June 15 coronavirus news

By Helen Regan and Steve George, CNN

Updated 8:16 PM ET, Mon June 15, 2020
13 Posts
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6:37 a.m. ET, June 15, 2020

French President says France will further ease Covid-19 restrictions on Monday

From CNN’s Pierre Buet in Paris

In an address to the nation on Sunday evening, French President Emmanuel Macron applauded the country in the battle against coronavirus.

He announced a further easing of restrictions that were put in place to battle the spread of Covid-19. Macron said, “We can be proud of what has been done and of our country.” He said, "tens of thousands of lives have been saved by our choices, by our actions."

Macron said, starting Monday, mainland France will lift all restrictions previously applied to businesses and transport. “We must get our economy back on track whilst protecting the most vulnerable," Macron said.

Macron said France will follow the EU Commission recommendation of opening up borders on Monday.


1:17 a.m. ET, June 15, 2020

More than 50 people test positive in Beijing as neighborhoods go into lockdown

From CNN's Shawn Deng and Steven Jiang in Beijing

A security personnel wearing a protective suit stands guard at a residential area under lockdown near Yuquan East Market in Beijing on June 15.
A security personnel wearing a protective suit stands guard at a residential area under lockdown near Yuquan East Market in Beijing on June 15. Noel Celis/AFP/Getty Images

Dozens of people in Beijing have tested positive for coronavirus over the weekend as the Chinese government races to contain the spread of the virus in the capital. Local authorities tested more than 76,000 people on Sunday, of whom 59 tested positive, city officials said today.

Beijing had not reported any new cases for almost two months until Thursday.

Since then, the city has reported 79 confirmed cases, almost all of which are linked to a wholesale food market, according to the National Health Commission, which has called the situation in Beijing “severe and uncertain.”

Market shut, mass testing: On Saturday Beijing shut down the Xinfadi wholesale food market, the biggest of its kind in the country, and launched mass testing for anyone who had visited the market since May 30 and their close contacts. 

Declaring “wartime emergencies” in parts of the city, local officials have sealed off the market and at least 11 neighborhoods in the surrounding area, as well as placed a growing number of other neighborhoods where new cases were reported under lockdown.

Officials are tracking those who visited the market: On Monday, Beijing officials said nearly 30,000 people had been to the market during the 14-day period before its closure. 

The city has ordered people who had visited the market recently and their close contacts to stay at home for two weeks for medical observation. Several local officials, including the deputy head of the district where the market is located, have been fired, the government announced Monday.

Traces of the virus found: A market official told state media Friday that traces of the virus were found in multiple environmental samples taken from the market, including chopping boards used to chop imported salmon, prompting supermarkets and restaurants in the city to pull the fish off of their shelves and menus. 

Beijing officials have since said genetic sequencing indicated the virus found in the market is similar to strains normally found in Europe, and vowed to strength inspections of all cargos from overseas.

1:15 a.m. ET, June 15, 2020

Trump's showmanship is now backfiring on him

Analysis from CNN's Stephen Collinson

US President Donald Trump smiles at the end of the commencement ceremony on June 13, in West Point, New York.
US President Donald Trump smiles at the end of the commencement ceremony on June 13, in West Point, New York. David Dee Delgado/Getty Images

US President Donald Trump's ostentatious refusal to wear a mask is undercutting his own government's message that face coverings could significantly slow the spread of the coronavirus and actually accelerate a resumption of normal life.

US Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams on Sunday undermined Trump's implied argument that government-mandated changes of social behavior to deal with the virus are an infringement on the basic rights of Americans. "Some feel face coverings infringe on their freedom of choice -- but if more wear them, we'll have MORE freedom to go out," Adams wrote on Twitter.

Meanwhile, Trump has plans for more rallies in Arizona, Texas and Florida -- states where the virus is fast rising again after early economic openings that he demanded. The events will likely focus attention on his denial about the pandemic and inaccurate judgment that the United States has "prevailed" over the crisis.

Read the full story here.

12:34 a.m. ET, June 15, 2020

Tulsa health director wishes Trump would postpone rally because of spike in Covid-19 cases

From CNN's Nicky Robertson

The director of the Tulsa Health Department said he wishes President Donald Trump would postpone his planned campaign rally set to take place there on Saturday, citing concerns about a recent increase in local cases of Covid-19.

In an interview with the local newspaper, Tulsa World, Bruce Dart said, "I wish we could postpone this to a time when the virus isn't as large a concern as it is today."

The city's health department on Friday said it recorded its highest daily increase of coronavirus cases to date.

"I think it's an honor for Tulsa to have a sitting president want to come and visit our community, but not during a pandemic," Dart told Tulsa World. "I'm concerned about our ability to protect anyone who attends a large, indoor event, and I'm also concerned about our ability to ensure the president stays safe as well."

CNN reached out to the Trump campaign about Dart's concerns and was told the campaign has no comment.

Read the full story here.

12:28 a.m. ET, June 15, 2020

Is it safer to fly or drive during the pandemic?

From CNN's Marnie Hunter

People are undoubtedly moving around more as vacation season heats up and patience for sheltering at home wears thin.

Many travelers are sticking closer to home with short driving trips, but air travel is on the rise.

More than 500,000 people crossed through Transportation Security Administration checkpoints at US airports on June 11, the first time numbers have climbed above that mark since the coronavirus pandemic brought travel to a near standstill in March.

Anyone contemplating a trip has probably asked: Is it safer to fly or drive during the pandemic?

