August 12 coronavirus news

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9:23 a.m. ET, August 12, 2020

The US has recorded fewer than 50,000 new daily cases for 3 days in a row

From CNN's Christina Maxouris

For three consecutive days, the US has reported fewer than 50,000 new daily cases of coronavirus, according to tallies from Johns Hopkins University.

  • On Sunday, Johns Hopkins reported 46,935 new cases and 515 new deaths. 
  • On Monday, Johns Hopkins reported 49,536 new cases and 525 new deaths.
  • On Tuesday, Johns Hopkins reported 46,808 new cases and 1,074 new deaths.

Some context about these numbers: The average number of daily new cases in the US is now more than 54,000 — down from more than 65,000 per day in mid- to late-July.

However, average daily Covid-19 deaths, have hovered above 1,000 for more than two weeks. The country had been below that level for seven consecutive weeks before that.

"We have nothing to celebrate (just) because we're going to 50,000 cases per day. We have a huge amount of morbidity and mortality at our feet right now and in the weeks ahead," Dr. Rochelle Walensky, chief of infectious diseases at Massachusetts General Hospital, said Tuesday.

"Even at 18,000 cases per day (as the US had) in mid-May, we were unable to really squelch this," Walensky said.

9:17 a.m. ET, August 12, 2020

Consumer price inflation beats expectations

From CNN’s Anneken Tappe

Consumer price inflation staged a return in July and beat economists' expectations. Even though this means prices for consumers rose on the whole, it is a good sign because it comes after the largely deflationary shock of the pandemic.

Prices increased by 0.6% on a seasonally-adjusted basis in July, the same amount as in June, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Wednesday. Together, the summer month increase puts a solid end to three months of price declines during the height of the pandemic lockdown. Over the past twelve months, prices increased by 1%, not adjusted for seasonal effects.

Gas and energy prices, which soared in June, continued to increase. Gasoline prices alone contributed about a quarter of the monthly price rise last month.

Meanwhile, food prices actually declined by 0.4%, and the 'food at home' index fell 1.1%. The 'food away from home' index rose 0.5%, showing that Americans are eating out more again.

Core inflation, which strips out more volatile food and energy items, rose 0.6% in July, the largest increase since January 1991, according to the BLS.

Moderate inflation is important for a functional growing economy. Some market participants are worried that the large sums of stimulus money from Washington, particularly the Federal Reserve, could lead to too much inflation, but the Fed has repeatedly said that it's not concerned about this right now.

9:18 a.m. ET, August 12, 2020

Mnuchin "can't speculate" on whether stimulus will pass soon

From CNN's Betsy Klein

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin arrives for a meeting at the Capitol in Washington, DC, on July 28.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin arrives for a meeting at the Capitol in Washington, DC, on July 28. Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Wednesday that he “can’t speculate” as to whether another stimulus bill will pass in the near-term, days after negotiations came to a stalemate. He also called for a capital gains tax cut and made a rare (for him) criticism of Joe Biden’s economic policies.

“I can’t speculate. If the Democrats are willing to be reasonable, there is a compromise. If the Democrats are focused on politics and don't want to do anything that's going to succeed for the President, there won't be a deal,” Mnuchin said during an appearance on Fox Business.

He railed against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, who he said are “just not willing to compromise.”

His message to negotiators: “Let’s do this,” suggesting that there could be an approximately $1 trillion bill now and perhaps another later this year or in early 2021.

“This will be the fifth bill, we can always come back later in the year, or in January, and do a sixth bill, we don't need to do everything at once… Our view is, let's spend a little over a trillion dollars on areas of the economy that are going to be very impactful now, that we can agree on. And if we need to do more, we'll come back and do more and work together but now is the time to have bipartisan support,” he said.

Mnuchin also reiterated the President’s suggestion that the administration is considering a capital gains tax cut, which would require legislation.

