August 9 coronavirus news

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9:28 a.m. ET, August 9, 2020

Trump's executive action on student loans has highest likelihood of fulfilling administration's aim

From CNN's Katherine Lobosco

President Donald Trump signs executive orders during a news conference in Bedminster, New Jersey, on August 8.
President Donald Trump signs executive orders during a news conference in Bedminster, New Jersey, on August 8. Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump’s directive regarding student loans seems to be the one executive action of the four he took Saturday which will deliver the results the administration hopes.

This is the only area of the four, the others being mortgage relief, unemployment aid and a payroll tax holiday, most under control of the Trump Administration and which doesn't need Congressional funding action, state governments or the private sector to fully implement.

The memorandum on student aid Trump signed Saturday directs the Education Department to extend the student loan relief granted in the CARES Act until the end of the year.

Some context: Currently, payments are paused and interest is suspended on federally held student loans until September 30.

Democrats have pushed for extending the relief for another year and making private student loans eligible.

In March, Trump waived student loan interest by executive order and the administration said borrowers could request a deferment on their payments. Congress later codified that policy into law and took it a step further by automatically suspending monthly payments.

9:40 a.m. ET, August 9, 2020

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow defends Trump's executive actions

From CNN's Kevin Bohn

CNN
CNN

Top White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow told CNN that the administration expects states to be able to cover the portion of enhanced unemployment benefits that President Trump ordered through executive action on Saturday. 

If states don’t agree to participate and meet the financial requirement of paying 25% of the $400 amount, then the unemployed in those states will not receive any of the extra assistance.

Kudlow also acknowledged that some people may not receive the full enhanced benefit depending on where they live, he argued most people would get $400 per week on top of normal unemployment insurance.

“We’re talking about averages here,” Kudlow told CNN’s Dana Bash.

“Our estimates from the Treasury Department in terms of the CARES Act one was that states have not spent all the money that was allocated to them,” Kudlow said, referring to the sweeping stimulus package Congress passed in March.

More details: Kudlow said the White House expects states to use what he described as that “considerable overflow” of previous stimulus funding to pay for the unemployment benefit.

Trump’s order requires states to provide $100 of the $400 enhanced benefit, with the federal government providing the remaining $300. Some experts have said states will not be able to use those funds for this unemployment aid since it is a new program not authorized by Congress.

“We will be repurposing funds from other areas” to pay for the federal portion of the benefit, Kudlow said. “Based on our estimates, the states will be able to provide the extra $100."

Kudlow defended the President’s order establishing what the White House had described as an eviction moratorium, but which does not actually provide one.

“We’re setting up a process, a mechanism,” Kudlow said of the order.

He said the executive action establishes a process that will allow the Department of Health and Human Services to flag areas of concerning Covid-19 spread, and within those areas the moratorium could apply more broadly.

“If HHS declares emergencies, then evictions will be stopped,” he said. Kudlow noted people living in federally-financed single family homes will continue to be protected.

9:02 a.m. ET, August 9, 2020

Chief economic advisor Larry Kudlow and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to appear on CNN

President Trump on Saturday signed executive actions that would provide $400 a week in federal enhanced unemployment benefits after lawmakers and the White House were unable to reach an agreement on a coronavirus stimulus relief bill this week.

Trump's chief economic advisor Larry Kudlow and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will appear on CNN at 9 a.m. ET to discuss these developments. Watch the interviews live at the top of this story.

7:47 a.m. ET, August 9, 2020

Just five US states have more than 40% of the country's nearly 5 million virus cases

From CNN's Christina Maxouris

Health care workers at a coronavirus testing site in Miami Beach, Florida on June 24, 2020.
Health care workers at a coronavirus testing site in Miami Beach, Florida on June 24, 2020. CHANDAN KHANNA / AFP

The US is nearing five million cases of coronavirus since the start of the pandemic -- and as experts have highlighted in the past, the true number of infections could be many times higher.

The number means the country holds about a fourth of global cases of the virus and also tops the list with the most reported deaths in the world. More than 162,000 Americans have died.

The pandemic shows no sign of slowing and health officials from coast to coast have urged the use of face masks in public places and pleaded with residents to avoid all kinds of social gatherings until the spread of the virus is under control.

As of this week, five states together hold more than 40% of all US infections: California (with the most cases in the country), Florida, Texas, New York and Georgia.

Read the full story here.

6:48 a.m. ET, August 9, 2020

Some of Europe's biggest countries are seeing Covid surges -- but not this one

From CNN's Barbie Latza Nadeau and Livia Borghese

A horrifying moment in the Covid-19 pandemic hit Italy on March 27, 2020, when the civil protection authorities announced that 969 people had died in just 24 hours. In the weeks before that, images of coffins stacked up in church parlors and being driven down the streets of the northern Italian town of Bergamo in a caravan of military trucks poured into the homes of Italians, by then locked down for nearly three weeks.

Now, just four months later, life in Italy, the country US Vice President Mike Pence once said "no one wanted to be like," is nearly back to normal, despite occasional spikes in cases that have been attributed to migrants arriving in the country or living in close quarters.

