July 15 coronavirus news

By Melissa Mahtani, Melissa Macaya, Meg Wagner, Fernando Alfonso III and Veronica Rocha, CNN

Updated 8:15 PM ET, Thu July 15, 2021
28 Posts
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8:01 p.m. ET, July 15, 2021

L.A. County will reinstate mask mandate as Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations rise

From CNN’s Sarah Moon

People wear face masks at an outdoor mall in Los Angeles on June 11.
People wear face masks at an outdoor mall in Los Angeles on June 11. (Damian Dovarganes/AP/File)

Los Angeles County will reinstate its mask mandate regardless of vaccination status starting 11:59 p.m. Saturday night amid a rise in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations. 

The new health officer order will require masking indoors regardless of vaccination status, Los Angeles County Health Officer Dr. Muntu Davis said in a news conference Thursday. 

The daily test positivity rate in Los Angeles County has risen to 3.75%, an increase from 1.2% on June 15. 

The county has seen more than 1,000 new coronavirus cases each day for the past seven days, an alarming new rise as the Delta variant spreads, Davis said.

“We’re at a substantial level of community transmission and we can’t wait for this to go higher,” Davis said Thursday, announcing a new mask mandate. “Once we’re at a higher level, that will be too late.”

He explained that the county was at a low level of transmission when it reopened last month. 

“We’re in a different situation,” Davis emphasized. “This is not the same situation as it was June 15.”

Los Angeles County reported 1,537 new cases on Thursday, an 83% increase over the last week.  

“Anything is on the table if things continue to get worse,” Davis said in response to a question about whether the county would consider more restrictions. 

The new health officer order, which requires the use of masks indoors regardless of vaccination status, will add that extra layer of protection where the risk is higher, he said.

The county is urging all residents to get vaccinated and has launched mobile clinics for easier access. 

Los Angeles County has administered more than 10.7 million doses of the vaccine and over five million residents are fully vaccinated, according to Davis.

6:12 p.m. ET, July 15, 2021

Biden says he'll soon answer questions about European travel ban

From CNN's Kevin Liptak

President Joe Biden and German Chancellor Angela Merkel hold a joint press conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC, on July 15.
President Joe Biden and German Chancellor Angela Merkel hold a joint press conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC, on July 15. (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

President Biden says he'll soon be able to answer persistent questions about travel to the US from Europe after German Chancellor Angela Merkel raised the matter in the Oval office.

Biden said he brought in members of his Covid team when Merkel raised the question during their bilateral talks.

"It's in process now," Biden said, adding he'd be "able to answer that question...in the next several days." 

While Europe eased restrictions for American travelers last month, the US has maintained strict travel restrictions put in place under former President Trump. Officials have said the spread of the Delta variant has put a hold on reopening to country to Europe.

Merkel said she'd received similar assurances from Biden in their meeting that he was looking into the matter.

"Before such a decision one has to reflect," Merkel said through a translator. "It's not sensible to have to take it back after only a few days."

She said she had "every confidence in the American Covid team."

5:31 p.m. ET, July 15, 2021

Positive Covid-19 tests within Yankees forces MLB to postpone today's game versus Red Sox

From CNN's David Close

Boston Red Sox players take batting practice at Yankee Stadium on July 15 in New York.
Boston Red Sox players take batting practice at Yankee Stadium on July 15 in New York. (Frank Franklin II/AP)

Tonight’s New York Yankees home game versus the Boston Red Sox has been postponed due to positive Covid-19 tests within the Yankees organization, according to Major League Baseball (MLB).

The Red Sox-Yankees game was the lone MLB game on tonight's schedule following the annual All-Star Game break.

Read the MLB's full statement:

"Following positive COVID-19 tests within the New York Yankees organization, tonight’s game between the Yankees and the Boston Red Sox at Yankee Stadium has been postponed to allow for continued testing and contact tracing. Major League Baseball will continue to provide scheduling updates as available."

4:56 p.m. ET, July 15, 2021

All colleges and universities in Rhode Island require Covid-19 vaccinations for students

From CNN's Jacqueline Howard

Rhode Island has become the first state where all public and private colleges and universities require their students to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 before returning to campus this fall, Gov. Dan McKee announced this week.

