the Northeast. Significant rainfall in the Carolinas and the major Northeast cities is expected.

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Vaccine companies searching for 1-shot dose of COVID-19 vaccine

simon2579/iStockBY: DR. LAITH ALEXANDER AND SONY SALZMAN, ABC NEWS

(NEW YORK) — When it comes to vaccines, experts agree that a hassle-free single shot is always preferred over a two-shot vaccine requiring multiple trips to the doctors’ office.

“In the history of vaccines, anything that has been a two-shot vaccine has been a pain in the neck,” said Professor Arthur Caplan, the Drs. William F. and Virginia Connolly Mitty professor of bioethics at New York University Langone Medical Center.

When it comes to new vaccine candidates for coronavirus, scientists need to answer a lot of questions: Is the vaccine safe? How should it be delivered? How long can immunity last?

But another key question is how many doses are needed.

Many of the front-runner vaccine candidates — those that have entered phase 3 trials with around 30,000 people — need two shots. These include vaccine candidates from Moderna and Pfizer, which entered phase 3 trials in late July.

Others, such as the one being developed by Oxford University and Astra Zeneca, are testing a single shot as well as a two-shot regimen to see which works best.

The answer to why different vaccines need different numbers of shots may lie in both the safety and effectiveness of current candidates.

“These single-shot vaccines are often limited to one shot because of limitations in technology,” Joseph Payne, president and CEO of Arcturus Therapeutics — which is also developing a COVID-19 vaccine candidate — told ABC News. “These vaccines use viral delivery systems, and they are limited to one shot because there is an undesired immune response to the second administration.”

The amount of immune response a vaccine generates is called its immunogenicity. Too little immunogenicity and the vaccine is ineffective. Too much, and the vaccine produces side effects, including skin reactions.

There are two sides to every story, however. Sometimes, having more than one shot is actually beneficial.

Two-shot vaccines have the added benefit of stimulating a longer, sustained immune response.

“We know that a second shot will likely increase the immune responses,” Dr. Dan Barouch, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, told ABC News. “We do think a two-shot vaccine would raise more robust response.”

“In humans we’re actually testing both,” added Barouch, referring to Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine candidate, which this week moved into phase 1/2 trials in people.

New vaccine technologies are, however, being developed — ones that only need one shot, but generate a sustained, yet controlled, immune response.

For example, the Arcturus vaccine developed by Payne and his colleagues uses a special technique. The vaccine contains a small piece of genetic material, which not only instructs the body to produce a protein that will trigger an immune response, but also adds an extra packet of instructions that effectively helps turbocharge the amount of protein produced.

This turns up the immune response, without using a viral mimic — reducing the side effects.

“Our vaccine mimics the [corona]virus, without just ‘killing’ the coronavirus and injecting it, meaning it’s safer,” Payne told ABC News.

But with current data, it isn’t clear whether the vaccine can generate immunity after just one dose. Amidst ongoing questions about the nature and duration of coronavirus immunity, it might be the case that these vaccines will need booster doses later down the line.

But Payne is hopeful.

He explained that vaccine durability relies on stimulating two key “arms” of our adaptive immune system: antibodies and T-cells.

“There are two aspects of vaccine durability — one is the antibody response, the other is the T-cell response,” Payne told ABC News. “Most vaccines generate antibodies, but what everyone wants to get is T-cells. If you can do both, you can use a single shot and be done.”

Early evidence suggests their vaccine does trigger both antibody and T-cell production.

There are undoubtedly benefits of a single-dose vaccine, including convenience. People don’t want to come back for second shots, which means some people have incomplete courses of the vaccine, offering minimal protection and potentially wasting the first shot.

The second benefit of a single-dose vaccine is cost. It’s no surprise that producing just one dose of a vaccine is cheaper than having to produce two or more per person.

“A single-shot vaccine would have particle advantages for global deployment. We think a single-shot vaccine has incredible value in terms of pandemic control,” Barouch told ABC News.

But it’s worth noting that even with the single-shot vaccines, there will likely be subgroups of people who might need more than one dose to get full immunity. So an ideal single-shot vaccine should also be able to be administered more than once in the people who need it.

Having a vaccine is important to curtail the pandemic, but also crucially important if the virus becomes endemic with a constant background rate of infection.

When it comes to developing vaccines, each virus behaves differently and needs its own tailor-made solution. The race for a coronavirus vaccine is well underway, and one-shot vaccines could emerge as the most competitive candidates.

