July 16 coronavirus news

By Jessie Yeung, Steve George, Meg Wagner, Melissa Macaya, Veronica Rocha and Fernando Alfonso III, CNN

Updated 12:24 AM ET, Fri July 17, 2020
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6:23 p.m. ET, July 16, 2020

Miami mayor says he's "very close" to issuing a new stay-at-home order

From CNN's Leinz Vales

Miami Mayor Francis Suarez
Miami Mayor Francis Suarez CNN

Miami Mayor Francis Suarez said Thursday that he is "very, very close" to issuing a new stay-at-home order as coronavirus cases rise in Florida.

"There is very little, if any of federal and state guidance on how and what metric we need to use to close," Suarez told Wolf Blitzer on CNN's "The Situation Room." "So we're developing all of that on our own. And we're faced with making these tough decisions in the next few days if things don't improve radically."

Suarez told reporters at a news briefing that Miami hospitals have reached 95% capacity because of the growing Covid-19 pandemic.

The Miami mayor insisted that he is taking a variety of measures to mitigate the spread of coronavirus in his city. His administration will be monitoring whether those measures will have an affect on controlling the virus. 

"The situation is dire," Suarez said. "I don't want to sugarcoat it or I don't want to downplay it in any way. Our hospitalizations are at the highest level. Our ICUs are double what they were back then and our vents has surpassed the high point. The death rate will continue to go up if we don't take any more dramatic measures."

Blitzer pressed Suarez on why he won't issue a stay-at-home order now if the situation is so dire.

"We are potentially going to be doing that soon if things are not going to dramatically improve," Suarez said. "We are talking about somewhere in the next few days, potentially within the next week."

6:16 p.m. ET, July 16, 2020

Peru reports nearly 4,000 new coronavirus cases

From CNN's Radina Gigova

Peru's Ministry of Health reported at least 3,862 new coronavirus cases on Thursday – bringing the total number of cases in the country to at least 341,586. 

The ministry also reported 198 additional, bringing the country's total to at least 12,615. 

The Lima metropolitan area continues to be the area with the highest number of infections, with approximately 170,793 positive cases as of Thursday, the ministry said. 

Peru has been the second hardest-hit country by the novel coronavirus in Latin America and the Caribbean after Brazil. 

6:49 p.m. ET, July 16, 2020

Georgia governor sues Atlanta mayor over city's mask mandate

From CNN’s Andy Rose

Gov. Brian Kemp
Gov. Brian Kemp Mike Stewart/AP

The governor of Georgia is suing Atlanta’s mayor over the city’s mask mandate, which he said violates his own emergency orders. 

“This lawsuit is on behalf of the Atlanta business owners and their hardworking employees who are struggling to survive during these difficult times," Gov. Brian Kemp tweeted Thursday.

Some context: The lawsuit against Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and the Atlanta City Council comes one day after Kemp extended his statewide emergency order, adding language that specifically prohibits local governments from adding mask mandates.

The lawsuit asks a judge to declare that Bottoms exceeded her authority and cannot enforce the local mask rules.


6:12 p.m. ET, July 16, 2020

Public health measures are the vehicle to reopening the country, not the obstacle, Fauci says

From CNN's Andrea Kane

From Facebook
From Facebook

Americans have gotten into an “unfortunate mindset” of thinking that public health measures are the enemy of getting the economy going again, the nation’s top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci said today.

These measures are not the enemy, Fauci told Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg Thursday during a live chat.

“There has been this unusual and unfortunate mindset of, there’s public health measures and there’s getting the economy back — and these are two opposing forces,” Fauci said. “As I've said so often and I want to repeat it with you here, Mark, is that we should be looking at public health measures as a vehicle or a gateway to opening the country again, to getting the economy back, not as the obstacle in the way, but as a gateway.”

Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, also stressed the importance of following the phases for reopening. 

“Because if you're in a situation where you should not have jumped over one of the checkpoints, you’ve got to think about pulling back, starting all over again, and doing the gradual entry into, quote, normality in a way that's in accordance with the guidelines," he said.

Fauci also said the public needs to understand the importance of abiding by these guidelines.

“I would recommend as strong as you possibly can to get people to wear masks, to avoid crowds, to keep distances, outdoors always better than indoors,” he added. 

Done right, mask use and social distancing can help turn back the recent resurgence in cases in many states, Fauci said.


6:07 p.m. ET, July 16, 2020

Brazil tops 2 million coronavirus cases as outbreak worsens 

From Márcia Reverdosa and Taylor Barnes

Brazil’s health ministry reported 45,403 new cases of novel coronavirus on Thursday, bringing the nationwide total to 2,012,151.

The ministry also reported 1,322 new Covid-19 fatalities, bringing the national death toll to 76,688.

6:03 p.m. ET, July 16, 2020

Point-of-care tests will be key to helping nursing homes get back to some kind of normal, official says

From CNN's Jen Christensen

Point-of-care coronavirus testing will be essential at every nursing home in the country, Seema Verma, the administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), said Thursday.

The US Department of Health and Human Services announced this week that it is providing a point-of-care tests to all 15,400 nursing homes in the country. The tests will start shipping next week first to the hundreds of homes that are on the list of homes most vulnerable to infection. 

Verma said at a HHS news conference that the department is recommending nursing homes test staff on a weekly basis. The department also wants every nursing home resident tested.

Verma said asymptomatic carriers have been a problem for the industry. 

Each home will get a test reader, Verma said. The instrument should be able to read about 20 tests per hour, each with a 15-minute turnaround time. The federal government will supply the homes with enough assays to test every resident and all employees once a week for about four weeks. The homes will have to buy the tests after that, Verma said.

Point-of-care tests with a quick turnaround time will allow the nursing home to take quick infection control action, she said.

“It’s also important for people to appreciate that the coronavirus isn’t just a threat to the lives of people in nursing homes, but it’s also been a long drawn out nightmare for them in terms of the quality of their lives,” Verma said. “It’s kept them apart from their loved ones and kept them held inside their homes with diminished group activities to boot,” she added.

“It’s a heartbreaking predicament and one that we should all want to resolve as soon as possible," Verma added.

Verma said she believes the point of care tests will be key to helping nursing homes get back to some kind of normal. She envisions the tests may even be used on some visitors so that residents could be reunited with family members. 

5:45 p.m. ET, July 16, 2020

NASA delays launch of telescope due to coronavirus and technical challenges

From CNN's Dave Alsup

NASA has delayed the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope until Halloween 2021. 

NASA said it is now "targeting Oct. 31, 2021, for the launch of the agency’s James Webb Space Telescope from French Guiana, due to impacts from the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, as well as technical challenges," the agency tweeted.

“Webb is the world’s most complex space observatory, and our top science priority, and we’ve worked hard to keep progress moving during the pandemic. The team continues to be focused on reaching milestones and arriving at the technical solutions that will see us through to this new launch date next year," said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate at the agency’s headquarters in Washington, in a news statement.

5:43 p.m. ET, July 16, 2020

Repeated coronavirus tests are not necessary, top HHS official says  

From CNN's Jen Christensen

People don’t need repeated tests for coronavirus once they have tested positive one time, Assistant Health Secretary Admiral Brett Giroir, a member of the White House coronavirus task force, said Thursday.

“This is a remnant of very early on when we had cruise ships and people were in quarantine,” Giroir said Thursday at a briefing at the US Health and Human Services Department.

With cruise ship passengers, a negative test was required to get out of isolation. The current guidelines say people can leave isolation if they have been free of symptoms for three days and it has been at least 10 days since the onset of symptoms. Guidelines also say people may leave isolation if they receive two negative tests in 24 hours. But Giroir said that two-test standard is no longer needed for most patients.

“We know that if you're 10 days since the onset of your symptoms, and at least three days … asymptomatic, you are no longer contagious. You do not need to be retested,” Giroir said. 

Some people can test positive after they are no longer infectious because remnants of the virus remain in their bodies.

“What we're seeing is people getting tested three times, four times six times, probably, you know with good intentions, but they really do not need to be, so we want to get the word out,” Giroir said.

The exception, he said, is if a person is very ill and in the hospital. The virus can linger longer in those patients, as well as in people with immunosuppression or some immune deficiency. 

He said that guidance from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will be coming out about this issue “very soon.” 

“The great majority of people who are diagnosed who are just sick at home do not need to be retested it's clogging up the system,” Giroir said. “And quite honestly, it does a disservice to them, because they can be quote positive for a much longer time than they are infected and it keeps them out of work, school, all those other things.”

5:40 p.m. ET, July 16, 2020

Alabama's largest school district will begin with online-only learning

From CNN’s Andy Rose

The largest public school district in Alabama will be teaching remotely for at least the first nine weeks of the school year, the Mobile County superintendent announced Thursday.

Superintendent Chresal Threadgill called the move the right decision for students and teachers, saying, “I cannot, with strong reservation, put their health and even their lives in jeopardy.”

The district includes the city of Mobile and has more than 53,000 students. In addition to keep children out of school buildings, the beginning of the school year is being pushed back from August 10 to September 1.