July 30 coronavirus news

By Nectar Gan, Adam Renton, Emma Reynolds, Ed Upright, Melissa Macaya and Meg Wagner, CNN

Updated 12:00 a.m. ET, July 31, 2020
45 Posts
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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. 

8:57 a.m. ET, July 30, 2020

President of US teachers union: “What has Betsy DeVos been doing?”

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, on CNN's "New Day" on July 30.
Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, on CNN's "New Day" on July 30. CNN

Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, said that the lack of a national plan around opening schools is making Americans “very scared” about the upcoming school year.

“There's national guidance about what can keep people safe, and frankly, if [the teachers union] could put it together in April, what has Betsy DeVos been doing?” she said in an interview on CNN’s “New Day.” 

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos argued Wednesday against the need for a national plan on reopening schools. 

“They refuse to put any guidance together and they refuse to put any resources together, and ultimately, that's why a lot of people are very scared right now,” Weingarten said. 

While Weingarten said school reopenings do need to be done on a regional level, the Trump administration has “been reckless and dangerous in saying fully reopen or else.”

“What we need to do, like all of the other countries in the world have done, is that the government has to work together with people on the ground doing the essential work to make sure everyone is safe,” she said. 

Watch:

8:41 a.m. ET, July 30, 2020

US unemployment claims rise for second week in a row  

From CNN’s Tami Luhby

In yet another sign that the economic recovery is teetering in a resurgence of coronavirus cases, the number of Americans filing first-time unemployment claims rose for the second week in a row.

About 1.4 million people filed for initial jobless claims last week, up 12,000 from the prior week's revised level, which was the first increase in 16 weeks.

On an unadjusted basis, 1.2 million people filed first-time claims, down 171,000 from the week before. The seasonal adjustments are traditionally used to smooth out the data, but that has tended to have opposite effect during the pandemic.

Continued claims, which count workers who have filed for at least two weeks in a row, stood at 17 million for the week ending July 18, up 867,000 from the prior week's revised level.

These seasonally adjusted claims peaked in May at nearly 25 million.

11:06 a.m. ET, July 30, 2020

The US economy just had its worst quarter on record

From CNN’s Anneken Tappe

The US economy contracted by 32.9% between April and June, its worst drop on record, the Bureau of Economic Analysis said Thursday.

Business ground to a halt during the pandemic lockdown in the spring of this year, and America plunged into its first recession in 11 years, putting an end to the longest economic expansion in US history.

A recession is commonly defined as two consecutive quarters of declining gross domestic product, the broadest measure of the economy.  

Between January and March, the GDP declined by 5%.

But this is no ordinary recession. The combination of public health and economic crises is unprecedented, and numbers cannot fully convey the hardships millions of Americans are facing. 

The pandemic pushed the economy off a cliff. The GDP drop was nearly four times worse than during the peak of the financial crisis, when GDP fell 8.4% in the fourth quarter of 2008.

Quarterly GDP numbers are expressed as an annualized rate. This means that the economy didn't actually contract by a third from the first quarter to the second. The annualized rate measures how much the economy would grow or shrink if conditions were to persist for 12 months. But by either measure, the second quarter is still the worst on record.

The US only began keeping quarterly GDP records in 1947, so it's difficult to compare the current downturn to the Great Depression. That said, in 1932 the US economy contracted 12.9%. 

Watch:

8:35 a.m. ET, July 30, 2020

FDA head: There's no evidence wearing a mask can give you Covid-19

From CNN's Gisela Crespo

US Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn said there is no evidence that people can contract Covid-19 from wearing masks, after a Republican congressman incorrectly suggested as much.

Rep. Louie Gohmert, who has frequently refused to wear a mask, tested positive for coronavirus yesterday. After his diagnosis, during an interview with KETK, he wondered if "by keeping a mask on and keeping it in place, that if I might have put some germs or some of the virus onto the mask and breathed it in.” 

