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Wildfires, Oregon, NFL, Los Angeles, Trump, coronavirus: The weekend’s biggest news

Editors USA TODAY

Published 5:34 PM EDT Sep 13, 2020

Wildfires scorch western United States: ‘It is apocalyptic’

America’s West is on fire and unprecedented levels of pollution are accompanying it. Almost 100 fires are raging through 12 states, driven by gusting winds that by Sunday had swept deadly flames across an area almost the size of New Jersey. At least 30 people have died — 19 in California, 10 in Oregon and one in Washington state — since a rash of fires began burning in drought conditions a month ago. No one knows yet how many homes have been destroyed.

In addition, the smoke from the blazes is posing a health hazard to millions. Oregon’s Department of Environmental Quality said the entire state was reporting unhealthy or hazardous air Saturday morning. “It is apocalyptic,” Democratic U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon said Sunday on the ABC program “This Week.” “I drove 600 miles up and down the state, and I never escaped the smoke.”

  • President Donald Trump will visit California on Monday for a briefing on the devastating wildfires that have scorched parts of the state.

AstraZeneca, Oxford resume COVID-19 vaccine trial in UK

After a brief global pause in testing, pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca and Oxford University have resumed clinical trials of their COVID-19 vaccine candidate. Clinical trials had been put on hold last week after a trial participant in the United Kingdom developed a serious neurological problem after receiving the vaccine. A standard review process triggered the study pause, the groups said, and an independent safety committee and national regulators reviewed the group’s safety data. The vaccine developers said trials would resume across all U.K. clinical trial sites, but it was not immediately clear when or if other sites would resume. 

Sally roars through Gulf, forecast to strengthen to hurricane

Tropical Storm Sally triggered evacuations in Louisiana on Sunday as the northern Gulf Coast prepared for it to make landfall overnight Monday as a Category 2 hurricane with winds near 100 mph. The developing worry for the region is the potential for Sally to slow to a crawl, bringing a long period of wind and rain. The storm comes two weeks after Hurricane Laura carved a path of destruction through Louisiana as the strongest hurricane ever to make landfall in the state. “This, when combined with the COVID-19 pandemic, can make us all weary,” Gov. John Bel Edwards tweeted. “I implore Louisianans to take their preparations seriously.”

Real quick

  • Louisville anxiously awaits a Breonna Taylor decision — and whether justice or chaos reigns.
  • Naomi Osaka rallies for a three-set win over Victoria Azarenka and her second US Open title.
  • Trump claims during Nevada campaign rally that Democrats are trying to “rig” the upcoming election: “That’s the only way we’re going to lose.”
  • Clemson football still No. 1 as Amway Coaches Poll sees major changes due to the loss of eligible teams.
  • “We are learning the hard way”: Summer parties, teacher shortages push suburban schools to scrap COVID-19 reopening plans.
  • Billionaire Michael Bloomberg plans to spend $100 million to help Joe Biden in the crucial battleground state of Florida.

Several NFL teams remain off field for national anthem

During Sunday’s early slate of NFL games, several teams remained off the field for national anthem — four years after Colin Kaepernick first knelt as a means of protesting police brutality and racial injustice. The Green Bay Packers, Philadelphia Eagles, Miami Dolphins, New York Jets, Buffalo Bills and Jacksonville Jaguars stayed off the field while “The Star-Spangled Banner” played. Before Thursday’s season kickoff game against the Kansas City Chiefs, the Houston Texans became the first team to stay in the locker room during the anthem. They also did not take the field for “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” which the NFL said would be played before every game during opening weekend.

  • Indianapolis Colts coach Frank Reich knelt during the national anthem as every other member of the Colts stood with locked arms.

Manhunt underway after 2 deputies ambushed in Los Angeles

A manhunt was underway Sunday for the gunman who shot two Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies in an apparent ambush. In a video released after the shooting, someone is seen walking up to a patrol car and opening fire before fleeing the scene. The two deputies, a 31-year-old female and a 24-year-old male, were shot multiple times and are hospitalized in critical condition. The shooting occurred hours after demonstrators gathered to protest the death of Dijon Kizzee by Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies. Kizzee, a Black man, was shot and killed by police on Aug. 31 after they attempted to stop him over an unspecified “code violation” as he rode his bicycle.

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This is a compilation of stories from across the USA TODAY Network. Contributing: Associated Press.

Published 5:34 PM EDT Sep 13, 2020

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