The latest on the coronavirus pandemic

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3:17 p.m. ET, July 17, 2020

Florida's governor says he won't close gyms despite surging Covid-19 cases

From CNN's Shawn Nottingham

A 24 Hour Fitness gym is seen on June 15, 2020 in Miami, Florida.
A 24 Hour Fitness gym is seen on June 15, 2020 in Miami, Florida. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said he won’t close the state’s gyms, claiming a healthy lifestyle will put people at lower risk for developing severe cases of coronavirus.

 “If you are good shape you have a very, very low likelihood of ending up in significant condition as a result of the coronavirus," DeSantis said during an afternoon news conference in Apopka, Florida.

Remember: Coronavirus has more severe outcomes on older people, Blacks and Hispanics, and people with underlying health conditions, according to demographic data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But health officials are warning that a rise in younger people testing positive for coronavirus will hit vulnerable populations. 

As the number of coronavirus cases climb in Florida, DeSantis today said 21% of the state’s hospital beds remain available. The governor said that number is actually higher than the number of beds available in the state in March of this year. 

Additionally, DeSantis said he has been told by the White House that a new shipment of Remdesivir is being expedited to state. He says he hopes the shipment of the coronavirus treatment drug will be delivered by this weekend.  

The governor lauded the state’s test capacity, saying Florida is currently testing more than 100,000 people a day.

He went on to say that the state’s positivity rate has stabilized and even declined. DeSantis says the state’s positivity rate is currently at about 12-13%. 

Some background: DeSantis' comments come as the state averages just over 55 cases per 100,000 people, according to an analysis of Johns Hopkins University data. For five consecutive days, Florida has led the nation in coronavirus cases per capita.

Florida took over the top spot from Arizona on Monday. Arizona — which had held the top spot for over a month — dropped to third, behind Louisiana.

3:20 p.m. ET, July 17, 2020

More than 1 million coronavirus tests completed in Massachusetts, governor says

From CNN's Hollie Silverman

A COVID-19 test is administered at the Whittier Street Health Center's mobile test site on. Wednesday, July 15, 2020, in Boston, Mass.
A COVID-19 test is administered at the Whittier Street Health Center's mobile test site on. Wednesday, July 15, 2020, in Boston, Mass. Elise Amendola/AP

There were 1.3 million coronavirus tests completed in Massachusetts as of Friday, Gov. Charlie Baker announced during an afternoon news conference today. 

There were 143 new positive Covid-19 tests reported for a total of 106,707 cases, according to the governor. The positivity rate is now at 1.7% in Massachusetts.  

There are currently 557 people hospitalized, including 77 people in the intensive care unit, Baker said.

Baker said that there are six hospitals using some form of surge capacity in Massachusetts but they aren't all due to Covid-19.

3:11 p.m. ET, July 17, 2020

Massachusetts governor supports cities creating additional Covid-19 restrictions

From CNN's Hollie Silverman

Governor Charlie Baker speaks at a press conference after a tour of The New England Center for Children on July 13, 2020 in Southborough, Massachusetts. 
Governor Charlie Baker speaks at a press conference after a tour of The New England Center for Children on July 13, 2020 in Southborough, Massachusetts.  Nancy LanePool/AFP/Getty Images

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker said that he supports local municipalities creating additional restrictions as long as they don't negate the guidance issued by the state.

During a Friday afternoon news conference, Baker said additional restrictions — such as how Gloucester is limiting beach lots to only residents — are "perfectly appropriate."

"Most of the policies that we've established, either as guidance or as advisories, or even the orders, are what we consider to be a statewide framework and if locals wish to pursue a slightly different policy that involves their communities, as long as it's not a policy that negates what we've put in place for guidance, because we believe the guidance that we put out there represents what we would call a safe approach to deal with this stuff, we're okay with that," Baker explained.

2:49 p.m. ET, July 17, 2020

Robert Durst's trial may be delayed to April 2021 due to Covid-19

From CNN’s Paul Vercammen

Real estate heir Robert Durst looks over during his murder trial on March 10, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. 
Real estate heir Robert Durst looks over during his murder trial on March 10, 2020 in Los Angeles, California.  Alex Gallardo/Pool/Getty Images

A Los Angeles deputy district attorney is proposing the murder trial of Robert Durst, subject of the HBO series, “The Jinx,” be delayed until April 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“We’ll keep the same jury pick up where we left off,” district attorney John Lewin said.

Judge Mark E. Windham told both sides to return in two weeks to allow the defense team to discuss the proposed delay with Durst and mull over a second prosecution offer.

Lewin also asked the Durst lawyers to consider removing the jury from the proceedings and make it a bench trial where the judge decides the verdict. 

“The current trial as a matter of law has been irreparably damaged” with the coronavirus surge, said defense attorney David Chesnoff via teleconference broadcast into the Inglewood courtroom. 

The Durst team again asked for a mistrial and a longer adjournment in the proceedings.

The judge denied the mistrial motion but the prosecution’s proposal opens the door to addressing the lengthy adjournment request.

Durst, 77, did not appear in court, remaining in protective custody in the Twin Towers Jail medical unit.

Chesnoff said Durst is elderly and at a high risk to catch Covid-19.

2:10 p.m. ET, July 17, 2020

A combination of community measures are needed to keep Covid-19 under control, WHO official says

From CNN's Naomi Thomas

WHO Health Emergencies Programme head Michael Ryan speaks during a press conference on July 3 at the WHO headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.
WHO Health Emergencies Programme head Michael Ryan speaks during a press conference on July 3 at the WHO headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. Fabrice Coffrini/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

So many modes of transmission come into play in close, overcrowded, indoor environments, and people need to understand and manage their risk in these situations, said Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of the World Health Organization's Health Emergencies Programme.