The death toll has leveled off at just over 35,000, with the number of new reported deaths now less than a dozen most days. The total number of cases now at 250,103 with daily increments in the low hundreds at most.

Nightclubs and schools aren't yet reopened, face masks are mandatory and social distancing is enforced, but summer is in full swing in this country. People are going out for dinner at restaurants, enjoying the summer tradition of an aperitivo on an open square, going on vacation and generally moving forward. It's nothing short of a miracle, especially compared to nations like Brazil and the United States, where the pandemic is still very much out of control.

Read the full story:

6:11 a.m. ET, August 9, 2020

At least nine killed in fire at makeshift Covid-19 hospital in India

From Rishabh Pratap in Delhi

At least nine people died in a blaze at a hotel being used to treat Covid-19 patients in Vijayawada, a city in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, on Sunday.

According to Vijayawada city police commissioner B Srinivasulu, the fire first broke out on the ground floor of the makeshift hospital, near the reception area and rapidly spread to the first floor.

The incident took place in the Swarna Palace hotel, which has been converted into a temporary Covid-19 facility by a private hospital, added Srinivasulu.

There were 30 coronavirus patients and 12 medical staff in the facility at the time of the incident, he confirmed.

An initial investigation suggests that the fire occurred due to a short circuit at the reception, but a detailed report is still awaited, Srinivasulu said.

The state of Andhra Pradesh has a total of 217,040 Covid-19 cases including 1,939 deaths, according to data released by India’s health ministry on Sunday morning.

5:29 a.m. ET, August 9, 2020

UK Prime Minister says keeping schools shut is “morally indefensible” 

From CNN's Laura Smith-Spark and Sebastian Shukla

UK Prime Minster Boris Johnson made the comments in the in Mail on Sunday newspaper.
UK Prime Minster Boris Johnson made the comments in the in Mail on Sunday newspaper.  Charlotte Graham - WPA Pool/Getty

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said that keeping schools closed across the country is “socially intolerable, economically unsustainable and morally indefensible.”

He added there is a "moral duty" to reopen schools next month for all students despite the continued threat from the coronavirus.

Writing for the Mail on Sunday newspaper, Johnson said it was "crucial" for children's welfare, health and future that they return to the classroom full time. "We can do it -- and we will do it. Social justice demands it."

Most UK schoolchildren have been at home since the government imposed coronavirus lockdown measures in March.

“This pandemic isn’t over, and the last thing any of us can afford to do is become complacent,” Johnson wrote. “But now that we know enough to reopen schools to all pupils safely, we have a moral duty to do so.”

Johnson said time spent out of the classroom could lead to lower educational attainment and have a lasting impact on children's future life chances.

"Most painfully of all, the costs of school closure have fallen disproportionately on the most disadvantaged, the very children who need school the most," he wrote.

"Keeping our schools closed a moment longer than absolutely necessary is socially intolerable, economically unsustainable and morally indefensible."

Teachers' unions have voiced concerns over the safety of staff and students when schools reopen.

4:40 a.m. ET, August 9, 2020

Indian politician tests positive for Covid-19 after endorsing spiced snack he claimed could fight virus

From Rishabh Pratap in Delhi

India’s junior minister for Parliamentary Affairs and Heavy Industries, Arjun Ram Meghwal, has tested positive for coronavirus just weeks after promoting a brand of spiced snack called “Bahabhi Ji” papad, which he claimed could ward off the deadly virus.

A video of Meghwal went viral on social media last month where he can be seen holding a packet of the papad product -- a thin, crispy, round flatbread -- made with ingredients such as turmeric, black pepper, cumin and salt.

In the video, he claimed it helped as an immunity booster against coronavirus.

"A manufacturer has brought out a brand with the name of Bahabhi Ji papad through which the means needed to develop anti-bodies to fight coronavirus will go in the body through food and will be helpful in the fight against coronavirus,” the minister said in the viral video.

Meghwal's unscientific and bizarre claims were ridiculed by many on Indian social media, with one post jokingly saying, “I have started eating Bahabhi Ji papad, now I don’t need a vaccine."  

On Saturday Meghwal tweeted: "After developing symptoms of COVID-19 I had undergone testing and was found positive in the second report. On the advice of doctors, I got admitted to AIIMS (Hospital) and I request all those who came in contact with me to take care of their health."

As of Sunday morning, India has a total of 2,153,010 coronavirus cases including 43,379 deaths, according to the country's health ministry. 

3:14 a.m. ET, August 9, 2020

More than 56,000 new coronavirus cases reported in the US in 24 hours

A sample is collected at a Covid-19 testing site at Minute Maid Park in Houston, on August, 8.
A sample is collected at a Covid-19 testing site at Minute Maid Park in Houston, on August, 8. David J. Phillip

There were 56,174 new coronavirus cases in the United States in the past 24 hours, According to the Johns Hopkins University tracker.

The US now has at least 4,997,929 confirmed cases of coronavirus, the highest in the world.

There have also been 1,076 new deaths in the past 24 hours, according to Johns Hopkins, bringing the total US death toll to at least 162,423 people.

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

For updates on the US numbers, follow CNN’s map which refreshes every 15 mins: