August 24 coronavirus news

By Ben Westcott, Adam Renton, Jack Guy, Ed Upright, Mike Hayes and Meg Wagner, CNN

Updated 12:00 a.m. ET, August 25, 2020
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7:50 p.m. ET, August 24, 2020

Colombia surpasses 550,000 Covid-19 cases

From CNN's Stefano Pozzebon

Health workers transporting a Covid-19 patient wait at the entrance of the ICU of the general hosptial in Medellin, Colombia, on August 20.
Health workers transporting a Covid-19 patient wait at the entrance of the ICU of the general hosptial in Medellin, Colombia, on August 20. Joaquin Sarmiento/AFP/Getty Images

Colombia's total number of coronavirus cases reached 551,696 on Monday after registering 10,549 new cases, according to the country's health ministry.

There were also 296 new deaths recorded in the last 24 hours, raising the national death toll to 17,612, the ministry reported.

Colombia is the fourth country in Latin America with the highest Covid-19 cases, following Brazil, Peru, and Mexico, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

This comes as Bogota’s Mayor Claudia Lopez announced Monday that local lockdown will be lifted in the Colombian capital on Thursday, four days ahead of schedule. Some social distancing measures will remain in place in Bogota through the month of September, but most business owners will be allowed to reopen their businesses.

7:20 p.m. ET, August 24, 2020

51 new cases of Covid-19 reported at Georgia Tech

From CNN’s Jamiel Lynch

A statue is masked inside a building on the first day of classes Monday, August 17, at Georgia Tech in Atlanta.
A statue is masked inside a building on the first day of classes Monday, August 17, at Georgia Tech in Atlanta. Jeff Amy/AP

Georgia Tech reported 51 new cases of Covid-19 as of Sunday, according to the school's dashboard.

The dashboard reports if the person was a student or staff member, when they were last on campus, and when their case was reported. 

The majority of the cases reported on Sunday were among students.

In total, the school has reported 302 cases since March.

7:21 p.m. ET, August 24, 2020

More than 100 USC students under quarantine after Covid-19 outbreak at off-campus housing

From CNN's Sarah Moon

More than 100 students from the University of Southern California are under a 14-day quarantine due to a coronavirus outbreak among students who live in the university’s off-campus housing, USC announced in a community health advisory on Monday.

The “alarming increase” of cases among students was reported just after the first week of fall semester, according to the letter. No students have been hospitalized at this point.

In the past seven days, 14 cases were identified through asymptomatic population testing and 29 cases were identified through contact tracing and testing of symptomatic and exposed individuals, the letter notes.

“This increase comes despite the continued state and county health guidance that significantly restricts in-person instruction and on-campus activities for universities located in counties that are on the state’s Covid-19 monitoring list, including Los Angeles County,” said USC Student Health Chief Health Officer Dr. Sarah Van Orman in the letter. “It appears highly unlikely current conditions will significantly change in the weeks ahead.”

According to the letter, decisions to allow exceptions for certain classes and other activities that cannot be delivered in a virtual setting have not been made. Students are strongly discouraged to return to campus until further notice.

Earlier this month, USC announced that it will begin fall semester fully remotely and reversed its decision to allow some in-person classes.

The university also reported 44 confirmed cases linked to fraternity row late July.

6:29 p.m. ET, August 24, 2020

Brazil reports more than 17,000 new coronavirus cases in 24 hours

From Rodrigo Pedroso in São Paulo

A nurse observes a rapid coronavirus test on July 28 in Ilha de Marajo, Brazil.
A nurse observes a rapid coronavirus test on July 28 in Ilha de Marajo, Brazil. Pedro Vilela/Getty Images

Brazil’s health ministry has reported 17,078 new Covid-19 cases over the past 24 hours, bringing the total to 3,622,861.

The ministry also reported 565 new coronavirus fatalities on Monday, raising the country’s death toll to 115,309.

More on the numbers: It comes as Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro held a “beating the Covid-19” ceremony Monday in Brasilia where he gathered physicians to give testimonies about the use of the hydroxychloroquine, a controversial anti-malarial drug with no scientifically proven effectiveness in treating coronavirus.

Bolsonaro did not mention the number of Covid-19 cases and deaths in Brazil during the ceremony on Monday, nor did he comment on the high plateau of a daily average of 1,000 fatalities attributed to the coronavirus since June, according to data from the health ministry.

Brazil continues to be second only to the United States in the highest total number of coronavirus cases and deaths in the world.

6:33 p.m. ET, August 24, 2020

FDA adviser: The Trump administration has pressured and bullied the agency on Covid-19 therapies  

From CNN's Josiah Ryan

Dr. Paul Offit, who serves on the Food and Drug Administration's Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee, told CNN's Jake Tapper today he's seen evidence the White House has pressured the agency in regards to the approval of coronavirus treatments. 

Offit said he feared the FDA's surprise authorization on Sunday of the use of blood plasma from coronavirus survivors as a treatment for new patients was done under political pressure as no new data had emerged that would explain the sudden shift.

