July 30 coronavirus news

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1:11 p.m. ET, July 30, 2020

Study finds that some people who haven't had Covid-19 might already have some immunity

From CNN’s Jacqueline Howard

The immune systems of some people who have not been exposed to the novel coronavirus could have some familiarity with the pathogen — possibly helping to reduce the severity of illness if that person does get Covid-19, a new study suggests.

The study, published in the journal Nature on Wednesday, found that among a sample of 68 healthy adults in Germany who had not been exposed to coronavirus, 35% had T cells in their blood that were reactive to the virus. T cells are part of the immune system and help protect the body from infection. T cell reactivity suggests that the immune system might have had some previous experience fighting a similar infection and may use that memory to help fight a new infection.

The new study involved analyzing blood samples from 18 Covid-19 patients, ages 21 to 81, and healthy donors, ages 20 to 64, based in Germany. The study found that T cells reactive to the coronavirus were detected in 83% of the Covid-19 patients.

While the researchers also found pre-existing cross-reactive T cells in the healthy donors, they wrote in the study that the impact those cells might have on the outcome of a Covid-19 illness still remains unknown.

So how could their immune system have reactive T cells if they never had Covid-19? They were "probably acquired in previous infections with endemic" coronaviruses, the researchers — from various institutions in Germany and the United Kingdom — wrote in the new study. Using this T cell memory from another-yet-similar infection to respond to a new infection is called "cross-reactivity."

"It does appear in this study that there is a significant proportion of individuals that have this cross-reactive T cell immunity from other coronavirus infections that may have some impact on how they fare with the novel coronavirus. I think the big question is trying to jump from the fact that they have these T cells to understanding what the role of those T cells might be," said Dr. Amesh Adalja, senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Security, who was not involved in the new study. 

"We know, for example, children and younger adults are relatively spared from the severe consequences of this disease, and I think that one hypothesis might be that the pre-existing T cells that exist may be much more numerous or more active in younger age cohorts than in older age cohorts.”

1:16 p.m. ET, July 30, 2020

Mexico's president is convinced nation's economy will recover despite 17.3% GDP decline

From Karol Suarez in Mexico City

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador speaks during a press conference at the presidential hangar of the Benito Juarez International Airport in Mexico City on July 27.
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador speaks during a press conference at the presidential hangar of the Benito Juarez International Airport in Mexico City on July 27. Alfredo Estrella/AFP/Getty Images

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said he is convinced his country's economy will recover despite its GDP falling by 17.3% during the second quarter of 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a report released by the National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI) on Thursday.

During the presidential daily briefing on Thursday, López Obrador said they "expected these figures because they measure April, May, and June, the worst months."

"Our plan to fight the crisis has been effective, we said that we would start improving from July. We have other indicators that show that we're progressing in July," he said.

"We will have to wait three more months to know the results of this quarter, which I see very positively, I can assure you that the worst has already happened," the López Obrador added. 

More on the report: According to the INEGI report, Mexico’s GDP contracted by 18.9% compared to a year earlier. INEGI's President Julio Santaella tweeted: "The large quarter contraction of the Gross Domestic Product estimated for the second quarter of 2020 (-17.3) is the highest in the history of this macroeconomic indicator." 

On Wednesday evening, Mexico reported 408,449 Covid-19 cases and the death toll reached 45,361. 

 

1:03 p.m. ET, July 30, 2020

Young people are also at risk of severe disease from Covid-19, WHO officials say

From CNN’s Naomi Thomas

Younger people are at risk of severe disease from Covid-19 and need to be protecting themselves, World Health Organization director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during a briefing in Geneva on Thursday.

“Although older people are at a higher risk of severe disease, younger people are at risk too,” Tedros said. “One of the challenges we face is convincing younger people of this risk.”

There is evidence, he said, that suggests spikes in cases in some countries are being driven partly by younger people letting their guard down. They should take the same precautions as everyone else to protect themselves and others. 

“We have said it before and we’ll say it again: young people are not invincible,” said Tedros. “Young people can be infected, young people can die and young people can transmit the virus to others.” 

Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO technical lead for Covid-19, reiterated that young people should be taking precautions and managing their own risk.

