June 29 coronavirus news

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2:59 p.m. ET, June 29, 2020

Here's how much Covid-19 drug remdesivir will cost

From CNN's Jacqueline Howard and Naomi Thomas

Gilead Sciences, the company that makes the Covid-19 drug remdesivir, announced in an open letter on Monday morning that it has decided to set a price of $390 per vial for the US government, which would include Veterans Affairs and Department of Defense hospitals, and other governments of developed countries.

The discounted government price would not apply to Medicare or Medicaid, a Gilead spokesperson told CNN.

A typical five-day treatment course would include six vials, which would equate to $2,340 per patient, Daniel O'Day, Gilead Sciences chairman and CEO, said in the letter. The US government will continue to manage US allocations of remdesivir to hospitals through September, the company said.

The letter added that the price for US private insurance companies will be $520 per vial, which adds up to $3,120 per patient for a five-day treatment course of six vials.

"As with all our actions on remdesivir, we approached this with the aim of helping as many patients as possible, as quickly as possible and in the most responsible way. This has been our compass point throughout, from collaborating to find rapid answers on safety and efficacy, to scaling up manufacturing and donating our supply of remdesivir through the end of June. In each case, we recognized the need to do things differently to reflect the exceptional circumstances of the pandemic. Now, as we transition beyond the donation period and set a price for remdesivir, the same principle applies," O'Day said in the letter. 

About the drug: Remdesivir, which is currently administered intravenously through infusions, is the only drug that has an emergency use authorization from the US Food and Drug Administration to treat coronavirus infections. 

Until now, remdesivir treatments had been donated to the US government and allocated by the US Department of Health and Human Services and states. However, the US government’s last scheduled shipments of that donation are going out today.

"At the level we have priced remdesivir and with government programs in place, along with additional Gilead assistance as needed, we believe all patients will have access," O'Day said. "Gilead has entered into an agreement with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) whereby HHS and states will continue to manage allocation to hospitals until the end of September. After this period, once supplies are less constrained, HHS will no longer manage allocation."

HHS Secretary Alex Azar announced that agreement during an appearance on “Good Morning America” on Monday.

"President Trump has secured half a million courses of treatment of remdesivir through September," Azar told ABC's George Stephanopoulos. 

CORRECTION: This post has been updated to show that Medicaid does not get the discounted price, but the VA and Department of Defense hospitals do.

8:27 a.m. ET, June 29, 2020

Only 4 US states are seeing a decline in new coronavirus cases

From CNN's Christina Maxouris

Weeks after most US states began lifting their lockdowns, parts of the country are clamping down on renewed restrictions hoping to slow staggering surges in new case numbers.

With July 4 approaching, officials are trying not to repeat scenes of Memorial Day, when thousands across the country flocked to beaches, bars and parties while experts cautioned the crowds could lead to spikes in cases down the road. At least 12 states have hit a pause on their reopening plans hoping to contain the spread.

Here's where states stand on Covid-19 cases:

  • At least 31 states are now seeing an increase in new cases compared to the previous week:  Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Vermont West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
  • At least 15 states are going steady: Hawaii, Indiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia and Washington state
  • Only four states are seeing a decline: Connecticut, Delaware, New Hampshire and Rhode Island.

8:15 a.m. ET, June 29, 2020

Americans must "act responsibly" by wearing masks, Health secretary says

From CNN Health’s Naomi Thomas

As Covid-19 cases continue to rise around the United States, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar urged Americans to practice social distancing and wear face coverings as people go back to work and school. 

“This is a real call to action. We have all got to, as Americans, act responsibly,” he said on “Good Morning America” on Monday.  

While Azar said there are different circumstances depending on where you are, the advice is the same for everybody.  

“Social distance under all circumstances, and if you can’t, wear facial coverings,” Azar said. 

Azar said that the United States does not need a national mandate requiring masks, but that we need local leaders determining the circumstances in a community, and that individuals should assess their own situations and act responsibly.  

On Friday, Vice President Mike Pence said it's up to state and local governments to issue guidance and orders on face masks.

Face masks — which has been proven to be an effective way to stop person-to-person spread of coronavirus — has become a contentious topic.

President Trump has been reluctant to wear a face mask in front of cameras, and the debate over their use has spilled into local communities. This week, residents of Palm Beach County in Florida erupted in anger at a commissioner's meeting after an unanimous vote to make masks mandatory. 

