August 11 coronavirus news

By Joshua Berlinger, Adam Renton, Melissa Macaya, Meg Wagner and Mike Hayes, CNN

Updated 12:02 a.m. ET, August 12, 2020
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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. 

Watch more:

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

Austin-Travis County medics prepare to enter a nursing home on August 5 in Austin, Texas.
Austin-Travis County medics prepare to enter a nursing home on August 5 in Austin, Texas. John Moore/Getty Images

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 speaks at the public health college of the National Taiwan University in Taipei, Taiwan, on August 11.
US Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar speaks at the public health college of the National Taiwan University in Taipei, Taiwan, on August 11. Pei Chen/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

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

From CNN's Naomi Thomas

US Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar reacted to the announcement from Russia that it has approved a “world first” Covid-19 vaccine.

“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.

9:14 a.m. ET, August 11, 2020

Dr. Sanjay Gupta: "Of course I wouldn't take" Russian vaccine

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta speaks on “New Day” on Tuesday, August 11.
CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta speaks on “New Day” on Tuesday, August 11. CNN

Russian President Vladimir Putin says Russia has approved a “world-first” Covid-19 vaccine, but experts are skeptical about safety and effectiveness.

“We have no data on this,” CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta said on “New Day.”

Gupta said he would not feel comfortable taking the vaccine, dubbed Sputnik-V, because of the lack of information about it. 

Gupta said it reminds him of when Russia said it was developing an Ebola vaccine, yet he never saw any phase three data at that time. 

“This is starting to sound very familiar to previous sort of vaccine campaigns out of Russia," he said. "… Of course I wouldn't take this. I know nothing about this vaccine.”  

Watch Dr Gupta's full assessment:

8:44 a.m. ET, August 11, 2020

Russia "certainly not ahead of us" when it comes to vaccines, former FDA head says

From CNN Health’s Naomi Thomas)

Dr. Scott Gottlieb, former commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration, said on CNBC Tuesday that Russia is not ahead of the US when it comes to vaccine development.

“I think in terms of their development right now, they’re a little bit behind where we are with the vaccines that we have,” Gottlieb said.

US vaccines are now in phase three trials, having cleared phase one and phase two studies, being tested on hundreds, or in some cases a couple of hundred patients, which is about where Russia is right now, according to Gottlieb.

The amount of people who the Russian vaccine has been tested in means that it has cleared the equivalent of a phase one trial, but still needs to be evaluated in a large-scale clinical trial, Gottlieb said.

He said it was unclear to him what it meant for Russia to start giving some kind of preliminary approval to start vaccinating people outside of a clinical trial. Gottlieb added they might be trying to do a registry, where volunteers who take the vaccine outside of a trial who are then followed, but it’s not really cleared for general use in the market.

“There might be a little bit of semantics going on in terms of how they’re treating this from a regulatory standpoint,” Gottlieb said. “So, they’re claiming that it’s fully approved, but it’s not really fully approved.”

However, they are not ahead of the US, he said.

“They’re certainly not ahead of us, and we certainly wouldn’t allow a vaccine to be used for mass distribution at this point based on the data that we have in hand. We just don’t know that the vaccines are safe and effective at this point,” Gottlieb said.

8:39 a.m. ET, August 11, 2020

Florida’s Covid-19 cases in children have increased 137% in past month

From CNN's Rosa Flores and Sara Weisfeldt 

There has been a 137% increase in the number of Covid-19 cases in children age 17 and under in the past month in Florida, according to the state's department of health data.

On July 9, Florida reported 16,797 cases in children. By Aug. 9, that number increased to 39,735 infections, per the Florida Department of Health.

During that same time period hospitalizations jumped from 213 to 436, a 105% increase. Child deaths increased from 4 to 7 during the same time period.

Florida’s percentage increase in Covid-19 infections in children in the past month is higher than the nationwide metric among US children. 

The state's latest figures come after a report by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association stated there was a 90% increase in Covid-19 cases among US children over the last four weeks.

Some of the increase might be due to more testing, AAP said.

8:37 a.m. ET, August 11, 2020

Vaccines and asymptomatic spreaders may hold keys to answering Covid-19 mysteries, experts say

From CNN's Christina Maxouris

As US leaders work to control the spread of coronavirus, researchers across the country -- and globe -- are working to answer the mysteries that remain around infections.

One of those mysteries: why the experience can be so vastly different from person to person. One expert says the answer may mean taking a closer look at previous vaccines individuals have had.

"When we looked in the setting of Covid disease, we found that people who had prior vaccinations with a variety of vaccines -- for pneumococcus, influenza, hepatitis and others -- appeared to have a lower risk of getting Covid disease," Dr. Andrew Badley, an infectious disease specialist at Mayo Clinic told CNN's Anderson Cooper Monday night.

It's what immunologists call immune training: how your immune system creates an effective response to fight off infections, Badley says.

"A good analogy is to think of your immune system as being a muscle," he said. "The more you exercise that muscle, the stronger it will be when you need it."

There's been no definitive evidence of any other vaccines boosting immunity against Covid-19. But some researchers have suggested it's possible.

Read the full story:

8:55 a.m. ET, August 11, 2020

Covid-19 cases among US children increased 90% over the past 4 weeks, report says

From CNN’s Jen Christensen

There has been a 90% increase in the number of Covid-19 cases among US children over the past four weeks, according to a report published Monday by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association.

According to this new report, expected to be updated weekly, there were 179,990 new Covid-19 cases among US children between July 9 and August 6. The data comes from case numbers provided by state health departments of 49 states, New York City, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and Guam. 

Some of the increase may be due to more testing, AAP said. Early in the pandemic, testing was reserved for the sickest. A broader number of tests may be identifying children that have fewer or milder symptoms than those who were tested earlier in the pandemic.

Children make up just over 9% of the total cases in states that report cases by age, according to the report. At least 380,174 total child Covid-19 cases had been reported as of August 6.

It still appears that severe symptoms are rare among children with Covid-19 infections. Children were between 0.5% and 5.3% of total hospitalizations, according to data from the states that record that information. Children were 0% to 0.4% of all Covid-19 deaths. 

Nineteen states have reported no child deaths. In states that tracked the details, 0% to 0.5% of all child Covid-19 cases resulted in death.

The AAP called for an effective testing strategy so that communities can make the right choice about opening schools. 

“The data – while limited because of its reliance on how each state reports its cases – underscores the urgent need to control the virus in communities so schools may reopen,” a news release from the AAP said.

“In areas with rapid community spread, it’s likely that more children will also be infected, and these data show that,” AAP President Dr. Sally Goza said in the news release.  “As a pediatrician, I urge people to wear cloth face coverings and be diligent in social distancing and hand-washing. It is up to us to make the difference, community by community.”

The World Health Organization said last week that the pandemic is starting to move into the younger population globally, while most cases, by far, are among people ages 25 to 64. 

CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta answered viewers' questions on this worrying statistic: