June 10 coronavirus news

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1:44 p.m. ET, June 10, 2020

FDA authorizes first Covid-19 test that also looks for mutations

From CNN's Maggie Fox

A sign outside the headquarters of Illunina, Inc, in San Diego, California.
A sign outside the headquarters of Illunina, Inc, in San Diego, California. Kris Tripplaar/Sipa USA/AP

The US Food and Drug Administration said Wednesday it has issued an emergency use authorization (EUA) to Illumina, Inc. for the first Covid-19 diagnostic test that also uses next generation genetic sequencing technology to look for changes in the virus.

Illumina, a company that focuses on genomic sequencing, has designed its COVIDSeq test for use on swabs taken from the mouth or nose, as well as samples taken from further down the respiratory tract. It can diagnose a patient with coronavirus and also gather some information about the particular sequence of the virus infecting the patient, which in turn is useful for research tracking the pandemic.

“Having a next generation sequencing diagnostic tool available will continue to expand our testing capabilities. Additionally, genetic sequencing information will help us monitor if and how the virus mutates, which will be crucial to our efforts to continue to learn and fight this virus,” FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn said in a statement.

Several teams of scientists have been gathering and sharing sequences of the virus, which can be used as a kind of fingerprint to see where particular versions of the virus may have originated. For instance, these sequencing studies have shown an outbreak in New York City was seeded by viruses that were also circulating in Europe, while another analysis showed small outbreaks across California were often set off by individual travelers and not by spread from within the state.

None of the genetic studies has shown that the virus is mutating in a way that makes it more or less harmful.

 

1:31 p.m. ET, June 10, 2020

Medical supply facility Trump toured threw out products after his visit

From CNN’s Michael Nedelman and Betsy Klein

President Trump tours the headquarters of Puritan Medical Products on Friday, June 5.
President Trump tours the headquarters of Puritan Medical Products on Friday, June 5. Patrick Semansky/AP

After President Trump toured the headquarters of Puritan Medical Products in Guilford, Maine, on Friday, the facility discarded the swabs it produced during his visit, according to a company statement issued Tuesday. 

This decision was made in advance, the company said, due to the number of individuals who would be present, including government officials, security and the media.

“Production was limited on selected machines to a reduced 15-minute demonstration period during which the President was actively touring our manufacturing floor,” according to the statement, posted on Twitter.

The company added that it "conducted the type of full facility cleaning that was necessary” after the visit, and that all swabs it produces for Covid-19 testing purposes are also sterilized post-production.

Puritan said it also decided in advance that it would shift Friday’s production schedule to the weekend, “which allowed for no production loss." 

Puritan Medical Products has not responded to CNN's multiple requests for comment. The White House declined CNN's request for comment. 

In his remarks Friday, Trump recounted how in April the administration dedicated $75 million in Defense Production Act funding to boost the company’s output. Because of this, Trump said the company “will soon double” the number of foam-tip swabs it manufactures to 40 million per month, and down the line that figure is expected to reach 60 million.

 

12:35 p.m. ET, June 10, 2020

Study will evaluate drugs prescribed to children with Covid-19

From CNN’s Naomi Thomas

Researchers have launched a study to evaluate drugs prescribed to infants, children and adolescents with Covid-19.

The effort uses an existing trial and will be funded by the National Institutes of Health, the agency said in a statement on Wednesday.

“As we search for safe and effective therapies for Covid-19, we want to make sure that we do not overlook the needs of our youngest patients who may respond differently to these drugs, compared to adults,” Dr. Diana W. Bianchi, director of NIH’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, said in the statement. 

The study is designed to gather information to refine dosing and improve safety, not to evaluate which drug is best, according to the announcement. Researchers will use blood samples to understand the movement of drugs through children’s bodies and collect information on potential side effects and outcomes. 

Physicians often prescribe drugs off-label to children, as they have not been specifically tested for use in children. Off-label use is when a US Food and Drug Administration-approved drug is used for an unapproved purpose.

The study is not a clinical trial with a control group. It will investigate a number of drugs that are already given to children with Covid-19. Health care providers who are already treating patients can enroll these patients into the study with parent or guardian approval. 

12:13 p.m. ET, June 10, 2020

Covid-19 hospitalizations climb in various US states following Memorial Day, latest data suggests

From CNN's Jacqueline Howard and Ethan Cohen

Since Memorial Day weekend, the number of patients hospitalized due to coronavirus infection has gone up in at least a dozen states that are tracking hospitalization data.

The states include:

  • Alaska
  • Arkansas
  • Arizona
  • California
  • Kentucky
  • Mississippi
  • Montana
  • North Carolina
  • Oregon
  • South Carolina
  • Texas
  • Utah

These findings are according to data that CNN aggregated from the Covid Tracking Project from May 25 to June 9. Some of these states are seeing larger increases in hospitalizations than others. 

For instance, while hospitalizations rose slightly in California, they appear to be leveling off compared with the sharper increases seen in Arkansas, Arizona, South Carolina and Utah. In other states where the increase was small, such as Oregon and Mississippi, their hospitalization data has been fluctuating over time.

Overall, the new data mark an increase in several states that began in the past couple of weeks. The lag period between when people are exposed to the virus to the time that they may actually get tested and come back with a confirmed infection can be about two to three weeks. 

When it comes to cases alone, 19 states nationwide have seen a more than 10% increase in the number of new cases they reported between the weeks ending June 2 and June 9.

12:18 p.m. ET, June 10, 2020

Poland shuts down 12 coal mines considered coronavirus "hotspots"

From CNN's Emma Reynolds and Luke Wolagiewicz

Poland has shut down 12 coal mines after the country’s health minister said most of its coronavirus cases had been identified at these “hotspots.”

The mining region of Silesia has now had more than 10,000 confirmed cases, according to Health Ministry figures compiled by a volunteer data analyst. The total number of cases in Poland is at least 27,668, according to Johns Hopkins University.

At least two coal mines have more than 1,000 confirmed cases, according to figures supplied by coal companies to Polish business daily Gazeta Prawna.

“I want to strongly emphasise: There is no horizontal transmission in Silesia,” Health Minister Lukasz Szumowski told reporters at a news conference on Monday. “The majority of cases are in the hotspot, which is the workplace -- the coal mines.”
“We want to solve this problem once and for all, and enable all these coal mines to return to work in 3 weeks to fulfill their contracts and provide coal,” Deputy Prime Minister Jacek Sasin said.

The government said miners would receive 100% of their pay — unlike many other workers in the country, after businesses had to close from mid-March under lockdown restrictions.

Health Ministry spokesman Wojciech Andrusiewicz was quoted by Polsat News saying that 98% of the cases in Silesia’s coal mines were symptom-free, and the high numbers were the result of a large number of tests being conducted. “No one before us has screened such an amount of symptom-free cases,” the spokesman said, according to Polstat.

Poland has a relatively low number of deaths per million residents, following early implementation of social distancing and lockdown measures, but in the last week of May the national R (reproduction) number, showing the spread of the virus, was 1.25. In the Silesian Voivodeship (province) it was 2.

On May 27, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki announced an easing of coronavirus-related restrictions. Starting on May 30, Polish people were no longer required to cover their faces in public spaces. 

Social distancing guidelines recommending that people maintain a two-meter distance from others are still in place.

However, from June 6 events such as weddings were permitted to have up to 150 participants. Theaters, swimming pools and gyms are now allowed to open at 50% capacity. 

12:08 p.m. ET, June 10, 2020

WHO on confusing comments on asymptomatic spread of Covid-19: "We're all learning all the time"

From CNN Health's Jacqueline Howard

World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Wednesday addressed the confusing comments that a WHO official made earlier this week about the asymptomatic spread of novel coronavirus.

"Since early February, we have said that asymptomatic people can transmit Covid-19, but that we need more research to establish the extent of asymptomatic transmission. That research is ongoing," Tedros said during a briefing in Geneva.

