The latest on the coronavirus pandemic

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6:49 p.m. ET, July 31, 2020

Major League Baseball commissioner warns of Covid-19 shutdown

From CNN's David Close

Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred
Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred Alex Trautwig/MLB Photos/Getty Images/FILE

ESPN is reporting that Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred warned players union head Tony Clark on a Friday call that if the league and players don’t do a better job following Covid-19 protocols and better manage the virus, Manfred could shut down the shortened season.

On Friday, both the MLB and MLB Players Association announced that 29 players and staff have tested positive for Covid-19 this week. 

CNN has reached out to the league for comment but has not heard back. A union spokesperson told CNN no comment.

6:49 p.m. ET, July 31, 2020

Frontline workers wearing protective equipment still at risk of Covid-19 infection, new study finds

From CNN's Shelby Lin Erdman

EMTs cleanse their materials outside Memorial West Hospital where coronavirus disease (COVID-19) patients are treated, in Pembroke Pines, Florida, on July 13.
EMTs cleanse their materials outside Memorial West Hospital where coronavirus disease (COVID-19) patients are treated, in Pembroke Pines, Florida, on July 13. Maria Alejandra Cardona/Reuters/FILE


Wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) when caring for patients with Covid-19 isn’t enough to completely eliminate the threat from the virus for frontline workers, according to a new study from King’s College London.

Health care workers with adequate gloves, gowns and face masks, still had 3.4 times the risk of contracting the coronavirus compared to the general population, the study found, and minority health care workers had an even greater risk of testing positive.

African American, Latinx and other minority care providers were 5 times more likely to contract Covid-19 than their White counterparts, the study found.

“A little over 20 percent of front-line health-care workers reported at least one symptom associated with SARS-CoV-2 infection compared with 14.4 percent of the general population; fatigue, loss of smell or taste, and hoarse voice were especially frequent,” the researchers wrote. 

The researchers used the COVID Symptom Tracker app to study the data of more than 2 million people, including almost 100,000 frontline health care workers in the United States and the United Kingdom between March 24 and April 23. 

They found more than 2,700 cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 health care workers compared with just over 240 cases per 100,000 among the general population. 

“The data is clear in revealing that there is still an elevated risk of SARS-Co-V-2 infection despite availability of PPE,” said King’s College London professor and senior study author Sebastien Ourselin.

Not only did researchers find that minority health care workers had an increased risk of Covid-19 infection, they also found that they were more likely to report a lack of adequate PPE and to say they were forced to frequently reuse equipment, Ourselin said.

Previous studies have found that 10-20% of coronavirus infections occur among frontline workers.

“Our study provides a more precise assessment of the magnitude of increased infection risk among healthcare workers compared to the general community,” said Dr. Andrew Chang, a senior study author and director of cancer epidemiology at Massachusetts General Hospital.

At the time the study was conducted, health care providers in the US and the UK were experiencing severe shortages in gloves, gowns and face masks. The authors said the results of a similar study now might be different.

“Many countries, including the US, continue to face vexing shortages of PPE,” Chang said. “Our results underscore the importance of providing adequate access to PPE and also suggest that systemic racism associated with inequalities to access to PPE likely contribute to the disproportionate risk of infection among minority frontline healthcare workers.”

The research suggests health care systems should ensure adequate availability of PPE and develop additional strategies to protect health-care workers from COVID-19, particularly those from Black, Asian, and minority ethnic backgrounds. 

The study was published Friday in the journal Lancet Public Health.

6:18 p.m. ET, July 31, 2020

CDC study shows what to expect when school opens, infectious disease expert says

From CNN's Maggie Fox

Elijah Nouvelage/Bloomberg/Getty Images/FILE
Elijah Nouvelage/Bloomberg/Getty Images/FILE

A study that showed more than 40% of kids at a Georgia summer camp caught coronavirus is a taste of things to come when schools reopen, an infectious disease specialist said Friday. 

The report, published by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention earlier Friday, found that at least 44% of campers and counselors at the overnight camp became infected with the virus.

“As we start thinking about going back to school … we are going to see this happen over and over again,” Dr. Michael Saag, an HIV/AIDS specialist and professor of medicine at the University of Alabama Birmingham, told CNN. “It should just be something we can expect.”

Saag said schools will need to take precautions to keep students, staff and their families safe from infection. That means keeping students and staff masked at all times in school, keeping students distanced from one another in classrooms, and improving ventilation inside schools.

“Business as usual isn’t going to work,” Saag said.

Asked if schools should invest in air cleaners or purifiers, Saag said they are unlikely to be worth the expense.

“I think what is more important is the immediate environment around each student,” he said.

Air purifiers are too far away to help with any virus being passed between students.

“If we keep distance between them, and if everyone is wearing a mask, that is our best chance to mitigate,” Saag said.


6:04 p.m. ET, July 31, 2020

Brazil records more than 50,000 new coronavirus cases for third consecutive day

From Fernanda Wenzel in Porto Alegre

Brazil reported 52,383 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours, bringing the country's total to 2,662,485, its health ministry announced Friday.

This is the third consecutive day Brazil reported more than 50,000 new Covid-19 cases.

In addition, the ministry announced 1,212 new fatalities related to the virus, raising the total death toll to 92,475.

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.