“What we know about young people is that young people can infected, young people can transmit the virus to others, the majority of young people who are infected tend to have more mild disease, but that is not always consistent,” she said. “We know that young people can develop severe disease, we know that young people can end up in ICU and we know that young people can die.” 

She also said that they are learning more about the long-term effects of the disease, even in people who had mild disease. A number of patient groups have formed with people who are having long term effects, including extreme fatigue or shortness of breath. WHO has reached out to some of these groups so they can hear about their experiences directly and use them for future planning around rehabilitation and longer term care.

 

1:05 p.m. ET, July 30, 2020

Coronavirus transmission "keeps accelerating" throughout the Americas, health official says

From CNN's Gisela Crespo

Dr. Carissa Etienne, Director of the Pan American Health Organization speaks during a press briefing at PAHO Headquarters in Washington, DC, on March 6.
Dr. Carissa Etienne, Director of the Pan American Health Organization speaks during a press briefing at PAHO Headquarters in Washington, DC, on March 6. Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

The Americas has reported the highest number of new Covid-19 cases globally for the past three months, Dr. Carissa Etienne, the director of the Pan American Health Organization, said Thursday. And the virus is spreading faster than ever. 

It’s been six months since coronavirus was declared a public health emergency of international concern. At that time, the Americas had only eight cases, with none reported in Latin America or the Caribbean, Etienne said at a briefing.

"No one could have imagined then what the future would bring. As we fast forward, we see a starkly different picture," Etienne said.

The Americas has reported almost 9 million cases — with nearly half of them in Latin America — and nearly 350,000 deaths, she added.

Transmission "keeps accelerating throughout the region," the PAHO director said. 

12:51 p.m. ET, July 30, 2020

Poland records largest daily increase in Covid-19 cases since outbreak began

From CNN's Niamh Kennedy

Poland has had the largest daily increase in coronavirus cases since the beginning of the outbreak, with 615 new infections recorded on Thursday, a spokesperson for the country's Ministry of Health told CNN.

The cases come mainly from three regions, according to the spokesperson —the Silesia region, where there were 160 new infections, and the Malopolska and Mazovia regions, which recorded 133 and 95 cases, respectively. 

"Most regions" in Poland have registered "several or a dozen" or so cases a day, the spokesperson said, adding that the "epidemiological situation is under control there."

The spokesperson added that the country had not seen a "significant increase" in the number of hospitalizations and patients on ventilators, which he said "proves that the course of infections is mild."

Poland's Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said in a news conference on Thursday that  the government would like to avoid another lockdown due to the negative socio-economic effects it could bring, according to a spokesperson from the Government Information Center.

But, Mateusz cautioned it was impossible to predict what would happen in a month due to the evolving nature of the pandemic.

The government is considering "different scenarios of action — depending on the number of Covid-19 cases and the course of the epidemic," the Government Information Center spokesperson told CNN.

12:37 p.m. ET, July 30, 2020

House GOP leader calls for rapid testing at the Capitol

From CNN's Haley Byrd and Clare Foran

House Minority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy speaks at a press conference on Capitol Hill on July 2 in Washington, DC.
House Minority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy speaks at a press conference on Capitol Hill on July 2 in Washington, DC. Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy called for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to accept the White House’s offer to deploy rapid testing resources to the Capitol complex.

Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell jointly declined the offer earlier this year, saying they wanted resources to go to the front lines fighting the virus instead. McCarthy slammed Pelosi for refusing the offer during his weekly news conference Thursday. McConnell’s role in turning down the testing resources was conspicuously absent from McCarthy's remarks.

“There’s no other place that has this responsibility and this size that is being managed this way. I don’t understand it,” McCarthy said. 

He said the Capitol should have tests available not only for members, but also for staff, reporters, and the other workers at the building. He said leaders should consider instituting random testing to catch asymptomatic cases. 

“This is not just a campus, the country expects us to convene,” McCarthy said. He added that he has spoken with the White House to see if their offer still stands, and they said it does.

“I have checked again with the administration. The offer is still there for the rapid Abbott tests,” he said. “There’s more than 50 million tests that have already happened in America. But the one place it’s not happening is in Congress. I can’t understand why the speaker continues to refuse. Is it just because the offer has come from the administration?”

Asked about Republican members not wearing masks over the past couple of months when the House has been in session, McCarthy pushed back on the notion that it was a significant number of members and said he believes all members should wear masks.

He again blamed any safety problems on testing not being readily available in the Capitol.

McCarthy said he has been clear with members to wear their masks, wash their hands, keep distance, and to keep their staff working in the office small.  

He also said reporters don’t always follow proper social distancing requirements at the Capitol, and they “hover together quite often.”

 

12:26 p.m. ET, July 30, 2020

"It's been a bumpy road to reopen hotels," Loews Hotels CEO says

From CNN's Aditi Sangal

Jonathan Tisch, Chairman and CEO of Loews Hotels, speaks during the “Red Carpet Hospitality Gala,” at JW Marriott Essex House on November 26, 2018 in New York City.
Jonathan Tisch, Chairman and CEO of Loews Hotels, speaks during the “Red Carpet Hospitality Gala,” at JW Marriott Essex House on November 26, 2018 in New York City. Monica Schipper/Getty Images for Hotel Association of New York City

Without appropriate and streamlined federal action, reopening hotels has been difficult, says Jonathan Tisch, Chairman and CEO of Loews Hotels.

“It's been a very bumpy road to reopen hotels,” he told CNN's Jim Sciutto. “When we started this process in local jurisdictions that allowed us back in June or early July, we were feeling pretty good.”

However, the surge in different parts of the country and changing local rulings and guidance has not provided for a climate where people want to travel, he said, adding that the debate over reopening schools is also going to impact the travel industry.

“Yes, people are getting in their cars this summer. They are driving to a destination, but schools in theory start to open mid-August. Are they going to want to do that? If they have to worry which of the partners is going to stay home with their son or daughter, that no do the provide an environment [where] people feel good about traveling,” he said.

In a letter to government officials, 13 travel industry CEOs are asking for tax credits for individual travel, a reintroduction of the business meals deduction, liability waivers, among other things for economic assistance, Tisch said.

“Some 16 million dedicated men and women used to make a living in the travel and tourism industry. Our industry is running at 50% unemployment,” he said. “There's an estimate that 1% of all hotel rooms in the country, some 60,000 hotel rooms, could be wiped out. The number in New York where we run our business from is worse. There's an estimate that has 20% of the hotel rooms in New York City could be wiped out.”

He added that the industry needs help in many ways so industry workers can come back to “provide a service that's appreciated by our guests.” 

12:21 p.m. ET, July 30, 2020

DC public school students will have a virtual first term

From CNN's Adrienne Winston

Washington, DC, Deputy Mayor for Education Paul Kihn announced this morning that public school students will have virtual learning for the year’s first term from Aug. 31 to Nov. 6.

“We all understand that this school year will require flexibility from everyone, and with that in mind we are moving forward with an all virtual start to the school year for students in pre-K through the 12th grade for term one until November 6," he said.  

Kihn continued: “I want to reassure you also, all of the families that said they wanted in person options and all of the educators who shared their desire to be with and work with the students who need them the most that we will continue to plan for in person options for term two.”

12:04 p.m. ET, July 30, 2020

Brazil's first lady tests positive for Covid-19

From journalist Rodrigo Pedroso in Sao Paulo

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and the first lady Michelle Bolsonaro attend the launch of the Rural Women's Rights program at Planalto Palace in Brasilia, Brazil, on July 29.
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and the first lady Michelle Bolsonaro attend the launch of the Rural Women's Rights program at Planalto Palace in Brasilia, Brazil, on July 29. Evaristo Sa/AFP/Getty Images

Brazil’s first lady Michelle Bolsonaro has tested positive for Covid-19 on Thursday, President Jair Bolsonaro's press office announced in a statement.

The first lady “is in good health and will follow all established protocols,” the statement says.

“The first lady is being accompanied by the medical team of the Presidency of the Republic,” the statement adds.

Michelle Bolsonaro was last seen in public on Wednesday afternoon when she attended an official event in Brasilia with her husband.

President Jair Bolsonaro tested positive for Covid-19 on July 7. He tested negative more than two weeks later on Saturday.