Live Updates

August 18 coronavirus news

US averaging 1,000 deaths per day from coronavirus
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What you need to know

  • The US coronavirus death toll is projected to reach nearly 189,000 by September 5, according to the CDC’s ensemble forecast.
  • Several countries in Asia-Pacific have entered a “new phase of the pandemic,” with the virus’ spread increasingly driven by younger people, WHO officials said.   
  • New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern hit back at President Trump’s comments calling the country’s surge in Covid-19 cases “terrible.”

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New Zealand reports 6 new cases, as army is deployed to guard isolation facilities  

New Zealand recorded six new coronavirus cases in the past day, Director-General of Health Dr. Ashley Bloomfield said at a news briefing on Wednesday. 

Five cases were locally transmitted, linked to a cluster in the country’s most populous city, Auckland.

The sixth case was a person who recently arrived from overseas, and is in “managed isolation,” Bloomfield said. 

These new infections raise the national total to 1,299 cases.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern called the latest figures “encouraging,” and said, “we are not seeing a surge in community cases.”

“The perimeter of the virus is not expanding exponentially and risks like daily doubling of cases as we saw during the first outbreak has not occurred over the past week. So far the rollout of our resurgence plan is working as we intended,” Ardern said. 

Army deployed: Over the next six weeks, 500 more army personnel will be deployed to manage quarantine facilities, Ardern announced. This brings the total number of military personnel supporting New Zealand’s Covid-19 response to around 1,200.

The country conducted more than 23,000 coronavirus tests on Tuesday, taking the total number of tests done since the pandemic began to 639,415.

Australia signs deal with AstraZeneca for potential coronavirus vaccine

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, left, takes a tour at the AstraZeneca laboratories in Sydney's Macquarie Park on Wednesday.

Australia has secured a deal with the UK-based drug company AstraZeneca for access to a potential Covid-19 vaccine should trials prove successful.

AstraZeneca is currently developing a vaccine in partnership with Oxford University, and has already reached agreements with several governments – including the US and UK – to produce at least 2 billion doses, with the first deliveries starting as early as September.

Under the deal, Australians would receive the vaccine for free, an Australian government statement said on Tuesday.

“However there is no guarantee that this, or any other, vaccine will be successful, which is why we are continuing our discussions with many parties around the world while backing our own researchers at the same time to find a vaccine.” 

Speaking Wednesday, Morrison acknowledged that there were “big hurdles” in producing a successful vaccine but said the AstraZeneca-Oxford University project is “one of the best prospects in the world today.”

There is no stated cost of the Australian government’s deal with AstraZeneca; however the Australian government has indicated that it will spend billions of dollars on its vaccine strategy.

The strategy includes the purchase of 100 million needles, syringes and other consumables from US company Becton Dickinson, with an order already placed worth 24.7 million Australian dollars ( $17.9 million).

Mexico reports more than 5,500 new cases, as authorities claim downward trend

Mexico recorded 5,506 new cases of the novel coronavirus and 751 new virus-related deaths on Tuesday, raising the country’s total to 531,239 infections and 57,774 fatalities.

The new figures were released shortly after Mexico’s Health Ministry announced what it called “good news” on Tuesday morning, claiming the country is “in a decreasing phase” of the coronavirus outbreak.

“The trend is clear and proves that consistently in most of the country, the new cases are decreasing, the number of deaths, there is a decrease over the past six weeks, hospital beds are being unoccupied,” the Health Ministry said in a briefing.

On Monday, Mexico recorded its lowest number of new cases since June, with 3,571 new infections.

Mexico holds the third-highest number of deaths in the world from coronavirus, following only the United States and Brazil, according to Johns Hopkins University.

In Latin America, Mexico has the third highest number of coronavirus cases, behind only Brazil and Peru. 

Hawaii's state capital tightens restrictions as Covid-19 cases surge

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell holds a media briefing on Tuesday.

Honolulu is dramatically tightening its restrictions on public gatherings as coronavirus cases surge in the US state of Hawaii.

Hawaii announced 134 new Covid-19 cases on Tuesday, with most in Oahu. The rate of daily new cases is seven times higher than it was a month ago, according to the Hawaii State Department of Health.

More than 200 cases in Hawaii are linked to an outbreak at the Oahu Community Correctional Center in Honolulu.

Under the new rules:

  • No more than five people can gather together at one time, except for family members
  • The county is asking more businesses to allow workers to stay home
  • Restaurants can only seat a maximum of five customers per table
  • Churches can continue to meet in person, but masks must be worn and congregations will not be allowed to sing.
  • The state’s mandatory 14-day quarantine for out-of-state arrivals will be extended through the end of September

The new restrictions in Honolulu begin Wednesday and are scheduled to last for 28 days.

Coronavirus cases surpass 22 million worldwide

More than 22 million coronavirus cases have now been recorded globally, including nearly 800,000 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

The total case count stands at 22,046,135, and the death toll at 778,557.  

The United States has the highest figures, with more than 5.47 million cases and 171,687 deaths. Brazil follows next with 3.4 million cases and 109,888 deaths. 

Earlier Tuesday, the Pan American Health Organization said the Americas account for 64% of the world’s Covid-19 deaths.

CNN is tracking worldwide coronavirus cases here:

Brazil reports nearly 50,000 new coronavirus cases in one day

Brazilian soldiers disinfect the area around the Christ the Redeemer statue Thursday in Rio de Janeiro.

Brazil has reported 47,784 new Covid-19 cases and 1,352 deaths in the past 24 hours, the country’s Health Ministry reported Tuesday. 

At least 109,888 people have died from coronavirus in the country, according to the Ministry’s data. The total number of confirmed Covid-19 cases now stands at least 3,407,354.

Brazil continues to trail only the United States in terms of the highest number of coronavirus infections and deaths in the world.

More than 300,000 New York City students opting for all remote learning

Children in New York do their schoolwork from home in April.

New York City’s public schools plan to open their doors to students for some in-person learning when the school year starts in just a few weeks, but more than 300,000 students are opting to stay home for all online learning instead.

According to new data from New York City’s Department of Education, at least 304,880 students have requested remote learning, a jump of 40,000 from just last week, when approximately 264,000 students planned to start the year remotely.

“School buildings will open only if the city’s rate of positive coronavirus tests is less than 3% using a seven-day rolling average, and our latest positive test rate is 1%,” according to the DOE’s latest release.

New York City is preparing for 697,008 students to start the year with blended learning, meaning they will attend at least some school in-person. All students will receive five days of instruction a week, whether through the blended or remote options.

“We’re able to offer a fully-remote learning model for families who are able and wish to keep their children at home. Families can opt in to full-time remote learning at any point,” the DOE’s release said.

According to the DOE, 37% of the students requesting remote learning are Hispanic, 28% are Asian, 20% are Black, and 12% are White.

“We know that nothing can replace in-person instruction and the many supports, including social emotion and health benefits, that students get in the classroom,” the release said.

Some background: Among the top ten largest school districts in the country, New York City, the largest, with more than 1.1 million students, is the only one not planning to start the year with full online learning.

New York City schools are scheduled to return in early September and these numbers are expected to change, as families can opt into remote learning at any time, and can will have certain points to opt into blended learning during the school year.

More than 170 Iowa State University students test positive for Covid-19 in move-in testing 

Iowa State University said in a news release Tuesday that 175 students living in residence halls and campus apartments have tested positive for Covid-19.

 “The final days of move-in testing at Lied Recreation Center wrapped up on Sunday,” read the release. “For the two weeks of COVID-19 testing, 8,094 students living in the residence halls and campus apartments were tested and 175, or 2.2%, tested positive, and 7,919, or 97.8%, tested negative.” 

Director of Thielen Student Health Center Erin Baldwin said that the goal of move-in testing was to identify positive cases and intervene to mitigate the spread of the infection.

“Students who tested positive are required to isolate for 10 days. About half of the students are isolating in isolation rooms provided by the department of residence,” added the release. “Quarantine rooms are also available for students notified through contact tracing that they were exposed to a positive case.” 

Students moving into the residence halls after Aug. 16 will complete the required testing at TSHC’s mobile lab, according to the release. 

“Now that move-in testing is complete, TSHC will provide testing for students, faculty and staff with symptoms of COVID-19,” read the release. “Additional surveillance testing may be used in targeted areas throughout the fall.”

British study shows immune overreaction in children with rare Covid-19 syndrome

Patients with a rare, coronavirus-linked condition called multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children, or MIS-C, suffer sudden, severe inflammation and changes in the blood that promote clotting, British researchers reported Tuesday.

In the most acute phase, the children had raised levels of inflammatory immune system molecules called cytokines, and reduced levels of white blood cells known as lymphocytes. But with treatment, these symptoms returned to normal, the researchers reported in the journal Nature Medicine.

“Clinically, these children respond to treatments that calm the immune system such as corticosteroids and immunoglobulins,” lead researcher Dr. Manu Shankar-Hari, a specialist in intensive care medicine at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital in London, said in a statement.

Shankar-Hari’s team studied 25 children with MIS-C. Most, but not all, tested positive for coronavirus. Those who did not, likely had contact with coronavirus patients and may have cleared all signs of the virus by the time they developed the syndrome, the team reported.

MIS-C appears different from symptoms seen in adults with coronavirus, the researchers said. Different types of immune cells are activated or suppressed in each case, which suggests they are distinct syndromes.

In addition, children who tested positive for the virus had more severe illness than the children who tested negative.

Some background: MIS-C remains rare but the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports 570 confirmed cases of MIS-C and 10 deaths in 40 states and Washington, DC.

More than 70% of reported cases have been in Latino or Black children.

“Most children developed MIS-C 2-4 weeks after infection with SARS-CoV-2,” the CDC says. 

North Carolina's health department identifies Covid-19 cluster at NC State, school says

Mascots appear on a student union poster at North Carolina State University in July.

Eight members of the Greek life system have tested positive for Covid-19 at North Carolina State University, Senior Media Relations Strategist Lauren Barker tells CNN in a statement.

These students live in either university-owned chapter houses or privately owned chapter houses, the statement says.

The students were all tested at off-campus testing sites and have been instructed to self-isolate by the university’s Student Health Services, the school said in a statement. 

As part of the university’s contact tracing program, all close contacts have been advised to quarantine for 14 days, which in some cases could mean the entire house being placed on quarantine.

In a release on Tuesday, the school said they were also notified by the Wake County Health Department of a cluster at a separate off-campus housing facility on Clark Avenue in Raleigh. The Health Department said reports indicated that a party or other gathering was hosted at the address on Aug. 6, before classes began.

It is unknown how many have tested positive from the cluster, but the state health department identifies a cluster of having five or more cases reported in close proximity.

Classes began on Aug. 10 at the university.

Around 110 Chinese construction workers in Israel have contracted coronavirus

Around 110 Chinese construction workers living in a crowded compound in Petach Tikva, Israel’s fourth largest city, have tested positive for coronavirus, the local authority said.

The Petach Tikva’s Municipality said it received a report on Aug. 13 that 20 Chinese workers were infected, all of whom had lived in a compound with about 300 other Chinese workers at an industrial area on the outskirts of the city.

Mayor Rami Greenberg announced a series of quarantine measures, including the closure of the buildings, and evacuation and testing the residents. Since then, the health ministry has confirmed about 90 more cases.

The buildings are now emptied and will remain closed, the local authority said. The municipality told CNN on Tuesday the compound was in “inhumane sanitary conditions” and “not suitable for human residence.”

