Amtrak warns of further job cuts as it plans to reduce train services
From CNN's Greg Wallace
Amtrak is warning of another round of job cuts as it pares back train service amid a stubbornly slow recovery and said it does not plan to ask Congress for enough money to preserve jobs. An executive at the rail network wrote to employees that it plans to run many of the long-distance routes less frequently, saving the rail network $150 million in costs. A copy of the message was obtained by CNN. Executive Vice President Roger Harris did not quantify the job losses, but said the company “will work quickly to determine what staffing reductions or furloughs will occur.” The passenger railroad service does not plan to ask Congress for additional funds to save those jobs, nor the 20% company-wide furloughs announced in May, spokesperson Kimberly Woods told CNN on Tuesday. Amtrak has requested more than $3.5 billion from Congress this year, including a special $1.47 billion request to help with coronavirus-related costs and losses. Woods said Amtrak is “in the planning phase” and has not determined if the long-distance job cuts will be in addition to the 20% reductions. In the memo, Harris wrote: “Congress is not going to support us indefinitely to run mostly empty trains. We need to demonstrate that we are using our resources efficiently and responsibly.” Amtrak’s 15 long-distance routes stretch as long as the 2,400 mile California Zephyr line, running from Chicago to the San Francisco area. It used to run that route – and one other – daily, but plans to reduce service on most lines to three times weekly. “As the economy begins to reopen, demand remains down more than 70%,” Woods told CNN. “We forecast a slow recovery and expect systemwide ridership in FY21 to be half of what it was in 2019.”
Employee unions call for Congress' help: The Amtrak employee unions, however, are asking Congress to chip in to save those jobs. A coalition of 14 unions wrote to Congress on Friday requesting $350 million for Amtrak to prevent the layoffs. They warned the rail line will “use the pandemic as an excuse to permanently and artificially cut its workforce, eliminate or reduce routes and on-board or other customer services, or replace furloughed Amtrak employees with outsourced contractors.” Amtrak recently turned 49 and said before the pandemic, it was on track for its first profitable year.
Sao Paulo state reports the highest number of Covid-19 deaths and cases in a 24-hour period
From CNN’s Rebekah Riess
Sao Paulo state health authorities reported 8,825 new cases of novel coronavirus on Tuesday — the highest number reported cases in a 24-hour period so far. It brings the state's total number of coronavirus cases to 190,285. Sao Paulo also recorded the highest number of daily fatalities with 365 in the past 24 hours, bringing the state's death toll to 11,132 as of Tuesday afternoon, according to health authorities. Joao Gabbardo, an executive coordinator for the state's response task force, said during a news conference on Tuesday that the increase of deaths may have occurred due to the spread of the virus to municipalities in the interior of the state where no cases had been reported. The record number of new cases and deaths come as several cities in Sao Paulo relaxed their social isolation measures last week.
US government is exploring 14 Covid-19 vaccine candidates and plans to narrow the list to 7
From CNN Health’s Wes Bruer
The US government is exploring 14 Covid-19 vaccine candidates out of more than 100 currently in development worldwide, with plans to narrow the list to about seven before further testing, senior Trump administration officials said during a telephone briefing on Tuesday. Large-scale, randomized trials would then be conducted with the most promising candidates from those seven. How they will decide on the seven is an ongoing discussion but the criteria will be those that are safest, most effective, and technologies that lend themselves to faster manufacturing to scale.
More on the vaccine candidates: Some of the 14 vaccine candidate options are already in clinical trials with US government support. The senior administration officials did not specify which 14 candidates are being considered, but some vaccine candidates have been previously identified receiving government support. In March, the US Department of Health and Human Services announced $456 million in funds for Johnson & Johnson’s candidate vaccine, with phase one clinical trials set to begin this summer. The following month, HHS made around $483 million available to Moderna in support of its candidate vaccine, which began phase one trials on March 16 and received a fast-track designation from US Food and Drug Administration, which makes it eligible for “accelerated approval” and “priority review” and ensures frequent communication with the FDA throughout the approval process. And in May, HHS announced more than a billion dollars in support of AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine candidate, being developed in conjunction with the University of Oxford, along with a pledge to eventually make 300 million doses available to the United States with the first ones being delivered as early as October. The senior administration officials cautioned that it is not 100% certain a viable vaccine will come from the 14 candidates, and there is a chance that if one is developed it could be better suited to certain demographics. But the government is taking as many steps as possible to ensure a safe and effective vaccine by January, officials said. If and when a vaccine is developed, officials said they do not expect to vaccinate all Americans initially and certain groups will be prioritized.
