The latest on the coronavirus pandemic

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6:01 p.m. ET, July 31, 2020

Texas reports more than 8,800 new Covid-19 cases

From CNN's Raja Razek

Nurses conduct coronavirus testing at a newly opened drive-thru site at El Paso Community College Valle Verde campus on July 21, in El Paso, Texas.
Nurses conduct coronavirus testing at a newly opened drive-thru site at El Paso Community College Valle Verde campus on July 21, in El Paso, Texas. Cengiz Yar/Getty Images

Texas has reported 8,839 new Covid-19 cases on Friday, bringing the total number of cases to 420,946 in the state. 

The state also reported 295 Covid-19-related deaths, bringing the total number to 6,569. 

Texas' health department recently reported that it had "improved" its Covid-19 fatality reporting. Texas Covid-19 fatalities are now counted from death certificates instead of local reports.

Note: These numbers were released by the 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.

5:55 p.m. ET, July 31, 2020

Alabama health department asks doctors to prioritize most vulnerable for testing

From CNN's Hollie Silverman 

Alabama Department of Public Health is asking doctors to focus testing on the most vulnerable populations as a surge of coronavirus testing has resulted in a seven-day turnaround time, according to new release from the agency.

"The State of Alabama continues to experience increases in the number of COVID-19 cases. While there has been a recent decline in the percentage of persons who test positive, the state is currently facing a surge that has overwhelmed Alabama’s ability to provide test results within the 2- to 3-day turnaround time needed to expeditiously make quarantine and care decisions," the release said.

The longer turnaround time has prompted the public health agency to ask doctors to focus their testing on groups that are more vulnerable and cannot afford to wait the seven days for test results.

"The Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) recognizes that this is too long and asks for consumers and physicians and other providers to help in making sure that those who are most vulnerable become the focus for testing: the elderly, those in congregate living settings, healthcare personnel, those with symptoms consistent with COVID-19 and those with underlying medical conditions that place them most at risk," the release said.

5:38 p.m. ET, July 31, 2020

Connecticut governor says he's concerned about Covid-19 clusters among teens and young adults

From CNN's Elizabeth Hartfield

Gov. Ned Lamont
Gov. Ned Lamont CT-N

Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont and the state’s Public Health Commissioner Deidre Gifford say they’re concerned with recent Covid-19 clusters among teens and young adults in the state, according to a release from the governor’s office.

Data shows that 18- to 29-year-olds represent a significant number of newly reported infections in recent weeks, and on Thursday, Lamont said that the coronavirus infection numbers among 10- to 19-year-olds had “doubled” recently. 

“We do not want to end up with uncontrolled outbreaks like those being seen across much of the south and western portions of the United States. Our Covid-related hospitalizations have declined to just a few dozen, far from the peak back in late April when nearly 2,000 of our residents were being treated in hospitals,” Lamont said in the release. “This is not a time to relax our basic practices to slow down the spread of the virus. This is a time for remaining vigilant.”

As part of their release, the governor’s office also circulated a photo of young people socializing on boats in Stony Creek, Connecticut, appearing not to social distance.

Connecticut’s Health Department has also received “anecdotal, unconfirmed information regarding youth sports team travel to states on Connecticut’s travel advisory list,” the release said.  

4:59 p.m. ET, July 31, 2020

Microsoft extends remote work to US employees through January

From CNN's Brian Fung

A pedestrian walks past a Microsoft Technology Center in New York City on July 22.
A pedestrian walks past a Microsoft Technology Center in New York City on July 22. Jeenah Moon/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Microsoft’s US workforce will have the option of working from home at least through Jan. 19, the company told employees on Thursday.

A Microsoft spokesperson confirmed the announcement to CNN. It marks the latest sign that major businesses are bracing for a long pandemic.

"We continue to review the situation on a local basis in each region/country/state where we work and will continue to adjust dates by country as needed,” the spokesperson said.

Some context: Microsoft's decision follows Google, which said earlier this month that it will allow many of its employees to work remotely at least until the end of June 2021.

4:49 p.m. ET, July 31, 2020

First Covid-19-related teen death reported in California 

From CNN's Topher Gauk-Roger

California's health department confirmed the first Covid-19-related death of a teenager in the state on Friday.

The Central Valley teenager had underlying health conditions, the health department said. Due to patient confidentiality, the department did not provide any additional information about the child's death.

Some context: In California, there have been no reported deaths in younger age categories, including children age 5 and under.

A total of 9,005 people have died from the coronavirus in California since the start of the pandemic, with 96 additional deaths being reported on Friday.

“Our hearts go out to the family and loved ones of this young person whose death is a tragic and powerful reminder of how serious COVID-19 can be,” said Dr. Sonia Angell, state public health officer and director of the California's health department.

4:37 p.m. ET, July 31, 2020

Germany will offer free coronavirus tests to all travelers entering the country

From CNN's Fred Pleitgen in Berlin

German Health Minister Jens Spahn attends a press conference on July 16 in Berlin, Germany.
German Health Minister Jens Spahn attends a press conference on July 16 in Berlin, Germany. Henning Schacht/Pool/Getty Images

Starting Saturday, all travelers coming to Germany will be able to get free coronavirus polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests up to 72 hours after entering the country, the German health ministry announced in a statement.

“The rise in cases is a clear warning. The virus does not take days off. Therefore: whoever returns from a trip should get a test — voluntarily and free of charge,” said German health minister Jens Spahn in the statement.

Germany is currently dealing with a new rise in coronavirus infections and believes travelers returning from abroad and carrying the virus are partially responsible. 

The German health ministry said it will also enact a directive making tests mandatory for people returning from so-called “high-risk areas.” The new rule will go into effect next week, the health ministry wrote, without specifying the exact date.

Germany has reported 210,399 coronavirus cases, including 9,147 deaths, according to the latest data from Johns Hopkins University. 

4:09 p.m. ET, July 31, 2020

Student tests positive for Covid-19 on first day of school in Indiana

From CNN’s Rebekah Riess

As an Indiana school district returned to in-person learning for its first day of the 2020-21 school year, one of its students tested positive for Covid-19, according to a letter sent to parents.

The Hancock County Health Department notified Greenfield-Central Junior High School on Thursday that one of its students, who had attended part of the school day, tested positive for Covid-19, Superintendent Dr. Harold Olin said in his letter to parents.

Olin said when they became aware of the positive result, the school enacted its “Positive Covid-19 Test Protocol.”

The student was immediately isolated within the school’s clinic, and the student’s schedule, including transportation and extra-curricular activities, were looked at to determine which students or staff would be considered a close contact. 

As part of the district’s return to in-person learning, “all areas of all schools” are already being disinfected professionally each evening, but the superintendent noted that special attention would be given to areas and classrooms that the infected student had been in.

“We understand that this information will cause concern for some of you. It was very evident today that nearly all of our families and students were prepared to properly follow the safety protocols we have established,” Olin wrote to parents. “Adhering to these protocols is essential for maintaining a safe environment for all students and staff.”
4:04 p.m. ET, July 31, 2020

Four crew members of Norwegian cruise ship hospitalized with Covid-19

From CNN's Lauren Kent

The MS Roald Amundsen is docked in Tromsö, Norway, on July 31.
The MS Roald Amundsen is docked in Tromsö, Norway, on July 31. Hinrich Bäsemann/picture alliance via Getty Images

Four crew members of the Norwegian cruise vessel MS Roald Amundsen have been hospitalized with Covid-19, a spokesperson for the University Hospital of North Norway told CNN on Friday.

Ship operator Hurtigruten said in a Friday statement that the four crew members were isolated several days ago because of other disease symptoms, with no symptoms of Covid-19. The employees were "routinely tested when the ship docked in Tromsø Friday morning," according to the company statement.

All 160 crew members onboard the cruise vessel have been quarantined and will be tested for coronavirus, and 177 passengers will be contacted with further information from health authorities, according to Hurtigruten.

The ship's scheduled trip to Svalbard, Norway, on Friday afternoon was canceled, and the next voyage with the MS Roald Amundsen is not planned until September, the statement said.

Norway has had 9,217 confirmed coronavirus cases, including 255 deaths, according to the latest data from Johns Hopkins University.

4:00 p.m. ET, July 31, 2020

Another Brazilian minister tests positive for coronavirus 

From Rodrigo Pedroso in São Paulo

Wagner Rosario, Brazilian minister of the Office of the Comptroller General, speaks during a seminar on combating corruption conducted at the District Public Ministry Federal and Territories in Brasilia, Brazil, on November 12, 2018.
Wagner Rosario, Brazilian minister of the Office of the Comptroller General, speaks during a seminar on combating corruption conducted at the District Public Ministry Federal and Territories in Brasilia, Brazil, on November 12, 2018. Mateus Bonomi/AGIF/Sipa USA via AP Images

Brazilian minister Wagner Rosario tested positive for Covid-19, his office announced Friday. 

Rosario, who heads the Office of the Comptroller General, is the sixth minister in President Jair Bolsonaro's government to test positive for the virus. On Thursday, Brazil's science and technology minister Marcos Pontes announced on Twitter that he also tested positive for coronavirus.

Rosario will remain in isolation and perform his duty remotely until he is recovered, according to his office.