July 9 coronavirus news

By Joshua Berlinger, Brett McKeehan, Ivana Kottasová, Ed Upright, Meg Wagner and Melissa Macaya, CNN

Updated 9:12 PM ET, Thu July 9, 2020
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1:53 p.m. ET, July 9, 2020

WHO issues new scientific brief on coronavirus transmission

From CNN's Jacqueline Howard

Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images
Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images

The World Health Organization on Thursday released a new scientific report detailing how coronavirus can pass from one person to the next — including through the air during certain medical procedures.

The report also notes that there are still many unanswered questions around airborne transmission and how exactly the virus spreads.

The report comes just days after the publication of a letter Monday signed by 239 scientists that urged the agency to be more forthcoming about the likelihood that people can catch the virus from droplets floating in the air. 

"Airborne transmission of the virus can occur in health care settings where specific medical procedures, called aerosol generating procedures, generate very small droplets called aerosols. Some outbreak reports related to indoor crowded spaces have suggested the possibility of aerosol transmission, combined with droplet transmission, for example, during choir practice, in restaurants or in fitness classes," the new WHO report said about coronavirus, named SARS-CoV-2. 

Still, "current evidence suggests that transmission of SARS-CoV-2 occurs primarily between people through direct, indirect, or close contact with infected people through infected secretions such as saliva and respiratory secretions, or through their respiratory droplets, which are expelled when an infected person coughs, sneezes, talks or sings," the report said. "Respiratory droplets from infected individuals can also land on objects."

The report also said that "there have been reported outbreaks of COVID-19 reported in some closed settings, such as restaurants, nightclubs, places of worship or places of work where people may be shouting, talking, or singing. In these outbreaks, aerosol transmission, particularly in these indoor locations where there are crowded and inadequately ventilated spaces where infected persons spend long periods of time with others, cannot be ruled out. More studies are urgently needed to investigate such instances and assess their significance for transmission of COVID-19."

In general, according to WHO, airborne transmission refers to any time an infectious pathogen that causes illness disseminates in the air and remains infectious when suspended in the air over long distances and time.

Dr. Benedetta Allegranzi, WHO's technical lead for Infection Prevention and Control, said during a briefing in Geneva on Tuesday that the agency has discussed and collaborated with many of the scientists who signed the letter claiming WHO hasn't been forthright about airborne transmission. 

“We acknowledge that there is emerging evidence in this field, as in all other fields regarding the Covid-19 virus and pandemic, and therefore we believe that we have to be open to this evidence and understand its implications regarding the modes of transmission, and also regarding the precautions that need to be taken,” Allegranzi said.

For some time, "we have been talking about the possibility of airborne transmission and aerosol transmission, as one of the modes of transmission of Covid-19," Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO's technical lead for coronavirus response and head of its emerging diseases and zoonoses unit, previously said during a briefing in Geneva on Tuesday.

"This is a respiratory pathogen and so it is important that what we know fits into the guidance that we have, which is why a comprehensive package of interventions are required to be able to stop transmission," Van Kerkhove said. "This includes not only physical distancing. It includes the use of masks where appropriate in certain settings, specifically where you can't do physical distancing, and especially for health care workers."

1:21 p.m. ET, July 9, 2020

Second MLS team withdraws from opening tournament after players test positive for Covid-19

From CNN's Wayne Sterling

Empty player seats are seen before the match against between Nashville SC and Atlanta United on February 29 in Nashville, Tennessee.
Empty player seats are seen before the match against between Nashville SC and Atlanta United on February 29 in Nashville, Tennessee. Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

Nashville SC has been forced to withdraw from Major League Soccer's on-going, season-opening tournament at Disney World's ESPN Wide World of Sports complex near Orlando, Florida, due to nine players testing positive for coronavirus, MLS announced Thursday in a statement.

