The decision to reopen schools "must be based on evidence," infectious disease experts say
From CNN's Jacqueline Howard
Infectious disease experts in the United States are calling for decisions on reopening schools to be "based on evidence and available resources to address risks of infection and illness" in a new statement on Friday from the Infectious Diseases Society of America and the HIV Medicine Association. "While data indicate that children are less likely to develop a serious illness due to COVID-19 and to transmit the disease, instances in which children have fallen seriously ill — including with multi-system inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) – and in which children have died, should raise concerns, given that much remains unknown about the dynamics of the new coronavirus," the statement from Dr. Thomas File, president of the Infectious Diseases Society of America, and Dr. Judith Feinberg, chair of HIV Medicine Association, said. "In addition, teachers, school administrators, and other adults critical to school operation may be more vulnerable, due to age or conditions carrying higher risks to severe COVID-19 disease and death. Flexibility must be provided for students, teachers, and staff with underlying health conditions that place them at risk for complications from COVID-19," the statement said. "Provisions for at-risk students should include distance learning only, and for their at-risk teachers, the option to provide only distance education." The statement also noted that policies for screening symptoms among students and staff should be in place prior to reopening and that plans on how to respond to the possible event of a student or staff member becoming sick. "New funding for all school systems is essential, and it must be adequate to ensure safe conditions, including appropriate physical distancing, as well as sufficient quantities of masks and other personal protective equipment, hand sanitizer, and appropriate cleaning and disinfection of classrooms and surfaces in common areas, school buses and other community forms of transportation for students," the statement said. "We will not gain control of this pandemic or successfully reopen the economy unless we protect people and public health first," the statement added. "The safety of our children, their families, teachers, and other school staff must be guiding factors in all school reopening decisions, and no school should be forced to open in a situation that presents unacceptable risks."
Michigan businesses will be required to refuse entry to people not wearing masks
From CNN's Elizabeth Hartfield
Following an increase in Covid-19 cases in Michigan, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive order on Friday requiring a face covering to be worn in all indoor public spaces across the state, and most notably, requiring businesses to refuse service or entry to anyone not wearing a covering, the governor announced in a release. Violating the order — which goes into effect at 12:01 a.m. local time on Monday — could carry a $500 penalty. Businesses are required to post signs instructing customers to wear a mask, and there are exemptions for people with medical conditions and children under the age of 5, as well as for when people are eating and drinking at a restaurant. “The heroes on the front lines of this crisis have gone hours without taking their masks off every day – doctors, nurses, child care workers, grocery store workers. We owe it to them to wear our masks when we’re on a trip to the grocery store or pharmacy,” Whitmer said in the statement.
Asymptotic transmission "clearly complicates" contact tracing and isolation, Fauci says
From CNN's Amanda Watts
Dr. Anthony Fauci said when it comes to coronavirus and its clinical manifestations, “We learn more about literally on a daily and weekly basis.” “Importantly — and this is evolved over the months, because it was not clear early on, and it's changed the way we think about transmission and control — in that about 40% to 45% of individuals infected are asymptomatic," Fauci said of coronavirus while speaking at the AIDS 2020 Conference. Fauci also said that transmission from people who are either asymptomatic or not yet showing symptoms of the virus " clearly complicates" attempts to contact trace and isolate.
Florida records second-highest day of new Covid-19 cases
From CNN's Melissa Alonso
Florida health officials on Friday reported at least 11,433 new Covid-19 cases and 93 deaths related to the virus, according to data posted on the Florida Department of Health website. The new tally comes as President Trump is making his way to Florida for a fundraiser and a briefing on drug trafficking. Today marks the second time the state's single-day tally of cases topped more than 11,000, according to CNN's count. DOH reported 11,458 cases on July 4, according to CNN's tally.
Florida secures more nurses as Covid-19 surges
From CNN's Rosa Flores, Sara Weisfeldt and Melissa Alonso
Florida officials are securing 1,000 nurses for hospitals in the state as the new surge of Covid-19 cases test Florida’s hospital system, Jared Moskowitz, Director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management (FLSERT), said in a tweet on Friday. On Thursday, FLSERT had already deployed 100 nurses to Jackson Health System in Miami-Dade County. Several more nurses were also deployed to the Bay Care hospital system in Tampa. "The nurses will allow these hospital systems to serve more patients," FLSERT said in a Thursday tweet.
Ohio mandated masks for 12 counties but does not need a statewide order, governor says
From CNN's Aditi Sangal
While masks have been a highly politicized issue on the state level in many hotspots across the US, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine has mandated masks in 12 counties where the coronavirus cases are trending upwards. However, he doesn’t think a statewide mandate is required yet. “We strongly recommend that everybody who goes in public, no matter what county they're in Ohio, they should have a mask on. But mandating it takes it to the next level,” he said. “If we could get 80% of all Ohioans who would wear a mask out in public, keep the social distance, we'll knock this thing down.” DeWine emphasized the importance of masks and social distancing in keeping the virus in control so people can continue to work and businesses can remain open.
