August 7 coronavirus news

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2:22 p.m. ET, August 7, 2020

Covid-19 vaccine before the election is "highly unlikely," senior administration official says

From Jim Acosta

French engineer-virologist Thomas Mollet looks at 24 well plates adherent cells monolayer infected with the Sars-CoV-2 virus at the Valneva SE Group headquarters in Saint-Herblain, France, on July 30.
French engineer-virologist Thomas Mollet looks at 24 well plates adherent cells monolayer infected with the Sars-CoV-2 virus at the Valneva SE Group headquarters in Saint-Herblain, France, on July 30. Jean-Francois Monier/AFP/Getty Images

It is "highly unlikely" a Covid-19 vaccine would be ready by election day, a senior administration official close to the coronavirus task force told CNN. 

"Metaphysically possible. But highly unlikely," the official said. 

The official added there is reason to be hopeful for a vaccine in the coming months as progress continues to be made. 

"There will be lots to talk about, for sure," the official continued. "The trials are going very well."

A vaccine could come in early 2021, around inauguration day in January, said the official who also described that timeline as "optimistic."

More about vaccine timing: Last week, Dr. Anthony Fauci said he is cautiously optimistic that human trials of a coronavirus vaccine being developed by Moderna might show whether it’s both safe and effective by late fall or early winter.

Fauci — who as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases helps lead federal vaccine development efforts — has repeatedly said he hoped the vaccine could start to be available by early next year, and then widely available in the spring and summer of next year if things go well.

President Trump on Thursday suggested a vaccine could be available by Election Day, saying he is “optimistic that it’ll be probably around that date.”

2:24 p.m. ET, August 7, 2020

Fauci says he'll repeat the importance of public health principles "until I'm exhausted"

From CNN's Amanda Watts

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, said he will continue to repeat himself “until I’m exhausted” on the importance of public health principles for fighting Covid-19.

Speaking during a webinar with the Brown School of Public Health, Fauci said there are five or six things every American can do to help bring Covid-19 case numbers down, which he calls the “fundamental principles.”

“Universal wearing of a mask, physical distancing, avoid crowds, outdoor better than indoor, washing your hands and hand hygiene – and if you're in a situation where it applies to you, stay away from bars,” he said. “I’m just going to repeat it again until I'm exhausted. Those things work."

Fauci said the message needs to be strong: The fundamental principles he outlines are not in conflict with opening up the country. 

“If we can somehow get the country unified to do that together, I don't think we need to go into the fall and the winter thinking we're going to have a catastrophe. We could go into the fall and the winter, coming out of it looking good, if we do certain things," Fauci said. 

2:35 p.m. ET, August 7, 2020

Massachusetts governor tightens restrictions indefinitely after "slight uptick" in Covid-19 cases

From CNN's Melissa Alonso

Governor Charlie Baker speaks during a state update on the coronavirus pandemic in Boston on July 24.
Governor Charlie Baker speaks during a state update on the coronavirus pandemic in Boston on July 24. David L. Ryan/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker indefinitely postponed the state's reopening plan and decreased the limits on gatherings after a "slight uptick in positive cases," he said Friday.

He also authorized state and local police to enforce shutdown orders. 

"Due to that slight uptick in positive cases, we are indefinitely postponing step two of phase three in our reopening process," Baker said.  

Baker said contact tracers have documented several pool parties, house parties and holiday celebrations with people not adhering to state guidance. "We cannot move forward at this time, or anytime soon in the near future," he said.

Additionally, Baker will sign an executive order that will reduce the limit on outdoor gatherings from 100 to 50 people starting Tuesday, he said. 

The governor updated state restaurant guidance "to make absolutely clear that alcoholic beverages may only be served for on-site consumption if accompanied by food prepared on site," Baker said.  

"Bars masquerading as restaurants also need to be closed," he said.

To execute the orders, a covert enforcement and intervention team has been created to ramp up enforcement in key communities, Baker said.  

The state added 162 positive cases Friday and the seven-day positivity average saw a 0.4% increase, it currently stands at 2.1%, state health officials said. 

More details: Baker said the Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission (ABCC) and local government officials are cracking down on bars serving chips in an attempt to comply with food service requirements. 

"One of the things that's come up a number of times, is that pretzels and potato chips meets the food service requirement. It clearly doesn't," Baker said. 

"What we tried to do with the amendment of the order is make absolutely clear. You need to be serving food that's prepared on site and the people who are in your venue need to order and eat food if they're gonna order a drink," Baker said. "That is clearly not consistent with the spirit or the intent of what we put in place when we authorized outdoor dining and indoor dinning."

1:13 p.m. ET, August 7, 2020

More than 160,000 people have died from Covid-19 in the US

There are at least 4,895,868 cases of coronavirus in the US and at least 160,255 people have died from the virus, according to Johns Hopkins University.

So far on Friday, Johns Hopkins has recorded 12,286 new cases and 151 reported deaths. 

The totals include cases from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and other US territories, as well as repatriated cases. 