Dr. Laith Alexander is an academic doctor at St. Thomas’ Hospital, London, working with ABC News Medical Unit. Sony Salzman is the unit’s coordinating producer.

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7 dead, including Alaska state legislator, after planes crash midair

icholakov/iStockBY: ELLA TORRES, ABC NEWS

(NEW YORK) — Seven people, including a member of the Alaska State Legislature, were killed after two planes crashed in the sky on the Kenai Peninsula on Friday, officials said.

Gary Knopp, 67, a Republican member of the Alaska House of Representatives, was operating one of the planes that crashed and was the sole occupant, according to a press release from the Alaska Department of Public Safety.

His colleagues confirmed his death, saying they were heartbroken at the news.

“I’m devastated and shocked to learn of the crash that claimed Gary Knopp’s life,” House Speaker Bryce Edgmon said in a statement. “Gary was a one-of-a-kind leader and a true Alaskan who worked tirelessly for his district in the Legislature. He will be missed by many.”

The other victims of the crash were Gregory Bell, 57; David Rogers, 40; Caleb Hulsey, 26; Heather Hulsey, 25; Mackay Hulsey, 24; and Kirstin Wright, 23, according to the state’s Department of Public Safety.

They were the six occupants of the other plane.

Alaska State Troopers received a report around 8:27 a.m. local time of a plane crash near Sterling Highway, on the Kenai Peninsula, a borough of Southcentral Alaska, authorities said.

Troopers found the majority of the wreckage about two hundred yards from the road.

Investigators determined that two planes had crashed midair, according to authorities.

All but one person was pronounced dead on scene, however that person died on the way to a local hospital. Authorities did not identify which person that was.

The National Transportation Safety Board had been notified and will conduct an investigation into the cause of the crash, which is unknown at this time.

“This is an unfathomable tragedy for multiple families today. The DPS sends a heartfelt condolence to all who lost a loved one in this mid-air collision,” Commissioner Amanda Price of the Department of Public Safety said in a statement. “Troopers and partner agencies have worked together diligently at the scene and have reached out to next of kin to notify them of this heartbreaking incident.”

Knopp’s colleagues offered their condolences to his family, including his wife, Helen.

Knopp, born in Montana, moved to Alaska in 1979, according to the Alaska House Majority. He was elected to represent House District 30 in 2016.

Rep. Steve Thompson called Knopp “one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met. … He will be truly missed.”

Little information was known about the other victims, though five were from out of state.

Rogers was from Kansas, while the Hulseys and Wright were from South Carolina, authorities said.

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Live updates: Hurricane Isaias heads to Florida, East Coast

Joe Raedle/Getty ImagesBY: IVAN PEREIRA AND DANIEL MANZO, ABC NEWS

(MIAMI) — Hurricane Isaias, a Category 1 storm, delivered torrential rains and high winds to the Bahamas Friday and is headed to Florida according to forecasters.

Forecasters predict the storm will travel northwest and arrive in southeast Florida on Saturday and Sunday.

Parts of the state could see two to four inches of rain with isolated maximum totals of six inches, according to the current forecast.

“These rainfall amounts could result in isolated flash and urban flooding, especially in low-lying and poorly drained areas,” the National Hurricane Center said.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Friday that he has declared a state of emergency in every coastal county on the east side of the state from Miami-Dade to Nassau Counties.

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam also declared a state of emergency in advance of Hurricane Isaias, which is expected to impact parts of coastal Virginia starting on Monday.

Here is how the news is developing today. All times Eastern. Please refresh for the latest updates.

5 p.m.: Isaias downgraded

With sustained winds of approximately 70 mph, Isaias was downgraded from a hurricane to a tropical storm early Saturday evening.

The storm’s movement has slowed a bit, with Isaias now heading northwest at about 10 mph. The storm’s center is about 115 miles southeast of Fort Lauderdale.

It’s possible the storm could regain strength overnight and transform back into a hurricane.

2 p.m.: Isaias batters Bahamas but slightly weakens

As of 2 p.m. ET, Isaias remains a minimal Category 1 hurricane with sustained winds now at 75 mph. It is moving NW at 12 mph and the center is currently about 140 miles SE of Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

There is now the chance that Isaias could weaken to a tropical storm at some point later today, according to forecasters.

Little change in strength is forecast over the next 24 hours as Isaias moves near the east coast of Florida later tonight through Sunday.

Isaias will then race up the East Coast Monday into Tuesday, continuing to weaken, but likely remaining a tropical storm bringing heavy rain and gusty winds up the coast early next week.

