July 23 coronavirus news

By Ben Westcott, Brad Lendon, Ed Upright, Meg Wagner and Melissa Macaya, CNN

Updated 12:09 a.m. ET, July 24, 2020
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6:05 p.m. ET, July 23, 2020

US medical experts urge leaders to shut down the country and start over to contain Covid-19

From CNN’s Shelby Lin Erdman

More than 150 prominent US medical experts, scientists, teachers, nurses and others have signed a letter to political leaders urging them to shut down the country and start over to contain the surging coronavirus pandemic.

“The best thing for the nation is not to reopen as quickly as possible, it’s to save as many lives as possible,” they wrote in the document, which was sent to the Trump administration, leading members of Congress and state governors on Thursday.

“Right now we are on a path to lose more than 200,000 American lives by November 1st. Yet, in many states people can drink in bars, get a haircut, eat inside a restaurant, get a tattoo, get a massage, and do myriad other normal, pleasant, but non-essential activities," the letter said.

They say the only way to reopen the economy and the country safely is to follow a set of protocols that public health experts deem necessary for controlling the spread of Covid-19. The group includes things like having enough daily testing to test everyone with flu-like symptoms, a work force of contact tracers large enough to track all current cases and more personal protective equipment to keep essential workers safe.

In addition, the letter says all nonessential businesses should be closed and restaurants nationwide should only provide take-out service. People should only leave their homes to get food and medicine or fresh air and exercise, and masks should be mandatory in all situations, the letter urged. Leaders should also ban interstate travel to help contain the virus. 

“If you don’t take these actions, the consequences will be measured in widespread suffering and death,” the letter warned.

“Our decision makers need to hit the reset button,” said Matt Wellington, the public health campaigns director for the advocacy group US PIRG, which joined with health experts to draft the letter.

“Continuing on the path we’re on now will result in widespread suffering and death. And for what? Health experts laid out criteria for how to reopen safely. It’s time to listen to them,” Wellington said.

6:02 p.m. ET, July 23, 2020

New Mexico delays in-person learning through at least Labor Day

From CNN’s Jennifer Henderson

New Mexico will delay in-person learning through at least September 7, Labor Day, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said in a news conference today. 

Schools may begin online or distance learning in August, Lujan Grisham added. After Labor Day, New Mexico will phase in a hybrid model bringing the youngest students back to school first, then middle schoolers and finally high schoolers, she said.

Prior to this decision to delay in-person learning at the state-level, 40% of school districts had already made the decision to pause in-person learning, Lujan Grisham said. 

6:00 p.m. ET, July 23, 2020

American Academy of Pediatrics releases guidance for youth sports during coronavirus pandemic

From CNN's Marisa Peryer

New guidance released by the American Academy of Pediatrics on Thursday outlines interim advice for families weighing a return to youth sport activities based on the most current coronavirus research. 

“We recommend that parents talk to their pediatrician about the type of sport and setting, local disease activity, and individual circumstances, such as an underlying health condition that places the athlete or family members at high risk,” said Dr. Susannah Briskin, an author of the guidance, in a news release.  

Recommendations made by the American Academy of Pediatrics for sports include a prioritization of non-contact activity, physical distancing and disinfecting frequently touched equipment. It also said families can expect modifications made by sporting bodies and local governments to practices, competitions and events amid Covid-19.

Testing for Covid-19 before participating in sports is discouraged unless an athlete is symptomatic or has been exposed to someone known to be recently infected.

“The risk can be decreased, but not eliminated, by athletes, parents, coaches, and officials who follow safety protocols,” Briskin added. “Ultimately, this will be an individual choice for the parent to decide if they will allow their child to participate in sports.” 

Consistent practice groups that don’t mix youth athletes may help reduce team-wide outbreaks, it says. Sharing of equipment and use of communal spaces such as locker rooms should be reduced. When possible, areas with poor ventilation, such as weight rooms, or small spaces where distancing isn’t possible should be avoided.

More precautions: Cloth face coverings should be worn by coaches, officials, spectators and volunteers.

Athletes should wear a cloth face mask and physically distance on the sidelines. Masks should be worn when nonvigorous exercise is being performed and physical distancing isn’t possible. Cloth masks should not be worn for water activities or when they can catch on equipment or result in impaired vision, such as in gymnastics or cheer. 

5:59 p.m. ET, July 23, 2020

New Mexico records all-time high number of new Covid-19 cases

From CNN’s Jennifer Henderson

New Mexico recorded an all-time high number of new Covid-19 cases today with 343, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced at a news conference today.

New Mexico currently has 167 people in the hospital and 34 people on ventilators with five new deaths, Lujan Grisham added. 

New Mexico has a total of 18,163 Covid-19 cases, 596 total deaths and 496,085 tests have been conducted statewide, she said. 

To note: These figures were released by New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, and may not line up exactly in real time with CNN’s database drawn from Johns Hopkins University and the Covid Tracking Project.

5:54 p.m. ET, July 23, 2020

Trump asks Congress to give $105 billion to schools as part of the next relief bill

Evan Vucci/AP
Evan Vucci/AP

President Trump called on Congress to pass $105 billion for schools as part of the next coronavirus relief bill at a news conference on Thursday.