“If this virus spikes up and people are scared, it isn't going to matter what I order or what I don't order as far as businesses are closing or not, people aren’t going to go to those businesses,” he said. On the issue of reopening schools, DeWine is allowing districts to draw out their reopening plan as well as their solution model in case there is a spike in cases, saying that he would “love to see every kid back in school.” He admitted that there may not be one simple approach to it but reiterated that it’s important to slow the spread in the coming days. “Whatever you like to do in the fall is going to depend to a great extent on what we do in the next 30 days. We've got to slow this spread down,” he said. “We have it within our power.”
Hybrid learning is the right approach, Detroit public schools superintendent says
From CNN’s Meridith Edwards
Detroit Public Schools (DPS) are scheduled to open their doors for a scheduled start of summer classes on Monday. This is the first time schools will welcome back students for face-to-face instruction since districts closed their doors in response to the pandemic. Superintendent Nikolai Vitti said he sees a “desperate demand for face-to-face learning” but stated that online learning is not the “one size fits all” approach. “The online learning wasn’t ideal and our children have fallen farther behind,” Vitti told CNN. Vitti said online instruction puts additional stress on working parents and could continue to leave behind thousands of students who don’t have the family support structure to navigate through virtual learning. Online learning caused kids to slip behind he said. The district attacked the digital divide issue with a $23 million plan. By the end of July, every DPS child in the more than 50-thousand plus student population from K-12 will have a device and internet access. “It’s important for us in Detroit to meet parents and students where they are at right now.” As a parent himself, he said he doesn’t question the concerns of teachers and parents. But he also doesn’t want to see students fall further behind. The district had more than 4,000 parents sign students up for summer school, which is all voluntary. More than half chose face-to-face instruction. In addition, they had more than 300 teachers sign up to teach in-person, and only 180 spots. “We need to be flexible and listen to what works for each family," he said. Vitti said he thinks offering both virtual and in-person instruction is the best solution. He said that opening schools is “very frustrating for superintendents and school boards across the country now because the conversation turned political and we are stuck in the middle.” He said he continues to work closely with the Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's task force. The 2020-2021 school year is still up-in-the-air but is set to begin Sept. 8. “I continue to hope that the most practical and realistic plan is offered and we will follow the direction of the Gov. Whitmer for them right safety measures.”
These are the key things to consider before reopening US schools, according to professional associations
From CNN's Naomi Thomas
Professional associations said that “educators and pediatricians share the goal of children returning safely to school this fall,” in a joint statement released Friday by the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Federation of Teachers, National Education Association and AASA, The School Superintendents Association. They said they are committed to doing everything they can so that students have this opportunity. “Returning to school is important for the healthy development and well-being of children, but we must pursue reopening in a way that is safe for all students, teachers, and staff,” the groups said, while acknowledging that science should be used to drive the decision making. They noted that decisions to reopen schools should include local school leaders, public health experts, educators, and parents, and they must take into account things including community spread of Covid-19 and the ability of schools to adopt safety protocols. “For instance, in schools in areas with high levels of Covid-19 community spread should not be compelled to reopen against the judgment of local experts,” the groups said in the statement. “A one-size-fits-all approach is not appropriate for return to school decisions.” The statement listed a number of reasons beyond education why returning to school is beneficial to students. These include learning social and emotional skills, healthy meals, and exercise, and mental health support. The statement also called on Congress and the administration to provide federal resources that schools will need to reopen. Reopening safely, they said, will require new investments in schools and campuses, and they need to “ensure that inadequate funding does not stand in the way of safely educating and caring for children in our schools.” They describe withholding funds from schools that do not open for in-person learning full-time “misguided approach,” and state that it would put schools who do not have adequate resources in a position that would threaten the health of students and teachers.
New data shows remdesivir reduces Covid-19 patients' risk of dying, but finding "requires confirmation"
From CNN Health’s John Bonifield
Drugmaker Gilead Sciences released new data on Friday that suggests the drug remdesivir can help hospitalized Covid-19 patients recover faster and reduce their risk of dying. However, the company said the mortality finding requires confirmation by clinical trials. The analysis compared 312 patients treated with remdesivir as part of a clinical trial to a separate group of 818 patients who didn't receive the antiviral drug. In the analysis, treatment with remdesivir reduced the risk of death by 62% compared to the current standard of care. The mortality rate for patients treated with remdesivir was 7.6% versus 12.5% for those not treated with the drug. The analysis also showed that 74.4% of remdesivir-treated patients recovered by 14 days compared to 59% of patients in the other group. The findings will be presented Friday as part of a Covid-19 conference at AIDS 2020, the 23rd International AIDS Conference. The data has not been published in a peer-reviewed medical journal. “While not as vigorous as a randomized controlled trial, this analysis importantly draws from a real-world setting and serves as an important adjunct to clinical trial data, adding to our collective understanding of this virus and reflecting the extraordinary pace of the ongoing pandemic," Dr. Susan Olender, Columbia University Irving Medical Center, said in the company's press release. Previously released data about remdesivir showed the drug helped coronavirus patients recover four days faster. That study suggested patients taking remdesivir might be less likely to die, but there was not a statistically significant difference between those who were treated with the drug and those who were not.
