June 24 coronavirus news

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8:28 p.m. ET, June 24, 2020

Model projects 179,106 coronavirus deaths in US by October 1

From CNN’s Maggie Fox and Arman Azad

Nearly 180,000 Americans will die from coronavirus by October 1 unless just about everyone starts wearing masks, new projections show.

The latest coronavirus projection from the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation shows 179,106 deaths by October 1 if nothing changes.

But that number would drop to 146,000 if 95% of Americans started wearing masks in public, the model forecasts.

The previous IHME forecast, published June 15, projected 201,129 deaths by October 1. “California and other states have seen over the past several weeks increasing case numbers, but deaths are not yet rising at the same rate, a trend which could change in the coming weeks,” IHME Director Christopher Murray said in a statement Wednesday.

“There is no doubt that even as states open up, the United States is still grappling with a large epidemic on a course to increase beginning in late August and intensifying in September,” Murray said. “People need to know that wearing masks can reduce transmission of the virus by as much as 50 percent, and those who refuse are putting their lives, their families, their friends, and their communities at risk.”

According to a June 12 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 74% of Americans nationwide said they wore masks often or always. That number approached 90% in New York and Los Angeles.

“States reporting the ages of confirmed cases suggest there are more cases being detected in younger people who are at substantially lower risk of death than older people,” Murray said. “It remains to be seen how this will unfold over the next few weeks, and if transmission continues to go up, we may see increasing infections in at-risk populations.” 

4:00 p.m. ET, June 24, 2020

FDA and USDA say there is no evidence that people "can contract Covid-19 from food"

From CNN's Ben Tinker

The United States Department of Agriculture and Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday issued a joint statement on “food export restrictions pertaining to Covid-19.”

“The United States understands the concerns of consumers here domestically and around the world who want to know that producers, processors and regulators are taking every necessary precaution to prioritize food safety especially during these challenging times. However, efforts by some countries to restrict global food exports related to Covid-19 transmission are not consistent with the known science of transmission,” said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn.

“There is no evidence that people can contract Covid-19 from food or from food packaging. The U.S. food safety system, overseen by our agencies, is the global leader in ensuring the safety of our food products, including product for export,” they added.

4:21 p.m. ET, June 24, 2020

Colombia extends coronavirus lockdown to July 15

From CNN's Florencia Trucco

A worker sprays disinfectant on June 23 in Bogota, Colombia.
A worker sprays disinfectant on June 23 in Bogota, Colombia. Fernando Vergara/AP

Colombia’s President Ivan Duque extended the country’s lockdown to curb the spread of coronavirus until July 15. 

Speaking from the presidential palace on Tuesday, Duque said that regions in Colombia where no cases are being reported are reopening gradually. 

About the numbers: Colombia has reported 73,760 coronavirus cases, including 2,524 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.

4:16 p.m. ET, June 24, 2020

Wearing face masks to stop coronavirus spread should not be a political issue, Fauci says

From CNN's Shelby Lin Erdman

Dr. Anthony Fauci removes his face mask before testifying at a hearing on the Trump administration's response to the Covid-19 pandemic on June 23 in Washington.
Dr. Anthony Fauci removes his face mask before testifying at a hearing on the Trump administration's response to the Covid-19 pandemic on June 23 in Washington. Kevin Dietsch/Pool via AP

Wearing a face mask in public to limit the spread of the deadly coronavirus should not be a political issue, according to the nation’s top infectious diseases expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci. 

Fauci was asked during an interview at the Sacramento Press Club Wednesday about the politicization of wearing face coverings, even as cases of Covid-19 continue increasing in more than 10 states.

“There's no secret formula for that, except to say get past it,” Fauci said. “It should not be a political issue. It is purely a public health issue. Forget the politics — look at the data.” 

Some context: President Trump and members of his administration have shunned wearing masks in public, even at crowded campaign rallies and White House events, prompting supporters to eschew wearing them, as well. 

Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said an analysis of mask use shows very clearly that it makes a difference. 

“It isn't perfect, but you don't want the perfect to be the enemy of the good. There is an advantage in protecting yourself from acquisition and protecting others from acquisition,” Fauci said.

3:43 p.m. ET, June 24, 2020

Apple is closing some stores in Texas due to spike in coronavirus cases

From CNN's Kate Trafecante

Apple plans to close seven stores in Texas again due to an uptick in coronavirus cases in the state.

"Due to current COVID-19 conditions in some of the communities we serve, we are temporarily closing stores in these areas," Apple said in a statement. "We take this step with an abundance of caution as we closely monitor the situation and we look forward to having our teams and customers back as soon as possible."

The following stores in the Houston area will be closing again: Highland Village, First Colony Mall, Houston Galleria, Memorial City, Willowbrook Mall, Baybrook, and The Woodlands.

Some context: Apple reopened dozens of its 271 United States stores last month after shutting them because of the coronavirus. But last week, Apple decided to once again shutter 11 locations in Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina and Arizona due to a surge in cases in those states.

CNN Business' Rishi Iyengar contributed to this report

4:08 p.m. ET, June 24, 2020

New York City reports more than 22,000 confirmed and probable Covid-19 deaths

From CNN's Rob Frehse

Medical workers transfer patients at the Maimonides Medical Center on May 27 in New York.
Medical workers transfer patients at the Maimonides Medical Center on May 27 in New York. Spencer Platt/Getty Images

New York City has 17,685 confirmed coronavirus deaths and 4,680 probable coronavirus deaths as of June 24, according to the most recent data on the city website.

The New York City Health Department defines probable deaths as people who did not have a positive Covid-19 laboratory test, but their death certificate lists as the cause of death “Covis-19” or an equivalent.

The total number of confirmed coronavirus deaths and probable coronavirus deaths in New York City is 22,365.

Some more context: There have been 210,185 coronavirus cases in the city and 54,504 people have been hospitalized, according to the city.

The data is from the New York City Health Department and was updated on June 24 at 1 p.m., according to the website.

The numbers may not line up exactly in real time with CNN’s database drawn from Johns Hopkins University and the Covid Tracking Project.

3:36 p.m. ET, June 24, 2020

Pregnant women with Covid-19 face "increased risk of ICU admission," CDC researcher says

From CNN's Jacqueline Howard

Pregnant women might be at a higher risk of being admitted to a hospital's intensive care unit or even needing ventilation if infected with the coronavirus, a researcher at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday.

This new information, which has not been published yet, contradicts some previous research suggesting that pregnant women may not be at a higher risk of becoming sick enough to need treatment in the ICU if they catch coronavirus.

"There can be physiologic changes in pregnancy that may increase the risk of severe illness, and severe disease has been associated with other viral respiratory infections in pregnant women. However, initial reports have been unclear regarding Covid’s impact on pregnant women," Sara Oliver of the CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases said during a meeting of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices on Wednesday.

Pregnant women are, for instance, much more vulnerable to influenza.

Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, there has been limited data on what risks pregnant women could face with Covid-19 — if any — but now the new information that Oliver presented in the ACIP meeting helps add to the scientific literature. The information is scheduled to be published in a CDC report on Thursday.

By the numbers: The report includes information about 326,335 women ages 15 to 44 who had a coronavirus infection between January 22 and June 7, Oliver said. There were 8,207 pregnancies reported among the women.

"This new report includes the largest US cohort of pregnant women with lab-confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection," Oliver said in her presentation. "Among pregnant women, 31.5% were reported as hospitalized compared with 5.8% of non-pregnant women."

"Pregnant women were 50% more likely to be admitted to the intensive care unit and 70% more likely to receive mechanical ventilation. Sixteen deaths were reported among pregnant women, in a similar proportion to non-pregnant women," Oliver added.

Oliver noted that a separate analysis previously found the risk of ICU admission and mechanical ventilation was actually lower among pregnant women with coronavirus and there was no statistically significant difference in the risk of in-hospital death — so more research is needed.

"More complete data are needed to assess if SARS-CoV-2 infection in pregnancy is associated with adverse pregnancy or neonatal outcomes," Oliver said. 

"However, results from this study do suggest an increased risk of ICU admission and mechanical ventilation, which are distinct proxies for severity, in pregnant women compared to non-pregnant women," Oliver said. "However, the absolute risk of clinical interventions is still very low in this population."

 

3:38 p.m. ET, June 24, 2020

Coronavirus is a "public health train wreck in slow motion," expert says

From CNN's Amanda Watts

Dr. David Blumenthal, president of The Commonwealth Fund, said the coronavirus pandemic in the United States is like watching a “public health train wreck in slow motion.”

The Commonwealth fund is a foundation that studies health systems.

Speaking during an Alliance for Health Policy and Commonwealth Fund webinar on Wednesday, Blumenthal said that leaves Americans in a difficult position.

“It can be frustrating and perplexing,” he said. “But now is the time to stop dwelling on the past and to start looking forward, and to ask ourselves how we can seize the moment, learn from experience and make things better.”

Dr. Reed Tuckson, managing director of Tuckson Health Connections, said those lessons learned are both good and bad.

Tuckson said he has seen the value of the health care profession go up, he has seen hospitals become more flexible in their ability to provide care, and the advancement of telehealth has been a “watershed moment in the future in the history of health care.”

Tuckson, an AHP board chair member, said, sadly, the bad outweighs the good.

“We don’t really have a health system,” he said. “So to talk about how the health system performed is probably a non sequitur.”

Some context: Tuckson said the pandemic has highlighted “the politicization of science and public health, the inability to overcome the legacy of distrust by people of color and other populations, the attacking of public health officials, and the intimidation of them through the politicization.”

“What is not getting enough attention is the suboptimal capacity of contact tracing. And it's not just the capacity of contact tracing, but the ability to gain the trust of the American people,” Tuckson said.

“We have failed in our health system to maintain or build those trusting relationships that could have withstood the challenges of the moment,” Tuckson said, adding that the problems were “exacerbated” by political leaders. 

“Unfortunately, we did not have the resiliency built into the system that we should have had,” he added.

3:56 p.m. ET, June 24, 2020

GOP senator from Florida: "Everyone should just wear a damn mask"

From CNN's Ali Zaslav

Sen. Marco Rubio, and Sen. Susan Collins, arrive for the Senate Select Intelligence Committee confirmation hearing for Peter Michael Thomson, nominee to be inspector general of the Central Intelligence Agency, in Russell Building on Wednesday, June 24.
Sen. Marco Rubio, and Sen. Susan Collins, arrive for the Senate Select Intelligence Committee confirmation hearing for Peter Michael Thomson, nominee to be inspector general of the Central Intelligence Agency, in Russell Building on Wednesday, June 24. Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call via AP Images

Republican Sen. Marco Rubio said today that "everyone should just wear a damn mask, like you guys are, like I am right now."

He made the comments as he left a GOP lunch where Vice President Mike Pence provided a coronavirus update. 

“I just hope everybody does the best they can to protect themselves,” the Florida Republican said. “And we know how. We've been told repeatedly how to do it — just do it."

Rubio said he also encouraged his Republican colleagues during lunch to wear a mask.  

“It's a respiratory virus that spreads from person to person and the more people you come in contact with in an unprotected setting the likelier you are to be infected by it,” he added.

Some context: Several states have seen spikes in coronavirus cases in recent weeks, including Rubio’s home state. Today marked Florida’s highest number of new and confirmed coronavirus cases in a single day since the start of the pandemic, according to the Florida Health Department.