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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10:31 p.m. ET, August 6, 2020

Key coronavirus model projects nearly 300,000 people could die in the US by December

From CNN's Amanda Watts

A woman wearing a protective mask walks while looking at a cellphone on August 6, in New York City.
A woman wearing a protective mask walks while looking at a cellphone on August 6, in New York City. Cindy Ord/Getty Images

Researchers behind an influential model at the University of Washington are now projecting that the US death toll could reach nearly 300,000 by December 1 -- but that can be changed if consistent mask-wearing occurs.

“America’s Covid-19 death toll is expected to reach nearly 300,000 by December 1; however, consistent mask-wearing beginning today could save about 70,000 lives, according to new data from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington’s School of Medicine,” a statement said.

According to Johns Hopkins University, nearly 160,000 people have died in the United States since the pandemic began. “The US forecast totals 295,011 deaths by December,” the IHME statement said.

The model doesn’t have to come true, said IHME director Dr. Christopher Murray: “The public’s behavior had a direct correlation to the transmission of the virus and, in turn, the numbers of deaths.”

“Starting today, if 95% of the people in the US were to wear masks when leaving their homes, that total number would decrease to 228,271 deaths, a drop of 49%. And more than 66,000 lives would be saved,” the statement says.

In its previous forecast, published July 7, IHME projected there would be 230,822 US deaths from Covid-19 by November.

“Since July 15, several states have added mask mandates. IHME’s statistical analysis suggests that mandates with no penalties increase mask wearing by 8 percentage points. But mandates with penalties increase mask wearing by 15 percentage points,” the statement said.

This new model assumes that 50% of school districts will have online school in the fall. When schools make their final decisions, this will impact the forecast and IHME “will incorporate them into our future revisions of forecasts.”

9:23 p.m. ET, August 6, 2020

US State Department lifts worldwide "Do Not Travel" advisory

From CNN's Jennifer Hansler

The US State Department lifted its global level 4 travel advisory Thursday after more than four months of warning US citizens against traveling abroad.

The State Department issued the level 4 "Do Not Travel" advisory -- the highest level of travel advisory -- on March 19, urging US citizens not to travel overseas due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The State Department will return to its previous system of assigning country-specific advisories since health conditions are "improving in some countries and potentially deteriorating in others," according to a note from the department. This will "give travelers detailed and actionable information to make informed travel decisions."

“This will also provide U.S. citizens more detailed information about the current status in each country,” the statement added. “We continue to recommend U.S. citizens exercise caution when traveling abroad due to the unpredictable nature of the pandemic.” 

Despite the lifted State Department advisory, American travelers continue to face travel restrictions in countries worldwide due to rising cases of the deadly disease in the United States.

9:22 p.m. ET, August 6, 2020

Covid-19 "pushed the limits of health systems" and left "no country untouched," WHO chief says

From CNN's Naomi Thomas

Covid-19 has been “a tragic reminder to the world of the insecurity and instability disease can cause,” and has shown how critical it is to invest in health, the World Health Organization's director-general said on Thursday.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has changed our world. It has stress tested our political, economic, cultural and social infrastructure,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at the Aspen Security Forum.

“It has pushed the limits of health systems, both weak and strong, leaving no country untouched,” he said. “It has humbled us all.”

The world has learned the lesson that it needs to invest in pandemic preparedness and climate crisis the hard way, Tedros said, and that unless this happens, “we leave ourselves open to enormous harm.”

All countries have been hit hard, he said, high- and low-income alike, with the Americas remaining as one of the epicenters of the virus. 

“No single country can fight this virus alone. Its existence anywhere puts lives and livelihoods at risk everywhere,” Tedros said.

It is never too late to turn it around, though he said; using “science solutions and solidarity” together it is possible to overcome the pandemic.

The first coronavirus pandemic has shown how critical health investment is to national security, Tedros said, with universal health coverage being essential for global health security.

WHO’s highest priority is to support all countries in strengthening their health systems so that everyone can access quality services when they are needed, he said. 

“For all our differences, we are here, one human race, sharing the same planet -- and our security is interdependent,” he said. “No country will be safe until we are all safe.”

Tedros finished by urging all leaders to choose the path of cooperation, and to act now to end the virus. “It’s not just the smart choice,” he said, “It’s the right choice, and it’s the only choice we have.”