August 20 coronavirus news

By Helen Regan, Adam Renton, Emma Reynolds, Ed Upright and Meg Wagner, CNN

Updated 12:51 AM ET, Fri August 21, 2020
4 Posts
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9:55 p.m. ET, August 19, 2020

Covid-19 cases are declining across the US but could "turn around very quickly," testing czar warns

From CNN's Amanda Watts

Adm. Dr. Brett Giroir testifies during a House subcommittee meeting on July 31.
Adm. Dr. Brett Giroir testifies during a House subcommittee meeting on July 31. Kevin Dietsch/Pool/AFP/Getty Images/File

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, and 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% (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. 

9:33 p.m. ET, August 19, 2020

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

From CNN's Eva Tapiero in Paris

France confirmed a new daily high in coronavirus cases since coming out of lockdown in mid-May, with 3,776 infections 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.

Mandatory masks: 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 September 1, Minister of Labor Elisabeth Borne announced on Tuesday.

11:42 p.m. ET, August 19, 2020

Fauci urges people to stop speculating about the pandemic and focus on facts 

From CNN’s Amanda Watts

Dr. Anthony Fauci.
Dr. Anthony Fauci. George Washington University/Facebook

The US' leading infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, said health care professionals must continue to “make recommendations and policy based on data and evidence.” 

“Speculations, anecdotal, those kinds of opinions, really need to be put aside,” he said while speaking during a George Washington University webinar on Wednesday. 

“Everything that we are talking about in the arena of public health, any intervention, it could be a diagnostic, a vaccine, a therapy -- it has to be made on the basis of sound scientific data and evidence.” 

Fauci said he and his public health colleagues do this every day, holding true to their ethical principles.  

"You don't change your ethics because of the situation you are in," he said. "There are certain things that are constant; science, data and really good evidence are constant," he said.  

"If the situation changes, the data may change and you make your decisions. What doesn't change are ethical principles. They are clear and immutable."

9:22 p.m. ET, August 19, 2020

Spain reports highest daily increase in Covid-19 cases since the end of lockdown

From CNN's Duarte Mendonca

Spain reported 3,715 new coronavirus infections within the past day, the Health Ministry said on Wednesday, marking the highest increase in daily cases since the end of the country’s lockdown in late June.

Until Wednesday, Spain’s highest number of new cases since the lockdown ended was on August 14, with a total of 2,987 new cases -- making the latest figures a significant increase of 728 cases in comparison to the previous high.

Spain's cumulative case number, which includes antibody tests on people who may have already recovered from the virus, rose by 6,671 to 370,867.