June 23 coronavirus news

By Meg Wagner, Melissa Mahtani, Melissa Macaya, Mike Hayes and Veronica Rocha, CNN

Updated 4:39 PM ET, Wed June 23, 2021
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2:20 p.m. ET, June 23, 2021

Local health officials expect White House to renew federal public health emergency declaration

From CNN's Jacqueline Howard

The White House is expected to extend its declaration of a national public health emergency next month due to the coronavirus pandemic, Lori Tremmel Freeman, chief executive officer of the National Association of County and City Health Officials, told CNN on Wednesday.

In April, US Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra renewed the nation's public health emergency declaration for 90 days. The declaration expires next month, but Freeman said that the White House shared with local health officials during a call that the Biden administration is committed to extending the declaration further. 

"They are committed to ensuring that the emergency order remains in place through the end of the year — even as they recognize that the current order is about to expire in July," Freeman told CNN.

"There are a lot of things tied to that public health emergency order, including it helps states and local jurisdictions with the pandemic response, but it can be impactful to other forms of assistance like Medicaid eligibility coverage provisions that were changed under the declaration of a public health emergency order," Freeman said. "If an emergency order is lifted, some people could no longer be eligible for some of the health-related coverages that they had gotten under the emergency."


12:15 p.m. ET, June 23, 2021

Delta variant on track to make up 90% of new Covid-19 cases in Europe by late August

From CNN’s Sharon Braithwaite

The Delta variant is on track to make up 90% of new cases of Covid-19 in the European Union by the end of August, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control warned in a threat assessment published Wednesday.

The variant, first identified in India and scientifically labeled B.1.617.2, is 40% to 60% more transmissible than the Alpha variant first identified in England, the ECDC said.

A single dose of a two-dose vaccine appears to offer less protection against the variant than it would against other strains, the agency said, regardless of which vaccine is used.

Full vaccination does appear to offer nearly the same protection against the Delta variant as other variants, the threat assessment said.

Because of that transmission advantage, models suggest it will make up 70% of new European cases by early August, rising to 90% by the end of the month, the agency said.

12:15 p.m. ET, June 23, 2021

New York state of emergency will expire Thursday, will not be renewed, governor says

From CNN's Anna Sturla

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks during a press conference on June 23.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks during a press conference on June 23. State of New York

New York's state of emergency will expire on Thursday and will not be renewed, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said during a news conference on Wednesday.

CDC guidance still stays in effect, including the mask requirement for unvaccinated individuals and on public transportation, among other restrictions. Local jurisdictions are still allowed to enforce restrictions, the governor stipulated.

Cuomo recognized essential workers during the conference, while reminiscing on the chaotic days of the early pandemic.

The governor also repeatedly urged New Yorkers to get out and spend around the city as a means of stimulating the economy.

"Get out of the house!" Cuomo said. "Go experience New York. Go to a movie. Go to Radio City Music Hall!"

11:31 a.m. ET, June 23, 2021

CDC is making plans for boosters of Covid-19 vaccines, Walensky says

From CNN's Naomi Thomas

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said that while the agency is planning for boosters of Covid-19 vaccines, she doesn’t think that there will be enough data to make the decision about when they will be available during the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) meeting today.

“We, in an interagency way, are planning to boost,” Walensky said during the Milken Future of Health Summit. “Because, quite honestly, we want to make sure that if we see more disease out there we have a mechanism, we’re fully ready to combat it.” 

Speaking about Wednesday’s ACIP meeting, she said that it would be “a scientific discussion about how those decisions should be made. We are not, I don’t believe, planning on any decision about when those boosters will come.” 

No vote is scheduled during today’s ACIP meeting. 

Asked if the idea of boosters seems real, she said “I guess the question would be six months, a year, two years, how long, you know, how long will that be. It’s possible that it’ll be on the shorter end, I don’t think we’ll have the data today to make that decision. I think those discussions will be about the data we’re going to need to inform that.” 


10:54 a.m. ET, June 23, 2021

Large crowds in Tokyo protest upcoming Olympic games

With one month to go until the Tokyo 2020 Olympic games, large crowds turned out to protest, calling for the cancellation of the games. They say they're scared the games will lead to a rebound of Covid-19 cases.