In the coming hours and into this evening, more of the outer bands will begin to impact the south Florida coast with downpours and gusty winds.

Sunday morning, the storm will pass near the southeast coast of Florida, bringing areas of heavy rain and strong winds. The magnitude of the impacts will come down to how close the storm actually gets to the coast tomorrow.

Right now there it looks like wind gusts of 40 to 60+ mph will be possible right along the coast, from West Palm Beach to Jupiter and Port St. Lucie, Florida.

11:04 a.m.: Isaias makes landfall on Northern Andros Island in the Bahamas

The brunt of Isaias is hitting northern Andros, New Providence, (including Nassau) and other parts of the central/northwestern Bahamas right now.

Heavy rain, strong winds and storm surge will continue to impact these areas and overspread the rest of the northwestern Bahamas through the afternoon hours.

As of 11 a.m. ET, Isaias remains a Category 1 hurricane with sustained winds at 80 mph. It is moving NW at 12 mph and the center is currently about 135 miles SSE of Freeport, Grand Bahamas Island.

In the U.S., a tropical storm watch has now been issued for portions of the southeast coast of Georgia. A hurricane /tropical storm warning remains in effect along most of the east coast of Florida.

Further decrease in forward speed is forecast over the next 24 hours, with little change in strength expected as Isaias moves near the east coast of the Florida Peninsula tonight through Sunday.

Isaias batters Bahamas but slightly weakens

As of 2 p.m. ET, Isaias remains a minimal Category 1 hurricane with sustained winds now at 75 mph. It is moving NW at 12 mph and the center is currently about 140 miles SE of Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

There is now the chance that Isaias could weaken to a tropical storm at some point later today, according to forecasters.

Little change in strength is forecast over the next 24 hours as Isaias moves near the east coast of Florida later tonight through Sunday.

Isaias will then race up the East Coast Monday into Tuesday, continuing to weaken, but likely remaining a tropical storm bringing heavy rain and gusty winds up the coast early next week.

In the coming hours and into this evening, more of the outer bands will begin to impact the south Florida coast with downpours and gusty winds.

Sunday morning, the storm will pass near the southeast coast of Florida, bringing areas of heavy rain and strong winds. The magnitude of the impacts will come down to how close the storm actually gets to the coast tomorrow.

Right now there it looks like wind gusts of 40 to 60+ mph will be possible right along the coast, from West Palm Beach to Jupiter and Port St. Lucie, Florida.

10:43 a.m.: North Carolina governor declares state of emergency

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper declared a state of emergency in preperation for Hurricane Isaias.

The declaration allows trucks and supplies to move where help is needed. The state’s Emergency Operations Center — already activated for COVID-19 — is preparing for the storm as well, and state and local response teams are at the ready.

“Although the track and arrival of the hurricane could still change, now is the time for North Carolinians to prepare,” said Gov. Cooper. “Hurricane preparations will be different given the COVID-19 pandemic, and families need to keep that in mind as they get ready.”

The current forecast is for Hurricane Isaias to increase in intensity over the next 24 hours. The storm shifted west Friday afternoon, and its speed and path indicate it could reach North Carolina as early as Monday, making its greatest impact Monday night and Tuesday. However, the state is already seeing signs of the storm with high risk of dangerous rip currents along the coast, and the danger of tropical storm force winds is increasing.

The North Carolina National Guard has 75 guardsman and high-water vehicles on standby should they be activated to respond. The state’s Department of Transportation has more than 1,800 personnel, 1,550 pieces of equipment and more than 1,000 chainsaws ready to respond if needed.

They have also suspended passenger ferry today, began voluntary evacuations of Ocracoke, waived tolls on evacuation routes, and are preparing facilities and mooring plans for vessels for storm conditions.

Some local governments have already issued evacuation orders. While the state is still combating the COVID-19 pandemic, the state is urging people to make every effort to stay with family and friends, or even a hotel, as a first option. The state will coordinate shelters for those who need to evacuate.

9:00 am: President approves Federal Disaster Declaration ahead of Isaias

During a press conference Saturday morning, Florida Gov. DeSantis said that the president signed a Federal Disaster Declaration in expectation of Hurricane Isaias.

On Friday, DeSantis signed an executive order for a state of emergency for every coastal Florida county on the East Coast yesterday.

Twelve Floria counties have declared a state of emergency. The Division of Emergency Management is sending 25 shelter kits with PPE to counties in the path of the storm. Each kit provides PPE for up to 400 people for 96 hours, the governor said.

