CDC director continues to work with WHO, despite Trump's announcement to terminate relationship
From CNN's Amanda Watts
The director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said the agency continues “to have a close collaboration” with the World Health Organization (WHO), despite a recent announcement from President Trump that he was terminating the US relationship.
Dr. Robert Redfield said during a House Appropriations hearing on the Covid-19 response that the CDC has been working with WHO as recently as the last few days.
“Unfortunately, we have a new Ebola outbreak now in the Western Congo and we've we jumped right in with WHO and the Ministry of Health to begin to confront that Ebola outbreak,” he said.
“I feel confident that the public health partnership that we have — although it may be modified in some way at a political level — I don't think it's going to be modified in terms of our public health efforts,” Redfield added.
1:59 p.m. ET, June 4, 2020
Sweden will begin easing travel restrictions
From CNN's Sharon Braithwaite
Sweden will ease its travel restrictions stating June 13 to allow those who do not have any symptoms of coronavirus to move around the country, Prime Minister Stefan Lofven said on Thursday, his spokesperson told CNN.
"This decision does not mean that the danger is over," Lofven said during a news conference. "It doesn't mean that life is back to normal again, and other restrictions remain in place."
"If the curve showing the seriously ill turns up again, there will be new restrictions."
Starting June 8, seasonal workers in agricultural, forestry and horticulture from the European Union will be allowed in Sweden.
Belgian borders will be open for countries in the EU, UK and for non-EU members countries within the Schengen zone from June 15, a federal government spokesperson told CNN. Belgium will allow almost all businesses to reopen on June 8, including cafes and bars, which will have to comply with social distancing measures.
Virgin Atlantic has announced its plan to restart passenger flying, with services from London Heathrow to Orlando, Hong Kong, Shanghai, New York City's John F. Kennedy International Airport and Los Angeles set to resume starting July 20 and 21, the company said Thursday in a statement.
"As countries around the world start to relax travel restrictions, Virgin Atlantic will resume some routes on 20th July, while steadily increasing passenger flying throughout the second half of 2020, with a further, gradual recovery through 2021 in line with customer demand," the statement said.
1:54 p.m. ET, June 4, 2020
Jordan announces new reopening measures after recording low number of Covid-19 cases
From CNN’s Jomana Karadsheh in Hereford
The Jordanian government announced further steps to reopen the country as the kingdom decreased its coronavirus risk level to “moderate,” Prime Minister Omar Razzaz said in a televised briefing on Thursday, adding that less than ten cases a day were recorded over the past week.
These are the new guidelines:
Most sectors of the economy will be allowed to open, movement between provinces will be permitted and domestic flights will resume, Media Affairs Minister Amjad Adaileh said in a series of tweets Thursday.
Touristic sites, hotels and cafes will also be allowed to operate with strict social distancing measures, he said.
Schools, universities, parks, cinemas, wedding halls and mourning halls will remain closed.
Public transportation will operate at a 50% capacity and curfew hours have been reduced to go from midnight to 6 a.m., Adaileh added.
Some background: Jordan moved early by implementing one of the strictest lockdown measures in the Middle East after recording its first coronavirus case in March.
The country has since recorded some of the lowest case numbers in the region with 765 cases and nine deaths, according to the country's Health Ministry figures.
The kingdom began easing restrictions in May and last week announced it will allow the opening of mosques and churches for worship, according to Jordanian religious leaders.
Jordan remains under defense Law, an emergency law that gives the government sweeping powers.
1:39 p.m. ET, June 4, 2020
CDC director says protesters should be tested for Covid-19
From CNN's Amanda Watts
Protesters need to be evaluated and tested for coronavirus, Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Thursday.
“We really want those individuals to highly consider being evaluated and get tested,” Redfield said at a House Appropriations hearing on the Covid-19 response.
“I do think there is a potential, unfortunately for this to be a seeding event,” he said — especially those in metropolitan areas where there has been significant transmission.
“The way to minimize that is to have each individual to recognize it's to the advantage of them to protect their loved ones to (say) ‘Hey, I was out, I need to, I need to go get tested,’ you know, and in three, five, seven days go get tested, make sure you're not infected,” Redfield said.
During an exchange with Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI), Redfield addressed the use of tear gas on protesters. Redfield said in his experience tear gas can cause people to cough – not a good thing during a pandemic involving a respiratory virus.
“Definitely coughing can spread respiratory viruses, including Covid-19,” he said.
Pocan asked Redfield if he had advised the President or worked with law enforcement to discontinue to use of tear gas during the pandemic.
