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Coronavirus updates: First long-lasting disinfectant approved by EPA

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Ovidiu Dugulan/iStockBy MORGAN WINSOR, ABC News

(NEW YORK) — The global coronavirus pandemic has now killed more than 806,000 people worldwide, nearly a quarter of those in the U.S.

More 23.2 million people worldwide 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, unreported cases and suspicions that some national governments are hiding or downplaying the scope of their outbreaks.

The United States is the worst-affected country, with more than 5.6 million diagnosed cases and at least 176,659 deaths.

Here’s how the news developed today. All times Eastern.

Aug 24, 1:12 pm
Tuscaloosa closes bars until September after cases rise at University of Alabama

The city of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, will close its bars starting at 6 p.m. on Monday after the University of Alabama reported a rise in COVID-19 cases.

Mayor Walter Maddox signed an executive order restricting all bars from serving alcohol until Sept. 8 — anyone who violates the order could be fined or sentenced to a maximum of 180 days in the municipal jail.

In a letter to students on Sunday, university President Stuart Bell called the rise in cases on campus to be “unacceptable” and said this is a “critical moment” for the school.

“Make no mistake, this trend is a real threat to our ability to complete the semester on campus,” Bell said, adding that “violations to our health and safety protocols” are “subject to harsh disciplinary action, up to and including suspension” from the university.

University police and the Tuscaloosa Police Department will monitor bars, restaurants and off-campus residences where guidelines are not being followed.

ABC News’ Janice McDonald contributed to this report.

Aug 24, 12:09 pm
New York records lowest infection rate to date

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the COVID-19 infection rate in the state was 0.66% as of Sunday, the lowest since the start of the pandemic.

“It is a great day,” Cuomo said at Monday’s press briefing, noting that the state has now had an infection rate under 1% for more than two weeks.

However, the western part of the state, including the Buffalo region, has seen an uptick in cases and the infection rate, he said.

Aug 24, 11:36 am
EPA approves 1st long-lasting disinfectant against novel coronavirus

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced Monday that it has granted emergency authorization for the first antiviral surface coating approved for use to continuously protect against the virus that causes COVID-19 with a single application.

The product, SurfaceWise 2 from the Texas-based company Allied BioScience, is now approved for use by American Airlines, the Texas Methodist Health Group and at certain locations of the Texas-based clinics Total Orthopedics Sports & Spine.

“This is, I believe, a major game-changing announcement for our efforts to combat coronavirus and COVID19,” EPA administrator Andrew Wheeler said on a call with reporters Monday morning.

While the product is intended to deactivate the virus on surfaces between routine cleanings for up to seven days, Wheeler said it’s not supposed to replace frequent cleaning with disinfectants, hand washing, wearing masks or social distancing. He also said that the EPA did not find any adverse health risks from coming in contact with the product on a surface, though the National Institutes of Health has found the main ingredient, quaternary ammonium, can be an irritant and exacerbate asthma.

ABC News’ Stephanie Ebbs contributed to this report.

Aug 24, 10:52 am
University of Hong Kong reports 1st case of human reinfection

The University of Hong Kong claims it has documented the world’s first case of COVID-19 reinfection.

The university made the announcement in a press release Monday, revealing findings from its study of an “apparently young and healthy patient” who had a second episode of COVID-19 infection which was diagnosed more than four months after the first episode. A team of researchers showed that the genome sequence of the virus strain in the first episode of COVID-19 infection is “clearly different” from that of the virus strain found during the second episode of infection, according to the press release.

Last week, the World Health Organization said there were over 75,000 COVID-19 sequences identified and that they would need to see evidence of individuals who were infected by two different sequences in order to prove reinfection.

There are dozens of studies on COVID-19 immunity being conducted around the world. So far, WHO officials say they have learned that people do develop an immune response to the virus, but it’s not completely clear yet how strong that response is and for how long it lasts.

“What we understand from the press release is that this ‘may’ be an example of reinfection,” Dr. Maria van Kerkhove, WHO’s COVID-19 technical lead and an infectious disease epidemiologist, said at Monday’s news briefing in Geneva.

“It’s very important we document this and in countries where sequencing can be done that would be very, very helpful,” she added. “But we need to not jump to any conclusions, even if this is the first documented case of reinfection.”

ABC News’ Christine Theodorou and Karson Yiu contributed to this report.

Aug 24, 9:16 am
France records highest rise in cases since ending lockdown

France’s national public health agency identified 4,897 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, the country’s highest day-to-day increase in infections since coming out of lockdown.

However, just one coronavirus-related fatality was recorded in the past 24 hours.

Since the start of the pandemic, France has reported 242,899 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 30,513 deaths. The country is among the hardest-hit in Europe.

The positivity rate for COVID-19 tests in France increased from 2.8% on Aug. 18 to 3.6% on Aug. 24, according to the national public health agency.

ABC News’ Ibtissem Guenfoud contributed to this report.

Aug 24, 8:33 am
US reports under 1,000 new deaths for 1st time in almost a week

There were 34,567 new cases of COVID-19 identified in the United States on Sunday, according to a count kept by Johns Hopkins University.

It’s the first time in six days that the country’s day-to-day rise in cases is under 40,000. Sunday’s tally is also well below the national record set on July 16, when 77,255 new cases were identified in a 24-hour reporting period.

An additional 449 coronavirus-related deaths were also recorded Sunday, the first time in a six days that the daily death toll was lower than 1,000. The figure is also under the record 2,666 new deaths that were reported on April 17.

A total of 5,704,447 people in the U.S. have been diagnosed with COVID-19 since the pandemic began, and at least 176,809 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.

Week-over-week comparisons show that the nationwide number of new cases and new deaths has continued to decrease in recent weeks, according to an internal memo from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, obtained by ABC News on Friday night.

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