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August 27 coronavirus news

7,600 confirmed coronavirus cases on college campuses

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Mexico reports more than 6,000 new Covid-19 cases

A health worker collects swab samples for Covid-19 testing on August 26, in Mexico City.

Mexico recorded 6,026 new Covid-19 infections on Wednesday, taking the total number of cases confirmed in the country to 579,914. 

The Health Ministry also recorded 518 new fatalities, bringing Mexico’s coronavirus death toll to 62,594. 

Mexico has reported the third-highest number of deaths in the world from the virus, behind only the United States and Brazil, according to Johns Hopkins University (JHU)

In Latin America, only Brazil and Peru have recorded more Covid-19 cases than Mexico, JHU data shows.

Latin America surpasses 7 million Covid-19 cases

Cases of novel coronavirus in Latin America topped 7 million on Thursday, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University’s Coronavirus Resource Center and CNN calculations. 

The current number of known Covid-19 cases confirmed in the region is now 7,020,744.

Brazil has reported the highest number of infections in Latin America with 3,761,391. The country has identified the second-highest number of confirmed cases in the world after the United States. 

Countries following Brazil with the highest number of Covid-19 cases in Latin America are Peru, Mexico, Colombia, and Chile.

CNN is tracking worldwide coronavirus cases there:

CDC forecast now projects more than 200,000 US coronavirus deaths by September 19

An ensemble forecast published by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now projects more than 200,000 coronavirus deaths in the US by September 19.

The new projections, published Thursday, forecast 200,292 deaths by September 19, with a possible range of 195,824 to 207,269 deaths.

“State- and territory-level ensemble forecasts predict that the number of reported new deaths per week may decrease in 18 jurisdictions. Trends in numbers of future reported deaths are uncertain or predicted to remain stable in the other jurisdictions,” the CDC says on its forecasting website.

Unlike some individual models, the CDC’s ensemble forecast only offers projections about a month into the future. The previous ensemble forecast, published August 20, projected roughly 195,000 coronavirus deaths by September 12.

At least 180,590 people have already died from Covid-19 in the US, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

CNN is tracking US Covid-19 cases and deaths here:

Cuba's capital city imposes a curfew as coronavirus cases surge again 

A pedestrian wearing a face mask amid the coronavirus pandemic uses a parasol in Havana, Cuba, on Monday, August 10.

For the first time since the coronavirus pandemic hit Cuba, Havana residents will be subjected to a nightly curfew and not be allowed to travel to other provinces in the country, Havana Governor Reinaldo Garcia Zapata announced Thursday.

Cuba’s ruling Communist Party has struggled to control a second wave of Covid-19 in Havana, just weeks after declaring the country was closing in on the tail end of the pandemic.

The curfew from 7 p.m. until 5 a.m. will begin on September 1 and last for at least 15 days, Zapata said.

Zapata said penalties for people not wearing a mask would be increased and the consumption of alcohol in public would be banned.

Cuba, with a population of 11 million, has so far registered 3,806 coronavirus cases and 92 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

New Mexico governor issues new public health order relaxing certain occupancy restrictions

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham gives her weekly update on Covid-19 and the state's effort to contain it during a virtual news conference from the state Capitol in Santa Fe, New Mexico, on Thursday, July 23.

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham issued a new public health order effective Saturday that will relax certain occupancy restrictions, she announced today.

In accordance with Covid-Safe Practices, houses of worship may operate at 40% capacity up from 25% in enclosed buildings and can still have services outside or use audiovisual aids, the order said. 

Food and drink establishments, in accordance with Covid-Safe Practices, can operate indoor dining service at 25% capacity. All tables, indoors or outdoors, can have no more than six people and must be at least six feet apart. 

Mass gatherings of more than 10 people are prohibited. The order will remain in effect through Sept. 18.

8 Nebraska Huskers football players sue the Big Ten over canceled season

Eight players from the University of Nebraska football team are suing the Big Ten Conference, requesting an order to invalidate the Big Ten’s decision to not play football this fall because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The 13-page lawsuit was filed Thursday in Lancaster County District Court in Nebraska.

The plaintiffs in the suit are Nebraska football players Garrett Snodgrass, Garrett Nelson, Ethan Piper, Noa Pola Gates, Alante Brown, Brant Banks, Brig Banks and Jackson Hannah. They are seeking damages of less than $75,000 and for the fall season to be restored, the lawsuit says.

While Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren previously has said that the vote by the Big Ten Council of Presidents and Chancellors was “overwhelmingly in support of postponing fall sports and will not be revisited,” the lawsuit says that the council did not vote on whether to cancel the fall football season.

The lawsuit references University of Minnesota president Joan Gabel and Michigan State University president Samuel Stanley, Jr. as being quoted that the council did not vote on the decision to cancel or postpone the 2020 fall football season.

The lawsuit says this “a case in which a powerful collegiate athletic conference contends that its student athletes have no rights.”

“Even though its decision significantly and directly affects the rights and opportunities of student athletes at its member institutions, the Big Ten has rejected calls for transparency and refuses to provide documents supporting its claim that a vote was taken or that a proper process was followed,” the lawsuit states. “As a result of the failure of process, the Student Athlete Plaintiffs have been irreparably harmed.”

CNN has reached out to the Big Ten for comment on the lawsuit.

