Experts say other countries reopened schools because the pandemic "was under control"
From CNN's Amanda Watts
Countries that reopened schools were able to do so because they first got their coronavirus cases under control, experts said Thursday.
“We have fairly reassuring data from other countries that have gone about the work of reopening schools,” Dr. Jennifer Nuzzo, senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, said at a news briefing sponsored by the university.
Austria, Denmark, Germany and Norway have been able to open their schools, panelists told the briefing.
Nuzzo said these countries have been “taking measures to maximize safety in the school setting.
“[T]he key is, they have all started from a place of having low transmission and low level of illness in the surrounding communities," Nuzzo said.
Simply put, “each of these countries had their epidemic under control,” Nuzzo added.
More insight: Annette Anderson, an assistant professor of education at Johns Hopkins, said one of the most important factors in getting kids back into face-to-face learning is to build trust with the parents and caregivers.
“Schools must convince parents and teachers that they are ready and safe to reopen,” she said.
Anderson said schools and districts should have parents come in and see what in-person learning will look like in the fall.
“Having parents come in to physically see what those plans look like in action, so that it's not just something ephemeral,” she said. “Parents can see what it would look like to be in a socially distanced classroom, to see what it would be like to be in a socially distanced gym class, to see what it would be like to be in a socially distanced cafeteria."
2:55 p.m. ET, July 16, 2020
Arkansas will require face coverings in public
From CNN's Shawn Nottingham
Arkansas will now require face coverings in public, Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced at an afternoon news conference.
“We need to do more,” the governor said as he spoke about the order.
Hutchinson said the new order, which will take effect on Monday, will require masks to be worn when people are in the presence of non-household members and aren’t able to social distance. Children under the age of 10 are exempt from the order.
The mask order, he said, is enforceable and offenders can be cited and fined.
2:45 p.m. ET, July 16, 2020
Florida governor says labs are responsible for backlogged data, not health department
From CNN's Hollie Silverman
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Thursday that commercial labs are responsible for backlogged test results and not the Florida Department of Health.
The governor said that labs are responsible for entering the test results into the state and sometimes don't enter each test each day.
"It is not the department of health, per se. It is the labs that are inputting this and some of those labs on there have inputted under multiple different entries and so obviously I want every single thing reported perfectly by the labs," DeSantis said. "But as we've seen in this process, we have a system, the states only doing I mean we do some testing, the hospital do a lot of testing, there's a lot of testing going on. That stuff gets sent, a lot of it to commercial labs, our state labs can do stuff, but I mean they only do a limited bandwidth, we're trying to expand it."
2:41 p.m. ET, July 16, 2020
California reports 118 new coronavirus-related deaths
From CNN's Sarah Moon
California reported 8,544 new cases of coronavirus and 118 additional deaths on Thursday, according to new data from the state's Department of Public Health.
The new cases represent a 2.5% increase and the deaths reflect a 1.6% increase from Wednesday’s data.
Hospitalizations and intensive care unit admissions have slightly decreased from Wednesday with nine less patients hospitalized and 10 less patients in the ICU.
There are a total of 6,777 Covid-19 positive hospital patients and 1,897 ICU patients in the state.
The positivity rate in California over a two-week period is now 7.2%.
As of Thursday, California had a total of 356,178 confirmed Covid-19 cases and 7,345 deaths due to the virus.
To note: These figures were released by California Department of Public Health and may not match up exactly in real time with CNN’s database drawn from Johns Hopkins University and the Covid Tracking Project.
2:22 p.m. ET, July 16, 2020
Hydroxychloroquine doesn't help Covid-19 patients who aren't hospitalized, new study finds
From CNN's Jen Christensen
The antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine did not benefit non-hospitalized patients with mild symptoms from Covid-19 who were treated early in their infection, according to a study to be published Thursday in the medical journal Annals of Internal Medicine.
Scientists from University of Minnesota launched the trial March 22 to see if the drug could decrease the severity of symptoms and prevent hospitalization. This was the first randomized clinical trial to study hydroxychloroquine in Covid-19 patients who weren’t hospitalized.
It was tested in 491 adults in the United States and Canada. Half the patients received a five-day hydroxychloroquine treatment and half the patients received five days of a placebo. The adults were enrolled within the first four days of reporting symptoms, and 56% were enrolled in the trial the first day they reported any symptoms. Doctors monitored symptoms for two weeks.
What the study found: At the end of two weeks, the study found that there was no advantage to taking the drug. About 24% of the hydroxychloroquine group had symptoms that persisted over 14 days, compared to the 30% who took the placebo. But hospitalizations were nearly the same — 2% of those in the hydroxychloroquine group were hospitalized, compared to the 3% taking the placebo. The death rate was identical for both groups, at 0.4%.
And, 43% of those who took hydroxychloroquine had side effects, compared to the 22% that took a placebo. Gastrointestinal symptoms were the most commonly reported side effect.
The study also found there was no benefit seen among people who took zinc or vitamin C along with the placebo or hydroxychloroquine.
The University of Minnesota researchers’ first randomized trial, published in the New England Journal of Medicine in June, looked at the drug as a possible post-exposure prophylaxis for adults who had been recently exposed to someone who was positive for Covid-19. It showed hydroxychloroquine did not prevent illness.
“Taken together, there is no convincing evidence that hydroxychloroquine can either prevent COVID-19 after exposure or reduce illness severity after developing early symptoms,” study author Dr. Caleb Skipper said in a statement. “While disappointing, these results are consistent with an emerging body of literature that hydroxychloroquine doesn’t convey a substantial clinical benefit in people diagnosed with COVID-19 — despite its activity against the coronavirus in a test tube.”
President Trump has called hydroxychloroquine a “game-changer” for treating patients with Covid-19, and said he took it himself to prevent infection, but several studies have found no benefits to treating Covid-19 patients with the antimalarial drug.
The US Food and Drug Administration revoked its emergency use authorization for both hydroxychloroquine and a related drug, chloroquine, for the treatment of Covid-19, saying the drugs are unlikely to be effective in treating the virus based on the latest scientific evidence. The National Institutes of Health announced last month it was halting its clinical trial of hydroxychloroquine for coronavirus patients.
One study published this month by researchers at Henry Ford Health System in Southeast Michigan found hydroxychloroquine increased hospitalized patients’ chances of survival. However, researchers not involved with the study were critical of it, saying it wasn't of the same quality of the previous studies that showed hydroxychloroquine did not help patients.
2:17 p.m. ET, July 16, 2020
Governor tightens Covid-19 enforcement penalties for New York City bars and restaurants
From CNN’s Sonia Moghe
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the state will start enforcing a “three strikes and you’re closed” policy for New York City restaurants and bars that serve alcohol and fail to comply with social distancing regulations put in place to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
Cuomo said if New York City restaurants and bars fail to comply with regulations three times, they will be closed, and that egregious violations can result in immediate loss of liquor licenses.
He said the new regulations will also prevent restaurants and bars across the state from only serving liquor to patrons. Drinks must only be served if patrons are ordering food.
The reason for this, Cuomo said, was that social distancing in restaurants outdoor seating can be better enforced if patrons are sitting in smaller groups at tables that are kept apart.
“If you’re not eating a meal and you’re just drinking and then it’s just an outdoor bar and people are mingling and not isolated at tables,” Cuomo said.
Walk-up bar service would also no longer be allowed across the state.
Cuomo said the state is seeing “significant” evidence of restaurants and bars failing to comply with Covid-19 social distancing regulations. He estimated at least 5,000 establishments in downstate New York were failing to comply with the regulations. He said his office has received thousands of complaints and videos showing restaurants and bars with improper social distancing.
“This is a question of public health,” Cuomo said. “New Yorkers have paid a dear price for Covid.”
2:05 p.m. ET, July 16, 2020
Database reveals 72 NFL players have tested positive for Covid-19
From CNN's Homero De La Fuente
The National Football League Players Association’s database reveals that 72 NFL players had tested positive for Covid-19 as of July 10.
Although the database is inconclusive on how many total players were tested, it’s meant to keep players and personnel up to date with the latest information on the spread of coronavirus around the league and the country.
Asked about the context of 72 players testing positive for the virus, a NFLPA spokesperson would only reveal that protocols call for the league and the players union to share confirmed cases and that an update may happen on Friday.
2:09 p.m. ET, July 16, 2020
Some restrictions will be relaxed in this locked down UK city
From CNN's Lindsay Isaac
Some coronavirus restrictions in a locked down city in England will be relaxed, UK Minister of Health Matt Hancock said Thursday.
Leicester went into a local lockdown on June 29 after a spike in Covid-19 cases. Speaking in Parliament, Hancock said restrictions on schools and early years child care will be removed as of July 24.
Hancock said a “more targeted approach” will be taken towards nonessential shops, with local authorities deciding on closures if necessary.
Remember: All pubs, bars and restaurants will remain closed. Restrictions on travel remain in place and social gatherings are still limited to six people.
1:59 p.m. ET, July 16, 2020
Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference suspends fall sports season due to Covid-19 pandemic
From CNN's Jabari Jackson
The Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference will suspend all fall sports competition amid the country’s ongoing battle with the coronavirus pandemic.
In a statement released by the conference on Thursday, the league revealed the decision was influenced by the “rapid escalation” of Covid-19 cases along the East Coast and the virus’ impact on minority communities.
“Obviously this is an arduous decision because everyone wants to have a fall season for student-athletes, fans and others,” said MEAC Commissioner Dr. Dennis Thomas in the statement. “Part of our responsibility is to ensure the mental and physical health and safety of our student-athletes, coaches, and staff is paramount. It is imperative that everyone recognize that is our first and foremost responsibility.”
The conference intends to proceed with the current winter sports schedule “unless health and medical professionals advise otherwise.” A decision surrounding fall sports moving to the 2021 spring semester has yet to be determined.
The MEAC is comprised of all historically Black colleges and universities with members from Florida to Delaware.