July 28 coronavirus news

By Nectar Gan, Adam Renton, Ed Upright, Melissa Macaya, Meg Wagner and Mike Hayes, CNN

Updated 12:10 a.m. ET, July 29, 2020
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7:48 p.m. ET, July 28, 2020

Birx sounds alarm for "yellow zone" states on Pence's call with governors

From CNN's Betsy Klein

White House coronavirus task force coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx listens to President Donald Trump speak during a news conference about his administration's response to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic at the White House on July 23 in Washington.
White House coronavirus task force coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx listens to President Donald Trump speak during a news conference about his administration's response to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic at the White House on July 23 in Washington. Drew Angerer/Getty Images

White House coronavirus task force coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx on Tuesday provided some dire warnings for states that are in the task force-defined “yellow zone” for cases and test positivity, which she said are different from outbreaks across the country earlier this year. 

On a call Tuesday with Vice President Mike Pence and several governors, she said there has been “significant improvement” in "red zone" states Florida, California, Texas, and Arizona following orders to close bars, decrease indoor dining, and require the use of masks. The task force defines its “red zone” states as more than 100 cases per 100,000 people and more than 10% test positivity.

But she said there are still rising cases and test positivity in other "red zone" states: Mississippi, Indiana, Tennessee, Virginia, Oklahoma, Georgia, Idaho, and Arkansas. 

Birx said "yellow zone" states, which the task force defines as having between 10 and 100 cases per 100,000 and 5-10% test positivity, have had a similar profile to "red zone" states: “Starting with the 20 to 30 year-olds presenting as a first wave.”

“Remember, the majority of those are asymptomatic so if you expect to see hospitalizations, by the time you see hospitalization, your community spread is so widespread that you’ve flipped into a red state incredibly quickly,” Birx said. 

She said the task force is working with governors and mayors in the following places: Colorado, the District of Columbia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Minneapolis, Missouri, North Carolina, Nebraska, Ohio, Utah, Washington and Wisconsin.

The task force, Birx said, is talking with these places “about increasing mitigation efforts now because if we wait until increased hospitalizations it is really way too late. Because what we are experiencing now is really different than March and April, it’s very different from the outbreaks of May that was typically contained. This widespread community spread in the younger age group both rural and very urban and urban areas so by the time you see it up to 80-90% of your counties already have more than 10%.” 

Birx expressed concern for major metros like Chicago and Philadelphia, as well as California’s Central Valley, and applauded Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey’s mask mandate, which she said is having a “significant impact.”

Pence reiterated that the administration does not want another closure — something, he said, “We don’t ever want to see again,” but pointed to studies that show that the use of masks, bar closures, limiting outdoor dining, and limiting social gatherings are having similar effect as sheltering in place earlier this year. He recommended governors in "yellow zone" states “take a hard look” at those four measures “whether it be on a county-by-county basis or a statewide basis.”

“We’ll support your decision, but I think your big message to these states that may be emerging is don’t wait,” Pence said. 

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

Oregon issues new guidelines for reopening schools

From CNN’s Andy Rose

Oregon issued new guidelines Tuesday for when schools can bring kids back into the classroom. The guidelines will be based on how widespread Covid-19 is in the state.

"Today in Oregon, we're not where we need to be to reopen schools,” State Health Officer Dr. Dean Sidelinger said in a news conference.

However, the state is offering districts a number of exceptions to allow children up to third grade in some counties to get in-person learning, while older children remain at home and are taught online.

“This school year will not look like any other school year,” Gov. Kate Brown said.

For schools that do allow students in the classroom, state guidelines require daily screenings for all children and staff. A school that is able to reopen would have to close again if its county’s positive test rate for coronavirus reaches double digits for a full week.

“Opening school to in-person instruction is not a one-way journey,” said Colt Gill, deputy superintendent of public instruction.

The state is devoting an additional $28 million of CARES Act funding to help schools pay for more digital learning.

6:57 p.m. ET, July 28, 2020

Colombia reports highest daily increase in new Covid-19 cases since pandemic began

From CNN's Stefano Pozzebon and Samantha Beech

A health worker collects a nasal swab from a man during a random testing for Covid-19 in Itagui, near Medellin, Colombia on July 21.
A health worker collects a nasal swab from a man during a random testing for Covid-19 in Itagui, near Medellin, Colombia on July 21. Joaquin Sarmiento/AFP/Getty Images

Colombia saw a record daily increase in new Covid-19 cases Tuesday as its health ministry added 10,284 new cases.

Colombia's total confirmed cases is 267,385, according to the health ministry.

The ministry also recorded 297 new fatalities from the virus, bringing its death toll to 9,074.

Colombia’s capital Bogota remains the largest hotspot in the country, with 91,408 cases.

7:03 p.m. ET, July 28, 2020

21 NFL players have tested positive for Covid-19 since reporting to training camps

From CNN's Jill Martin

The National Football League Players Association reported Tuesday that 21 players have tested positive for Covid-19 since they began reporting for training camps.

Players began reporting to camp last week. A total of 107 players tested positive during the offseason.

The players association provided details regarding the latest Covid-19 tests on its website.

6:23 p.m. ET, July 28, 2020

More than 40,000 new coronavirus cases reported in Brazil

From Rodrigo Pedroso in São Paulo

Brazil's health ministry reported 40,816 new Covid-19 cases Tuesday, bringing the country's total number of cases to 2,483,191.

The ministry also reported 921 new fatalities from the virus, bringing the country's death toll to 88,539.

Brazil has the largest number of total coronavirus cases and deaths in Latin America and holds the second highest worldwide, behind the US.