"But here is what we do know that finding, isolating and testing people with symptoms, and tracing and quarantining their contacts, is the most critical way to stop transmission," Tedros said. "This is a new virus and we're all learning all the time. Communicating complex science in real time about a new virus is not always easy, but we believe it’s part of our duty to the world. And we can always do better. We welcome constructive debate. That's how science advances."

On Monday, Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO's technical lead for coronavirus response and head of its emerging diseases and zoonoses unit, said during a media briefing that "it still seems to be rare that an asymptomatic person actually transmits onward to a secondary individual."

Then on Tuesday, WHO held a live question and answer session on its social media pages where Van Kerkhove clarified her comments, saying that the asymptomatic spread of Covid-19 is possible, but more research is needed to determine how often it occurs.

The comments appeared to directly contradict guidance from public health organizations, including the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which have said about a third of coronavirus infections may be asymptomatic.

The CDC also estimates that 40% of coronavirus transmission is occurring before people feel sick, meaning they are pre-symptomatic.

11:03 a.m. ET, June 10, 2020

Saudi Arabia records highest daily coronavirus case count

From CNN’s Mostafa Salem 

Saudi Arabia recorded 3,717 new coronavirus cases and 36 new deaths, the country's Health Ministry said today — the highest daily number of infections, according to government statistics.

The kingdom has been recording more than 3,000 cases for the past four days, pushing the total number of coronavirus infections in the country to at least 112,288. At least 819 people have died, the ministry added.

Saudi Arabia now has the highest number of coronavirus cases in the Gulf region despite adopting one of the strongest lockdown measures in the Middle East. 

About the lockdown: The capital city of Riyadh and the Islamic holy cities of Mecca and Medina were subject to 24-hour curfews in April and movements were restricted during Muslim Eid holidays.

The country started easing lockdown measures at the end of May, permitting mosque prayers and mall openings with plans to completely lift lockdown measures by June 20.

Last week the country reimposed a curfew on the second largest city, Jeddah due to increasing cases and hinted at possible stringent curfews on other cities, according to the Saudi Press Agency. 

Back in April, Saudi advised Muslims planning on attending the upcoming Islamic Hajj pilgrimage to put their plans on hold due to coronavirus.The Hajj attracts around 2.5 million people every year to Mecca and Medina. Saudi Arabia has yet to announce their plans with the pilgrimage expected to start July 28.

11:07 a.m. ET, June 10, 2020

Major League Soccer in the US will resume in July

From CNN's Kevin Dotson

A general view of the entrance to the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex in 2019.
A general view of the entrance to the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex in 2019. Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

Major League Soccer will resume its suspended season on July 8 with a league-wide tournament in Orlando at Disney World's ESPN Wide World of Sports complex, the league announced today. 

MLS suspended its season on March 12 due to the coronavirus outbreak. July 8 will be exactly four months since the last MLS match was played on March 8.

How the tournament will work: The month-long tournament with feature all 26 MLS teams competing in a "World Cup style" format, which will begin with group stage matches where results will count toward each team's regular season points total. 

After the group stage matches, the top 16 teams will advance to the knockout stage. The tournament will culminate with the championship match on August 11.

9:32 a.m. ET, June 10, 2020

American Airlines will bring 141 planes back from storage

From CNN's Pete Muntean

Jeff Swensen/Getty Images
Jeff Swensen/Getty Images

American Airlines says it will activate more than 140 planes than have been in storage due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

“We’re expecting to move 83 Airbus A320 Family (A319, A320 and A321) aircraft and 58 Boeing 737 aircraft from storage to the active fleet to support July flying,” airline spokesperson Ross Feinstein told CNN. 

He cautioned that July is still expected to be “way down” from a year ago. At its peak this July, he expects the airline will operate about 4,000 flights, compared to about 7,000 flights in July 2019, he said.

Still, activating theses planes is a sign that demand for air travel is starting to trickle back. 

Recently, TSA announced it had screened 400,000 people nationwide for the first time since March, but that is well below the levels of a year ago.