“The State of Florida is fully prepared for this,” DeSantis said and that his administration has been in contact with local area hospitals. The hospitals aren’t anticipating the need to evacuate patients at this time, but one smaller hospital is going to move some COVID patients to another hospital in Brevard county.

DeSantis said everyone in Isaias’ path “should have enough food, water and medicine for seven days” and said there is still time to get supplies.

7:53 a.m.: Hurricane Isaias has winds of 85 mph, approaching Florida later today.

Hurricane Isais remains a Category 1 storm sustaining winds of 80 mph. The hurricane’s eye is near Andros Island Bahamas. Isaias is expected to move through the Bahamas today and near Florida tonight into Sunday.

Forecasts warn of a dangerous storm surge. Heavy rains are a main concern as Isaias nears the Florida coast. The storm is expected to run up the East Coast and impact the Carolinas, the Mid-Atlantic and the Northeast. Significant rainfall in the Carolinas and the major Northeast cities is expected.

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Coronavirus updates: House Dem tests positive, calls out Republicans

Justin Sullivan/Getty ImagesBY: MORGAN WINSOR AND ELLA TORRES, ABC NEWS

(NEW YORK) — A pandemic of the novel coronavirus has now killed more than 679,000 people worldwide.

Over 17.6 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 national governments are hiding or downplaying the scope of their outbreaks.

Since the first cases were detected in China in December, the United States has become the worst-affected country, with more than 4.5 million diagnosed cases and at least 153,314 deaths.

Here is how the news is developing today. All times Eastern.

4:33 p.m.: South Africa surpasses 500,000 cases

There are now 503,290 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in South Africa, according to the country’s Department of Health.

There were 10,107 new cases reported and more than 3 million tests have been conducted, the agency said.

Deaths also increased, with 148 fatalities in the last 24 hours in the country of some 57 million. The total number of deaths is 8,153.

4:19 p.m.: FDA authorizes 1st tests that estimate patient’s antibodies

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has authorized two new antibody tests capable of estimating the number of antibodies in a person’s blood.

The tests, called “semi-quantitative” tests, “may be useful as we continue to learn more about the virus and what the existence of antibodies may mean,” Tim Stenzel, director of the Office of In Vitro Diagnostics and Radiological Health at the FDA, said in a statement.

Scientists still do not know if, or to what extent, antibodies offer immunity to COVID-19.

“Patients should not interpret results as telling them they are immune, or have any level of immunity, from the virus,” Stenzel said.

3:54 p.m.: Phillies, Marlins to resume playing next week

The Philadelphia Phillies are set to resume playing Monday, after several games had been canceled “out of an abundance of caution,” according to the Major Leagues Baseball.

The games were canceled because the Phillies had played against the Miami Marlins, a team that experienced numerous COVID-19 positive tests among players and staff.

The MLB said the last exposure of Phillies players and staff was on July 26, and no players have tested positive since.

Three staff members did test positive, but MLB said it appeared two of those results were false positives.

The Miami Marlins also are scheduled to resume playing, Tuesday against the Baltimore Orioles.

The players and staff had been in quarantine in Philadelphia since July 26. The Marlins reported no new positive tests results in Friday’s collections, according to MLB.

3:20 p.m.: California reports highest daily deaths

The California Department of Public Health reported that 219 people died of COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, marking the state’s highest daily death toll.

The total number of fatalities is now 9,224, according to the agency. There were also 6,542 new cases, with the 14-day average reaching 8,912.

However, hospitalizations and ICU admittances are falling.

This week’s positivity rate — 6.5% — was nearly a full point below that of the previous 14 days, 7.3%.

Earlier in the day, a tally of total cases by Johns Hopkins showed that cases in the state surpassed 500,000. The California Department of Public Health confirmed that number.

1:20 p.m.: House Democrat tests positive after contact with Gohmert

Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., the chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, has tested positive for COVID-19.

Grijalva’s diagnosis comes days after he had close contact with Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, at a committee hearing. Gohmert, who refused to wear a mask, tested positive earlier this week.

Grijalva said he’s asymptomatic and will self-isolate.

“While I cannot blame anyone directly for this, this week has shown that there are some Members of Congress who fail to take this crisis seriously,” he said in a statement. “Numerous Republican members routinely strut around the Capitol without a mask to selfishly make a political statement at the expense of their colleagues, staff, and their families.”

In addition to Grijalva, three House Republicans and several GOP staffers also are self-quarantining after contact with Gohmert.

