July 19 coronavirus news

By Helen Regan, Jenni Marsh and Amy Woodyatt, CNN

Updated 12:50 a.m. ET, July 20, 2020
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11:50 a.m. ET, July 19, 2020

Atlanta mayor accuses Georgia governor of trying to silence her with mask lawsuit

From CNN’s Jasmine Wright

from CBS
from CBS

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms once again slammed Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp for the lawsuit against her and members of her city counsel, implying that it could be because she is a woman or her city’s demographics while on CBS’ Face the Nation.

Calling it “bizarre,” she pointed out language from the suit filed Thursday, that asks the judge to stop Bottoms from telling the press in releases and interviews that she has the authority to impose measures outside of ones issued by Kemp himself. Bottoms has accused him of trying to silence her.

“There were other cities in our state who instituted mask mandates and he did not push back then,” she said. “I don't know if perhaps they were led by men or if it's perhaps because of the demographic in the city of Atlanta. I don't know what the answers are. But what I do know is that the science is on our side.” 

Bottoms cited the unreleased report from the White House that showed her state was declared a red state for the surging Covid-19 cases. And she pushed back that protests for equality led to spikes in Covid-19 cases. Bottoms says her police do have the ability to enforce her mandates requiring masks and pushing the city back to phase one, as if they were issuing a citation for seatbelts. And she slammed the governor who talks about local control for abusing her own.

“At the end of the day, the party that speaks of local control has taken away local control and attempting to silence our voices in this state,” she said.

Some more context: Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp announced Thursday he is suing Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms over the city's mask mandate, claiming the measure violates his 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," Kemp tweeted.

The mayor also tweeted about Kemp's lawsuit today:

11:32 a.m. ET, July 19, 2020

This Pennsylvania county reports more than 130 new Covid-19 cases

From CNN's Sheena Jones

Allegheny County, PA — which includes Pittsburgh and surrounding areas — reports 138 new Covid-19 cases, one new hospitalizations and one additional death from the virus, according to a statement from the Health Department. 

“In the newest cases, ages range from 11 months to 93 years old with the median age being 40. Positive results are from tests that span July 3 through July 18,” the release says.

Allegheny County has a total of 6,263 cases of Covid-19.

One thing to note: The numbers listed were released by the Allegheny County Health Department and may not line up exactly in real time with CNN’s database drawn from Johns Hopkins University and the Covid Tracking Project.

11:31 a.m. ET, July 19, 2020

White House Chief of Staff says stimulus negotiations will start "in earnest" on Monday

From CNN's Nicky Robertson

Alex Wong/Getty Images
Alex Wong/Getty Images

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows Sunday said that the administration has been engaged in discussions on the next stimulus bill for the past week, but negotiations will start “in earnest” Monday on Capitol Hill. 

“As we’ve started to engage with our Senate and House colleagues up on Capitol Hill, those will start in earnest starting tomorrow, Monday,” Meadows said in an interview on Fox News.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy will meet with President Trump and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, “to actually start to fine tune it,” Meadows added. 

Some context: The White House and Senate Republicans are at odds over the amount of funding that should be given to the Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention in the next round of stimulus spending, a source with direct knowledge of the matter told CNN on Saturday. 

He outlined the administration’s priorities for the next stimulus package: expediting warp speed for treatments and keeping people employed, and making sure there are “protections for the American workers and those that employ individuals.”

“Whether it’s a payroll tax deduction, whether it's making sure that unemployment benefits continue without a disincentive to return to work,” Meadows noted. The issue of continuing unemployment benefits has been a sticking point for Democrats in negotiations. 

“It looks like” the bill will be in the trillion dollar range, Meadows stated. 

Meadows added, “bluntly we are looking at a number of areas to look at manufacturing, bringing some of those critical manufacturing jobs back from overseas.” 

The Chief of Staff announced that there will be “multiple initiatives” coming out this week, including one on schools. 

Meadows said that the President has “already authorized to work Congress” over 70 billion dollars for schools, and that “you will see a very broad five to six points in terms of what we will be doing in terms of making sure that our schools are safe.”

11:16 a.m. ET, July 19, 2020

US Navy teams deployed to South Texas to fight Covid-19 spread

From CNN's Brad Parks and Chandler Thornton

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced that five US Navy teams will be deployed Sunday to areas in South and Southwest Texas "to help combat the spread of Covid-19."

The teams will assist at various hospitals in the cities of Harlingen, Del Rio, Eagle Pass and Rio Grande City, according to a press release from the governor's office.

"These teams consist of medical and support professionals which are being deployed to help meet medical needs in hospitals throughout the state," the press release says.

"The support from our federal partners is crucial in our work to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in our communities throughout Texas," said Governor Abbott. "I am grateful for this ongoing partnership with the Department of Defense and the U.S. Navy, and the State of Texas will continue to utilize every resource available to protect public health and keep Texans in every community safe." 

11:16 a.m. ET, July 19, 2020

The average testing delay is too long NIH director says 

From CNN Health’s Naomi Thomas

from NBC
from NBC

“The average test delay is too long,” said Dr. Francis Collins on NBC’s Meet the Press Sunday. “And that really undercuts the value of the testing, because you do the testing to find out who’s carrying the virus and then quickly get them isolated so they don’t spread it around.” 

