July 15 coronavirus news

By Jessie Yeung, Steve George, Tara John, Meg Wagner, Melissa Macaya and Mike Hayes, CNN

Updated 12:07 a.m. ET, July 16, 2020
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6:02 p.m. ET, July 15, 2020

American Airlines to warn 25,000 workers of potential furloughs

From CNN's Pete Muntean

Daniel Slim/AFP/Getty Images
Daniel Slim/AFP/Getty Images

In a memo to employees Wednesday, American Airlines’ top two executives say it will issue WARN notices to 25,000 employees that they face potential furloughs on Oct. 1.

The memo, from CEO Doug Parker and President Robert Isom, also said that the airline hopes to avoid some of those furloughs. 

“We hope to reduce the actual number of furloughs significantly through enhanced leave and early-out programs for represented workgroups, which we are announcing today,” the memo said.

The two executives also said the airline supports a union-led effort to lobby Congress to extend the CARES out relief money, which is set to expire at the end of September, through March 2021. They note the longer timeline is necessary due to the “much longer impact of the pandemic than was anticipated when the CARES Act was enacted.”

"We know American will be smaller going forward and we must right-size all aspects of our airline to adjust to that new reality," they said.

The possible furloughs include 10,000 flight attendants and 2,500 pilots.

6:04 p.m. ET, July 15, 2020

Additional staff and protective equipment could have helped reduce staff anxiety, top doctors say

From CNN’s Lauren Mascarenhas

Some extra staffing and a lot of extra personal protective equipment would have helped overwhelmed hospital workers cope better with the onslaught of coronavirus, top doctors said Wednesday.

“If we had a crystal ball and could somehow have stockpiled PPE well beyond anything that we thought we could ever use in the next five years, that would have had an impact,” Dr. Philip Ozuah, president and CEO of New York’s Montefiore Medicine, said during The Atlantic Summit on Health Care.

During the coronavirus crisis, Ozuah said is staff has dealt with “anxiety about getting sick, and the worry about inadequate supplies of PPE, and the worry about having to reuse masks.”

Ozuah said he is proud of the way his staff rose to the challenge, despite an unmet demand for additional PPE and staff when the pandemic hit New York hard in March.

“We went from consuming a handful of such masks a day to over 100,000 a day,” said Ozuah. “On March 11, we had one patient in the hospital with coronavirus. By March 31, we had 2,000, so it blew up so quickly that there was no time to ramp up staffing.”

The loss of fellow physicians contributes to the burden faced by many health care workers. Ozuah said his staff lost 27 colleagues to the virus.

“These are folks that you work with, and you see them in that state, struggling to breathe,” said Ozuah. “And some colleagues we lost despite weeks, and weeks, and weeks of heroic efforts on the part of other coworkers of ours trying to save them,” he added.

“The demand on our people's time was so extreme that there was no time to reflect, no time to grieve. There were so many people who needed our help.”

5:49 p.m. ET, July 15, 2020

Quitting WHO is like "firing the firefighter in the midst of the fire," public health experts say

From CNN’s Maggie Fox

World Health Organization (WHO) Health Emergencies Programme head Michael Ryan, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and WHO Technical lead head Covid-19 Maria Van Kerkhove attend a press conference organized on July 3, at the WHO headquarters in Geneva.
World Health Organization (WHO) Health Emergencies Programme head Michael Ryan, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and WHO Technical lead head Covid-19 Maria Van Kerkhove attend a press conference organized on July 3, at the WHO headquarters in Geneva. Fabrice Coffrini/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

President Trump’s decision to withdraw US support for the World Health Organization is like firing a team of firefighters in the middle of a raging forest fire, three prominent public health experts argued Wednesday.

They compared the missteps in the coronavirus pandemic to a forest fire that goes badly wrong.

“Unfortunately, the models are imperfect. The wind turns in an unexpected direction. As a result, several towns are destroyed, and there are billions of dollars in damage,” Barry Bloom, Dr. Paul Farmer and Dr. Eric Rubin of the Harvard School of Public Health wrote in a commentary in The New England Journal of Medicine.

“If you were the current U.S. government, you would shut down the Forest Service in the midst of the fire. At least, that’s what’s happening now with the World Health Organization (WHO),” they added.

Trump and aides have blamed WHO and the Chinese government for the rapid spread of the coronavirus. The US now has more cases by far than any other country – 3.4 million, according to Johns Hopkins University. Brazil comes in second with 1.9 million. And the US has more deaths, with nearly 137,000.

“At some point there should be a reckoning, an evaluation of why the United States has done so poorly and who is responsible for the tens of thousands of excess deaths and billions of dollars in economic damage that have resulted,” the three experts wrote.

