June 12 coronavirus news

By Jessie Yeung, Steve George, Helen Regan and Laura Smith-Spark, CNN

Updated 11:22 PM ET, Fri June 12, 2020
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7:03 p.m. ET, June 12, 2020

Experiment suggests coronavirus has evolved to more easily infect human cells

From CNN’s Maggie Fox

Researchers in Florida said they believe their experiment has shown that the new coronavirus has mutated in a way that makes it more easily to infect human cells.

They said more research is needed to show whether this changes how the virus infects people, and whether the change has affected the course of the pandemic. But at least one researcher not involved in the study said it likely has done so, and the changes may explain why the virus has caused so many infections in the United States and Latin America. 

The scientists at the Scripps Research Institute in Florida said the mutation affect the spike protein – a structure on the outside of the virus that it uses to get into cells. If the findings are confirmed, it would the first time someone has demonstrated the virus has changed in a significant way.

“Viruses with this mutation were much more infectious than those without the mutation in the cell culture system we used,” Scripps Research virologist Hyeryun Choe, who helped lead the study, said in a statement. 

Just this week, the World Health Organization said the mutations seen so far in the new coronavirus had not made it more easily transmissible, nor had they made the virus more likely to cause serious illness.

Choe and colleagues ran a series of experiments in lab dishes that show a mutation called D614G gives the virus many more spikes, which in turn make it easier for it to get into cells. They’ve published their findings on a preprint server called BioRxiv. That means the work has not been reviewed by other experts in the field.

But Choe and colleagues did send their paper to William Haseltine, a virologist, biotechnology entrepreneur and chairman of Access Health International. Haseltine believes the findings explain the easy spread of coronavirus across the Americas.

“It is significant because it shows the virus can change, does change to its advantage and possibly to our disadvantage,” he told CNN. “It has done a good job so far of adapting to human culture.”

6:57 p.m. ET, June 12, 2020

States should not "leapfrog" over reopening guidelines, Fauci says

From CNN's Shelby Lin Erdman

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, warned states against leapfrogging over the reopening guidelines the federal government has outlined.

“You have to have a situation where you have a gateway into the process, and then gradually go from one phase to the other,” Fauci told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on Friday. “If you leapfrog over different phases, you increase the risk that you're going to have the kind of resurgence that we're seeing in certain states.”

There’s been a spike in Covid-19 cases in a number of states over the past week, but Fauci declined to say they should decrease their rate of reopening.

“Everybody understands the need — the important need — to get back to some sort of normalcy, but you don't want to do it at the sacrifice of greatly increasing risk. We've got to be really careful about that,” Fauci said. 

6:51 p.m. ET, June 12, 2020

Fauci thinks a coronavirus treatment will come before a vaccine

From CNN’s Shelby Lin Erdman

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said he thinks we’ll see a treatment for coronavirus before a vaccine.

“There is a better chance, timewise, of having something that can help in regards to treatments, before we actually have the capability of distributing the safe and effective vaccine,” Fauci told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer in The Situation Room on Friday.

He mentioned having confidence in the drug remdesivir.

“We are now using that drug in combination with other drugs and are also pursuing things like the passive transfer of convalescent plasma," he said.

Fauci said he is also hopeful treatment with monoclonal antibodies will prove successful.

“We have success with that in diseases like Ebola. Hopefully we can translate that success to coronavirus. These are things that are ongoing now in a very active way as we get into the fall in the winter. After these interventions have been tested, we will have some drugs that we can count on that would benefit people either, who are ill or even to prevent them from getting ill,” he said. 

6:49 p.m. ET, June 12, 2020

Fauci is still confident on a vaccine, or multiple vaccines, by the end of the year

From CNN's Shelby Lin Erdman

CNN
CNN

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said he’s still confident the United States will have a coronavirus vaccine by the end of the year.

“By the end of the year, we will have a trial that has accrued a large number of people and we hopefully will get an answer, whether it works or not,” Fauci told CNN's Wolf Blitzer on Friday.

There's never a guarantee any vaccine is going to be safe and effective, Fauci said.

“But the preliminary data that we've seen, Wolf, still indicates to me, a degree that I can have a certain amount of cautious optimism – namely, it's inducing a response in individuals to a level that would predict that there's a good chance that it might protect," he said.

Fauci said he’s hopeful there will be one or more vaccines by early next year.

WATCH:

6:32 p.m. ET, June 12, 2020

French government to lift travel restrictions on internal European borders on June 15

From CNN's Eva Tapiero

The French government will lift coronavirus travel restrictions on its internal European borders on June 15, said Interior Minister Christophe Castaner and Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian in a joint statement released Friday.

Beginning June 15, people coming from European Union member states, as well as from Andorra, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Norway, San Marino, Switzerland and the Vatican, will be able to enter French territory without restrictions, according to the statement. 

"People from European area countries are also exempt from quarantine upon their arrival in France," the statement said. "However, reciprocal restriction measures will continue to apply at the borders with Spain and with the United Kingdom."

France will maintain reciprocal restrictions with Spain until June 21, including a 14-day quarantine for all passengers arriving by air. Travelers arriving to France from the UK will no longer be subjected to entry restrictions from June 15 but will be required to observe a 14-day quarantine upon arrival. 

France will also move towards gradually reopening its Schengen zone external borders from July 1, according to the statement. 

"This opening will be carried out in a progressive and differentiated manner depending on the health situation of the different third countries, and in accordance with the procedures that will be adopted at European level by then," the statement said. 

France will also give priority to visa and residence permit requests for international students.

"Given the challenges of university attractiveness, international students will be allowed, whatever their country of origin, to come to France and the conditions of their arrival will be facilitated," the statement added.

6:16 p.m. ET, June 12, 2020

Fauci says reopening the US must be done in a "careful and prudent" way

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, understands the pressure to reopen the US, but that must happen "in a way that's careful and prudent."

"And there are certain fundamental basic things that we just heard from one of the previous guests that even when you do proceed according to guidelines, you've got to be careful to make sure that to the extent possible, you physically distance yourself and you wear a mask literally at all times that you're on the outside and in a situation where you might be at risk either of acquiring infection or giving infection to someone else if you're one of those asymptomatic carriers," Fauci told CNN Friday afternoon.

What the infection numbers say: The US could suffer 130,000 coronavirus deaths by July 4, according to a projection released Friday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

And Covid-19 cases could rise this summer as states reopen, the CDC's deputy director for infectious diseases said during a conference call with reporters.

"If anything, we must be overprepared for what we might face later this year," said Dr. Jay Butler. "Getting the flu vaccine will be more important than ever, as flu and Covid-19 could be circulating together as we move into the fall and winter months."

More cities and states have reported increasing rates of new coronavirus cases per day as the nationwide total number of cases passed 2 million this week.

According to a CNN analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University, 19 states have increasing case rates, several of which have seen record or near-record highs. And for the first time, rising caseloads have led some officials to delay phased re-opening plans.

WATCH:

5:29 p.m. ET, June 12, 2020

Illinois and Du Quoin State Fairs canceled due to Covid-19

From CNN's Raja Razek

The Illinois and Du Quoin State Fairs have been canceled, Illinois Agricultural Department said in a statement Friday.

"Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Governor (J.B.) Pritzker will issue an Executive Order canceling the Illinois and Du Quoin State Fairs this year," the statement said.

This is the first time Du Quoin State Fair has been canceled since 1986, according to the statement.

"Due to the cancellations of the fairs, the Department of Agriculture will host a Junior Livestock Expo in Springfield in September, for Illinois exhibitors ages 8-21 to show their animals. The 4-H General Project Show will take place virtually," the statement said. 

The state fairs are expected to return in August 2021, according to the statement. 

5:13 p.m. ET, June 12, 2020

Ukraine's president switches to "special work mode" after wife tests positive for coronavirus 

From CNN's Radina Gigova

Sergii Kharchenko/NurPhoto via Getty Images/FILE
Sergii Kharchenko/NurPhoto via Getty Images/FILE

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is switching to a "special work mode" after his wife Olena tested positive for coronavirus, his office said in a statement Friday. 

Zelensky also underwent a coronavirus test but the result came negative, according to the statement. 

Under the Ukrainian constitution, the president cannot delegate his powers to anyone and situations of self-isolation and quarantine were not envisaged, according to the statement. 

"That is why a special protocol of the President's work mode was adopted meeting both the norms of the current legislation and the sanitary-epidemiological requirements," the statement said. 

Zelensky undergoes daily testing and medical examinations, his office said.

"He limits the range of physical communication, holds meetings online," the statement said. "Face-to-face meetings involving personal communication with the Head of State are excluded in the coming days."

Zelensky won't be taking part in public events and all his working trips outside the capital Kiev have been canceled, his office said.

"The circle of persons with whom the President communicates personally is narrowed down to security and closest aides," the statement read.

Exceptions to this protocol are possible only in the event of an emergency situation that will require an immediate response by the president in accordance with his constitutional powers, according to the statement. 

As of Friday afternoon, Ukraine has recorded more than 30,000 coronavirus cases and at least 880 deaths, according to the latest numbers by Johns Hopkins University. 

4:51 p.m. ET, June 12, 2020

Indiana moves forward with reopening plan as coronavirus cases near 40,000

From CNN’s Janine Mack

Indiana Governor's Office
Indiana Governor's Office

Indiana has moved into stage four of its reopening plan, Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb said Friday.

Here's what is reopening:

  • Bars and entertainment venues can welcome customers back at 50% capacity
  • Zoos, museums and other sites may open
  • Movie theaters and bowling alleys can open at 50% capacity
  • Restaurants can open to 75% capacity
  • Gatherings of up to 250 people are allowed as long as they stays six feet apart

“I want to remind Hoosiers to be safe as we move to stage four. I feel a bit like a nagging mom, but I'm going to remind you that Covid has not disappeared, and we need to continue to protect ourselves and those around us, especially our most vulnerable populations,” Dr. Kristina Box with Indiana State Department of Health said during a news conference on Friday.