The latest on the coronavirus pandemic

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10:43 a.m. ET, July 31, 2020

Trump repeats falsehood that US has more cases because of more testing

From CNN's Betsy Klein

President Donald Trump attends a meeting at the White House on July 30.
President Donald Trump attends a meeting at the White House on July 30. Evan Vucci/AP

The President appears to be watching this morning’s coronavirus hearing with Dr. Anthony Fauci and top health experts. 

Here's what he tweeted moments ago:

Trump has repeatedly argued that more testing is leading to more cases in the US. That is comprehensively inaccurate. 

Fact's first: Trump's own officials and his Republican allies have acknowledged it's not true that a rising number of tests is the reason the number of cases has skyrocketed over the last month. One telling piece of evidence that the spike is genuine: the percentage of people testing positive, a key measure of the true spread of the virus, has also spiked. As for his assertion regarding other countries — Countries like Germany have needed to do less testing over time because they were more successful at containing their outbreaks in the first place — by employing a strategy that involved aggressive early testing.

You can read more from CNN's Fact Check team here.

9:51 a.m. ET, July 31, 2020

Vietnam records its first Covid-19 death

From CNN’s Sophie Jeong in Seoul

Vietnam confirmed its first novel coronavirus death on Friday, the state-run Vietnam News Agency (VNA) reported.

The patient, a 70-year-old man, died on Friday morning in the Hue Central Hospital, state media said. He was a resident of Hoi An town and was admitted to Da Nang Hospital after developing symptoms on July 9, according to VNA. He tested positive for the virus on July 26. 

Vietnam also confirmed 37 new coronavirus cases on Friday evening, raising Vietnam’s total number of infections to 546, according to Chinhphu, the official state-run newspaper of the Vietnamese government.

8:39 a.m. ET, July 31, 2020

How a Texas funeral home director tries to give families closure during a dangerous pandemic

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

Ron Rivera on CNN's "New Day" on July 31.
Ron Rivera on CNN's "New Day" on July 31. CNN

A funeral home in Texas is so overwhelmed with bodies that it is using a refrigerated tractor-trailer to temporarily handle the volume of victims.

McAllen, Texas, funeral home director Ron Rivera said he encourages virtual funeral viewings, but some families cannot do them, and he tries to educate them on the dangers of in-person ceremonies. 

“You get all sorts of people coming in at one time, and that's what makes these families vulnerable to having this disease spread amongst the living, not actually the dead,” he said in an interview on CNN’s “New Day.” 

Rivera said he meets with grieving families whose loved ones died in the hospital and are told they must be cremated. 

“I’m trying my best…allowing them to have visitation with their loved one so they can have some sort of closure. It's important for them to be able to see them one final time and have some closure. So yes, it's very difficult every day,” Rivera said. 

He said he is meeting today with a woman who delayed the funeral of her mother who died of coronavirus because her father wasn’t feeling well. She called Rivera yesterday to inform him that her father passed away. Her parents were married for nearly 50 years, Rivera said. 

“We’re seeing these situations…more and more,” he said. 

“It's an invisible enemy we have, is what I tell the families, and everybody we speak to, we have to assume they're infected. That's the point we're at,” he added. 

Watch:

8:41 a.m. ET, July 31, 2020

Unemployment benefits expire at midnight, and lawmakers are no closer to a stimulus deal

From CNN's Phil Mattingly

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows — center left and right, respectively — speak to reporters on July 30 in Washington, DC, after a meeting with Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows — center left and right, respectively — speak to reporters on July 30 in Washington, DC, after a meeting with Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer. Samuel Corum/Getty Images

The unemployment benefit that has kept millions afloat during the worst economic crisis in decades officially expires tonight at midnight. Weekly jobless claims continue to rise. Economic forecasters are warning of another slowdown. The coronavirus has resurged across the country. 

And the US Senate has adjourned for the weekend. 

There's no deal in sight right now: The dire economic news, the potential for significant long-term damage, the very real deadline – nothing has jarred loose the talks over the next coronavirus relief package. Lawmakers and the Trump administration, people involved in the talks say, are nowhere near a broad deal than they were at the start of the week.

What happens next: The top White House negotiators — Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows — and the top Democratic negotiators — Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer — are expected to speak by phone today and through the weekend, but at this point no in-person meetings are planned. 

8:16 a.m. ET, July 31, 2020

England is putting “brakes” on next phase of reopening, says PM Johnson

From CNN's Nada Bashir in London

People walk at a train station in London on July 23.
People walk at a train station in London on July 23. Guy Bell/Shutterstock

England will “squeeze the brake pedal” on the next phase of re-opening in a bid to slow down the rising rates of coronavirus infection, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced Friday.

“You’ll know that at every point I have said out plan to re-open society and the economy is conditional, that it relies on continued progress against the virus and we would not hesitate to put the brakes on if required. With those numbers creeping up, our assessment is that we should now squeeze that brake pedal in order to keep the virus under control,” Johnson said at a Downing Street press conference.

Certain venues that were scheduled to reopen in England on Saturday – including casinos, bowling allies, skating rinks and close-contact services – will now remain shuttered until at least August 15.

Johnson said the government is also empowering local authorities to close down premises and cancel events which are not following Covid-19 guidance, and called for "a greater police presence to ensure face coverings are being worn where this is required by law.”

The requirement to wear face coverings will be extended to indoor venues in England including museums, galleries, movie theaters and places of worship as of August 8.

Johnson also said he asked the Home Secretary to work with the police and others to ensure the rules which are already in place are properly enforced.

“Most people in this country are following the rules and doing their best to control the virus,” Johnson said, adding “we must keep our discipline and our focus and we cannot become complacent.”

8:25 a.m. ET, July 31, 2020

GlaxoSmithKline and Sanofi to partner on $2 billion coronavirus vaccine contract 

From CNN Health’s Maggie Fox

People work at a Sanofi facility in Val-de-Reuil, France, on July 10.
People work at a Sanofi facility in Val-de-Reuil, France, on July 10. Joel Saget/AFP/Getty Images

Drug giants GlaxoSmithKline and Sanofi Pasteur said Friday they had won a commitment from the US federal government to pay up to $2.1 billion to help the two companies move forward with their proposed joint coronavirus vaccine as part of Operation Warp Speed.

The companies had said in April they would work together to make a vaccine against Covid-19, using Sanofi’s flu vaccine technology and Glaxo’s adjuvant -- a compound that boosts the power of a vaccine.

Now they have a deal with the US government to produce up to 100 million doses of vaccine next year, with an option for 500 million more doses. It’s the largest funding announcement for an Operation Warp Speed vaccine so far.

“The global need for a vaccine to help prevent Covid-19 is massive, and no single vaccine or company will be able to meet the global demand alone,” Thomas Triomphe, executive vice president and global head of Sanofi Pasteur, said in a statement.

The companies said they plan to start a combined Phase 1/2 safety study in September, with an advanced Phase 3 efficacy trial to start, if all goes well, by the end of the year. 

“The portfolio of vaccines being assembled for Operation Warp Speed increases the odds that we will have at least one safe, effective vaccine as soon as the end of this year,” US Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said in a statement distributed by Glaxo.

Moncef Slaoui, chief adviser to Operation Warp Speed, told CNN’s Elizabeth Cohen on Thursday that the program was going to fund eight different coronavirus vaccines.

These include vaccines made by Moderna and Pfizer, which started advanced trials in volunteers on Monday; a vaccine from AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford that is in Phase 3 trials in the UK, Brazil, and South Africa, and which is expected to start US trials in August; and vaccines made by Johnson & Johnson and Novavax scheduled to begin Phase 3 trials in September. The Sanofi-Glaxo joint effort would be the sixth to be named as part of the program.

Pfizer and its vaccine partner BioNTech have a $1.95 billion deal with Operation Warp Speed; Novavax has a $1.6 billion deal; AstraZeneca’s contract is for $1.2 billion; Moderna’s awards total $900 million; and Johnson & Johnson subsidiary Janssen has a $450 million contract, according to HHS’s Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority website.

8:08 a.m. ET, July 31, 2020

It's just past 8 a.m. in New York and 1 p.m. in London. Here's the latest on the pandemic.

More than 17.3 million coronavirus cases have been recorded worldwide, including at least 673,800 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University (JHU).

The US is seeing a resurgence of Covid-19 infections after states began reopening their economies, with the case count now at more than 4.4 million and the death toll at 152,075, according to JHU data.

Without a national effort to adhere to preventative measures, the nation's top infectious disease doctor has said it will be impossible to predict how much longer the pandemic will last in the US.

"The thing we need to do is we need to pull out all the stops to get it down to baseline and to keep it there by doing the things that we've been talking about -- that I've been talking about -- consistently," Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Thursday during CNN's coronavirus town hall.

A person undergoes a swab test on July 23 at a makeshift Covid-19 testing lab in Hong Kong.
A person undergoes a swab test on July 23 at a makeshift Covid-19 testing lab in Hong Kong. Jerome Favre/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Here's the latest on the pandemic:

Hong Kong postpones elections: Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced that the city's Legislative Council elections slated for September 6 have been postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak in the city.

