June 19 coronavirus news

By Melissa Macaya, Meg Wagner, Helen Regan and Steve George, CNN

Updated 2:44 AM ET, Sat June 20, 2020
26 Posts
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7:46 a.m. ET, June 19, 2020

Researchers propose MMR booster vaccine to combat Covid-19

From CNN Heath’s Maggie Fox

Mel Melcon/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images
Mel Melcon/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images

A vaccine to prevent coronavirus may be months or even years away, but a team of researchers in the US say an everyday vaccine that is available now might be used to help prevent the worst effects of coronavirus infection.

They’re proposing giving a booster dose of the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine to people to see if it ramps up immunity in general, perhaps helping prevent some of the most severe effects of Covid-19.

Their thinking: The MMR vaccine is known to protect kids against infections that go far beyond the three viruses targeted by the vaccine. The theory is that the vaccine boosts general immunity, in addition to training the body to recognize specific viruses.

The MMR vaccine is what’s known as a live vaccine. It uses highly weakened, or attenuated, versions of the measles, mumps and rubella viruses to produce immune protection without making people sick. Because it uses whole viruses, it stimulates an immune response that is broad and goes beyond the production of antibodies.

“There is mounting evidence that live attenuated vaccines provide nonspecific protection against lethal infections unrelated to the target pathogen of the vaccine by inducing ‘trained’ nonspecific innate immune cells for improved host responses against subsequent infections,” Paul Fidel of Louisiana State University and Mairi Noverr of Tulane University wrote in a letter to the journal mBio.

“A clinical trial with MMR in high-risk populations may provide a ‘low-risk–high-reward’ preventive measure in saving lives during this unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic,” they wrote. There’s no serious risk to giving the vaccine to most people and the approach might be especially effective for protecting health care workers, they said.

“If we’re wrong, well, at least people will have new antibodies to measles, mumps and rubella. So there’s no harm, no foul,” Fidel told CNN.

“We emphasize this is strictly a preventive measure against the worst inflammatory sequelae of COVID-19 for those exposed/infected and does not represent an antiviral therapy or vaccine against COVID-19 in any manner,” Fidel and Noverr added in their letter.

7:41 a.m. ET, June 19, 2020

Venezuela's Maduro tightens grip on power, helped by coronavirus lockdown

From CNN's Stefano Pozzebon

Venezuela's embattled ruler President Nicolas Maduro has made the most of the coronavirus lockdown to stamp his authority over the country's key political institutions, all in the matter of a week.

On Tuesday, the Venezuelan Supreme Court suspended the leadership of the main opposition party Primero Justicia and ruled that a pro-government lawmaker should be in charge. On Monday, the same happened to the second-largest opposition party, Acción Democrática. Both decisions were based on complaints from expelled party members.

A week earlier, the nation's highest court appointed the new members of the Electoral Council, a body of five officials tasked with organizing elections. Of the new magistrates, two previously served as judges in the same Supreme Court, and one is a former Socialist lawmaker who's been under US sanctions since 2017.

The court, which has traditionally supported the president, made the decision even though the Venezuelan constitution states the National Assembly -- which is controlled by the opposition -- should elect the members of the Electoral Council. The ruling was part of a pattern whereby the top court has refused to recognize the legitimacy of the assembly.

Hailing the rulings on Tuesday, Maduro declared: "We're going to change everything that must be changed at the National Assembly. With lots of strength and lots of faith, our action will be grandiose."

To date, Venezuela has registered less than 3,500 coronavirus cases and only 28 deaths, although experts doubt the reliability of those figures as the country's health system is in disarray and has limited capacity to perform Covid-19 tests.

Read the full story here:

7:23 a.m. ET, June 19, 2020

South Africa has the continent's highest Covid-19 cases. Now it has another pandemic on its hands

From CNN's Bukola Adebayo

People of the Eersterust community attend the Stop Violence Against Women March in Pretoria, South Africa on June 16.
People of the Eersterust community attend the Stop Violence Against Women March in Pretoria, South Africa on June 16. Alet Pretorius/Gallo Images/Getty Images

Early on Sunday morning, the mutilated body of a 42-year-old woman was found in Eersterust, a middle-class township in Pretoria, South Africa. 

Two days earlier, residents in the Soweto township of Johannesburg discovered the body of another young woman under a tree. And just over a week ago, a heavily pregnant 28-year-old was found hanging from a tree on the outskirts of Johannesburg. 

The three women were among the latest victims in a surge of violence against women in South Africa which the country's president has described as a "pandemic."

"As a man, as a husband, and as a father, I am appalled at what is no less than a war being waged against the women and the children of our country," said President Cyril Ramaphosa in a nationwide television address Wednesday. 

More than 20 women and children have been murdered in South Africa in recent weeks, he added. "These women are not just statistics, they have names, they have families and friends," he said as he read out the names of the victims. 

In an earlier statement on Saturday, he said the killings show that perpetrators have "descended to even greater depths of cruelty and callousness."

Read the full story here:

7:06 a.m. ET, June 19, 2020

Germany's coronavirus app downloaded nearly 10 million times in 4 days

From CNN's Nadine Schmidt in Berlin

A phone displays the German federal health ministry's Corona-Warn-App software in Berlin on June 17.
A phone displays the German federal health ministry's Corona-Warn-App software in Berlin on June 17. Adam Berry/Getty Images

Germany's new coronavirus smartphone app has been downloaded 9.6 million times since it was launched on Tuesday, according to government spokeswoman Ulrike Demmer.

That’s the equivalent of about 12% of the country’s population, although it’s unknown whether some people have downloaded it on multiple phones.

The new tracing app is designed to speedily track down new clusters of coronavirus infections.

Software maker SAP and telecommunications company Deutsche Telekom helped develop the service on behalf of the German government.

In countries around the world, many of these apps have been delayed as governments struggle to roll out complex new systems in record time, and some of those that have been launched are not being downloaded by enough people to have a major effect.

The UK yesterday ditched its own virus app for a version based on a system created by Google and Apple.

6:42 a.m. ET, June 19, 2020

The extreme hotel hygiene awaiting tourists in Spain

From CNN's Atika Shubert

Workers of the RIU Hotel in Mallorca welcome guests from Germany on June 15.
Workers of the RIU Hotel in Mallorca welcome guests from Germany on June 15. Joan Armengual/VIEWpress/Getty Images

It's breakfast time, which means I need to get my temperature checked, put on my face mask, smother my hands in alcohol disinfectant and wear a pair of plastic gloves. 

That's all before I have coffee. 

Welcome to the Riu Concordia -- part of a hotel chain headquartered in the Spanish holiday island of Mallorca. 

It's been specially chosen to greet some of the nearly 11,000 German visitors heading here as part of a pilot program to test coronavirus precautions and reopen Spain's tourism economy.

RIU Hotels has invested in a slew of new protocols. 

In our lobby, a thermal camera scans guests when they walk in through the sliding doors: Keep it cool and you get the green light to enter. 

But if your temperature gets too high, reception gets a discreet red alert. 

"The world is going to see us as an example. A positive example," hotel director Sergio Navarro told CNN. 

"We feel very brave to show the world our product. And people are doing a fantastic effort so far, guests are responding so well."

Read the full story here:

6:29 a.m. ET, June 19, 2020

UK coronavirus alert level decreased

From CNN's Simon Cullen

The UK’s Covid-19 alert level has been lowered from level four to level three, according to a joint statement issued by the Chief Medical Officers for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Level three means that Covid-19 remains in general circulation, whereas level four indicates that the level of transmission is high or rising.

“There has been a steady decrease in cases we have seen in all four nations, and this continues. It does not mean that the pandemic is over. The virus is still in general circulation, and localised outbreaks are likely to occur,” the Chief Medical Officers said in a statement.

“We have made progress against the virus thanks to the efforts of the public and we need the public to continue to follow the guidelines carefully to ensure this progress continues,” it added.

6:18 a.m. ET, June 19, 2020

What is really happening in Nicaragua during the pandemic?

From CNN's Natalie Gallón

Gravediggers bury the coffin of a pastor, who allegedly died from Covid-19, during his funeral at the Jardines del Recuerdo Cemetery in Managua, Nicaragua on June 5.
Gravediggers bury the coffin of a pastor, who allegedly died from Covid-19, during his funeral at the Jardines del Recuerdo Cemetery in Managua, Nicaragua on June 5. Inti Ocon/AFP/Getty Images

Nicaragua has seen its fair share of unrest, fear and struggles throughout its troubled history. Now, faced with the deadly coronavirus, the government is coming under fire for its casual approach to containing the pandemic. 

In the past three months, at least six politicians have died, although the details are vague on some of the causes. "Express burials" are happening at night, witnesses told CNN, and doctors have been allegedly fired for raising alarm about the virus' spread.

Medical experts have also questioned government-released details about the country's coronavirus infection rate.

"There are always two versions," a doctor who asked that his name be omitted for fear of losing his job told CNN, regarding information offered from the government. "The non-official is truer to reality and the government [version] is cause for confusion." 

The government of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega has described these allegations and reports of "express burials" as "false news." 

Six months into a crisis that has shaken the world, the 74-year-old president has refused to impose strict, preventive quarantine measures seen in neighboring countries. Public schools remain open, businesses continue to operate, festivals and cultural events are happening on an almost-weekly basis.

Read the full story:

5:39 a.m. ET, June 19, 2020

Coronavirus spikes bring US states and cities back to the table to discuss protection measures

From CNN's Madeline Holcombe

A pedestrian walks by a retail store in San Francisco on June 16.
A pedestrian walks by a retail store in San Francisco on June 16. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The pressure is on for local US leaders to respond to regional Covid-19 spikes and records, and some are turning to mask mandates. 

Statewide, Californians will be required to wear face coverings in indoor public places, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Thursday. To the north, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown announced a similar mandate for seven counties beginning June 24.

Similar measures are being considered in North Carolina and Arizona, where Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane is developing an ordinance with a legal team.

Each of those four states, along with six others, is currently reporting its highest seven-day average of new coronavirus cases per day since the crisis began, according to a CNN analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University. The others are Alabama, Florida, Nevada,Oklahoma, South Carolina and Texas.

Florida could be the next epicenter, experts say. And Oklahoma, where cases are up 110% from last week, is preparing to welcome large crowds in Tulsa on Saturday for a rally for President Donald Trump.

Dr. Jonathan Reiner, a cardiologist and professor of medicine at George Washington University, told CNN's Erin Burnett that social distancing will be near impossible there and county health officials should shut it down.

Read the full story:

5:19 a.m. ET, June 19, 2020

Yemen faces "unimaginable nightmare" with coronavirus

From CNN's Mohammed Tawfeeq in Atlanta 

Millions of Yemenis could be infected with coronavirus and up to 85,000 people could die as the country's health system has effectively collapsed, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) said in a report today.

IRC's estimated numbers are based on modeling and data produced by Imperial College London and the World Health Organization.

"What we are seeing in Yemen is unlike any tragedy witnessed before. COVID-19 is ripping through the country. We can't even say how many people have it, because Yemen's health system has effectively collapsed, and the country has extremely limited testing capacity," Tamuna Sabadze, IRC Yemen country director said.
"While bombs and airstrikes continue, we cannot control the pandemic and address the humanitarian needs of Yemenis. It is time the world wakes up and acts." Sabadze added.

Yemen has been mired in political unrest and armed conflict, which intensified in early 2015. Houthi rebels -- a minority Shia group from the north of the country -- drove out the US-backed government and took over the capital, Sanaa. The crisis quickly escalated into a multi-sided war, with neighboring Saudi Arabia leading a coalition of Gulf states against the Houthi rebels.