CNN’s Selina Wang sent in this report from the site of the protests.

Watch below:

10:22 a.m. ET, June 23, 2021

Delta variant detected in all states but South Dakota 

From CNN’s Naomi Thomas

The Delta variant, also known as B.1.617.2 and first identified in India, has been detected in 49 states and Washington, DC, according to GISAID, an independent data sharing initiative, and the Hawaii Department of Health.

A South Dakota Department of Health spokesperson told CNN Wednesday there are no cases to report in the state at this time. 

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates Delta made up 20.6% of cases in the US in the two weeks leading up to June 19. In the region that includes South Dakota, it’s more than twice as high – 46.4%. Other states in the region are Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, Utah and Wyoming.  

10:36 a.m. ET, June 23, 2021

WHO will meet with Olympic officials this week to discuss in-person attendance

From CNN’s Virginia Langmaid

The Ariake Urban Sports Park, the main venue for cycling BMX freestyle, cycling BMX racing and skateboarding during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic games, is seen in Tokyo on June 23.
The Ariake Urban Sports Park, the main venue for cycling BMX freestyle, cycling BMX racing and skateboarding during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic games, is seen in Tokyo on June 23. Philip Fong/AFP/Getty Images

The World Health Organization will be meeting with leaders from Japan and the International Olympic Committee this week following newly announced plans for limited in-person attendance at the games, a WHO official said.

“We're following up with the IOC and with Japanese authorities we will be having another call with them and their task force this week” to consider the decision on attendance, Michael Ryan, executive director of WHO’s Health Emergencies Programme, said in a news briefing on Monday.

The meeting will address plans announced Monday morning to set a 50% in-person capacity limit at the Games, for a maximum of 10,000 spectators. 

“We will have a further meeting with them this week looking at measures from diagnosis to screening to surveillance to physical distancing, ventilation, and many other matters in relation to the Olympics themselves.”

Ryan cited falling case rates as evidence that the games may be able to proceed with in-person guests. 

“I think it is important to note, the incidence rates in Japan have fallen consistently over the last number of weeks and compare favorably with the transmission of disease and many other countries who are currently hosting major events," he said. 

9:40 a.m. ET, June 23, 2021

CDC predicts Covid-19 deaths will remain stable over next four weeks

From CNN’s Naomi Thomas

Ensemble forecasts published Wednesday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention project that newly reported Covid-19 deaths will remain stable or have an uncertain trend over the next four weeks, while the number of hospitalizations and cases will likely decrease. 

The forecasts predicts a total of 606,000 to 612,000 Covid-19 deaths by July 17. 

The previous ensemble forecast, published June 16, projected up to 613,000 deaths by July 10. 

9:37 a.m. ET, June 23, 2021

Last week saw the lowest global number of Covid-19 cases and deaths since February, WHO says 

From CNN's Naomi Thomas

Cemetery workers carry the coffin of a COVID-19 victim to be buried at Vila Formosa cemetery on June 17 in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Cemetery workers carry the coffin of a COVID-19 victim to be buried at Vila Formosa cemetery on June 17 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Rodrigo Paiva/Getty Images

The past week had the lowest number of global Covid-19 cases and deaths since February, according to the World Health Organization’s Covid-19 Weekly Epidemiological Update published Tuesday. 

Cases and deaths continue to decrease, with more than 2.5 million new cases and more than 64,000 deaths in the past week, the report says, a 6% decrease for cases and a 12% decrease for deaths compared to last week. 

“While the number of cases reported globally now exceeds 177 million, last week saw the lowest weekly case incidence since February 2021,” the update says. 

The Southeast Asian and European regions reported a decline in the number of new cases, the Americas and Western Pacific regions reported case numbers similar to the previous week and the African region recorded a “marked increase,” WHO said. 

While global mortality remains high with over 9,000 deaths reported each day over the past week, all regions excluding the Eastern Mediterranean and African Regions had a decrease in the number of new deaths reported in the past week. 

Brazil reported the highest number of new cases, followed by India, Colombia, Argentina and the Russian Federation. 

According to WHO’s update, the Alpha variant is now in 170 countries, Beta in 119, Gamma in 71 and Delta in 85. Alpha was reported in seven new countries in the past week, Beta in four, Gamma in three and Delta in six.