But during an interview on the “Today” show Thursday, Hahn said there is no "medical evidence that that's the case." 

"What our data show is that people should wear masks, particularly when they can't socially distance. And they should follow their local ordinances with respect to masks," Hahn added. 

When asked if it was frustrating to have a sitting congressman say he may have contracted the virus by wearing a face covering, Hahn said he was focusing on being consistent about common-sense public health measures, such as wearing a mask.

"I will continue to do that to make sure that people understand that we have the power. We have the power as American people to slow the spread of this virus. We've seen this virus spread in the US, but we've also seen it around the world. So we know it's with us. We have to take this seriously," Hahn told NBC's Savannah Guthrie.

9:03 a.m. ET, July 30, 2020

Texas has recorded more coronavirus cases than New York

From CNN's Madeline Holcombe

A nurse conducts a coronavirus test in El Paso, Texas, on July 21.
A nurse conducts a coronavirus test in El Paso, Texas, on July 21. Cengiz Yar/Getty Images

Coronavirus cases in Texas have risen to more than 418,000, putting the state at a higher case count than New York.

Once the US epicenter of the pandemic, New York now ranks fourth in total case count behind California, Florida and Texas, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Medical teams on the frontlines in Texas said that spikes in the state have taken a toll.

"It's very hard. We're seeing entire families in our communities ravaged by the virus," said Dr. Martin Schwartz, who treats patients in intensive care units. "A lot of deaths inside one single family. It's terrible."

The main hotspot in the state has been the Rio Grande Valley, where hospitals began reaching capacity earlier this month.

Health officials say the pandemic is wreaking havoc on communities in Hidalgo County.

"It's a tsunami what we're seeing right now," said Dr. Federico Vallejo, a critical care pulmonologist. He told CNN last week that he is treating up to 70 patients a day compared to the usual 15 to 20 a critical care doctor sees during a rotation.

Texas was one of the first states to reopen in May, but Gov. Greg Abbott announced a pause to any further reopening in June when cases surged. Now Texas is one of the 41 states to implement mask requirements in some form to protect against the virus's spread.

Here are the latest updates out of Texas.

8:25 a.m. ET, July 30, 2020

FDA "will not cut corners" on authorizing use of a potential Covid-19 vaccine, Hahn says 

From CNN's Health Gisela Crespo

Stephen Hahn, Commissioner of Food and Drugs at the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) attends a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing on June 30.
Stephen Hahn, Commissioner of Food and Drugs at the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) attends a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing on June 30. Al Drago/Pool/Getty Images

Dr. Stephen Hahn, commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration, said Thursday that his agency "will not cut corners" when it comes to approving a Covid-19 vaccine.

On Wednesday, an FDA official announced that the agency could issue an emergency use authorization for a coronavirus vaccine in a matter of weeks -- once a vaccine meets efficacy requirements.

Speaking on NBC’s Today show on Thursday, Hahn said that even though things have been moving quickly on the vaccine development front, the FDA will focus on assisting developers and making sure a potential vaccine meets the safety and efficacy standards.

"We're going to call the balls and strikes on this," Hahn said. "We will not cut corners. We will use our very high standards of safety and effectiveness. We'll look at those data, and we'll make a determination based upon those high standards. We have terrific scientists and people at FDA, and I know -- and I'm confident -- that we'll do that job on behalf of the American people."

Hahn said it's possible that a vaccine could be ready for distribution by the end of the year. "Things have been moving very quickly. I know our team is looking at data in real-time from these trials. And that should help us expedite this," Hahn told NBC's Savannah Guthrie.

He said the decision on whether to take hydroxychloroquine, a drug that has been both promoted and taken by President Donald Trump, should be made between a patient and their doctor.

When asked whether he was concerned about misinformation regarding the drug, Hahn said that “what I’m concerned about is that FDA provide all the information about the side effects, the potential side effects, as well as the efficacy.”