Airport temperature checks should be done by medical professionals, not TSA officers, union official says
From CNN's Greg Wallace
A top union official said Tuesday he believes because Transportation Security Administration officers are “not medical professionals,” they should not be responsible for conducting temperature screenings of travelers at airports. “I think that this is a task that needs to be assigned to a medical professional and not a TSO officer,” Everett Kelley, national president of the American Federation of Government Employees, testified at a House Homeland Security subcommittee hearing. “They do an outstanding job at making sure that the public fly safely, but I don’t know how well they would fare if they had to become medical professionals.” CNN reported in May that TSA officials were developing a plan to have checkpoint officers screen travelers for fevers, but thus far, that plan has not come into fruition. Airlines have urged the agency to handle that responsibility. Around 19,000 TSA employees are members of AFGE Council 100.
Pennsylvania reports 33 more coronavirus deaths
From CNN's Melanie Schuman
Pennsylvania is reporting another 362 cases of coronavirus for a total of 79,483, according to a news release from the state's Department of Health. There have also been an additional 33 deaths attributed to the virus for a total of 6,276. An additional 630 have positive serology tests, which the state considers as probable, but not confirmed cases.
New Jersey reports 51 more coronavirus deaths
From CNN's Elizabeth Hartfield
New Jersey reported 51 new deaths on Tuesday, Gov. Phil Murphy announced in his daily presser. The statewide death total in New Jersey is now 12,727. Nearly half of those deaths — 6,020 – have been in long-term care facilities. New Jersey reported 470 new cases of coronavirus on Tuesday, bringing the statewide total to 167,426 cases, Murphy said. The governor said there are also positive indicators in the state as well. New cases continue to trend down, the governor said. New Jersey is currently ranked 32nd in the US in new Covid-19 cases reported per day.
Philadelphia hasn't seen a spike in Covid-19 cases due to protests, health department says
From CNN’s Alec Snyder
Philadelphia has not seen a spike in coronavirus cases since protests began in the city, the Department of Public Health said in a statement today. The health department reported there was an increase in the number of people getting tested recently.
Here's a statement from a health department spokesperson: "The Philadelphia Department of Public Health has not seen an increase in the number of COVID-19 coronavirus cases due to recent protests thus far. We have, however, seen an increase in the number of people getting tested, which the Health Department encourages everyone who may have been exposed to COVID, including at a protest, to get tested. (Health Commissioner) Dr. (Thomas) Farley reported that fewer than 6% of the tests completed recently came back as positive, which is the lowest we’ve seen."
Steroid can save 1 in 8 patients for $50, Oxford University study says
From CNN's Schams Elwazer, Jacqueline Howard and Mia Alberti
The steroid dexamethasone can save one life for every eight patients treated for Covid-19, with the whole treatment only costing around $50 dollars, one of the leaders of the Oxford University study said Tuesday at the UK government briefing. “The drug itself is very widely available. It’s on almost every pharmacy shelf in every hospital, it’s available throughout the world and it’s extremely cheap,” according to Peter Hornby, professor of Emerging Infectious Diseases and Global Health at the University of Oxford. “If we treat eight patients in intensive care with this drug, we’ll save one life. And the total cost of treating all eight patients is only about 40 [British] pounds – so this is really really remarkable and we’re extremely pleased with this result,” Hornby said, standing alongside British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Hornby said that when administered to ventilated Covid-19 patients over ten days, it reduces the risk of death by about 35%. Describing dexamethasone as an “old drug – some people would say it’s a boring drug,” Hornby said the drug had different effects on different groups. “In ventilated patients with Covid-19 the drug dexamethasone – so 10 days of treatment with that which is tablet or injection – it reduces the risk of death by about 35%. In patients on the ward who require oxygen and have Covid, it reduces the risk of death by about 20%. That covers about 75% of patients in the hospital who would receive a mortality benefit from using this drug,” Hornby said standing alongside Johnson.
Hilton will cut thousands of corporate roles globally
From CNN’s Alison Kosik
Hilton Worldwide Holdings announced it is cutting 2,100 corporate employees, as the hospitality company deals with “unprecedented challenges for the travel and tourism industry.” The company also said it is extending previously announced furloughs, reduced hours, and corporate pay cuts for up to an additional 90 days.
“Never in Hilton’s 101-year history has our industry faced a global crisis that brings travel to a virtual standstill," Hilton’s President and CEO Christopher Nassetta said in a statement.
Nassetta said he’s devastated that in order to protect the business “we have been forced to take actions that directly impact our team members.” The hotel industry has taken a massive hit because of stay-at-home orders during the pandemic. Data from hospitality analytics company STR found that only 21.6% of hotel rooms in the US were occupied between March 29 and April 4. The data shows occupancy levels have improved since then, but that “year over year declines remain significant.”
More staff needed to support US-Mexico border, official says
From CNN's Naomi Thomas
More trained staff are needed to detect Covid-19 and implement protocols at the US-Mexico border, said Dr. Ciro Ugarte, director of Health Emergencies at the Pan American Health Organization. Speaking during a briefing on Tuesday, PAHO said it and other organizations have been training staff so that they are better able to put these protocols into place – but it’s not enough. “We do have protocols for the management and prevention of cases, but this is highly difficult because of the lack of trained staff,” Ugarte said. “We have seen a constant flow of people going back to Mexico, because of them wanting to go back, but also because we have had some cases of forced returns,” Ugarte said. There has also been a call to increase surveillance at the border “to better respond from a medical point of view,” he said.
Fauci calls on Americans to be responsible during the pandemic: “We are all in this together"
From CNN Health’s Amanda Watts
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, is calling on Americans to be responsible, as lockdown measures are lifted across the United States. Speaking to NPR’s 1A program on Tuesday, Fauci said some people think, “'Oh, what the heck? I just want to go to a crowded place and go to a bar and go into a restaurant and not adhere to the recommendations — no big deal.’ Well, you know, in the big picture of things, it is a big deal because you're contributing to a risk of a very serious disease.” “And Covid-19 is a serious disease,” he added. Fauci said there is often a feeling, especially in the younger generation, that coronavirus isn’t a serious disease. “That really is unfortunate because, first of all, there are serious consequences. … You're part of a process that could then spread it to people who are vulnerable.” Fauci urged Americans need to think about “your responsibility to society in general.”
“Because we are all in this together,” he said. “This is a global pandemic.” Fauci warned the US has to continue to protect ourselves, because the concept of herd immunity isn’t going to help us yet. “We are not anywhere close, by any means, to herd immunity,” he said. “The bottom line is, you've got to protect yourself. You cannot depend on quote this herd immunity -- which is the reason why I and others keep emphasizing: Avoid crowds, wear masks, wash your hands, do the things that would protect you from getting exposed to the virus," Fauci said.
US-Canada border to remain closed until at least July 21, Trudeau says
From CNN’s Paula Newton in Ottawa
Canada announced Tuesday that by mutual agreement, the US-Canada border will remain closed to all but essential travel until at least July 21. “This is an important decision that will keep people in both of our countries safe,” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said during a news conference in Ottawa Tuesday. The border has been closed since March 21, and the closures have been extended three times. Under the arrangement, essential workers — such as truck drivers, healthcare providers, and aircrews — may still cross the border, but others are prohibited from discretionary travel, including most family visits.
New York reports the lowest number of Covid-19 hospitalizations, governor says
While some other states have seen an upward trend in hospitalizations, New York state reported its lowest number of Covid-19 hospitalizations since the pandemic started in the state, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a news conference today. Total Covid-19 hospitalizations fell to 1,538 yesterday, the lowest since March 20, Cuomo tweeted. He also said that the three-day rolling average of Covid-19 fatalities is also at a a new record low at 24. The state reported 25 deaths on June 15. "The facts in New York are really, really good, and I am so proud of what the people in this state have done," Cuomo said.
New York hospitals can now allow visitors, governor says
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said hospitals across the state can now allow visitors as coronavirus numbers continue to improve. "The numbers look very good," he said at a news conference. "We're going to allow hospitals to accept visitors at their discretion." Cuomo said that if a hospital chooses to allow visitors, those guests must follow state guidelines, including wearing personal protective equipment and being subject to symptom checks. The visits may be time-limited. Cuomo also added that group homes can allow visitors to start on Friday if they follow similar guidelines.
US Open will be held in New York City without fans, governor says
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced today that the US Open tennis tournament will be held in Queens from August 31 to September 13. He said the event will be held without fans, but it will be televised.
Fauci doesn’t see global efforts to find vaccine as a “race of who gets there first”
From CNN Health’s Amanda Watts)
Dr. Anthony Fauci says he hopes many countries around the world are successful in finding a coronavirus vaccine. “This is not a race of who gets there first,” he said. Speaking to NPR’s 1A program on Tuesday, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said, “I would love there to be more than one, two or three vaccines, including China getting a vaccine, and we get a vaccine, and some of the European countries get a vaccine.” Fauci said that for a vaccine to be successful, it has to be available globally. “The more companies that have successful vaccines, the better off we are. I don't see this as a race in which there is one winner,” Fauci said. The United States’ efforts are “moving very quickly,” he said. “And I might emphasize, not at the experience of safety, nor compromising any of the scientific integrity of the study.” Fauci said there is no guarantee that a vaccine is going to be effective. “Certainly we would not have a vaccine given to anyone if it's not safe, and if it's not effective,” he said. But Fauci is hoping “to get to the point where you can make a determination if it's effective likely, by the end of this calendar year and the beginning of 2020. So, the vaccine does show itself to be safe and effective, we may get doses that are available for people by the very end of this year, and the beginning of the first few months of 2021.”
LPGA to resume season in July
From CNN's Wayne Sterling
The Ladies Professional Golf Association Tour announced Tuesday that the 2020 season will resume with back-to-back events in Ohio. A new tournament, the LPGA Drive On Championship, will take place from July 31 until August 2 at Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio. It will feature a field of 144 players competing for a $1 million purse and will take place without sponsors, pro-ams, or spectators. The next tournament will be the Marathon LPGA Classic, one of the longest-running events on the LPGA Tour. It will be held at Highland Meadows Golf Club in Sylvania, Ohio, August 6 through August 9, with spectators.