“But today, in the middle of the outbreak, we must take stock of where we are and how we can do better. To do that effectively, we need the WHO. We must not make the mistake of firing the firefighter in the midst of the fire,” they added.

WHO will struggle to survive without US support, they said.

“The United States is responsible for the largest amount of funding for the WHO, 22% of assessed dues, and provides the largest voluntary contributions – to polio eradication, nutrition, and vaccine programs, for example,” they added.

5:12 p.m. ET, July 15, 2020

Virginia is the first state to adopt workplace safety standards for Covid-19 pandemic, governor says

From CNN’s Liz Turrell

Gov. Ralph Northam
Gov. Ralph Northam Bob Brown/Richmond Times-Dispatch/AP/FILE

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam has announced the adoption of statewide emergency workplace safety standards in response to Covid-19, according to a statement from the governor’s office.

The standards will require all employers to mandate social distancing measures and face coverings for employees in customer-facing positions and when social distancing is not possible, provide frequent access to hand washing or hand sanitizer, and regularly clean high-contact surfaces. 

In addition, new standards require all employees be notified within 24 hours if a coworker tests positive for the virus. Employees who are known or suspected to be positive for Covid-19 cannot return to work for 10 days or until they receive two consecutive negative tests.

The governor's office called the standards the first-in-the-nation safety rules due to an "absence of federal guidelines," the statement said.

5:13 p.m. ET, July 15, 2020

More than 10,000 new Covid-19 cases reported in Texas

From CNN's Raja Razek

People wait in their vehicles in line at a COVID-19 testing site Tuesday, July 14, in Houston.
People wait in their vehicles in line at a COVID-19 testing site Tuesday, July 14, in Houston. David J. Phillip/AP

Texas reported 110 new fatalities related to Covid-19, bringing the total number of deaths in the state to 3,432. 

The state also reported 10,791 new Covid-19 cases on Wednesday, the record high daily number. 

The state has a total of 282,365 Covid-19 cases.

5:01 p.m. ET, July 15, 2020

Montana will now require masks in counties with 4 or more active cases of Covid-19

From CNN’s Jennifer Henderson

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock issued a new directive during a news conference today that requires face coverings in certain indoor business settings for counties with four or more active Covid-19 cases effective immediately. 

Face coverings will also be required for outdoor gatherings of 50 people or more when social distancing isn’t possible.

Some context: Montana has doubled the number of Covid-19 cases just since the start of July, Bullock said.

Cluster cases in Montana have contributed to one third of the cases this month, he added.

  

5:07 p.m. ET, July 15, 2020

Vice President Pence says there's consideration being made to hold convention in an outdoor setting

From CNN's DJ Judd

Gerald Herbert/AP/FILE
Gerald Herbert/AP/FILE

In a campaign call with reporters, Vice President Mike Pence said that the upcoming Republican National Convention in Jacksonville, Florida, next month “is a work in progress,” and “there's consideration being given to having the convention in an outdoor setting, and also putting the kind of measures in place that put the health of all of those that are participating, our delegates, visitors, and anyone else is present, we'll put the health of everyone participating first.”

As previously reported, the RNC Host committee has indicated they plan to test all those within the perimeter on a daily basis.

Pence went on to encourage Americans, “particularly in the impacted areas, to take those steps to heed state and local guidance, to wash your hands, practice good hygiene, wear a mask when it's indicated by state and local officials, and, and also to wear a mask when social distancing is not possible.” 

It’s worth noting that President Trump is currently in Georgia, where he’s conspicuously not observing Atlanta’s mask ordinance.

4:55 p.m. ET, July 15, 2020

Kohl's says all customers are required to wear face masks starting July 20

From CNN's Kay Jones

Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Retail chain Kohl's announced today that all its customers will be required to wear face masks beginning July 20. 

Associates have been wearing masks as a requirement and a statement from the company said that will continue.

"As Covid-19 cases continue to rise, face covering mandates have grown to apply to approximately 70% of our store base, therefore we’ve made the decision to take a consistent approach across our entire store fleet," the company said.

4:41 p.m. ET, July 15, 2020

Kroger to require customers in all locations to wear a mask starting July 22

From CNN's Rebekah Riess

A woman in Atlanta shops at a Kroger supermarket in May.
A woman in Atlanta shops at a Kroger supermarket in May. Jeff Amy/AP

Kroger stores will require all customers in all locations to wear a mask when shopping starting July 22, joining its employees who continue to wear masks, according to a statement from the company.

“We are taking this extra step now because we recognize additional precautions are needed to protect our country,” the statement from Kroger said Wednesday. “As an employer, grocery provider and community partner, we have a responsibility to help keep our associates, customers and communities safe.”