“Well, the President like would like to do, capital gains tax cuts and we do need legislation to do what we want on that front,” he said, going on to explain how previous similar cuts stimulated economic investment.

“That's what we need now because of Covid. So I think for the next few years while we recover, we should reduce those capital gains,” he added, going on to, in an unusual move for Mnuchin, criticize Joe Biden for voting against a capital gains reduction in 2003 and drawing contrasts on policy with the Democratic ticket.

“So again you see two very different economic policies. One is tax more and hurt the economy, one is create selective tax cuts regulatory relief and economic agenda trades that will stimulate the economy,” he said.

9:08 a.m. ET, August 12, 2020

There's been a lot of news about vaccines lately. Here's what you need to know.

Vials containing the two components of a Covid-19 vaccine are seen at the Gamaleya National Research Center in Moscow on August 6. The vaccine is developed by the Gamaleya National Research Center for Epidemiology and Microbiology and the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF).
Vials containing the two components of a Covid-19 vaccine are seen at the Gamaleya National Research Center in Moscow on August 6. The vaccine is developed by the Gamaleya National Research Center for Epidemiology and Microbiology and the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF). Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Researchers in the US and across the world are continuing their work developing vaccines for Covid-19.

Here's where things stand this morning:

8:12 a.m. ET, August 12, 2020

Rapid facility-wide testing in nursing homes can help control Covid-19's transmission, study says

From CNN's Naomi Thomas

Quickly performing facility-wide coronavirus testing after a Covid-19 case is identified might help control its transmission among residents and health care workers, according to research published Tuesday in the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Nursing homes are some of the highest risk environments for contracting Covid-19 in the US.

Authors from the CDC compiled data from seven state and local health departments that conducted facility-wide testing in a total of 288 nursing homes from March 24 to June 14.

The researchers found that health departments in Arkansas, Detroit, New Mexico, Utah and Vermont performed facility-wide Covid-19 tests in 93 nursing homes, which helped authorities detect new cases in 79% of facilities.

“Facility-wide testing of residents and health care personnel (HCP) can identify asymptomatic and presymptomatic infections and facilitate infection prevention and control interventions,” the report said, noting that state health departments needed to have the resources for widespread testing.

As well as being a high risk environment for elderly patients, nursing homes also pose a health risk to the employees who work there.

More than 900 US health care workers have died of Covid-19, according to a news release from the Kaiser Family Foundation published Wednesday.

8:06 a.m. ET, August 12, 2020

5 European countries report drop in cases

From CNN's Vasco Cotovio in Lisbon

People spend time outside in Cascais, Portugal, on August 9.
People spend time outside in Cascais, Portugal, on August 9. Horacio Villalobos/Corbis/Getty Images

Five European countries have recorded a drop in Covid-19 cases even as most nations in the continent grapple with rising levels of infection, according to a report by the European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC).

Portugal, Sweden, Croatia, Latvia and Slovenia have all recorded a decreasing trend in the number of new infections in the past two weeks, while the rest of the continent has seen an uptick in reported cases per 100,000 people.

The positive signs come as the UEFA Champions League finals kick-off in Lisbon. 

UEFA made the decision to host the final stages of the competition in the Portuguese capital in June, attributing the decision to the country’s reputation as a “safe and low-risk Covid-19 destination” at the time, compared to other European nations.

Looking specifically at the Lisbon region, the ECDC report says the 14-day trend for the area also shows a “decrease” in the number of cases. 

On Tuesday, Portuguese health authorities reported an additional 120 infections from the novel coronavirus in the entire country, a 0.2% increase on the previous day, for a total of 52,945 cases diagnosed since the outbreak began.