1:09 p.m. ET, August 7, 2020

Fauci says he knows the situation is "highly divisive," but vows to keep Americans informed

From CNN’s Amanda Watts

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, testifies before a House Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis hearing on July 31.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, testifies before a House Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis hearing on July 31. Kevin Dietsch/Pool/Getty Images

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's leading infectious disease expert, said he “never would have ever imagined” a time in his long career that his family would be threatened because of his messaging. 

“Of all the outbreaks that I've been involved with way back from the day of HIV and Ebola, Zika, pandemic, flu, and anthrax — there's always a little bit of people that might push back on a message, but it was never with threats against you and your family, your wife, and my daughters,” Fauci said in an interview with The Washington Post’s Jacqueline Alemany.

“I mean, harassing my daughters? Wow. No, I never would have ever imagined that," he added.

Fauci said he knows the situation is “highly divisive” across the country, but he has vowed to keep the public informed.

“As long as I'm able to go out there and give the kinds of messages that I've been giving, I don't feel constrained because I give a message to the public about what they need to do," he said.

"I think that we might be able to prevent people from acquiring infection if they listened to my public health message and I could do that effectively without getting into the political divisiveness," he added.

He also feels for Dr. Deborah Birx, who is under the same scrutiny. 

“I am fully supportive of my colleague, Dr. Birx. I have been a colleague and a friend for over three decades. And that hasn't changed one bit. She's a very talented person and she's an extremely hard worker and I support her fully," Fauci said.

12:37 p.m. ET, August 7, 2020

NYC education head says officials will be watching case numbers "like hawks"

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

All school districts across New York state of New York are cleared to open, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said today.

Following the announcement, New York City Department of Education Chancellor Richard Carranza said there are different models that city schools can put into effect for in-person learning, and the city will revert to remote learning if there is an uptick in cases. 

“We are in a place where we can even consider now in-person learning, and that why we're happy that the governor given us the green light. We’ve been preparing foe every eventuality since we pivoted to remote learning in March,” Carranza said in an interview with CNN’s John King. 

New York City is the country’s largest school district, with more than one million students. 

Carranza said he’s asking parents to monitor any symptoms in their children and for employees to stay home if they feel sick. There will be temperature checks, mask requirements and cleaners sanitizing high-touch areas. No more than 9 to 12 students will be allowed in one classroom at a time. 

“What the mayor has said and I have also said is that we are going to be looking like hawks at the numbers. And if the numbers of the positivity rate starts inching upward and if it gets to 3%, we will remote-learn for the entire system,” he said. 

The school system has different models for schools to implement, including rotating students on different days, Carranza said. 

“It’s impossible to have 100% of the students in a school building at the same time on any given day and still adhere to the safety protocols and the social distancing. So we’ve put forward three to five models that we've asked our schools to kind of try on for size,” he said. 

Watch:

12:14 p.m. ET, August 7, 2020

Georgia teacher on plan to reopen schools for in-person learning: "It has been a catastrophe" 

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

Some teachers in Georgia’s Gwinnett County protested yesterday by honking their car horns over their school district’s plans to reopen.

Twelfth-grade teacher Aireane Montgomery said the plan “hit us with a shock, to be honest.” Teachers were planning for remote learning, but now students are set to be in classrooms on Aug. 26. 

“It has been a catastrophe,” she said in an interview with CNN’s Jim Sciutto. 

She said the Covid-19 plan looks different at every school, which she called “unnerving.” She would like to see schools begin the school year remotely and ease into in-person learning. 

Montgomery said she thinks state politics is playing a part in reopening the schools. 

“I absolutely believe that [the decision] is being made on politics, and I know there's no way that this could be made due to scientific research, absolutely,” she said. 

Watch:

12:05 p.m. ET, August 7, 2020

Italy records most new coronavirus cases in a single day since May

From CNN's Valentina Di Donato in Rome

Italy recorded 552 new coronavirus cases on Friday, the highest daily increase since May 28, according to the Italian Ministry of Health data.

Veneto region in northeast of the country had the most cases, with 182.

Three more fatalities were recorded on Friday, bringing the total death toll from coronavirus in Italy to at least 35,190.

The total number of coronavirus cases overall — including deaths and recoveries — now stands at 249,756.

11:58 a.m. ET, August 7, 2020

All New York school districts are authorized to open for in-person learning, governor says

From CNN's Elizabeth Hartfield

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks during the daily media briefing at the Office of the Governor of the State of New York on July 23.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks during the daily media briefing at the Office of the Governor of the State of New York on July 23. Jeenah Moon/Getty Images

All school districts across New York state are cleared to open, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced in a telephonic news conference Friday.

“Today is the deadline to look at the infection rates and make a determination — by our infection rates all school districts can open everywhere in the state,” Cuomo said. “Every region is below the threshold that we established.”

Each school district across the state was required to submit their proposed plans for reopening by this week, and the plans differ across the state, but they are all authorized to open.

There are 749 school districts in New York state that are required to submit plans to the Department of Health and the state’s Education Department, Cuomo noted. He said 127 districts still have not submitted plans.

Cuomo added that they will watch the infection rates between now and the dates schools are scheduled to open, and if the rates spike, they will revisit the plans.