July 8 coronavirus news

By Helen Regan, Steve George, Laura Smith-Spark, Ed Upright, Melissa Macaya, Mike Hayes and Meg Wagner, CNN

Updated 8:01 PM ET, Wed July 8, 2020
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8:45 a.m. ET, July 8, 2020

There would be "huge spike" if Florida tracked probable cases, ex-data official says

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

Rebekah Jones on CNN's "New Day" on July 8.
Rebekah Jones on CNN's "New Day" on July 8. CNN

Rebekah Jones, the data official behind Florida's Covid-19 dashboard who launched her own dashboard after she said she was removed from the state's project, said that she doesn’t see an end in sight to the state’s coronavirus surge.

“Especially if schools are opening next month, then we're on a third wave of this first wave of catastrophe,” Jones told CNN’s John Berman. 

Florida doesn’t track probable coronavirus cases, Jones explained. When people are tested as they arrive at the ER, “that doesn't count as an active hospitalization until their positive test result is received by [the Florida Department of Health].”  

“If they started reporting probable cases, we might see a huge spike in not only cases, but also deaths,” she said. 

Some background: Jones was removed from the dashboard after the Florida DOH said she had "exhibited a repeated course of insubordination" during her tenure there.

“I was flat-out told repeatedly that we were not adding hospitalization data, even though all of our epidemiologists said it was one of the most important indicators of how our health care system is handling the influx of cases,” she said. 

She said she has contacts at the Department of Health who occasionally give her documentation, and many counties are at 70-80% capacity. 

“The data out there is available. They just don't make it public themselves,” Jones said. 

Jones added that her data shows that the highest percent increase of coronavirus cases has been under 18, whereas the lowest percent increase in the last week compared to previous weeks was in the 18 to 35 age group.  

Watch:

8:57 a.m. ET, July 8, 2020

UK government announces plan to boost economy during pandemic

From CNN's Chris Liakos

Rishi Sunak, UK finance minister, speaks at a press conference in London on March 17.
Rishi Sunak, UK finance minister, speaks at a press conference in London on March 17. Matt Dunham/Pool/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

The UK Finance Minister has announced a major spending plan to create jobs in the UK as the government looks to boost its recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

Rishi Sunak announced plans to boost youth employment, create green jobs and encourage employers to bring back furloughed workers by introducing a new job retention scheme which will see the government paying a 1,000-pound bonus for each furloughed employee who is still employed as of Jan. 31, 2021. 

Sunak also announced cuts in property tax and a 4 billion-pound sales tax cut for the hospitality industry. 80% of hospitality firms stopped trading in April and 1.4 million hospitality workers have been furloughed – the highest proportions of any sector, according to the UK Treasury.

The cost of the government’s schemes included up to 9 billion pounds for rehiring furloughed workers, a 2 billion-pound plan to hire younger workers and 2 billion pounds worth of grants for green home improvements to create green jobs.

“Our plan has a clear goal: to protect, support and create jobs,” said Sunak in his summer statement on Wednesday. “It will give businesses the confidence to retain and hire. To create jobs in every part of our country.”
9:12 a.m. ET, July 8, 2020

Harvard and MIT sue Trump administration for possibly forcing international students to leave

From CNN's Priscilla Alvarez

Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on Wednesday sued the Trump administration over its guidance not allowing foreign students to take online-only courses this fall semester. 

Harvard announced earlier this week that all course instruction will be delivered online, including for students living on-campus. In a statement provided to CNN, the university said the guidance stands to affect approximately 5,000 international students.

“The order came down without notice—its cruelty surpassed only by its recklessness. It appears that it was designed purposefully to place pressure on colleges and universities to open their on-campus classrooms for in-person instruction this fall, without regard to concerns for the health and safety of students, instructors, and others,” Harvard President Larry Bacow said in a statement. “This comes at a time when the United States has been setting daily records for the number of new infections, with more than 300,000 new cases reported since July 1.”

MIT president L. Rafael Reif said in a statement that the measure "disrupts our international students’ lives and jeopardizes their academic and research pursuits."