“Due to the number of positive tests, the club has been unable to train since arriving in Orlando and would not be able to play matches,” said MLS Commissioner Don Garber. “For every decision we make in our return to play, the wellbeing of our players, staff, officials and all participants is our top priority.”

Nashville SC's opening night match of the MLS is Back Tournament against the Chicago Fire FC was postponed Wednesday.

On Monday, MLS withdrew FC Dallas from the tourney after 10 players tested positive for the virus.

As a result of the withdrawal of Dallas and Nashville, MLS has reconfigured the groups into six groups, each consisting of four teams, as well as updated the qualification for the Knockout Stage.

1:10 p.m. ET, July 9, 2020

48 hospitals in Florida hit ICU capacity

From CNN's Rosa Flores and Sara Weisfeldt

There are currently 48 hospitals, in 26 counties, in Florida that have reached their capacity in their intensive care units and show zero ICU beds available, according to data released by the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA). 

Another 52 hospitals show ICU bed availability of 10% or less, according to the AHCA data.

Health official on Thursday reported 8,935 new Covid-19 cases and at least 120 Covid-19-related deaths.

This brings the current total cases to more than 232,000, according the health department. There are now more than 4,000 Covid-19-related deaths in Florida.

1:29 p.m. ET, July 9, 2020

US better prepared for a virus than it was 10 years ago, but there's more work to do, Fauci says

From CNN's Gisela Crespo

Healthcare workers move a patient in the Covid-19 Unit at United Memorial Medical Center in Houston, Texas, on July 2
Healthcare workers move a patient in the Covid-19 Unit at United Memorial Medical Center in Houston, Texas, on July 2 Mark Felix/AFP/Getty Images

The US is better prepared for a virus than it was 10 years ago, but needs "to take it a step even further," Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said on Thursday.

Fauci was asked during a live event hosted by The Hill if the US should be more proactive when it comes to viruses that transmit from animals to humans by devoting more money and resources. 

Fauci said work done in previous years allowed the US to enter into the development of a vaccine for Covid-19 "at an absolute record speed."

But the nation's top infectious disease expert said more work still needs to be done.

Here's how he put it:

"Even as we're getting through this — and there'll be many, many lessons learned — we got to, for the future, make sure that we don't lose this corporate memory of what we're going through. Because we need, obviously, to be better prepared. We clearly were much better prepared now for this onslaught than we were 10 years ago, but we've got to take it a step even further to be better prepared for the next onslaught which inevitably will occur," Fauci told The Hill's Steve Clemons.

1:12 p.m. ET, July 9, 2020

Ivy League director says it's the "right decision" to postpone fall college sports

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

Yale and Harvard compete in an NCAA college football game at Fenway Park in Boston in 2018.
Yale and Harvard compete in an NCAA college football game at Fenway Park in Boston in 2018. Charles Krupa/AP

Ivy League sports, including football, will be postponed this fall due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Ivy League Council of Presidents Executive Director Robin Harris said that while there is “tremendous disappointment” among athletes and coaches at its colleges — which include Harvard, Princeton and Yale — there is also an acceptance about the threat of Covid-19.

The Ivy League is the first Division I conference to drop out of the upcoming college football season. 

“There's an understanding that these policies that are being put in place to protect the health and well-being of the campus community at large and our society also should apply to our athletics community,” Harris told CNN’s Kate Bolduan.
“So while we're all disappointed and disheartened, we know it's the right decision for it the Ivy League.”

Harris said that she expects other college conferences to follow suit in the future. 

Watch the interview:

1:37 p.m. ET, July 9, 2020

Trump administration's efforts to circumvent CDC's school reopening plans could be deadly, group says

From CNN's Lauren Mascarenhas

President Donald Trump attends a roundtable discussion on the safe reopening of America's schools during the coronavirus pandemic, at the White House on July 7 in Washington, DC.
President Donald Trump attends a roundtable discussion on the safe reopening of America's schools during the coronavirus pandemic, at the White House on July 7 in Washington, DC. Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

The Trump administration’s efforts to pressure the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention into revising school reopening guidelines, and threats to withhold funding from school districts that do not reopen, could have deadly consequences, said American Public Health Association Executive Director Georges C. Benjamin.

In a statement released Thursday, Benjamin said the Trump administration’s actions “wrongly makes educators, students and parents political pawns and could have deadly consequences during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The CDC has recommended that schools reopen cautiously, calling for physical distancing, physical barriers and proper cleaning. On “Good Morning America” Thursday, CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield said that the guidelines for reopening schools will not be revised, but that the agency will provide additional reference documents to help guide schools in their decisions.

“The Trump administration has no justification for overruling science-backed information that the CDC has initiated in school opening plans,” Benjamin added. “All of us want a red traffic light to turn green at an intersection, but we don’t just drive through recklessly and risk our own lives and those of others.”
12:56 p.m. ET, July 9, 2020

In-person classes at Michigan schools will depend on state's reopening phase, governor says

From CNN's Hollie Silverman


Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said in-person learning will take place in schools as planned unless there are case increases that require the state to move back into phase three.

The state is currently in phase four of reopening. Whitmer planned to move to phase five ahead of the Fourth of July but then chose not to due to the increased case numbers.

If the state returns to phase three based on case information, schools will be distance learning, Whitmer said. In phases four, five and six, in-person learning will take place. 

Districts are still writing their plans for reopenings, Whitmer said. 

"If we're in phase three it’s distance learning. So we're not back in the classroom. If we're in phase four, then there are real, you know, more strict requirements to be in person that needs to be followed and districts are writing these plans right now," Whitmer explained.
12:56 p.m. ET, July 9, 2020

UN calls on Brazil to end evictions during Covid-19 pandemic

From CNN's Rodrigo Pedroso and Claudia Rebaza

The United Nations has called on Brazil to end all evictions during the Covid-19 pandemic, almost one month after Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro vetoed efforts by the Congress to do so.

In a statement on Thursday the UN Special Rapporteur on housing Balakrishnan Rajagopal called on Brazil “to end all evictions during the Covid-19 crisis, after more than 2,000 families were thrown out of their homes. Thousands more are at risk of evictions in cities and in the countryside in São Paulo state.”

Rajagopal expressed concern that Bolsonaro vetoed an effort by the Brazilian Congress to limit the impact of evictions. Congress has not yet voted on a broader bill that would suspend all judicial or administrative evictions during the pandemic.”

On June 11, Bolsonaro vetoed an article — which was part of a larger piece of legislation — that suspends, until October, evictions due to a delay in paying rent or end of the vacancy period.

Another law specifically about suspension of evictions during the pandemic was presented to Brazil’s Congress on March 18 and is awaiting a vote.

Rajagopal said evictions pose a health risk due to the Covid-19 pandemic and added, “some courts are suspending eviction orders until the health crisis is over, others continue to issue new orders.”

CNN has reached out to the Brazilian government for comment.

The UN Special Rapporteur’s statement comes as Brazil’s total number of Covid-19 cases tops 1.7 million and the country saw its highest weekly death rate on July 8 — averaging 1,047 in the seven days since July 1.

A week ago, by comparison, the average was 972 fatalities.

12:51 p.m. ET, July 9, 2020

Starbucks will require all US customers to wear face masks

A customer walks by a Starbucks Coffee store on June 10 in Corte Madera, California.
A customer walks by a Starbucks Coffee store on June 10 in Corte Madera, California. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Starbucks said it will require all customers to wear facial coverings when visiting any of its US locations starting on Wednesday.

As cases of coronavirus surge across the country, Starbucks said it made the decision to prioritize the health of its employees and customers.

"The company is committed to playing a constructive role in supporting health and government officials as they work to mitigate the spread of COVID-19," the company said in a statement.

Customers who do not want to wear a mask can still order at the drive-thru. They can also place orders for curbside pickup or delivery, the company said.