July 30 coronavirus news

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10:20 a.m. ET, July 30, 2020

It's possible for US to lower Covid-19 case counts so children can return to school, Birx says

From CNN's Health Gisela Crespo

Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, speaks during a coronavirus briefing at the White House on April 8.
Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, speaks during a coronavirus briefing at the White House on April 8. Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, said Thursday that it is possible for the country to get coronavirus case counts low enough for children to go back to school.

Speaking during an interview on "Fox & Friends," Birx said there are school districts where the coronavirus test positivity rate in the community is under 5%. "What we want is the whole country to be able to go back to school, and all of those case counts down to what we call the ‘green states.’"

"We know that is possible because states have been able to do that and maintain that. And so, that's the evidence base that we should be talking about. We have evidence now of what works and how to maintain very low case counts. The rest of America needs to follow those guidelines and bring the rest of us into that green category," she said.

Birx also said the way Americans can help get children back to school is by doing "what the President has asked," which includes wearing masks, socially distancing and avoiding gatherings where you can't socially distance.

10:04 a.m. ET, July 30, 2020

Norway will impose 10-day quarantine on travelers from Belgium after virus spike

From CNN’s Isabel Tejera in Madrid

Norway will reimpose a 10-day quarantine requirement for travelers arriving from Belgium after a rise in Covid-19 cases there, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Thursday.

The new rule goes into effect on Saturday. 

Norway last week reintroduced restrictions on travel from Spain in a bid to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

10:10 a.m. ET, July 30, 2020

Iceland launches stricter coronavirus measures after spike in cases

From CNN’s Inga Thordar in Reykjavík, Iceland

People wait at Keflavík International Airport in Iceland on July 21.
People wait at Keflavík International Airport in Iceland on July 21. Sigga Ella/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Iceland’s government announced tougher coronavirus-related restrictions Thursday following new outbreaks in the country. 

 The new rules take effect starting tomorrow. Here's a look at them:

  • There will be a ban on gatherings of more than 100 people (previously, gatherings of up to 500 people were allowed).
  • The government is reintroducing the two-meter social distancing rule. In circumstances where that is not possible, masks are mandatory indoors and outdoors.
  • Companies and official buildings where people gather are now required to secure and provide access to hand sanitizer  
  • Everyone who plans to stay more than 10 days must now test negative for Covid-19 twice – even if the first test was negative. Some travelers to Iceland previously only had to test negative once to avoid quarantine.

If those measures aren’t sufficient to halt new outbreaks, the government has said it will look at further action in relation to border controls.  

Some background: Iceland has been praised for its handling of the virus, its extensive testing capacity, and its tracking and tracing methods.

The current rules were due to be relaxed even further on Aug. 4, but new outbreaks in the country have instead resulted in the new stricter measures.

The announcement comes a day before a long weekend in Iceland and one of its busiest travel periods of the year.  

 

9:53 a.m. ET, July 30, 2020

5th Brazilian minister tests positive for Covid-19

From journalist Rodrigo Pedroso in Sao Paulo

Brazilian Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation Marcos Pontes announced he has tested positive for Covid-19 on Thursday. Pontes said he is fine and has few symptoms via Twitter. 

"I just received a positive test for the new coronavirus. I'm fine, just with a little bit of flu and headache. Now in isolation. (I ) will be all right. I keep fulfilling my schedule remotely and following all protocols for social distance", Pontes posted on Twitter.

The minister also posted a video announcing he took the Covid-19 test on Tuesday after feeling some fever. He said that he intends to take nitazoxanide, a vermifuge that is been tested by his ministry for Covid-19. "I am even going to join the nitazoxanide tests," he said.

Pontes becomes the fifth minister of President Jair Bolsonaro's government to be diagnosed with the virus.

Augusto Heleno, Minister of Internal Security; Bento Albuquerque, Minister of Mines and Energy; Onyx Lorenzoni, Minister of Citizenship; and Milton Ribeiro, Minister of Education, have tested positive for Covid-19.

10:55 a.m. ET, July 30, 2020

US stocks open sharply lower

From CNN’s Anneken Tappe

Wall Street opened sharply in the red on Thursday, following an economic data-heavy morning. 

US second quarter GDP declined at an annual rate of 32.9%, slightly less than economists had predicted. Meanwhile, initial jobless claims ticked up from the prior week, indicating that the crisis isn’t over.

Here's where things opened today:

  • The Dow opened 1.1%, or 290 points, lower.
  • The S&P 500 fell 1%.
  • The Nasdaq Composite slipped 0.9%.
11:00 a.m. ET, July 30, 2020

UK "not out of the woods" with coronavirus, Boris Johnson says

From Niamh Kennedy in Dublin

People ride a bus in London on July 28.
People ride a bus in London on July 28. Guy Bell/Shutterstock

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said it was “absolutely vital” for people in the UK not to “delude ourselves into thinking we are out of the woods or that this is somehow all over” as Europe feels the initial ripples of a second coronavirus wave.

Speaking during a visit to North Yorkshire in England on Thursday, Johnson said the way to avoid a “damaging second wave” was to adhere to social distancing guidelines, practice regular hand-washing, and wear face masks on public transport and in shops.  

Johnson said that despite the fact that death numbers in the UK “are well down,” his message to Britons remained “don’t lose focus, don’t lose discipline, continue to follow those guidelines, and if you have symptoms get a test.”

The Prime Minister said he was monitoring the “resurgence of the virus in some other European countries” and the rising case numbers in the United States.

He said consequently it was “absolutely vital” that Britons “don’t delude ourselves into thinking we are out of the woods or that this is somehow all over.”

Johnson also strongly encouraged Britons experiencing any coronavirus symptoms to get a test. This comes after an announcement from the chief medical officers of the four UK nations Monday, stipulating that anyone experiencing Covid-19 symptoms must now self-isolate for ten days rather than the previously advised seven.

Addressing recent flare ups of the virus in areas such as Oldham, Johnson said he knew it was “tough” for residents but that “the best way to deal with this is if we have tough local lockdowns.” 

He paid tribute to the “the efforts of local people in many, many places across the country from Kirklees to Ashford” working to get the virus under control.

9:28 a.m. ET, July 30, 2020

Birx calls on state and local officials to "mandate masks for their communities"

From CNN's Health Gisela Crespo

Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, speaks during a news briefing at the White House on May 22.
Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, speaks during a news briefing at the White House on May 22. Alex Wong/Getty Images

During an interview on Fox & Friends Thursday, Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, called on state and local officials "to mandate masks for their communities" to slow the spread of Covid-19.

Birx explained that although the situation is improving across the South, there is "still a very serious pandemic" in that region. She added health officials now see the virus "moving up."

"Now we see the virus – probably because of vacations and other reasons of travel – moving up into Kentucky, Tennessee, southern Ohio, Missouri, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska and, of course, we continue to have problems across the west coast – Washington, Oregon, California, Idaho and Utah – and now increases in Colorado... these are the states that we call yellow states," Birx said.

"We believe if the governors and mayors of every locality right now would mandate masks for their communities and every American would wear a mask, and socially distance, and not congregate in large settings where you can't socially distance or wear a mask, that we can really get control of this virus and drive down cases as Arizona has done," Birx told Fox's Brian Kilmeade.

These are the states requiring people to wear masks when out in public.

9:22 a.m. ET, July 30, 2020

Trump questions whether US should "Delay the Election." He does not have the power to change the date. 

From CNN's Betsy Klein, Tara Subramaniam, Abby Phillip and DJ Judd

President Donald Trump speaks with members of the media on July 29 at the White House.
President Donald Trump speaks with members of the media on July 29 at the White House. Sarah Silbiger/UPI/Bloomberg/Getty Images

President Trump took the extraordinary step Thursday morning of openly suggesting in a tweet the possibility that the 2020 election, set for November 3 – 96 days from now – should be delayed amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

 

Trump has previously sought to stoke fear and lay the groundwork to question the election’s results by promoting the idea that mail-in voting leads to widespread fraud and a “rigged” election. The tweet comes as a spate of recent polling in battleground states – and even states he won handily in 2016 – show him trailing or tied with former Vice President Joe Biden, and widespread disapproval of his handling of the pandemic. 

Asked about the issue in a House Judiciary Committee hearing Tuesday, Attorney General William Barr said he had "no reason to think" that the upcoming election will be "rigged." But he did say he believes that "if you have wholesale mail-in voting, it substantially increases the risk of fraud."

But historically, voting by mail has not led to massive voter fraud. And nonpartisan election experts say the possibility of foreign entities printing millions of fraudulent mail-in ballots this November is highly unlikely.

A key point here: The President does not have the power to change the date of the election. Election Day is set by Congressional statute, and most experts agree that it cannot be changed without Congressional approval. 

Biden has previously raised the possibility of Trump attempting to delay the election. 

"Mark my words: I think he is gonna try to kick back the election somehow, come up with some rationale why it can't be held," Biden said at a virtual fundraiser in April, according to a pool report. Biden has maintained the November election should not be postponed and has previously made similar comments.

9:17 a.m. ET, July 30, 2020

Today marks 6 months since Covid-19 was declared a public health emergency of international concern

From CNN Health’s Naomi Thomas

Health personnel collect swab samples for Covid-19 tests on July 30 in Kathmandu, Nepal.
Health personnel collect swab samples for Covid-19 tests on July 30 in Kathmandu, Nepal. Niranjan Shrestha/AP

Today marks six months since Covid-19 was declared a public health emergency of international concern, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization, said earlier this week.

“This is the sixth time a global health emergency has been declared under the International Health Regulations,” Tedros said during a briefing on Monday. “But it’s easily the most severe.”

Previous health emergencies of this level of concern have included Ebola, Zika and H1N1. Tedros said that nearly 16 million coronavirus cases and more than 640,000 deaths worldwide have been reported to WHO. 

“And the pandemic continues to accelerate,” he said. “In the past six weeks, the total number of cases has roughly doubled.”

Tedros said Monday that he will reconvene WHO’s emergency committee, as required under International Health Regulations, later in the week to re-evaluate the pandemic.

He said that he was very proud of WHO, its people and their efforts, as they have “worked tirelessly to support countries to prepare for and respond to this virus” over the last six months. 

And there is still work to be done, Tedros said. 

“We have done an incredible amount, but we still have a long, hard road ahead of us,” Tedros said.