"Thank you to our institutions for taking proactive steps to keep our communities safe," McKee tweeted Tuesday.

Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott, Rhode Island's health director, said in the state's news release that vaccinations are "key" to having a successful academic year.

"We cannot let our guard down now," Scott said. "The Delta variant is now circulating in parts of the country where many of our students live. The good news is that the vaccines provide protection against this variant. Anyone who has not been vaccinated should get vaccinated today."

The schools include:

  • Brown University
  • Bryant University
  • Community College of Rhode Island
  • Johnson & Wales University
  • New England Institute of Technology
  • Providence College
  • Rhode Island College
  • Rhode Island School of Design
  • Roger Williams University
  • Salve Regina University
  • University of Rhode Island

5:00 p.m. ET, July 15, 2021

Nearly 100% of people tested positive for Covid-19 antibodies after second vaccine shot, study shows

From CNN’s Sarah Dean

A healthcare professional draws up a dose of Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine at Thornton Little Theatre in Thornton-Cleveleys, England, on January 29.
A healthcare professional draws up a dose of Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine at Thornton Little Theatre in Thornton-Cleveleys, England, on January 29. (Oli Scarff/AFP/Getty Images)

Almost 100% of people tested positive for antibodies 14 or more days after their second Covid-19 vaccine dose, an English study has found.

More than 207,337 participants in England took part in the home surveillance study for Covid-19 antibodies between May 12 and May 25.

Participants tested themselves at home using a finger prick test 14 days after their second dose of either the Pfizer/BioNTech or the AstraZeneca vaccine as part of a study being conducted by Imperial College London and Ipsos MORI.

The researchers tested the blood for antibodies specifically generated by the vaccines – antibodies that researchers believe protect people against the worst effects of the virus. It’s a different test from the commercial tests used to detect evidence of past coronavirus infection. 

"Antibodies play an important role in protecting against future illness,” Paul Elliott, director of the testing program at Imperial’s School of Public Health, said in a statement released by the UK Department of Health. "So it's very encouraging to see a greater than four-fold increase in antibody prevalence since our last findings in January, highlighting the impact of the vaccination program. More importantly, our findings also reinforce the need to get fully vaccinated to protect yourself and those around you."

Some context: England is scheduled to lift all restrictions on social contact on Monday despite a rise in cases. On Thursday, 48,553 new cases and 63 Covid-related deaths were reported across the UK, according to government figures.

Following one dose of either vaccine, the proportion of people testing positive for antibodies peaked at four to five weeks after first dose and then started to decline before rising substantially in those who had a second dose, according to the news release.

On Wednesday, the government announced more than two in three adults in the UK have now received both doses of a Covid-19 vaccine.

4:58 p.m. ET, July 15, 2021

Americans who say they will not get a Covid-19 vaccine cite mistrust, Census data shows

From CNN's Deidre McPhillips

Anti-vaccine rally protesters hold signs outside of Houston Methodist Hospital in Houston, Texas, on June 26.
Anti-vaccine rally protesters hold signs outside of Houston Methodist Hospital in Houston, Texas, on June 26. (Mark Felix/AFP/Getty Images)

Misinformation and mistrust continue to play a key role in Covid-19 vaccine hesitancy, according to a CNN analysis of data from the US Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey. 

Nearly half (48%) of people who said they will “definitely” or “probably” not get a Covid-19 vaccine cited mistrust in the vaccines as a reason for not getting vaccinated, according to the latest data, published Wednesday and based on survey responses from June 23 to July 5. That’s an increase from about a month ago, when 46% of people who said they did not plan to be vaccinated gave the same reason. 

And in the latest survey, more than a half (51%) of people who said that they “definitely” or “probably” would not get a Covid-19 vaccine because they were concerned about side effects, up from 49% about a month ago. 

According to the latest Household Pulse Survey data, the top reasons people who said they "definitely" or "probably” will not get a Covid-19 vaccine are: 

  • Concerned about possible side effects: 51% (about 13.5 million people)
  • Don’t trust Covid-19 vaccines: 48% (about 12.7 million people)
  • Don’t believe I need a vaccine: 35% (about 9.3 million people)
  • Don’t trust the government: 34% (about 9.2 million people)
  • Plan to wait and see if it is safe: 27% (about 7.3 million people)

Additionally, 14% said that they don’t think Covid-19 is a serious illness and 18% said they don’t know if a vaccine will work. 