Fauci says protesters should "wear a mask consistently"
From CNN Health’s Amanda Watts
Dr. Anthony Fauci said when it comes to protests during a pandemic, the best advice is “don’t gather in crowds,” but added, “If you are going to, please wear a mask consistently. Keep it on. Don't take it off.” “That is really an important issue — namely the social injustices that we're seeing towards minorities, particularly African Americans, including the violence against them," the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases told NPR’s 1A program. But he added that demonstrations themselves put protesters and others at risk. “When you look at some of the visuals on the TV — of the demonstrations when people get animated — they start shouting, they start chanting, they pull their mask off. Don’t do that," he said. “Please wear a mask, but keep the mask on all the time,” he said.
NYC could enter phase 2 of reopening on June 22 if indicators and state deem it ready, mayor says
From CNN's Kristina Sgueglia
New York City will be ready for phase two of reopening on June 22 if the indicators and the discussions with the state indicate “we’re ready to go,” Mayor Bill De Blasio said in a news conference today. Phase two is tentatively booked for June 22, though the mayor said earlier he believes it will take a bit longer than that. Phase two allows for a wider range of businesses to continue to reopen under Covid-19 guidelines, including retail businesses and offices. Malls, specifically any indoor common portions of retail shopping malls with 100,000 or more square feet of retail space available for lease, must remain closed to the public Large gathering and event venues, including but not limited to establishments that host concerts, conferences, or other in-person performances or presentations in front of an in-person audience, must also remain closed to the public. When asked later in the news conference about the next reopening phase, the mayor said "we want to know what that has resulted in terms of the spread of the disease, or maybe it hasn’t, we don’t know that answer yet cause not enough time has passed.” “We need more information,” he said. The decision to enter the next phase or wait more time will be made alongside the state on June 22. The mayor said he likes to keep expectations low and points to the beginning of July.
NYC mayor says he intends to get Covid-19 test
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said he intends to get a Covid-19 test “because I have asked all New Yorkers to get one.” “I’ll follow my own guidance, and I’ll make sure to get one too," he said. De Blasio, who took a sick day yesterday, said he feels fine today. He said he thinks he had a "24 hour kind of thing," which caused him to clear his schedule.
Fauci hasn’t spoken to Trump in 2 weeks
From CNN’s Amanda Watts
Dr. Anthony Fauci said he last spoke to President Trump two weeks ago. “Not last week, but the week before. I spoke with him when we made the presentation to explain to him our vaccine development efforts,” Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said while speaking to NPR’s 1A program on Tuesday, “So it was two weeks ago," he added.
Remember: Even as cases rise, an administration official familiar with discussions inside the coronavirus task force told CNN the panel remains sidelined and muzzled. Key members — such as Fauci along with Dr. Deborah Birx and Robert Redfield — are now far less visible than they were during the early weeks of the pandemic. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, requested a briefing next week from top administration public health officials, including Fauci and Birx, on recent coronavirus spikes in states around the country. "As the President continues to fixate on the stock market and Senate Republicans are ready to prematurely declare victory, we need to wrest the focus back to these crucial issues," Schumer said last week on the Senate floor.
Passengers are more cautious about flying now than they were in April, the survey shows
From CNN's Eoin McSweeney and Chris Liakos
Only 45% of passengers intend to fly within two months of the pandemic subsiding, compared to 61% in early April, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said on Tuesday. According to a survey carried out by IATA, overall bookings are down 82% on 2019 levels, and demand for long-haul travel remains close to zero. Normally, airlines would have sold 14% off tickets for winter at this point in the year but IATA said passengers are booking tickets much closer to the date of departure. “Airlines in the Northern hemisphere rely on a strong summer season and a predictable booking curve to get them through the lean months. But neither of these conditions are in place and airlines will need continued help from governments to survive a hard winter,” Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO, said. As travel in Europe is restarting IATA, expressed again the need for an extension of the slot waiver into the winter season to give “fragile” airlines the flexibility they need to focus on meeting passenger demand as it evolves. The association also called for Covid-19 testing government collaboration, emphasizing it is by far a preferred alternative to quarantine measures. “We have seen a few countries, like Iceland, implement testing on arrival as an alternative to quarantine. The point to emphasize here is that testing before departure would be much more efficient. It would keep people who test positive completely out of the travel system. The challenge, however, is for governments to work together so that testing data from the departure location is accepted by the arrival state,” said de Juniac.
NYC mayor says Covid-19 contact tracers are tracking more than 4,000 cases
From CNN's Kristina Sgueglia
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said today that the city's team of Covid-19 contact tracers has begun tracking approximately 4,300 cases. Over the summer, de Blasio said, they will build capacity to trace potentially 250,000 people. The trace core was launched on June 1. Dr. Ted Long, executive director of the Test and Trace core, said more than 1,000 have been assigned as a resource navigator to assist with food delivery and medications. The team is working on closing the gap for individuals that they do not have phone numbers and contact information for.
