August 13 coronavirus news

By Julia Hollingsworth, Adam Renton, Melissa Macaya, Ed Upright and Zamira Rahim, CNN

Updated 12:13 a.m. ET, August 14, 2020
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11:41 a.m. ET, August 13, 2020

White House economic adviser says they'll adjust executive order on payroll tax to include self-employed

From CNN's Betsy Klein, Lauren Fox, Clare Foran, Manu Raju and Ali Zaslav

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow speaks to reporters outside the White House on August 12.
White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow speaks to reporters outside the White House on August 12. Andrew Harnik/AP

Speaking to reporters in the rain, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow wouldn’t speculate on whether a stimulus bill would be passed and when, but on payroll tax holiday, he told CNN’s Joe Johns that the President’s executive order will cover the self-employed and there would be a technical change to address that.

On Social Security, he said he thought Trump had been clear that the payroll tax deferral will be forgiven. He reiterated that Trump isn’t eliminating the payroll tax.

Asked why the President keeps calling the unemployment benefit $400, he reiterated it is $300 but “could be” $400 if states choose to add $100. 

On USPS and mail, he initially said it was out of his lane but President Trump was “very concerned about an election run totally by mail in ballots.” Pressed again on USPS funding, he said he didn’t think it was that simple and reiterated the potential for election fraud. 

 He didn’t seem to indicate that there would be stimulus talks today. 

Remember: Negotiations over the next stimulus package intended to bolster the economy and help struggling Americans pay their bills have stalled on Capitol Hill with Democrats and Trump administration officials walking away after talks broke down last Friday.

Trump tried to assert executive power by signing four actions on coronavirus relief last Saturday, one of which will provide as much as $400 in enhanced unemployment benefits.

The other three actions he signed include a memorandum on a payroll tax holiday for Americans earning less than $100,000 a year, an executive order on "assistance to renters and homeowners" and a memorandum on deferring student loan payments.

10:40 a.m. ET, August 13, 2020

CDC director outlines four "simple things" Americans can do to fight Covid-19

From CNN's Faith Karimi, Steve Almasy and Lauren Mascarenhas

People visit Domino Park in Brooklyn, New York, on July 26.
People visit Domino Park in Brooklyn, New York, on July 26. Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images

A top federal health official issued a dire warning: Follow recommended coronavirus measures or risk having the worst autumn in US public health history.

US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Robert Redfield asked Americans Wednesday to do these "four simple things" for "their country right now and for the war that we're in against" coronavirus:

  1. Wear a mask
  2. Social distance
  3. Wash your hands
  4. Be smart about crowds

“I'm not asking some of America to do it,” Redfield said in an interview with WebMD Chief Medical Officer Dr. John Whyte. “We all gotta do it.”

Redfield reiterated his warning that if Americans do not adhere to these recommendations, this could be “the worst fall, from a public health perspective, we've ever had.”

Redfield urged Americans to prepare for a difficult fall season by getting the flu vaccine.

“Please don’t to leave this important accomplishment of American medicine on the shelf for yourself, your family, your church, your workforce,” he said. 

“By getting vaccinated, you can protect your children,” Redfield added. “Clearly when we look at the mortality that we see with flu, one thing is for certain, the kids that get vaccinated, they basically get protected against death.”

Redfield said the CDC has purchased 10 million doses of the flu vaccine for uninsured adults this year, compared to the typical 500,000 doses. 

“Eventually this virus is going to have its day,” Redfield said of the coronavirus that causes Covid-19. “It's either going to infect a majority of the global population, or we're going to have a biological countermeasure that's going to be an effective vaccine.”

Phase three trials are currently underway for several coronavirus vaccine candidates.

“The high-risk individuals that we're hoping this vaccine is used for are being included in these Phase three trials,” said Redfield.

Redfield said he is cautiously optimistic that the US will have one or more vaccines deployed by the start of 2021.

9:43 a.m. ET, August 13, 2020

US stocks open mixed

From CNN’s Anneken Tappe

Wall Street was mixed at the opening bell on Thursday. The S&P 500, the broadest measure of the US stock market, remains very close to the record high it reached in February before the pandemic hit the United States.

On Wednesday, it closed just five points below that level. But judging by the open, today may not be the day for a record either.

Here is where things stood at opening:

  • The Dow fell 0.4%, or 108 points.
  • The S&P 500 opened 0.3% lower.
  • The Nasdaq Composite rose 0.1%.
9:41 a.m. ET, August 13, 2020

“This is the greatest public health crisis to hit this nation in a century,” CDC director says

From CNN Health’s Lauren Mascarenhas

Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, testifies at a coronavirus hearing in Washington, DC, on July 2.
Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, testifies at a coronavirus hearing in Washington, DC, on July 2. Graeme Jennings/Pool/Getty Images

US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Robert Redfield said that non-coronavirus public health initiatives have been sidetracked during the pandemic, in an interview with WebMD chief medical officer John Whyte on Wednesday.

Redfield said the “collateral damage” of the pandemic is evident in that public health officials have been forced to turn their focus away from issues such as preventing maternal mortality, addressing AIDS, treating people for Hepatitis C, and preventing tobacco use in children. 

“There are thousands and thousands of people working 24/7 on this pandemic,” Redfield said. “The fact is that, really, all of our focus is on this pandemic right now.”

Still, the pandemic has exposed the ways in which the nation’s public health capabilities have fallen short.

“We have some states that were down to less than 40, 30, 20 contact tracers,” Redfield said.

“We really haven't invested, in this nation, in the core capabilities of public health,” he added. “Now is the time to invest in public health – data, data analytics, predictive data analysis, laboratory resilience in our public health labs, public health workforce.”

Redfield said we owe it to our children and grandchildren to make sure the nation is never this unprepared for a future public health crisis.

“This is the greatest public health crisis to hit this nation in a century,” Redfield said. “We were underprepared.”

9:27 a.m. ET, August 13, 2020

Iraq records 3,841 new Covid-19 cases — highest daily case increase since start of pandemic

 From CNN’s Aqeel Najim in Baghdad

A medic collects drops of blood at a Covid-19 testing station in Najaf, Iraq, on August 9.
A medic collects drops of blood at a Covid-19 testing station in Najaf, Iraq, on August 9. Ameer Al Mohammedaw/picture alliance/Getty Images

On Thursday, Iraq’s Ministry of Health reported 3,841 new confirmed cases of coronavirus cases, the highest daily case number recorded since the start of the pandemic.

This brings the total number of cases in Iraq to 164,277 .

The health ministry also reported 53 Covid-19 related deaths. This brings the total number of deaths in Iraq to 5,641.

9:31 a.m. ET, August 13, 2020

These are the risks of playing sports during the pandemic, according to infectious disease experts

From CNN Health’s Amanda Watts

Two fellows from the Infectious Diseases Society of America said that when it comes to playing sports in the fall, it’s all about the risk – and there are two main ways to look at the same data.

Dr. Colleen Kraft, Associate Professor of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases at Emory University School of Medicine, said, “There are a number of ways to approach complicated issues.”

Some conferences are trying a “dip your toe in and see what happens” approach, while others are not playing at all, Kraft said.

For those choosing to play, Kraft predicts coronavirus cases will pop-up. “They will be able to see the experience that many of the others of us have had, where there will be transmission, it will be difficult.”

Dr. Carlos del Rio, Executive Associate Dean at Emory University School of Medicine at Grady, said individuals assess risk all the time in our personal lives.

“I'm getting ready to cross the street and I see a car coming, I would do a rapid calculation. ‘Okay, I can stop and let the car go through, or I can run across the street,’" del Rio said.

 “Both are different decisions and one I stayed in one I go, but I decided it based on how much risk I was willing to take,” he added.

9:34 a.m. ET, August 13, 2020

College football player says he didn't want team to become a "hotspot" for coronavirus

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

Nick Ford on CNN's "New Day" on August 13.
Nick Ford on CNN's "New Day" on August 13. CNN

The Big Ten and Pac-12 conferences each voted to postpone college football and all their other fall sports seasons.

Nick Ford and Treyjohn Butler, Pac-12 conference football players, said the concerns about health and safety for themselves, their teammates and communities led them to push for coronavirus protections.

“It’s kind of disheartening that they did choose to end the season and everything because that's not the fight we were pushing for. Do I approve of it? It's a hard question to answer. Do I think it was the right or the safer call? I would agree and say yes,” said Ford, a University of Utah guard, in an interview with CNN’s “New Day.”

Treyjohn Butler on CNN's "New Day" on August 13.
Treyjohn Butler on CNN's "New Day" on August 13. CNN

Ford said that a uniform response to the virus should’ve already been in place for months. 

“We didn't want to come back and have the university and the football team become a hotspot for the coronavirus and then have it, you know, wreak havoc throughout the community,” Ford said. 

Butler, a Stanford University cornerback, said he’s concerned about athletes with underlying conditions and the lack of a clear testing strategy.

“We want to play football…but we want to do it safely,” he said. 

Watch:

9:10 a.m. ET, August 13, 2020

NCAA head doctor says “we’re moving into very troubled waters right now”

From CNN Health’s Amanda Watts

The chief medical officer of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) said, “we're moving into very troubled waters right now,” during a Thursday webinar.

“When we started talking about return to sport in April, we were envisioning that there would be a continued downward trajectory of Covid-19 new infections and deaths – that there would be a national surveillance system, national testing and national contact tracing – that would allow us to really navigate this pandemic into re-socializing both in sport and in the rest of society, and that hasn't happened," Dr. Brian Hainline, senior vice president and chief medical officer with the NCAA, told the Infectious Diseases Society of America.

“And it's made it very challenging to make decisions as we approach fall sport,” he said.

“We're moving into very troubled waters right now,” Hainline said. “It's a very narrow path to get ball sports right.”

9:05 a.m. ET, August 13, 2020

The US reported its highest number of fatalities yesterday since May 

From CNN's Faith Karimi and Steve Almasy

Deaths from the virus remain high in the US.

Coronavirus has infected more than 5 million people and killed over 166,000 in the country, according to Johns Hopkins University. On Wednesday alone, there were 55,910 reported new cases and 1,499 deaths — the highest number of fatalities since May.

Meanwhile, the seven-day average of daily coronavirus deaths was over 1,000 on Wednesday, the 17th consecutive day the US averaged over 1,000 deaths per day.

Adjusting for population, states in the Southeast are seeing the most new cases. Georgia and Florida — states led by Republican governors who have not issued face mask requirements — have the highest per capita new cases over the past seven days, followed by Alabama and Mississippi.

On Wednesday, Florida health officials announced more than 8,000 new case reports and 212 new deaths.

Track the virus in the US here.