Six months into the coronavirus crisis, hard-hit Americans are continuing to struggle to make ends meet. Another 870,000 workers filed first-time claims for unemployment benefits, up slightly from last week. About 12.6 million workers have filed for benefits for at least two consecutive weeks. An additional 630,000 Americans filed for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance last week.

Over the past several weeks, lawmakers in Washington have tried and failed to agree on terms of a new stimulus package. The funding measure, known as a continuing resolution, is being considered by senators, in hopes of passing it before the end of this week. Considering upcoming state elections, members of Congress are preparing to leave Washington and return to their home states as soon as this week without passing a coronavirus economic stimulus bill. Congress will not return to Capitol Hill until after the November election.

MORE ON THE PANDEMIC

According to CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield, more than 90 percent of Americans are still at risk of contracting the coronavirus, citing preliminary data from a CDC study.

Redfield said that 16- to 25-year-olds represent over one-quarter of all new cases, the largest of any age group. He added that some states are seeing infection rates of 15% to 20%, with one as high as 24%, while others are seeing a less than 1% infection rate.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, more than 587,000 children in the U.S. have tested positive for Covid-19. More than 74,000 cases in children were reported between September 3 and September 17, a 15% increase in this group over two weeks.

Coronavirus cases in children only account 10% of all reported cases in the U.S., but the number of cases is likely underreported because the tally depends on state data that is inconsistently collected.

Twenty thousand American flags have been placed on the National Mall as part of a memorial paying tribute to the more than 200,000 people nationwide who have died from the coronavirus.

Each flag in the Covid Memorial Project represents 10 American lives lost to the pandemic this year. The project was organized by a group of friends in the Washington, D.C. area and a team of volunteers placed the flags on the mall.

Hana El Sahly, a doctor who heads the FDA vaccine advisory committee, is leaving her post because of her role in overseeing a clinical trial for Moderna, a top pharmaceutical company working to develop a coronavirus vaccine. Expert advisory panels, like those headed by El Sahly, play a crucial role ahead of FDA approval decisions. El Sahly declined to comment, and Moderna did not respond to questions from Reuters reporters.

On Wednesday, Missouri Governor Mike Parson and his wife, Teresa, announced they both tested positive for coronavirus and will self-quarantine.

Mrs. Parson began experiencing mild, cold-like symptoms earlier in the day. The governor said he is feeling well and is not experiencing symptoms but is cancelling campaign events out of an abundance of caution.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says thousands of passengers who traveled on commercial flights may have been exposed to Covid-19 since the beginning of 2020.

In a statement emailed to CNN, the CDC says it was made aware of 1,600 flights between January and August where a passenger may have had coronavirus, potentially exposing 10,900 people “within a 6-foot range for droplet transmission” to coronavirus.

Airline carrier United will become the first U.S. airline to offer coronavirus testing to its passengers. Beginning October 15, the 15-minute rapid test will be available to travelers going from San Francisco to Hawaii. A negative test result will help passengers avoid a mandatory 14-day quarantine.

Customers will also have an option to mail in their test result in the days before departure.

Event organizers for the annual Times Square New Year’s Eve celebration announced Wednesday the countdown will take place virtually this year, due to the pandemic.

No details have been made public, but a statement from organizers indicated celebrities and notable people from 2020 will help ring in the new year.

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