As with most things coronavirus, there's no perfect answer. It depends on the trip, on your behavior and your risk tolerance.

Read the full story here.

1:14 a.m. ET, June 15, 2020

Hong Kong Disneyland, closed for five months due to Covid-19, is ready to reopen

From CNN's Lilit Marcus

A security guard checks an empty square usually filled with visitors at Hong Kong Disneyland in Hong Kong on January 26.
A security guard checks an empty square usually filled with visitors at Hong Kong Disneyland in Hong Kong on January 26. Ayaka McGill/AFP/Getty Images

On June 18, Hong Kong Disneyland will become the world's second Disney park to reopen.

One of the smallest Disney theme parks, it closed on January 26 due to the global coronavirus crisis and has remained shut since then, with a few exceptions -- namely its hotels and a few on-site restaurants.

Shanghai Disneyland was the first park to reopen, welcoming guests back on May 11. Its reopening gave clues as to what Disney parks around the world would look like post-coronavirus, with social distancing regulations enforced and both guests and employees (aka cast members) sporting face masks.

And it looks like Hong Kong Disneyland will follow similar procedures.

Guests will be required to book reservations online at least one week in advance in order to maintain crowd control. Upon arrival, they will have to submit to temperature checks, fill out a health declaration form and wear face masks.

Magic Access members, who are the park's annual pass holders, will get priority for booking reservations.

Read the full story here.

12:11 a.m. ET, June 15, 2020

US reported more than 19,500 new coronavirus cases on Sunday

From CNN's Alta Spells

There are at least 2,094,058 cases of coronavirus in the United States and at least 115,732 people have died, according to Johns Hopkins University's tally.

 On Sunday, Johns Hopkins reported 19,532 new cases and 296 new deaths in the US.

The total includes cases from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and other U.S. territories, as well as repatriated cases. 

CNN’s interactive map is tracking cases in the US:

12:11 a.m. ET, June 15, 2020

Chinese company says its experimental coronavirus vaccine induces antibodies

From CNN Health’s Maggie Fox

A Chinese company says its experimental coronavirus vaccine caused the body to produce antibodies against the virus.

Sinovac Biotech Ltd. is testing the vaccine in more than 700 volunteers in an accelerated trial that combines Phase 1 safety testing and the next step, Phase 2.

“The phase II clinical trial results show that the vaccine induces neutralizing antibodies 14 days after the vaccination,” the company said in a statement.

No one has been able to show if these neutralizing antibodies can protect people against infection with Covid-19, but vaccine makers hope they will. More than 90% of the 600 volunteers in the Phase 2 arm developed these antibodies, the company said in a statement.

“Sinovac is collaborating with Instituto Butantan in Brazil to prepare and conduct a phase III clinical study,” it added. Phase 3 testing is the last step to test whether a vaccine or drug works before seeking approval from regulators.

How it works: Sinovac is using an old-fashioned approach to making a coronavirus vaccine, one that that uses an entire virus to prompt the body to develop immunity. The virus is inactivated so it cannot cause disease. This whole-virus approach is slower because batches of virus must be grown in factories to make large amounts of vaccine, but it is effective. Whole-virus vaccines still in use include polio shots, flu shots and the rabies vaccine.

The US is pushing ahead with newer vaccines made using genetic material from the virus. They are faster to make but scientists have to figure out which part of the virus is the best part to replicate in order to induce an strong immune response.


1:13 a.m. ET, June 15, 2020

Coronavirus clusters in Japan linked to young people, those without symptoms

From CNN Health’s Arman Azad

Visitors wearing protective masks are seen at The Railway Museum on June 10, in Saitama, Japan.
Visitors wearing protective masks are seen at The Railway Museum on June 10, in Saitama, Japan. Takashi Aoyama/Getty Images

New research from Japan suggests that many coronavirus clusters outside of hospitals may have been started by people who are younger than 40 or don’t feel sick.

The findings offer insight into who might be driving coronavirus transmission -- and they underscore the importance of certain measures, such as face coverings, to slow the spread of Covid-19.

Researchers behind the study looked at more than 3,000 coronavirus cases in Japan. They identified 61 clusters linked to places such as health care facilities, restaurants, bars, workplaces and music events. A cluster was defined as five or more cases where people were exposed at a common venue – not including transmission within a household.

The researchers identified 22 patients who likely started clusters outside of hospitals; half of them were between 20 and 39 years old. That is “younger than the age distribution of all COVID-19 cases in Japan,” according to the study.

“We do not know whether social, biological, or both factors play a role in the difference in transmission patterns between the younger and older persons,” the researchers wrote.
“We also noted probable primary COVID-19 case-patients appear to transmit the virus and generate clusters even in the absence of apparent respiratory symptoms, such as cough.”

The research was published last week as an “Early Release” in Emerging Infectious Diseases, a journal from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That means it could see changes before being published.

 Overall, the study found 18 clusters linked to health care facilities and ten linked to other care facilities such as nursing homes and day care centers.

Ten additional clusters were from restaurants or bars, eight were from workplaces, and seven were from music-related events such as live concerts, chorus group rehearsals and karaoke parties.

 “The largest non–healthcare-related cluster we observed was among >30 persons who attended a live music concert, including performers, audience members, and event staff,” the researchers wrote. Five other clusters were linked to gyms, two to “ceremonial functions” and one to an airplane.
“We noted many COVID-19 clusters were associated with heavy breathing in close proximity, such as singing at karaoke parties, cheering at clubs, having conversations in bars, and exercising in gymnasiums,” the researchers wrote.