August 7 coronavirus news

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11:01 p.m. ET, August 7, 2020

Covid-19 cases are stabilizing in Australian state of Victoria thanks to strict lockdowns

From CNN's Angus Watson in Sydney

A lone passenger walks along a platform at Southern Cross Station in Melbourne, Australia on August 7.
A lone passenger walks along a platform at Southern Cross Station in Melbourne, Australia on August 7. William West/AFP/Getty Images

The number of new Covid-19 patients identified each day in the Australian state of Victoria has begun to stabilize thanks to strict lockdown measures, the government said Saturday.

“Certainly we’re seeing some stabilization in numbers, we’ve got four to five hundred cases each day that has been more or less the average for the last week,” said Victoria Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton.

A total of 446 new cases and 12 deaths were recorded Friday, according to Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews. Sutton said that the government's models showed the lockdown measures prevented about 20,000 cases.

In May, Australia was held up as a global model for its handling of the outbreak, which started with early measures to bar entry from high-risk countries. Stricter curbs on social gatherings, expanded testing, restaurant and bar closures followed as cases rose, with some states sealing their borders.

But Covid-19 cases in Victoria rose suddenly in recent weeks, with many new infections in aged care homes and among healthcare workers. Authorities responded by instituting some of the most stringent movement restrictions in Australia's history.

Sutton said the government will not see the results of an even stricter lockdown for another week.

9:23 p.m. ET, August 7, 2020

Public schools in Hawaii's Oahu will move to distance learning for first 4 weeks of academic year

From CNN’s Jennifer Henderson

Public schools on the Hawaiian island of Oahu are going to employ distancing learning for the first four weeks of this academic year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Hawaii Department of Education said in a statement.

Schools will begin preparing to transition to distance learning next week and then implement "full distance learning models" on August 17.

Authorities in Hawaii have identified 3,115 cases since the pandemic began. Of those, 2,741 are in Honolulu County on Oahu.

8:48 p.m. ET, August 7, 2020

Vermont plans to allow for all school sports to move forward in some capacity

From CNN’s Rebekah Riess

Middlebury's #8 Owen Palcsik and Stowe's #10 Jackson Seivwright battle for the ball during the Div. 2 Vermont boys soccer championship at South Burlington High School in Vermont on November 2, 2019.
Middlebury's #8 Owen Palcsik and Stowe's #10 Jackson Seivwright battle for the ball during the Div. 2 Vermont boys soccer championship at South Burlington High School in Vermont on November 2, 2019. Ryan Mercer/Free Press/Burlington Free Perss/Imagn

Vermont Gov. Phil Scott today said his administration is working with the Vermont Principals Association, the Superintendent's Association of School Athletic Directors and Coaches, “with a goal that will allow for all sports to move forward in some fashion.”

“Like so many things during this crisis, fall sports won't be exactly what we’re accustomed to,” Scott said.

Scott said his plan includes cross country running, soccer, field hockey, football, cheerleading, volleyball, bass fishing, and golf, and practice will start at the same time classes start, which is now Sept. 8.

This guidance will also cover Vermont's recreational sports leagues, the governor said. 

“Kids, coaches, and parents should prepare themselves. Things will look much different, especially when it comes to high contact sports. Now again, this won't be a normal season, but our goal is to offer a path forward for each of these sports, to give our kids some sense of normalcy and normal times,” the governor added.

8:01 p.m. ET, August 7, 2020

Trump details potential executive actions if Congress doesn't reach agreement on relief package

From CNN's Maegan Vazquez 

President Donald Trump speaks at Trump National Golf Club Bedminster in Bedminster, New Jersey, on August 7.
President Donald Trump speaks at Trump National Golf Club Bedminster in Bedminster, New Jersey, on August 7. Susan Walsh/AP

President Trump on Friday laid out the executive actions he would pursue “if Democrats continue to hold” a relief package “hostage.”

The actions would include a payroll tax deferment, extending unemployment benefits, extending an eviction moratorium and deferring student loan payments and forgiving their interest.

“My administration continues to work in good faith to reach an agreement with Democrats in Congress that will extend unemployment benefits, provide protections for evictions … and get relief to American families,” Trump said during a news conference. ���Yet tragically, (House Speaker) Nancy Pelosi and (Senate Minority Leader) Chuck Schumer continue to insist on radical left-wing policies that have nothing to do with the China virus.”

“If Democrats continue to hold this critical relief hostage I will act under my authority as President to get Americans the relief they need,” he continued.

Some context: Negotiations over the next stimulus package stalled on Capitol Hill today as Democrats and Trump administration officials walked away after talks broke down and devolved into partisan finger-pointing. 

8:04 p.m. ET, August 7, 2020

All Princeton undergraduates will be fully remote for fall 2020 semester

From CNN's Dave Alsup and Bianna Golodryga

Princeton University in Princeton, New Jersey
Princeton University in Princeton, New Jersey Shutterstock

Princeton University has decided to have all undergraduate students fully remote for the fall 2020 semester, according to an update sent by Princeton President Christopher L. Eisgruber on Friday.

According to Eisgruber's letter, the decision was made due to the pandemic's impact on New Jersey which "has led us to conclude that we cannot provide a genuinely meaningful on-campus experience for our undergraduate students this fall in a manner that is respectful of public health concerns and consistent with state regulations and guidance."

Some context: Princeton had announced July 6 that it planned to welcome back first-years and juniors for the fall semester, and sophomores and seniors for the spring semester, however, that plan was always subject to change according to the public health situation.