“It is important, as I’ve said previously, that governments communicate those risks very, very carefully. And it is also important that providers, authorities and others ensure that those environments are as safe as possible, and that those risks are also managed,” Ryan said during a WHO media briefing in Geneva on Friday.

While the best combination of interventions remains unknown, Ryan said that if individuals and communities are aware of the risks – and authorities take actions to ensure safety in places such as schools, buildings and restaurants – countries can control the virus.

“It’s not one thing,” Ryan said. “It is a combination of measures in which the community, in partnership with each other and in partnership with the authorities, come to a sustainable way of controlling and suppressing the transmission of the virus, and living with the virus in a way that normal human activity can resume in a successful way.”

Science continuing to understand human transmission and how it happens is very important for this, as it will help to ensure how the measures being put into place need to be adapted, he said.

2:05 p.m. ET, July 17, 2020

Lowes and Home Depot shoppers will now have to wear masks

From CNN's Melanie Schuman

Customers walk in the parking lot of the Home Depot in Wappingers Falls, New York, on July 1.
Customers walk in the parking lot of the Home Depot in Wappingers Falls, New York, on July 1. Patrick Oehler/Poughkeepsie Journal/Imagn

Lowes and Home Depot will soon require customers to wear masks in their stores. The mask order begins on Monday at Lowes and Wednesday at Home Depot. 

Home Depot said about 85% of its stores already require masks due to local and state regulations. Associates across all stores are required to wear masks, according to a press release.

"We appreciate all of our associates who have been working so hard to serve our customers with the essential products they need throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and we want to thank our customers for their cooperation as we work to protect everyone in our stores," Ann-Marie Campbell, executive vice president of stores for The Home Depot, said.

Associates at Lowes already are required to wear masks.

“As a retailer offering essential goods, we have a responsibility to our associates, customers and small businesses in communities nationwide to help provide a safe shopping experience," said Marvin R. Ellison, Lowe's president and CEO. "Throughout this pandemic, our associates have worked tirelessly so customers could get the goods and services they needed for their homes and small businesses. For the safety of everyone in our stores, we ask that customers wear masks, and to make this new standard less restrictive, we will make masks available to those who need them."

The home improvement giants are the latest US retailers to require customers wear masks. CVS, Target and Walmart all announced their own mask orders this week.

1:59 p.m. ET, July 17, 2020

More than 180 employees from two police forces in Florida's Miami-Dade County are quarantined

From CNN's Melissa Alonso

A Miami Beach Police patrol vehicle is parked on April 5 in Miami Beach, Florida.
A Miami Beach Police patrol vehicle is parked on April 5 in Miami Beach, Florida. Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images

There are 140 Miami Police (MPD) employees and 41 Miami Beach Police (MBPD) officers currently under quarantine, public information officers from both departments tell CNN.

MPD has 140 employees currently quarantined because they have tested positive, are awaiting test results or came in contact with someone who has coronavirus, according to MPD Public Information Officer Kenia Fallat. Of the 140 employees quarantined, 68 are police officers who have tested positive for coronavirus, Fallat said.

In Miami Beach, there are 41 officers under quarantine, according to Miami Beach Police Public Information Officer Ernesto Rodriguez. This includes 12 officers who have tested positive and 29 officers who have possibly been exposed, Rodriguez tells CNN.

MPD has 1371 full-time sworn positions and more than 400 civilian positions, according to its 2020 operating budget.

Meanwhile, MBPD has 400 sworn officers on its force, Rodriguez says.

1:31 p.m. ET, July 17, 2020

This New York man left the hospital after a 106-day battle with Covid-19

From CNN's Sonia Moghe

A Long Island, New York, man left the hospital Thursday after a 106-day battle with Covid-19, where he had to be intubated three times. 

Hafeez Rehman, 43, was taken out of Long Island Jewish Medical Center on a stretcher late Thursday, as hospital workers lined the hallway and cheered, as captured in footage released by the hospital. Rehman headed to a rehabilitation facility where he will continue his treatment.

Fatima Rehman, his sister-in-law, said she and the rest of his family have waited for this day after months of praying. 

“We had so many downhill (moments) and then all of a sudden, we got an uphill,” she said, in a video interview released by the hospital system. “We had so many family friends praying day and night. Always have hope and faith because there is miracles and we are seeing one today.”

Northwell Health, which has 23 hospitals in the area, said his stay was the longest Covid-19-related stay the entire health system has seen.

1:19 p.m. ET, July 17, 2020

Social distancing likely needed for a "long period of time," England's chief medical officer says

From CNN’s Zahid Mahmood and Josefine Ohema

People walk past a social distancing sign in London on July 11.
People walk past a social distancing sign in London on July 11. Jacques Feeney/MI News/NurPhoto/Getty Images

England’s Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty told the House of Lords on Friday that social distancing is likely to be necessary for a “long period of time.”

Speaking at the Select Committee on Science and Technology, Whitty said measures like social distancing, washing hands, isolation, contact tracking and face masks were all measures that needed to continue.

“There are issues around distancing, which have been varied but the reality is distancing remains an important part of this mix and how it’s interpreted in different environments has evolved, but it has not gone away,” Whitty said. “So all of those need to continue for a long period of time.”

Whitty said he would be “very surprised” if in four or five months’ time we still had the same coronavirus strategy as we have today. Adding that the government will still require people to isolate if they have symptoms, wear face masks and have local responses to an outbreak.

“In terms of the wider strategy and how we do the maximum damage to the virus to the minimum damage to our society, that will evolve over time,” he said. 

Earlier on Friday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson indicated a possible return to normality by “November at the earliest.” 

“It is my strong and sincere hope that we will be able to review the outstanding restrictions and allow a more significant return to normality from November at the earliest – possibly in time for Christmas,” Johnson said.