"The FDA's job is to make sure that they would not approve a product until it's been shown to be safe and effective and this had not clearly been shown to be effective," he said when asked by Tapper if the FDA commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn had made the decision because he was "feeling the heat" from the White House. 

He went on to say that "last night there was a change of heart by the FDA without any new data so one can only conclude that there had to be pressure on the FDA to do that."

Offit also pointed to the FDA's treatment of the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine as evidence the agency had felt pressure from the White House "for some quick, fast cure" for Covid-19. 

While Offit said he believed the plasma therapy presents little danger to Covid-19 patients, he said the pattern of political pressure could become dangerous especially if a vaccine enters the final stages of approval.

"It just worries me that it sets yet another precedent to make you worry about the fact that the administration's willing to bully its science-based agencies," he said.

But Hahn, who leads the FDA, defended his organization on Sunday saying he makes decisions "on data only," denying he was pressured by the White House to issue the emergency use authorization for convalescent plasma.

“I took an oath as a doctor 35 years ago to do no harm. I abide by that every day,” Hahn said in a statement to CNN’s Jim Acosta.

“I’ve never been asked to make any decision at the FDA based on politics," he wrote. "The decisions the scientists at the FDA are making are done on data only.” 

6:32 p.m. ET, August 24, 2020

California's Covid-19 hospitalizations down 20% over past 2 weeks

From CNN's Cheri Mossburg

A nurse cares for a coronavirus patient in the Intensive Care Unit at El Centro Regional Medical Center on July 28 in El Centro, California.
A nurse cares for a coronavirus patient in the Intensive Care Unit at El Centro Regional Medical Center on July 28 in El Centro, California. Mario Tama/Getty Images

Covid-19 hospitalizations in California are down 20% over the past two weeks, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced today. Intensive care unit rates are down 19% over the same reporting period.

A total of 4,946 new cases were added to the state’s total today, well below the seven-day case average of 5,798. This brings California’s case total to 668,615, with 12,152 deaths, according to an update from the state's Department of Public Health.

Five counties – Orange, Napa, Calaveras, Sierra, and Mono – have been removed from a so-called "watch list," Newsom announced today. If the counties can maintain their data for the next 14 days, they can begin reopening more sectors to the public. Currently, 36 counties remain on the monitoring list.

California’s positivity rate is holding steady at 6.5% for the past 14 days.

About 34% of all cases in California are centered in Los Angeles County. This is down significantly from June, when L.A. accounted for almost half of all cases in the state.

Los Angeles Department of Public Health reported just under 1,200 new cases today for a total of 232,893.

Note: These numbers were released by California Department of Public Health and the Los Angeles 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.

5:52 p.m. ET, August 24, 2020

Ohio State University issues temporary suspensions to students for breaking Covid rules

From CNN's Annie Grayer

Ohio State University issued 228 interim suspensions on Monday to students who they say have broken the university’s Covid-19 regulations around socializing, Benjamin Johnson, the university’s spokesperson, confirmed to CNN. 

In a letter sent to the community on Aug. 21, the vice president of student life, Melissa Shivers, outlined that students must wear a mask, practice social distancing, and that gatherings could not include more than 10 people. Shivers warned that the university’s student conduct team was in the process of opening dozens of cases that would likely result in interim suspensions. Shivers also made clear that student organizations involved in unsafe gatherings could lose their university recognition and funding.

“Perhaps knowing about the action we are taking will influence your decisions and prompt you to encourage others to take this situation seriously” Shivers wrote in her letter on Aug. 21. “And remember that this is all about more than the individual. We have one shot at this – responding to what so many of you asked for: an on campus semester at Ohio State.”

The Office of Student Life is also monitoring off-campus neighborhoods and is reporting individuals to student conduct, Johnson told CNN.

OSU students moved back to campus starting on Aug. 19. Classes are scheduled to begin at the university on Tuesday.

4:54 p.m. ET, August 24, 2020

More than 177,000 people have died from coronavirus in the US

From CNN's Dave Alsup

There are at least 5,730,294 cases of coronavirus in the US, and at least 177,065 people have died, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

So far on Monday, Johns Hopkins has reported 28,615 new cases and 263 reported deaths. 

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

5:08 p.m. ET, August 24, 2020

Minnesota links 27 Covid-19 cases to motorcycle rally

From CNN's Gisela Crespo

A man rides past a discarded face mask during the 80th Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally on August 8 in Sturgis, South Dakota.
A man rides past a discarded face mask during the 80th Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally on August 8 in Sturgis, South Dakota. Bryan R. Smith/AFP/Getty Images

There are now 27 cases of Covid-19 in Minnesota linked to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally that took place in South Dakota earlier this month. 

Kris Ehresmann, director of the Infectious Disease Division at Minnesota Department of Health, said Monday during a briefing that of the 27 cases, 25 said they attended Sturgis and two either worked or volunteered at the event. One person who was hospitalized last week was released after three days, Ehresmann added. 

The health department had reported 15 cases linked to the motorcycle rally last week.