Good morning, it's Wednesday, July 1. We're covering the continuing surge in COVID-19 cases in the US, annexation plans in Israel, and a crackdown in Hong Kong. Have feedback? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The daily incidence of new coronavirus infections in the US could reach 100,000 if key recommendations aren't followed, Dr. Anthony Fauci testified yesterday. The comments to the Senate Health Committee came as the weekly average for new daily cases exceeded 41,000 (see data). The figure is close to 9,000 more per day than the previous April peak; part of the rise may be due to
increased testing capacity, which has almost quadrupled since that time. The daily death toll has also remained significantly lower than April thus far. Committee Chairman Sen. Lamar Alexander (R, TN) began the hearing by urging an end to the politicization of wearing face masks.
The Food and Drug Administration outlined guidelines for the approval of a vaccination. Officials said treatments would need to be at least 50%
more effective than a placebo, while commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn told lawmakers approval would not be granted for drugs that simply demonstrated the ability to stimulate antibody production. See the status of leading vaccine contenders here.
Separately, the European Union finalized rules banning US tourists from visiting for at least another two weeks. The US has reported 2.62 million cases as of this morning, with 127,425
deaths. See the three-day moving average here.
Finally, these laser-aided measurements help visualize how various face coverings help block coughs.
Hong Kong Law Goes Into Effect
A new law granting Beijing sweeping authority to crack down on dissent in Hong Kong went into effect yesterday. Text of the law—largely withheld during deliberations—revealed broad definitions of terrorism and subversive activities, while mandating harsh penalties for violators.
The law's enactment was conspicuously timed, coming one day before the 23rd anniversary of the city's handover to China after more than 150 years of British rule. With residents used to
democratic norms, a "one country, two systems" approach was put in place at the time. Since then, tensions with the central government have led to a steady erosion of civil liberties which has accelerated under Chinese President Xi Jinping (see timeline).
The city of 7 million has been seized by pro-democracy protests over the past year. However, the law caused a number of high-profile activist groups to
preemptively announce their closure.
West Bank Annexation Delayed
A proposal by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to extend the country's control over the West Bank appears to be delayed. Details of the annexation, following the Trump administration's January proposal, were expected to be unveiled today. US officials are visiting to discuss the plan but have not yet signed off.
The region, home to about 2.8 million Palestinians and
600,000 Jewish settlers, is one of the largest flashpoints in the Middle East. Captured by Israel during the 1967 Six-Day War, international bodies consider the region to be occupied by Israel. In practice, administrative status is split among three fractured areas, with Area C—which accounts for 60% of the land—controlled by Israel. Critics argue the move would end the already slim hope for a two-state solution (see 101).
Up to 30% of the West Bank may be annexed, or brought under formal legal control, in the proposal. Review the original White House plan here.
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Historybook: Civil War Battle of Gettysburg begins (1863); RIP abolitionist and author Harriet Beecher Stowe (1896); Princess Diana born (1961); China regains sovereignty over Hong Kong (1997); Hollywood actor Marlon Brando dies
"Never give up, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn."
- Harriet Beecher Stowe
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