"The health risks to the campus and surrounding populations appear greater now than they did just a month ago," Eisgruber said in the letter. "Reopening efforts in New Jersey and elsewhere have demonstrated how difficult it is to contain the disease. Where schools and universities have started to bring back students, Covid cases have rapidly followed."

According to the announcement, Princeton hopes to bring students back to campus in the spring, and said seniors in the class of 2021 will be its top priority.

7:23 p.m. ET, August 7, 2020

Americans are moving around too much, coronavirus forecaster says

From CNN’s Lauren Mascarenhas

People in many parts of the US are moving around as much as they did before the pandemic started, a top disease forecaster said Friday.

That’s not good, said Dr. Christopher Murray, director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, which issues regular forecasts about the coronavirus pandemic.

More movement predicts more spread of the virus.

“If you look at the mobility data collected from cell phones in many parts of the country, we're almost back to pre-Covid levels of mobility, so we're just not being as cautious as other people are in other countries,” Murray told CNN on Friday.

Murray said that when cases start to come down, people tend to start interacting more, resulting in the up and down phenomenon many states have experienced with Covid-19 cases. 

“When things get bad in your own community, that's when people start sort of being really worried,” Murray said. “That level of caution creeps in. That puts the brakes on transmission.”

There are other things people can do to slow the pandemic besides staying put, Murray said.

“Our view about this is that there should be a universal mask mandate in the US, that should come with some penalty if you're caught without a mask, because we know penalties actually increase mask-wearing even more than just a mandate,” Murray said. 

The latest prediction: The IHME released a model Thursday projecting nearly 300,000 deaths in the US from coronavirus by Dec. 1. 

The model calculated that if 95% of the people in the US wore masks, that number could decrease to 228,271 deaths, saving more than 66,000 lives.

7:27 p.m. ET, August 7, 2020

California releases guidance for reopening colleges and universities

From CNN's Sarah Moon

California colleges and universities reopening this fall will need to follow guidelines issued on Friday by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), which includes the use of face coverings, social distancing and intensified cleaning protocols.

While indoor lectures are currently prohibited in counties on the state’s monitoring list, courses offered in specialized indoor settings like labs and studio arts will be permitted as long as substantial physical distancing measures are in place based on the nature of work performed in the space, the guidance says. 

Here's what else the state said:

  • CDPH recommends closing nonessential shared spaces and prioritizing single room occupancy for housing, as well as limiting nonessential visitors and campus activities.
  • Grab-and-go options must be provided for meals and dining halls will need to serve individually plated meals instead of any self-serve or buffet-type stations, according to the guidance.

The newly released guidance also provides information on college sports.

“Teams must require masks for coaches, staff, media and any players not engaged in play at each match,” the guidance stated. Practice may only resume if athletes and staff get regular periodic Covid-19 testing. 

The state said competitions for high contact sports may be held without spectators only if the college can provide Covid-19 testing and results within 72 hours of a game.

“As colleges and other institutions of higher education plan to resume in-person instruction, it’s critical that campuses make modifications to reduce risk," State Epidemiologist Dr. Erica Pan said in a news release. "This guidance aims to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 among our students, families, and the communities where they study.”  

Some context: Many campuses in the state, including the University of Southern California and schools within the University of California system, have announced they will start the school year with mostly online classes.

8:11 p.m. ET, August 7, 2020

Some coronavirus cases in California have been underreported due to glitch in registry system

From CNN's Sarah Moon

A nurse seals a specimen bag containing a Covid-19 test swab at a mobile clinic on July 15 in Los Angeles, California.
A nurse seals a specimen bag containing a Covid-19 test swab at a mobile clinic on July 15 in Los Angeles, California. Mario Tama/Getty Images

A glitch in California’s disease registry system (CalREDIE) has created a backlog of 250,000 to 300,000 records causing an underreporting of some coronavirus cases, California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly said in a briefing on Friday.

While the majority of these records may be coronavirus results, Ghaly explained that it includes duplicate records, both positive and negative test results, and records for any other reportable diseases.

A server outage on July 25 created a delay in lab records going into the state’s lab reporting system, Ghaly said. While temporary technical changes were implemented to allow the records to flow into the system more quickly, these changes were not disabled later which caused a further delay in reporting lab data and creating an extensive backlog, he explained. 

The state also learned that they were not receiving data from one of its largest commercial lab for five days between July 31 through Aug. 4, “due to a certificate that the state neglected to renew timely,” Ghaly said.

According to Ghaly, Gov. Gavin Newsom has directed a full investigation into the issue.

“Throughout the pandemic, the CalREDIE data reporting system has been challenged by the volume of Covid-19 data,” Ghaly said. “Simply put, the CalREDIE system was not built for this volume of data.”

Ghaly expects to see a normalization of data in 24 to 48 hours. After working through the backlog, the state will have a better understanding of the statewide epidemiological curve and the future state of hospitalizations.

The glitch in the system did not impact any data on hospitalizations or deaths, according to Ghaly who believes the trend line has been “stabilizing and coming down.”

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

Italy extends coronavirus safety measures through September

From CNN's Sharon Braithwaite

The Italian government will extend its coronavirus safety measures until Sept. 7, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said Friday during a news conference.

The council of ministers approved a decree related to the health emergency, which will be in force from Aug. 10 through Sept. 7.

"The new decree will find the extension until 7 September of the minimum precautionary measures that are currently in force," Conte said. "We are in a situation of substantial stability with regards to the epidemiological curve, with slight signs of a resurgence of the number of infections."

"The rate of infections in Italy is among the lowest in the European Union," Conte added, recalling how bad the virus hit the country. 

Among the measures that will be extended, the obligation of wearing face masks in closed places accessible to the public, the one-meter distance rule on social distancing and the ban on gatherings.