The Trump administration was slow to recognize coronavirus threat from Europe, CDC director admits
From CNN's Shelby Lin Erdman
The United States was slow in recognizing the coronavirus threat from Europe, Dr. Robert Redfield, the director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, admitted for the first time Tuesday in an interview with ABC News.
“The introduction from Europe happened before we realized what was happening,” Redfield said. “By the time we realized (the) Europe threat and shut down travel to Europe, there was probably already two or three weeks of 60,000 people coming back every day from Europe,” he added.
“That’s where the large seeding came in the United States.”
Redfield also admitted that there have been problems with the federal response.
“Yes, there’s been mistakes,” he said. “And, yes, we fail. We’re in it doing the best we can and we’re trying to make the best judgments we can.”
He also said he’s optimistic that the country can get the upper hand in the battle against coronavirus.
“I wish now we would come together and recognize and see the possibility that we can beat this pandemic,” he said.
“We're not powerless. We don't have to wait for a vaccine, although I think we're going to be successful sooner than many people think. We have the most powerful weapon in our hands right now, I mean it's an enormously powerful weapon. It's just a simple, flimsy mask,” Redfield said.
“This virus can be defeated if people just wear a mask.”
8:23 p.m. ET, July 28, 2020
Mexico surpasses 400,000 coronavirus cases
From Karol Suarez in Mexico City
Mexico surpassed 400,000 coronavirus cases Tuesday after its health ministry recorded 7,208 new cases.
The country now has a total of 402,697 confirmed cases of Covid-19.
The ministry also added 854 new fatalities from coronavirus Tuesday, bringing Mexico's death toll to 44,876.
7:43 p.m. ET, July 28, 2020
Brazilian health ministry says it expects coronavirus vaccine distribution by end of December
From Rodrigo Pedroso in São Paulo
Brazil's health ministry said it expects to start the distribution of 15.2 million doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca experimental vaccine against Covid-19 at the end of December if trials prove the vaccine is safe.
According to Secretary of Health Surveillance Arnaldo Correia de Medeiros, the first batch of the vaccine should arrive in Brazil in the second week of December. The secretary did not specify where the vaccine would be coming from.
"If the studies are successful, we will start the vaccination campaign in December," Medeiros told CNN affiliate CNN Brasil Tuesday.
Another 15.2 million doses are expected to arrive in the country in January and another 70 million doses of the vaccine should come between March and April. The secretary also said the elderly would be the first group to receive the vaccine.
The vaccine purchase agreement with Oxford/AstraZeneca has not yet been signed by the Brazilian government. The health ministry informed CNN that negotiations of technical items regarding production and the technology transfer are still in discussion. However, it doesn't change the secretary's proposed timeline.
Brazil has been the site of testing for the vaccine. At least 5,000 Brazilians are volunteering for the Phase 3 efficacy trials.
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 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
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 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.”
“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.