July 29 coronavirus news

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

Updated 12:40 p.m. ET, July 30, 2020
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5:52 p.m. ET, July 29, 2020

The US needs to reset its response to Covid-19, report says

From CNN’s Naomi Thomas

 

Health care workers use a nasal swab to test a person for COVID-19 at a pop up testing site at the Koinonia Worship Center and Village on July 22 in Pembroke Park, Florida.
Health care workers use a nasal swab to test a person for COVID-19 at a pop up testing site at the Koinonia Worship Center and Village on July 22 in Pembroke Park, Florida. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The US needs to reset its response with policy actions at the federal, state and local level to get control of the Covid-19 pandemic, scholars at the Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Security said in a new report Wednesday. 

“Unlike many countries in the world, the United States is not currently on course to get control of this epidemic,” the report says. “It is time to reset.”

The report includes 10 recommendations that include universal mask mandates, federal leadership to improve testing and, in places where transmission is worsening, stay-at-home orders.

Nonpharmaceutical measures, like universal mask use and social distancing, should be the same in the US as they have been in other successful countries around the world. Without these, it will be difficult to maintain control on outbreaks.

The report says state, local and federal leaders should mandate non-medical mask use in public and limit large indoor gatherings. Leaders at all levels should also “speak in unison in support of these core public health approaches to controlling this disease.”

States should stop high risk activities and settings in areas that have rising test positivity, but no signs of crisis in hospitals or rising deaths. In areas where the situation is worse, stay-at-home orders should be reinstated, the report says.

The US response to the epidemic will be severely constrained without a reliable and efficient testing system, the report says. One of the things the authors suggest to combat this is the federal government working with states and commercial labs to identify challenges in quickly returning tests and work out a way to overcome these.

A vaccine will “dramatically change the course of the response and offer the opportunity to enhance protection of those most vulnerable individuals,” the report says.

There is also a lot to be done around community acceptance of any eventual coronavirus vaccine, the report says.

“With misinformation and vaccine hesitancy remaining prominent issues affecting public health, vaccination campaigns will not be successful if they are not executed with sensitivity to the current climate around trust of public institutions and if they do not incorporate multidisciplinary expertise in decision-making groups,” the report says.

5:49 p.m. ET, July 29, 2020

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos argues against need for national plan to reopen schools

From CNN's Nikki Carvajal

 

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos listens during a White House Coronavirus Task Force press briefing at the U.S. Department of Education July 8 in Washington.
Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos listens during a White House Coronavirus Task Force press briefing at the U.S. Department of Education July 8 in Washington. Alex Wong/Getty Images

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos argued Wednesday against the need for national leadership on reopening schools, praising one private academy for not waiting for guidance on how to reopen safely.

“You know, there’s not a national superintendent nor should there be, therefore there’s not a national plan for reopening,” DeVos said at a roundtable on schools in North Carolina with Vice President Mike Pence. The event was held at Thales Academy, a year-round private school where Pence and DeVos also met with a small classroom of fourth graders. 

“Thales is a great example more schools could emulate,” DeVos said. “You didn’t wait for guidance from the Department of Education. You didn’t ask for permission. Your families wanted kids back in school, you wanted kids back in school, teachers wanted to be back in school, so you figured out ways to do it, or do it safely.” Private schools in general have smaller class sizes than most public schools, just one reason why it could be easier for them to create reopening plans.

“More education leaders here in North Carolina can pivot as well, and do what it takes to keep everyone safe and do what’s right for all students,” DeVos continued. “There’s too many schools in this state and others that are ignoring parents and students and keeping schools closed.”

She went on to argue for school choice, and said that for parents who took their children out of public schools, “the tax dollars meant to support their education should go with them.”

DeVos said she’d called for school choice for more than three decades, and added that the pandemic “really welcomes it.”

“It frankly demands it,” DeVos said. “Students need it, families are demanding it, and teachers need it.”

5:33 p.m. ET, July 29, 2020

White House chief of staff warns stimulus deal could fall apart the longer the talks drag on

From CNN's Manu Raju, Ali Zaslav and Phil Mattingly

President Donald Trump's Chief of Staff Mark Meadows arrives on Capitol Hill in Washington on July 29.
President Donald Trump's Chief of Staff Mark Meadows arrives on Capitol Hill in Washington on July 29. Andrew Harnik/AP

White House chief of staff Mark Meadows told reporters Wednesday that – as negotiations on a stimulus package continue to fall apart – he doesn’t know that there is any other plan other than “no deal.” 

“No deal certainly becomes a greater possibility the longer these negotiations take,” he said.

Meadows emerged from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office this afternoon with a dire assessment of where negotiations stand, saying they made no progress. Pelosi rejected the short-term unemployment insurance idea and the federal enhancement of unemployment, which will expire at the end of the week.

Asked what would unlock the current impasse, Meadows said, “I don’t know that anything does.”

More from the Capitol: Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, after meeting with top White House negotiators on the next round of coronavirus relief legislation, explicitly rejected any short-term measure to extend the expiring federal unemployment enhancement and attacked Republicans for having no plan to address the issues.

Schumer, after the third meeting in as many days, said Republicans are “tied in a knot because of the disunity in their caucus, because of their inability to gather votes, because the President says one thing one day and says another thing the other.”

“They have no coherent plan, they have no comprehensive plan,” Schumer said. “They have tried to come up with a ‘skinny bill’ that doesn’t address the moment and they can’t even pass that in their own Senate.”

5:14 p.m. ET, July 29, 2020

Minneapolis mayor issues emergency regulation closing indoor bar areas 

From CNN's Raja Razek

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey speaks during a press conference in Minneapolis on July 29.
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey speaks during a press conference in Minneapolis on July 29. WCCO

All indoor bar areas in Minneapolis must close for regular service starting Aug. 1, according to an emergency regulation issued by Mayor Jacob Frey. 