Europe suffers record GDP slump: Europe's economy shrank by 11.9% in the second quarter as the coronavirus pandemic plunged the region into a deep recession.

The quarter-on-quarter fall in EU GDP -- the worst on record -- comes as European countries took a battering. France, Italy and Spain, recorded second quarter falls of 13.8%, 12.4%, and 18.5%, respectively. Germany, Europe's biggest economy, suffered less, reporting a 10.1% hit to GDP.

German disease prevention center lists Spanish regions as “high-risk": Germany's Robert Koch Institute (RKI) has designated the Spanish regions of Aragon, Catalonia and Navarre as “high-risk areas,” according to its most recent update to its list of places believed to be hotbeds of the novel coronavirus.

Bolsonaro says he has "mold" in lungs as his wife tests positive: Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said on Thursday he felt weak and might have "mold in the lung" having spent weeks in isolation after catching Covid-19. His wife, Michelle Bolsonaro, has also tested positive for coronavirus, according to the President's press office.

England will slow re-opening: England will “squeeze the brake pedal” on the next phase of re-opening in a bid to slow down the rising rates of coronavirus infection, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Friday. New restrictions in northwest England were announced Thursday in response to an increase in cases in the area. 

Belgium records weekly rise in infections: Belgium’s weekly average of new infections rose by 62% compared to the previous week -- with 566 cases recorded this past Monday, health authorities announced Friday. Several countries has imposed travel restrictions on travelers arriving from the country.

8:12 a.m. ET, July 31, 2020

Community infections in England rising for first time since May, says UK PM

From CNN's Schams Elwazer

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks on July 31 at a media briefing in London.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks on July 31 at a media briefing in London. PA/Getty Images

The prevalence of coronavirus in the community in England “is likely to be rising for the first time since May” and daily infections have risen to 4,900, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned Friday, citing the weekly survey by the country's Office of National Statistics (ONS).

“Around one in 1,500 now have the virus compared to one in 1,800 on the 15th of July and 1 in 2000 on the 2nd of July. The ONS also estimate there are now 4,900 new infections every day up from around 3,000 a day on the 14th of July and 2,000 a day at the end of June,” Johnson said at a press conference at Downing Street.

“As we see these rises around the world we can’t fool ourselves that we are exempt. We must be willing to react to the first signs of trouble,” Johnson said, a day after his government imposed new coronavirus restrictions on several areas in northwest England.

“We just can’t afford to ignore this evidence. It is vital to stress of course that we are in a far better position to keep the virus under control now than we were at the start of the pandemic because we know so much more about the virus, we have so many more tools at our disposal to deal with it,” Johnson said. 

At more than 46,000 deaths, the UK has the third highest death toll in the world behind the US and Brazil, according to Johns Hopkins University figures.

7:49 a.m. ET, July 31, 2020

"I was one of the lucky ones": Bryan Cranston says he had Covid-19 and shares plasma donation video

From CNN's Lianne Kolirin

Bryan Cranston attends a fundraiser in Los Angeles in August 2019.
Bryan Cranston attends a fundraiser in Los Angeles in August 2019. Michael Tullberg/Getty Images

"Breaking Bad" star Bryan Cranston has appealed to his fans to "keep wearing the damn mask," after revealing that he contracted Covid-19.

The actor, famed for playing chemistry teacher turned crystal meth drug lord Walter White, took to Instagram to share the news that he had been "one of the lucky ones" to survive the virus.

"Hi. About now you're probably feeling a little tied down, restricting your mobility and like me, you're tired of this!!" he wrote. "Well, I just want to encourage you to have a little more patience. I was pretty strict in adhering to the protocols and still... I contracted the virus. Yep. it sounds daunting now that over 150,000 Americans are dead because of it. I was one of the lucky ones.

"Mild symptoms. I count my blessings and urge you to keep wearing the damn mask, keep washing your hands, and stay socially distant. We can prevail - but ONLY if we follow the rules together. Be well - Stay well. BC"

Cranston also shared a video of himself at the UCLA Donation Center, where he had gone to donate plasma. Scientists say people who test positive for the virus may have antibodies in their plasma that could help other coronavirus patients.

The center's website states: "You may have antibodies in your plasma that attack the virus. Your donated plasma could be used for compassionate treatment or as part of a scientific trial to determine definitively if this treatment works. It can also be used to support research efforts such as making tests to check immunity to the virus."

Read the full story here.