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Aug. 18, 2020, 3:27 p.m. EDT

Coronavirus update: Daily new U.S. cases declines to about 40,000, but death toll rises

Virtual Democratic National Convention highlights impact of COVID-19 pandemic, as speakers criticize President Trump’s handling of the crisis

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By Tomi Kilgore, MarketWatch

Associated Press

The number of reported new daily COVID-19 cases in the U.S. declined Tuesday but the death toll increased, as President Donald Trump was lambasted for his handling of the crisis at the Democratic National Convention, made virtual for the first time because of the pandemic.

There were 40,022 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, down from 42,303 on Sunday, and below the average of 50,543 cases a day over the past week, according to data provided by the New York Times . But there were at least 542 coronavirus deaths, up from 516 on Sunday.

The U.S. is by far the world-wide leader in cases with 5.46 million and also in COVID-19-related deaths with 171,120, according to Johns Hopkins University data , so speakers at the Democratic convention late Monday took the opportunity to criticize handling of the crisis.

Kristin Urquiza, whose 65-year-old father died from COVID-19 in June, said Trump’s “dishonesty” about the severity of the virus, and his pushing to end social-distancing rules before it was safe is what killed her father.

Urquiza said her father was a “healthy” 65-year-old Donald Trump supporter, and his only pre-existing condition was trusting Trump.

Don’t miss : Daughter of Trump voter who died of coronavirus: ‘His only pre-existing condition was trusting Donald Trump.’

Among others who criticized Trump’s handling of the crisis, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo praised his state’s handling of the pandemic while calling the Trump administration “dysfunctional and incompetent,” as it tried to deny, then ignore and then politicize the virus. Read more about speeches from Sen. Bernie Sanders and former first lady Michelle Obama.

See also : Gov. Andrew Cuomo to release book on coronavirus response called ‘American Crisis.’

Johns Hopkins University
Cuomo said New York climbed the coronavirus mountain and is now on the other side

Meanwhile, questions remained about school reopenings amid the pandemic, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill did an about face by saying it will switch undergraduate classes to remote instruction, after a “spate” of COVID-19 infection clusters during the first week of classes. Other colleges are asking students to sign agreements acknowledging the dangers of COVID-19 before returning to class, as MarketWatch’s Jillian Berman reports.

Not all mutations are bad news

There are reports that a mutated strain of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, known as D614G, has popped up has popped up in Malaysia and the Philippines, but increased mutation in the coronavirus might end up being a good thing, some experts say.

Paul Tambyah, senior consultant at the National University of Singapore and president-elect of the International Society of Infectious Diseases, said in an interview with Reuters that there is reason to believe the proliferation of D614G has coincided with a fall in death rates.

Tambyah also said that a mutated virus won’t make potential vaccines less effective.

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