"The data has become clear that in both urban and rural areas, bars are very high-risk locations for Covid-19 outbreaks in Minneapolis," Frey said. "We know at least nine bars that have been tied to patron outbreaks. At least three bars have been tied to employee outbreaks."

Frey said that since bars and restaurants have been open, the city has seen its seven-day weekly average go up "pretty significantly." 

"A night out at the bar is too often leading to nights in the hospital for family, for friends, and for neighbors," he added. "By focusing on bar areas, which are proven to be hotbeds for congregation and community spread, we can help keep both Minneapolis and Minnesotans safe and help keep trends stable." 

The closure would also cover taprooms, distilleries, and nightclubs, Frey said. Restaurants with a bar area are also required to keep their bars closed for the duration of the emergency regulations. 

5:11 p.m. ET, July 29, 2020

More than 9,000 new Covid-19 cases reported in Texas

From CNN’s Kay Jones

Nurses conduct coronavirus testing at a drive-thru site at SISD Student Activities Complex on July 21 in El Paso, Texas.
Nurses conduct coronavirus testing at a drive-thru site at SISD Student Activities Complex on July 21 in El Paso, Texas. Cengiz Yar/Getty Images

There have been at least 403,307 cases of Covid-19 in Texas since the start of the pandemic, according to the latest figures released by the Department of State Health Services.

This is an increase of 9,042 from Tuesday’s report, according to the dashboard. At least 9,595 Covid-19 patients are hospitalized statewide, according to the department's dashboard. 

The department also said at least 6,190 people have died from the virus in the state since the pandemic started.

Note: These numbers were released by 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.

5:08 p.m. ET, July 29, 2020

Denver Public Schools moves to remote learning

From CNN’s Konstantin Toropin

Denver Public Schools will “extend 100% remote instruction” from the start of the school year until the end of the first quarter, a statement on the district’s website announced Wednesday.

Remote instruction will begin on Aug. 24 and run through at least Oct. 16, which is the end of the first quarter of the school year, the statement said. 

“We’ll be working hard to safely and gradually welcome all students back into schools, when health conditions allow,” District Superintendent Susana Cordova wrote in the statement.

However, the district did say that it will be working toward bringing back small groups of students for in-person learning as soon as Sept. 8. 

Some more context: This announcement comes two weeks after the district said they would delay the start of the school year to Aug. 24 and it clarifies that remote learning will last at least until the end of the first quarter. The district initially said that its plan was to return to full, in-person instruction on June 26.

Denver Public Schools has nearly 94,000 students who attend 207 schools, according to the district's website.

5:00 p.m. ET, July 29, 2020

NBA to provide thousands of no-cost Covid-19 tests

From CNN's Dan Kamal

The National Basketball Association has unveiled a new community testing program, which will provide thousands of no-cost Covid-19 tests in Orlando and team markets nationwide.

The program is an extension of the NBA’s Together initiative, the league’s community and social engagement campaign designed to support, educate and inspire youth, families and fans in response to the pandemic.

In a statement released Wednesday, the NBA said, “Public health data has made clear that the impacts of the coronavirus are most concentrated in historically marginalized communities of color where access to testing is scarce. To meet this need, the NBA collaborated with UnidosUS and the National Urban League as well as several private laboratories to identify communities most in need and provide access to no-cost programs in addition to communicating public health information to community members.”

The tests are being provided in partnership with BioReference Laboratories, the league’s testing provider at its campus in Orlando. Residents in the Orlando area can register for the free Covid-19 tests here.

The NBA added that it will continue to work with UnidosUS and the National Urban League “to continue to explore additional testing programs and work together to amplify the latest global health and safety information.”

 

4:52 p.m. ET, July 29, 2020

More than 50% of new Covid-19 cases in Maryland are in people under the age of 40, governor says

From CNN’s Jennifer Henderson

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan speaks during a press conference on July 29.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan speaks during a press conference on July 29. Office of Governor Larry Hogan

Fifty-six percent of all new Covid-19 cases in Maryland are in people under the age of 40, Gov. Larry Hogan said at a news conference today.

The positivity rate of Marylanders 35 and older has been declining for more than 12 weeks, but people under the age of 35 are testing positive at a rate 76.8% higher than that of people 35 and older. 

Hospitalizations have increased 28% in the past two weeks. A total of 571 people have been hospitalized, Hogan added. Maryland has 145 intensive care unit beds currently in use and has seen the uptick in acute care beds mostly in younger people.

Note: These numbers were released by Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, and may not line up exactly in real time with CNN’s database drawn from Johns Hopkins University and the Covid Tracking Project.

4:44 p.m. ET, July 29, 2020

South Carolina orders face masks to be worn in all government offices and buildings

From CNN's Pierre Meilhan

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster, right, speaks during a press conference in Columbia, South Carolina, on July 29.
South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster, right, speaks during a press conference in Columbia, South Carolina, on July 29. Pool

Face masks must be worn in all state government offices and buildings in South Carolina starting Monday, Gov. Henry McMaster announced Wednesday.

During a news conference in Columbia, McMaster told reporters that starting Monday, restaurants will be required to “limit customer service” and have no more than 50% occupancy.

“Restaurant employees and patrons will be required by law to a mask or face coverings” in order to slow down the spread of coronavirus. Tables are required by law to be six feet apart with no more than eight people per table, McMaster said.

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control announced 1,666 new confirmed Covid-19 cases and 48 additional deaths on Wednesday. This brings the total number of confirmed cases to 85,423 and confirmed deaths to 1,551.