August 7 coronavirus news

By Joshua Berlinger, Adam Renton, Zamira Rahim and Ed Upright, CNN

Updated 12:53 a.m. ET, August 8, 2020
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6:33 p.m. ET, August 7, 2020

US ranks near the bottom in assessment of global pandemic response

From CNN's Jen Christensen

The US response to Covid-19 ranks near the bottom of the list of countries assessed by Foreign Policy Magazine.

The magazine’s Covid-19 Global Response Index puts the US among the six worst-performing countries in the world, alongside Turkey, Iran, Mexico and Indonesia.

China ranked last, in part, for its failure to report reliable test data, its minimal financial response, and its failure to communicate clearly and honestly with the public. 

But, the US got the lowest score for “fact-based communication.”

Foreign Policy described the US government as “relatively weak” in this category, as “it has engaged in misinformation as much as any country in the Index.” 

Best on the list is New Zealand with a perfect score. Senegal came in second.

How the scoring works: The index assesses 36 countries for pandemic performance based on its public health and financial response, along with how well the country’s leaders communicate using facts and science. The US came in at 31.

Countries that scored higher in the index generally have a lower death and case rate and a lower number of positive test results. Countries that reacted quickly and had a targeted response tended to have better outcomes, the index showed.

The magazine singles out President Trump specifically for “amplifying misinformation and conspiracy theories about the virus.”

It highlights his remarks during the July 4 celebration in which he claimed 99% of the cases are “harmless.”  

The US also got low marks for its lack of testing and for how little it has spent on emergency healthcare, compared to other countries.

The US’s financial response to the pandemic was just above the median. That score may not tell the whole story though, according to one of the authors of the index, Fouad Pervez. Just because the US has an unemployment system, doesn’t mean families can access that money, Pervez said. 

“Versus in a European country where they have the same policy, but the mechanism, it works, and people don’t lose their jobs or benefits, they just get less salary, but they get enough salary that they can put food on the table,” Pervez said. Pervez is the senior quantitative and policy analyst on the project.

6:02 p.m. ET, August 7, 2020

Ohio State athletes write letter in support of safety protocols put out by the school

From CNN's Jabari Jackson

Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio
Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio Shutterstock

A group of athletes at Ohio State University issue a letter to fans voicing their support of the health and safety protocols set by the institution ahead of their upcoming season. 

The letter, released on social media on Friday, was in response to the #BigTenUnited statement which called for more safety assurances from the conference.

The OSU athletes' letter showed support for their fellow conference athletes and their university, including Athletics Director Gene Smith. 

“We appreciate that the #BigTenUnited letter was intended to protect and voice concerns of the Big Ten student-athletes,” said Ohio State athletes in the statement. “However, we do not think it represents the efforts and actions of Ohio State adequately.”

Big Ten student-athletes released a unity letter earlier this week calling for more details to be given surrounding safety precautions for the fall sports season. 

“We feel comfortable and trust that the decisions by Gene Smith (Athletic Director), Dr. Borchers (Head Physician), our coaches, and health and safety professionals are made in our best interest,” added the OSU athletes. 

Football captains Tuf Borland and Wyatt Davis among others posted the letter to their social media expressing their views on the matter at hand. 

“We respect that these thoughts about safety and protocols may not be shared by all student-athletes across the country, but as Ohio State Buckeyes, we stand with the decisions of our athletic department and conference,” the statement said.

Read the letter:

5:41 p.m. ET, August 7, 2020

MLB announces 13 positive Covid-19 tests in the past week

From CNN's Kevin Dotson

Mitchell Leff/Getty Images
Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Major League Baseball announced that 13 people have tested positive for Covid-19 after one week of league testing. Seven of the positive results came from players, and six came from team staffers.

Here's how that breaks down:

  • The MLB said it tested 13,043 people in the past week as part of their monitoring process. At least 13 of these 13,043 people tested positive – which is about 0.1%.
  • The MLB said it has performed 53,826 total monitoring tests. Of those, 71 came back positive, which is also about 0.1%.
  • So far, 19 different teams have had someone test positive.