“I think you raised an important point we have advocated strongly — the ability to have face coverings and masks available to protesters, so that they can at least have those coverings,” Redfield said.
Redfield added he would “pass on this comment to next Task Force meeting.”
1:43 p.m. ET, June 4, 2020
CDC director shakes head at image of crowds at Lake of the Ozarks
From CNN’s Naomi Thomas
Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), shook his head when shown a photo of a crowd at the Lake of Ozarks, Missouri that was taken over Memorial Day weekend.
“We're very concerned that our public health message isn't resonating,” Redfield told a hearing of the House Appropriations Committee on the response to the pandemic.
States are opening before they have met the criteria laid out by the White House for safe lifting of pandemic restrictions, he said.
“We continue to try to figure out how to penetrate the message with different groups, [and] the pictures that the chairwoman showed me are great examples of serious problems,” the CDC director said.
White House guidance says that all states must have the ability to trace contacts for confirmed Covid-19 cases. But Missouri does not have the ability to do this tracing, House Appropriations committee chair Rosa DeLauro said.
1:22 p.m. ET, June 4, 2020
NFL coaches allowed to return to team facilities starting Friday
From CNN Sports Jacob Lev
National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell sent a league-wide memo stating that NFL coaches can return to training facilities starting Friday.
CNN acquired the memo from a source with direct involvement with the NFL.
Goodell clarified the directive in part, "...this may occur only if your club has otherwise received necessary permission from state and local governments to reopen its facilities.”
Also, teams may increase the number of employees in each facility up to 100 as long as they follow the "state and local regulation and implementation of the protocols developed under the leadership of Dr. Sills."
Dr. Allen Sills is the NFL's Chief Medical Officer.
1:15 p.m. ET, June 4, 2020
Global Vaccine Summit raises $8.8 billion for vaccine research
From CNN's James Frater in London
The Global Vaccine Summit hosted by the UK government has raised $8.8 billion for vaccine research over the next five years, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Thursday.
The event, which aimed to raise at least $7.4 billion for vaccine research, surpassed its goal by more than one billion dollars.
"We have secured a fantastic $8.8 billion for Gavi’s vital work over the next five years. So, take a bow everybody, thank-you, very, very much," Boris Johnson said.
Gavi is an international organization that aims to bring together public and private sectors to improve access to vaccines. The fundraising effort aims to "protect the next generation with vaccines, reduce disease inequality and create a healthier, safer and more prosperous world," according to the organization's website.
The fundraising effort will save up to eight million lives and support health care systems in the world's poorest countries, said Johnson.
“Just as we have great military alliances, like NATO, where countries collaborate on building their collective military defense, we now need the same spirit of collaboration and collective defense against the common enemy of disease. It will require a new international effort to cooperate on the surveillance and the sharing of information, data – data is king that can underpin a global alert system so we can rapidly identify any future outbreak," Johnson said.
12:38 p.m. ET, June 4, 2020
Face coverings will be mandatory on public transport in England starting June 15
From CNN's Lindsay Isaac
Face coverings will be mandatory on all public transport in England starting June 15, as the country continues to ease out of coronavirus lockdown.
Exceptions will be made for children, the elderly and those with respiratory problems and could be enforced by British transport police, Britain’s Transport Minister Grant Shapps said Thursday during a daily government briefing.
Public transport will be “ramped” up with additional trains, buses, and subways added to existing routes to help lessen crowding as more people return to work.
“It’s not always possible to stay two meters apart on public transport,” he acknowledged and reiterated that those who can work from home, continue to do so.
Volunteers will be present at stations handing out extra masks. Shapps said people who don’t comply “could” be fined.
“You cannot travel if you are not wearing a face covering,” he said.
In terms of progress against the virus, there have been 176 new deaths in past 24 hours, bringing the total official number of deaths in Britain to 39,728.
12:41 p.m. ET, June 4, 2020
Coronavirus "highlighted the shortcomings of our public health system," CDC director says
From CNN’s Amanda Watts
The coronavirus pandemic has “highlighted the shortcomings of our public health system that has been under-resourced for decades,” Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said on Thursday.
That’s especially true for information technology, he said.
“Never has it been more clear that our nation's public health IT infrastructure requires modernization, to support and collect reportable, reliable, comprehensive and timely data,” he told a House Appropriations hearing on the Covid-19 response.
“When we confront any disease threat, CDC and public health departments must make real-time decisions based on real-time data. Data forms the roadmap, and it informs policy. Data is the backbone of any disease threat response," Redfield added.