Georgia reports more than 4,000 new Covid-19 cases
From CNN’s Dianne Gallagher
The Georgia Department of Public Health reported at least 4,045 new cases of Covid-19 on Thursday, bringing the statewide total to approximately 182,286 cases.
Georgia DPH also reported at least 30 new deaths. Approximately 3,671 people have died from the virus in the state since the beginning of the pandemic, Georgia DPH said.
There were at least 339 new Covid-19 related hospitalizations recorded, according to Georgia DPH.
Note: These numbers were released by the Georgia Department of Public Health and may not line up exactly in real time with CNN’s database drawn from Johns Hopkins University and the Covid Tracking Project
3:28 p.m. ET, July 30, 2020
HHS disputes claims of significant, widespread delays in coronavirus testing results
From CNN’s Lauren Mascarenhas
Health and Human Services Assistant Secretary Admiral Brett Giroir disputed claims that there are significant, widespread delays in coronavirus testing results Thursday.
"We are continuing to work to improve turnaround time, but the thought of it being routinely 10 to 14 days is just not true, and I think that sends a bad public health message that is contrary to the goals we all have of improving our infection rate,” Giroir said during a call with reporters.
Giroir said that half the current coronavirus testing efforts are happening in point of care settings or hospital laboratories, which generally yield results in 24 hours.
“Over the past month, the percent of tests that were completed within three days by commercial labs was 45%,” he added. “In the last seven days that's over 56%, so we're seeing an improvement week over week.”
Some context: Medical testing company Quest Diagnostics said Monday it is struggling to meet the demand for coronavirus tests, with turnaround times of more than two days for top priority patients and seven days for all other patients.
Many health experts have disagreed that the administration’s testing response is adequate.
“He thinks we're doing enough testing and I don't,” Dr. Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, said in an interview with CNN’s Poppy Harlow Tuesday. “I wish instead of arguing with me and other public health experts, Admiral Giroir really spent his efforts trying to make sure that Americans get the testing that they need.”
In response to questions about when federal testing resources will meet the growing demand for tests, Giroir said, “The supplies absolutely satisfy the state testing goals now… we far exceeded the testing goals in June and we will far exceed the state testing goals in July.”
He also said the administration is preparing for the overlap of coronavirus with the upcoming flu season.
“Just about every test, whether it's molecular or point of care, is working on multiplexing, so that there could be flu and Covid tests, either on the same strip or certainly they could be done in the same machine within a couple of minutes,” Giroir said.
3:28 p.m. ET, July 30, 2020
Ireland reports highest daily increase in Covid-19 cases since May 22
From Peter Taggart in Dublin and CNN's Lauren Kent in London
The Republic of Ireland reported 85 new Covid-19 cases on Thursday, representing the highest daily increase in coronavirus cases since May 22, according to the latest data published by the Irish Department of Health.
The total number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Ireland now stands at 26,027, according to the Department of Health. There was also one more death of a patient diagnosed with Covid-19, bringing Ireland's death toll to 1,763.
Of the cases reported today, half are associated with outbreaks and 39% are associated with close contacts of a previously confirmed case, according to a statement from Ireland's National Public Health Emergency Team.
Acting Chief Medical Officer for the Irish Department of Health Dr. Ronan Glynn said in the statement, "Today’s figures demonstrate how quickly Covid-19 can reemerge in our country."
"We are now at a crucial point in our response to Covid-19. Over the coming days it is vital that everyone continues to avoid large crowds, physically distance, wear face coverings where appropriate and wash hands regularly," he added. “Covid-19 is extremely infectious and no one is immune. Follow public health advice and stay vigilant."
Philip Nolan, chair of the Irish Epidemiological Modelling Advisory Group, said, "Over a two-day period Ireland moved from a relatively stable epidemiology to a significant pattern connected to outbreaks. We now need to be really careful and adhere to public health advice so we do not further spread the virus. We must remain vigilant to the disease if we are to control it at this point."
3:15 p.m. ET, July 30, 2020
WHO officials reflect on Covid-19 pandemic 6 months after public health emergency declared
From CNN's Naomi Thomas
World Health Organization officials looked back on the global response to the Covid-19 pandemic during a news briefing in Geneva on Thursday, the six-month mark of Covid-19 being declared a public health emergency of international concern.
Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO’s technical lead for Covid-19, said that the global response can be characterized as mixed.
“We really saw countries that took an aggressive approach – countries that took an all of government, comprehensive approach – really see some success in the beginning of trying to combat this,” Van Kerkhove said.
Countries that have had previous experience with infectious diseases, such as SARS, avian influenza and MERS, “really saw the threat, really knew the threat of this,” she said.
Countries that didn’t act as fast have also been able to turn things around, Van Kerkhove said, as have countries that had very difficult outbreaks, such as the Republic of Korea, Italy, Spain and Germany.
These countries were able to implement the comprehensive approach to public health measures, where it was “all of government, all of society, engaging their public, informing their public” and using tools that are known to suppress transmission and save lives if they are implemented.
“I think what we need to do going forward is look at how we can be more efficient in our response. How can everyone be more efficient in the tools that we apply, so that we don’t have to go into large lockdown, or so-called lockdown measures,” Van Kerkhove said. “That we can tailor the approach to the geographic area, and to the transmission area where it’s needed.”