Latest on Covid-19 indicators: The mayor also said all of the city's Covid-19 indicators are below desired thresholds. “These are the kind of indicators we want to see,” he said. The daily number of people admitted to hospitals with suspected Covid-19 is at 52, well under the 200 person threshold The daily number of people in ICU’s is at 334, under the 375 threshold. The daily percentage of people who tested positive for Covid-19 is at 2%, under the 15% threshold.
People under the age of 20 are half as likely to contract Covid-19, researchers estimate
From CNN Health’s Naomi Thomas
People under 20 years old are estimated to be about half as susceptible to the Covid-19 infection as those aged 20 or over, according to a new modeling study published Tuesday in the journal Nature Medicine. The research, conducted by Nicholas Davies, Rosalind Eggo, and colleagues at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, used transmission models to estimate disease susceptibility and the relation of age to cases. The researchers estimate that clinical symptoms manifest in around 21% of 10- to 19-year olds. This estimate rises to around 69% in people aged 70 or over. They write that children could be less susceptible to catching Covid-19 from contact with an infected person and could experience less severe disease. The authors said more research is needed into transmission caused by asymptomatic infections, but interventions to curb transmission that are aimed at children might have only a relatively small impact – especially if the transmission from asymptomatic infections is low. “Direct evidence for decreased susceptibility to SARS-CoV-2 in children has been mixed, but if true could result in lower transmission in the population overall,” the study says. Countries with lower average population age could have fewer cases of Covid-19 per capita, the study said. “If the number of infections or cases depends strongly on the role of children, countries with different age distributions could exhibit substantially different epidemic profiles and overall impact of Covid-19 epidemics,” the study says.
At least 18 US states report an upward trend in coronavirus cases
From CNN's Madeline Holcombe
The United States could see more than 200,000 deaths from Covid-19 by October 1, a closely watched model predicted Monday as states continue to reopen. Though many states are seeing improved conditions, the pandemic has not yet reached its conclusion. The projection comes as 18 states are still seeing an upward trend in new cases. "Increased mobility and premature relaxation of social distancing led to more infections, and we see it in Florida, Arizona, and other states," said Ali Mokdad, one of the creators of the model from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington. "This means more projected deaths." Although daily death rates are expected to drop in June and July, the model forecasts a second hike in deaths through September, culminating in 201,129 by October 1. The model's certainty decreases the further out in time it projects. Projections such as the one from the IHME, as well as metrics on infections and hospitalizations, are important as states decide how to proceed. Looking at the infection rates currently, Dr. Anthony Fauci told British newspaper The Telegraph, it will likely be months before life can return to normal again.
How US states are trending:
18 states trending upward in newly reported cases from one week to the next: California, Oregon, Nevada, Arizona, Montana, Wyoming, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Alaska, and Hawaii.
10 states are seeing steady numbers of newly reported cases: Washington, Utah, South Dakota, Kansas, Iowa, Tennessee, Ohio, West Virginia, Maine, and Rhode Island.
22 states with a downward trend: Idaho, Colorado, New Mexico, Nebraska, North Dakota, Minnesota, Missouri, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Delaware.
Pence suggests they're looking at another Trump Tulsa rally venue following Covid-19 concerns
From CNN's Betsy Klein
Vice President Mike Pence was pressed by Fox News hosts today on why the campaign couldn't host its Saturday Tulsa rally at an outdoor venue, given the spread of coronavirus through aerosols in enclosed spaces. He suggested that it was a possibility. “You raise a good point and what I can tell you is it’s all a work in progress and we’ve had such an overwhelming response that we’re also looking at another venue. We’re also looking at outside activities and I know the campaign team will keep people informed as that goes forward,” Pence said, reiterating that there will be temperature screenings, hand sanitizer, and masks provided for people attending. But, as CNN has reported, attendees will not be required to wear a mask. Trump has notably declined to wear a mask in public. The Tulsa Health Department said in a statement obtained Sunday by CNN that it is "concerned about the safety of any large gathering of people in enclosed spaces where social distancing is difficult to maintain." The Trump campaign has said that more than one million people have registered to attend the rally. The RSVPs are not tickets, and a ticket is not required for admission. Entry into the rally is first come, first serve. Pence also noted that he spoke with Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt Monday night. “It really is time, Ainsley, for us to begin this campaign. The President wants to be out, he wants to be connecting to our supporters. Literally over a million people have signed up to try and obtain the opportunity to come and attend the rally,” he said. He continued, “The freedom of speech, the right to peacefully assemble is enshrined in the First Amendment of the Constitution and the President and I are very confident that we’re going to be able to restart these rallies to tell the story of what the President has done thorough these unprecedented times but also over the last three and a half years.”
US stocks surge on stimulus hopes
From CNN’s Anneken Tappe
US stocks opened sharply higher on Tuesday, boosted by hopes for more fiscal and monetary stimulus, as well as a rebound in the economy. US retail sales soared in May, beating economists’ expectations and shoring up hopes that the reopening of the economy could bring the bounce-back investors had hoped for. The Federal Reserve launched it's Main Street Liquidity Program Monday, which will help small and medium-sized businesses. The central bank also announced it would begin to buy corporate bonds. Meanwhile, investors are growing hopeful that the Trump administration could unveil an infrastructure spending plan.
Here's how the markets opened:
The Dow opened 818 points, or 3.2%, higher.
The S&P 500 climbed 2.7%.
The Nasdaq Composite opened up 2.3%.
Steroid reduces the risk of dying in sickest coronavirus patients, preliminary study results suggest
From CNN Health's Jacqueline Howard
The widely available steroid drug dexamethasone may be key in helping to treat the sickest Covid-19 patients in the hospital who require ventilation or oxygen, according to researchers in the United Kingdom. Their findings are preliminary, still being compiled, and have not been published in a peer-reviewed journal — but one outside expert called this a "breakthrough." The two lead investigators of the Recovery Trial, a large UK-based trial investigating potential Covid-19 treatments, announced to reporters in a virtual press conference on Tuesday that a low-dose regimen of dexamethasone for 10 days was found to reduce the risk of death by a third among hospitalized patients requiring ventilation in the trial. "That’s a highly statistically significant result," Martin Landray, deputy chief investigator of the trial and a professor at the University of Oxford, said on Tuesday. "This is a completely compelling result. If one looks at the patients who did not require ventilators but were on oxygen, there was also a significant risk reduction of about one-fifth," Landray said. "However, we didn’t see any benefit in those patients who were in hospital, had Covid, but whose lungs were working sufficiently well -- they were not taking either oxygen or on ventilators." Landray added that "there are outstanding questions" and people treating Covid-19 at home should not be taking dexamethasone on the back of these results. "We have not studied patients in the community," Landray said. "We show no effect in the patients who are not on oxygen and we did not study the patients who are not in hospital."
About the trial: The dexamethasone arm of the Recovery Trial — which closed last week and researchers are now compiling its data — including about 2,100 hospitalized Covid-19 patients who were randomized to receive dexamethasone and about 4,300 hospitalized Covid-19 patients who were randomized to receive the usual standard of care at their hospitals. In the trial, dexamethasone was provided at a dose of 6mg once a day for up to 10 days, administered either as an injection or taken orally. The researchers reported no serious adverse events among the patients taking dexamethasone, but the results are preliminary. "At this stage, we found no clear adverse effects of doing this. Let’s recognize that there are sort of two messages here. In the people who required oxygen or ventilation, it clearly works, and the benefits are biggest for those on ventilators. In the people in hospital with Covid who do not require oxygen -- so, their lungs are working moderately well -- then actually there’s no benefit," Landray said on Tuesday.
He continued: "In the trial, our focus was on mortality, which obviously a drug can affect in either direction, but the overall results in the patients on oxygen and ventilation was a clear, clear benefit. We’ve looked, for example, were there deaths due to other forms of infection, which are sometimes considered a risk? And the answer is no, there was no excess of any other particular cause of death."
Harvard drops standardized test required for admission to the class of 2025
From CNN's Laura Ly
Harvard is dropping its standardized testing requirement for applicants to the undergraduate class of 2025 due to challenges created by the Covid-19 pandemic. “We understand that the COVID-19 pandemic has created insurmountable challenges in scheduling tests for all students, particularly those from modest economic backgrounds, and we believe this temporary change addresses these challenges,” a statement on the college’s website reads. The school also said that students who are limited in the activities they can participate in, and students who are only able to present pass/fail grades for the spring semester due to the pandemic will not be disadvantaged in the application process.
Some background: Throughout the pandemic, an increasing number of universities have announced they are dropping the SAT and ACT requirement for fall 2021 admissions in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Last month, the University of California announced it is suspending ACT and SAT tests as an admissions requirement until 2024.
Spain announces billions in spending to help the economy recover after Covid-19 lockdowns
From CNN's Tim Lister and Al Goodman in Spain
The Spanish government has announced details of further public spending to kick-start the economy, after more than three months of severe restrictions due to the coronavirus. At a news conference Tuesday in Madrid, government chief spokeswoman María Jesús Montero announced that some 16 billion euros ($17 billion) would be disbursed to Spain's 17 regional governments over the next few months, beginning in July. She described it as "the largest transfer of resources ever made to regions."
How the money will be dispersed, according to Montero:
At least 9 billion euros will go to the health sector, to add staff and increase capacity to handle any new outbreaks of the coronavirus
5 billion will aim to compensate people for the loss of income
2 billion euros will go to education. Part of the education spending will be to improve online teaching, including the purchase of 500,000 computers and tablets for schools
The government has also approved a final installment of 15.5 billion euros in state credit guarantees to companies and the self-employed, focusing on the tourism and car industries. This would be in addition to the 69 billion euros already provided in financing guarantees to the Spanish business. Montero also said the government would announce an ambitious plan to revive Spain's vital tourism sector later this week. Spain plans to relax quarantine requirements for European visitors starting on July 1, but whether that will apply for British visitors is still unclear because of the UK's own requirement that visitors, including Spaniards, self-quarantine for two weeks on arrival. The Minister of Industry, Commerce and Tourism, María Reyes Maroto told the news conference that the new experiment this week of having a "secure air corridor" between the Balearic Islands — which include Majorca, Menorca, and Ibiza — and Germany was "proving very useful from a security point of view to test the protocols [to prevent the spread of Covid-19."] Despite the government spending, which will take public borrowing well above 100% of GDP, Spain's central bank is forecasting a deep recession this year. Last week it predicted the economy would shrink between 9% and 11.6% in 2020.
US retail sales surged 17.7% in May, crushing estimates
From CNN’s Nathaniel Meyersohn
America's retail sales surged 17.7% in May, as shoppers headed back to newly reopened stores that had closed their doors for months. The increase was far better than economists had expected. Industry sales in May were expected to climb 8% from April, according to consensus estimates from Refinitiv.
UK government announces Covid-19 "summer food fund" for children following Manchester United star's campaign
From CNN's Stephanie Halasz
The UK government has reversed its decision to not extend free school meal vouchers throughout the summer holidays. The announcement comes after a prominent English football player criticized the UK over a lack of free meals for children over the summer. Britain provides free school meal vouchers for low-income families but the program was due to finish at the end of the current academic year in July. Manchester United and England star Marcus Rashford had pleaded with lawmakers to extend the scheme through the summer for low-income families. A spokesperson for UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Tuesday that there would now be a so-called summer food fund. The spokesperson added that Johnson understood the issues families were facing during the pandemic and that the expected costs for the fund were expected to be around 120 million pounds (about $152 million). Johnson initially rejected the idea. Rashford then wrote to lawmakers urging them to "put their rivalries aside" and make a U-turn as many families continue to struggle with the economic impact of the coronavirus. Following up on the open letter he published Monday, Rashford wrote an article in The Times newspaper asking MPs to "help us break the cycle of hardship" of child poverty in the UK. Downing Street's comments were first reported by Reuters and confirmed by CNN.
Most UCLA classes will be online this fall
From CNN's Stella Chan
Only 15 to 20% of fall classes at the University of California Los Angeles will be offered on-site or in a hybrid format, the university announced Monday. The courses include those that would be difficult to offer remotely including labs, performing arts, and clinical health classes. The majority of the classes will be online only.
Here are other changes the school is making:
The residence halls will house a limited number of students, and some rooms will be designated for quarantine.
The university will aim to offer housing to as many first-year students as feasible; some of these offers will be determined by lottery.
Physical distancing, “de-densifying classrooms and other spaces,” and frequent cleaning of facilities are among infection-control procedures.
Face coverings are recommended while on campus.
Daily symptom checks will be required for everyone coming to campus or living in campus housing.
Testing and contact-tracing protocols for Covid-19 will also be in place.
“The health of our students, staff, and faculty is of paramount importance and guides our planning process,” Emily Carter, the university's executive vice chancellor and provost, said in a release. “As previously announced, the UCLA COVID-19 Future Planning Task Force has been hard at work, identifying options and recommendations for the fall. I appreciate their thoughtful work, the options they presented, and their recommendations.”
Hong Kong will allow gatherings of up to 50 people this week
From Isaac Yee and Phoebe Lai in Hong Kong
Hong Kong will allow groups of up to 50 people to gather starting on Friday as coronavirus restrictions in the city continue to be eased by the government. “The Executive Council has decided that the group size for gatherings can be relaxed to 50 persons at the most, it will come into effect at midnight on the 19th of June,” said Professor Sophia Chan, the Secretary for Food and Health on Tuesday. She added that “We have considered the latest public health risks, we have also tried to strike a balance on economic needs and public expectation on resuming social activities as soon as possible.” Chan said the government is also lifting the limit on the number of customers allowed per table inside catering and restaurant businesses. Chan stressed that restaurants will still need to follow certain rules, such as ensuring tables are at least 1.5 meters apart. “Under the suppress and lift strategy, we are now in the lift stage, if the epidemic remains stable, and where public health risks permit, we will try to relax the measures as far as possible," Chan said. The relaxed restrictions will be in effect for two weeks starting on Friday and will cover July 1, the 23rd anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover, a day where large scale protests and rallies are usually held.
It's just past 1 p.m. in London and 8 a.m. in New York. Here's the latest on the pandemic.
The novel coronavirus has infected more than 8 million people worldwide and killed at least 437,000. Here's what you need to know: Beijing extends lockdowns as coronavirus spreads: Health officials in China's capital have disinfected more than 30,000 restaurants and sealed off several residential neighborhoods as Beijing aims to contain a surge in cases. German tracing app goes live: The warning app can tell users when they are near other people who have tested positive with coronavirus. But Germany has not made using the app mandatory, with many citizens skeptical over privacy concerns. More than 52,000 dead in UK: At least 52,110 have died with Covid-19 in the country, according to UK statistics bodies. The number of weekly deaths does appear to be falling across the nation. MLB players test positive: Several Major League Baseball players have contracted coronavirus according to a letter leaked to USA Today. The news has emerged as negotiations continue between players and the league on baseball's return.
