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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10:54 a.m. ET, July 15, 2020

Walmart customers will be required to wear masks starting Monday

From CNN’s Nathaniel Meyersohn and Cristina Alesci

Scott Olson/Getty Images
Scott Olson/Getty Images

Walmart, the world's largest retailer, is the latest national chain to require all customers to wear masks, CNN Business reports. The change will start next week. 

Here is the company's statement from this morning:

“Currently about 65 percent of our more than 5,000 stores and clubs are located in areas where there is some form of government mandate on face coverings. To help bring consistency across stores and clubs, we will require all shoppers to wear a face covering starting Monday, July 20. This will give us time to inform customers and members of the changes, post signage and train associates on the new protocols.”

Walmart joins a growing list of businesses that have made this move. Starbucks said last week that it will require customers to wear facial coverings or masks in all 9,000 of its company-owned US stores beginning Wednesday. 

Best Buy announced Tuesday that it will also require all shoppers coming into its approximately 1,000 stores to wear face masks. Costco began requiring its members to wear masks in stores beginning in May.

Although no federal mandate to wear a mask exists, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says everyone "should wear a cloth face cover when they have to go out in public." The CDC said "face coverings are meant to protect other people."

10:24 a.m. ET, July 15, 2020

Rerouting Covid-19 data to White House is "another example of CDC being sidelined," former CDC head says

From CNN Health’s Michael Nedelman

The country's coronavirus response is taking "a step backwards" by rerouting hospital data on Covid-19 patients directly to the Trump administration instead of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, according to former CDC acting director Dr. Richard Besser.

"Given how political the response has been to date, it’s a step backwards to have these data going directly to HHS in Washington," Besser told CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta. "It's another example of CDC being sidelined. Not only should the data be coming to CDC, but CDC should be talking to the public through the media every day."

What this is about: The Department of Health and Human Services confirmed the new policy to CNN on Tuesday. While CDC is a division of HHS, there has been tension between the CDC's Atlanta-based agency and those in Washington, Besser said.

"One of the nice things about CDC being in Atlanta — being away from Washington — is that we're able to avoid a lot of political pressure that you get in when you're in DC," he said. "What I worry with the data going directly to HHS is that it could be further politicized, and that’s the last thing you want."

Michael Caputo, the assistant secretary for public affairs at the department, said in an earlier statement that "new faster and complete data system is what our nation needs to defeat the coronavirus and the CDC, an operating division of HHS, will certainly participate in this streamlined all-of-government response. They will simply no longer control it."

"These systems need to be modernized," Besser said, "but the answer to this isn’t bypassing CDC; it's working to ensure that the flow is going faster, making sure that they're getting the right data."

10:20 a.m. ET, July 15, 2020

More than 30 students from an Illinois high school test positive for coronavirus

From CNN's Kay Jones, Brad Parks and Kevin Flower

Numerous Covid-19 positive cases have been identified among participants at a high school athletic camp as well as social gatherings among students at Lake Zurich High School, according to a press release from the Lake County Health Department.

The health department said on Wednesday that at least 36 students from the high school have tested positive.

They have instructed all participants from the Lake Zurich High School athletic camps to self-quarantine for 14 days from their last possible exposure.  

Lake Zurich High School held its first day of athletic camp on Monday, July 6. According to the release, numerous students were turned away during health screenings at the beginning of camp while others were sent home the first day after experiencing symptoms.

The school district was notified on the evening of the 6th that numerous students across multiple sports developed symptoms and tested positive. 

Through contact tracing, the Lake County Health Department said they have identified several social gatherings prior to the camps where exposures may have occurred. 

10:08 a.m. ET, July 15, 2020

Some Arizona schools to use "power breezers" to spray disinfectant in classrooms

As schools prepare to reopen this fall in Arizona, school officials are finding creative ways and alternatives to safely welcome students back in the classroom.

CNN correspondent Evan McMorris-Santoro visited Coatimundi Middle School in Rio Rico, Arizona, where "power breezer" machines are being set up in classrooms to spray disinfectant when students are not in class. These giant machines have been used in NFL sidelines to cool down football players.

The school also plans to use a hybrid schedule and reduce the number of students in each class. In a class with 28 desks, for example, the class will be reduced to 14 desks that are spaced apart.

David Verdugo, superintendent of Santa Cruz Valley Unified School District, said he hopes classrooms will be safe, but there is "no 100% answer." He said the goal is to provide as much opportunity for students, families and staff to stay safe.

CNN takes you inside the classroom:

10:07 a.m. ET, July 15, 2020

Dow surges on promising vaccine trial results

From CNN's David Goldman

US stocks soared once again at Wednesday’s opening bell.

Here is where things stood at opening:

  • The Dow opened up 350 points after a Moderna coronavirus vaccine showed promising results. Moderna shares surged 14%.
  • The S&P 500 was up 1%.
  • The Nasdaq rose 0.7%.

