August 26 coronavirus news

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2:49 p.m. ET, August 26, 2020

Expert says new CDC guidelines on testing is the "wrong move"

From CNN’s Andrea Diaz

New Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines that seem to advocate for less coronavirus testing are probably the wrong move, an infectious diseases expert said Wednesday.

Testing is a cornerstone of controlling outbreaks of any infectious disease, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, chief of the Infectious Diseases Division at Massachusetts General Hospital, said on CNN Newsroom.

"I think we need to fully understand one of the best interventions we have against Covid-19 right now, in addition to masking and distancing, is testing, is the triad, is the things that we need to do. So, anything that advocates for less testing rather than more is probably the wrong move," Walensky said.

"I want to say where the CDC guidance really falls short is that they speak about antibody testing, speak about diagnostic testing and still seven months in, we don't have any guidance on surveillance testing," Walensky added. "When we have so much asymptomatic disease out there propagating new infections, we need to do surveillance testing."

Some more context: The CDC revisions suggest most people who do not have symptoms do not need to be tested, even after exposure to someone with the virus. 

What is important, Walensky said, is the timing of testing. 

"I think that the CDC guidelines, I question them, and would say that after exposure you do need a test," Walensky said. "I do advocate for calling your physician, calling a public health authority, to say when is the best time for me to get the test after I've been exposed."

2:13 p.m. ET, August 26, 2020

New Jersey gyms and indoor amusement facilities can reopen next week at 25% capacity, governor says

From CNN's Brian Vitagliano

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy speaks during a press briefing in Trenton, New Jersey, on August 26.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy speaks during a press briefing in Trenton, New Jersey, on August 26. Pool/News 12 NJ

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy announced Wednesday that he will be signing an executive order to allow New Jersey gyms to reopen on Tuesday, with a maximum indoor capacity of 25%. 

Additionally, fitness classes must adhere to one customer for every 200 square feet, all members and staff must wear masks, logs must be kept of all gym members and staff, six feet distance must be kept between all gym equipment and all equipment needs to be sanitized according to Murphy. 

“Gyms are among the most challenging of indoor environments as noted by multiple epidemiologist and experts even in the past several days and weeks, but given where we are in this fight, I know we are ready to take this next step forward," the governor said.

Indoor amusement facilities may also reopen on Tuesday, with details and protocols to follow, according to the governor.

Here's how the numbers look in the state:

  • New Jersey reported 288 Covid-19 positive tests on Monday. 
  • Daily positivity rate stands at 1.99%.
  • The rate of transmission stands at .8% which is down a bit according to Murphy. 
  • New Jersey recorded 11 deaths from Covid-19-related complications, bringing the total of New Jersey Covid-19 deaths to 14,134. 

Remember: These numbers were released by the New Jersey Governor’s office and may not line up exactly in real time with CNN’s database drawn from Johns Hopkins University and the Covid Tracking Project.

1:24 p.m. ET, August 26, 2020

Louisiana will remain in phase 2 of reopening in part due to Hurricane Laura, governor says

From CNN's Devon M. Sayers in Atlanta

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards speaks during a press conference on August 24 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards speaks during a press conference on August 24 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Melinda Deslatte/AP

Louisiana will remain in phase 2 of reopening for Covid-19 for an additional two weeks, Gov. John Bel Edwards said today.

“The challenge is we are going to be blind for this week” because of suspension of testing due to the storm, the governor said at a press conference. 

1:19 p.m. ET, August 26, 2020

What you need to know about the new CDC testing guidelines

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Edward R. Roybal campus is seen in Atlanta on April 23.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Edward R. Roybal campus is seen in Atlanta on April 23. Tami Chappell/AFP/Getty Images

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention abruptly changed its Covid-19 testing guidelines. Now, the center no longer recommends testing for most people without symptoms — even if they've been in close contact with someone known to have the virus.

Here's what we know so far about these new guidelines:

  • About the change: The CDC changed its site on Monday. Previously, it said "Testing is recommended for all close contacts of persons with SARS-CoV-2 infection." But now, it says, "If you have been in close contact (within 6 feet) of a person with a COVID-19 infection for at least 15 minutes but do not have symptoms, you do not necessarily need a test."
  • Some experts are baffled: Dr. Leana Wen, an emergency physician and public health professor at George Washington University who was previously Baltimore's health commissioner, said the testing guideline changes make no sense. "These are exactly the people who should be tested," Wen said.
  • Pressure from the White House: A senior federal health official close to the process tells CNN the sudden change in CDC Covid-19 testing guidance was the result of pressure from the Trump administration. When asked by CNN whether the CDC was responding to pressure from the White House and the Department of Health and Human Services, the senior official said, "It's coming from the top down."
1:21 p.m. ET, August 26, 2020

Expert on new CDC guidelines: "I am worried that this is just a way to slow down testing"

From CNN's Andrea Diaz

Dr. Carlos del Rio, an infectious disease specialist and the associate dean of Emory University School of Medicine, said on CNN Newsroom this morning that he doesn't understand why the CDC changed its guidelines on testing. 

The CDC changed its Covid-19 testing guidelines to say some people without symptoms may not need to be tested, even if they've been in close contact with someone known to have the virus. Previously, the CDC said viral testing was appropriate for people with recent or suspected exposure, even if they were asymptomatic.

Del Rio said the CDC has not provided evidence to explain the changes. “I mean, the evidence that I'm aware of as of today is that close to 40% of the cases of the infections are asymptomatic and asymptomatic people transmit the infection,” Del Rio said.

