June 18 coronavirus news

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11:48 a.m. ET, June 18, 2020

Asymptomatic Covid-19 patients may have weaker immune responses to infection, new study finds

From CNN's Jacqueline Howard

A resident has their blood drawn for an antibody test for the coronavirus - also called a serology test - on June 16, 2020 in Washington, DC. 
A resident has their blood drawn for an antibody test for the coronavirus - also called a serology test - on June 16, 2020 in Washington, DC.  Win McNamee/Getty Images

People who have coronavirus infections but never develop symptoms could have weaker immune responses to the virus, a new study suggests.

The small study, published in the journal Nature Medicine on Thursday, found that a group of about three dozen Covid-19 patients who were asymptomatic had levels of antibodies that were significantly lower than what was found among patients who had mild symptoms — a finding that suggests the asymptomatic patients had weaker immune responses.

The researchers, from various institutions in Chongqing, China, also found that the asymptomatic patients had a significantly longer duration of viral shedding — in which they could spread the coronavirus to others -- than the symptomatic patients.

The new study included data on 37 Covid-19 patients who were diagnosed before April 10 and developed no symptoms while isolated at a hospital in the Wanzhou District of Chongqing, China. Their health data, taken from blood samples and other tests, were compared with 37 other Covid-19 patients who had mild symptoms.

The data showed that, even though the asymptomatic patients were experiencing no symptoms, they were still shedding the coronavirus — meaning they were infectious — for a median duration of 19 days. That duration of viral shedding was significantly longer than what was found among the patients with mild symptoms, which was 14 days, according to the study.

The data also suggested that certain antibody levels among the asymptomatic patients were significantly lower relative to the symptomatic patients. Antibodies, which are proteins that circulate in your blood to help fight off infections, can hold clues to your body's immune response.

Among the asymptomatic patients, 81.1% had reductions in their neutralizing antibody levels during the eight weeks after being discharged from the hospital — compared with 62.2% of the symptomatic patients. The researchers found some other differences in the patients' health data, suggesting that "asymptomatic individuals had a weaker immune response" to the coronavirus. 

The study had some limitations, including that it involved a small number of patients and antibody testing itself is not always 100% accurate. But overall, the researchers wrote in their study that the findings suggest there are potential risks to using "immunity passports" based on antibodies and "support the prolongation of public health interventions, including social distancing, hygiene, isolation of high-risk groups and widespread testing."

Eleanor Riley, a professor of immunology and infectious disease at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, said that the new study's findings are not surprising.

"The data are in line with several recently reported studies suggesting that those with mild or asymptomatic infections make a less robust antibody response to SARS-CoV-2 than those with more severe disease," Riley said in a written statement distributed by the UK-based Science Media Centre on Thursday.

"The really interesting question, to which we don’t yet have an answer, is why some people develop such mild infections," Riley said in part. "It may be that they are genetically less susceptible to infection or that they have some pre-existing immunity due to prior infection with related seasonal coronaviruses."

11:34 a.m. ET, June 18, 2020

Florida reports more than 3,000 new cases of Covid-19 cases

From CNN's Erica Henry

Beachgoers on South Beach on June 10, 2020 in Miami Beach, Florida as the area eased restrictions put in place to contain COVID-19.
Beachgoers on South Beach on June 10, 2020 in Miami Beach, Florida as the area eased restrictions put in place to contain COVID-19. Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images

The Florida Department of Health is reporting an additional 3,207 cases of coronavirus on Thursday, bringing the state total to 85,926, according to data released by the state. 

As of Wednesday, the state of Florida had reported a total of 82,719 cases. 

Thursday's numbers mark the highest number of reported cases in a single day the state has seen, according to to the Florida Department of Health. 

11:05 a.m. ET, June 18, 2020

"There's not going to be a post-Covid world for a long time," infectious disease expert says

From CNN's Gisela Crespo

A shopper wearing a face mask walks through the Mall of America on June 16, 2020 in Bloomington, Minnesota, after some of the shops at the mall reopened on June 10.
A shopper wearing a face mask walks through the Mall of America on June 16, 2020 in Bloomington, Minnesota, after some of the shops at the mall reopened on June 10. Kerem Yucel/AFP/Getty Images

States need to figure how to protect people from Covid-19 while still continuing to reopen economically, Dr. Colleen Kraft, associate chief medical officer at Emory University Hospital, said on CNN today.

Kraft said she doesn't think the US "can survive another shelter-in-place economically" when asked about the uptick in new coronavirus cases in places like Florida. 

"Now we've got to figure out how can we protect people at the same time they're going about their daily lives," Kraft said. "We have to focus on living with Covid. There's not going to be a post-Covid world for a long time." 

Kraft urged people to wear masks and carry hand sanitizers in an effort to reduce transmissions, despite claims from President Trump that the virus "is dying out." 

"Please understand that you have within your abilities to make a difference and diminish transmission. Wearing a mask or not wearing a mask shouldn't be how you're going to vote in the upcoming election. It's really about protecting yourself from an infection," she said.

10:51 a.m. ET, June 18, 2020

New York City restaurants set to open for outdoor seating next week

From CNN's Sheena Jones

An empty restaurant is seen in Brooklyn on May 12.
An empty restaurant is seen in Brooklyn on May 12. Spencer Platt/Getty Images/File

New York City is set to begin phase two of reopening on Monday, Mayor Bill de Blasio said.

The mayor said he woke up to good news of the city’s Covid-19 indicators being down and that means the city is ready to enter phase two. 

Phase two includes opening restaurants for outdoor seating, hair salons and barbershops along with a host of other businesses, de Blasio said.

De Blasio also said he signed an executive order this morning allowing restaurants to open and have outdoor seating. 

Restaurants will be able to use outdoor areas for seating. Here are some of those details:

  • Curb lane seating through Labor day
  • Sidewalk seating through October 
  • Backyard and patio seating beginning July
  • Open street seating beginning July
  • Plaza seating through business improvement districts

Businesses will work with the Department of Transportation to work on seating. 

12:57 p.m. ET, June 18, 2020

How new coronavirus cases in the US compare to other countries

New coronavirus cases are spiking in some states across the US, even as President Trump claimed the virus is "dying out."

"If you look, the numbers are very minuscule compared to what it was. It's dying out," Trump said yesterday.

But as coronavirus cases remain high in the US, other countries in Europe and across the world are seeing clear downward trends in the number of new confirmed coronavirus cases.

Here's a look at where things stand:

And here's a closer look the number of new confirmed cases across the US and in other countries:

10:11 a.m. ET, June 18, 2020

Johns Hopkins calls on US to perform coronavirus antibody tests nationwide, and detail how to do it

From CNN Health's Jacqueline Howard

Residents have their blood drawn for coronavirus antibody tests in Washington on June 16.
Residents have their blood drawn for coronavirus antibody tests in Washington on June 16. Win McNamee/Getty Images

A new report from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health offers up a national strategy for expanding coronavirus antibody testing across the United States, and recommends that the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lead a "consistent, standardized effort" to perform such testing nationwide.

Antibody tests, also called serologic tests or serosurveys, look for evidence of an immune response to coronavirus infection and then use that evidence to determine if you have been infected with the virus in the past, even if you never developed symptoms or had an official diagnosis. A serosurvey then can show what proportion of the population has been previously infected.

The new report, published online Thursday and authored by eight experts affiliated with Johns Hopkins University, describes the value of serosurveys and provides recommendations for the US government and states on how to effectively perform these tests amid the Covid-19 crisis.

"The US government should take this opportunity to lead these serosurveys to ensure that resources are used efficiently, and the data collected can be used to improve the public health of Americans in the future," the researchers wrote in the report.

The report acknowledged that "budget must be carefully considered" when designing serosurveys, which can be expensive -- possibly costing up to millions of dollars, depending on the size, cost of tests and storing samples, among other factors. Serosurveys for the common flu can cost about $3.53 million for one project, for example, and surveillance studies for HIV can cost about $708,000 for one project, according to the report.

The report also noted that once serosurveys are conducted, the US government should create a central repository or database for the new data being collected to reside -- and the CDC could lead the way in designing the serosurveys and their protocols.

"A central repository, similar to that found in ClinicalTrials.gov, would be a valuable resource to include all serosurveys, including their methodology, timelines, and purpose. A systematic method of entering data on serosurveys would then allow studies to be easily compared and could also allow individuals to access serosurveys in their area," the researchers wrote in the report. "Right now, states are designing and initiating their own studies, but having a consistent protocol for carrying out serosurveys would make findings more valuable."

The report added that employers and universities using antibody tests "should be strongly encouraged to register their studies" in that central repository.

The report also emphasized that validating serological tests remains critical for ensuring that tests are indeed producing accurate results. In early May, the US Food and Drug Administration announced that the National Cancer Institute would be helping to validate antibody tests on the market -- yet no results from those validation studies so far have been made public, according to the Johns Hopkins report. The report says, "The FDA, NIH, CDC, and NCI should release the results of their antibody test validation study."

Overall, the researchers wrote that "serosurveys can generate valuable data on the true prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 infection that can better inform public health decisions at a population level."

9:52 a.m. ET, June 18, 2020

US stocks slide as Covid-19 cases rise in some parts of the country

From CNN’s Anneken Tappe

People walk by the New York Stock Exchange on June 15.
People walk by the New York Stock Exchange on June 15. Spencer Platt/Getty Images

US stocks opened lower on Thursday, with the Dow and the S&P on track to add onto their losses from the prior session. Both indexes snapped a three-day winning streak Wednesday as momentum in the market fizzled out.

Stocks had been rallying on high hopes for the reopening of the economy. But rising numbers of Covid-19 cases in some areas around the world put a damper on this optimism.

Jobless claims data didn’t move the needle much for stocks, either. Another 1.5 million Americans filed for first-time unemployment benefits last week, bringing the total number of initial claims to more than 45 million since mid-March.

Here's how the markets opened:

  • The Dow opened down 0.8%, or 205 points
  • The S&P 500 opened down 0.5%.
  • The Nasdaq Composite slipped 0.2%
10:04 a.m. ET, June 18, 2020

Days before Trump rally in Tulsa, the city and state are seeing record numbers of new Covid-19 cases

From CNN's Kristen Holmes,Ryan Nobles and Kay Jones

On Wednesday, President Trump supporters are seen camping outside the venue for his upcoming rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
On Wednesday, President Trump supporters are seen camping outside the venue for his upcoming rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Lawrence Bryant/Reuters

Days before President Trump is set to hold a massive campaign rally in Tulsa, the city and Oklahoma are seeing record numbers of new coronavirus cases.

Oklahoma is among nine other states that are seeing record-high seven-day averages of new coronavirus cases per day, according to a CNN analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University.

In Tulsa, ninety-six residents tested positive for Covid-19 in the past day, Dr. Bruce Dart of the Tulsa Health Department said yesterday in a news conference.

That was a new daily record for the county, according to Dart. He said the number of cases reported are continuing to set new records. 

Trump's campaign is moving forward with plans for Saturday night's event in Tulsa despite complaints from local officials and dire warnings from public health experts about the dangers of packing 20,000 people into cramped indoor quarters amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Dart issued a warning yesterday ahead of the rally saying that "anyone planning to attend a large scale gathering will face an increased risk of becoming infected with Covid-19."

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt said in a news conference yesterday that more than 1 million requests have been made to attend the rally.

Stitt will be at a roundtable today at the White House on reopening, according to White House deputy press secretary Judd Deere. 

Some background: Rallygoers that RSVP for the event ahead of time must agree to a disclaimer that is designed to absolve the campaign of liability should an attendee contract the virus. 

Campaign officials say they have plans to take the temperature of every person who enters the building as well as offer hand sanitizer and masks. Wearing the masks, however, will not be required and the campaign concedes that there will be no attempt at social distancing.

A judge on Tuesday denied an emergency motion to stop Trump's campaign rally. The decision came after local lawyers asked the court to block the event unless organizers agreed to take steps to adhere to the administration's own social distancing recommendations to limit the spread of coronavirus.

Despite these concerns, the Trump team said it believes now is the time to turn the page on the coronavirus.

"The freedom of speech, the right to peacefully assemble is enshrined in the First Amendment of the Constitution and the President and I are very confident that we're going to be able to restart these rallies to tell the story of what the President has done thorough these unprecedented times but also over the last three and a half years," Pence told Fox.

9:58 a.m. ET, June 18, 2020

Eight Kansas State student-athletes test positive for Covid-19

From CNN's Homero DeLaFuente

Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire/AP/File
Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire/AP/File

Kansas State announced on Wednesday that eight of its student-athletes tested positive for Covid-19. The university confirmed the positive cases after testing 130 student-athletes through June 17. 

“Kansas State Athletics has confirmed that a total of eight student-athletes have tested positive for active COVID-19 following PCR (polymerase chain reaction) testing of approximately 130 student-athletes through June 17,” the university said.

The school added: “Each student-athlete that tests positive is medically managed according to current local, state, national, and CDC guidelines, which begins with self-isolation for 10 days and until the patient is without fever for 72 hours without medication, whichever takes longer. These guidelines would also include quarantine for any individuals known to have been in contact with someone who tested positive.”

After Kansas State reported two student-athletes had tested positive for coronavirus one day before on Tuesday, the school's athletic director Gene Taylor said in a statement: "We will always keep our focus on the health and well-being of our student-athletes and staff, a small number of positive tests was something that we were anticipating based on what we are seeing from across college football, and our medical staff and coaching staffs are well-prepared for the next steps. While we know this is a very fluid situation, we have a great plan in place and all of our student-athletes have done their part in following the correct procedures to return to campus."

Football players had returned to the school for voluntary workouts on Monday but after the most recent cases, student-athletes will not be allowed to work out on campus until July 1.