8:03 a.m. ET, June 29, 2020

It's 8 a.m in New York and 1 p.m in London. Here's the latest on the pandemic

The coronavirus death toll has risen rapidly since the World Health Organization declared Covid-19 a pandemic in March. A month later, fatalities passed 100,000. In May, the toll topped 250,000.

Now that number has doubled in less than two months -- more than 500,000 people have died, and more than 10.1 million cases have now been recorded worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University.

The United States is disproportionately fueling that rise. It accounts for a quarter of all infections and fatalities, despite only constituting about 4% of the global population.

US "window is closing": On Sunday, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar warned that the "window is closing" for the country to get the pandemic under control.

Only two US states are reporting a recent decline in new coronavirus cases: Connecticut and Rhode Island.

A rise was reported in a staggering 36 states, including Florida, which some experts have cautioned could be the next epicenter for infections.

Vaccine may not produce herd immunity: Dr. Anthony Fauci says he would "settle" for a Covid-19 vaccine that's 70% to 75% effective, but that this incomplete protection, coupled with the fact that many Americans say they won't get a coronavirus vaccine, makes it "unlikely" that the US will achieve sufficient levels of immunity to quell the outbreak.

EU to finalize travel restrictions: European Union ambassadors are meeting today to finalize advice on which countries' travelers should be banned from the bloc, amid fears that summer tourism will create new hotspots. Among those who may be blocked: Americans.

Covid-19 patients will develop PTSD, UK group warns: A “significant proportion” of people who were hospitalized with coronavirus “will go on to develop symptoms” of post-traumatic stress disorder, according to a report from the UK’s ‘Covid Trauma Response Working Group.’ Dr Michael Bloomfield, a trauma expert on the group’s panel, believes PTSD screening should be “mandatory” for discharged Covid-19 patients.

China locks down province of 400,000 after just 18 new cases: China isn't taking any chances of a second wave gripping the country -- despite having largely contained its outbreak in recent months.

In stark contrast with the relaxing of restrictions elsewhere, about 400,000 people have been placed under strict lockdown in Anxin county, in the central province of Hebei, after just 18 fresh cases were detected.

India sees more than 100,000 new infections in six days: India has recorded its biggest one-day jump in new coronavirus cases for the eighth consecutive day, after 19,459 new cases were reported on Monday, according to the country's health ministry.

India has now seen more than 100,000 new Covid-19 infections in the past six days alone.

Latin America sees surge in cases as some countries re-open: Brazil reported 30,476 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, as some areas continue the reopening process, bringing the country's total number of cases to 1,344,143. The death toll stands at 57,622, while the country continues reopening measures in certain areas.

Meanwhile in Mexico, 4,050 new coronavirus cases were reported Sunday, according to the Mexican Health Ministry. The new numbers come as Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador announced the country's capital, Mexico City, is set to begin a gradual reopening process Monday.

Mexico has the seventh highest number of Covid-19 deaths worldwide, with a total death toll of 26,648.

7:52 a.m. ET, June 29, 2020

Spanish beaches reopen but social distancing measures stay in place

From Atika Shubert in Valencia, Spain

Police use a drone at a beach in Lloret de Mar, Spain, on June 22.
Police use a drone at a beach in Lloret de Mar, Spain, on June 22. David Borrat/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Spain's beaches are open just in time for holiday season. Yet a set of new measures -- including drones, apps and police patrols -- have been adopted by local authorities to enforce social distancing at the seaside.

WATCH:

Although most governments are still advising against "nonessential" international travel, a host of popular destinations are beginning to ease their Covid-19 lockdown measures and border restrictions, and are moving toward welcoming tourists back.

7:47 a.m. ET, June 29, 2020

The US government’s final scheduled shipments of remdesivir are going out today

From CNN Health’s Arman Azad

The US government’s last scheduled shipments of the Covid-19 drug remdesivir will be distributed today, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. It’s unclear how the drug will be procured and distributed moving forward.

What is remdesivir? Remdesivir isn’t a Covid-19 cure, but it has been shown to speed the recovery of some hospitalized patients. Gilead Sciences, the maker of the antiviral drug, donated nearly a million vials to the US government – enough to treat about 121,000 Covid-19 patients. But that donation will run out this week.

“As of June 26, 2020, the full amount of donated remdesivir has been allocated, and shipments will begin on June 29, 2020,” HHS says on its public health emergency website.
“HHS continues to work with Gilead Sciences, Inc. to determine how Gilead’s anticipated inventory of 2 million doses of remdesivir by year’s end will be allocated and when.”

On its website, Gilead says its goal is to produce a total of more than 2 million treatment courses by December 2020. Each treatment course requires either six or 11 doses. CNN has reached out to HHS for comment about whether the figure on its website is accurate.

