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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2:20 p.m. ET, August 13, 2020

Covid Tracking Project says hospitalization data has been "erratic" since switch to HHS

From CNN's Amanda Watts

Since the Trump administration asked hospitals to report its data directly to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Covid Tracking Project (CTP) has found the data to be “erratic,” “spotty and difficult to interpret.”

The change went into effect on July 15. CTP “compared the HHS’s counts of currently hospitalized Covid-19 patients, published from July 20 to August 5, to the same metric compiled by The Covid Tracking Project from each state’s publicly available data.” 

“The data have continued to be erratic: In some states, the HHS reports far more hospitalized patients than the state does, and in others, the two sets of data rise and fall at different rates,” CTP said in a post on their website.

CTP collects data from all 50 states and US territories. CNN utilizes testing and hospitalizations data from the organization.

The organization found that in six states — Maine, Arkansas, New York, Connecticut, New Hampshire and Delaware — “HHS data is, on average, at least 150 percent higher than the data from these states’ dashboards.” 

As a nation, from July 20-26, CTP found that “HHS reported an average of 24 percent more currently hospitalized patients nationwide than was reported by the states.”

HHS said it was taking over the hospitalization data because the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was posting the information too slowly. "Going forward, HHS and CDC will deliver more powerful insights on the coronavirus, powered by HHS Protect," said Assistant Secretary of Public Affairs Michael Caputo said in July. 

CTP noted that the switch “has likely been difficult for many hospitals.” HHS requires more data points to be reported and sometimes states have to fill-out two reports with the same data – one for the state and one for HHS. 

Some background: Nearly three dozen public health advisers sent a July letter to the US government saying they are extremely concerned” and “troubled” about the change in how hospitals report Covid-19 data. The letter said hospitals were “scrambling” to keep up with the daily Covid-19 reporting requirements to HHS. 

But CTP said reporting directly to HHS could be a good thing, “we expect hospitals to report more reliable information to the HHS than to their state health departments, or to report to only the HHS and not their state health departments, because the HHS-reported data is used to inform allocation of remdesivir, PPE, and other supplies.”

CTP will continue to track both sets of hospitalization data and remains optimistic that the data set will become more reliable over time. “Hospitalization data used to be a reliable metric demonstrating the stress Covid-19 is causing state health systems. Now, these data are spotty and difficult to interpret. We encourage states to be transparent about when they are encountering issues with hospital reporting and why,” CTP said.


2:08 p.m. ET, August 13, 2020

Biden and Harris receive first joint health briefing from experts on Covid-19

From CNN’s Sarah Mucha

Joe Biden and his running mate, US Sen. Kamala Harris, are briefed by health experts on Thursday.
Joe Biden and his running mate, US Sen. Kamala Harris, are briefed by health experts on Thursday. Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

Presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden and his running mate Sen. Kamala Harris received their first joint health briefing from experts on Covid-19 Thursday.

“This is what I get four times a week, a briefing on the state of the coronavirus and what we should and shouldn’t be doing,” Biden told reporters ahead of their meeting.

Harris added that she was “looking forward to it.” 

“These are some of the brightest minds, not only in our country but internationally. And as the vice president has been saying since the beginning of this pandemic, it should be the public health professionals that are leading policy in our country to address this lethal pandemic,” Harris said. 

Asked by a reporter how the first few days have gone with Harris on the ticket, Biden replied, “It’s been great.” 

“It’s been great. It’s been great, she and her husband and — Jill and her husband were friends before this and I think have become closer friends. We had a great, great day but we’re going to talk today,” Biden said. 


1:49 p.m. ET, August 13, 2020

Illinois surpasses 200,000 Covid-19 positive cases 

From CNN’s Brad Parks and Kay Jones

Illinois has surpassed 200,000 total Covid-19 positive cases, with an additional 1,834 new cases being reported today by the Illinois Department of Public Health.

The state now has a total of 200,427 cases with a 4% positivity rate being reported over the past seven days. 

There are 24 new deaths being reported today, bringing that total to 7,696.

Hospitalizations have increased the past few days, with 1,628 hospitalized with 383 in intensive care units due to the virus.

Note: These numbers were released by the Illinois Department of Public Health and may not line up exactly in real time with CNN’s database drawn from Johns Hopkins University and the Covid Tracking Project.

1:51 p.m. ET, August 13, 2020

US needs to make sure it never again is "this underprepared for an emergency," former CDC director says

From CNN's Naomi Thomas

Dr. Tom Frieden, the former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, testifies before a House subcommittee in May.
Dr. Tom Frieden, the former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, testifies before a House subcommittee in May. Alex Wong/Getty Images

There are weaknesses at every level of public health in the US, and there needs to be a reset in the approach to it, said Dr. Tom Frieden, former director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and current CEO of Resolve to Save Lives.

“We definitely need a reset in our approach to public health in this country,” Frieden said during a Washington Post Live event on Thursday. “There’s no doubt that there are weaknesses at every level.”

Some of these weaknesses are the result of decades of underfunding, he said, and some due to difficulties at the intersection of public health and health care systems.

“But we need to move forward,” Frieden said. “We need to make sure that we never again are this underprepared for an emergency.”

Even in years that don’t have emergencies, there are still a number of health care problems that need to be addressed, such as outbreaks and preventable illnesses.

“There’s so much that we can do, if we rely on, invest in and improve public health,” he said.

This is why Frieden said he believes there needs to be a fundamental change to the funding of public health programs.

1:36 p.m. ET, August 13, 2020

"Bottom line is, I'm not pleased with how things are going," Fauci says

From CNN's Amanda Watts

Dr. Anthony Fauci speaks during a National Geographic panel on Thursday.
Dr. Anthony Fauci speaks during a National Geographic panel on Thursday. National Geographic

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's leading infectious disease expert, said Thursday that he was not pleased with the state of the pandemic in the US.

“Bottom line is, I'm not pleased with how things are going," he said during a National Geographic panel.

Fauci said states such as California, Florida, Texas and Arizona have turned their situations around and they are “having now, less deaths, less hospitalizations, less cases.”

But he warned it’s not all good news across the country.

“When you look at other parts of the country – this is the thing that's disturbing to me – is that we're starting to see the inkling of the upticks in the percent of the tests that are positive,” he said.

“We know now, from sad past experience, that that's a predictor that you're going to have more surges,” he said.

1:09 p.m. ET, August 13, 2020

The pandemic has had a "broad impact" on mental health issues, according to CDC survey

From CNN’s Andrea Kane

A new survey by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that almost 41% of respondents are struggling with mental health issues stemming from the coronavirus pandemic – both related to the pandemic itself and the measures put in place to contain it, including physical distancing and stay-at-home orders.

“Markedly elevated prevalences of reported adverse mental and behavioral health conditions associated with the COVID-19 pandemic highlight the broad impact of the pandemic and the need to prevent and treat these conditions,” the study authors wrote.

The findings were reported Thursday in the journal Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, published by the CDC.

In an online survey of more than 5,400 adults living in the US conducted during the last week of June, 40.9% of respondents reported at least one mental or behavioral health condition:

  • 31% said they’d experienced symptoms of anxiety or depression
  • 26% said they’d experienced trauma or stressor-related disorder symptoms
  • 13% said they’d started or increased substance use
  • 11% said they’d seriously considered suicide in the last 30 days

But the mental health issues were not shouldered equally by everyone.

For example, at least one adverse mental or behavioral health symptom was reported by 75% of 18-to-24 year olds, 52% of 25-to-44 year olds, 52% of Hispanics, as well as 54% of essential workers, 67% of unpaid caregivers for adults, and 66% of those with less than a high school diploma. The percentage among those with existing mental health conditions was even higher.

And the percentage of those who reported having seriously considered suicide in the 30 days before completing the survey was significantly higher among respondents age 18-24 (25.5%), Hispanics (18.6%) and Blacks (15.1%), self-reported unpaid caregivers for adults (30.7%), and essential workers (21.7%).

In all, while symptoms of mental or behavioral health conditions varied significantly among subgroups, unpaid caregivers for adults fared the worst.

“Unpaid caregivers for adults, many of whom are currently providing critical aid to persons at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19, had a higher incidence of adverse mental and behavioral health conditions compared with others,” the study authors wrote.

These findings align with previous studies, which found symptoms of anxiety and depressive disorders increased considerably in the US between April and June of 2020, compared with the same period in 2019.

The study authors concluded: “Periodic assessment of mental health, substance use, and suicidal ideation should evaluate the prevalence of psychological distress over time. Addressing mental health disparities and preparing support systems to mitigate mental health consequences as the pandemic evolves will continue to be needed urgently.”

1:14 p.m. ET, August 13, 2020

Biden and Harris will participate in a coronavirus briefing today 

From CNN's Eric Bradner

Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, attends a campaign event with his running mate, US Sen. Kamala Harris, on Wednesday.
Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, attends a campaign event with his running mate, US Sen. Kamala Harris, on Wednesday. Carolyn Kaster/AP

Presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden and his running mate, California Sen. Kamala Harris, are set to appear together in Delaware for a second consecutive day for a briefing on the coronavirus pandemic.

The two are set to receive a Thursday briefing from a panel of public health experts assembled by Biden's campaign.

Biden has for months been receiving private briefings from a group of health experts who are advising his campaign on pandemic policies, as well as whether and how the former vice president can hold in-person events.

That briefing will be followed by speeches from Biden and Harris, who was offered and accepted the Democratic vice presidential nod on Tuesday and campaigned in person with Biden for the first time on Wednesday in Wilmington.

Biden and Harris both used speeches Wednesday to hammer President Trump over his handling of the pandemic.

Harris contrasted the coronavirus pandemic, which has left more than 166,000 Americans dead and caused more than 5 million cases in the United States, with Ebola during former President Barack Obama and Biden's administration, which resulted in two deaths.

"This is what happens when we elect a guy who just isn't up for the job," Harris said. "Our country ends in tatters and so does our reputation around the world."

Biden has long called for Trump to drastically escalate the production of protective medical equipment by invoking the Defense Production Act. He has also said he would rapidly expand coronavirus testing and supplies, and make all coronavirus-related medical care free.

Read more about today's event here.

1:11 p.m. ET, August 13, 2020

Covid-19 pandemic costs global economy $375 billion a month, WHO says  

From CNN’s Amanda Watts

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director-general of the World Health Organization, speaks during a news conference on Thursday.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director-general of the World Health Organization, speaks during a news conference on Thursday. World Health Organization

The Covid-19 pandemic costs an estimated $375 billion a month globally, the World Health Organization (WHO) said, based on information from the International Monetary Fund.

During a Thursday news conference, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO's director-deneral, said, “IMF estimates the pandemic costs the global economy 375 billion US dollars a month, and predicts a cumulative loss to the global economy over two years of over 12 trillion US dollars.”

“The world has already spent trillions dealing with the short term consequences of the pandemic,” Tedros added.

“G20 countries alone have mobilized more than 10 trillion US dollars in fiscal stimulus to treat and mitigate the consequences of the pandemic. That's already more than three and a half times as much as the world spent in the entire response to the global financial crisis,” he said. 

Tedros said that funding the WHO’s ACT Accelerator is “the best economic stimulus the world can invest” in. 

“The accelerator is the only up and running global initiative that brings together all the global research and development manufacturing regulatory purchasing and procurement needed for all the tools required to end the pandemic,” he added.

1:04 p.m. ET, August 13, 2020

WHO says there isn't "sufficient information" to make a judgement about Russian Covid-19 vaccine

From CNN's Amanda Watts

An employee works with a coronavirus vaccine in this photo provided by the Russian Direct Investment Fund on August 6.
An employee works with a coronavirus vaccine in this photo provided by the Russian Direct Investment Fund on August 6. Alexander Zemlianichenko Jr./Russian Direct Investment Fund/AP

Dr. Bruce Aylward, senior adviser of the director-general of the World Health Organization, said there is not “sufficient information at this point to make a judgement” on the Russian vaccine that was announced this week.

Speaking during a World Health Organization briefing on Thursday, Aylward said, “we're currently in conversation with Russia to get additional information, understand the status of that product, the trials that have been undertaken, and then what the next steps might be.”

Earlier this week, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the approval of a coronavirus vaccine, claiming it as a "world first," despite continued concern and questions over its safety and effectiveness.