He said the money would be used to support measures like smaller class sizes, teachers aides, rearranging spaces for social distancing and masks.

But, if schools do not open, Trump said the money should "follow the student so the parents and families are in control of their own decisions."

"If schools do not reopen, the funding should go to parents to send their child to public, private, charter, religious or home school of their choice – the key word being choice," he said.

Trump said it's important for schools to reopen so parents can go back to work and individual families should be able to make decisions that are best from them, adding that reopening schools is not political.

"I hope local leaders put the full health and well-being of their students first and make the right decision for children, parents, teachers and not make political decisions. This isn't about politics," Trump said.

Watch:

5:43 p.m. ET, July 23, 2020

US surgeon general says Florida can reverse Covid-19 trends in a month

From CNN’s Rosa Flores and Denise Royal

Pool
Pool

US Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams believes Florida can turn things around in time to reopen schools in August, Adams told CNN. 

Earlier this week, Adams said transmission rates needed to go down before schools could reopen.  

CNN shared with Adams the latest data from the Florida Department of Health, showing that the positivity rate in the state has ranged from 13% to 18% in the past two weeks and that the 14-day average positivity rate in Miami-Dade County is 20%. The school year in Florida begins in August.

“I do think it’s possible in about a month,” Adams said. “We’ve seen places around the United States and around the world turn around very high case rates in just a few weeks.  The disease course is only two weeks. That’s how long it takes coronavirus to go through your system. That means we can break the cycle if we can do the right thing in just a couple of weeks. It will probably take a couple of cycles. But a month is enough time to for us to turn around these case rates."

"We just need everyone to do their part and not fixate on what’s going to happen a month from now and fixate on what we can do today to make school openings in a month a reality," he added.

During a live address Wednesday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis argued for the reopening of schools in part because children, he said, were at a lower risk and played the “smallest role in transmission” of the virus. 

CNN asked Adams about a South Korea study published this week by the CDC that concluded minors between the ages of 10 to 19 spread the virus at least as well as adults. Adams said the study is credible.

“It's important to know that for younger people, the virus is lower risk for complications than death. But low risk doesn't mean no risk,” Adams said.

5:40 p.m. ET, July 23, 2020

Trump cancels Jacksonville portion of GOP convention

Evan Vucci/AP
Evan Vucci/AP

President Trump announced today at a press briefing that there will not be Republican National Convention activities in Jacksonville, Florida, because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The President said events in Charlotte, North Carolina, will still be held and he will still make an acceptance speech in a different form.

"We won't do a big crowded convention per se, it's just not the right time for that," Trump said.

Trump said he “looked at his team” and told them, “it’s time to cancel the Jacksonville component of the GOP convention.”

“The delegates are going to North Carolina, they’ll be doing the nomination,” Trump said. He added that telerallies would take place as well.

Watch:

CNN's Nikki Carvajal contributed to this report.

5:27 p.m. ET, July 23, 2020

Texas reports more than 9,500 new Covid-19 cases

From CNN's Raja Razek

Texas reported at least 9,507 new Covid-19 cases on Thursday, bringing the total number of cases in the state to approximately 361,125.

The state also reported at least 173 Covid-19-related deaths on Thursday. About 4,521 people have died across the state since the start of the pandemic.

Currently, there are at least 8,858 Covid-19 patients in Texas hospitals. 

Note: These numbers were released by the Texas Department of State Health Services, and may not line up exactly in real time with CNN’s database drawn from Johns Hopkins University and the Covid Tracking Project.

5:26 p.m. ET, July 23, 2020

Antitrust restrictions waived for companies making coronavirus antibody treatments

From CNN's Maggie Fox

The US Department of Justice said Thursday it would waive its usual antitrust restrictions for companies trying to work together to speed antibody-based treatments for coronavirus.

It said it would not challenge proposed efforts by Eli Lilly and Company, AbCellera Biologics, Amgen, AstraZeneca, Genentech, and GlaxoSmithKline to share information, including about manufacturing facilities and raw materials, to make monoclonal antibodies to treat or prevent Covid-19.

“The demand for monoclonal antibodies targeting Covid-19 is likely to exceed what any one firm could produce on its own,” the DOJ said in a statement. “Moreover, waiting until regulators approve specific treatments before scaling up manufacturing might delay access to these potentially life-saving medicines by many months, which adversely could affect the nation’s efforts to fight Covid-19.”

More details on the science and law: Monoclonal antibodies are natural or lab-made immune system proteins that home in on and neutralize a single specific target on a virus, or a cell. They’re being made in this case to try to stop coronavirus from infecting cells in people’s bodies.

Antitrust restrictions are meant, in part, to stop companies from coming together to fix prices or to make agreements on carving up markets and forcing out competitors.

The DOJ said the biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies had agreed not to do this.

“Among other competitive safeguards, they have committed that they will not exchange information related to the prices of those treatments or the costs of inputs for or production of those treatments,” the DOJ said.