June 26 coronavirus news

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10:11 a.m. ET, June 26, 2020

Health experts are talking about "pool testing" today. Here's what that means.

From CNN Health's Jacqueline Howard

Multiple health experts are discussing the possibility of "pool testing" — a method of coronavirus testing that mixes several samples together into a "batch," or pool.

Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, said the new approach could drastically expand the nation's knowledge of how and where the virus is spreading,

"If you look around the globe, the way people are doing a million tests or 10 million tests is they're doing pooling," Birx said during an online conference of the American Society for Microbiology. "Pooling would give us the capacity to go from a half a million tests a day to potentially 5 million individuals tested per day by those poolings." 

Birx added that there could be opportunities to do five-people pools or greater, which would allow for people to return to schools sand workplaces with the ability to test on a frequent basis. 

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, said Friday that the White House coronavirus task force is “seriously considering” pool testing for Covid-19. 

“Something’s not working,” Fauci said of the nation's current approach in an interview with The Washington Post  “I mean, you can do all the diagramming you want, but something is not working.”

Here's how Pooling works: “Pooling refers to a testing technique in which allows a lab to mix several samples together in a 'batch' or pooled sample and then test the pooled sample with a diagnostic test. For example, four samples may be tested together, using only the resources needed for a single test," Dr. Jeffrey Shuren, director of the Center for Devices and Radiological Health at the US Food and Drug Administration, said in a written statement last week.

"If the pooled sample is negative, it can be deduced that all patients were negative. If the pooled sample comes back positive, then each sample needs to be tested individually to find out which was positive," Shuren said. "Because samples are pooled together, ultimately fewer tests are run overall, meaning fewer testing supplies are used, and results can be returned to patients more quickly in most cases."

9:47 a.m. ET, June 26, 2020

US average of daily new coronavirus cases hits highest point of pandemic

The US is currently averaging more new coronavirus cases per day than at any point in the pandemic, according to a CNN analysis of numbers provided by Johns Hopkins University.

The seven-day moving average of new cases stood at 33,035 Thursday. The previous peak was 31,630, reached on April 10.

Thursday marked a record for the most new cases reported in a single day in America — at least 39,972.

9:43 a.m. ET, June 26, 2020

US stocks open lower as worries over a resurgence in Covid-19 cases continue 

From CNN’s Anneken Tappe

US stocks kicked the session off lower on Friday. Worries about the state of the economy, as well as a resurgence in Covid-19 cases, remains on investors' minds following Thursday’s stress test results from the Federal Reserve.

While the results gave banks a clean bill of health, it highlighted the fragility of the economy once more. America’s big banks, which were among the top gainers Thursday, dropped at the opening bell.

Here is where things stood at opening:  

  • The Dow opened 0.7%, or 190 points, lower.
  • The S&P 500 slipped 0.4%.
  • The Nasdaq Composite kicked off 0.2% down.
9:53 a.m. ET, June 26, 2020

Fauci says US considering new testing strategy because "something’s not working" currently

From CNN's Jim Acosta and Sam Fossum 

Kevin Dietsch/Pool/AFP/Getty Images
Kevin Dietsch/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, said Friday that the White House coronavirus task force is “seriously considering” pool testing for Covid-19. 

The proposal is still in the discussion stage, and is not expected to be announced at the task force briefing later today, Fauci told CNN. Dr. Fauci first mentioned the discussions in an interview with The Washington Post published on Friday morning.

“Something’s not working,” Fauci said of the nation's current approach in an interview with The Post. “I mean, you can do all the diagramming you want, but something is not working.”

Here's what "pool testing" means: The strategy works by mixing several samples together into a "batch," or pool, and then testing the pooled sample with one diagnostic test.

This way you can test a group of, for example, 25 people with one test rather than 25 separate diagnostic tests.

If the test comes back negative, then you have eliminated 25 people with one test.  If you get a positive result you go back and test people individually. 

Fauci's comments come after the US Food and Drug Administration recommended such a strategy earlier this month on to companies seeking to make tests for mass screening of people for coronavirus. And last month, local health authorities in the Chinese city of Wuhan said they managed to test more than 9 million people using 6.6 million tests. Chinese media reported that Wuhan used a pooled testing approach.

“What you need to do is find the penetration of infected people in your society,” Fauci told The Washington Post. “And the only way you know that is by casting a broad net.”

Fauci also told The Post that the high levels of asymptomatic spread of the Coronavirus are forcing health experts to rethink how to approach mitigating the spread of Covid-19. 

“We now know the level of virus in an asymptomatic person is about the same as the level of virus in somebody who has symptoms,” Fauci said. “So it’s like, oh my goodness, how do you address that?”

Fauci stressed to CNN that this is not a new policy, but it is under consideration. 

9:26 a.m. ET, June 26, 2020

American Airlines will allow full flights to fly next week

From CNN's Greg Wallace and Pete Muntean

An American Airlines flight on May 15, 2020.
An American Airlines flight on May 15, 2020. Chris Graythen/Getty Images

American Airlines plans to begin selling every seat on its aircraft, something it has not done since the pandemic struck this spring – leading to the prospect of more full flights. 

The move comes ahead of the July 4 travel weekend. An American spokesperson said the holiday could be its busiest period since March.   

Air travel overall is down about 80% from where it stood last year, according to Transportation Security Administration data. But it is steadily increasing: The 623,000 people it screened yesterday were 23% of the 2.7 million the agency saw a year before, and the agency’s busiest day since air travel cratered in mid-April.  

Airlines for America — which represents major US air carriers, including American — told CNN this week that the average flight is about half full at 54.7%. But the group declined to say how many flights are full.  

American has been limiting capacity on its flights since April. 

“As more people continue to travel, customers may notice that flights are booked to capacity starting July 1,” the company said in a statement on Friday.  “American will continue to notify customers and allow them to move to more open flights when available, all without incurring any cost.” 

The airline said it will begin notifying all customers that their flights may be full and will continue to waive change fees through September 30.

What other airlines are doing: United said it has been notifying customers whose flights may be more than 70% full, but an American spokesperson said putting a specific number to their notifications is not practical because flights could fill up after the notification window has passed. 

Delta and Southwest have said they are capping capacity in an attempt to keep middle seats open and promote social distancing. 

9:12 a.m. ET, June 26, 2020

WHO hopes to deliver 2 billion Covid-19 vaccine doses by the end of 2021

From CNN Health's Jacqueline Howard

A medical worker injects a vaccine trialist with the clinical trial for a potential vaccine against the COVID-19 coronavirus at the Baragwanath hospital in Soweto, South Africa, on June 24 ,2020. 
A medical worker injects a vaccine trialist with the clinical trial for a potential vaccine against the COVID-19 coronavirus at the Baragwanath hospital in Soweto, South Africa, on June 24 ,2020.  Siphiwe Sibeko/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

By the end of 2021, the World Health Organization plans to deliver about 2 billion doses of a coronavirus vaccine to people across the globe, WHO officials announced during a virtual media briefing on Friday.

One billion of those doses will be purchased for low- and middle-income countries, according to WHO.

This new goal is part of WHO's Access to Covid-19 Tools Accelerator program, which launched in April to bring together governments, health groups, scientists, businesses and philanthropists to support efforts to end the coronavirus pandemic.

The program has four pillars focused on Covid-19 tests, treatments, vaccines and health systems.

WHO chief scientist Dr. Soumya Swaminathan said during Friday's briefing that "the only way to prevent further spread and transmission" of the coronavirus would be to have an effective and safe vaccine.

"Obviously this virus has affected all countries and all populations and therefore a vaccine — ideally and from an ethical standpoint — should also be available across the world," Swaminathan said, adding that only a small proportion of the world's population has developed natural immunity to Covid-19.

"The principle of equitable access is a simple thing to say, but a complicated thing to implement. It requires active collaboration between governments, industry, health organizations, civil society organizations and communities," WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during Friday's briefing. "Vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics are vital tools — but to be truly effective, they must be administered with another essential ingredient, which is solidarity."

According to WHO, the ACT-Accelerator initiative's plans to deliver tests, therapeutics and a vaccine all over the world are estimated to cost about $31.3 billion in funding, of which $3.4 billion has so far been pledged.

8:44 a.m. ET, June 26, 2020

Miami mayor says "you can't discount" the possibility of another stay-at-home order

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

Miami Mayor Francis Suarez said “all options have to be on the table” when asked if he would consider implementing another stay-at-home order for the Florida city as Covid-19 cases rise. 

“I hope we don't get to that point, but you can't discount that option as a possibility,” he told CNN’s Alisyn Camerota. 

As of last night, the city of Miami is now mandating the wearing of face masks in public. Suarez said that he would recommend a mask mandate across the entire state.

“Frankly, we really don't want to have to go backwards and undo some of the openings and potentially reimpose a stay-at-home order,” Suarez said. 

Florida has seen a sharp rise in coronavirus cases over the past week, particularly among younger people.

“The state is four times greater than the high-water mark in March. … In Miami-Dade County, we’re twice as intense as we were in March,” Suarez said.

The mayor, who tested positive for Covid-19 back in March, attributes the increase to complacency of some residents after the city reopened in late May. 

“People believed this thing was over,” he said. 

Watch more:

8:45 a.m. ET, June 26, 2020

The White House coronavirus task force will hold its first public briefing today since April 27

From CNN's Matthew Hoye and Caroline Kelly

Vice President Mike Pence at Lordstown Motors Corporation, Thursday, June 25, 2020, in Lordstown, Ohio. 
Vice President Mike Pence at Lordstown Motors Corporation, Thursday, June 25, 2020, in Lordstown, Ohio.  Tony Dejak/AP

The White House announced that Vice President Mike Pence would lead a public coronavirus task force briefing today at 12:30 p.m. ET, the first public meeting in almost two months. The last formal briefing was held on April 27.

Today's briefing comes as at least 32 states are seeing an increase in cases of Covid-19, and California, Oklahoma and Texas are seeing fresh high peaks.

The briefing will not take place at the White House, but at the Department of Health and Human Services, according to a schedule released by the White House.

In recent days, President Trump has tried to declare the pandemic "over" despite the rising numbers, and has instead focused his administration's energy on reopening the economy.

Since Pence was tapped to lead the coronavirus task force on February 27, there have been a total of 47 briefings at the White House, most led by President Trump, and a few led by the vice president.

Note: This briefing count does not include a Rose Garden event in which President Trump touted the administration's testing efforts on May 11, since it was not an official coronavirus task force briefing. 

8:27 a.m. ET, June 26, 2020

New coronavirus cases are declining in just 7 US states

At least 32 states are reporting an increase in new coronavirus cases in the past week compared to the previous week.

Of those, 11 states — included as Florida, Texas and Arizona — have seen a 50% increase or more.

New cases are declining in just seven states: Connecticut, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New Hampshire and South Dakota.

Here's a look at where things stand: