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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9:10 a.m. ET, July 15, 2020

The US saw a record number of new Covid-19 cases yesterday. These are the country's virus hotspots. 

From CNN's Madeline Holcombe

A sign about social distancing is seen on July 14 in Long Beach, California.
A sign about social distancing is seen on July 14 in Long Beach, California. Apu Gomes/AFP/Getty Images

The United States saw a record number of new cases Tuesday with 67,417, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. As of Tuesday, more than 3.4 million people in the US have been infected, and 38 states are reporting an increase in the number of new cases from the week before.

With Covid-19 cases soaring in the US South and Southwest, the nation's public health experts fear the end is not yet in sight and wonder what normal will look like as the pandemic stretches on through the rest of the year.

While New York and New Jersey were the early virus hotspots, California, Florida, Arizona and Texas now have become the states to watch, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease doctor, said Tuesday.

The states continue to report new records: 

  • California: Hospitalizations and ICU admissions for Covid-19 patients continue to rise in the state, setting a new record with a total of 6,745 hospitalizations and 1,886 ICU admissions, according to data from the California Department of Public Health.
  • Texas: The state reported at least 10,745 new Covid-19 cases on Tuesday, a record high daily number. 
  • Florida: The Florida Department of Health reported at least 9,194 new cases and an additional 132 deaths Tuesday, the most deaths in one day in the state. Meanwhile, at least 54 hospitals have reached their ICU capacity.
  • Arizona: The state has led the nation — for over a month — with the highest 7-day average of new coronavirus cases per 100,000 people, according to a CNN analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University.

Meanwhile, at least 27 states have paused or rolled back plans to reopen their economies. Among them is Nevada, where 37 bars have filed a lawsuit to fight Gov. Steve Sisolak's order to revert back to Phase 1 of the state's reopening plan.

But Fauci cautioned that relaxed restrictions in California, Florida, Arizona and Texas are partly to blame for rising cases in those states, particularly among young people.

Addressing the climb in the number of cases overall and among young people, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Robert Redfield said Tuesday the nation is in a much better place than it was in the spring, because the mortality rate is lower, but said "we're not out of the woods for this."

8:38 a.m. ET, July 15, 2020

California releases new Covid-19 testing guidance that prioritizes hospitalized people with symptoms

From CNN's Stella Chan

Citing the lag in processing for the high volume of tests, the state of California released new guidance on who can be tested for Covid-19.

Here are the guidelines for each tier of testing:

  • First priority for testing will go to those hospitalized with symptoms, close contacts of confirmed cases or are part of a contact tracing investigation. 
  • Next are those who show symptoms should be tested along with asymptomatic people who live or work in in congregate settings, like nursing homes, homeless shelters, prisons. This priority level also includes healthcare workers and patients in hospitals. 
  • The third tier includes those who work in settings who have frequent contact with others and are not able to maintain six-foot distance such as retail or manufacturing, food services, agriculture, public transit and educators.
  • The fourth and final tier includes the asymptomatic but at risk for infection. This tier would be implemented when the state’s turnaround time is less than 48 hours.
“Our testing capacity has increased exponentially in recent months. At the same time, new national supply chain challenges and large volumes of specimens sent to commercial laboratories have resulted in growing delays in processing times," Dr. Mark Ghaly, state Health and Human Services Secretary, said. "Consequently, it is critical we continue to be deliberate and creative about testing. We must do this so that testing is readily available and affordable to those who need it, especially those communities experiencing the worst impacts of Covid-19 and those who are at the highest risk." 

Latest hospitalization numbers: Yesterday, the state hit a new record with a total of 6,745 hospitalizations and 1,886 ICU admissions, according to the CDPH. This is a 4% increase in hospitalizations and a 2.9% increase in ICU admissions from Monday.

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

Moroccan seasonal workers trapped in Spain will soon return home, Spanish official says

From CNN's Laura Pérez Maestro in Madrid

The 7,200 Moroccan seasonal workers, stranded in Spain due to Morocco's closed borders, "will return to their country in the next few days" after being tested for Covid-19, a spokesperson for the Spanish Foreign Ministry told CNN.

The seasonal farm workers, most of them women, arrived in Spain to pick fruit in March, but found themselves trapped in Spain's southern Huelva province when the season ended in May.

The Spanish government's decision to return the workers was made after days of negotiations between the Moroccan government, the Spanish Migrations Department and the Regional government of Andalusia — which includes Huelva province.

"The government of Andalusia will facilitate the performance of PCR [polymerase chain reaction] for these workers, as demanded by the Moroccan government", the spokesman said.

The Andalusia government aims to do a 1,000 tests a day, a spokeswoman for Interfresa, one of the biggest strawberry pickers associations in Spain, told CNN.

"The first 1,200 workers will leave in Saturday from Hueva's port on a Moroccan ferry," Ana López, spokeswoman for the government's delegation in Andalusia confirmed to CNN.

The news will come as a relief for the works, who have been surviving on almost no money and living in precarious conditions, according to a statement released earlier last week by a group of Spanish and Moroccan non-governmental human rights organizations, including local Andalusian group Mujeres 24h.

Read more:

8:26 a.m. ET, July 15, 2020

Russia lifts quarantine for arriving visitors starting today

From CNN’s Mary Ilyushina 

Russia is lifting mandatory two-week quarantine for arriving visitors starting today, according to a government decree posted by the health authorities. 

Starting today, both Russian and international travelers will have to bring to the border a coronavirus test result obtained in the past three days or take the test within three days of arrival.

Self-quarantine remains mandatory for those who test positively. 

This is the latest move by the Russian authorities to open up the country after claiming the rapid spread of the virus has been contained. 

Last week, Deputy Prime Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova announced that Russia will gradually restore international flights to several countries starting today, depending on the epidemiological situation and course of negotiations with other governments.

Previously, Russia’s health regulator Rospotrebnadzor posted a list of 13 recommended countries, which included Italy, Germany, and the UK. 

The latest numbers: On Wednesday, Russia reported 6,422 new cases of coronavirus, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to at least 746,369. According to Rospotrebnadzor, at least 523,249 have recovered.

8:31 a.m. ET, July 15, 2020

UK prime minister commits to future independent inquiry into pandemic 

From CNN’s Hilary McGann

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson visits the headquarters of the London Ambulance Service NHS Trust in England on July 13.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson visits the headquarters of the London Ambulance Service NHS Trust in England on July 13. Ben Stansall/WPA Pool/Getty Images

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson committed to an eventual independent inquiry into “what happened” in the UK during the coronavirus pandemic, but added that now is not the time for it.

“Of course we will seek to learn the lessons of this pandemic in the future,” Johnson told the House of Commons during parliament’s weekly prime minister’s questions on Wednesday. 

Johnson also told lawmakers he cannot “simply with a magic wand” ensure every job is retained throughout this period. 

When asked by opposition leader Keir Starmer if he would personally intervene in reports that airline British Airways are re-hiring staff on worse terms, Johnson said the government is “absolutely clear” they want companies to keep workers in employment “where they possibly can.” 

“No one should underestimate the scale of the challenge this country faces,” Johnson said, assuring the government is doing a “huge amount” to help the aviation sector. 


8:11 a.m. ET, July 15, 2020

Hong Kong reports 19 coronavirus cases on first day of new social distancing measures

From journalist Vanesse Chan in Hong Kong

People get off a tram in Hong Kong on July 15.
People get off a tram in Hong Kong on July 15. Lam Yik/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Hong Kong recorded 19 new coronavirus cases and one death on Wednesday — the first day the city implemented social distancing measures as it battles a new rise in infections.

Of the new cases, 14 are locally transmitted — including three cases related to a restaurant cluster in Tze Wan Shan, officials said. Five cases were imported, including seafarers and domestic helpers from the Philippines, as well as a flight attendant from India.

The health authority said the city will be increasing the number of tests, but will have to give priority to people with symptoms and those who are admitted to hospitals as potential case numbers rise. 

Hong Kong’s total number of Covid-19 cases is now at 1,588, with nine deaths. The city has recorded 236 locally transmitted cases including 83 untraced infections since the "third wave" began in early July.

Under the new restrictions announced Monday:

  • Incoming travelers who have been in or transited through high-risk areas in the last 14 days must show proof that they tested negative before boarding. If they fail to do so, airlines will be penalized.
  • Public gatherings will be capped at four people again. The limit had previously been 50.
  • Restaurants cannot seat more than four customers together at a table, and must stop dine-in services from 6 p.m. to 5 a.m. every day.
  • Gaming centers, bathhouses, gyms, and other public recreational facilities will be closed for a week. Exhibitions and public events will either be canceled or postponed.
  • Masks are now mandatory on all public transport.
8:28 a.m. ET, July 15, 2020

More than 400 million people in India re-enter lockdown conditions

From CNN’s Esha Mitra in New Delhi

People visit stores on July 14 at the Kondli Wholesale Market in the city of Noida in Uttar Pradesh, India.
People visit stores on July 14 at the Kondli Wholesale Market in the city of Noida in Uttar Pradesh, India. Prashanth Vishwanathan/Bloomberg/Getty Images

More than 400 million people across three Indian states will re-enter lockdown, weeks after a nationwide lockdown was lifted on May 30.

This comes after India recorded 100,000 new coronavirus cases in the past five days as the country struggles to gain control of the worsening pandemic.

On Wednesday, it saw 29,429 new cases, bringing the total to 936,181 confirmed cases and 24,309 deaths.

State and city-wide measures: As cases and deaths continue to soar in India, two of its most populous states -- Bihar and Uttar Pradesh -- announced various lockdown restrictions.

Bihar's government announced a 16-day long state-wide lockdown on Tuesday, which would come into effect from July 16, while Uttar Pradesh's government said Sunday that a lockdown will take place every weekend until the end of July.

Both states had previously lifted their lockdowns on May 30 except for districts with a high number of cases.

The city of Bengaluru, in Karnataka state, which had also initially lifted restrictions, went into a week-long lockdown on Tuesday until July 22. This comes after the state of Maharashtra reinstated a lockdown on June 29 until July 31.

India began easing lockdown restrictions on May 30, but certain states such as West Bengal and Jharkhand continued to have lockdown measures and restrictions on movement, with the exception of certain essential services.

More than 100 million people in these states have remained under lockdown restrictions since late March. 

In the capital, New Delhi, where there are no overarching lockdown measures, restrictions continue in its "containment zones," which include more than 600 localities as of Monday, according to the territory’s Revenue Department. 

Read more:

7:38 a.m. ET, July 15, 2020

UAE Crown Prince: No coronavirus deaths for 24 hours

From CNN’s Mostafa Salem

People walk in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, on May 5.
People walk in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, on May 5. Francois Nel/Getty Images

The United Arab Emirates has recorded zero coronavirus deaths in the past 24 hours, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Mohammed Bin Zayed said on Twitter Wednesday.  

“Today we announce no deaths related to COVID-19 in the UAE in the last 24 hours. Our deepest gratitude to our frontline heroes and to society for their commitment to adhering to precautionary measures. We must continue our collective efforts in tackling this challenge."

The last time the UAE had no deaths was April 18, according to Ministry of Health data. 

On Tuesday, 375 more cases were recorded in the Emirates bringing up the total number of cases to 55,573, of which more than 46,000 recovered, according to the Health Ministry. 

Overall the UAE has conducted more than 4 million tests in the country of 11 million, Minister of Health and Prevention Abdul Rahman Al Owais said on Monday, according to the UAE government office's Twitter account.

Vaccine trials: Owais added that two vaccines have reached a phase three clinical trial with 15,000 people volunteering for testing. 

In June the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and China launched a Phase 3 clinical trial of a coronavirus vaccine, according to the China National Biotec Group (CNBG) and UAE state media.

Drugmakers globally are working to find a coronavirus vaccine. It's unclear if or when a vaccine will be available to the public as of yet, but researchers hope to produce one by early 2021.

6:46 a.m. ET, July 15, 2020

Queen to make first appearance in months to knight 100-year-old veteran

From CNN’s Royal Correspondent Max Foster and Hilary McGann in London

Captain Tom Moore is pictured in Marston Moretaine, England, on July 9.
Captain Tom Moore is pictured in Marston Moretaine, England, on July 9. Eddie Keogh for The FA/Shutterstock

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II is expected to appear at her first public engagement in months on Friday to knight Captain Tom Moore, the 100-year-old English war veteran who became a national celebrity after raising than $40 million for the UK's National Health Service.

The investiture – the first since the Queen moved to Windsor Castle in March amid the pandemic -- will be attended by members of Moore's family, according to a Buckingham Palace statement. 

The event will mark the 94-year-old monarch's first in-person public engagement since her schedule was scaled back. Previous engagements with members of the public during the pandemic have been carried out virtually. 

The Queen did attend a military ceremony in Windsor Castle to mark her official birthday in June, but it was not open to members of the public. 

The award for Moore, who turned 100 at the end of April, was announced by Downing Street on May 20.

The World War II veteran raised a record amount for the NHS in its battle against the coronavirus by walking around his garden in Bedfordshire, southeast England, with the help of a frame.