"Our international students now have many questions – about their visas, their health, their families and their ability to continue working toward an MIT degree. Unspoken, but unmistakable, is one more question: Am I welcome? At MIT, the answer, unequivocally, is yes," Reif continued.

Some background: Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced Monday that international students who are pursuing degrees in the United States will have to leave the country or risk deportation if their universities switch to online-only courses.

Visa requirements for students have always been strict and coming to the US to take online-only courses has been prohibited. ICE maintained that prohibition in its guidance, while providing some flexibility for hybrid models, meaning a mix of online and in-person classes.

In an FAQ published by the agency, the Department of Homeland Security reasoned that “all students scheduled to study at a US institution in the fall will be able to do so, though some will be required to study from abroad if their presence is not required for any in-person classes in the United States.”

The lawsuit, filed in the US District Court for the District of Massachusetts, seeks to block the directive, arguing it violates the Administrative Procedures Act.

8:31 a.m. ET, July 8, 2020

How Covid-19 is impacting the GOP's planned convention in Florida

From CNN's Fredreka Schouten, Dan Merica and Kate Sullivan

The surge in coronavirus cases in Florida is creating fresh headaches for Republicans who are scrambling to raise money and quickly organize a political convention in the state after President Donald Trump abandoned plans to accept his party's nomination in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Florida, the site of next month's scaled-down convention, is now one of the nation's hotspots for the virus, raising concerns about how many Republicans will travel to Jacksonville and risk transmission to witness Trump's acceptance speech inside the city's 15,000-seat VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena.

The quadrennial political conventions typically are splashy, made-for-TV affairs that require years of planning and tens of millions of dollars to stage.

But the pandemic has upended plans for both political parties. The Democratic National Convention Committee has scaled back its August convention considerably and advised state delegates not to plan to travel to the convention site in Milwaukee.

On the Republican side, three GOP senators -- Iowa's Chuck Grassley, Tennessee's Lamar Alexander and Maine's Susan Collins -- said this week that they would skip the events in Jacksonville. Grassley, who at 86 is the oldest Republican in the US Senate, specifically cited concerns about Covid-19.

Convention organizers announced Monday they would test Jacksonville attendees daily for the coronavirus but did not provide details about the testing protocols. The gathering is slated for August 24-27, with Trump likely to deliver his acceptance speech on the last day if organizers stick to the original convention schedule.

Read more here:

9:05 a.m. ET, July 8, 2020

Iran's coronavirus death toll surpass 12,000

From CNN’s Mostafa Salem

Hospital personnel take the bodies of two people said to have died from Covid-19 to a morgue in the Shahr-e Rey neighborhood in southern Tehran, Iran, on June 20.
Hospital personnel take the bodies of two people said to have died from Covid-19 to a morgue in the Shahr-e Rey neighborhood in southern Tehran, Iran, on June 20. Morteza Nikoubazl/NurPhoto/AP

Iran recorded 153 new coronavirus deaths on Wednesday, pushing the total to more than 12,000, health ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari said on state television.

At least 2,691 new daily cases were also recorded, bringing the total to 248,379, she added during the news conference. 

Iranian daily death numbers continue to rise over the past month despite showing a slowdown in cases in May. On Tuesday, the health ministry recorded 200 fatalities, the highest since the pandemic hit the nation.

The increase in numbers forced Iran to reimpose some restrictions last Sunday, including mandating mask-wearing in certain public areas.

On Saturday, President Hassan Rouhani said some Iranians are hiding their coronavirus infections, the presidency's website said.

 "Unfortunately, we see that some consider being infected with the virus bad and hide it. If someone knows that they have been infected with coronavirus, they have religious and human duty to inform others about it,” Rouhani said according to the official Iranian presidency website.
8:18 a.m. ET, July 8, 2020

Iraq reports another record for daily Covid-19 cases

From CNN’s Hamdi Alkhshali and Aqeel Najim

Iraq on Wednesday reported at least 2,741 new coronavirus cases, the highest daily tally recorded in the country since the pandemic began.

This brings the total number of reported Covid-19 cases in Iraq to 67,442 according to the health ministry.

The health ministry also reported 94 new coronavirus related deaths, bringing the death toll to at least 2,779 across the country.

 

8:20 a.m. ET, July 8, 2020

The US is nearing 3 million coronavirus cases. Here's what you need to know today.

It's Wednesday morning in the US, and the country has recorded more than 2,996,000 cases of coronavirus, according to the latest tally from Johns Hopkins University.

Here are the latest updates on the pandemic across the US:

  • Back to school: President Trump has urged schools to reopen despite widespread concerns about testing and safety logistics, and Florida has mandated that all schools must reopen in the fall even though the state has become a major coronavirus hotspot. But teachers across the Sunshine State said that decision could be deadly.
  • A warning from Fauci: Dr. Anthony Fauci urged Americans not to take comfort in the dropping death rate among coronavirus patients in the US even as Trump touts the trend as evidence of a successful response to the virus. "It's a false narrative to take comfort in a lower rate of death," Fauci said.
  • Where cases are rising: At least 35 states are reporting an increase in coronavirus cases in the past week compared to the previous week. Just three states are seeing a decrease in cases. Here's a look at where case trends stand across the country:

8:04 a.m. ET, July 8, 2020

A Phoenix hotel houses homeless coronavirus patients. Here's what it's like inside

From CNN's Rebecca Grandahl and Theresa Waldrop

David Lindstrom is 58, homeless -- and has Covid-19.

"It's not a fun trip. It kinda makes you feel like you got ran over by a Mack Truck," Lindstrom said of having the virus. "Your body aches. Just to get out of bed, it's like an effort, to go to the bathroom."

But Lindstrom has a bed and a bathroom, and he's safely quarantined and cared for at a hotel in downtown Phoenix, thanks to a cooperation between Maricopa County and Circle the City, a non-profit health care provider for the homeless.

Around the country, cities and counties are grappling with how to deal with the spread of coronavirus among the homeless, an especially vulnerable population. They are often unable to protect themselves by the simplest of actions, such as hand-washing, health experts say, and they seldom have access to quality health care.

Circle the City has 136 rooms at the Phoenix Inn available for the program, which was approved by the City Council on May 6.

Lindstrom is one of more than 100 homeless people with Covid-19 who have benefited from the program so far, according to Michelle Smith, a registered nurse at the inn.

Once a homeless person tests positive for the virus, they can opt to be quarantined at the inn, where they have a private room with a queen bed, TV, telephone and a bathroom. If in need of fresh air, they can step out onto an open-air walkway.

A nurse checks in on the patients twice a day, according to Smith, and the inn is staffed through the night.

Read more here:

7:58 a.m. ET, July 8, 2020

Border community straddling Australian states cleaved in two by coronavirus lockdown

From CNN's Angus Watson and Nectar Gan in Albury

As Australia has shut the border between its two most populous states to contain the spread of the coronavirus, tens of thousands of people living close to the dividing line have found their community cleaved in two.

Located on each side of the Murray river that separates New South Wales (NSW) and Victoria, the twin cities of Albury and Wodonga, more commonly referred to as Albury-Wodonga, have long operated as one community and one economy.

Many of their 100,000 residents cross the border to travel to work and school every day. Businesses run on both sides of the river. The two cities even share the same hospital, located in Albury on the NSW side but covered by Victoria's health system.

But that border was sealed on Wednesday, as authorities scrambled to prevent a second wave of infections spreading across the country. Over the past few weeks, Victoria has struggled to contain a sudden reemergence of coronavirus in Melbourne, as case numbers have continued to rise.

Authorities blocked major roads between Victoria and NSW after midnight -- the first time in 100 years since the border was last closed during the Spanish flu pandemic.

People from Victoria are banned from entering NSW, but exemptions are made for some purposes and professions, including cross-border residents in settlements like Albury-Wodonga.

Online applications for cross-border permits started on Tuesday night, but the website crashed just 45 minutes after launching as 44,000 people applied, according to Australian national broadcaster ABC.

Read more here: