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Severe storms in Central US, record heat in Southwest continues

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ABC News By: DANIEL MANZO, ABC News

(NEW YORK) — Powerful thunderstorms across the Central U.S. and gusty storms in the Northeast have caused at least 327 reports of severe weather in the last 24 hours.

The wind reports have been quite notable in the central U.S. A 90 mph gust was reported in Scott County, Iowa, an 80 mph gust was reported at the Moline Quad Cities airport in Illinois, an 85 mph wind gust has been reported in Cleveland County, Oklahoma, which is part of the greater Oklahoma City metro area, and there have been numerous reports of 70 to 80 mph winds in the city of Norman, Oklahoma, just south of Oklahoma City.

There have been at least three reported tornadoes — one in Minnesota, one in Maine, and one in Texas.

Softball-sized hail which is four inches in diameter has also been reported in Kansas due to evening storms.

Additionally, storms in the Northeast brought, locally, 4 inches of rain to parts of eastern Pennsylvania and southwest New Jersey on Saturday. Locally, over 3 inches of rain has been reported in parts of western New York where there have been some flash flood warnings overnight.

Power outages are being reported in several states due to the overnight severe storms including places like Oklahoma that has 103,228 people without power, Texas: with 57,055 and Illinois with 47,653.

Today, there area with the greatest risk for severe storms will be over parts of western Kansas, the Oklahoma Panhandle and Texas as well as parts of eastern Colorado and New Mexico.

Gusty storms will also be possible through parts of the southern Plains and into the Ohio and Tennessee Valley.

Tomorrow, the threat area for severe summer storms will stretch from Colorado to Minnesota, where damaging winds and large hail will be possible.

Another round of gusty storms will be possible across much of the East Coast, including Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, New York and Boston.

Meanwhile, dangerous summer heat is gripping parts of the southern U.S. and is forecast to expand over other parts of the U.S. later this week.

Roswell, New Mexico reached 111 degrees on Saturday, a new all-time record high for July.

Albuquerque reached 103 degrees, which was good enough for a daily record there.

Excessive Heat Warnings and Heat Advisories have also been issued from California to Alabama today.

Records will be possible today across nearly the entire Southwest.

Las Vegas is forecasted to hit 113 degrees, its daily record is 114.

Phoenix is going for 116, which would beat the daily record of 115 degrees.

Tucson is going for 111 degrees, which would beat the daily record of 110 degrees.

On Monday, records will be possible once again in parts of the Southwest U.S. including Phoenix, Dalhart, Amarillo and Tucson.

Meanwhile closer to the Gulf, the temperatures might not be as hot but the humidity is very high and therefore the heat index will be well over 100 degrees in some spots again on Sunday.

The heat index this morning at 4 a.m. at the New Orleans Superdome is 101 degrees. The New Orleans airport was reading a heat index of 111 degrees at 11 p.m. on Saturday night.

Today, the heat index across much of Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi will be over 100 degrees with the highest values along the Gulf of Mexico.

Over the next few days we will see the heat and humidity expand into the Midwest with temperatures rising across nearly the entire central U.S. and much of the eastern U.S.

Temperatures will head into the 90s across the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic and the humidity will be quite high as well which will result in widespread sweltering heat across much of the region in the coming days this week.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Man arrested and charged over missing Amish teenage girl who vanished last month

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iStock/ijoe84By: JON HAWORTH, ABC News

(EAST LAMPETER TOWNSHIP, Penn.) — LAA Pennsylvania man has been charged with the kidnapping of an Amish teenager who has been missing since last month and has yet to be found.

East Lampeter Township Police in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, charged 34-year-old Justo Smoker on Friday with felony kidnapping and misdemeanor false imprisonment while investigators are still actively searching for the whereabouts of 18-year-old Linda Stoltzfoos whom they believe was harmed following her abduction after she was reported missing on June 21.

“Smoker became a person of interest in the kidnapping after police received information about a red/orange vehicle seen in the Gap area on the afternoon of the abduction,” said the East Lampeter Township Police Department in a press release. “Multiple witnesses in the area reported seeing an Amish female in the passenger seat of a vehicle driven by a male. Witness descriptions of the driver and vehicle are consistent with Smoker and his vehicle.”

Stoltzfoos was reported missing on the night of June 21 by her father when she did not return from a youth group she was supposed to attend. Investigators have confirmed that she did not ever make it to the social gathering that night.

Authorities have obtained and viewed surveillance footage that shows Stoltzfoos on Beechdale Road near the community of Bird-In-Hand, which would have been her walking route back home after church, as well as a red Kia Rio involved in the abduction that fit the description of Smoker’s vehicle registration and bumper stickers.

According to the East Lampeter Township Police Department, Smoker was arrested on Friday night at the place of his employment and arraigned on Saturday morning on the two charges of felony kidnapping and misdemeanor false imprisonment.

“District Judge Joshua Keller, at arraignment, made Smoker ineligible for bail, citing the nature of charges and the ongoing investigation,” said the East Lampeter Township Police Department.

Investigators searched a rural location in Ronks, Pennsylvania, on Friday evening which is where they believe Stoltzfoos may have been taken following her abduction and authorities found articles of clothing buried in a wooded area that they believe belong to Stoltzfoos.

“East Lampeter Township police is being assisted by multiple agencies, to include the FBI, Pennsylvania State Police and Lancaster County District Attorney’s Office,” police said.

Authorities are asking for anyone with clues or information to come forward as well as people who might have seen Smoker or his red Kia Rio sedan around the time Stoltzfoos was abducted.

Stoltzfoos weighs approximately 125 pounds and is 5’10” with blue eyes and brown hair, according to the FBI’s missing person report, and was last seen wearing a tan dress, white apron and black head covering.

The FBI is now offering a reward of $10,000 for information leading to her recovery.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Coronavirus updates: Florida breaks 1-day record for new COVID-19 cases

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iStock/koto_fejaBy: JON HAWORTH and MATT ZARRELL, ABC News

(NEW YORK) — The novel coronavirus pandemic has now killed more than 566,000 people worldwide.

Over 12.7 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 or downplaying the scope of their nations’ outbreaks.

The United States has become the worst-affected country, with more than 3.2 million diagnosed cases and at least 134,830 deaths.

Latest headlines:
– Florida breaks 1-day record for new cases
– Biden campaign slams Trump for ‘politicizing’ mask-wearing for months and ‘actively discouraging’ the issue
– Nearly 600 military medical teams sent to Texas hospitals to help with COVID-19
– Several 4th of July partygoers at Michigan sandbar test positive

Here is how the news is developing today. All times Eastern.

12:15 p.m.: Arizona positivity rate remains over 20%

Arizona recorded 2,537 positive cases on Saturday, bringing the statewide total to 122,467.

The state conducted 12,170 total tests, resulting in a positivity rate of 20.8%.

There were 86 new deaths in Arizona on Saturday. The state has now recorded 2,237 total deaths since the pandemic began.

There are currently 3,432 people hospitalized in the state from COVID-19. An estimated 89% of ICU beds in Arizona remain full.

11:40 a.m.: Florida breaks 1-day record for new cases

The Florida Department of Health reported 15,300 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, making it the highest one-day total for a state in the U.S. since the pandemic began. It is nearly 4,000 more new cases than the previous record, set by New York state on April 14 with 11,571.

There were another 45 deaths reported Sunday, according to the Health Department. This brings the statewide death total to 4,346.

Some of the increase in new cases could be attributed to the amount of tests being conducted — there were 136,711 tests conducted on Saturday, the highest for the state by far.

The state reported a positivity rate of 11.2%, which is down 1.3% from Saturday.

In a press conference on Saturday, Florida Gov. DeSantis insisted his state is a leader in coronavirus testing.

“Florida had more tests yesterday than the country as a whole did in March.”

11:10 a.m.: Uptick in cases in NJ town linked to parties, mayor says

The mayor of Westfield, New Jersey, announced that a rise in cases are linked to people going to parties in the community. There were 11 new cases announced on Saturday, all of which were people between the ages of 18 and 25.

“I hope this spike serves as a reminder that we all have a responsibility to remain vigilant to mitigate community spread,” Mayor Shelley Brindle said in a statement posted on Facebook. “Wash your hands. Keep a safe distance. Wear a face covering. Working together, we can get this genie back in the bottle.”

The town has seen 28 new cases since June 30.

10:40 a.m.: New York matches previous low for new deaths

New York state reported five new deaths on Sunday, tying the record low since the pandemic began. The death total in the Empire State has now reached 24,979.

The state recorded an additional 677 cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total of positive cases to 401,706.

“New York State continues to move forward combatting COVID-19 with its phased, data-driven reopening in the face of alarming increases in cases throughout the country and in the nationwide death rate,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a statement.

State officials are monitoring a rise in cases in Rensselaer County, and may be linked to several individuals who tested positive for the coronavirus after traveling back to New York from Georgia, the governor’s office said.

10:10 a.m.: Over 7K hospitalized in Florida for COVID-19

There are 7,332 patients hospitalized in Florida for COVID-19, according to data from the state Agency for Health Care Administration.

Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Counties are the top 3 counties with hospitalizations.

Miami-Dade has 1,647 hospitalizations, Broward has 1,020 hospitalizations and Palm Beach has 605 hospitalizations.

The state reported 9,960 new coronavirus cases on Saturday and an additional 421 hospitalizations. There were also 95 deaths on Saturday, marking a one-week record with 496 confirmed COVID-19 deaths.

2:25 a.m.: Biden campaign slams Trump for ‘politicizing’ mask-wearing for months and ‘actively discouraging’ the issue

A spokesman for former vice president Joe Biden’s campaign reacted to President Trump’s decision to wear a mask during his visit to Walter Reed Medical Center on Saturday, slamming him for spending months “ignoring the advice of medical experts,” and “politicizing” mask-wearing.

“Donald Trump spent months ignoring the advice of medical experts and politicizing wearing a mask, one of the most important things we can do to prevent the spread of the virus. Rather than taking responsibility and leading, he wasted four months that Americans have been making sacrifices by stoking divisions and actively discouraging people from taking a very basic step to protect each other,” campaign spokesman Andrew Bates wrote in a statement released Saturday night.

“By contrast, Joe Biden has led by example from the start and as President will make decisions informed by science to protect the American people and defeat the virus,” he continued.

Numerous Biden staffers have taken to social media on Saturday to point out that Biden has been wearing a mask for months, and that President Trump mocked him for doing so during a Memorial Day visit to a war memorial.

“Our Adult Son President remembered not to spread or catch an infectious respiratory disease today. Is this leadership??” the Biden campaign’s Digital Director Rob Flaherty joked.

1:56 a.m.: Nearly 600 military medical teams sent to Texas hospitals to help with COVID-19

U.S. Army North confirms that 580 military medical personnel are being sent to Texas by U.S. Northern Command to assist with taking care of COVID-19 patients at civilian hospitals.

The 50 nurses and respiratory therapists who were sent to San Antonio earlier this week are part of this larger deployment. In effect, there are now six Urban Augmentation Medical Task Forces of 85 soldiers, along with 72 sailors from a Navy acute team and rapid rural response teams who will be operating in civilian hospitals in Texas.

The deployments of these teams were a big help in New York hospitals and they proved to be more useful than setting up large temporary field hospitals or sending the Navy hospital ship.

Last night Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced a military medical team deployment to Texas, but that was before the Pentagon had finished working out the details.

10:05 p.m.: Several 4th of July partygoers at Michigan sandbar test positive

Several people who attended a Fourth of July party at Torch Lake sandbar near Rapid City, Michigan, have tested positive for COVID-19, according to the Health Department of Northwest Michigan.

The popular hangout spot on Houghton Lake in northern Michigan had been flagged by police as problematic in a press release on July 8. Michigan State Police said it saw an increase of 26% in call volume over the previous 10 years at the so-called Torch Fest. Seven people were arrested for drunk and disorderly charges and nine were charged with operating while intoxicated.

Photos released by police showed hundreds of people and boats crowded into close quarters.

“If you were at the Torch Lake Sandbar party over 4th of July weekend, you should monitor for signs and symptoms of COVID-19 and seek testing if symptoms should develop or if you were at high risk for exposure due to being in close proximity with others or not wearing a cloth facial covering,” the health department said in a statement.

ABC News’ Joshua Hoyos, Scott Withers, Matthew Fuhrman, Luis Martinez, John Verhovek and Molly Nagle contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Coronavirus live updates: US Army sending medical task force to Houston

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sonreir es gratis/iStockBy WILLIAM MANSELL, ABC NEWS

(NEW YORK) — Over 12.5 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.

The United States has become the worst-affected country, with more than 3.1 million diagnosed cases and at least 134,097 deaths.

Here is how the news is developing today. All times Eastern.

2:31 p.m.: DeSantis would like to see anything else ‘in modern times’ tested like Florida is currently testing for coronavirus, he says

In a press conference Saturday, Florida Gov. DeSantis insisted his state is a leader in coronavirus testing.

“Florida had more tests yesterday than the country as a whole did in March.”

He added that he’d like to see anything else “in modern times” tested like Florida is currently testing for coronavirus.

Senate President Bill Galvano said Florida is “frankly better than most states in the union.”

The governor said the state reported 95,000 tests on Friday and that it was getting shipments of remdesivir, the anti-viral drug being used to fight COVID-19. New York Gov. Cuomo announced Friday that he was sending a shipment of the drug to Florida.

“There are definitely areas where we think we may be seeing some declining positivity [rates] and some other areas where they’re consistently 20%,” DeSantis said. “We may be seeing some decline in this part of the Tampa Bay area,” he said but said there’s more positivity in Pasco County.

“We have a much better idea now versus March about what the viruses likes versus doesn’t like,” DeSantis said.

The governor said he’s working with the White House to get more Lab Reagents in Florida. “The U.S. is testing more than any country by far and the lab resources are backed up.”

He said the state signed contracts with companies that could provide tests in 48 hours and said that’s just not happening anywhere in the country.

1:51 p.m.: Florida records 10,360 new cases

Cases continue to rise in Florida, with the Department of Health reporting 10,360 new cases, pushing the state’s total to 254,511.

There were also 95 deaths in the last 24 hours, bringing the state’s total to 4,298.

Testing has increased, with 82,737 tests being conducted.

Gov. Ron DeSantis touted the state’s testing in a press conference and said some of the cases included asymptomatic people.

1:41 p.m.: Arizona reports record high hospitalizations

There are 3,485 people currently hospitalized in Arizona due to COVID-19, a record high, according to the state’s Department of Health.

There were 3,038 new cases, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 119,930, the department reported. There were also 69 deaths, pushing that sum to 2,151.

1:19 p.m.: South Carolina sets new record of daily cases

South Carolina set a new record of daily confirmed COVID-19 cases, with 2,239, according to the state’s Department of Health.

The state’s previous record was more than 1,800 cases.

There are now 54,538 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 940 deaths in South Carolina, according to officials.

The total number of individual test results reported to the Department of Health on Friday was 10,083, with 22.2% of those being positive. The department also confirmed the first pediatric death linked to COVID-19.

12:25 p.m.: North Carolina reports more hospitalizations, another daily increase in cases

North Carolina set two somber records over the last 24 hours, with the state recording its highest number of hospitalizations and highest daily increase in cases to date.

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services reported 1,093 hospitalizations and 2,462 new cases Saturday.

“Record-high numbers like today are concerning,” NCDHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen, M.D., said in a statement. “We all have a responsibility to one another to wear a face covering, avoid crowds and wash our hands often to get our trends going back in the right direction.”

North Carolina has 83,793 confirmed cases from among more than 1.1 million tests.

11:23 a.m.: University reverses course, will be remote this fall

West Chester University, one of Pennsylvania’s largest state-owned universities, with 18,000 students, has reversed course and said it no longer plans to bring students back in the fall.

Christopher Fiorentino, the university’s president, said in a statement that learning will continue remotely through the fall semester.

“WCU cannot ignore the potential danger of bringing thousands back to campus,” Fiorentino said.

Some classes will be taught in a hybrid format, meaning both in-person and remote learning for students with clinical placements, student teachers and certain internships, according to Fiorentino.

Chester County, where WCU is located, is currently in the Green Phase of reopening, meaning that some of the university’s public buildings — a library, a recreation center, the student union — will be open but limited to 50% capacity.

“The University understands that students’ lives have been turned upside down by a relentless pandemic that continues to sweep across the globe,” Fiorentino said. “Our support for our WCU community will not waiver.”

10:19 a.m.: New York hospitalizations drop below 800 for 1st time in four months

New York recorded 799 COVID-19 hospitalizations in the last 24 hours, making it the lowest number since March 18, according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

There was also the lowest three-day average death toll since March 16, with six recorded in the last 24 hours, Cuomo said in a statement.

New York was among the hardest-hit states in the early stages of the pandemic, with New York City especially devastated.

Cuomo applauded the good news, saying New Yorkers who practiced social distancing and wore masks “are central to our ability to slow the spread and save lives.”

However, Cuomo also urged people not to become complacent.

“I urge residents to stay ‘New York tough’ and not give up the ground we’ve worked so hard to gain together, particularly in the face of rising cases throughout the country and compliance issues here at home,” he said.

8:39 a.m.: Clusters of US soldiers test positive for COVID-19 in Japan

A “few dozen” U.S. Marines stationed at two different bases in Okinawa, Japan, have tested positive for COVID-19, according to the Associated Press.

After months of no confirmed coronavirus cases, the Marine Corps said it had two clusters of soldiers who tested positive for the virus this week, according to a statement from Marine Corps Installations Pacific.

“Preserve the force. Protect our families and the community,” the statement continued.

The U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Air Force on Okinawa prefecture have now re-imposed strict limits on their personnel’s movements and activities after the new coronavirus cases appeared, according to an internal FEMA memo obtained by ABC News.

Everyone who tested positive is in self-isolation and local commanders have initiated “soft shelter-in-place” orders for Camp Hansen and Marine Corps Air Station Futenma.

All orders are in place until further notice.

Officials said cleaning the base and contact tracing are ongoing.

“As we navigate the current environment we will continue to assess the situation and provide updates as frequently as permissible. We ask everyone to follow the social distancing and health protection measures to help us #KillTheVirus,” Marine Corps Installations Pacific wrote on its Facebook page.

5:28 a.m.: Army medical task force heading to Houston as hospitals fill up

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced late Friday night that the United States Amry is sending a medical task force to Houston to help with the city’s COVID-19 battle.

The additional resources, Abbott said, include an Urban Area Medical Task Force from the U.S. Department of Defense that will arrive on Monday and a Disaster Medical Assistance Team from U.S. Health and Human Services that has just been deployed.

“Texas is grateful to the federal government as well as the President and Vice President for working swiftly to provide additional resources to the state as we work to mitigate COVID-19 and care for our fellow Texans,” Abbott said in a statement Friday. “We will continue to work with our local and federal partners to ensure all resources and needs are met throughout the state.”

Houston has seen a significant rise in coronavirus cases in recent weeks, which caused many public health officials and hospitals to issue warnings that ICU bed availability is running low. Houston’s Texas Medical Center is at 105% capacity.

The city reported 670 new diagnosed COVID-19 cases Friday, bringing Houston’s total to at least 26,682. The coronavirus death toll for the city increased by nine, which now stands at 259.

Numbers are just as jarring throughout the Lone Star State. Texas’ statewide COVID-19 death toll reached a single-day high of 105 Friday. The state had a 15.56% positivity test rate, according to an internal Federal Emergency Management Agency memo obtained by ABC News.

Nearly 14% of all new U.S. coronavirus cases in the past seven days have been identified in Texas, the memo said.

The rise in cases also led to Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner to cancel the in-person Republican Party convention in the city, prompting a lawsuit by the state GOP.

ABC News’ Josh Margolin contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

SpaceX cancels launch of dozens more Starlink satellites

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Andrei Stanescu/iStockBy CATHERINE THORBECKE, ABC NEWS

(MERRITT ISLAND, Fla.) — SpaceX scrubbed its launch of dozens of Starlink satellites Saturday from Florida’s Kennedy Space Center.

SpaceX wrote on Twitter that the mission needed “more time for checkouts” and the team was working to identify the next launch opportunity.

The launch — which was scheduled for 10:54 a.m. ET — would have been the 10th of its Starlink missions and included 57 satellites as part of Elon Musk’s goal to create a constellation of satellites that can bring high-speed internet to large, remote swaths of the globe.

It would also have carried two satellites from BlackSky, a SpaceX customer through the private firm Spaceflight.

As of Friday afternoon, the weather was a 60% go for launch, according to the Launch Mission Execution Forecast. SpaceX did not cite the weather as its reason for canceling.

The satellites were to have launched aboard a Falcon 9 rocket.

Saturday’s mission would have marked the third SpaceX Starlink satellite launch in less than two months.

The Starlink satellites previously courted controversy within the astronomical community, when many expressed fears that their brightness impeded visibility of the night sky. When the first batch launched last year, some people even reported UFO sightings, the American Astronomical Society said.

In April, SpaceX announced a series of updates, pledging to make the new batch of satellites “invisible to the naked eye within a week of launch” and darkening the satellites “so they do not saturate observatory detectors.” The company added that by June, all future Starlink satellites will have “sun visors” that will block sunlight from hitting the brightest parts of the spacecrafts.

In a statement ahead of the scheduled launch, SpaceX confirmed that “all Starlink satellites on this flight are equipped with a deployable visor to block sunlight from hitting the brightest spots of the spacecraft — a measure SpaceX has taken as part of our work with leading astronomical groups to mitigate satellite reflectivity.”

Saturday’s canceled mission also comes on the heels of the private space firm’s first manned launch in late May, when SpaceX teamed up with NASA to send astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken to the International Space Station. The historic flight sent U.S. astronauts into space on U.S. equipment and from U.S. soil for the first time in nearly a decade.

ABC News’ Ella Torres contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

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