According to HHS data, some coronavirus hot spots will see relatively large shipments this week, with Arizona receiving enough remdesivir to treat approximately 1,800 patients. 

Florida will receive about the same amount, and Texas’ allocation will be enough for about 2,300 patients. State health departments, not the federal government, decide which hospitals get the drug.

What happens next? It’s unclear what will happen now that the government’s entire donated supply of remdesivir has been allocated. Under the terms of remdesivir’s emergency authorization from the US Food and Drug Administration, the drug’s distribution is controlled by the government.

The government could procure the drug directly, or it could be sold through regular channels like other drugs. Gilead, for its part, has not yet said how much it plans to charge for remdesivir.

CNN has reached out to both Gilead and HHS for comment.

 

7:34 a.m. ET, June 29, 2020

UK should take "interventionist" economic approach to tackle virus crisis, says PM

From CNN's Sharon Braithwaite in London

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Monday that the government should "keep going with an activist, interventionist approach" to help the economy recover from the coronavirus crisis.

"That's the way also to get business to be confident, to start investing, to start taking people back and start creating new jobs and driving new growth," Johnson told reporters.

What's happening in the UK: The country has been badly hit by the coronavirus pandemic, and is trying to stave off its worst downturn in more than 300 years. It has one of the highest coronavirus death tolls in the world and an economy that is only gradually emerging from lockdown. UK GDP contracted by more than 20% in April, a record, following a 6% decline in March. Meanwhile, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development warned in June that the UK would suffer the worst downturn of any major economy this year.

Johnson optimistic: In an earlier interview on the newly-launched ‘Times Radio’ on Monday morning, the British PM said that "it's going to be tough" but "the UK is an amazingly dynamic, resilient economy. And we're going to come through it very, very well, indeed."

"What we're going to be doing in the next few months, is really doubling down on our initial agenda, which was all about investment, if you remember in infrastructure, in education, in technology, to bring the country together," Johnson said.

"This is a moment now to give our country the skills, the infrastructure, the long term investment that we need," he added.

7:21 a.m. ET, June 29, 2020

What it's like flying across the US right now

From CNN's Brekke Fletcher

A photo CNN Travel's Brekke Fletcher took during a Delta flight from New York JFK to San Francisco International on June 27.
A photo CNN Travel's Brekke Fletcher took during a Delta flight from New York JFK to San Francisco International on June 27. Brekke Fletcher/CNN

After months of lonely isolation in my one-bedroom Brooklyn apartment, I finally decided to bite the bullet and fly to Northern California on Saturday -- using the utmost precautions with a pre-assembled Covid-19 kit: mask, gloves, hand sanitizer, sanitizing wipes and a straw.

Three days before my Saturday morning Delta flight from New York JFK to San Francisco International on Saturday, June 27 (the only nonstop between those two cities Delta Air Lines is operating currently), I received a text. "To ensure everyone's safety on your upcoming Delta flight, all customers will be required to wear a mask, starting at check-in."

I received two more emails and another safety reminder before boarding. As far as flying during a pandemic goes, they were really going the extra mile to make sure I knew that this was not going to be like any other flight.

I hadn't really considered flying at all until Delta (and other airlines) cracked down on mask-wearing. And when Delta confirmed that they wouldn't sell middle seats, I figured I could do this thing.

Read the full story here:

7:18 a.m. ET, June 29, 2020

No smartphone? No problem. Singapore rolls out coronavirus contract-tracing device for seniors

From CNN's Jack Guy

A TraceTogether token. The first batch of TraceTogether tokens will be distributed to vulnerable seniors.
A TraceTogether token. The first batch of TraceTogether tokens will be distributed to vulnerable seniors. Handout/Smart Nation and Digital Government Group

Singapore is distributing a digital contact-tracing device to people who don't use smartphones, as part of the city-state's efforts to contain coronavirus.

The TraceTogether Tokens are aimed at vulnerable seniors who aren't digitally connected but are at higher risk from coronavirus, according to a statement from the Smart Nation and Digital Government Office (SNDGO).

Distribution started on Sunday and the tokens aim to protect people without smartphones in the same way as the existing TraceTogether app, which uses Bluetooth to alert users if they have been in contact with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus.

The tokens send Bluetooth signals to other tokens, or smartphones with the app, and each one uses a personalized QR code.

The tokens have an estimated battery life of 6-9 months and don't need to be charged, plus they're small and light enough to hang from a lanyard.

Read the full story here: