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 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
Mass transit ridership is up across New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Friday at the city’s daily news conference.
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.
9:43 a.m. ET, June 12, 2020
US surgeon general urges protesters to take coronavirus precautions
From CNN's Jacqueline Howard
US Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams said he wants people who decide to protest against racial injustice to do so as safely as possible during the pandemic — and he said he understands why the protests are being prioritized.
"I understand the anger, the frustration, the fear and why people feel that they need to prioritize going out and protesting," Adams told Politico's Dan Diamond during an episode of the podcast "Pulse Check" on Thursday.
"If you are going to go out, then we want you to take precautions," Adams added. "We want you to try to stay six feet apart from each other whenever you can. We want you to wear a face covering. We want you to practice good hand hygiene, including carrying hand sanitizer."
Adams also advised to bring as little with you as possible, because if you are carrying a backpack or multiple layers of clothing, for instance, those items would need to be disinfected.
"What I've always said for anyone going out is that if you're going to go out, know your risk and know how to stay safe. It's important for people to know that there are communities where we are seeing upticks and spread and the coronavirus is still here — it is still deadly, it is still contagious," Adams said.
"If you choose to go out in that setting, you need to understand whether or not you are someone who is at higher risk — someone with chronic diseases, someone who is older, again 94% of mortality is over the age of 60," Adams added. "You need to understand if you're living with someone who is at risk, because the last thing you'd want to do is go out and protest and then bring coronavirus home to your vulnerable loved one."
9:47 a.m. ET, June 12, 2020
42,000 people to participate in the next phase of this Covid-19 vaccine trial
From CNN Health’s Elizabeth Cohen and Wes Bruer
The phase 3 trial of the Covid-19 vaccine candidate developed by University of Oxford is underway, and is expected to include 42,000 people when the Oxford-led trial is combined with a phase 3 trial led by its partner, AstraZeneca.
In phase 3, Oxford is enrolling 10,000 people in the UK, and AstraZeneca is enrolling 30,000 in the US. On June 2, the Brazilian government approved the inclusion of volunteers in their country, with 2,000 volunteers to be tested there.
The AstraZeneca portion of the phase 3 trial will begin in August, according to the National Institutes of Health, which will be conducting and funding the trials.
Participants in the phase 3 group will “receive one or two doses” of their Covid-19 vaccine candidate, or another licensed vaccine that will be the control group.
9:12 a.m. ET, June 12, 2020
TSA screens more than half a million for first time since pandemic hit
From CNN's Greg Wallace
More than 500,000 people crossed through US Transportation Security Administration checkpoints on Thursday, the first time the numbers have climbed above that mark since travel cratered this spring due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The 502,209 people TSA reported screening is still well below typical levels — nearly 19% of the 2.7 million the agency screened on the same Thursday last year.
The passenger rates have steadily risen since bottoming out at about 3% of last year’s traffic – less than 100,000 daily travelers — in mid-April.
Airlines are operating more flights than at that point, and each plane is also carrying more passengers.
Airlines for America, representing the major US carriers, said Thursday that the average departure carries 57 passengers, compared to 50 the group reported on Monday and fewer than 20 at the low point.
8:46 a.m. ET, June 12, 2020
Coronavirus mutations not expected to influence vaccine efficacy, WHO chief scientist says
From CNN Health's Jacqueline Howard
All viruses mutate — including the novel coronavirus. But as the world now races to develop a Covid-19 vaccine, the coronavirus mutations are not expected to alter vaccine efficacy during this race, said World Health Organization chief scientist Dr. Soumya Swaminathan.
"The mutations have not been shown to be in those regions of the virus — the spike protein, the receptor binding domain — that are going to alter the efficacy of a vaccine so far," Swaminathan said on Friday during a live Q&A broadcast on WHO's social media pages.
Swaminathan added that "viruses keep on changing and we have to keep an eye on that."
Currently there are about 200 vaccine candidates in development around the world, with 10 in human trials — four in the United States, five in China and one in the United Kingdom — and 126 in preclinical trials globally, according to WHO.
Regarding how the coronavirus may differ across countries due to mutations, "the virus may be slightly different but it’s not so different that the vaccine will not work," Swaminathan said.
"It’s also good to have vaccine trials in many different countries because you have different populations, different genetics, different risk factors and WHO very much would like to see the candidates that are being developed now being tested in many countries."
8:42 a.m. ET, June 12, 2020
Thailand will ease more lockdown restrictions on Monday
From CNN's Kocha Olarn in Bangkok
Thailand's Ministry of Public Health announced that the country will begin phase four of easing lockdown restrictions according to a spokesperson on Friday.
Thailand's Ministry of Public Health and the Center for the Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) said that on June 15, some schools can resume classes with social distancing and people will be able to dine and drink alcohol in restaurants. Bars and clubs will remain closed.
A CCSA spokesperson said that in phase four there will no longer be a countrywide curfew, but Thailand's border will remain closed.
The spokesperson also said the CCSA committee had discussed the principle of Thailand could open a "travel bubble" with selected countries, but there was no conclusion on whether visitors would have a mandatory quarantine on arrival.
China, Hong Kong, Macau, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Australia, New Zealand, Laos, Myanmar, Cambodia and Middle Eastern countries would be considered for the travel bubble.
Travelers would have to be tested for the virus in their origin country, tested again on arrival, and purchase health insurance. Business travelers and medical tourists would be prioritized.
8:42 a.m. ET, June 12, 2020
WHO scientist: "A vaccine would be the best way out of this pandemic"
From CNN's Jacqueline Howard
Having a safe and effective Covid-19 vaccine available for the world is currently the "best way" to beat the coronavirus pandemic, according to World Health Organization chief scientist Dr. Soumya Swaminathan.
"Everyone is waiting for a vaccine because it’s clear that a vaccine would be the best way out of this pandemic. If you can vaccinate enough people — let’s say 50% to 60% of people become immune — the virus can stop spreading from one person to another," Swaminathan said on Friday during a live Q&A broadcast on WHO's social media pages.
Currently, there are about 200 vaccine candidates in development around the world, with 10 in human trials — four in the United States, five in China and one in the United Kingdom — and 126 in preclinical trials globally, according to WHO.
"Vaccine development normally takes 10 to 20 years. So here we’re talking about developing a vaccine in 12 to 18 months, but we have to be sure each step of the way that we establish that this vaccine actually works -- which we call efficacy, which means that it protects against infection -- and safety. These are the two properties of the vaccine. It should be safe in the sense you do not want a vaccine to cause more problems than what it’s supposed to protect against," Swaminathan said.
"The other thing that WHO is working on is developing an allocation framework because we don’t want to be in a situation where there are some doses of a vaccine but they’re not available to everyone, they’re just available to a few people in a few countries. So this is where global solidarity comes in," Swaminathan said.
"Our member states are discussing, how do we make a fair and equitable allocation? So that, let’s say you have 50 million doses to begin with -- who are the people who need it the most? It shouldn’t be limited by country but it should be: Is it the most vulnerable? The frontline workers that we see are getting infected? Is it the elderly? The people above 60 or 65? We need to have a consensus on that."