Trump's on his way to Florida. Here's the latest on the coronavirus pandemic in the state.
President Trump just left the White House, and he's making his way to Florida for a fundraiser and a briefing on drug trafficking in South America. Coronavirus cases have been surging in Florida, and the state has become one of the new epicenters of the pandemic. Here's what you need to know about the virus in the Sunshine State:
Records shattered: Florida has been reporting high numbers of new cases each day. On Saturday, the Sunshine State reported more than 11,400 new cases — the most reported in a single day, beating the previous record that was set just three days before that.
The situation around Miami: The state's coronavirus hotspot is Miami-Dade County, Florida, where ICU beds are scarce and the percent positivity rate of coronavirus cases is over 33%.
Schools to reopen: Earlier this week, Florida accounted for all "brick and mortar schools" would be required to open "at least five days per week for all students" this fall. Some teachers in the state said that decision could be deadly.
Fauci: "We've got to do some serious reaching out" to communities of color about Covid-19 vaccine
From CNN's Health Gisela Crespo
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, reiterated that efforts are underway to educate people about the importance of getting a Covid-19 vaccine when it becomes available. In an interview with the Financial Times published Friday, Fauci said he's especially concerned about communities of color that have been more vulnerable to the virus "because they’ve been mistreated by authority for a very long time.” "We’ve got to do some serious reaching out. Because the one thing you don’t want is a vaccine that protects people who are not nearly as vulnerable as the ones you want to protect,” Fauci told FT. Fauci has been vocal about the racial disparities that the pandemic has brought to light. At a hearing last month, Fauci told members of Congress that institutional racism contributes to a "double whammy" impact on African Americans, as the group is more likely to work in essential services and have a higher prevalence of underlying health conditions.
This Pennsylvania county has paused indoor dining after coronavirus cases rise
From CNN's Sheena Jones
Officials in Allegheny County — which includes Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania — have issued a temporary two-week order banning residents from eating inside restaurants and bars, a release from Health Department Director Dr. Debra Bogen said. The ban starts today. This order rescinds previous orders from June 28 and July 2, according to the release. This comes after the area saw an increase in Covid-19 cases. Restaurants are permitted to serve takeout food and alcohol and provide deliveries, the release says.
Australia approves remdesivir as country's first Covid-19 treatment
A vial of the drug remdesivir is seen during the press conference at the University Hospital Eppendorf on April 8 in Hamburg, Germany. Ulrich Perrey/Pool/AFP/Getty Images Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) announced on Friday in a statement that it had granted provisional approval to remdesivir as the first treatment option for the novel coronavirus in Australia.
“Remdesivir is the most promising treatment option so far to reduce hospitalization time for those suffering from severe coronavirus infections,” TGA said in a statement published on their website. The statement added that the drug "offers the potential to reduce the strain on Australia's health care system. By reducing recovery times patients will be able to leave hospital earlier, freeing beds for those in need.” “While this is a major milestone in Australia's struggle against the pandemic, it is important to emphasize that the product has not been shown to prevent coronavirus infection or relieve milder cases of infection,” TGA said.
The statement continued: “Australia is one of the first regulators to authorize the use of Remdesivir for the treatment of COVID-19, following on from recent approvals in European Union, Japan, and Singapore,” said the Administration adding that “international regulatory cooperation played a significant role, as the European Medicines Agency and the Singapore Health Sciences Authority generously shared their review reports with TGA at an early stage.”
Inside a California hospital battling the worst of Covid-19 on the US-Mexico border
From CNN's Kyung Lah, Julia Jones and Kim Berryman
Coronavirus is winning the battle in El Centro, California. It's in almost every patient in the hospital. Tents are being put up to handle even more cases. It's on the streets, forcing rescuers to put on protective suits and cumbersome masks before they approach people needing help. And it's not stopping. Even as nearby and faraway facilities take patients to try to ease the load, more and more sick people keep coming. And so do the deaths. The workers are exhausted. The virus is not.
Fewer than 1,000 ICU beds are available statewide in Texas
From CNN's Kay Jones
There are less than 1,000 ICU beds available throughout the state of Texas, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS). Additionally, there are 9,869 Covid-19 positive patients hospitalized in Texas. The latest chart by DSHS shows that this is a record number of hospitalizations and that they have steadily increased since mid-June. On Thursday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued a proclamation that amends his Executive Order issued in late June adding all counties in the 11 Trauma Service Areas in the state requiring suspension of all elective surgeries in hospitals. A total of 113 of the state's 254 counties fall under the Executive Order and subsequent proclamation. Texas currently has at least 230,346 cases reported, with an estimated 109,102 active cases, according to the latest numbers released by DSHS.
Note: These numbers were released by Texas Department of State Health Services, and may not line up exactly in real time with CNN’s database drawn from Johns Hopkins University and the Covid Tracking Project.
Fauci "trying to figure out" where Trump got a false claim that 99% of Covid-19 cases are "harmless"
From CNN's Gisela Crespo
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said he's "trying to figure out" where President Trump got the number behind his claim that 99% of coronavirus cases were "harmless." "I’m trying to figure out where the President got that number," Fauci said in an interview with the Financial Times, published Friday. "What I think happened is that someone told him that the general mortality is about 1%. And he interpreted, therefore, that 99% is not a problem, when that’s obviously not the case.”
About this: Last week, Trump sought to downplay the surge in Covid-19 cases by falsely claiming that testing in the US shows 99% of cases "are totally harmless." Fauci told FT he last saw Trump on June 2 at the White House, and hasn't personally briefed him in at least two months.
Texas mom found out she had coronavirus one month before giving birth to triplets
From CNN's Adrienne Vogt
Maggie Sillero was 28 weeks pregnant when she found out she had coronavirus. The Texas mom was asymptomatic, and even she said she was scared, she said she was not worried because she knew she was in great hands with her doctors and nurses. Her babies, a daughter, and two sons, are doing well. She has been able to bring her daughter home and she was told yesterday that her sons might be able to leave the hospital tomorrow. “We're so excited to have them home, finally all be reunited and finally call it a home sweet home,” Sillero said on CNN’s “New Day.” Between the time she tested positive and when she gave birth, she was isolated from the rest of her family for a month for everyone’s safety. She said she was relieved to get two negative Covid-19 tests before giving birth. Her husband did not receive his negative test in time for the birth, so he could not be in the room with her, but Sillero’s mother was able to be there with her.
San Antonio mayor on coronavirus surge: "This wildfire is now outside of the fence"
From CNN's Adrienne Vogt
San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg said he’d consider “potential alterations” such as stay-at-home orders as Texas’ coronavirus numbers rise, but he emphasized that it is now up to individuals to follow guidelines from medical experts.
“This wildfire is now outside of the fence. It’s a lot easier to prevent one than it is to start to contain one that’s already outside,” Nirenberg told CNN’s John Berman. Texas reported 105 Covid-19 related deaths on Thursday, the highest single-day increase in coronavirus fatalities, bringing the total number of deaths in the state to 2,918. Nirenberg said 35% of hospital admissions in his area are now attributed to Covid-19. “This is going from household to household, outside of the regulatory arm of any government. If people continue to have dinner parties…this is going to continue to grow and grow and grow,” he said. “So the most focused effort that we can do together is to take politics out of it, everybody gets on the same page, and realize our best tool to fight the pandemic is the same one we had in the beginning, which is a public trust, particularly in our medical experts who are giving us the right messages.” Nirenberg said there have been too many “mixed messages” from state and national leaders about the importance of wearing masks and physical distancing.
Trump will travel to Florida's Miami-Dade County today, the state's coronavirus epicenter
From CNN's Betsy Klein
President Trump is set to travel to Florida today, landing squarely in the center of a coronavirus hotspot and taxing the already limited local health resources. The President's first stops will be in Doral, where he will receive a briefing and deliver remarks at the US Southern Command and then motorcade to a church nearby to participate in a roundtable discussion with Venezuelans. Following these events, the President will attend a private fundraiser in Hillsboro Beach. He is not scheduled to participate in any events related to the coronavirus pandemic. Doral, where US Southern Command is located, is just under two miles from the President's golf club. But it is also in Miami-Dade County, which is currently experiencing a coronavirus outbreak. Officials in the county reported a staggering 33.5% Covid-19 positivity rate on Thursday, according to data released by Mayor Carlos Gimenez's office. The positivity rate — that is, the percentage of people who test positive for the virus of those overall who have been tested — is tracked daily by the county. Over the past 13 days, hospitalizations in Miami-Dade County have gone up by 76%, the number of ICU beds being used has increased by 86% and the use of ventilators has soared by 124%, according to the latest data from the county government. A presidential visit — no matter who is in office — requires a significant amount of resources, with White House officials, White House Medical Unit representatives, and US Secret Service agents traveling in advance of the president to coordinate with local officials on the ground. There is an extensive amount of medical preparation involved each time a president travels, with plans in place for the worst-case scenario.
BioNTech says its Covid-19 vaccine will be ready by end of 2020, but global immunity may take a decade
From CNN Health's Gisela Crespo
German firm BioNTech is confident it will seek regulatory approval by the end of the year for a coronavirus vaccine, the company's CEO told The Wall Street Journal in an interview conducted Wednesday and published on Friday. Dr. Ugur Sahin said that due to the spread of the virus, it could take about a decade for the world's population to achieve immunity, even if several vaccines become available at the same time. BioNTech has partnered with Pfizer in the US to develop the vaccine. “I assume that we will only be done with this virus when more than 90% of the global population will get immunity, either through infection or through a vaccine,” Sahin told the Journal. Sahin added the company could produce several hundred million doses before approval and more than 1 billion doses by the end of 2021. Last week, BioNTech and Pfizer announced that the Covid-19 vaccine in development had yielded positive data in early tests. The companies shared their preliminary findings on July 1 in a pre-print paper that shows participants in a Phase 1/2 study of the vaccine, called BNT162b1, responded to the immunization and it was found to be well tolerated. The Phase 1/2 study is ongoing and the data has not yet been published in a peer-reviewed medical journal. The preliminary data will help researchers determine a dose level for the vaccine, then select which of their multiple vaccine candidates to progress to a larger-scale global Phase 2/3 study, which could begin as early as this month, the companies said.