1:06 p.m.: Milwaukee Brewers player opts out for rest of season

Lorenzo Cain, an outfielder for the Milwaukee Brewers, has chosen not to play for the remainder of the season.

“We fully support Lorenzo’s decision, and we will miss his talents on the field and leadership in the clubhouse,” President and General Manager David Stearns said in a statement.

The news comes a day after the Brewers’ game against the St. Louis Cardinals was postponed.

Cain later issued a statement saying the decision was made after “careful consideration and discussion with my family.”

“With all of the uncertainty and unknowns surrounding our game at this time, I feel that this is the best decision for me, my wife, and our three kids,” he said, adding that the team was “very understanding and supportive.”

“I wish all of my great teammates the best of luck this season and look forward to getting back on the field in 2021. Please stay safe,” Cain said.

11:25 a.m.: Mississippi school district announces positive COVID test in 1st week back

A person in the Corinth School District in Mississippi has tested positive for coronavirus, the school district announced.

It was the district’s first week back, and the first district in the state to reopen.

The district said anyone who had close contact with the person, which was described as within 6 feet for 15 minutes or more, has been notified.

Children who need to quarantine will not be allowed to attend school or school activities, but will be required to complete their work.

10:57 a.m.: Florida deaths surpass 7,000

Deaths in Florida have reached 7,145, after an increase of 179 in the last 24 hours, according to the state’s Department of Health.

The number of confirmed cases totaled 480,028, an increase of 9,642.

Hospitalizations also rose, by 439 in the last 24 hours.

However, there were 7,968 active hospitalizations, which is down significantly from the last two weeks.

8:54 a.m.: Ohio State releases pledge students must sign to return to campus

The Ohio State University has released a pledge that all students who want to return to campus must sign as part of their effort to minimize the spread.

The pledge — called the Together as Buckeyes Pledge — mandates that students follow the university’s guidelines on social distancing, masks and hygiene tips.

It also reads, “I understand that COVID-19 is a highly contagious virus and it is possible to develop and contract the COVID-19 disease even if I follow all of the safety recommendations of the university and comply with the Pledge.”

Students cannot return to campus without having signed the pledge.

For those who don’t sign, they “would be failing to comply with a legitimate university directive and pursuant to university policies, students, faculty, and staff will be subject to the appropriate accountability measures and disciplinary actions,” the pledge reads.

Students will be contacted by the student conduct office and given five days to sign the pledge if they have not done so by the time school begins, according to The Columbus Dispatch. If a student still does not sign the pledge, he or she will only be permitted to take virtual courses, may not schedule a move-in time, may not physically enter any campus or university facility and may not physically participate in any university activity on or off campus, the Dispatch reported.

8:30 a.m.: California becomes 1st state to tally over half a million cases

California has become the first U.S. state to tally more than half a million diagnosed cases of COVID-19, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

As of Saturday morning, the Golden State had reported at least 500,556 confirmed cases.

Just last month, California surpassed New York as the state with the nation’s highest case count.

7:25 a.m.: CDC predicts 168,000 to 182,000 US deaths by Aug. 22

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its website overnight to include the prediction that 168,000 to 182,000 Americans likely would die from COVID-19-related deaths by Aug. 22.

According to the CDC, based on data from 32 modeling groups, weekly reports of new COVID-19 deaths may increase over the next month, with 5,000 to 11,000 new deaths reported during the week ending Aug. 22.

The CDC’s forecast also predicts that the number of reported new deaths per week may increase over the next four weeks in Alabama, Kentucky, New Jersey, Puerto Rico, Tennessee and Washington.

6:25 a.m.: India records its highest daily increase in cases

India reported more than 57,000 new cases of COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, its steepest spike to date, taking the nationwide count close to 1.7 million.

The Indian Ministry of Health and Family Welfare also reported 764 additional coronavirus-related deaths, bringing the total to 36,511.

The country of 1.3 billion people has the third-highest number of diagnosed COVID-19 cases in the world, according to a count kept by Johns Hopkins University. As of Saturday morning, India had a total of 1,695,988 diagnosed cases, of which more than 565,000 are active cases.

Over 1 million patients there have recovered so far, according to the latest data from the health ministry.

5:31 a.m.: Northeastern University to require all students be tested 3 times

Northeastern University announced Friday that it will require all students arriving at the Boston campus for the fall semester to be tested three times for COVID-19 and then immediately self-quarantine.

