McConnell continues to blame Democrats over stalled stimulus negotiations
From CNN's Alex Rogers
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell squarely blamed the Democrats for the stalled negotiations over another stimulus bill, saying that “struggling people” have “gotten nothing” due to their “absurd” demands and “hostage” tactics.
“Struggling people have waited, and waited, and gotten nothing,” McConnell said on the Senate floor on Tuesday. “That has been the Democrats’ decision. Reporters can call it ‘hardball’ like this was some ordinary standstill. But families are suffering. Americans are dying. This is not a Washington game. It's a national crisis.”
“It would serve the nation better if the Democratic leaders would act like it’s a crisis,” he added.
In particular, McConnell lambasted the Democrats’ wishes to repeal the cap for the state and local tax deduction, extend the $600 weekly boost to federal unemployment aid and provide $1 trillion for state and local governments.
11:33 a.m. ET, August 11, 2020
France maintains ban on mass gatherings until end of October
From CNN’s Benjamin Berteau and Barbara Wojazer in Paris
The French government is extending a ban on mass gatherings of 5,000 people or more until Oct. 30, Prime Minister Jean Castex said Tuesday.
Local authorities can request an exemption to the ban, Castex explained while speaking after a visit to a hospital in the city of Montpellier.
This decision comes as “the coronavirus epidemic has deteriorated over the last few days,” Castex warned.
“For the past two weeks, the epidemiological situation has been trending in the wrong direction,” he added.
Deploring a “weaker vigilance, weaker discipline and weaker solidarity” from a part of the population, the prime minister also called to extend the obligation to wear masks in outdoor public spaces.
The decision on mass gatherings reverses a previous decision announced on Aug. 4 from the Culture Ministry, which said that cultural events in France of 5,000 people or more would be able to resume from Sept. 1.
11:18 a.m. ET, August 11, 2020
New York City's key Covid-19 indicators remain below the threshold
From CNN's Elizabeth Hartfield
New York City’s coronavirus indicators continue to remain steady, Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Tuesday.
At least 61 individuals were admitted to hospitals on Monday, 297 individuals remain in intensive care united in the New York City health and hospital system, and the daily positivity rate in the city remains at 2%.
All three of those indicators are below the threshold.
Mayor de Blasio spent much of Tuesday’s news conference focused on new measures aimed at helping the cities economic recovery.
The city is launching a tenant protection portal that will help protect renters who can’t afford their monthly payments from being evicted.
Additionally, 30 of the largest employers in the New York City area are joining to create the New York jobs counsel — a group of CEO’s who have taken a pledge to join together to create 100,000 jobs for low income New Yorkers.
11:03 a.m. ET, August 11, 2020
Mexico will start phase 3 trials of vaccines from US and Chinese companies
From Karol Suarez in Mexico City
Mexico has agreements with two Chinese companies and one American company for vaccine trials, Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said during Tuesday morning’s news conference.
Mexico will be participating in trials of vaccines being developed by Janssen Pharmaceuticals (owned by Johnson & Johnson) and Chinese companies Cansino Biologics Inc and Walvax Biotechnology Co Ltd, bringing the number of vaccine trials in the country to four.
"We have agreements with three different companies, one from the US and two from China; it's called a memorandum of understanding, the goal is that the protocols for phase three will take place in Mexico. After this announcement, Mexico will participate in four protocols from September to January,"Ebrard said.
In July, Ebrard announced Mexico will participate in phase three of a Covid-19 vaccine trial from the French pharmaceutical company Sanofi-Pasteur's Mexico branch.
11:14 a.m. ET, August 11, 2020
What we know so far about Russia's vaccine
Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the approval of a coronavirus vaccine, claiming it as a "world first" — but there is continued concern and unanswered questions over its safety and effectiveness.
If you're just reading in, here's what you need to know about the vaccine:
No phase three trial or data: Developed by the Moscow-based Gamaleya Institute, the vaccine has been named Sputnik-V. It has yet to go through crucial phase three trials, where it would be administered to thousands of people. Russia has released no scientific data on its testing and CNN is unable to verify the vaccine's claimed safety or effectiveness.
Putin says one of his daughters has taken it: He said she had a slightly higher temperature after each dose, but that: "Now she feels well."
Some US experts say they wouldn't take it: CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta said "of course" he wouldn't take the vaccine, adding, "I know nothing about this vaccine." And Dr. Scott Gottlieb, former commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration, said “I wouldn’t take it, certainly not outside of a clinical trial right now."
Where other vaccines stand: There are 25 other vaccines in the clinical evaluation stage of development and a further 139 candidate vaccines in the preclinical evaluation stage according to the World Health Organization. Closely watched vaccines in development include one from the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca and another from the biotechnology company Moderna and the US National Institute of Health. Both have showed promising results and are currently undergoing phase three testing.
Watch Putin's announcement:
2:12 p.m. ET, August 11, 2020
Celebrity chef says politicians need to act now to save restaurants
From CNN's Adrienne Vogt
Award-winning chef and restaurateur Marcus Samuelsson, head chef of Red Rooster in Harlem, said that Congress needs to pass a $120 billion grant to keep restaurants in business during the coronavirus pandemic.
Despite bipartisan support, the Restaurants Act has not been taken up by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
“Are we going to not have those favorite restaurants in our neighborhoods? Those are like the heart and soul of the neighborhoods, and really we need Congress to pass this $120 million bill,” Samuelsson said on CNN’s “New Day.”
The chef commended volunteers and community members for banding together to help restaurants, but he said that now it is time for political leaders and President Trump to act.
“I don't care if he signs the bill from the golf club, but we just need the bill to be signed,” he said. “Congress talk[s] about recess. We don't have vacations. This is the most crucial point in our history in terms of restaurants. And about 11 million people are going to be unemployed."
As the pandemic has affected Americans’ jobs and the ability to feed their families, Samuelsson partnered with Audible's Newark Working Kitchens to deliver more than 200,000 meals since March.
Samuelsson said it’s a model that can be implemented across the country. The meal delivery service works with the New Jersey city's government, restaurants and donors to get food out to residents and first responders, hire back workers and order food from farmers, he said.
9:28 a.m. ET, August 11, 2020
Community spread driving big spike in new Covid-19 cases in US nursing homes, health group says
From CNN Health’s Andrea Kane
The American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) published a report Tuesday showing that confirmed Covid-19 cases in US nursing homes are rising rapidly again after a steady decline in June, due to a jump in cases in the general population.
“As we feared and have been warning government leaders over the past couple months, the spike in COVID cases in the general population across the U.S. has led to increased cases in nursing homes,” Mark Parkinson, president and CEO of the AHCA/NCAL, told CNN via email.
The report's findings: The report used data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), which in conjunction with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention compiles weekly statistics from nursing homes.
Those numbers show that Covid-19 cases in nursing homes rose to 8,628 for the week of July 19, from a low of 5,468 for the week of June 21, just a month earlier. (July 19 is the last week for which complete information is available.)
The report shows deaths are also trending up but, as of the week of July 19, not at the same rate.
Reasons for the spike: The AHCA/NCAL report attributed community spread to the rapid uptick in cases, pointing to the soaring number of infections among the general population in many states in late June and July.
Lack of rapid testing and an inadequate supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) is compounding the problem.
“As the CMS data shows, the increase in new cases in nursing homes is being driven by the spike in cases in the surrounding communities and exacerbated by shortages in PPE and the significant delay [up to five days or longer] in obtaining test results for nursing home staff and residents,” Parkinson said.
Call to action: The organization, which represents more than 14,000 nursing homes and assisted living communities that care for approximately 5 million people, is asking federal and state public health officials to take immediate steps to protect those communities – especially in areas with significant rise in new Covid cases.
“Without adequate funding and resources, the U.S. will end up repeating the same mistakes from several months ago. We need public health officials to focus on reducing spread within the larger community and prioritizing long term care for resources, like PPE, testing, staff support and funding, so we can prevent the virus from coming in to nursing homes and help staff take targeted action if it does. With the proper resources, long term care facilities can better identify who has the virus and make tactical decisions to protect residents and staff,” Parkinson said.
He also urged Congress for an additional $100 billion for the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Provider Relief Fund, and that a sizeable portion of the fund be dedicated to helping nursing homes and assisted living communities acquire resources associated with protecting vulnerable residents and staff from the virus, including constant testing, PPE and staff support.
“While we are making progress, we need Congress to prioritize our vulnerable seniors and their caregivers in nursing homes and assisted living communities in this upcoming legislation,” Parkinson said.
9:31 a.m. ET, August 11, 2020
Taiwan has used effective but strong measures to combat Covid-19, US health official says
From CNN Health’s Naomi Thomas
US Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar spoke about what Taiwan, the country he is currently visiting, has done in order to control the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Taiwan has taken very effective measures, but they’re very strong measures,” Azar said on ABC’s Good Morning America on Tuesday.
Every person who comes into Taiwan is subject to a mandatory quarantine period, where individual compliance is checked and inspected by the police, Azar said. Taiwan has also used social media and mandatory cell phone GPS tracking to identify contacts.
More than 200,000 individuals have been placed in mandatory police-enforced quarantine in Taiwan, Azar said.
“There obviously are contexts here that fit cultural, social and legal norms that may or may not be applicable in the United States,” he said, “but the important thing is that Taiwan has approached this in a transparent, open collaborative way in the international system.”
They should be highlighted for what they have done for global public health, Azar said, before comparing the country to China.
“Across the straits of Taiwan, China, the People’s Republic of China, has not been transparent, have not been collaborative, and have been at the center of creating this global Covid-19 crisis,” he said.
9:04 a.m. ET, August 11, 2020
US health secretary: "The point is to have a vaccine that is safe," not be first
“The point is not to be first with the vaccine,” Azar said on ABC’s “Good Morning America” today. “The point is to have a vaccine that is safe and effective for the American people and the people of the world.”
Azar said that transparent data is needed, and that this data has to be from phase three trials that shows that a vaccine is safe and effective.
“That’s what President Trump is leading with the historic Operation Warp Speed initiative, with six vaccines in development,” Azar said.
He said they believe they are on track to having tens of millions of doses of FDA gold-standard vaccine by December, and hundreds of millions of doses going into 2021.
When asked how he stands by the timeline of December, Azar said that two of the six vaccines are in phase three clinical trials to prove safety and efficacy, and it will depend on the speed at which the clinical trials enroll, people are vaccinated and then exposed to the virus.
“So, we believe, Dr. Fauci believes, that it is very credible that we will have – we have multiple that will be delivering results, and we could have FDA-authorized or approved vaccines by December,” Azar said.