Photo: Patrick Smith/Getty Images

High school baseball and softball returned to Iowa on Monday, the first sanctioned high school sports to return since the coronavirus pandemic shut down sports in March.

Details: Practices have resumed with a long list of safety guidelines, including temperature checks, no use of the dugout and the required sanitizing of shared equipment after use.

  • The backdrop: As of 11 p.m. ET Monday evening, Iowa had over 19,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 555 deaths.
  • What's next: Games can start June 15.

What they're saying:

  • "Think about how many times a ballplayer touches their face," Jean Berger, executive director of the Iowa High School Girls Athletic Union, told ESPN. "They spit. They chew seed. ... We have to retrain. This is the summer of being a mom for us — Don't touch your face, go wash your hands."
  • "We're happy to be back, especially for our seniors," Hoover softball coach Melissa Helm told the Des Moines Register. "Honestly, I was a little bit surprised that they made the decision to do this, just with everything else going on and the fact that we didn't even finish the school year."

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Updated Oct 16, 2020 - Health

U.S. coronavirus updates

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Data: The COVID Tracking Project; Note: Does not include probable deaths from New York City; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

The U.S. surpassed 8 million coronavirus cases on Friday, per Johns Hopkins data.

The big picture: Coronavirus infections jumped by almost 17% over the past week as the number of new cases across the country increased in 38 states and Washington, D.C., according to a seven-day average tracked by Axios.

Opposition leader Leopoldo López flees Venezuela

Venezuelan opposition politician Leopoldo López outside the Spanish embassy in Caracas, in 2019. Photo: Juan Barreto/AFP via Getty Images

Leopoldo López, a former political prisoner and prominent Venezuelan opposition leader, has left the country, his Popular Will party confirmed in a statement Saturday.

Why it matters: He's been an influential force in the push to oust President Nicolás Maduro's regime and a mentor to opposition leader Juan Guaidó. He'd been in the Spanish ambassador's Caracas residence since escaping house arrest in April 2019 following a failed military uprising.