Students also must be tested two more times, on the third and fifth day after the first test. Those whose initial test comes back negative will be allowed to discontinue their quarantine. After the third test comes back negative, students will be allowed to fully participate in campus activities, such as going to classes, according to Northeastern University.

The new measures will apply to every student arriving on campus from all states for the start of the fall semester, whether they live on or off campus.

Students living on campus who test positive for the novel coronavirus will be isolated and moved into designated on-campus housing units with their own bathrooms. Food will be delivered to the students there, and case managers and clinical support will be made available on a daily basis, according to the university.

4:07 a.m.: US reports over 67,000 new cases as total tops 4.5 million

Just over 67,000 new cases of COVID-19 were identified in the United States on Friday, bringing the nationwide count soaring past 4.5 million, according to a count kept by Johns Hopkins University.

The latest daily caseload is under the country’s record set on July 16, when more than 77,000 new cases were identified in a 24-hour reporting period.

A total of 4,562,171 people in the United States have been diagnosed with COVID-19 since the pandemic began, and at least 153,314 of them have died, 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 the country’s cases then hovered around 20,000 for a couple of weeks before shooting back up and crossing 70,000 for the first time in mid-July.

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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Formerly incarcerated woman runs to be 1st Black woman in Congress from Tennessee

Courtesy Keeda HaynesBY: MARIYA MOSELEY, ABC NEWS

(WASHINGTON) — Keeda Haynes believes she brings a unique perspective to the race for Tennessee’s 5th Congressional District. After spending over three years in prison for a crime she says she didn’t commit, she hopes a spot in Washington will allow her to speak for vulnerable constituents — and make a little history as well.

Haynes, a former public defender, is in a three-way race that includes 17-year Democratic incumbent Rep. Jim Cooper.

The primary election, which is slated for Aug. 6, has no Republican in the race so the winner will almost certainly be elected to Congress come November.

“I have a unique perspective that a lot of people don’t have. … I’ve been a defendant and defender,” Haynes told ABC News. “I really saw just how this war on drugs really decimated Black and brown, low-income communities.”

If elected, the progressive Democrat would make history as the first Black woman in Tennessee ever elected to Congress. The state has only had two Black representatives elected to Congress, with the last candidate elected over two decades ago, according to the U.S. House of Representatives.

Along with supporting criminal justice reform and the Black Lives Matter movement, the 42-year-old Haynes is also passionate about issues such as providing access to affordable housing, raising the minimum wage and reducing student loan debt.

“We are reimagining each and every system so that Black lives can matter across every single spectrum,” she said.

Haynes, who is from Franklin and later moved to the state’s capital of Nashville, was the second of five children. She graduated from Tennessee State University with a degree in criminal justice and psychology. But just two weeks after graduating college, she had to turn down a position as a legal assistant because she had to report to federal prison.

At 19, she started dating a man in Nashville for a few years and began accepting packages for his cellphone and beepers shop, she told ABC News. She later found out that those packages actually contained marijuana. She spent three years and 10 months in prison — on what was initially a seven-year mandatory minimum sentence — on charges of conspiracy to distribute marijuana.

In 2006, Haynes was finally released from prison while continuing to maintain her innocence. She went on to pass the bar exam and work in a public defender’s office for over six years.

Her historic run comes as a record number of Black women are running for Congress across the U.S. In 2019, a record number of Black women were serving in state legislative offices, according to The Center of American Women and Politics at Rutgers University. In the last two years Black women saw the largest gain in representation at the state legislative level since 1994.

Haynes’ advice for young Black girls hoping to follow in her footsteps is to remember that you have the ability to make the impossible possible.

“Prison did not deter me from doing what I said I was going to do,” she told ABC News. “There will be people that will tell you that you can’t do things and that things are impossible, but you have to stay focused.”

Haynes called late civil rights pioneer Rep. John Lewis, who was laid to rest Thursday in Atlanta, an “iconic figure” in the fight for justice and equality, and expressed eternal gratitude for the work that Lewis accomplished throughout his remarkable life.

“Even in the face of police violence, he still believed in something bigger and still fought for liberation. … I personally feel obligated to do this work in his name,” Haynes said.

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Trump’s defiant campaign amid pandemic ramps up ground game, as Biden looks for another way

Official White House Photo by Shealah CraigheadBY: WILL STEAKIN, JUSTIN GOMEZ AND TERRANCE SMITH, ABC NEWS

(WASHINGTON) — President Donald Trump is on the ropes — down in the polls, facing scathing criticism of his handling of the coronavirus crisis and a shakeup of his campaign staff, all less than 100 days until Election Day.