So far, local health authorities have tested 267 workers. Mayor Greenberg said those who were confirmed positive were transferred to quarantined motels and to hospitals. The rest were taken to various accommodations in Israel, where they will stay in quarantine for 14 days.

In a statement, the Chinese Embassy in Israel confirmed the situation, adding the infected workers are “all in light or asymptomatic conditions.”

The Chinese Embassy also urged its citizens to cooperate with quarantine measures and to stay alert.

“For those who have lived in related area or been in close contact with infected workers, please do not hide the contact history or your own illness for the sake of other people’s health and safety,” the embassy said. “Contact [the] Health Ministry immediately for a test,” it added.

Kentucky surpasses more than 40,000 coronavirus cases

The number of coronavirus cases in Kentucky has passed 40,000, according to Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear.

During an afternoon news conference, Beshear said there were at least 627 new cases in the state today, bringing the total number of cases to approximately 40,299. Of the new cases, 76 are in people 18 years of age and younger.  

The state reported at least 12 new deaths but the positivity rate is down to 5.48%, according to Beshear. 

There are currently at least 622 people hospitalized –– 147 of those are in intensive care units, and 88 people are on ventilators in Kentucky.

Alabama will allow fans at football home games

Bryant-Denny Stadium, the home of the Alabama Crimson Tide, can seat more than 101,000 fans for a football game. This season, it will hold about a fifth of that.

Spectators will be allowed at upcoming University of Alabama home football games.

The school announced that approximately 20% of the seating capacity at Bryant-Denny Stadium (approximately 20,000 fans) could be filled, but school officials have prohibited tailgating on campus.

Earlier on Monday, the Southeastern Conference (SEC), in which the Crimson Tide plays, declared it would defer to member schools to determine how many spectators will be allowed at games.

The university says the plan is in compliance with state and US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance. Ticket holders will have to complete a HIPAA compliant questionnaire in order to gain access to games. 

The Crimson Tide will debut the new spectator plan at their home game versus Texas A&M on Oct. 3. Alabama opens their season on the road against Missouri on Sept. 26.

Most Covid-19 infections at Notre Dame came from off-campus gatherings, president says

The Golden Dome sits atop the main administration building at the University of Notre Dame.

Rev. John I. Jenkins, the president of University of Notre Dame, said most Covid-19 infections have been the result of off-campus gatherings, according to analysis from contact tracers.

In response to a spike in cases since students have been back on campus, Jenkins announced Tuesday that all in-person classes have been suspended for two weeks.

But, students won’t be punished for attending off-campus parties, Jenkins said.

“Often we learn of such gatherings through our contact tracing inquiries and we have a policy that information gained through such inquiries will not be used in any disciplinary action. We will continue to adhere to this policy because we want students to be forthright with us, so that we can discover the source of the infections in order to keep the community safe,” Jenkins said.

He said the university will take disciplinary action if the school learns of a “serious violation of our policies from other sources.”

Jenkins said that “several reports” of this nature have already been submitted and are under review by the university conduct process.

Jenkins vowed that over the next two weeks, the university would enhance their testing abilities both for those who are experiencing symptoms and for those who are asymptomatic.

What you need to know about mail-in voting during the coronavirus pandemic

A woman walks past mailboxes seen outside of a US Post Office in Washington, DC, on August 17.

President Trump said he opposes much-needed funding for the United States Postal Service because he doesn’t want to see it used for mail-in voting, which he falsely asserted for months would lead to voter fraud.

Amid all the controversy, CNN’s Kristen Holmes went to a post office in Chaptico, Maryland, to get the facts.

Is mail-in voting safe? What’s the difference between postal ballots and absentee ballots? How do you register to vote by mail? She speaks to an expert to get your questions answered.

Watch the video:

Just to reiterate: There is no evidence of widespread voter fraud in US elections, and nonpartisan experts say neither party automatically benefits from voting by mail. Check out CNN’s Fact Check for more.

São Paulo postpones in-person classes until October

The mayor of São Paulo city, Bruno Covas, announced Tuesday that in-person classes in the city’s public schools will be postponed until October.  

The mayor made the decision despite receiving authorization from state officials that schools can reopen in September with 35% capacity. 

“The return of classes is now reckless, we are still controlling the disease in the city,” Covas said at a news conference today. “It is much more complicated to maintain social distance within the classroom than in other places,” he added. 

The decision to postpone in-person learning was made after the results of a serological survey conducted by the municipality showed that 64% of children in São Paulo infected with the coronavirus are asymptomatic. The study also concluded that 16% of the city’s children’s had already contracted the virus.  

Asked about the possibility of completely postponing the resumption of classes this year, Covas said it will depend on how well the city is able to contain the spread of the virus. 

Covas added the decision to resume in-person learning will be guided by health officials, who recommended that the city suspend in-person classes until October.

The latest numbers: As of Tuesday, São Paulo state has a total of at least 711,530 confirmed Covid-19 cases and approximately 27,315 virus-related deaths.

Notre Dame is suspending in-person classes for two weeks

The Rev. John I. Jenkins, president of the University of Notre Dame, announces the shift to remote learning on Tuesday.

All undergraduate classes at the University of Notre Dame will shift to remote learning for the next two weeks as school officials try to get a recent spike in Covid-19 cases under control, Rev. John I. Jenkins, the university’s president, told the community.

“We have seen a dramatic increase in the number of positive cases of Covid-19 in your first weeks back on campus” Jenkins said. “The spike in cases is very serious. And we must take serious steps to address it.”

Jenkins said that while his team had initially thought of sending the entire student body home, they decided to only move to remote learning for two weeks while continuing to monitor the situation. For the next two weeks, all undergraduate classes will be remote, all public spaces will be closed, residence halls will be restricted, and students who live off campus should remain in their homes and not come onto campus. 

“The objective of these temporary restrictions is to contain the spread of the virus so that we can get back to in person instruction,” Jenkins explained.

Ireland tightens coronavirus restrictions

Medical staff members work at a Covid-19 testing center in Newbridge, Ireland, on Monday.

Ireland “significantly” tightened coronavirus restrictions on Tuesday in an effort to enable schools to reopen in the coming weeks, the Irish prime minister said in a news conference.

The government is limiting outdoor gatherings, encouraging businesses to continue working remotely, and urging citizens to restrict visitors to their homes and avoid public transit.

Prime Minister Micheál Martin said the county is tightening restrictions because “the spread of the virus is increasing across a wide range of settings, these restrictions will impact on most of us.”

More on this: The announcement follows a spike in coronavirus cases that led to Ireland’s first local lockdowns last week in the counties of Kildare, Laois, and Offaly. Ireland has reported at least 27,499 confirmed coronavirus cases and approximately 1,775 deaths, according to the latest Department of Health figures published Tuesday. 

Martin said the government is advising that all businesses should continue to facilitate remote working where possible and that public transport should be avoided. He also said sports events and matches will revert to being held behind closed doors.

Martin added that all visits to homes will now be limited to six people from outside the home and from no more than three households for both indoor and outdoor gatherings. Additionally, outdoor gatherings will be limited to 15 people. Restaurants and cafes can remain open, but with a mandatory closing time of 11:30 p.m. local. 

He also urged citizens over 70 years old to exercise greater caution, to limit their social interactions to a small network, and to only visit shops during designated hours.

In a video on Twitter Tuesday night, Martin added, “At the same time, the government is very conscious of the economic and social damage and the need to keep our economy working to keep society open. and in particular, to enable our schools to open fully in the coming weeks and to also enable the resumption of non-Covid elements of medicine and health.”

Covid-19 positivity rate in Louisiana drops below 10%, governor says

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards, right, holds a news conference on Tuesday.