“So, not testing — I mean, if you have been in contact with somebody for a few minutes, that's okay. But if you have been in contact for 50 minutes and that people doesn't have a mask, I think you need to be tested regardless if you have symptoms or not. We know especially young people going into the house and then transmit inside the household. So, the guidelines baffle me and I really don't understand them," he said. 

Del Rio added that he's concerned about politics influencing these decisions. He noted that President Trump has said in the past that more testing leads to the detection of more cases. 

"If we slowed down testing we will have a decrease in cases,” Del Rio said. “So I am worried that this is just a way to slow down testing and that would clearly be not good. We don't want to decrease the amount of testing. We want to decrease cases by decreasing transmission, not by decreasing testing." 

Medical correspondent calls new CDC guidelines 'ridiculous'

12:03 p.m. ET, August 26, 2020

Moderna says vaccine data shows it is well tolerated across all age groups

From CNN Health’s Naomi Thomas

A syringe containing either the vaccine or a placebo is prepared for a participant in a Phase 3 COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial sponsored by Moderna at Accel Research Sites on August 4 in DeLand, Florida.
A syringe containing either the vaccine or a placebo is prepared for a participant in a Phase 3 COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial sponsored by Moderna at Accel Research Sites on August 4 in DeLand, Florida. Paul Hennessy/NurPhoto/Getty Images

Moderna’s experimental coronavirus vaccine appears to be safe and elicits an immune response in all age groups, including the elderly, a company official said Wednesday.

Data from the phase one safety trial of the vaccine showed only mild adverse effects, and generated an immune response in volunteers aged 18 to 71, Dr. Jacqueline Miller, therapeutic area head for infectious diseases at Moderna, told a meeting of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.

The phase one trial was conducted in three age groups: 18 to 55, 56 to 70 and 71 plus years of age. Participants received two 100mg doses of the vaccine 28 days apart. 

Neutralizing antibodies – which inactivate the virus — were detected in all participants, including the upper age range, she told the meeting. All age groups also seemed to produce the same immune response – a good sign, as older people often have weaker responses to vaccines.

The most common adverse reactions were fatigue, chills, headache and myalgia. More reports of adverse symptoms observed after the second dose of the vaccine, but the majority of symptoms resolved within two days. 

ACIP advises the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on how vaccines should be used in the population.

11:20 a.m. ET, August 26, 2020

Florida reports more than 3,200 new Covid-19 cases and 153 additional deaths

From CNN's Dan Shepherd

A State Emergency Response Team member administers a COVID-19 test at the Maingate Complex at Walt Disney World on August 14 in Kissimmee, Florida.
A State Emergency Response Team member administers a COVID-19 test at the Maingate Complex at Walt Disney World on August 14 in Kissimmee, Florida. Octavio Jones/Getty Images

Florida health officials reported 3,220 new Covid-19 cases and 153 additional resident deaths on Wednesday, according to the Florida Department of Health.  

The state is reporting a total of 602,113 coronavirus cases among Florida residents and 608,722 cases across the state since the pandemic began.

The Florida Department of Health shows the total Covid-19 death toll in the state standing at 10,733 Florida residents. There were 153 new deaths reported, 30 less than yesterday’s count.     

There have been more than 4.4 million Covid-19 tests given in Florida, with 86% of them testing as negative. There are 4,430 Covid-19 patients currently hospitalized throughout Florida 

Remember: These numbers were released by Florida’s public health agency, and may not line up exactly in real time with CNN’s database, which is drawn from Johns Hopkins University and the Covid Tracking Project  

11:21 a.m. ET, August 26, 2020

20% of new Covid-19 cases in New York City are from travelers from states on quarantine list, mayor says

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks during a press conference in New York City on August 26.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks during a press conference in New York City on August 26. NYC Media

About 20% of the new Covid-19 cases across New York City are coming from people traveling from the 31 states on New York’s quarantine list, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Wednesday.

The sheriff’s office has completed more than 3,000 vehicle stops, issued two citations and handed out more than 12,000 face coverings, the mayor said. 

The mayor urged people coming in from one of these places to quarantine, saying in part, “You really have to quarantine, it’s the law.” 

“If you don’t need to travel to one of those affected states, just don’t,” de Blasio added. 
10:15 a.m. ET, August 26, 2020

Kenya eases Covid-19 restrictions as hotspots begin to "stabilize"

From CNN's Bethlehem Feleke in Nairobi 

A woman walks in Kibera, Nairobi, Kenya, on July 15.
A woman walks in Kibera, Nairobi, Kenya, on July 15. Yasuyoshi Chiba/AFP/Getty Images

In a televised national address on Wednesday, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta announced the easing of some Covid-19 restrictions as the country's infections have reached a “manageable level.”

Kenyatta lifted a ban on alcohol sales in hotels and restaurants saying, "hotspots like Nairobi and Mombasa have begun to stabilize," as a result of the majority of Kenyans adequately observing Covid-19 guidelines. The national positivity rate has fallen from 13% in June to 8% in August, the president noted, adding “we are reporting more recoveries than infections in some instances”.

Bars and nightclubs will remain closed, and a nationwide curfew from 9 p.m. to 4 a.m. local time will remain in place for another 30 days. 

Despite the progress in major cities, Kenyatta warned the crisis is shifting to other counties with weaker health systems. “The new frontier of this invisible enemy is increasingly shifting to the counties and rural areas,” he said.

“We note the good progress we have made so far in fighting this enemy, but, this positive news is no license for us to drop guard and backslide from our path of responsibility.”

At least 213 people tested positive on Wednesday, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to at least 33,016 with 564 deaths, according to the Ministry of Health.