The White House is ramping up efforts to push back more aggressively on vaccine disinformation, and US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy warned in a new advisory published Thursday that health misinformation is “a serious threat to public health.”

3:36 p.m. ET, July 15, 2021

WHO: We are asking China to be transparent with raw data for Covid-19 origins investigation

From CNN’s Naomi Thomas

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director-general of the World Health Organization, said access to raw data was a challenge at the start of the investigation into the origins of Covid-19 and called on countries to be cooperative with future phases. 

“We have done the phase one, and the phase one has shown some progress, but there are also some challenges that have to be addressed,” he said during a news briefing in Geneva Thursday. “One of the challenges is what you mentioned, you know, access to raw data, especially the data at the start of the pandemic, the raw data was not shared.” 

In the second phase, “we are asking, actually, China to be transparent, open and cooperate, especially on the information, raw data we asked for at the early days of the pandemic,” he said, noting WHO would be discussing phase two of the investigation with member states.

Tedros later said that he didn’t think momentum had been lost on the origins investigation. 

“We need to continue the study in order to know what exactly happened,” he said. “If we know what happened, then we can prevent future similar crises or problems.” 

The investigation is one of the basics for outbreaks, regardless of their size, he said, and what is done when any outbreak happens, so that the origins can be understood.

“There is the other part of it, especially considering the unprecedented nature of this pandemic, the number of people that died and the number of people that suffered,” Tedros said. “Take the number of deaths alone, more than four million, I think we owe it to them to know what happened. And everybody should cooperate to know what happened, and to prevent the same crisis from happening again. And that’s why we need cooperation.” 

3:25 p.m. ET, July 15, 2021

Some health misinformation is being spread unintentionally, US surgeon general says

From CNN's Virginia Langmaid

Misinformation about health and health care frequently comes from people trying to share helpful information, US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy said Thursday.

“This is the of the challenges that we have, is that misinformation does spread more quickly, often, than accurate information. And it's often being spread by people who have good intent,” Murthy said in a conversation on fighting health misinformation hosted by the Stanford Internet Observatory Cyber Policy Center.

Murthy released an advisory warning of the threat posed by the spread of health misinformation earlier Thursday.

Not all of it is spread deliberately, he told the Stanford panel.

“Yes, there are some nefarious actors who are actively and willfully trying to harm others or generate an advantage to themselves politically or financially by spreading misinformation. But much of what we are seeing is people who think they're helping sharing misinformation,” he said.

Murthy said this means fighting misinformation can be a personal objective. The surgeon general recommended first making sure that you yourself are not spreading misinformation, and then having conversations with the people around you.

“So, when my parents shared something, show something to me, and I realize it's false, I often will tell them, ‘Talk to your friend. Not judgmentally, not with blame, but let them know, because they may be unaware, that what they shared actually isn't true,’” Murthy said. “Doing that with our family and friends respectfully, kindly, is actually an important step that we can take also to slow the spread of misinformation.”

3:21 p.m. ET, July 15, 2021

Peer-to-peer talking is a powerful way to fight vaccine misinformation, US surgeon general says

From CNN’s Sarah Braner

US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy speaks during the daily news conference in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House on July 15 in Washington, DC.
US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy speaks during the daily news conference in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House on July 15 in Washington, DC. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Peer-to-peer sharing of information is a powerful and essential way to fight vaccine misinformation, US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy said Thursday.

“It’s about peers talking to peers,” he said during a Stanford University panel event on Thursday. “That is actually extraordinarily important.”

Murthy released an advisory earlier Thursday in which he called misinformation a serious threat to public health. "I am urging all Americans to help slow the spread of health misinformation during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond," Murthy wrote in a 22-page advisory released Thursday.

College students can help, he told the Stanford panel later. “The trust that you have with your peers is absolutely essential. It’s very powerful,” he said.

“Remember, all of these conversations first start with listening… so try to understand where somebody is coming from, why they may be worried. It may not always be what you think.”

And it’s important for people to not themselves be vectors of misinformation, Murthy said.

“Know that you yourself may be doing that, inadvertently. So pausing before you share to check sources, to make sure it’s coming from a scientifically credible source, is really important,” he said.