Schools should consider ways to stay open even as Covid-19 spreads, pediatric doctors write
From CNN Health’s Jamie Gumbrecht
Adults, not children, appear to be key to spreading the coronavirus, and schools should give “serious consideration” to strategies that allow them to stay open even when the virus is spreading, two pediatric infectious disease specialists wrote in a commentary published Friday in the medical journal Pediatrics. “Almost 6 months into the pandemic, accumulating evidence and collective experience argue that children, particularly school-aged children, are far less important drivers of SARS-CoV-2 transmission than adults,” write Drs. Benjamin Lee and William Raszka Jr. of the Larner College of Medicine at the University of Vermont. They note several small studies have found children were rarely the first person in a household to become ill, including a separate paper published Friday in Pediatrics. In that study, researchers from the University of Geneva in Switzerland found that, among 39 households where children became ill with Covid-19, children were believed to be the first case in only three households. In the 36 other households, the child developed symptoms after or at the same time as an adult in the home, “suggesting that the child was not the source of infection and that children most frequently acquire COVID-19 from adults, rather than transmitting it to them.” It’s not clear why children would be less likely to transmit the virus to adults or other children. Lee and Raszka write that children may have milder symptoms, releasing fewer infectious particles, or they may have had few opportunities to become infected in the community, as many schools closed around the same time physical distancing orders went into place. Schools, Lee and Raszka write, “maybe less important in community transmission than initially feared.” “Serious consideration should be paid toward strategies that allow schools to remain open, even during periods of COVID-19 spread,” they write. “In doing so, we could minimize the potentially profound adverse social, developmental, and health costs that our children will continue to suffer until an effective treatment or vaccine can be developed and distributed or, failing that, until we reach herd immunity.” In guidance published last month, the American Academy of Pediatrics – the publisher of Pediatrics – recommended schools start with “a goal of having students physically present in school,” but said strategies may need to be revised depending on the level of viral transmission in the school and community.
Italy will probably extend the state of emergency, says PM
From CNN's Hada Messia in Rome
Italy is likely to extend the state of emergency imposed in the country due to the coronavirus outbreak, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has said. Asked about reports that the government was considering extending the legislation until December 31, Conte said: “A decision still has to be taken, we need to consult with the cabinet ministers... it is probable that the state of emergency will be extended.” Conte would not confirm whether the government was aiming for an extension until the end of the year. Italy was one of the first European countries to be hit by the coronavirus and went into a state of emergency on January 31. The legal framework gives the government special powers to curb certain freedoms and access to additional resources to stop and contain the spread of Covid-19 and is currently valid until July 31.
More Spanish regions require the use of masks in public
From CNN's Laura Pérez Maestro and Al Goodman in Madrid
The government of Spain's western region of Extremadura is the latest to approve new rules to make the use of masks mandatory in its territory at all times in public. Starting at midnight on Saturday, "anyone in the region will have to wear a mask in public places whether they are outdoors or indoors and whether the safety distance can be maintained or not," an Extremadura government spokesman told CNN. Extremadura is in the west of Spain, bordering Portugal. The regions of Catalonia, whose capital is Barcelona, and the Balearic Islands announced similar measures earlier this week. Wearing a mask in public places at all times, with few exceptions, has been mandatory in Catalonia since Thursday. In the Balearic Islands, a prime tourist destination in the Mediterranean, the new measure will take effect on Monday. The Spanish government already requires the use of masks in public places when 1.5 meters, or 5 feet, of distance, cannot be maintained between individuals. It was among the measures to remain in effect even after the nation's three-month state of emergency confinement was lifted on June 21. Spain's 17 regional governments have the right to add their own safety rules that go further than the national standards.
China suspends imports from 23 meat producers in the US, Brazil, Germany, and the UK over coronavirus fears
From Steven Jiang and Shanshan Wang in Beijing and Isaac Yee in Hong Kong
China on Friday announced that it has suspended imports from 23 overseas meat companies in countries that include the United States, Brazil, Germany, and the United Kingdom due to coronavirus outbreaks at production facilities. “In response to the recent outbreaks of cluster infections in meat and aquatic product companies in some countries, we have taken measures to suspend imports of their products,” said Bi Kexin, director of the Import and Export Food Safety Bureau at China’s General Administration of Customs. "As you may have noticed, we have suspended imports from 23 meat producers, including Toennies in Germany, Tyson in the United States, Agra in Brazil, and Tulip in the UK,” added Bi. China had previously halted imports from a Tyson Foods plant over coronavirus fears in June, in what officials called a “cluster of Covid-19 infections among employees.”