3:01 p.m. ET, July 30, 2020
NFL's chief medical officer calls for vigilance in light of MLB Covid cluster
“I think it draws to my mind the observation that we have to be incredibly vigilant all times. We have to follow our protocols. We believe we have good protocols in place that will identify cases as quickly as we can, and then we have to be ready to take action once we’ve identified them. And we have to apply those protocols consistently, everyday throughout our entire season. If there's any point at which we let our guard down, that's the point where we'll be vulnerable,” Sills said on a call with reporters Thursday.
Sills added that the Major League Baseball situation is still one that is unfolding.
“I think we’re still learning about that specific situation, and we still have some ongoing learning,” Sills said.
Asked if the NFL had any protocols to potentially postpone games because of Covid-19 outbreaks, Brian McCarthy, NFL’s vice president of communications, said that the terms will still being discussed.
“We are working on those details with the Union and also hand-in-hand with the Competition Committee,” McCarthy said.
Unlike the NBA – which is isolating the entire league in a “bubble” in Orlando – the NFL plans on hosting games in home stadiums across the country.
Earlier today, Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said that while he was excited to begin training camp for the upcoming season, managing the threat of Covid-19 involved not just monitoring what was on the field, but also off.
"What you’re talking about is conduct that is detrimental. That’s a term that is used often in our business, and appropriately so in this Covid environment. If you are not exercising discretion and being thoughtful about how you move, that conduct is detrimental to your cause and ours collectively. That is the message that I am delivering to those guys,” Tomlin said.
2:56 p.m. ET, July 30, 2020
A disease like Covid-19 exploits all the vulnerabilities in health care systems, WHO official says
From CNN’s Naomi Thomas
A disease like Covid-19 exploits all the vulnerabilities that are present for individuals, communities and health systems, Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of the World Health Organization’s health emergencies program, said during a media briefing in Geneva on Thursday.
“A disease like this exploits all of the vulnerabilities – and the underlying vulnerabilities – that individuals, communities and health systems have. We’ve seen that,” Ryan said.
“We've seen how this disease impacts on people who are marginalized and have underlying health conditions. We've seen how this impacts on people who don't have access to basic health care services in terms of diagnostics and treatment. And we've seen how this impacts in areas in which the health infrastructure is poorly invested,” he said.
Ryan also said that there have been hospital systems that have collapsed and huge queues of people who haven’t been able to access health care.
He described health as not a reward for development, but as a primary investment in the security of communities, states and economies.
Epidemics, Ryan said, are a “massive stress test for the system.” In a short period of time, they place much of the system under stress. The ability of the system to absorb the stress determines the damage that is done.
He compared this situation to building a house, saying that if you build a house well and with the view that a storm might come, it will be able to withstand the storm.
“If the storm comes and your house is not prepared, then you may lose your house,” he said. “And I think that’s what we’re seeing in these situations in many, many countries.”
Epidemics themselves cause a major impact, which is amplified by weaknesses in the underlying health infrastructure, Ryan said.
“And we’re paying a heavy price, again, for the lack of that investment.”
2:51 p.m. ET, July 30, 2020
California reports nearly 200 new Covid-19 deaths
From CNN's Cheri Mossburg
Covid-related deaths in California top nearly 200 for the second-straight day, with 194 fatalities being reported by the California Department of Public Health.
At least 8,909 people have now died from coronavirus in the Golden State.
The state reported 10,197 new coronavirus cases, bringing the total tally to 485,502. For the past two weeks, California has averaged just over 9,100 additional cases each day.
The positivity rate in the state remains steady at 7.5%, with an average of 122,000 tests being conducted each day.
Hospitalization rates and those in intensive care units continue to trend down slightly.
Note: This report may include cases and deaths that occurred outside the most recent 24-hour period due to the possibility of reporting delays.
1:55 p.m. ET, July 30, 2020
"The pandemic does not mean life has to stop," WHO director-general says
From CNN’s Naomi Thomas
Everyone must learn to live with Covid-19 while staying protected, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization, said during a briefing in Geneva on Thursday.
“We must all learn to live with the virus,” he said, “and to take the steps necessary to live our lives while protecting ourselves and others – especially those at highest risk of Covid-19.”
While Tedros acknowledged this isn’t easy, he said it can be done.
“The pandemic does not mean life has to stop,” Tedros said.
He congratulated the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for the steps that were put in place to make the Hajj as safe as possible this year, calling it a “powerful demonstration of the kinds of measures that countries can – and must – take to adapt to the new normal.”
CNN previously reported that Saudi Arabia will limit the number of people who could take part in the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca, and that it would be restricted to pilgrims of all nationalities who already reside in the country.
1:48 p.m. ET, July 30, 2020
WHO releases policy brief on preventing and managing Covid-19 in long-term care facilities
From CNN’s Naomi Thomas
The World Health Organization has released a policy brief on preventing and managing Covid-19 in long-term care facilities.
Older people, especially those living in long-term care facilities, are one of the groups that are at highest risk for Covid-19.
“In many countries, more than 40% of Covid-19-related deaths have been linked to long-term care facilities – and up to 80% in some high-income countries,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during a briefing in Geneva on Thursday.
The policy brief lists key actions that must be taken by policymakers and national and local authorities to protect older people, Tedros said. They range from integrating long-term care into national response, to providing support for family and voluntary caregivers.
For each objective, there are actions that can be taken by the facilities themselves, and examples of actions that have been taken by countries across the world.
“The brief also suggests ways to transform long-term care services so that older people can receive quality-of-care that respects their rights, freedoms and dignity,” Tedros said.
Tedros also acknowledged those who worked in long-term care facilities across the world, “who are doing heroic work to save lives and protect those in their care,” he said. “I salute you.”