This is hard to do when there is a long delay in the testing, said Collins, director of the National Institutes for Health. 

“We need to do things that are more on the spot,” Collins said. “There’s a number of new technologies that are coming along that look very promising in that space. We need to invest a lot of money, and the government is willing to do so, in scaling those up.” 

Collins said that the science of this is critical and that NIH was “deeply engaged” with in efforts to try to develop an additional array of point of care tests. 

He also pointed out that this week, around seven or eight hundred nursing homes will be getting sent FDA approved point of care tests, so that people who are in a high risk environment will be able t find out if they have the virus in less than an hour, according to Collins. 

“That the kind of thing that I personally, along with many others and other parts of the government, are working on night and day to try to do a better job of this,” he said. “You’re right, we have to come up with a better turnaround time.” 

11:16 a.m. ET, July 19, 2020

Masks being politicized is bizarre, NIH director says 

From CNN Health’s Naomi Thomas

from NBC
from NBC

“It is bizarre that we have turned the mask wearing into something political,” said Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health in an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday. 

Using an analogy of an alien coming to the planet Earth and looking around at mask wearing, Collins said that they would be astounded, puzzled and amazed. 

“You’d wonder what is going on here? How could it be that something as basic as a public health that we have very strong evidence can help, seems to attach to people’s political party,” he said. “For starters, could we just walk away from that and say this is about all of us?” said Collins. 

He said that Americans are pretty good at rising to challenges and crises, that they have done it before during wartime.

“This is not a war, but in a certain way it is against the enemy which is called the virus, and that virus is very sneaky and stealthy,” Collins said. “Our best chance is for all of us to get together and do the right thing and stop fighting so much about the divide between different political perspectives which is just getting in the way.” 

Collins made a point to wear his mask as his interview started, explaining that he had been wearing it since he left his house, and was removing it because the only other person with him in the NIH studio was ten feet away. 

“I didn’t want anybody to think that we take masks as something optional for people who want to protect themselves and people around them,” Collins said. 

10:40 a.m. ET, July 19, 2020

Mississippi governor defends not issuing a statewide mask mandate

From CNN's Nicky Robertson

Rogelio V. Solis/AFP/Getty Images
Rogelio V. Solis/AFP/Getty Images

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves said he would have issued a statewide mask mandate "a long time ago," if he believed it was the best way to save lives in his state.

CNN’s Jake Tapper pressed the governor on "State of the Union" on why he had issued a mask mandate for only 13 out of 82 counties in Mississippi. Reeves told Tapper, “my view is the best way for me to get my constituents to adhere to those simple things. If we will do the little things, we can make a difference in slowing the spread of this virus. The best way to do that is to highlight those counties where it's most needed.”

Reeves went on to say, “it's not about the words you write on the page. It's not about these words like mandate. It's about how do you get the majority of your citizens to actually adhere to doing what's right?”

He said wearing a mask, social distancing and not gathering in large crowds is the "right things to do" to combat the spread of the virus.

“I do believe that wearing masks and maintaining social distancing is a strategy worth implementing,” Reeves later added.
10:20 a.m. ET, July 19, 2020

Trump admits he made mistakes in the coronavirus response but says he "will be right eventually"

From CNN’s Kristen Holmes 

Fox News
Fox News

President Donald Trump defended his relationship with Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, but called him “a little bit of an alarmist” as he answered questions about the White House’s relationship with him during an interview on “Fox News Sunday.”

During this back and forth, Trump ultimately admitted that he himself had made some mistakes in the coronavirus response, but said he would “be right eventually” in reference to his past prediction that the virus would go away.

When asked about the White House providing documents outlining Fauci’s errors early on in the pandemic and efforts by some administration officials to discredit the nation’s top infectious expert, the President did criticize him when he used the term “bit of an alarmist” and noted that Fauci was wrong on a series of events surrounding the coronavirus pandemic including his original stance on masks.

Fauci early in the pandemic had asked the public not to go out and buy the N-95 masks because they were needed by health professionals. He has now strongly advocated for people to wear some type of face coverage.

The President also claimed that Fauci told him not to ban travel from China, but later told the President that the decision “saved tens of thousands of lives.” Early in the pandemic Fauci did raise some questions about how effective such a ban might be. 

Fox’s Chris Wallace then pressed Trump on his own mistakes, to which the President responded, “I guess everyone makes mistakes,” and went on to add that he would “be right eventually” on the pandemic. 

When Wallace asked if his errors discredited him, the President said he didn’t think so because he has “been right probably more than anybody else.” 

10:04 a.m. ET, July 19, 2020

Mississippi governor says nearly 900 people are hospitalized in the state with Covid-19

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves appeared on CNN's State of Union with Jake Tapper today where he was asked about the state's record-high hospitalizations from coronavirus.

Reeves told Tapper the number of people hospitalized in the state has nearly doubled in just over three weeks.

"The number on June 27 was approximately 490 patients in hospital beds," Reeves said. "Today that number is closer to 890."

He added: "We haven't quite doubled. But we are seeing significantly increased hospitalization."

Reeves said that the state is working with its hospitals to "surge capacity" for ICU beds.

"Our goal in Mississippi is that every single Mississippian that can get better with quality that, they receive that quality care," he said.