WHO head slams "lack of leadership" and makes an emotional call for global unity as cases mount
From CNN's Rob Picheta
The director-general of the World Health Organization has condemned a "lack of leadership" in fighting the coronavirus pandemic and made an emotional plea for global unity, as cases soar in multiple countries and the world struggles to contain the devastating virus more than six months after it was first identified. "My friends, make no mistake: The greatest threat we face now is not the virus itself," Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a passionate speech in Geneva on Thursday. "Rather, it's the lack of leadership and solidarity at the global and national levels." His intervention will be seen as a thinly veiled swipe at leaders including US President Donald Trump, who has waged a public battle against WHO while failing to suppress the world's worst Covid-19 outbreak in his own country. "This is a tragedy that is forcing us to miss many of our friends, losing many lives. We cannot defeat this pandemic as a divided world," Tedros said, his voice trembling as he spoke.
What we know about Covid-19 risks to school-age children
From CNN's Faith Karimi
As coronavirus cases spike across the US, most parents are wondering whether it's safe to send their children back to school. But with most of the research and testing geared toward adults, the answer is complicated. US President Donald Trump has ramped up pressure on officials to reopen schools, saying decisions to remain closed are motivated by politics. But while some parents are eager to get back to some sort of normalcy, others are fearful their children might get exposed to infections. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued steps to keep children safe when schools reopen, including placing desks six feet apart, ensuring children wear face coverings, and the closure of communal areas like dining rooms and playgrounds.
Here's what we know about the risks to children:
Children are not immune to coronavirus: Children also test positive for coronavirus - there's no question about that. And while they don't get as sick as adults, they can still become dangerously ill, experts say.
Their symptoms can differ from adults: In the US and the UK, hospitalized children between ages 2 and 15 had a condition doctors called multisystem inflammatory syndrome. Many of the children tested positive for Covid-19 or had its antibodies but they didn't necessarily have typical coronavirus symptoms such as respiratory distress. Their symptoms included a high temperature along with a rash, swollen neck glands, hands and feet, dry cracked lips, and redness in both eyes.
Research focused on children is limited: "Covid-19 is so new that we don't have nearly enough research on it for adults, let alone for children," said Elizabeth Cohen, CNN's senior medical correspondent. "We can't say definitively that the risks of them returning to school are minimal."
US Marine in Australia tests positive for coronavirus
From CNN’s Angus Watson in Sydney, Australia
A United States Marine tested positive for Covid-19 at Robertson Barracks in Darwin, Australia on July 8, according to the Australian Defence Department. The Marine was tested on arrival into Darwin before entering quarantine on the barracks. His positive test was announced in a July 10 statement from the department. “The Marine was due to take part in this year’s Marine Rotational Force-Darwin (MRF-D) visit,” the statement reads. “Due to the strict procedures put in place before the arrival of the Marines, the Marine has had no direct contact with the general community,” the statement reads. “All US personnel who arrived with the US Marine and may have interacted with the individual will continue to be monitored during their mandatory 14-day quarantine.” Speaking on Friday Northern Territory Health Minister Natasha Fyles said the Marine is “in the process of being transferred from Robertson Barracks here to Royal Darwin Hospital where they will be cared for.” “The information is still going through to United States authorities, noting the time difference.”
Hong Kong confirms 38 new coronavirus cases, as schools across the city will shut next week
From Isaac Yee and Anna Kam in Hong Kong
Hong Kong confirmed 38 new coronavirus cases on Friday as the number of confirmed locally transmitted infections continues to rise in the city. Of the newly confirmed cases, 32 were locally transmitted infections according to Dr. Chang Shuk-kwan of the Centre for Health Protection (CHP). Chuang warned that “there is a possibility of a community outbreak" in Shui Chuen O public housing estate, as 11 of the new cases are linked to a cluster there. The announcement of the new cases comes shortly after the Hong Kong government announced that all schools will shut on Monday in a bid to slow the spread of the virus. Authorities in Hong Kong, a city lauded for its quick and effective response to the pandemic, warned earlier this week of potential "exponential growth" in new Covid-19 cases after the surge in local transmissions in the global financial center. Of 34 locally transmitted cases reported Thursday, most were linked to elderly care homes, some were linked to previous cases and a small number were linked to taxi drivers, according to Chuang. "It is possible there could be a major outbreak," Chuang said Wednesday. "There could be a sudden exponential growth of cases." The CHP also announced the tightening of social distancing measures Thursday, to deal with the fresh outbreak.
Florida county reports 33.5% positivity rate
From CNN’s Rosa Flores and Sara Weisfeldt
Officials in Florida's Miami-Dade County reported a staggering 33.5% Covid-19 positivity rate on Thursday, according to data released by Mayor Carlos Gimenez's office. The positivity rate -- that is, the percentage of people who test positive for the virus of those overall who have been tested -- is tracked daily by the county. Gimenez's office has said the goal is to not exceed a positivity rate of 10%. The county has exceeded the 18% mark for the past 14 days. The current 14-day average is 24%, the data shows. Over the past 13 days, hospitalizations in Miami-Dade County have gone up by 76%, the number of ICU beds being used has increased by 86% and the use of ventilators has soared by 124%, according to the latest data from the county government.