African countries are still waiting for a surge in Covid-19 cases. Some health experts question whether it will happen
From CNN's David McKenzie and Brent Swails
On January 28, at around one in the morning, Dr. John Nkengasong's cellphone rang in Addis Ababa. Nigerian officials told Nkengasong, the Director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), that a recently arrived Italian businessman had tested positive for Covid-19. He later recovered. But the force of infection, mostly coming from Europe, seeded the virus in countries throughout the continent, say, health officials. As imported cases increased, and community transmission began, the World Health Organization began sounding the alarm in press conferences and statements about an unfolding crisis on the continent. They said Covid-19 patients could quickly overwhelm the weak health infrastructure. Melinda Gates, in an interview with CNN, went even further in April -- predicting that there would be bodies on the streets. CDC Africa and WHO officials say that the warnings were important. Very little was, and still is, known about Covid-19 and nations needed to urgently prepare. But nearly five months on, across Africa, those catastrophic scenarios just haven't happened.
Several Major League Baseball players and team staff have tested positive for Covid-19, says report
Several Major League Baseball (MLB) players and team staff have tested positive for Covid-19, according to USA Today. It is unknown how many players or staff have tested positive, or which teams have been impacted. The news of the positive tests was released in a letter obtained by USA Today sent from MLB’s Deputy Commissioner Dan Halem to Player’s Association attorney Bruce Meyer, as the two sides work to come up with a formal agreement to get the players back onto the field, to salvage at least some of the season.
The proliferation of COVID-19 outbreaks around the country over the last week, and the fact that we already know of several 40-man roster players and staff who have tested positive, has increased the risks associated with commencing spring training in the next few weeks," Halem wrote.
The two sides are trying to hammer out complicated issues like player compensation, quarantine measures for players, and the number of games to be played. Several players have taken to social media to publicly question the leaking of the letter. Negotiations between the two sides have taken a turn for the worse in recent days. Washington Nationals pitcher Sean Doolittle tweeted Monday: "First, I hope everyone is feeling ok and recovering well. But the timing of this leak is suspicious and it feels really gross." New York Mets first baseman Pete Alonso added: "It’s almost as if they planned it." Chicago Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo wrote: "Good timing."
Spain tests out Covid-19 precautions for schools reopening in September
From CNN's Atika Shubert
Most of Spain's schools will remain closed until September but the country is trying out a new normal for some students ahead of the autumn. The Colegio Virgen de Europa in Madrid is one of the few schools opening their doors to pupils -- with only a week left of classes -- cautiously testing new coronavirus precautions. Kids are checked for masks and fevers at the school gate. Classes begin and end with a thorough handwashing and disinfecting of desks and chairs. Students are allowed to take their masks off in the classroom as long as they sit two meters apart. The same goes for the teachers, who have all been tested and cleared of the virus
“I think kids get a sense of security in rules and repetition,” explained Sarah O’Halloran, a coordinator at the school. “This routine that has become the new normal is something they are comfortable with."
Classes are smaller. Coming to school is still optional. So, in the class we visited, half the students were learning by video conference. The other half sat at their desks, masks neatly folded into plastic envelopes. Most importantly, the classes stick together, minimizing interaction with other groups and grades. In hallways, masked students walk single file following taped arrows on the floor to ensure physical distancing. “If we should have a case in our school, we would then know which and how many [students] came into contact. So, we limit interaction with other classes as much as possible,” says O’Halloran. Sarah O’Halloran, a coordinator at Colegio Virgen de Europa. Atika Shubert It’s tough on kids though. The hardest part, says fourth-grader Ellana, is not being able to reach out and touch your friends.
“We can’t give hugs,” she told CNN through a black and white flowered mask. “We can’t play sports that we share things, like football.” But just how much of a risk is opening schools? “I believe the risk of reopening schools is not very high. Quite the contrary. The benefits of reopening for parent and child are very high.” Andrea Buron of the Spanish Society of Epidemiology told CNN in a video interview. “Children are at a low risk of catching the disease as well as spreading the disease.” But O’Halloran has some advice for parents and kids who can’t wait to get back to school. “Time is important," she said. “Learning the new rules is going to take a bit more time and patience.”
Germany's coronavirus warning app goes live
From CNN's Stephanie Halasz
The German government's coronavirus warning app has gone live. The app uses Bluetooth technology and is designed to measure whether cell phone users have breached a 2-meter proximity for a long period of time. If a user has tested positive and shared that information with the app, it will inform other users nearby of their diagnosis. But for the app to succeed, Germany's government will have to overcome a widespread reluctance to share data with authorities. The country has not made using the app mandatory for its citizens. Officials have also said that contact information will not be shared centrally, a point of concern for Germans with privacy concerns over the technology.