Also largely gone are the seemingly endless string of massive rallies that buoyed his candidacy in 2016 and propelled him from outsider to front-runner.

But the Trump team sees an opening, plowing forward with front-line campaigning in key states as Joe Biden appears content to stay on the sidelines and hold small press events.

Biden’s team feels this approach aligns with the former vice president’s view on the virus and commitment to following federal guidelines on virus safety, helping distinguish him from the president, who has taken an uneven, dismissive and sometimes flippant approach.

Some Democratic strategists say Biden’s move is risky, given the power and longevity of Trump’s ground game, but others say he has a number of options available, including phone calls and enlisting networks of voters to do the work for him, that could make the difference.

The Trump approach couldn’t be more different. Last weekend alone, as part of the Trump campaign’s “100 Days Out Weekend,” the Trump team held at least 70 events ranging from veteran outreach to voter registration drives from Mohave County, Arizona, to Madison, Maine, according to the Republican Party’s public schedule.

Events have featured varying levels of safety precautions. Many do not implement social distancing while some do, and no Trump campaign events nationwide require masks to attend, according to multiple sources.

When asked about safety measures taken at these events, the campaign did not provide specific details. Instead, deputy national press secretary Ken Farnaso said in a statement, “The safety of attendees is very important to the campaign and we take precautions to protect people’s health.” Adding, “President Trump is utilizing every avenue available to communicate directly with the American people while Joe Biden is hiding to avoid accountability for his abysmal record that spans nearly 50 years.”

In July alone, the Trump campaign hosted two “Women for Trump” bus tours, featuring top campaign surrogates, including senior Trump campaign advisers Lara Trump, Mercedes Schalpp and Katrina Peirson.

The bus tours, an effort by the president’s team to reach out to women — 67% of whom disapprove of his coronavirus response, according to an ABC News/Ipsos poll — hit key battleground states like Maine, New Hampshire and Wisconsin.

Pence emerges as key campaigner

The Trump campaign has also launched Vice President Mike Pence to multiple battleground states this summer, using him as the in-person messenger for smaller events.

Pence, whom the president put in charge of the White House coronavirus task force, held a “Cops for Trump” event in Pennsylvania’s Westmoreland County on Thursday and spoke to an overwhelmingly maskless crowd. The event was held in a parking lot next to the Greensburg police station and supporters were standing shoulder-to-shoulder. Those who were seated were separated by an arm’s length at most.

The task force currently lists Westmoreland County as a “yellow zone” and explicitly states that in Pennsylvania, “mask mandates must remain in place.” According to White House coronavirus task force guidelines, a “yellow zone” is an area that in the last week “reported both new cases between 10-100 per 100,000 population, and a diagnostic test positivity result between 5-10%.”

Hours later, the president urged Americans not to attend similar events. “If you can, you have to avoid crowded places,” Trump said. “It just seems like some things are taking place in crowded places. We don’t want that.”

Pence also kicked off a “Faith in America” tour in Wisconsin at the end of June, a state that Trump unexpectedly and narrowly won in 2016. Stops in Florida and Arizona were also scheduled but were ultimately scrapped as coronavirus cases soared in those areas.

The vice president revisited Wisconsin on July 17 where he delivered a scathing attack on Biden, labeling him a “Trojan horse” for the “radical left” and “nothing more than an autopen president.” Wearing blue jeans and cowboy boots, Pence also stopped by a dairy farm in Onalaska to promote the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, a signature Trump achievement that the president believes will help American farmers and workers.

As Pence traveled around the country for personal COVID-19 briefings from state leaders and education roundtables to discuss safely reopening schools in the fall, he also carved out time for fundraising.

During a trip to Indiana on July 24, Pence hosted a fundraiser for Republican attorney general candidate Todd Rokita, and the following day in Massachusetts he attended a high-priced lunch at the home of Robert Reynolds, CEO of Putnam Investments, for the Trump/Pence reelection campaign.

Canvassing in a pandemic

The Trump campaign sees its ground game as a key advantage three months out from Election Day and is showing no signs of slowing down despite rising cases in dozens of states. And because Trump is the incumbent, his campaign was able to build out key battleground state teams for well over a year, with staffers on the ground in crucial swing communities long before Biden’s campaign started announcing state staffing positions.

In a conference call with reporters last week, new Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien pointed to North Carolina as an example of what he feels is their advantage on the ground in key states.