6:00 p.m. ET, August 7, 2020

Ireland prime minister announces new regional lockdowns due to increasing coronavirus cases

From CNN's Sharon Braithwaite

Ireland Prime Minister Micheál Martin attends a roundtable discussion at the European Council in Brussels, Belgium, on July 21.
Ireland Prime Minister Micheál Martin attends a roundtable discussion at the European Council in Brussels, Belgium, on July 21. Johanna Geron/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

Ireland Prime Minister Micheál Martin announced Friday that the government will introduce new coronavirus restrictions in three counties – Kildare, Laois and Offaly.

"We have already postponed key parts of the reopening plan and this evening, in response to the increased spread of the disease in counties Kildare, Laois, and Offaly, and acting on the very clear advice of public health officials, the government has decided to introduce a number of limited restrictions within those three counties for a period of two weeks, from midnight tonight," Martin said Friday in a televised address.

In these three counties, "everyone should restrict their movements to within their own county except for the purposes of work and for other essential journeys," he added.

Kildare is the county west of the Irish capital of Dublin. 

Some context: Over the past two weeks, at least 289 coronavirus cases have been reported in Kildare, Laois, and Offaly.

"These represent close to half of all cases detected in Ireland during that time," the Irish Department on Health said Friday in a statement.

The department said on Twitter that as of Thursday, at least 1,772 coronavirus-related deaths and approximately 26,470 total coronavirus cases have been confirmed in the country.

5:59 p.m. ET, August 7, 2020

Here are some tips on how to manage anxiety during the pandemic

Clinical psychologist Andrea Bonior speaks with CNN on August 7.
Clinical psychologist Andrea Bonior speaks with CNN on August 7. CNN

It has been about six months since the coronavirus pandemic began, and this time of uncertainty and anxiety can take a toll on your mental health.

Andrea Bonior, a clinical psychologist, said there are a few things you can do to make sure you are staying healthy.

First, she said it is important to break the stigma and encouraged people to "think about their mental health as they would their physical health"

"You go to the dentist, you go to a specialist doctor if you have broken your leg. The same thing is when we need mental support," she told CNN on Friday. "But it's also important to take care of ourselves in those physical ways because they tie in hand in hand." 

Two things she says that can help with that: sleep and spending time outside.

"The data is there. These two things significantly can help us deal with crisis situations," Bonior said.

Next, she said you should think about controllability and predictability. When you wake up in the morning ask yourself, "What can I control today?" she said.

"Just because I don't know when this will end, doesn't mean that it won't end," Bonior said.

Connecting yourself to a sense of purpose and finding ways to connect to your personal values will also help with that anxiety, she said.

"When we can connect with a sense of purpose – what are our values here, what are we teaching our children or how are we helping our neighbors – that can help us rise above the stress and connect with that greater sense of purpose," she said.

5:55 p.m. ET, August 7, 2020

Howard University to be conducted fully online in the fall

From CNN's Adrienne Winston

Howard University in Washington, D.C.
Howard University in Washington, D.C. Shutterstock

Howard University President Dr. Wayne Frederick said in a statement on Friday that the upcoming fall semester, which is set to begin Aug. 24, will be fully online. 

“After consultation with our public health faculty experts, District of Columbia officials, University leadership, and monitoring the status of the COVID-19 pandemic locally, regionally and nationally, we have made the very difficult decision to move all undergraduate courses for the Fall 2020 semester fully online, and non-residential," the statement said.

Frederick said the decision was based on nationally rising Covid-19 cases in young people and the consideration of racial disparities.

“We have also grown more painfully aware of the disparate impact of COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations and deaths among people of color, with particular devastation on the Black community. Unfortunately, the stark realities of the current state of the pandemic, District requirement that students from hot spot states would fully quarantine for 14 days, and challenges to safely get students to campus from throughout the nation and around the world without creating additional exposure and risk, have proven overwhelming," the statement said.

