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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12:45 p.m. ET, June 12, 2020

CDC officials emphasize importance of following Covid-19 guidelines: "The pandemic is not over"

From CNN's Jacqueline Howard

Signage asks people to socially distance outside a store inside the Mall of America before it opens on June 10 in Minneapolis.
Signage asks people to socially distance outside a store inside the Mall of America before it opens on June 10 in Minneapolis. Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

As the coronavirus pandemic continues, officials at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are reiterating the importance of social distancing, wearing face coverings in public and washing hands frequently.

Their announcement to keep following guidelines comes at a time when President Trump plans to hold a rally and has not been wearing a face covering in public.

"We know the pandemic is not over," Dr. Jay Butler, CDC's deputy director for infectious diseases, said during a call with reporters on Friday.

"The good news is, nationally, we have been successful in flattening the curve, the number of new cases, each day has been relatively plateaued over a prolonged period of time," Butler said.

"But right now communities are experiencing different levels of transmission. And this is occurring as they gradually ease up on some of the community mitigation efforts, and gradually reopen," Butler said. "We continue to ask everyone to follow the guidance."

CDC officials plan to release more guidelines today.

CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield also said during the call that continuing to follow this guidance remains critical.

"CDC’s Covid-19 response is now in its sixth month and while we’re making real progress we still have a lot of work ahead as we reopen America," Redfield said. 

"It continues to be extremely important that we embrace the recommendations of social distancing, handwashing and wearing a face covering while we’re in public as some of the key defenses that we have against this progress," Redfield said. "It’s important that we remember that the situation is unprecedented and that the pandemic has not ended."
12:39 p.m. ET, June 12, 2020

Transportation Department will send 100 million masks to airports and other transit agencies

From CNN's Greg Wallace

The US Department of Transportation says it will make 100 million masks available, mostly at airports, but also at transit locations and Amtrak for passengers to use.

The agency describes them as “cloth facial coverings" and says they are intended to be supplemental to the masks travelers are required to bring on their own and are not guaranteed to be available.

“This Administration is committed to protecting our people and reopening the economy; distributing these facial coverings will help boost public confidence as we begin to resume our normal lives,” Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao said in a statement.

Approximately 86.8 million coverings will be distributed to airports, and 9.6 million coverings will be distributed to 458 transit agencies and Amtrak for passenger use, the statement said.

 

12:30 p.m. ET, June 12, 2020

South Carolina governor lifts more coronavirus restrictions

From CNN’s Natasha Chen and Lindsay Benson

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster speaks during a meeting of the Accelerate SC economy initiative in Columbia, South Carolina, on May 19.
South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster speaks during a meeting of the Accelerate SC economy initiative in Columbia, South Carolina, on May 19. Tracy Glantz/The State/AP

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster has issued a new state of emergency Friday, as part of an executive order that also allows the reopening of bowling alleys and lifts restrictions on retail business capacity limits.

Previous limits on retail spaces required no more than five customers every 1,000 square feet, or no more than 20% capacity, whichever was less. That restriction has now been lifted, with no mandated reduced capacity.

The executive order also lifts the previous restriction on gatherings of more than 50 people on public property, since more public employees are returning to work.

This comes during a week when South Carolina has seen a large increase in daily new cases, including Thursday having the single largest daily increase in the state since the pandemic began. 

Brian Symmes, the governor's communications director, said the state acknowledges people have not been properly social distancing. Symmes said the governor has forcefully explained to residents that this is a dangerous and deadly virus, and that people need to take precautions.

“That has not changed. The virus is still here. And it’s still being transmitted,” Symmes said.

But Symmes said that McMaster philosophically does not believe that government putting its thumb on the scales and making broad mandates that are largely unenforceable is the answer. The answer, Symmes said, is educating the public, which the governor and Department of Health and Environmental Control have done consistently.

He added that it is in the best interest of the business from a liability standpoint to follow guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

 

12:33 p.m. ET, June 12, 2020

Utah governor pauses lifting Covid-19 restrictions following spike in cases

From CNN's Pamela Wessmann

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert speaks at a press conference at the Utah State Capitol in Salt Lake City on June 11.
Utah Gov. Gary Herbert speaks at a press conference at the Utah State Capitol in Salt Lake City on June 11. Spenser Heaps/Deseret News/Pool/AP

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert has paused the lifting of restrictions following spikes in Covid-19 cases over the past two weeks.

The governor said during a news conference Thursday that the increase in cases is “giving them pause.” 

The state will remain in the "yellow" phase of reopening with the exception of one county, Brooke Scheffler, public information officer for Herbert, told CNN in a text Friday. 

She also confirmed that Salt Lake City will remain in the "orange" phase, which is below yellow.

"What should we in fact do as a reaction to this spiking of infection? For the most part, I think the answer is that we will pause and really for the most part maintain yellow guidance in most of the state,” Herbert said Thursday. 

Utah’s state epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn said in the news conference there was a “great spike in the growth rate of cases” after Memorial Day.

 Here are the numbers, according to Dunn:

  • Daily state cases have been in the 200 to 300 range since Memorial Day.
  • In the weeks leading up to Memorial Day, the percent of positive tests was hovering "around 4 to 4 ½ %."
  • In the two weeks since Memorial Day, they have seen the trend increase to 7% for a weekly average and then 10% percent positive for the last week.

“There are some parts of the state that are being hit harder than others, and there's localized outbreaks and hotspots, but by and large, we are seeing this increase in cases throughout the state,” Dunn said.

The governor said he “doesn’t want to take a step forward and then take a step backward.” 

Under yellow guidance, there are no economic activities that are categorically prohibited, Herbert explained.

"We've not gone down the road as many other states have done of identifying essential or nonessential businesses and services," he said. "We've had minimal restrictions for in house dining, public schools closing, which are not insignificant in its impact, but we have been listed as the fourth least restrictive state in America and addressing this pandemic, we've not closed down the economy."

Other states and cities — like Oregon and Nashville, Tennessee — have also announced delays in reopening plans due to elevated cases.

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

Texas county official issues warning as coronavirus cases rise

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

Judge Lina Hidalgo, the top elected official in Harris County, Texas — which includes the city of Houston — said the county saw its highest numbers of coronavirus cases and hospitalizations this week. 

“We don't see evidence that our public health interventions are being able to contain, to control, the spread of that virus, so I want to … sound that alarm that we've got to take action now so that we avoid a shutdown in the future,” Hidalgo said.

Harris County is the third most-populous county in the US. Hidalgo, who serves as its chief executive officer, warned the county “may be approaching the precipice of a disaster” in a press conference yesterday.

Hidalgo said they are seeing the numbers increase as the state has started to reopen over the past few weeks.  

“I’ve always said I think the reopening timeline was a little too fast. I wouldn't have done it that quickly,” she said.

“I want the economy to reopen as much as anyone. I just want it to be sustainable. I don't want us to be ping-ponging between open and close,” Hidalgo added.

She said that while there is enough hospital space right now, it’s “alarming” that more than 15% of ICU space is being occupied by Covid-19 patients. 

She is working with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s office and alerting the state on the latest numbers, she said. 

Watch more:

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

Cuomo says New York has lowest rate of Covid-19 transmission out of any state in the country

From CNN's Brian Vitagliano

A nearly empty street is seen in Times Square in New York on June 11.
A nearly empty street is seen in Times Square in New York on June 11. Jeenah Moon/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Friday is day 104 of the Covid-19 crisis and the numbers are going down, with 42 deaths related to Covid-19 on Thursday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.

“Since we have reopened, the number has continued to go down… because we have been disciplined in our reopening,” he said.

Cuomo also said the state has the lowest rate of transmission saying, “the virus is spreading at the lowest rate of transmission in the state of New York of every state in America, that is incredible.” 

He went on to say, “we were the number one state in terms of infection, number one in the nation, number one on the globe, per capita, and now we are the last state in terms of rate of transmission, that is because New Yorkers stepped up, they were smart they were disciplined they did what they had to do and we need to stay there.”

Citing US states that have seen elevated numbers in coronavirus cases, the governor called it a "pivotal moment" in making sure this does not happen to New York.

"This is deja vu," Cuomo said. "They reopen and then the number goes up, which is common sense on one level."

11:50 a.m. ET, June 12, 2020

Covid-19 hospitalizations hit lowest level in 2 months

From CNN's Elizabeth Joseph

Coronavirus-related hospitalizations in Maryland have fallen by more than 100 over the past 48 hours and “are now at their lowest level in 66 days,” Gov. Larry Hogan announced on Twitter Friday morning.

At least 9,748 people across the state have been tested for Covid-19 over the past 24 hours, bringing the statewide total of completed tests to 473,271, he said, adding the statewide positivity rate is now 6.9%.

10:38 a.m. ET, June 12, 2020

Trump economic adviser claims there "is no second wave"

From CNN's Betsy Klein

White House chief economic adviser Larry Kudlow speaks during a roundtable in the State Dining Room of the White House on May 29 in Washington.
White House chief economic adviser Larry Kudlow speaks during a roundtable in the State Dining Room of the White House on May 29 in Washington. Alex Brandon/AP

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow sought to calm markets after stocks tumbled Thursday on news of a projected second wave of coronavirus, claiming there “is no second wave.”

“I’m not the health expert, but on the so-called spike, I spoke to our health experts at some length last evening. They are saying there is no second spike, let me repeat that, there is no second spike. And that – Sec. Mnuchin said yesterday in testimony and I totally agree, we are not going to shut down the economy,” Kudlow said during an appearance on Fox News Friday.

After fears about a rise in coronavirus cases, US stocks posted their sharpest selloff in three months. US stocks surged at Friday's opening bell.

But Kudlow appears to contradict himself almost immediately by saying some places are up — although he is quick to say the Trump Administration has it handled. 

Kudlow continued, “What you do have is certain spots are seeing a little bit of a jump up. Some small metropolitan areas are seeing it. CDC and the health people are all over it – they sent some task forces out to deal with that. You know, nowadays, we have better equipment, much more experience, much better testing. I mean the testing itself has jumped up, so you’re going to get a little more positivity from that. But if you look nationally, the important point is the rate of increase of new cases is between 0 and 1 percent. It’s really flattened out, and with respect to fatalities, it’s the same, it’s actually lower than that, it’s like zero to a half a percent.”

What we know about the virus: While new case rates aren’t growing significantly for now, 19 states are experiencing rising cases as of Friday. In many states, hospitalizations are also increasing, an indicator of people seriously ill with Covid-19.

Kudlow also suggested Dr. Deborah Birx – who has been largely silent and away from cameras – may be seen Friday, but it’s unclear how or when.

“If I can calm fears, again I’m not the health expert, Amb. Birx may be out and about later today. Nonetheless, there is no emergency, there is no second wave. I don’t know where that got started on Wall Street,” he said.

10:37 a.m. ET, June 12, 2020

Mass transit ridership is up across New York City following reopening, mayor says

From CNN's Sheena Jones

People enter the subway at Times Square during rush hour on the first day of phase one of the reopening after the coronavirus lockdown on June 8 in New York.
People enter the subway at Times Square during rush hour on the first day of phase one of the reopening after the coronavirus lockdown on June 8 in New York. David Dee Delgado/Getty Images

Mass transit ridership is up across New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Friday at the city’s daily news conference.

This comes as the city started phase one of its reopening plan earlier this week.

Subway ridership, as of Wednesday, has been up 25% compared to the Wednesday before, de Blasio said.

Bus ridership is up 23%, compared to that same time, and Staten Island Ferry ridership is up 31%.

Traffic into Manhattan is up 14% during that time period, de Blasio said.

The mayor also noted that daily Covid-19 indicators for the city showed a "good news report."

Citing data from Wednesday, the mayor said:  

  • 70 patients were admitted to hospitals for suspected Covid-19
  • 339 people were being treated in health and hospitals ICUs
  • 3% of those tested for Covid-19 tested positive – “We have been around that number for many days and that’s a very good sign,” de Blasio said.