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August 19 coronavirus news

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What you need to know

  • The number of novel coronavirus cases worldwide has surpassed 22 million, according to Johns Hopkins University.
  • With nearly 11.5 million total cases, the Americas account for 64% of the world’s Covid-19 deaths, the Pan American Health Organization’s director said.
  • Dr. Anthony Fauci said he does not foresee a Covid-19 vaccine mandate in the United States
  • Australia has secured a deal with AstraZeneca for access to a potential Covid-19 vaccine, which it would provide free to all citizens.

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Mexico reports more than 5,700 new Covid-19 cases

Mexico recorded 5,792 new cases of Covid-19 and 707 new deaths on Wednesday, according to the Health Ministry.

The total number of confirmed infections in the country now stands at 537,031, with 58,481 deaths.

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

Only Brazil and Peru have recorded more Covid-19 cases than Mexico in Latin America, according to JHU.

CNN is tracking worldwide coronavirus cases here:

Indigenous Brazilians protesting over Covid-19 response lift barricades -- but warn they will block road again

Indigenous protesters block a highway near Novo Progresso, Brazil, on Monday.

Indigenous Brazilian protesters removed their barricades from a key highway in Brazil’s Amazon Wednesday to allow for trucks loaded with grains to pass through.

The Kayapó Mekragnoti people warned they will block the route again on Thursday morning to continue their protest against the government’s lack of Covid-19 relief.

The Indigenous Brazilians defied a court order on Tuesday and blocked a key highway for the second time in 24 hours, after reopening it with federal police earlier in the day.

Why they are protesting: The protesters are demanding health assistance, medical supplies and food to fight the Covid-19 pandemic, and the end of deforestation and illegal activities in their territories, according to the Kabu Institute, an NGO created to manage indigenous villages and inspect the region’s forests. 

Why they chose the highway: Indigenous leaders argue that proximity to the road brought coronavirus to their villages, the Kabu Institute told CNN Monday.

The first coronavirus cases among the Kayapó Mekragnoti occurred as a result of their contact with urban populations and the presence of illegal miners in their reserves. 

At least 21,000 indigenous people in Brazil have been infected with Covid-19 and more than 600 have died, according to the Articulation of Indigenous Peoples of Brazil (APIB).

President Trump again points out New Zealand's fresh coronavirus outbreak

President Donald Trump speaks during a White House news conference on Wednesday.

United States President Donald Trump highlighted New Zealand’s fresh coronavirus outbreak for the second time this week, while claiming the US has done a good job of containing the virus.

“New Zealand had a big outbreak, and other countries that were held up to try and make us look not as good as we should look, because we have done an incredible job,” Trump said at a news briefing on Wednesday.
“They’re having a lot of outbreaks, but they’ll be able to put them out, and we put them out.”

New Zealand is currently grappling with a reemergence of cases, which came shortly after the country went more than 100 days with no local transmissions.

On Monday, Trump called New Zealand’s surge in Covid-19 cases “terrible.”

“Even New Zealand, did you see what’s going on in New Zealand? ‘They beat it, they beat it.’ It was like front page, they beat it, because they wanted to show me something,” he said.

In response, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she didn’t see any real comparison between her country’s current cluster and the tens of thousands of cases that are reported daily in the US.

“Obviously, every country is experiencing its own fight with Covid-19; it is a tricky virus, but not one where I would compare New Zealand’s current status to the United States,” she said.
“New Zealand’s nine cases in a day does not compare to the United States’ tens of thousands, and in fact does not compare to most countries in the world. I’m not concerned about people misinterpreting our status.”

New cases: New Zealand recorded five new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, Director-General of Health Dr. Ashley Bloomfield said on Thursday.

That raises the country’s total to 1,304 confirmed infections – 101 of which remain active. New Zealand has also reported 22 coronavirus-related deaths.

The US has recorded at least 5,527,306 Covid-19 cases, including 173,114 related deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Egypt requires negative Covid-19 PCR test from all travelers starting September 1

Travelers stand in line for a security check at the Sharm El Sheikh International Airport in June.

Egypt will require all travelers arriving in the country to present a negative Covid-19 Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) lab test result starting September 1.

Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly made the announcement in a news conference on Wednesday, according to the state-run Al-Ahram news agency.

Madbouly said the decision to require the test for all travelers came due to “increasing infections in some countries,” according to Al-Ahram.  

Egypt shut its airspace in March but resumed regular international flights gradually from July 1, Al-Ahram reported. 

Foreign tourists are currently allowed entry only into the three coastal Egyptian governorates with the lowest coronavirus infection rates in the country – South Sinai, Red Sea, and Matrouh, according to the news agency. 

University of Illinois receives FDA authorization for fast saliva test

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign said it is using a new, fast saliva test for coronavirus under an Emergency Use Authorization by the US Food and Drug Administration.

The university’s test is similar enough to one developed at the Yale School of Public Health to allow authorization, Dr. Marty Burke, associate dean for research at the Carle Illinois College of Medicine, told a briefing Wednesday.

The FDA authorized Yale’s test, called SalivaDirect, last week.

It gives results in about three hours, a University of Illinois spokeswoman said. Students, faculty and staff have been getting tested twice weekly to keep a handle on the spread of the virus, she said, with more than 50,000 tests done since July.

The university tested 10,000 people on Monday alone, a spokesperson said.

“It’s one of the least expensive and potentially most effective now on the market,” Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said at the briefing.

“This has potentially game-changing implications for our statewide testing complex as well as for testing on a national level, particularly for our high risk communities and settings,” he said.

Argentina reports new daily high for Covid-19 deaths

Cemetery workers in Buenos Aires carry a person's remains to the section of the Flores Cemetery where Covid-19 victims are being buried.

Argentina reported its highest daily number of Covid-19-related deaths on Wednesday, with 282 fatalities.

The coronavirus death toll in the South American country now stands at 6,330, according to the Health Ministry.

Argentina also reported 6,693 new Covid-19 cases on Wednesday, bringing the total number of confirmed infections to 312,659.

Argentina has reported the sixth highest number of cases in Latin America, according to Johns Hopkins University.

College Board cancels August SAT exam for nearly half of students planning to take it

The College Board announced that 178,600 out of 402,000 students who signed up to take the SAT and SAT Subject Tests on Aug. 29 will not be able to do so.

The College Board cited the closure of local test centers and the need to reduce capacity as a result of social distancing as the reason for a significant number of students being unable to take the test on their previously scheduled date.

As of Tuesday, 54% of test centers initially scheduled to administer tests in August remain open. Of the 54% of test centers that are open, 46% are at capacity.

“We know this is a challenging time for students who want to take the SAT,” said Priscilla Rodriguez, the College Board vice president of College Readiness Assessments. “We are working with local communities to help ensure as many students who want to test have the opportunity to do so, safely, during next week’s SAT administration and those that follow each month this year.” 

The College Board said it will work with test centers that need to close or reduce their available seats because of new safety measures.

Colombia tops 500,000 Covid-19 cases after record daily increase

Cemetery workers bury an alleged coronavirus victim in Medellin, Colombia, as her relatives watch from a safe distance on August 12.

Colombia surpassed the 500,000 mark in nationwide coronavirus cases Wednesday after the country registered a record 13,056 new cases in the past 24 hours, according to the country’s health ministry.

This brings the country’s total case count to at least 502,178. 

There were also 360 new deaths recorded in the last 24 hours, raising the national death toll to 15,979, the ministry reported.

This comes after Colombia’s health ministry approved a plan this morning to partially resume domestic flights from 10 cities.

Colombia joins Brazil, Mexico and Peru to become the fourth country in Latin America to top 500,000 total Covid-19 cases, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. 

Detroit teachers union votes to authorize a safety strike over district's reopening plan

Detroit Federation of Teachers President Terrence Martin, bottom, speaks during a virtual news conference on Wednesday.

The Detroit Federation of Teachers voted overwhelming Wednesday to authorize a safety strike over concerns about the school district’s reopening plan, union president Terrence Martin said.

“The action we took today is not an action we wanted to take but an action who had to take. It is not an action that we take lightly,” Martin said during a virtual news conference.

Meanwhile, the Detroit Public Schools Community District said via Twitter that “teachers have options. No teacher is required to teach face to face,” and that “most students are selecting online learning.” 

“We are hopeful we can reach an agreement with the Detroit Public Schools about the reopening,” Martin said, adding that the union is seeking reassurances from the district about the safety measures that would be taken in schools amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

The vote to authorize the safety strike received the support of 91% of the union members as negotiations with the school district continues.

The first day of the district’s school year is scheduled for Sept. 8.

Operation Warp Speed chief predicts Covid-19 vaccine by next spring, early summer

Moncef Slaoui is head of Operation Warp Speed, the White House’s accelerated vaccine program.

Operation Warp Speed chief adviser Moncef Slaoui said he expects a coronavirus vaccine to be widely available sometime next year – perhaps between April and June, according to a new report. 

Slaoui, in an interview Wednesday with Business Insider, said he expects most of the US’s “high-risk population of around 70 or 80 million people will have been immunized” by then. Much depends on whether a majority of the six vaccines backed by Operation Warp Speed demonstrate efficacy, he said.

“I feel pretty confident we will be there,” Slaoui said.

High-risk individuals include the elderly and those with underlying health conditions such as diabetes, kidney and heart disease.

Some context: Slaoui, an immunologist who formerly headed up GlaxoSmithKline’s vaccine program, told CNN late last month that there might not be enough vaccine available for all Americans until the end of next year. He said there would be enough vaccine for all Americans “ideally” by the middle of 2021, but possibly not until the end of 2021.

The head of Operation Warp Speed, the White House’s accelerated vaccine program, also told Business Insider that he expects critical information on late-stage vaccine trials currently underway by Moderna and Pfizer to be available soon and that the trials are moving along “very well.” AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson are expected to begin trials shortly, too.

“I would not be surprised if we have data before the end of the year,” Slaoui said, but he was unable to give a more precise time on when the government might know if one of the vaccines works. 

Brazil tops 110,000 deaths from Covid-19

This aerial photo shows the Vila Formosa Cemetery, on the outskirts of São Paulo, Brazil, on August 6.

Brazil has confirmed 49,298 new Covid-19 cases and 1,212 deaths in the past 24 hours, the country’s health ministry reported Wednesday. 

At least 111,100 people have died in Brazil from coronavirus, according to the ministry’s data. The total number of confirmed Covid-19 cases now stands at 3,456,652.

A top Brazilian health official said at today’s news conference that Covid-19-related deaths in the country have been on the decline.

“Since the epidemiological week 30 [mid-July], it has been falling progressively. We need to follow the disease’s behavior in the next two or three weeks to see if we are truly having a significant fall,” Brazil’s Secretary of Health Surveillance Arnaldo Correia de Medeiros said.

Some context: As of last week, Covid-19-related deaths fell by 2% compared to the previous week, according to data released on Wednesday by the health ministry.

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

Washington state health officials credit mask use for decline in Covid-19 case rate

Health officials in Washington state – where the first US coronavirus outbreak was reported – say the rate of new cases is slowing down for a second time.

“I do honestly think that the face coverings have made a difference,” Secretary of Health Dr. John Weisman said Wednesday during a news conference.

Earlier in the week, the department issued a status report saying new cases are “plateauing” in Washington.

“Clearly we have two peaks that we’ve seen,” Weisman said, attributing the drop in new cases recently to people now willing to wear a mask. “Frankly, this is now becoming widely accepted,” he said.

The statewide seven-day rolling average peaked nearly a month ago, but Weisman said case counts are only just now getting back down to where they were during the state’s first peak at the beginning of April.

“We’re both encouraged, and also still really cautious,” he said.

2 additional Covid-19 clusters identified in sorority houses at North Carolina State University

North Carolina State University has identified two additional Covid-19 clusters at two sorority houses on campus, according to a release on the school’s website.

The Alpha Delta Pi Sorority House has reported seven positive cases and the Kappa Delta Sorority House has six positive cases. 

All students who have tested positive will be isolated and residents of both houses are being quarantined, the release said.

On Tuesday: The school reported two other clusters, one among the Greek life system and another in off-campus housing. 

According to tracking data on the school’s website, the school reported 28 news cases of Covid-19 today, 27 among students and one employee.

San Diego has been taken off California's Covid-19 watch list, governor says

Gov. Gavin Newsom

San Diego, Santa Cruz, and Placer counties are no longer on California’s Covid-19 monitoring list after meeting requirements for slowing the spread of the coronavirus, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced during a news conference on Wednesday.

San Francisco may come off the watch list as early as Thursday, Newsom added.

While 40 of California’s 58 counties are currently on the state’s watch list, Newsom said “we want this list to go down to zero.”

More details: Counties are required to have fewer than 100 coronavirus cases per 100,000 residents for two weeks and a 7-day positivity rate below 8% to stay off the state watch list, according to guidelines from the California Department of Public Health. Counties off the watch list for 14 consecutive days are eligible to apply for a waiver to open in-person classes for elementary schools.

In Los Angeles County, which has the most coronavirus cases and deaths in the state, the county’s public health director Dr. Barbara Ferrer, said during a briefing Wednesday that the county is “doing better,” but “not doing well enough.”

While Los Angeles County has made “decent progress” with a test positivity rate below 8%, the county is still reporting about 245 cases per 100,000 residents, Ferrer said.

More than half of Kentucky counties are in the White House “danger zone,” governor said

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear speaks during a press conference on Wednesday, August 19.

More than half of Kentucky counties are in the White House “danger zone” designations when it comes to Covid-19 infections, Gov. Andy Beshear announced Wednesday.

“According to White House data, 20 Kentucky counties are in the red zone with a positivity rate of 10 percent or higher, and dozens more are in the 5-10 percent positivity rate yellow zone,” Beshear said via Twitter.

Kentucky recorded 655 new Covid-19 cases in the past 24 hours as well as 12 new deaths, Beshear told reporters during a news conference in Frankfort.

The governor also emphasized that among the new cases, 91 or 14% are children age 18 years-old or younger.

Kentucky now counts a total of 40,926 cases, including a total of 842 deaths, Beshear said. 

Massachusetts will require flu vaccines for public school students

Massachusetts said Wednesday it would require all schoolchildren to get influenza vaccines to stay enrolled in public schools and daycares, making it the first state to require flu shots for children over the age of 5.

“The new vaccine requirement is an important step to reduce flu-related illness and ​the overall impact of respiratory illness during the COVID-19 pandemic,” the Massachusetts Department of Public Health said in a statement.

Most states require that children get the 16 recommended childhood vaccines to attend public schools, but the influenza vaccine, which must be given freshly every year, has been an exception.

Public health officials including US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Robert Redfield have been urging all Americans to get vaccinated against flu this year so the virus doesn’t further complicate the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

“Students will be expected to have received a flu vaccine by December 31, 2020 for the 2020-2021 influenza season, unless either a medical or religious exemption is provided,” the Massachusetts health department said.

“Also exempted are K-12 students who are homeschooled and higher education students who are completely off-campus and engaged in remote learning only,” the department added.

The CDC estimates that 600 children died of flu during the 2017-2018 flu season.

“Every year, thousands of people of all ages are affected by influenza, leading to many hospitalizations and deaths,” Dr. Larry Madoff, medical director of the state’s Bureau of Infectious Disease, said in a statement.

“It is more important now than ever to get a flu vaccine because flu symptoms are very similar to those of COVID-19 and preventing the flu will save lives and preserve healthcare resources.”  

NBA reports another week of coronavirus-free players

The Denver Nuggets and Utah Jazz kneel before a first round playoff game on August 19 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.

Once again, no NBA players within the Disney World based campus have tested positive for Covid-19, the league reports. 

The NBA and the players union jointly announced zero positive Covid-19 test results from the 341 players tested this past week. 

The last time the NBA reported positive test results was on July 13, when 322 players were tested with two confirmed positives. 

The first round of the 2020 NBA playoffs are ongoing in Orlando, Florida. 

US stocks end the day down following report on Covid-19 economic recovery

People walk past the New York Stock Exchange on August 3 in New York.

US stocks ended the day in the red and neither the S&P 500 nor the Nasdaq Composite reached new record highs.

The Federal Reserve’s July meeting minutes reminded the market that the recovery remains fragile and that its path will depend on how well we deal with the virus in the future. That put a damper on things.

  • The Dow finished 0.3%, or 85 points, lower
  •  The S&P 500 slipped 0.4%
  •  The Nasdaq Composite ended down 0.6%

Trump's Covid-19 testing czar says Covid-19 cases could "turn around very quickly if we’re not careful"

Adm. Brett Giroir testifies at a coronavirus hearing on July 31, 2020 in Washington, D.C.

Covid-19 cases are declining across the United States and it’s clear “trends are going in the right direction,” Adm. Dr. Brett Giroir said during a US Department of Health and Human Services telebriefing on Wednesday. 

“We have very good data - theoretical and real data – that the plans that we’re implementing are working, and will continue to work – and will continue to work just about equivalently to a shutdown,” Giroir said. 

Giroir says wearing a mask, staying a safe distance away, washing your hands along with testing “continues to yield results.”

But Giroir doesn’t want the news to lead to complacency because “this thing could turn around very quickly if we’re not careful. We saw that early on after Memorial Day, and the couple weeks afterward that sort of started the current outbreak, and it takes many weeks to get control over this once you institute measures.”  

Giroir, the assistant secretary for health at HHS, said new cases are down 22% since their peak in July – but noted that “tragically,” deaths are the lagging indicator and still remain flat.  

More data: Giroir said of the 56 US jurisdictions, 80% of them (45 out of 56) are currently in a declining pattern when it comes to new cases. Six of the 56 are flat. He said five are in an upward trajectory — Guam, Hawaii, California, Indiana and Vermont. 

Doctors' warning: Prepare now for how to deal with Covid-19 during hurricane season 

Experts from Duke University shared advice on Wednesday on how to prepare for the possibility of facing a hurricane during a pandemic.

Dr. Cameron Wolfe, associate professor of medicine at Duke Division of Infectious Diseases and an infectious disease specialist at Duke Health, said that when it comes to storm preparedness, communities should be “thinking about ways of incorporating Covid-specific level care and planning for the logistics of that.”

That includes thinking about things like personal protective equipment and mobile testing capacity for places like storm shelters. 

One thing that could be easy to overlook, is the mental health and emotional impact of living in a hurricane-prone place, according to Lisa Campbell, a professor of marine affairs and policy at Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment.

“I think the layering of Covid on top of this has really got people, pretty much, you know at their wits’ ends in terms of trying to anticipate uncertainty and consequence,” she said. 

She said that places like schools and employers should be attentive to the levels of stress that people are dealing with because of this double layer. 

Dr. Andrew Godfrey, an emergency medicine specialist at Duke Health and a medical instructor in the Department of Surgery at Duke University School of Health, said that people should take the time while things are calmer to make plans for hurricanes and storms.

