Tennessee reports highest daily number of new Covid-19 cases
From CNN’s Jennifer Henderson and Jamiel Lynch
Tennessee has reported its highest number of new cases of coronavirus today since the start of the pandemic.
The state has reported 1,410 new cases of coronavirus, which is the highest daily number of new cases reported to date.
The previous highest day was June 19, which is when 1,188 new cases were reported.
The state is reporting 39,444 total cases and 577 total deaths.
According to statistics on the state's coronavirus dashboard, 16,513 of the cases are people between the ages of 21 and 40.
One thing to note: This data was released by the state of Tennessee and may not line up exactly in real time with CNN’s database drawn from Johns Hopkins University and the Covid Tracking Project.
7:30 p.m. ET, June 26, 2020
Covid-19 vaccine trials started in Brazil this week
From CNN’s Luke Henderson and Marcia Reverdosa in Sao Paulo
Brazil began human trials this week to test an experimental vaccine for Covid-19 developed by the University of Oxford.
Volunteers in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro are being given 3,000 shots of the vaccine.
Doctors, nurses and ambulance drivers are among those recruited for the trial due to their increased risk of exposure to the virus. Volunteers are between 18 and 55 years old and must have tested negative for Covid-19.
Brazil’s Health Regulatory Agency (Anvisa) gave pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca permission earlier this month to begin the trial. The studies of the vaccine could take up to a year, according to the Federal University of Sao Paulo.
Why this matters: Brazil was selected because it’s one of the countries hardest-hit by the virus. Second only to the United States, the country has recorded more than 1.2 million cases and at least 55,000 deaths, according to Brazil’s health ministry.
The country has not yet signed a deal to produce the vaccine.
Human trials of the vaccine are also underway in the United Kingdom, where researchers announced last month that they had moved into the second phase, involving 10,260 participants.
7:23 p.m. ET, June 26, 2020
The surge in Covid-19 cases is real and serious, Houston mayor says
From CNN’s Janine Mack
There are at least 18,056 cases of coronavirus in Houston and at least 216 people have died from the virus in the city, Mayor Sylvester Turner said during a news conference on Friday.
The current surge in Covid-19 cases in Houston is real and it is serious, Turner added.
“The community’s infection rate is three times higher today than it was three months ago," he said.
The Texas city has seen increases in hospitalizations, intensive care unit numbers and the number of young people testing positive for Covid-19, according to Turner.
“I do support the government's decision to close bars and reduce restaurants capacity from the current closed bars completely for now," Turner said.
The new order places strict limitations on businesses and services. Bars that get more than 51% of their gross receipts from the sale of alcoholic beverages must close today, among other measures.
Turner added that he's working on a "wall of shame" for businesses that are caught not following the governor’s new order.
The “wall of shame” will include posting onto the city's social media site and onto a huge board during news conferences, Turner said.
7:10 p.m. ET, June 26, 2020
"We have a four-alarm fire" with coronavirus surge, former health commissioner says
From CNN's Shelby Lin Erdman
The first White House coronavirus task force briefing in months demonstrated a “stunning disconnect” between the administration and the reality of the coronavirus pandemic, a former Baltimore city health commissioner said Friday.
“It just appeared that there was this stunning disconnect between what the vice president was saying and the reality on the ground, because, frankly, we have a four-alarm fire,” Dr. Leana Wen told CNN. “We have exponential spread of coronavirus in multiple metropolitan areas around the country. In multiple states, we're seeing ICUs being filled."
“We're basically seeing the same picture that we saw back in March, in New York City, but in many places in the country and without a plan to be able to address it," Wen added.
Wen said she agreed with Vice President Mike Pence when he said the US had flattened the curve of the disease.
“But then what happened?” Wen asked. “When we reopened without having the capability to rein in these infections, and now all the sacrifices that people have made are going to go in vain and we still don't have a national strategy, or even recognition from the vice president that we have a problem here.”
Wen faulted Pence for not endorsing the simple act of wearing a face covering. The administration, on the other hand, has touted the drug remdesivir, which helps critically ill Covid-19 patients.
“Well, we actually have a treatment right now, if you will. If you wear a mask, that reduces your risk of getting coronavirus by up to five times,” Wen said. “Imagine that this is a medication that we can all be taking. This is a basic intervention that all that should be doing right now in order to save lives.”
7:04 p.m. ET, June 26, 2020
UK government to announce travel agreements with countries next week
From CNN’s Luke McGee and Vasco Cotovio in London
The British government will announce travel agreements with countries, such as France, Greece and Spain, next week as it reviews its policy of imposing a 14-day quarantine for travelers arriving in Britain, the UK government said in a statement on Friday.
“Countries have been classified as green, amber and red depending on their risk assessment, informed by factors including the prevalence of coronavirus within the country, our confidence in the reliability of their data, and crucially the trajectory of the disease in the country,” the statement read. “Low risk countries in the green and amber categories will be exempt from public health measures at the border.”
A full list of the low risk countries will be published next week and travel to those destinations will be able to resume the following week.
“Our new risk-assessment system will enable us to carefully open a number of safe travel routes around the world — giving people the opportunity for a summer holiday abroad and boosting the UK economy through tourism and business,” a government spokesperson said. “But we will not hesitate to put on the brakes if any risks re-emerge, and this system will enable us to take swift action to re-introduce self-isolation measures if new outbreaks occur overseas."
6:55 p.m. ET, June 26, 2020
Vice President Pence and airline executives agree to move forward with contact tracing of passengers
From CNN's Pete Muntean
Vice President Mike Pence has told major airlines to move forward with an industry-led solution for the contact tracing of passengers.
A source familiar with the matter told CNN that Pence gave his blessing to a “compromise solution” for contact tracing during a Friday meeting with airline executives.
Airlines initially balked at the government's demand that they collect detailed contact information on all passengers and distribute it to public health officials if requested.
The airlines said it would be impossible to quickly overhaul the massive legacy computer systems that handle the industry's vast booking networks
The source told CNN that Pence now supports the airlines' proposal for a third-party app and website that would require passengers to input five points of data.
The industry group, Airlines for America, said in a statement after the meeting that it looked forward to implement some initiatives to help relaunch the airline industry.
“We appreciate the collaboration and interest of the Administration since the onset of the pandemic. We had a constructive conversation today with the Vice President and remain grateful for his leadership through this health crisis. We look forward to working with the Administration to identify and implement initiatives that help relaunch the U.S. airline industry, get people moving again and rebuild the American economy," the statement said.
The 45-minute, closed-door meeting also covered temperature checks and expected European Union restrictions on Americans traveling abroad, but the source underscores the most substantive talks centered on contact tracing.
6:45 p.m. ET, June 26, 2020
Florida's Palm Beach County unanimously approves mask mandate
From CNN's Laura Robinson
Palm Beach County Mayor Dave Kerner announced at a news conference that the county board approved a mask mandate by a unanimous vote of 7-0.
The mandate went into effect Thursday night. It requires that masks be worn by “all persons when obtaining any service from any establishment and by all persons working in those establishments.”
These rules apply “to all businesses including but not limited to restaurants, retail establishments, hotels, grocery stores, gyms, pharmacies, recreational facilities and vehicles for hire” such as Uber, the mandate added.
People who are excluded from the wearing a mask include “individuals while actively engaged in exercising while maintaining social distancing in accordance to (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ) guidelines” as well as children under the age of two and children of any age “while in the custody of a licensed child care facility."
The exclusion also applies to people with medical conditions like asthma.
People for “whom wearing a facial covering conflicts with their religious beliefs or practices” are also exempt from wearing a mask, the mandate said.
More details: With reported cases on the rise, Kerner pointed out that the “vast majority of spread is occurring” within the 25-34 age group.
To help ensure that all residents of Palm Beach County have facial coverings, Kerner said that “1.5 million reusable masks have been purchased by the county and will be distributed by direct mail to all 660,000 homes."
6:36 p.m. ET, June 26, 2020
San Francisco delays reopening as coronavirus cases rise
From CNN's Cheri Mossburg and Alexandra Meeks
San Francisco is delaying its reopening as coronavirus cases rise, according to Mayor London Breed.
Noting that San Francisco has seen a rise in cases, from 20 on June 15 to 103 on Thursday, Breed said in a series of tweets that at the current rate cases could double rapidly.
“If that continues and we don’t intervene, we’ll be at such a high number that our only option would be to shut down,” Breed said.
San Francisco had planned to continue reopening the city on Monday.
The mayor urged residents to wear face coverings, maintain social distance, and practice good hygiene. Breed also encouraged essential workers and those with symptoms to get tested.
“I know people are anxious to reopen, I am too. But we can't jeopardize the progress we've made,” Breed said. “Let’s protect each other so that we can safely reopen San Francisco.”
Despite San Francisco's stay-at-home orders and various programs to flatten the curve of Covid-19 cases, the curve in the city is getting "quite steep," Public Health Director Dr. Grant Colfax said at a news conference Friday.
"We've talked about flattening that curve but that curve is not flat right now," Colfax said. "In fact, that curve is getting more and more vertical."
In the last couple of weeks, San Francisco has seen a near doubling in the rate of diagnosed infections, Colfax said.
There have been no indications that the rise in cases are tied to a specific facility or event, but health officials say the data within the next few days in particular will be critical to see whether the pattern is sustained.
"We're taking a pause here, we're not reversing, and I think we're just going to have to watch the data," Colfax said.
6:28 p.m. ET, June 26, 2020
FDA sends warning letter to company over Covid-19 skin spray claims
From CNN's Jen Christensen
The US Food and Drug Administration sent a warning letter to Curativa Bay Corporation over its claims one of its products could protect against the novel coronavirus.
The FDA said Friday the Clearwater, Florida, based company advertised its Advanced Hypochlorous Skin Spray on its Facebook page as something that could “provide a good extra line of protection against many things that we all fear today… #Kill bacteria and viruses… #Coronavirus.”
The spray is a topical hypochlorous acid, an inorganic substance that can kill bacteria, but to sell a product in the US as a prevention or treatment for disease requires scientific evidence and well-controlled human clinical studies. The FDA says there is no such support.
The FDA said the company needs to take corrective actions immediately to ensure that it is not misleadingly representing its products as safe and effective for a Covid-19 related use, or it will face legal action.
The FDA also said it was going to include the company on its list of firms that have received these warning letters for selling Covid-19-related products that are in violation of regulations. If the company takes corrective action, the FDA said it will remove it from its list.