Some context: As more and more people are being tested, the focus is shifting to the positivity rate -- how many of those tested are actually infected. A lot of officials, including Gimenez, point to a rising positivity rate to counter arguments that the increase in case numbers is simply the result of more people being tested.
From the front lines, Black nurses battle twin pandemics of racism and coronavirus
From CNN's Salma Abdelaziz
Nurse Efe Obiakor stood at the front of the crowd, looking up proudly as her 18-year-old daughter Ada took center stage at a Black Lives Matter rally in central London. "Let's use this opportunity to have a community heal," Ada told protesters as they poured into a sunny Hyde Park. Obiakor was there to support her daughter, the lead organizer behind the June 20 anti-racism demonstration, but also to advocate for herself. "As a Black nurse, it's very important for me to come out today because in the system where I work, and in the NHS as a whole, there is racism," Obiakor explained. A practice nurse with 12 years' experience, Obiakor, from London, says she has long faced discrimination and harassment in the UK's public health care system, known as the National Health Service (NHS). And she's not alone. CNN interviewed a dozen Black nurses across the UK's healthcare sector. From students to medics with decades of experience, they work in different roles and different settings -- hospitals, care homes and clinics -- up and down the country. They all say they have experienced racism in the workplace -- and that it has gotten worse amid the coronavirus outbreak.
Kazakhstan denies Chinese reports of a new pneumonia more deadly than Covid-19
From Joanna Lillis in Almaty, Kazakhstan and CNN's Isaac Yee and Angus Watson
Authorities in Kazakhstan have denied a report published by Chinese officials that the country is experiencing an outbreak of "unknown pneumonia" potentially deadlier than the novel coronavirus. On Thursday, the Chinese Embassy in Kazakhstan issued a warning to citizens living in the Central Asian country that the pneumonia had killed more than 1,700 people. "Kazakhstani Health Department and other agencies are conducting comparative research and have not defined the nature of the pneumonia virus," the statement said. New cases of unidentified pneumonia have been increasing significantly since mid-June across the country, said the embassy, adding that in some places, authorities are reporting hundreds of new cases a day. In a statement later on Friday, the Kazakhstan health ministry acknowledged the presence of "viral pneumonias of unspecified etiology," but denied that the outbreak was new or unknown. "In response to these reports, the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Kazakhstan officially declares that this information does not correspond to reality," the statement read. It added the "unspecified" pneumonia classification followed World Health Organization guidelines "for the registration of pneumonia when the coronavirus infection is diagnosed clinically or epidemiologically but is not confirmed by laboratory testing." According to the embassy, the rise was concentrated in the regions of Atyrau, Aktobe, and Shymkent, which together have almost 500 new cases and more than 30 critically ill patients. The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Friday that Beijing needed more information from Kazakh authorities. "For the specifics, I will refer you to the relevant authorities in Kazakhstan, we would also like to get more information,” a spokesperson said Friday.
Pathologist found blood clots in "almost every organ" during autopsies on Covid-19 patients
From CNN's Ralph Ellis and Andrea Kane
Autopsies on people who died of the coronavirus are helping doctors understand how the disease affects the body - and one of the most remarkable findings concerned blood clotting, a pathologist says. Dr. Amy Rapkiewicz, the chairman of the department of pathology at NYU Langone Medical Center, spoke to Erin Burnett on OutFront Thursday night. Some Covid-19 patients are known to develop blood clotting issues, but the degree and the extent to which that occurs was described as "dramatic" by Rapkiewicz. In the early stages of the pandemic, bedside clinicians noticed a lot of blood clotting "in lines and various large vessels," she said. "What we saw at autopsy was sort of an extension of that," she said. "The clotting was not only in the large vessels but also in the smaller vessels. "And this was dramatic, because though we might have expected it in the lungs, we found it in almost every organ that we looked at in our autopsy study," she said. Rapkiewicz's study outlining her findings was published at the end of June in The Lancet journal EClinicalMedicine.
Hong Kong to suspend all schools following a surge in locally transmitted cases
From CNN's Vanessa Chan
Hong Kong announced Friday the suspension of all schools in the city, following a surge in locally transmitted coronavirus cases. “Due to the growth of confirmed COVID-19 cases, some parents are concerned about the hygiene of [schools]," said Secretary of Education Kevin Yeung. "After consideration and listening to expert’s advice, we decided that all kindergarten, primary school, secondary school can start the summer holiday [early] from next Monday,” he said. Summer holiday for public school students was originally scheduled to begin in late July. The announcement comes after Hong Kong reported 42 coronavirus cases on Thursday, including 34 locally transmitted infections. The Hong Kong government has tightened social distancing measures in a bid to contain a fresh outbreak. Ben Cowling, a professor of epidemiology at the University of Hong Kong, said on Twitter that the "effective reproductive number" -- the average number of people each coronavirus carrier goes on to infect -- for local infections is now close to 3, which will take "a lot of effort to bring down." That number was estimated to be around 2 during the previous wave of the outbreak in late March, Cowling said.