The vaccine hopes sent travel companies like Delta Air Lines and Carnival sharply higher.

Goldman Sachs is rallying 4% on near-record revenue driven by robust trading and investment banking results.

US stocks finished sharply higher Tuesday, with the Dow spiking 557 points, or 2.1%.

9:36 a.m. ET, July 15, 2020

Covid-19 cases are surging along the Georgia coast

From CNN’s Jason Morris

Georgia’s Glynn County, a popular coastal beach destination, has seen a significant recent increase of positive Covid-19 cases since the Memorial Day and July 4 holidays.  

“We have clearly seen a higher rate of positivity among those being tested,” Glynn Commissioner J. Peter Murphy told CNN.  

On Tuesday, Glynn County reported 1,622 confirmed new cases of Covid-19, 10 new deaths, and 84 hospitalizations, according to Georgia’s Department of Public Health.   

Commissioner Murphy told CNN that the “volumes” of visitors and cars at St. Simons beaches and piers beyond the local residents in the county has been “quite striking.”    

“The volume of people exploded in the area, and has a direct correlation in uptick and spike in number of individuals testing positive for coronavirus,” Murphy told CNN. 


10:11 a.m. ET, July 15, 2020

54 Florida hospital ICUs have reached capacity as Miami-Dade county reports Covid-19 ventilator use is up 92%

From CNN’s Rosa Flores and Dan Shepherd

A health care worker helps people sign up for Covid-19 testing in Miami Beach, Florida, on July 13.
A health care worker helps people sign up for Covid-19 testing in Miami Beach, Florida, on July 13. Lynne Sladky/AP

There are currently 54 hospitals that have reached ICU capacity in Florida and show zero ICU beds available, according to data released by the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA). Ten of those hospitals are in Miami-Dade County, the epicenter of the virus in the state.

Another Florida 40 hospitals show ICU’s at 10% available capacity or less, according to the AHCA data.

Miami-Dade County officials reported a staggering 31% Covid-19 positivity rate on Tuesday, according to data released by the county's government.

In the past 13 days, the county has seen an increase in the number of Covid-19 patients being hospitalized (56%), in the number of ICU beds being used (65%) and in the use of ventilators (92%), according to the latest county data.

This hospitalization data comes as the state continues to report new records. The Florida Department of Health reported at least 9,194 new cases and an additional 132 deaths on Tuesday, the most deaths in one day in the state.

Watch Jackson Health System President & CEO's interview with CNN:

9:21 a.m. ET, July 15, 2020

A new projection for deaths and some promising vaccine news: Here are the latest US coronavirus updates

A health care worker bags a nasal swab at a Covid-19 testing site in Tucson, Arizona, on July 13.
A health care worker bags a nasal swab at a Covid-19 testing site in Tucson, Arizona, on July 13. Cheney Orr/Bloomberg/Getty Images

The United States recorded more than 67,000 new cases yesterday — a new record for the most new cases reported in a single day.

If you're just reading in now, here's what you need to know to start your day:

  • Almost a quarter million people could die: An influential model from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington is now projecting that 224,000 people will die from the virus by November 1, which is an increase of almost 16,000 from the week before.That jump is due to skyrocketing cases around the country, the chair of the IHME said.
  • Most states rethinking reopening: As new cases continue to emerge, 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.
  • Where back-to-school stands: Some of America's largest school districts say they won't resume in-person classes this fall, despite President Trump's calls to reopen. The President has threatened the funding of schools that do not return to campus in the fall.
  • The good news: One Covid-19 vaccine candidate has been found to induce immune responses in all of the volunteers who received it in a Phase 1 study. But remember: These are early results, and more research is needed.
9:05 a.m. ET, July 15, 2020

Hospitals must now send Covid-19 data to the Trump administration instead of CDC

From CNN's Jim Acosta and Devan Cole

Hospital data on coronavirus patients will now be rerouted to the Trump administration instead of first being sent to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Department of Health and Human Services confirmed to CNN on Tuesday.

The move could make data less transparent to the public at a time when the administration is downplaying the spread of the pandemic, and threatens to undermine public confidence that medical data is being presented free of political interference.

Michael Caputo, the assistant secretary for public affairs at the department, confirmed the change first reported by The New York Times earlier in the day, saying in a statement that the "new faster and complete data system is what our nation needs to defeat the coronavirus and the CDC, an operating division of HHS, will certainly participate in this streamlined all-of-government response. They will simply no longer control it."

"The CDC's old hospital data gathering operation once worked well monitoring hospital information across the country, but it's an inadequate system today," Caputo said in the statement.

The Times said hospitals are to begin reporting the data to HHS today, noting also that the "database that will receive new information is not open to the public, which could affect the work of scores of researchers, modelers and health officials who rely on C.D.C. data to make projections and crucial decisions."

Read the full story here.