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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9:37 a.m. ET, July 16, 2020

Bank of America's profit plunges 52% as it braces for virus-related bad loans 

From CNN's Matt Egan

Pedestrians walk past a Bank of America Corporation branch in New York City on July 12.
Pedestrians walk past a Bank of America Corporation branch in New York City on July 12. Jeenah Moon/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Economic fears and extremely low interest rates drove Bank of America’s profit down by 52% in the second quarter.

 Bank of America’s earnings were hit by credit costs of $5.1 billion. The bank said it set aside another $4 billion in reserves to guard against loans that go bad because of the “weaker economic outlook related to Covid-19.”

Like other lenders, Bank of America continues to struggle with extremely low interest rates. The bank reported an 11% drop in net interest income.

Still, Bank of America’s per-share profit of 37 cents beat expectations. 

“In the most tumultuous period since the Great Depression, we delivered for our clients, our employees, our communities and our shareholders,” CEO Brian Moynihan said in a statement.

Bank of America’s trading business performed well, with fixed income revenue surging 50% and equities revenue rising 7%.

9:34 a.m. ET, July 16, 2020

Africa should expect more Covid-19 cases as lockdowns ease in some countries, WHO says

From CNN's Gisela Crespo

People make their way along a street in downtown Kampala, Uganda, on June 23.
People make their way along a street in downtown Kampala, Uganda, on June 23. Esther Ruth Mbabazi/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Africa has surpassed 640,000 Covid-19 cases and 14,000 deaths, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, World Health Organization regional director for Africa, said on Thursday.

During a news conference, Moeti said some countries should expect a rise in cases as their governments ease lockdown measures "that have been put in place and bought some time in scaling up the public health capacities."

"We will all have to work together to then control what happens as far as those increases are concerned," Moeti said.

Displaced people living in refugee camps and settlements are the most vulnerable population in Africa during the pandemic, where basic preventive measures against coronavirus such as physical distancing and frequent hand washing represent a challenge, Moeti explained.

"WHO recommends health screening for new arrivals, temporary isolation facilities for suspected cases, adopting activities like food distribution to limit gatherings, and strengthen infection prevention and control practices including ensuring access to water, supplies and hand washing stations," Moeti said. "And importantly, ensuring essential health services for other diseases and conditions continue to be provided."

Moeti said the current Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo's Équateur province  — which now tops 56 case s-- is a reminder that countries in the region have to deal with other health emergencies at the same time they are responding to the Covid-19 pandemic

Moeti added the outbreak in the Équateur province "is of great concern, particularly as it is now surpassing the previous outbreak in this area which was closed off and controlled at a total of 54 cases."

9:10 a.m. ET, July 16, 2020

Russian cyber attackers are targeting Covid-19 research centers, UK security officials say

From CNN’s Luke McGee in London 

Russian cyber actors are targeting organizations involved in coronavirus vaccine development, according to UK security officials.

A UK National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) advisory published Thursday details activity of a group known as APT29, also named “the Dukes” or “Cozy Bear”.

It said known targets of APT29 include UK, US and Canadian vaccine research and development organizations.

The NCSC, which is the UK’s lead technical authority on cyber security and part of the UK’s Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), assessed that APT29 “almost certainly operate as part of Russian Intelligence Services”.

This assessment is also supported by partners at the Canadian Communication Security Establishment (CSE), the US Department for Homeland Security (DHS) Cybersecurity Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and the National Security Agency (NSA), the NCSC said.

“APT29’s campaign of malicious activity is ongoing, predominantly against government, diplomatic, think-tank, healthcare and energy targets to steal valuable intellectual property,” according to a news release. 

“We condemn these despicable attacks against those doing vital work to combat the coronavirus pandemic,” NCSC Director of Operations, Paul Chichester, said in a statement.

The press release said the NCSC has previously warned that APT (Advanced Persistent Threats) groups have been targeting organizations involved in both national and international Covid-19 responses.

APT29 uses a variety of tools and techniques, including spear-phishing and custom malware known as “WellMess” and “WellMail”, according to the NCSC.

The report concluded that: “APT29 is likely to continue to target organisations involved in COVID-19 vaccine research and development, as they seek to answer additional intelligence questions relating to the pandemic.”

 

9:13 a.m. ET, July 16, 2020

Another 1.3 million Americans filed first-time unemployment claims last week

From CNN's Tami Luhby

People wait to be called into the Heartland Workforce Solutions office in Omaha, Nebraska on July 15.
People wait to be called into the Heartland Workforce Solutions office in Omaha, Nebraska on July 15. Nati Harnik/AP

Another 1.3 million people filed first-time jobless claims last week in the US, according to the Department of Labor. That's down 10,000 from the prior week's revised level.

Weekly first-time unemployment applications have been on the decline for more than three months since their peak in the last week of March. 

Continued claims, which count workers who have filed claims for at least two weeks in a row, stood at 17.3 million for the week ending July 4, down 422,000 from the prior week. These claims peaked in May at nearly 25 million.

8:50 a.m. ET, July 16, 2020

At least 39 US states are reporting increasing coronavirus cases

At least 39 states reported an increase in the number of new cases from the week before.

Some of the hard-hit states to watch today are California, Florida, Arizona and Texas, where surging coronavirus cases have led to a shortage of hospital beds.

Just two states — Delaware and Maine — are reporting a decrease in cases. The other nine states are seeing steady week-to-week cases.

Here's a look at where cases are rising and falling across the US:

8:57 a.m. ET, July 16, 2020

Some horse racing canceled in San Diego after 15 jockeys test positive for Covid-19

From CNN's Stella Chan

The Del Mar Thoroughbred Club is pictured in Del Mar, California, on July 4.
The Del Mar Thoroughbred Club is pictured in Del Mar, California, on July 4. Bing Guan/Bloomberg/Getty Images

This weekend’s races at the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club (DMTC) in California's San Diego County have been called off after 15 jockeys tested positive for coronavirus.

The jockeys were asymptomatic and all but one had recently rode at the Los Alamitos meet in Orange County earlier this month.

The club ordered testing for jockeys and personnel after two riders, Flavien Prat and Victor Espinoza, tested positive, according to the DMTC.

"Assuming these individuals continue to show no symptoms, they will be isolated for a total of 10 days and should be able to resume their usual activities, including riding after that time,” Dr. Eric McDonald, medical director of epidemiology and immunizations services of the County of San Diego, said.

“Racing will return on July 24,” Joe Harper, Del Mar’s CEO, said. “Canceling this weekend’s races will give us additional time to monitor the situation and give the individuals who tested positive additional time to recover.”

What happens next: The club will only allow California-based jockeys to ride at the club. Del Mar is also expanding the jockey’s quarters and creating more space for various race functions. 

The current summer meet is held without spectators, the first time in its 81-year history. The summer meet began on July 10 and continues through Labor Day and many of the races scheduled for this weekend are postponed one week.

San Diego County currently reports at least 21,446 cases including 448 deaths.

 

8:39 a.m. ET, July 16, 2020

Two Texas counties are sharing a refrigerated trailer to store bodies because morgues are full

From CNN's Faith Karimi and Steve Almasy

With skyrocketing coronavirus hospitalizations in several states, hard-hit counties in Arizona and Texas are preparing for the worst by bringing in refrigerated trucks as morgues fill up.

In Arizona's Maricopa County, which has the most Covid-19 cases in the state, the medical examiner's office has ordered four portable coolers with additional ones expected in the coming days, said Fields Moseley, the county spokesperson.

The medical examiner's office morgue had a total of 156 deceased people — with a surge capacity of just over 200, Moseley said Wednesday.

It is unclear how many of the deaths are related to the coronavirus — the county has said fatalities go up in the summer due to the heat.

"Because we hit that surge capacity, multiple phone calls were made to funeral homes all over the county to try to assess their ability to make sure they were taking bodies in a timely fashion," Moseley said.

Two counties in Texas  — Cameron and Hidalgo  — are sharing a large refrigerated trailer to store bodies of coronavirus patients because of a lack of space at the morgues. San Antonio officials have also said they're requesting refrigerated trucks.

"I'm pleading with everybody in our neck of the woods, help us do your part, people's lives are at stake  — not just the people getting sick, but doctors, nurses working to the bone, EMS personnel, transporting people," Cameron County Judge Eddie Treviño Jr. told CNN affiliate KVEO.

Read more here.

8:33 a.m. ET, July 16, 2020

Start your day with these latest coronavirus updates

Healthcare professionals work in the ICU at Oakbend Medical Center in Richmond, Texas, on Wednesday, July 15.
Healthcare professionals work in the ICU at Oakbend Medical Center in Richmond, Texas, on Wednesday, July 15. Mark Felix/AFP/Getty Images

It's Thursday morning in the US, where the total number of coronavirus cases is nearing 3.5 million, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

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

  • US hotspots preparing for the worst: Hard-hit counties in Arizona and Texas are bringing in refrigerated trucks as morgues fill up. In South Texas, hospitals in Laredo are full and the federal government is converting a hotel into a health care facility. There are hospital bed shortages in Arizona, California and Florida, too.
  • Masks on while shopping: Walmart, the nation's largest retailer, will start requiring customers to wear masks next week. Costco, Best Buy and Starbucks previously announced customer mask mandates.
  • Trump: The White House said President Trump followed guidelines from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention during his trip to Atlanta after the city's mayor accused him of breaking the law by not wearing a mask at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.
  • Around the world: India has reported its highest one-day jump in cases since the pandemic began. The country now has more than 960,000 cases of Covid-19. Cases are also spiking in Latin America and the Caribbean, where 33 countries have reported a total more than 3.5 million cases.
12:10 p.m. ET, July 16, 2020

France makes wearing masks mandatory for people in indoor public spaces

From CNN's Barbara Wojazer

French Prime Minister Jean Castex wears a protective face mask at the French Senate in Paris, on Thursday, July 16.
French Prime Minister Jean Castex wears a protective face mask at the French Senate in Paris, on Thursday, July 16. Bertrand Guay/AFP/Getty Images

Wearing masks in indoor public spaces in France will be mandatory from next week, French Prime Minister Jean Castex told the country's Senate on Thursday.

The government was considering implementing the new rule on August 1, but Castex said he had “heard and understood that this deadline seemed too late."

The PM added that wearing masks was an "efficient protective measure” against coronavirus.

The government has joined other European nations in changing its stance on wearing protective masks.

In March, the government said that “wearing a mask [was] not recommended for people without symptoms." But by May, Director for National Health Agency Jérôme Salomon said officials were "adapting our position."

"We are re-evaluating our knowledge," Salomon said at the time.

Encouraging the public to wear masks has since become part of the government's coronavirus strategy. Wearing masks is already mandatory for people using public transport in France.