August 18 coronavirus news

By Jessie Yeung, Adam Renton, Amy Woodyatt and Ed Upright, CNN

Updated 12:00 a.m. ET, August 19, 2020
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1:26 p.m. ET, August 18, 2020

Fauci does not foresee a Covid-19 vaccine mandate in the United States 

From CNN’s Amanda Watts

An injection is prepared as a part of a vaccine trial at the Research Centers of America in Hollywood, Florida, on August 13.
An injection is prepared as a part of a vaccine trial at the Research Centers of America in Hollywood, Florida, on August 13. Chandan Khanna/AFP/Getty Images

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's leading infectious disease expert, says he does not foresee a Covid-19 vaccine mandate in the United States. 

“I don't think you'll ever see a mandating of vaccine, particularly for the general public,” Fauci said on Tuesday during a Healthline.com town hall.

Fauci said everyone has the right to refuse a vaccine. “If someone refuses the vaccine in the general public, then there's nothing you can do about that. You cannot force someone to take a vaccine," he said.

America’s top infectious diseases doctor did say in some areas, like the medical sector, many health care workers are asked to vaccinate in order to have contact with patients.  

“When you're in the medical sector, depending on the policy of a hospital, the hospital may say — if you refuse to take a given vaccine, whether that's a hepatitis vaccine, or a flu vaccine or perhaps even the Covid vaccine, that you might not be able to have person-to-person contact with patients,” he explained.

1:48 p.m. ET, August 18, 2020

Fauci says Covid testing is "still not completely fixed"

From CNN's Amanda Watts

A COVID-19 nasal test swab is prepared at a testing site locate at the Miami Lakes Youth Center on July 22 in Miami Lakes, Florida.
A COVID-19 nasal test swab is prepared at a testing site locate at the Miami Lakes Youth Center on July 22 in Miami Lakes, Florida. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Testing is “still not completely fixed” across the entire nation, Dr. Anthony Fauci said Tuesday.

“The other thing that's a problem — still not completely fixed, but fixed in many areas of the country, but not all — is the delay between the time you do the test and you get the result back,” he said during a Tuesday town hall with Healthline.com.

If tests results take “five to seven days, it almost obviates the purpose of contact tracing, because that means somebody was out there for five to seven days potentially spreading the infection,” he said.

“We are correcting that — we're trying hard and we are correcting it in many areas," Fauci said.

But clear and fast results are needed to calculate an important metric: percent positivity.

“You look at New York City right now it's less than 1%. That's what you want the whole country to be,” he said.

“There are parts of the country where it's 15, 18, 20% — that's really high,” he said. “The percent of your tests that you do that are actually positive it's got to be a very low number,” he said. 

1:13 p.m. ET, August 18, 2020

Lebanon will impose a countrywide lockdown following surge in Covid-19 cases

From CNN's Ghazi Balkiz in Beirut

The Lebanese caretaker government announced Tuesday a countrywide lockdown starting 6 a.m. local time Friday following a surge in Covid-19 cases.

The lockdown will be extended until 6 a.m. local time on Sept. 7.

The Lebanese caretaker interior and municipalities minister issued a decree ordering the lockdown, which includes the closure of all private institutions, open markets, commercial companies, the seaside corniche, tourist facilities, indoor and outdoor sports facilities, stadiums, clubs, public and private swimming pools, restaurants, cafes, clubs, nightclubs, and others. All public and social gatherings are prohibited under the decree. 

Restoration work, removal of rubble, and aid distribution in the neighborhoods affected by the Beirut port blast are exempt from the lockdown. 

Employees of the security, medical, civil defense services, the press, ports and the airport, as well as medicine manufacturing sector are also exempt from the lockdown. The airport remains open.

The latest cases: Lebanon registered 421 new Covid-19 cases in the last 24 hours, bringing its total number of cases to 9,758, according to the Lebanese Ministry of Public Health.

Lebanon has recently witnessed a surge of Covid-19 cases. This comes as the country is suffering from an economic collapse and dealing with the aftermath of the port blast that ripped through the capital, killing about 170 people, wounding around 6,000 people and displacing about 300,000 people.

12:38 p.m. ET, August 18, 2020

Hundreds of Covid-19 cases already reported as students return to college campuses

From CNN's Annie Grayer and Elizabeth Stuart

Students nationwide are returning to college campuses, and some schools are reporting pockets of positive Covid-19 cases.

Here's a look at what some schools are reporting:

  • University of Notre Dame: As of Tuesday morning, 58 students have tested positive, according to the school's online health dashboard. Students returned to the university's Indiana campus on Aug. 3.
  • University of Kentucky: At least 160 people have tested positive at the university since school began on Aug. 3, according to the university's Covid-19 dashboard that tracks positive cases.
  • University of Western Kentucky: The University of Western Kentucky reported 19 positive cases of Covid-19 among students and staff between Aug. 7 and 13, out of the 132 tests conducted during that period.
  • East Carolina University: East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina, reported 29 positive Covid-19 cases last week, a 7.8% positivity rate. Since students started returning to campus on Aug. 5, the university has averaged about 30 new cases per week, according to the school's Covid-19 dashboard.
  • Colorado College: At least 155 students in one dorm at Colorado College in Colorado Springs have been forced to quarantine after the college learned of a student who tested positive and did not practice proper social distancing guidelines.
  • Northeast Mississippi Community College: The college in Booneville, Mississippi, shared that “around 300” students are currently in quarantine, the school's president Dr. Ricky G. Ford said on the school's official podcast.
  • Oklahoma State University: An Oklahoma State University sorority house is under quarantine after 23 members tested positive for Covid-19, according to the university. 
12:25 p.m. ET, August 18, 2020

France will require face masks in offices starting September

From Eva Tapiero in Paris

Face coverings will be mandatory in enclosed shared offices spaces starting Sept. 1, Minister of Labor Elisabeth Borne announced Tuesday. 

A ministry statement released later added that masks will not be compulsory in individual offices “as long as there is only one person present.”

This announcement comes after “an upsurge in the number of COVID-19 cases has been observed, as well as an increase in the number of clusters across the country,” the statement said.

“The professional environment is affected by this increase: the number of clusters currently being investigated is 268, including 60 in company settings,” the statement added.

Face masks became mandatory in public indoor spaces late July. Several cities have also imposed the wearing of masks outdoors, such as Marseille and Paris where it is now mandatory in central districts, major tourist spots and other crowded areas.

12:27 p.m. ET, August 18, 2020

Boeing plans more job cuts on top of 16,000 announced this spring  

From CNN’s Chris Isidore

The exterior of the Boeing facility is shown at Boeing Field on July 28 in Seattle.
The exterior of the Boeing facility is shown at Boeing Field on July 28 in Seattle. David Ryder/Getty Images

Boeing is planning another round of job cuts on top of the 16,000 positions it previously announced it would eliminate.

The aircraft maker has been hit by hundreds of canceled orders as airlines struggle with a plunge in demand for air travel during the Covid-19 pandemic. Boeing said in April it planned to cut 10% of its global staff of 160,000 employees in response. 

"The pandemic has been tough on our people, our business and our industry. While there have been some signs of recovery, the reality is we're in a challenging position," said CEO Dave Calhoun in a message to Boeing employees Monday. He said there would be a new round of buyouts offered to employees next week.

"This action will extend our overall workforce reductions beyond the initial 10% target and will allow more employees who want to depart the company to do so voluntarily with a pay and benefits package," Calhoun said. "Importantly, it also will help limit additional involuntary workforce actions. I truly wish the current market demand could support the size of our workforce. Unfortunately, layoffs are a hard but necessary step to align to our new reality."

Last month, Boeing said it would produce planes at a slower rate than previously expected for years to come. It has announced it will stop building the 747 when current orders for a freighter version of the plane run out in 2022. It is considering whether to consolidate production of the 787 Dreamliner, now built at factories in both Washington state and South Carolina, at one facility or the other.

The cuts announced in April target mostly Boeing's commercial aircraft unit. The latest round of buyouts will be offered to employees there, and also to workers in corporate offices and aircraft services.

Some more context: Earlier this year 5,500 Boeing employees agreed to take buyout packages and leave the company voluntarily. The company then laid off another 6,800 in May. But even as it prepared for additional cuts to hit the 16,000 target, the long-term production plans changed for the worse. 

It also has yet to be granted approval of the 737 Max to carry passengers once again. The plane has been grounded, and deliveries halted, since March of 2019 following two fatal crashes that killed 346 people.

12:27 p.m. ET, August 18, 2020

Iraq reports more than 4,500 new coronavirus cases

From CNN's Aqeel Najim in Baghdad

A medic collects a blood sample from a car driver at a coronavirus drive-through testing station on August 9 in Najaf, Iraq.
A medic collects a blood sample from a car driver at a coronavirus drive-through testing station on August 9 in Najaf, Iraq. Ameer Al Mohammedaw/picture alliance/Getty Images

Iraq’s Ministry of Health reported 4,567 news coronavirus cases on Tuesday. This is a new record in daily cases.

The total number of cases in Iraq is now 184,709. 

The health ministry reported 82 new Covid-19 deaths, bringing the total number of deaths in Iraq to 6,036.

12:31 p.m. ET, August 18, 2020

New York City gyms will not open next week, mayor says

From CNN's Melanie Schuman

A man walks past a SoulCycle in Chelsea on August 17 in New York City.
A man walks past a SoulCycle in Chelsea on August 17 in New York City. Bryan R. Smith/AFP/Getty Images

Gyms in New York City will not open before Sept. 2, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Tuesday. 

The mayor said inspections will move as quickly as they can, but schools are set to reopen Sept. 10 and the priority for inspections is daycare centers and schools.

On Monday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said gyms in the state can reopen with limited capacity next week and local inspections must occur within two weeks by Sept. 2.

The mayor discussed why it is continues to be so difficult to boost the economy with indoor dining due to the transmission of the virus.

“Unfortunately, bars, indoor restaurants, nightlife have been a huge nexus for the coronavirus, particularly resurgences of the coronavirus so I’m very cautious on this point, I know the governor is very cautious on this point,” de Blasio said.

“This is a really difficult choice,” said Dr. Jay Varma, senior adviser for public health in the mayor’s office, adding the city is using data from around the world which indicates settings for indoor dining and drinking can spread the virus.

12:30 p.m. ET, August 18, 2020

New York City mayor says he would send his kids to school "without hesitation"

From CNN's Melanie Schuman

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks during a press conference in New York City on August 18.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks during a press conference in New York City on August 18. NYC Media

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Tuesday during a briefing that he personally would send his kids to one of the city's public schools.

“I would send my kids without hesitation to a New York City public school because I see so many measures in place,” said de Blasio Tuesday.

Fifteen to 20% of coronavirus cases in New York City over the past month have occurred in people who recently traveled outside of the city according to Dr. Jay Varma, senior adviser for public health in the mayor’s office.

Students returning to the city from states on the quarantine list for the start of school should follow the quarantine guidelines, Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi said, and that is partly why the city built in flexibility for reopening and remote learning.

There will be a nurse in every school building — which wasn’t true in the past.

Asked about how the city can pay for all the personal protective equipment in schools, the mayor said health and safety come first and he is holding out hope for federal action and state help.