Seven prisoners with coronavirus died at San Quentin and hundreds more are dying in US jails
From CNN's Nicole Chavez
California Governor Gavin Newsom is facing mounting pressure to release inmates as corrections officials scramble to contain coronavirus outbreaks at state prisons. The cluster at San Quentin State Prison, where more than half of the Covid-19 cases in state prisons have been reported, has claimed the lives of at least seven incarcerated people, according to a tally from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. "It is incredibly frustrating that we had one person make the decision to transfer a few patients from one prison, Chino, into San Quentin," Newsom said Thursday in a news conference. "That decision created a chain of events that we are now addressing and dealing with. I'm not here to sugarcoat that." The prison had escaped the early months of the pandemic unscathed until cases began soaring in late May after a transfer of detainees from the California Institution for Men in Chino. Several advocates and lawmakers gathered outside San Quentin on Thursday, calling for the release of medically vulnerable and older detainees. "California has not had an execution since 2006, yet six people from my understanding in the past few weeks have been executed by Covid while on death row," said Adnan Khan, executive director for Re: store Justice, a criminal justice reform advocacy group. Authorities in California have been releasing prisoners who are close to finishing their sentences since March due to the pandemic. In San Quentin, more than 500 detainees have been released due to both expedited and natural releases, the CDCR has said. Inside prison and jails, the pandemic couldn't feel more palpable as detainees were forced to live, work and eat in close quarters. Correctional facilities across the country have become major hotspots for the virus in the past months and San Quentin is just the latest.
Chinese officials warn of 'unknown pneumonia' in Kazakhstan that is potentially deadlier than coronavirus
From CNN's Jessie Yeung, Philip Wang and Martin Goillandeau
A new "unknown pneumonia" that is potentially deadlier than the novel coronavirus has reportedly killed more than 1,700 people this year in the Central Asian country of Kazakhstan, according to a warning issued by Chinese officials Thursday. "Kazakhstani Health Department and other agencies are conducting comparative research and have not defined the nature of the pneumonia virus," said the Chinese Embassy in Kazakhstan in a statement to its citizens there. New cases of unidentified pneumonia have been increasing significantly since mid-June across the country, said the embassy, adding that in some places, authorities are reporting hundreds of new cases a day. The rise has so far been concentrated in the regions of Atyrau, Aktobe, and Shymkent, which together have almost 500 new cases and more than 30 critically ill patients, said the embassy statement, citing local media. The disease has killed 1,772 people this year, some of whom were Chinese citizens, according to the embassy. 628 of those deaths took place in June alone.
"This disease is much deadlier than Covid-19," said the statement. The number of pneumonia cases in the capital city Nursultan has more than doubled this June from the same time last year, according to Kazakhstan's prominent news agency Kazinform, which cited official data. "Up to 200 people are admitted to hospitals every day. Over the last few days, some 300 people diagnosed with pneumonia were taken to hospitals a day. Besides some receive treatment at home," said the head of the Nursultan healthcare department, Kazinform reported. CNN has been unable to independently verify the Chinese Embassy report and has reached out to Kazakhstan's Ministry of Healthcare for further details.
US Forces personnel based in Okinawa face increased coronavirus restrictions
From CNN's Brad Lendon in Hong Kong
A day after announcing a new Covid-19 outbreak in one of its bases on Okinawa, the US Marine Corps is imposing new restrictions on its thousands of personnel on the Japanese island. Effective immediately, the Marine Forces Japan said its personnel may not use non-military public transportation; go to any off-base establishment that does not provide an essential service such as a grocery store, medical office, bank or gas station; or dine in any off base restaurant - although take out will still be allowed. “These changes are motivated by the current spread of COVID-19 and have been implemented to protect our forces, our families, and the local community,” a statement from Marine Forces Japan said. A day earlier, the service said several personnel on Camp Butler on the island had been diagnosed with Covid-19. That personnel are now in isolation, the Marines said. “We are taking all prudent measures to prevent the further spread of COVID-19,” a statement said. The Marines did not give specific numbers on the Covid-19 cases, citing US Defense Department guidelines and national security concerns. About 19,000 Marines are on Okinawa.
India continues to see record single-day jump in new coronavirus cases
From CNN's Manveena Suri in New Delhi
India recorded 26,506 new coronavirus cases Thursday -- its largest single-day total to date, its health ministry announced Friday. The total number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in India now stands at 793,802, with 21,604 deaths, according to the ministry. So far, a total of 495,512 people have recovered from the virus. Despite soaring cases, the health ministry insisted Thursday that there was no evidence of sustained community transmission of coronavirus across the country. At a press briefing on Thursday, Rajesh Bhushan, a senior health ministry official, said that the spread of coronavirus cases is currently under control, with the number of recovered cases exceeding the number of active cases.