“What their plan would be if they were ordered to evacuate or if they needed to leave, and to try to pre-plan a little bit, as much as possible, given the constraints of Covid,” he said. 

There are about 2,000 students quarantined in Mississippi due to Covid-19

A student receives hand sanitizer while arriving to an elementary school in Biloxi, Mississippi.

Almost 2,000 K-12 students in Mississippi have been quarantined in the state due to possible exposure to Covid-19.

Dr. Thomas Dobbs, with the Mississippi Department of Health, said that 1,970 students and 328 school staff are quarantined in the state.

Dobbs said the state is also watching two outbreaks at two universities in the state – University of Mississippi and Mississippi University for Women. CNN has reached out to both universities for more information on their Covid-19 outbreaks. 

The state has reported 1,348 new Covid-19 cases and 31 new deaths today. 

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves said that today’s numbers are bad and do not follow the downward trend the state has been seeing recently.

Dobbs said a major concern in the state is that the people who are dying have not been exposed to the virus in congregate settings, but are instances of community spread of the disease. 

To note: These numbers were released by the state of Mississippi and may not line up exactly in real time with CNN’s database drawn from Johns Hopkins University and the Covid Tracking Project.

New data on the number of confirmed and probable Covid-19 deaths in New York City

Medical personnel move a deceased patient to a make shift morgues at Brooklyn Hospital Center on April 9 in New York City.

New York City has 19,005 confirmed and 4,638 probable coronavirus deaths as of Aug. 19, according to the most recent data on the city website.

The New York City Health Department defines probable deaths as people who did not have a positive Covid-19 laboratory test, but their death certificate lists as the cause of death “Covid-19” or an equivalent.

The total number of confirmed coronavirus deaths and probable coronavirus deaths in New York City is 23,643.

There have been 227,419 coronavirus cases in the city and 56,831 people have been hospitalized, according to the city.

The data is from the New York City Health Department and was updated on Aug. 19 at 1 p.m., according to the website.

To note: The numbers may not line up exactly in real time with CNN’s database drawn from Johns Hopkins University and the Covid Tracking Project.

Georgia reports more than 2,300 new Covid-19 cases and 56 deaths

People stand in line to get tested for COVID-19 at a free walk-up testing site on July 11 in Atlanta, Georgia.

The Georgia Department of Public Health reported 2,391 new cases of Covid-19 on Wednesday. 

The statewide Covid-19 case total is now 243,982.

Georgia DPH reported 56 new deaths. The total number of deaths attributed to Covid-19 in Georgia is now 4,849. 

There were 235 new Covid-19 related hospitalizations recorded.

Note: These numbers were released by the Georgia 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.

France reports highest daily increase in Covid-19 cases since end of lockdown in May

A firefighter takes a nasal swab sample at a coronavirus testing site in Marseille, France, on August 5.

France has set a record for new daily coronavirus cases since coming out of lockdown in mid-May, with 3,776 new cases reported by the National Health Agency on Wednesday.

That brings France’s total number of confirmed cases to 225,043.

While the latest data released by the French National Health agency shows a decreasing trend of people hospitalized and in intensive care units, the agency said in a statement that “in mainland France, all indicators continue to increase and transmission of the virus intensifies.”

“It concerns all age groups and more particularly young adults,” the statement added.

Following the surge in the number of new Covid-19 cases, the French government will make it mandatory to wear masks in enclosed shared spaces such as corporate offices from Sept. 1, announced the Minister of Labor Elisabeth Borne on Tuesday.

More than 172,000 people have died from coronavirus in the US

There are at least 5,505,074 cases of coronavirus in the US, and at least 172,418 people have died from the virus, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

On Wednesday at 1:45 p.m. ET, Johns Hopkins has reported 22,658 new cases and 597 reported deaths. 

The totals include cases from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and other US territories, as well as repatriated cases.