Coronavirus updates: Over two-thirds of Georgia Tech faculty protest plans to reopen

Ovidiu Dugulan/iStockBy MORGAN WINSOR, ABC News

(NEW YORK) — A pandemic of the novel coronavirus has now killed more than 534,000 people worldwide.

Over 11.4 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 2.8 million diagnosed cases and at least 129,947 deaths.

Here’s how the news is developing Monday. All times Eastern:

7:25 a.m.: Australia closes state border for first time in 100 years after COVID-19 spike

The border between Australia’s two most populous states will close tomorrow for an indefinite period of time as authorities scramble to contain an outbreak of the coronavirus in Melbourne.

The closing of the border between the states of Victoria and New South Wales marks the first time it will be shut in 100 years. The last time movement was blocked between the two states was in 1919 during the Spanish flu pandemic.

The move is expected to deal a blow to Australia’s economic recovery as it heads into its first recession in nearly three decades.

The number of COVID-19 cases in Melbourne has surged in recent days and has forced authorities to enact strict social-distancing orders in 30 suburbs, including putting nine public housing towers into complete lockdown.

There were 127 new COVID-19 infections announced overnight, the biggest one-day spike since the pandemic began. Two deaths were also reported taking the national total to 106 after no deaths were reported over the previous two weeks.

New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian said there was no timetable for reopening the border which will be patrolled by the military to prevent illegal crossings.

“It is the smart call, the right call at this time, given the significant challenges we face in containing this virus,” Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews told reporters in Melbourne.

Australia has had a total of just under 8,500 confirmed COVID-19 cases since the global pandemic began but the recent surge of an average of 109 cases per day in July compared with the average of just nine cases in the first week of June has raised alarm bells across the country.

6:43 a.m.: NHL, NHLPA finalize protocols for season to resume in Edmonton and Toronto

The NHL and NHLPA have finalized the protocols for the season to resume this summer in Toronto and Edmonton, Alberta, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly told ESPN.

As of Sunday night, the sides still were finalizing the details of a memorandum of understanding for a collective bargaining agreement extension.

The Phase 3 (training camp) and Phase 4 (24-team tournament) return-to-play protocols will need to be approved by the NHLPA’s executive committee, which is composed of one representative from each of the 31 teams. Once that is done, the entire package — both the return-to-play protocol and the CBA extension — will go to a full membership vote of all NHL players. The NHL’s board of governors also must ratify the package.

The NHL is now targeting a July 13 start date for training camps, sources told ESPN. If all goes according to plan, teams would travel to the hub cities on July 25 or July 26, and games will begin by Aug. 1. The Eastern Conference teams will play in Toronto, and the Western Conference teams will be in Edmonton.

The 24-team tournament will conclude with a Stanley Cup Final in Edmonton, likely in early October.

The protocols include an agreement that no player will be penalized if he chooses to opt out, and he does not have to give a reason for wanting to opt out. Players have until 5 p.m. ET on Tuesday to notify their teams if they are opting out.

Family members will not be able to join players until the conference finals.

According to the document, “all individuals shall maintain physical distancing (a minimum of 6-foot distance) at all times throughout Phase 4, to the extent possible” — which includes being on planes and buses, at restaurants and in any social circumstances. The league will provide face coverings, though individuals may bring their own, and they must be worn at all times in the secure zones. Players do not need to wear face coverings while exercising, and coaches do not need to wear them while on the bench.

If teams do not comply with the protocols, it could lead to “significant financial penalties” and potential loss of draft picks.

5:19 a.m.: Over two-thirds of Georgia Tech faculty protest plans to reopen

More than two-thirds of the Georgia Institute of Technology’s academic faculty are protesting the school’s plans to reopen this fall amid the coronavirus pandemic without making face masks mandatory.

An open letter, dated July 2, has garnered the signatures of more than 800 professors out of the roughly 1,100 faculty members at the public university in Atlanta. The letter voices concerns that the reopening plans “have been shaped based on guidance from outside the Institute, and with limited input from the faculty who are being asked to carry out these plans.”

“We are alarmed to see the Board of Regents and the University System of Georgia mandating procedures that do not follow science-based evidence, increase the health risks to faculty, students, and staff, and interfere with the nimble decision-making necessary to prepare and respond to COVID-19 infection risk,” the letter states.

The faculty are asking, among other things, that the school require face masks be worn everywhere on campus, provide large-scale COVID-19 testing, ensure timely contact tracing of new infections and make most classes take place remotely during the fall semester. The current reopening plans make masks mandatory for professors, while students are “strongly encouraged” to wear them.

ABC News has reached out to the Board of Regents and the University System of Georgia for comment.

The letter was first reported by Georgia Public Broadcasting.

3:30 a.m.: US reports over 49,000 new cases in a single day

More than 49,000 new cases of COVID-19 were identified in the United States on Sunday, according to a count kept by Johns Hopkins University.

The latest daily caseload is just under the country’s record high of more than 54,000 new cases identified last Thursday.

The national total currently stands at 2,888,729 diagnosed cases with at least 129,947 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 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.

Nearly half of all 50 states have seen a rise in infections in recent weeks, with some — including Arizona, California and Florida — reporting daily records.

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