Frederick said that a decision about the Spring 2021 semester will be made later this year. 

5:48 p.m. ET, August 7, 2020

There needs to be a long-term commitment to fix systemic issues in health, Fauci says

From CNN's Gisela Crespo

There has to be a long-term commitment to correct the "decades-old dilemma of the social determinants of health" that affect African Americans, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said on Friday.

Speaking with Dr. Ashish Jha during a virtual discussion hosted by the Brown School of Public Health, Fauci said the coronavirus pandemic could be a wake-up call for society to change this.

Fauci explained that Covid-19 has been a "double whammy" against communities of color.

As an example, Fauci explained said Black Americans are more likely to have jobs that are considered essential.

"Already from square one, you have a greater risk of getting infected than someone who can sit behind the computer and telework all day," he said.

"Then there's the other thing that is really the chronic and decades-old dilemma of the social determinants of health, which is why African Americans have a higher degree of diabetes, of hypertension, of obesity, of heart disease, of chronic lung disease, of kidney disease," he said. "You have to make a decades-long commitment to change that."

He said this means making sure that resources – immediate testing and results and access to health care – are concentrated in African American communities and other demographics at higher risk of infection is one of the things that can be done to address racial disparities during the pandemic.

Fauci added the health disparities in the Black population that have come to light during the pandemic are maybe a "wake-up call" for society to change them.

"Take HIV. I've devoted most of my life to that. The African American community – 13% of the population is African American, 45% of the new infections are among African Americans. That's unacceptable. We've got to do things societally that change that. Maybe it'll be a wake-up call to society to change," he said.

4:08 p.m. ET, August 7, 2020

Fauci says when percent positive starts to tick up, states need to change what they're doing

From CNN's Amanda Watts

Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, removes his Washington Nationals protective mask during a House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis hearing on July 31 in Washington.
Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, removes his Washington Nationals protective mask during a House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis hearing on July 31 in Washington. Erin Scott/Pool/Getty Images

Dr. Anthony Fauci said states should look closely at their percent positive rates to gauge how their state is doing.

Fauci told Dr. Ashish Jha and the Brown School of Public Health on Friday that Dr. Deborah Birx has been looking closely at this metric.

“She went back and started analyzing, and she found out that if you really look carefully, when you have a percent positive that clicks up even a couple of percentage points, it almost never turns around spontaneously, unless you do something different than you’re doing," Fauci said.

Fauci said, “What’s happening now was triggered two weeks ago,” so making changes right when states see the points click up is key.

“So when you see that little tick going up, that means that you were doing something not particularly good,” he added. “So what you need to do is to change what you're doing.”

4:11 p.m. ET, August 7, 2020

Arkansas to allow absentee ballots for Covid-19 concerns, governor says

From CNN’s James Froio

During a news conference on Friday, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced he is signing an executive order that will allow people with "COVID-related concerns about going to the polls in November" to qualify for absentee ballots. 

“I signed the executive order today, and at the request of the county clerks it will do one other thing, and that is that it will allow the county clerks to prepare the ballots in advance for counting them beginning on Election Day at 8:30 a.m., which is a current law," Hutchinson said.

"So currently, they have a week before that they can prepare the absentee ballots without opening up the envelope, but still getting prepared so that on Election Day it is quicker to count,” he added.

Some context: Mail-in voting and absentee ballots have become a point of controversy after President Trump, without evidence, claimed that mail-in voting is particularly susceptible to fraud, casting it as a lawless, unregulated exercise where ballots are stolen from mailboxes, voter signatures are routinely forged and even the ballots themselves are illegally printed.

Trump tweeted that "there is NO WAY (ZERO!) that Mail-In Ballots will be anything less than substantially fraudulent."

Facts First: While rare instances of voter fraud from mail-in ballots do occur, it is nowhere near a widespread problem in the US election system.

In both 2016 and 2018, approximately 25% of US voters cast mail ballots, which includes the handful of states that conduct elections entirely by mail and traditional absentee ballots.

Read the full fact check.