“We’ve had staff on the ground there since June 2019,” Stepien said. “The staff has grown to over 100, which is double [the] 2016 staff. And they’ve been hard at work, shockingly, registering voters, and we see the results of that. They just made their 3 millionth voter contact.”

“Joe Biden hired his state director last month [in North Carolina]. Big advantage: us on the ground,” he added.

Stepien, who took over for longtime Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale just weeks ago, also said the campaign was bullish on flipping Minnesota. The Biden campaign only recently hired a handful of staffers in the state, compared to Trump Victory, which has had a physical presence in Minnesota since the 2016 election. Trump only lost the state by 1.5 percentage points.

However, recent polling suggested the president will still have a tough time turning Minnesota red. A recent Fox News poll showed Biden is leading in the state by 13 points: 51% to 38%.

The Biden campaign maintains that its hesitance in putting staffers and volunteers back on the ground amid the pandemic is rooted in science and the safety of their team.

“The Biden campaign is following the science and campaigning safely, yet very effectively,” TJ Ducklo, the Biden campaign’s national press secretary, said. “Our field teams and volunteers are talking to thousands of voters, holding hundreds of virtual events and continuing to build the broad, diverse coalition that is going to send Joe Biden to the White House.”

The Trump campaign has also continued to put up massive digital numbers even as the Biden campaign remains fully virtual. The last 10 virtual campaign events have averaged over 1 million views on Facebook alone.

And on the ground, Trump Victory, the joint field operation between the RNC and Trump campaign, has hired more than 1,500 field staffers this cycle already and has activated over 1.6 million volunteers, according to the RNC.

Democratic concerns

Some Democrats who recognize the complicated reality of campaigning amid a pandemic still feel Biden remaining on the sidelines while the president’s campaign pounds the pavement unchallenged could spell serious trouble in November.

“We’re going to lose Election Day,” said Wilnelia Rivera, who was Rep. Ayanna Pressley’s chief campaign strategist for her successful 2018 race in Massachusetts. “If the Biden campaign continues down this track of running a traditional, candidate-driven, TV-spending campaign, it’s not going to be enough.”

“By now, I expected it to see a surrogate campaign of many aligned Democrats issuing a coordinated message of what it is that we need right now: to not just win in November, but to put our country back on track,” said Rivera, a contributor to the book “Turnout: Mobilizing Voters in an Emergency.”

Rivera said she’s not suggesting Democrats put volunteers or staff in “harm’s way” amid the pandemic, but said they need to start realizing that Republicans “are not going to play this election fair” — campaigning as if the country was not in the middle of a health crisis.

Other veteran Democratic staffers who worked on campaigns during the 2020 primary, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they didn’t want to criticize the presumptive nominee’s campaign, told ABC News they have been stunned at how long it’s taken the Biden campaign to start to put staffers in key states. “I’ve never seen a general election campaign this understaffed in battleground states this close to Election Day,” one source told ABC News.

David Broockman, a professor of political science at the University of California, Berkeley, told ABC News he doesn’t expect Biden to be significantly impacted by staying on the sidelines due to the pandemic, arguing that canvassing only reaches “a relatively small proportion of Americans.”

“As a result, I doubt the Biden campaign’s decision will prove that determinative, since even if they had canvassed I doubt it would be at a scale that would likely tip the balance,” Broockman said.

“I suspect much more energy will be put into phone-based persuasion approaches as a substitute for in-person canvassing,” he added, the latter of which he said can backfire if executed poorly. “I suspect it will take some creativity to inspire the same esprit de corps among volunteers to make these calls, but if the campaigns can keep volunteer motivation high, I suspect they can have a relatively large impact with phone calls as well.”

Greta Carnes, the national organizer for former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s 2020 presidential campaign, said that while on-the-ground campaigning is important, Democrats are doing the right thing moving forward with caution and not putting staff and voters at risk.

“The biggest reason why we’re choosing not to canvass is because there is not an ethical way to canvass during a pandemic, there’s just not,” Carnes said.

“It’s one thing to know that you’re putting your volunteers at risk, but it’s totally another to have them go to doors and you have no idea what the situation of people at those doors is,” she added. “You have no idea if they have a kid who’s got cancer. You’ve got no idea if they’re immunocompromised. There just, point blank, is no ethical way to approach canvassing at scale in a year like this.”

As Trump continues to campaign during the pandemic, his staff has been impacted, with at least eight members of the advance team who worked on his June 20 return rally in Tulsa testing positive for coronavirus.

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