"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
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
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
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.
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
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.
9:46 a.m. ET, June 18, 2020
Spain unveils plan to boost tourism, worth 4.25 billion euros
From CNN's Ingrid Formanek
The Spanish government announced a plan to boost its hard-hit tourism sector, worth 4.25 billion euros, nearly $4.8 billion, on Thursday.
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez announced “an essential plan to help tourism," calling tourism “one of our biggest strengths."
Tourism has been among the hardest hit economic sectors by the Covid-19 pandemic, representing about 12% of the country’s GDP, and employing more than 13% of Spain’s workers, according to the government’s statistics.
Some 1.2 million people will benefit from the plan, which is part of Spain’s social and economic Covid-19 reconstruction scheme as it transitions out of the crisis, according to the government’s press release.
Some 200,000 euros will go toward health safety schemes and measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19, including practical steps such as disinfection and cleaning, to “ensure safe and sustainable tourism," as outlined in the government’s plan.
The provisions in the plan include loan guarantees for businesses in the tourism industry, to benefit both companies and workers, some 25 million euros worth of incentives for airlines, Spain’s airports authority AENA will reduce landing fees, 859 million euros will go to sustainability and renewable energies, as well as modernizing and digitalizing the industry.
The government says the plan announced today will bring the aid committed to the tourism sector since the start of the pandemic to a total of 19.53 billion euros.
Spain will reopen its borders from most European Union countries on June 21, when the country’s state of emergency, in place since mid-March, will be lifted.
9:20 a.m. ET, June 18, 2020
Fauci: Getting US coronavirus vaccine candidate into Phase I trial the "quickest that has ever been done"
From CNN Health's Jacqueline Howard
The process of getting a United States coronavirus vaccine candidate into a Phase I trial was at record speed, according to the nation's top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci.
Here is how the process went, according to Fauci:
"The Chinese put on the open database, the sequence, on the 10th of January. On the 11th of January, we had a meeting with our staff and said, 'We got to jump on this.' On the 15th, we began the development of a vaccine of January. Sixty-two days later, we had a product that we put into clinical trial, in a Phase I to see if it's safe and does it induce an immune response. That is overwhelmingly the quickest that has ever been done," Fauci said in an episode of the US Department of Health and Human Services' podcast "Learning Curve" on Wednesday.
Fauci explained that there are "a number of steps to develop a vaccine" and the reason the US was able to do the process so quickly was because they proceeded at "what's called at-risk. Not at-risk for safety, not at-risk for scientific integrity, but at-risk for finances."
Fauci continued: "What happens is that in the standard way of developing a vaccine, you don't jump to invest in the next step until you're pretty sure that the step you're in is working," Fauci said. "Given the fact that we needed to do this as quickly as possible without sacrificing safety or scientific integrity, the federal government partnered with multiple of these companies and said, 'Guess what, we're going to move fast and we're going to assume we're going to be successful. And if we are, we've saved several months. And if we're not, the only thing we've lost is money. But better lose money than lose lives by delaying the vaccine.' So, right now, the initial data from the study showed that — it makes me cautiously optimistic that we can induce a response that would be protective."
9:24 a.m. ET, June 18, 2020
Coronavirus in Africa could set back some HIV preventions by a decade, health official says
From CNN Health’s Amanda Watts
The coronavirus pandemic could set back some HIV preventions 10 years, Winnie Byanyima, executive director of The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), said during a Thursday briefing.
Byanyima said if countries continue to face financial pressure and drop important HIV health services in order to fight the coronavirus pandemic, it could be catastrophic.
“There will be a reverse of gains we have made in preventing mother to child transmission of HIV, that set us back to 10 years ago,” she said.
“We've estimated that within six months, we could have additional deaths, AIDS related deaths, of up to half a million — on top of what we have already," she continued.
“So there is a need to keep both to get the fight against both epidemics, going at the same time,” Byanyima added.
“Coronavirus has found Africa weak health-wise and weak economically,” she said. “We have the highest burden of HIV in the whole world. And also, highest burden or other diseases as well.”
“Africa has a difficult situation. And this is not to mention locusts, floods, landslides, droughts — that have also been hitting us as we fight the coronavirus,” she said.
9:38 a.m. ET, June 18, 2020
Former FDA head says "uniform masking would go a long way" in curbing Covid-19 spread in US
From CNN Health's Jacqueline Howard
If more people wore masks in the United States, that could be key in slowing the spread of Covid-19, Dr. Scott Gottlieb, former commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration, said during an appearance on "Morning Joe" Thursday.
"Uniform masking would go a long way. So there’s one study that showed that if 60% of people wore masks that were 60% effective, you would get the reproduction number under one, which means you’d have a declining epidemic rather than an expanding epidemic, which is what we still have in this country," Gottlieb told MSNBC's Joe Scarborough.
"Another study that came out recently, a mathematical modeling study, looked at the same question and found if you can get 50% of people to wear effective masks, you would get the reproduction number under one," Gottlieb continued. "Any mask is helpful, but the more protective the mask, the better."
Some background: Earlier this month, the World Health Organization recommended nations encourage the general public to wear masks in areas where there continues to be intense spread of the novel coronavirus — and for all health workers and caregivers to wear masks during their shifts.
The new guidance recommends for a healthy person to wear fabric masks — which can be homemade — that are at least three layers: an inner layer of an absorbent material such as cotton; a middle layer that acts like a filter or barrier, such as non-woven material polypropylene; and an outer layer of a non-absorbent material, such as polyester or polyester blend.
WHO currently recommends medical masks for health workers, anyone with symptoms, someone caring for someone who is sick, and people who are considered "at-risk," which includes adults 60 and older, and anyone with underlying health conditions.