Foodborne illness investigations have slowed and food recalls have plummeted because of disruptions in the U.S. food safety system caused by the coronavirus, a USA TODAY investigation found. The pandemic struck the system at every level – from the federal agencies tasked with stopping contaminated food before it leaves farms and factories to the state health departments that test sick residents for foodborne illnesses such as E. coli. Experts say there is no evidence yet of resulting widespread health issues, but food safety advocates say Americans are now more at risk.

“We have so many different safeguards built into our system, and one by one COVID is knocking pieces out,” said Sarah Sorscher, deputy director of regulatory affairs at the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

– Kyle Bagenstose

 

NYC Mayor de Blasio unveils effort to combat form of Kawasaki disease

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio has announced a plan to test all kids with symptoms of a rare inflammatory condition for coronavirus and its antibodies. Thirty-eight city children are suffering from the symptoms and one has died, he said. Statewide, three young people have died and more than 80 have or are experiencing fever, rash, abdominal pain and vomiting linked to a form of Kawasaki disease, authorities say. Almost all have tested positive for coronavirus or the antibodies that reflect exposure to the virus.

A health alert was being sent to the city's public school parents, and child enrichment centers were being urged to increase enforcement of face coverings, masks and hand sanitizer, de Blasio said.

"To every parent out there: Early detection is the key to fighting this," de Blasio said. "It can be treated. If you see these symptoms, take them seriously and act immediately."

 

Trump administration reportedly to accuse China of hacking vaccine data

The Trump administration is reportedly planning to accuse China of attempting to hack information from U.S. researchers scrambling to develop a coronavirus vaccine. Federal officials believe hackers are exploiting the pandemic and searching for "valuable intellectual property and public health data through illicit means related to vaccines, treatments and testing," The New York Times reports. A draft of the warning expected to be released within the next few days by the FBI and Homeland Security delves into cybertheft and action by ]"'nontraditional actors" – researchers and students allegedly tapped to steal data from inside academic and private laboratories, the Times reports.. The Wall Street Journal published a similar report.

 

Blue Angels, Thunderbirds plan more flyovers to honor front-line workers

As part of a tribute to front-line workers fighting the coronavirus, the U.S. Navy Blue Angels and the Air Force Thunderbirds will fly over five cities this week.

The Blue Angels will visit the skies over Detroit, Chicago and Indianapolis on Tuesday, and the Thunderbirds will fly over Austin and San Antonio on Wednesday.

The flyovers are part of a Pentagon plan to fly over nearly three dozen major American cities. Both groups have already conducted joint and separate flyovers in cities including Miami, New York City, Philadelphia, New Orleans and Dallas.

 

States reopening: Alabama, Arizona, South Carolina to reopen restaurants

The start of the new week will bring significant steps toward normalcy across the U.S. Alabama, Arizona and South Carolina will permit dine-in service with occupancy restrictions at restaurants, New Hampshire will allow hair salons, barbershops, retail stores and drive-in movie theaters to open again for business, and Arkansas will allow dental offices to reopen.

Also, Minnesota will allow dentists, doctors and veterinarians to resume elective surgeries. Find out the latest news in your state.

 

National Park Service tests access in Utah, preps visitors for 'new normal'

After closing amid the coronavirus pandemic, the National Park Service is testing public access at several parks across the nation, including two in Utah, with limited offerings and services.

Visitor centers and campgrounds remain largely shuttered at Bryce Canyon and Capitol Reef national parks, but visitors are welcome at some of the sites.

Acting Park Service Director David Vela said visitors should steel themselves for a “new normal” that will not likely square with their last trip.

 

Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander to self-quarantine for 14 days

Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander will self-quarantine for 14 days after a member of his staff tested positive for COVID-19. The 79-year-old Republican is doing well and has no symptoms of the respiratory illness, according to a Sunday night statement from his office. He tested negative for COVID-19 last week.

– Anna Celia Gallegos, The Tennessean