8:01 a.m. ET, August 12, 2020

It's just past 1 p.m. in London and 8 a.m. in New York. Here's the latest on the pandemic

People walk by Moscow's Red Square on August 11.
People walk by Moscow's Red Square on August 11. Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg/Getty Images

The novel coronavirus has infected more than 20 million people globally and killed more than 742,000. Here are some of today's key developments:

  • Doubts build over Russian vaccine: Germany's Health Minister Jens Spahn has accused Moscow of failing to be transparent over its research and said the country's approved vaccine could be "dangerous."
  • Russia's case count passes 900,000: The country recorded 5,102 new infections over the past 24 hours, bringing its total number of cases to 902,701.
  • Cases soar in Texas: State officials are redoubling efforts to make residents wear masks and practice social distancing after Texas recorded more than 500,000 Covid-19 cases.
  • UK faces its worst recession yet: UK economic output shrank by 20.4% in the second quarter of 2020, the worst quarterly slump on record, pushing the country into the deepest recession of any major global economy.
  • New Zealand election date in doubt: The country's September 19 election may be delayed after Jacinda Ardern announced that the dissolution of parliament would be deferred by a few days due to a fresh outbreak.
  • Belgian region makes wearing face masks compulsory: The rule applies to anyone aged 12 years or older in the Brussels region, "in public spaces as well as on private premises accessible to the public." Officials made the decision after a spike in cases.
8:14 a.m. ET, August 12, 2020

What we know -- and don't know -- about Russia's 'Sputnik V' vaccine

From CNN's Zamira Rahim

A lab technician in Moscow works on August 6 during production of a Covid-19 vaccine. The vaccine is developed by the Gamaleya National Research Center for Epidemiology and Microbiology and the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF).
A lab technician in Moscow works on August 6 during production of a Covid-19 vaccine. The vaccine is developed by the Gamaleya National Research Center for Epidemiology and Microbiology and the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF). Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Russia raised eyebrows on Tuesday when it announced the world's first approved coronavirus vaccine for public use.

President Vladimir Putin says his own daughter has already received it, but testing is yet to be completed and experts are skeptical about how quickly the vaccine has been registered.

Here's a summary of what we know -- and don't know -- so far.

Is the Russian vaccine safe and effective?

The short answer is that we don't know. Russia has released no scientific data on its vaccine testing and CNN is unable to verify claims about its safety or effectiveness. But Russia says the vaccine has passed through Phase 1 and Phase 2 trials which were completed on August 1.

A Phase 3 trial on more than 2,000 people only began today. Typically Phase 3 trials are conducted on tens of thousands of people.

We do not have any information whatsoever on whether this is safe," Keith Neal, Emeritus Professor of the Epidemiology of Infectious Diseases, University of Nottingham, told CNN.

How did Russia pull this off so quickly?

In April, Russia enacted a law which eliminated the need for a Phase 3 vaccine trial before approval.

Approval now means the coronavirus vaccine can be distributed even as Phase 3 tests get underway -- though practically speaking, mass-manufactured doses aren't expected to be ready for weeks.

"They're not as far ahead as other vaccines," Neal said, noting that Moderna and Oxford's vaccines have already begun Phase 3 trials. Critics say Russia's haste is partly due to political pressure from the Kremlin, which is keen to portray the country as a global scientific force.

Read our full Q and A here:

7:16 a.m. ET, August 12, 2020

How to tell if your child is sick from Covid-19, based on pediatricians' advice

From CNN's Sandee LaMotte, Katia Hetter, Kristen Rogers and Ryan Prior

Are parents really supposed to be reassured by all this talk about "mild" cases of Covid-19 in children? What about the unfortunate "few" youngsters who have died or come down with a strange and severe associated illness?

No parent wants to take the odds that their child might be the exception to the rule.

"We've had 90 deaths in children in the United States already, in just a few months," Dr. Sean O'Leary, vice-chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Infectious Diseases, told CNN's Anderson Cooper on Monday.
"It's not fair to say that this virus is completely benign in children," he said.

As a number of schools and universities across the country have begun classes or are moving forward with plans to begin full or partial in-person instruction in the coming weeks, fears among families are on the rise.

The question looms: Will our children be safe?

Read more: