July 21 coronavirus news

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8:54 a.m. ET, July 21, 2020

US needs to lower Covid-19 transmission rate to reopen schools, surgeon general says

From CNN's Gisela Crespo

US Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams speaks in the Rose Garden of the White House on May 26.
US Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams speaks in the Rose Garden of the White House on May 26. Win McNamee/Getty Images/File

US Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams said Tuesday that the country needs to lower the transmission rate of Covid-19 in order to reopen schools.

"What I want people to know is the biggest determinant of whether or not we can go back to school actually has little to nothing to do with the actual schools – it's your background transmission rate," Adams said, speaking on CBS This Morning. "And it's why we've told people constantly that if we want to get back to school, to worship, to regular life – folks need to wear face coverings, folks need to practice social distancing. Those public health measures are actually what's going to lower the transmission rate."

Adams added that lowering the transmission rate will also help keep teachers and the adults that live with school-age children safe.

"We know the risk is low to the actual students. But we know they can transmit to others. … We need to take measures to make sure we protect those who are vulnerable either because they are older or they have chronic medical conditions," Adams told CBS' Gayle King.

8:51 a.m. ET, July 21, 2020

Fauci on today's White House briefing: "I'll be more than happy to be there" if they want me there

From CNN's Health Gisela Crespo

Dr. Anthony Fauci attends a coronavirus briefing at the White House in April.
Dr. Anthony Fauci attends a coronavirus briefing at the White House in April. Alex Wong/Getty Images/File

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Tuesday that he still hasn't heard from the White House on whether or not he will be part of today's coronavirus briefing.

Speaking during an interview on NPR's Morning Edition, Fauci said his attendance at upcoming briefings is "up to the White House." 

"I would imagine that I would be at least in on some of them, but we have not heard anything definitive yet. I mean, if they want me there, I'll be more than happy to be there. And if they have not, that's okay, too. As long as we get the message across," Fauci added.

When asked if the briefings will help the American people gain trust in the federal government's handling of the pandemic, Fauci said that press conferences have "the potential to do that."

"If we during those conferences come out and have consistent, clear, non-contradictory messages, I believe it would be very helpful in getting people on the track of knowing the direction that we need to go to get this pandemic under control," Fauci told NPR's Rachel Martin.

"I'm hopeful that it will be value added to our effort," Fauci added.

About the briefings: President Trump announced he would soon resume regular public briefings after discontinuing them in April.

But no task force members are currently expected to join Trump at today's 5 p.m. ET news conference, a person familiar with the plan tells CNN, who cautioned that could change. Trump is expected to hold these briefings a few times a week but not on a daily basis like he was earlier in the pandemic.

8:27 a.m. ET, July 21, 2020

Here are the latest coronavirus updates from Washington, DC

It's a busy day in Washington, DC, as lawmakers debate coronavirus economic stimulus and the White House revives its public briefings.

If you're just reading in, here's what to watch in the nation's capitol today:

  • Trump's reversal on masks: After months of refusing to wear a mask in public, President Trump tweeted a photo of himself in a face mask and said wearing one is patriotic. 
  • Briefings are back: President Trump announced he would soon resume regular public briefings after discontinuing them in April. But no White House coronavirus task force members are currently expected to join him at today's press briefing, a person familiar with the plan tells CNN, who cautioned that could change.
  • Republicans split on the next stimulus: GOP leaders and the Trump administration are split on what to focus on in the next economic recovery package. The President wants to pursue a payroll tax cut and tie money for schools to reopening — two things Senate Republicans are trying to discourage. GOP legislators have also said funding for testing is essential, while the White House doesn't want to give any more money to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • A hearing on vaccines: The House Energy and Commerce Committee is holding a hearing about vaccines at 10 a.m. ET. Witnesses include officials from AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, Merck, Moderna and Pfizer. 
8:30 a.m. ET, July 21, 2020

No coronavirus task force members currently expected at today's Trump briefing

From CNN's Kaitlan Collins and Kevin Liptak

No task force members are currently expected to join President Trump at today's 5 p.m. ET news conference, a person familiar with the plan tells CNN, who cautioned that could change. Trump is expected to hold these briefings a few times a week but not on a daily basis like he was earlier in the pandemic.

There's still an internal split over whether Trump should take the stage, with some aides reminding others how hard they fought to convince Trump to end the briefings after the disastrous one in April about disinfectants.

It caused some confusion inside the West Wing over whether the press secretary should hold a separate briefing as well given the President's will obviously overshadow hers.

CNN's Sanjay Gupta reported earlier that as of early Tuesday morning, Dr. Anthony Fauci told CNN that he and Dr. Deborah Birx have still not been told whether they will be in attendance at today’s briefing at the White House.

Some background: Trump took a pair of steps Monday that seemed to offer quiet acknowledgment that the coronavirus strategy he has adopted for the past several weeks — to largely ignore the pandemic — has wounded him politically and failed to contain the raging crisis.

In the Oval Office for a meeting with lawmakers, Trump announced he would soon resume regular public briefings after discontinuing them in April and declaring them a waste of time.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta reports:

8:17 a.m. ET, July 21, 2020

900,000 British public workers get a pay hike. But nurses are excluded from the deal

A group of nurses protest outside Downing Street demanding a pay rise, effective protection against Covid-19 and highlighting a disproportionately higher mortality rate among ethnic minority groups on June 3 in London.
A group of nurses protest outside Downing Street demanding a pay rise, effective protection against Covid-19 and highlighting a disproportionately higher mortality rate among ethnic minority groups on June 3 in London. Chris J. Ratcliffe/Getty Images

British public sector workers are getting a pay rise in recognition for their work during the pandemic -- but nurses are not included. 

The UK government announced Tuesday that it will give above-inflation pay rises to 900,000 public workers including teachers, police officers, doctors and dentists, and senior civil servants. 

Teachers will get the highest rise at 3.1%, while doctors can expect a 2.8% hike, the government said. It added that the two groups will get the biggest pay hikes in recognition of “their efforts on the frontline during the battle against COVID-19.”

In the announcement, the government said nurses and other health care workers are excluded from the pay rises, because their salaries have already been boosted under a three-year deal agreed in 2018. That argument did not go down well with nurses and their supporters.

Laura Duffell, a matron nurse at the King's College Hospital in London said she and her colleagues were left in shock at Tuesday's announcement that nurses won't be included in the pay rises. "If anything, we thought we'd be on top of the list," she said. "You can feel the severe disappointment ... it's almost proving to us that we're not as appreciated as we had hoped."

Earlier this month, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), a nurses’ trade union, sent an open letter to the the UK treasury chief Rishi Sunak, demanding more money for nurses. It said that the deal agreed in 2018 was “a start after years of pay capping and freezes but did not restore the value lost over a longer period. More must now be done.” 

Many nurses and their supporters complained on Twitter about the government encouraging the public to applaud for health care workers every Thursday during the peak of the pandemic, but stopping short of delivering an actual pay rise. 

"The clapping that keeps being referred to as a show of the appreciation for nurses in the NHS. I think it has almost left really bitter taste in people's mouths now," Duffell said. She added:

"It's almost like, well, that's what you deserve, you know, here you go, have a nice clap. That's obviously gonna put food on your table. It's gonna make up for the fact that you're going to food banks and it's gonna make up to the fact that you're working 90-hour weeks when actually you're not paid to do so. That's gonna make up for, you know, all the trauma that you've endured over the last three months, of seeing multiple people pass away over space of one shift."

Nurses' salaries start just below £25,000 ($30,000) a year in the UK. That's about £5,000 ($6,000) below the country’s median salary. With more experience, pay for most can rise to around £37,000 a year. 

"The applause and kind words were a short-term morale boost for many health workers, but now it is time to begin these pay discussions without delay," the union said in the letter.

The union added that the low pay is a major reason for many to leave the profession. Last week, the RCN released a survey that said that 36% of nurses are considering quitting -- a big jump from the 27% last year.

The union said that of those thinking of leaving, 61% said pay is a factor, while 44% said they consider quitting because of the way they were treated during the pandemic.

The UK cannot afford to lose nurses -- there are currently around 40,000 nursing vacancies in England alone.

7:56 a.m. ET, July 21, 2020

Confusion over Israel's coronavirus restrictions as order to close restaurants is reversed

From CNN’s Oren Liebermann and Michael Schwartz in Jerusalem

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s handling of the coronavirus crisis was thrown into further disarray Tuesday morning when a parliamentary committee voted down a government order for restaurants to close their doors.

It is the second reprieve in four days for Israel’s restauranteurs, who had successfully lobbied on Friday to postpone the emergency order -- which seeks to close many indoor and outdoor locations, including restaurants, in an attempt to contain the surging number of coronavirus cases -- until 5am Tuesday.

Many restaurant and café owners defied the closure order Tuesday morning and opened for business as usual, and looked vindicated a few hours later when the Knesset’s coronavirus committee allowed them to remain open with limited seating.

In open defiance of her Likud party and Prime Minister Netanyahu, committee head, MK Yifat Shasha-Biton, said her decision was based on epidemiological data which showed restaurants are not a major source of infection.

Restaurant owners were furious when the initial closure order was announced last week, protesting they had already purchased stock for weekend customers, which led the government to reverse course and give them them three more days to stay open. 

Moshiko Gamlieli, head chef at Mona restaurant in Jerusalem, said it was very difficult for businesses to operate with policy appearing to change day by day. “To open and close a restaurant on the same day costs 10,000 shekels (approx. $2,920). We need a long-term solution. We need to know how things are going to be until the end of the year,” he said.

8:19 a.m. ET, July 21, 2020

California teen makes specially adapted 'Talking Masks' for the hard-of-hearing

From CNN's Leif Coorlim

Karma Quick-Panwala, seen here wearing the Talking Masks from Appell, gave birth to a healthy baby boy in June.
Karma Quick-Panwala, seen here wearing the Talking Masks from Appell, gave birth to a healthy baby boy in June.

Karma Quick-Panwala, who describes herself as severely hard of hearing, relies on lip reading to communicate. She was midway through her pregnancy when the Covid-19 crisis began, and became concerned she wouldn't be able to communicate with doctors and nurses when they were wearing protective masks.

"I like to say lip reading is my superpower and masks are my kryptonite," said Quick-Panwala. "I'm completely cut off from communication unless I have someone come speak to me personally so that I can lip read to understand what's being said. I knew right away I was going to need some form of communication access."

Isabella Appell started Talking Masks from her California bedroom shortly after the pandemic began in March.
Isabella Appell started Talking Masks from her California bedroom shortly after the pandemic began in March. Photo: Isabella Appell

That's where Isabella Appell, 17, comes in. The high school junior from Thousand Oaks, California, has been making face masks since the coronavirus pandemic began.

Appell is not hard of hearing, but said she has always been interested in learning sign language and is part of several Facebook groups for deaf people.

"I noticed that there were a lot of comments about how scary it was for them right now and how hard it was for them to communicate," said Appell. "I started researching on how I could accommodate these masks for everybody."

Appell created Talking Masks, a small venture that makes masks featuring a clear plastic window. She cuts the fabric from a template she created, then sews the masks and inserts a piece of clear plastic vinyl over the mouth. She applies a de-fogging spray to the final product, so it doesn't steam up when in use.

7:33 a.m. ET, July 21, 2020

LinkedIn cuts 960 jobs due to the pandemic

From CNN's Hadas Gold

LinkedIn
LinkedIn

LinkedIn has become the latest company to announce job cuts due to the coronavirus pandemic. The company said today will lay off about 960 jobs -- roughly 6% of its global workforce.

The professional networking website "is not immune to the effects of the global pandemic," CEO Ryan Roslansky wrote in a note to staff posted publicly on the platform. He added that the company has been hurt "as fewer companies, including ours, need to hire at the same volume they did previously."

"I want you to know these are the only layoffs we are planning," Roslansky wrote, adding that the cuts would affect LinkedIn's global sales and talent acquisition units.

In the United States alone at least 3.7 million jobs have disappeared as a result of the pandemic. Many major tech companies have avoided the brunt of the fallout, as worldwide work-from-home requirements create more demand for their products. But LinkedIn's business model revolves around helping people search for jobs, connect with other professionals and build their resumes -- all features that have lost value as companies cut workers and freeze hiring.

Read more here.

9:15 a.m. ET, July 21, 2020

California went from bending the curve to a major coronavirus surge. What happened?

From CNN's Sara Sidner and Jason Kravarik

California appeared to be moving in the right direction when it came to Covid-19. It was the first state to impose a stay-at-home order on March 19. Less than two months later, on May 8, the numbers had fallen enough that the state started the first phase of reopening.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom told his citizens, "You have bent the curve."

But then Memorial Day came around. By early June the numbers started creeping back up. The seven-day average for daily coronavirus cases totaled more than 2,600. Then they skyrocketed.

By July 11, the seven-day average had risen to 9,400 new cases of coronavirus per day, a more than 250% increase. The numbers fluctuate daily but the trend shows California is in surge.

By July 13, Newsom ordered the shutdown of bars, indoor dining, movie theaters, wineries and some other businesses across the state again. So what went wrong?

Anne Rimoin, an epidemiology professor at the University of California Los Angeles, says the answer is simple. Some governments and people became complacent.