A grim new record for COVID-19 infections, a tri-state quarantine and watch out for a massive dust cloud…

The U.S. hit the highest single day of new COVID-19 cases since April on Wednesday.
Image: People wear face masks as they arrive at the beach in Oceanside, California
People wear face masks as they arrive at the beach in Oceanside, California.Mike Blake / Reuters

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By Petra Cahill

Good morning, NBC News readers.

Coronavirus infections are accelerating across the country, the struggle for a school solution and new maps offer a glimpse of the "lost" continent.

Here's what we're watching this Thursday morning.


U.S. hits highest single day of new coronavirus cases

The U.S. saw a record number of new coronavirus cases in a single day, with 45,557 diagnoses reported Wednesday, according to a tally by NBC News.

Wednesday's cases top the previous highest daily count from April 26 — by more than 9,000 cases, according to NBC News' tracking data.

Health experts say that the resurgence in cases in Southern and Western states can be traced to Memorial Day, when many officials began loosening lockdowns and reopening businesses.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said Wednesday that "there is a massive outbreak of COVID-19 across the state of Texas,” with over 5,551 coronavirus cases on Wednesday and more than 4,000 hospital patients with COVID-19.

Anxiety is setting in for Texas hospital officials as the number of coronavirus patients has exploded in the last few days.

In an effort to preserve their hard fought gains in the battle against the spread of coronavirus, the governors of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut announced Wednesday that visitors from coronavirus hot spots will have to quarantine for 14 days if they set foot in their states.

Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Washington, Utah and Texas have high enough current infection rates to warrant this new quarantine advisory, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.

However, critics of the measure were quick to point out that demanding a 14-day quarantine is one thing, but enforcing it is another.

"The U.S. is not China. We're not going to order a military lockdown," said Dr. Sadiya Khan, an epidemiologist at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. "I'm skeptical of how these restrictions can be forced."

One person has already claimed exemption from the new measure:President Donald Trump.

The White House said Wednesday that Trump will not change his plan to travel to New Jersey this weekend despite his trip on Tuesday to Arizona, a state that has seen a spike in COVID-19 cases.

“The president of the United States is not a civilian,” White House spokesman Judd Deere said when asked about Trump’s compliance with the quarantine order.


In person? Online? A hybrid? Reopening schools will bring new struggles

With the next academic year less than three months away, and no end in sight to the coronavirus pandemic, school districts across the country face a daunting decision: Reopen the schools they shuttered, or continue to teach students remotely?

Educators across the United States are weighing their options, taking into account the quality of the education they can offer, the need for children to socialize and keeping safety in mind above all else.

So far, a hybrid model that combines some in-person learning and some remote learning has emerged as the most popular proposal for the fall, according to Dan Domenech, the executive director of AASA, The School Superintendents Association.

But with so many unknowns still, it's a gargantuan challenge.

"There’s not much time to plan, particularly when you don’t know what to plan for," said Domenech.


Three suspects indicted on murder charges in death of Ahmaud Arbery

The three suspects in the killing of Ahmaud Arbery were indicted by a Georgia grand jury on murder charges, the district attorney in Cobb County announced Wednesday.

Gregory McMichael, 64, his son Travis McMichael, 34, and their neighbor William "Roddie" Bryan, 50, all face allegations of malice and felony murder in the Feb. 23 death of Arbery.

Arbery, 25, was fatally shot in the coastal city of Brunswick, Georgia, after he was pursued by the McMichaels. His family said he was out for a jog, while the McMichaels said they thought he was a burglary suspect.

Arbery's death inspired Georgia's legislature to pass a hate crime bill Wednesday that would impose additional penalties for crimes motivated by race, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender or disability.

Listen to our Into America podcast. In the latest episode, host Trymaine Lee digs into the case for reparations.


A massive dust cloud is barreling toward the U.S. The health impacts could be deadly.

As if things weren't bad enough, a massive plume of dust from the Sahara Desert is drifting across the Atlantic Ocean and is expected to blanket parts of the Southeastern United States this week.

The enormous dust cloud — which some experts say could be the biggest and most intense Saharan plume in 50 years — could aggravate health problems, including asthma and other respiratory illnesses, and make visibility difficult on the ground.

It's not unusual for dust plumes that originate in Africa to drift thousands of miles across the ocean, but Thomas Gill, a professor of geological sciences at the University of Texas at El Paso, said this event is especially large and intense.

"A dust cloud has to be incredibly large and very thick to be that evident from the space station," Gill said. "This one literally sticks out like a sore thumb — or maybe like a dirty thumb."


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Plus


THINK about it

Phoenix rally shows how the gospel of Trump can be more attractive than the Bible, Anthea Butler, an associate professor of Religious Studies at the University of Pennsylvania writes in an opinion piece.


Live BETTER

Walking to lose weight: Does it work?


Shopping

One cookbook author's homage to the KitchenAid Artisan Series Stand Mixer.


Quote of the day

"This is the smart thing to do. We have taken our people ... through hell and back."

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy on the new quarantine rule for visitors from COVID-19 hotspots.


One fun thing

Earth's mysterious eighth continent doesn't appear on most conventional maps. That's because almost 95 percent of its land mass is submerged thousands of feet beneath the Pacific Ocean.

Zealandia is a 2 million-square-mile continent east of Australia, beneath modern-day New Zealand.

Scientists discovered the sprawling underwater mass in the 1990s, then gave it formal continent status in 2017. Still, it has remained largely unknown and poorly studied — until now.

New maps offer a detailed look at the "lost" continent of Zealandia.


Thanks for reading the Morning Rundown.

If you have any comments — likes, dislikes — drop me an email at: petra@nbcuni.com

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