July 26 coronavirus news

By Jessie Yeung, Jenni Marsh, Zamira Rahim, Fernando Alfonso III and Amir Vera, CNN

Updated 2:50 a.m. ET, July 27, 2020
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8:01 p.m. ET, July 26, 2020

Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations in California continue to climb

From CNN's Jennifer Selva

A medical worker adjusts her personal protective equipment at an antibody rapid serological testing site on July 26, in San Dimas, California.
A medical worker adjusts her personal protective equipment at an antibody rapid serological testing site on July 26, in San Dimas, California. Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

The number of Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations in California continue to rise, according to a press release from the California Department of Public Health (CDPH).

The CDPH reports the seven day average number of new cases is 9,852, up from last week’s average of 9,127.

There are currently 6,912 people in the hospital with confirmed Covid-19 cases, and 1,993 of those are in the ICU.

So far, 8,146 people have died in the state, according to the CDPH.

As of Sunday, 36 counties are on the state's watch list and have been ordered to close many of their indoor operations.

7:28 p.m. ET, July 26, 2020

Vermont school superintendent pens letter detailing frustration with making plans to reopen schools

From CNN's Laura Ly

The superintendent of a public school district in Vermont wrote an open letter to her community detailing her frustration with trying to establish plans for safely and realistically reopening schools this fall, particularly because of a lack of state involvement and looming fears over a lack of staffing.

In most places, I think we are going to try to reopen school, and I think we will fail in ways that may have permanent, unrecoverable repercussions for our students, school systems, and community," said Brigid Nease, superintendent of the Harwood Union School District.

Nease wrote in the lengthy letter she and fellow superintendents across the state “truly cannot sleep at night” because trying to put together potential reopening plans has been all-consuming. Nease wrote that reopening plans across the state have vast differences because state authorities only provided districts with health and safety guidance.

The truth is most school employees are scared to death they will get sick (or worse), bring the virus home to loved ones, have a student in their care become ill, or experience the death of a coworker," she wrote

Nease concluded the letter writing that fears over a lack of available staff due to disparate reopening plans across the state and general Covid-19 concerns are significant and that schools need proper intervention and solutions on a bigger, statewide-level.

"School districts across the state all have published plans that they cannot guarantee they can staff, and even if by some miracle one can, it is highly unlikely they will be able to sustain it," Nease said. "Childcare for all families AND school employees is a huge problem that crosses many district geographical boundaries. This is a significant statewide problem in need of a significant statewide solution made by those that have the authority to do so, at the top of the food chain, not individual community administrators and local school boards."
6:45 p.m. ET, July 26, 2020

Brazil tops 2.4 million coronavirus cases five months after first reported case

From journalist Rodrigo Pedroso in Sao Paulo

Brazil's health ministry reported 24,578 newly confirmed Covid-19 cases Sunday, bringing the country's total to 2,419,091.

The ministry also reported 555 new deaths from the virus, bringing Brazil's death toll to 87,004.

Sunday marks five months since Brazil reported its first confirmed case of the novel coronavirus on February 26.

This comes after Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro tested negative for the virus Saturday, his first negative test since testing positive July 7.

The Brazilian Society of Infectious Diseases later said Bolsonaro set a “bad example” by socializing and not wearing a mask right after his negative Covid-19 test announcement.

5:56 p.m. ET, July 26, 2020

South Africa’s coronavirus cases continue to spike, as 11,233 new cases reported

From CNN’s Dana Ford 

South Africa’s health ministry reported 11,233 new cases of coronavirus Sunday, bringing the country’s total confirmed case count to 445,433.

The number of people who have officially died from coronavirus in the country is 6,769, according to Health Minister Zweli Mkhize, who posted the figures on Twitter.

Last week, officials from the World Health Organization expressed concern the country’s rising numbers could signal greater Covid-19 spread throughout Africa. South Africa has the highest number of confirmed cases in Africa and the fifth highest number worldwide, following the United States, Brazil, India and Russia.

4:59 p.m. ET, July 26, 2020

South Florida police officer dies after contracting coronavirus

From CNN's Melissa Alonso

The Lauderhill Police Department in Florida tweeted Sunday that an officer died due to complications related to Covid-19.

Officer Corey Pendergrass had been with Lauderhill PD since 1997, the tweet said. He died Sunday morning, according to the tweet.

Other area agencies, like the Broward County Sheriff's Office, offered their condolences on Twitter.

Lauderhill is a city in Broward County; there are currently 49,350 total cases of Covid-19 in the county and 605 deaths, according to Sunday's Florida Department of Health data.

4:38 p.m. ET, July 26, 2020

Los Angeles Michelin Star restaurant forced to shut its doors due to Covid-19

From CNN’s Paul Vercammen and Jennifer Selva

A view of Trois Mec restaurant at Champagne Armand de Brignac's Noir Dinner at Trois Mec on April 25, 2017 in Los Angeles.
A view of Trois Mec restaurant at Champagne Armand de Brignac's Noir Dinner at Trois Mec on April 25, 2017 in Los Angeles. Emma McIntyre/Getty Images

Trois Mec, the highly decorated tasting room that earned a Michelin Star in Los Angeles, has been forced to shut its doors after seven years due to the economic impact of Covid-19.

“The restaurant industry is in a true crisis and without proper support from the federal government, it will become a fond memory, life pre-covid and life post-covid. We are not giving up by any sense of the imagination, it is just the reality of the situation," restaurant owners Chef Ludo Lefebvre and his wife Krissy told CNN.

“The reality is we are facing an incredible period of economic depression and fine dining will be a rocky journey for the foreseeable future," the couple said. "We also have to look at the trickle down impact, farmers are being damaged daily, meat providers are being damaged daily, small business suppliers are being damaged daily, landlords are being damaged daily. Our employees and their families are being hurt.”

Trois Mec is just one of many restaurants in the Los Angeles area facing closure due to Covid-19. Restaurant and bar owner Dustin Lancaster said he has lost three of the 13 locations he owns in the area due to the financial impact of the virus, and fears he will lose five more.

Losing something like that, losing those employees, it’s almost too much for me to lay in bed at night and process without breaking down from the sheer weight of it,” Lancaster said. "If you were to drive down Sunset Boulevard and think four out of five of these restaurants won’t be there. That collateral damage is incomprehensible.”
3:51 p.m. ET, July 26, 2020

Birx meets with Kentucky governor to discuss how to reduce Covid-19 infections

From CNN’s Taylor Romine

Coronavirus task force coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx and Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear told reporters on Sunday that the federal and state government agree on measures needed to slow the rate of Covid-19 infections in the state.

While Kentucky is currently a yellow zone, it has the potential to slip into the red zone, Birx said. 

Birx said it appears that the current rise of cases in Kentucky are from residents going on vacation to places like Myrtle Beach and other beach communities and unknowingly bringing back the infection. 

"What we have recommended is that 100% of people should be wearing masks in any indoor public space," Birx said. "Frankly, people should be wearing masks if they've been in an area where the virus is significant, if they've gone on vacation and come back, they should wear a mask, indoors, in their homes if they are in a multigenerational household in order to protect our seniors optimally."

In order to maintain infection rates, Birx and the federal government are recommending Kentucky maintain the federal guidance put out in April for reopening.

The state has required face masks for certain public situations since July 10. Other federal guidance includes maintaining social distance, increasing outdoor dining, closing bars and reducing in-person gatherings to less than 10, she said. 

Beshear agreed with this guidance, and said the state would make an announcement on Monday regarding the additional steps they intend to take. 

The number of people wearing masks has gone up since it was required by the state, Beshear said, but the harder part is encouraging everyone to do it, especially in circumstances where people "let their guard down."

He specifically noted that he just saw a picture of hundreds of people in bars in Lexington, but none of them were wearing masks. He gave no further information on if any enforcement activity was done.  

"This spread is very much at the household level, and I think that's why we have a real call to action for every Kentuckian to wear their mask, and to protect those in their families by not going to large social gatherings," Birx said. "And if they do, make sure they are protecting those in their families that have substantial vulnerabilities we know are related to obesity, hypertension, diabetes and chronic lung, heart or kidney disease."

3:29 p.m. ET, July 26, 2020

Nearly 100 residents and staff at long-term care facility in Florida test positive for Covid-19

From CNN's Randi Kaye and Eric Fiegel

Ocoee Health Care Center Long-Term Care & Rehabilitation, in Ocoee, Florida, has nearly 100 residents and staff that have tested positive for Covid-19.

The facility is in Orange County Florida, near Orlando.

Orange County Health Department’s Kent Donahue confirmed to CNN that there are 66 positive residents, 22 which are hospitalized. 

Another 30 staff members also tested positive, according to Donahue.

There are a total of 96 Covid-19 cases at this long term care facility. No deaths have been reported.

3:10 p.m. ET, July 26, 2020

More than 2,500 Covid-19 cases reported on Sunday in Georgia

From CNN’s Natasha Chen

After setting a record for Covid-19 cases reported in a single day on Friday, the Georgia Department of Public Health has now reported two consecutive days of declining numbers.

On Sunday, Georgia Department of Public Health reported 2,765 new cases, down from 3,787 on Saturday.

The department also reported three new Covid-19 related deaths, down from 53 on Saturday.

There were 62 new hospitalizations reported on Sunday, down from 277 on Saturday.