6:46 p.m. ET, July 28, 2020

Trump defends viral video with false coronavirus claims

From CNN's Allison Malloy

President Donald Trump speaks to reporters on Tuesday.
President Donald Trump speaks to reporters on Tuesday. Evan Vucci/AP

President Trump defended his tweets in support of hydroxychloroquine saying that the drug is still “very positive” and called a doctor who was spreading conspiracy theories on Covid-19 in a now deleted video “very impressive.”

When discussing the video that he retweeted Monday night featuring a group of doctors making false claims related to coronavirus, Trump said the thought were “very respected doctors.” 

“There was a woman who was spectacular in her statements about it and she’s had tremendous success with it. And they took her voice off — I don’t know why they took her off but they took her off. Maybe they had a good reason, maybe they didn’t,” he said.

The video, published by the right-wing media outlet Breitbart News, featured a group of people wearing white lab coats calling themselves "America's Frontline Doctors" staging a press conference in which one speaker who identifies herself as a doctor makes a number of dubious claims, including that "you don't need masks" to prevent the spread of coronavirus, and that recent studies showing hydroxychloroquine is ineffective for the treatment of Covid-19 are "fake science" sponsored by "fake pharma companies."

When challenged on these claims by CNN’s Kaitlan Collins, Trump demurred saying, “She was on air along with many other doctors. They were big fans of hydroxychloroquine and I thought she was very impressive in the sense that…she said she has tremendous success with hundreds of different patients and I thought her voice was an important voice but I know nothing about her.”

Trump shared multiple versions of the video — which was deleted by Twitter, Facebook and YouTube — with his 84 million Twitter followers Monday night despite the claims running counter to his own administration’s health experts. When pressed by Collins on this fact, Trump abruptly ended the news conference.

But Trump once again stuck by his defense of hydroxychloroquine, telling reporters about his tweet: “I wasn’t making claims. It’s recommendations of many other people including doctors.” 

“I think it’s become very political. I happen to believe in it. I would take it — as you know I took it for a 14 day period. I’m here — I happen to think it works in the early stages. I know frontline medical people believe that too, some, many.” 

“It’s safe, it doesn’t cause problems. I had no problem,” Trump said adding, “It didn’t get me and it’s not going to hopefully hurt anybody,” Trump added.

A study found that neither hydroxychloroquine alone nor hydroxychloroquine plus azithromycin appeared to affect the condition of patients at the 15-day mark. Additionally, unusual heart rhythms and elevated liver-enzyme levels were more frequent in patients receiving hydroxychloroquine alone or with azithromycin, according to the study.

Watch more:


10:00 p.m. ET, July 28, 2020

Trump wonders why Fauci is so popular when he is so unpopular

From CNN's Kevin Liptak

President Donald Trump speaks at his White House news conference on Tuesday.
President Donald Trump speaks at his White House news conference on Tuesday. Alex Wong/Getty Images

President Trump says his relationship with Dr. Anthony Fauci is "very good" but wonders why the doctor's approval rating is so high when his is so low.

Speaking a day after he retweeted a message claiming Fauci had misled the public, Trump chalked up his own sinking numbers to his personality. 

But he said Fauci's broad respect should transfer to the Trump administration — for whom Fauci works. 

"I get along with him very well and I agree with a lot of what he’s said," Trump insisted.

"It’s interesting: he’s got a very good approval rating. And I like that, it’s good," the President went on. "Because remember: he’s working for this administration. He’s working with us. We could have gotten other people. We could have gotten somebody else. It didn’t have to be Dr. Fauci. He’s working with our administration. And for the most part we’ve done what he and others — and Dr. [Deborah] Birx and others — have recommended."

Trump continued: "And he’s got this high approval rating. So why don’t I have a high approval rating with respect — and the administration — with respect to the virus? We should have it very high."

"So it sort of is curious," Trump said, "a man works for us, with us, very closely, Dr. Fauci and Dr. Birx also, very highly thought of — and yet, they’re highly thought of, but nobody likes me?" 

"It can only be my personality, that’s all," he concluded.

Watch more:


6:16 p.m. ET, July 28, 2020

Philadelphia school superintendent proposes online learning until November

From CNN's Elizabeth Stuart

In a reversal from a previous plan, Philadelphia's superintendent of schools is now proposing all students continue with virtual learning until at least November 17, according to a statement on the Philadelphia schools' website Tuesday.

"The new plan proposes to start the school year with all students learning remotely for the first marking period which ends November 17th," the statement said. "Students would then transition to the hybrid learning model — which is a mix of in-person and digital learning, as long as guidance from the Philadelphia Department of Public Health and other indicators support that it is safe to do so."

The original plan was for a hybrid model to begin on September 2, with most students attending school in-person twice a week on an A/B schedule. 

The proposed changes to the plan will be presented to the Board of Education on Thursday.

6:07 p.m. ET, July 28, 2020

Connecticut governor announces more than $43 million program to support virtual learning

From CNN's Kristina Sgueglia

Connecticut Gov. Ted Lamont speaks during Tuesday's news conference.
Connecticut Gov. Ted Lamont speaks during Tuesday's news conference. WFSB

Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont announced the "Everybody Learns" initiative Tuesday, which will invest $43.5 million in devices and internet connections to help close the digital divide for students, according to a statement.

“In 2020, it is paramount that every Connecticut student has access to high-speed internet, quality digital learning content, and a reliable and effective learning device," he said in the statement.

Lamont said the funding is coming from the state's portion of the federal CARES Act, as well as state emergency relief funds.

It will be used to purchase 50,000 laptops for students, 12 months of internet access for 60,000 students, and creating free hotspots at 200 sites statewide.

“In order to support remote learning needs for our learners, we need to make sure they are connected,” Connecticut Education Commissioner Miguel Cardona said in the statement. “Addressing the digital divide has become our priority since a device and connection are no longer luxuries. Once connected, they must also have access to high quality content to promote learning and social emotional development."