Connecticut governor announces new nursing home visitation order

Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont announced a new order Thursday regarding visitation to nursing homes.

Under the order, facilities that are Covid-19 free for 14 days will have to create their own visitation plans for each resident based on their needs, said Department of Public Health Commissioner Deidre Gifford.

This order clarifies that visits can take place more than once a week, extends socially distanced visits to a minimum time of 30 minutes — previously 20 — and requires facilities to allow visitation at least five days per week, one of which needs to fall over the weekend. Indoor compassionate care visits where people can visit loved ones nearing the end of their lives or whose conditions have deteriorated due to social isolation will also be allowed, said Gifford.

This order only applies to facilities that haven’t had Covid-19 cases for 14 days.

Visitors will be required to wear personal protective equipment during visits, but social distancing isn’t necessarily required for passionate care visits, Gifford said.

Brazil records more than 44,000 new Covid-19 cases

Soldiers spray disinfectant at the Municipal Market in the Belo Horizonte, Brazil, on August 18.

Brazil reported 44,235 new coronavirus cases and 984 deaths in the last 24 hours, its health ministry said on Thursday.

The country has recorded more than 3.76 million Covid-19 cases with a total of 118,649 deaths so far, according to the ministry. 

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

Schools in Maryland can begin to safely reopen for in-person learning, governor says

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announces that all of the state's school systems meet safety standards to reopen for some in-person instruction during a news conference on August 27 in Annapolis, Maryland.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan on Thursday announced he will authorize all counties in the state to safely begin reopening schools for in-person learning.

“It is essential that we all work together on flexible, hybrid plans to safely get some of our kids back into classrooms and into health and supportive learning environments. Today, I am announcing that as a result of our improved health metrics, every single county school system in the state of Maryland is now fully authorized to begin safely reopening,” Hogan said during a news briefing. 

Hogan said the majority of Maryland’s school counties have developed plans that include returning children to the schools for “some form of in-person instruction” in the fall, including for children with special needs. 

Hogan said that “of course, the authority and decision making on those safe reopenings continues to rest with those county boards of education” but their decisions need to be based on statewide metrics.

Under the new guidelines, jurisdictions that are both at or below 5% positivity rate and five new cases per 100,000 population over a seven-day average should be able to hold in-person instruction, said Dr. Jinlene Chan, acting deputy secretary at the Maryland Department of Health.

The latest numbers: Hogan said Maryland’s Covid-19 positivity rate has been under 5% for 63 consecutive days since June 25, and below 4% for since Aug. 8. 

“We have seen dramatic improvements in the positivity rates of every single one of our most populous jurisdictions in the state. And last week for the first time, the Covid-19 positivity rate for all 24 jurisdictions in Maryland fell below the 5% milestone. Seventeen of our 24 jurisdictions now have positivity rates below 3.5%,” Hogan said.

South Africa reports more than 2,500 new Covid-19 cases

South Africa’s health department reported 2,585 new coronavirus cases Thursday, bringing its total to 618,286. 

South Africa ranks fifth in the world for confirmed coronavirus cases following the United States, Brazil, India, and Russia, according to data held by the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center.

The country’s health department also reported 126 new Covid-19-related fatalities which brings the total number of deaths to 13,628.  

At least 87 Covid-19 cases in Maine traced back to a wedding

There are now 87 Covid-19 cases associated with an outbreak from an Aug. 7 wedding in Millinocket, Maine, Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the state’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention, announced Thursday.

The outbreak has since spread to the Maplecrest Rehabilitation Center and York County jail, Shah said.

Of the 87 cases, 30 are primary cases, meaning those individuals directly attended the wedding and reception, Shah said. That’s almost half of the approximately 65 guests who attended the event.

There are 35 secondary cases, or people who are close contacts of the primary cases, and 22 tertiary cases, or those who are close contacts of the secondary cases, he continued. 

At the Maplecrest Rehabilitation Center in Madison, Shah reported nine cases, five of whom are residents and four are staff.

Meanwhile, at the York County jail in Alfred, Shah said a total of 18 individuals have tested positive — nine staff members, two “other staff” in the building, and seven inmates. 

Exponential growth: Shah said the situation is concerning because of how many people were affected from that initial setting.

“It suggests that there was already transmission happening in Penobscot County by the attendees, and when they came together it was sort of like a powder keg that was giving off sparks and generated a higher than expected number of cases,” Shah said. “There are some positive signs on the horizon, but when you start with such a high number of cases there is the potential for exponential growth, which is of principal concern right now.”

California Senate Republicans barred from Capitol after member tests positive for Covid-19 

California State Sen. Brian Jones speaks during a press conference in 2019. Jones said on Wednesday that he had tested positive for Covid-19.

California Senate Republicans have been barred from entering the state Capitol after a member tested positive for coronavirus, Senate President pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins said in a statement on Thursday, forcing the lawmakers to vote remotely.

The announcement came after State Sen. Brian Jones said on Wednesday that he had tested positive for the virus, prompting the Senate to cancel its daily session as state lawmakers rush to pass legislation ahead of an Aug. 31 legislative deadline.

“Senator Brian Jones today, upon his return to Sacramento this week for the end of Session, received news that he has tested positive for COVID-19,” his office tweeted. “He will be taking additional tests to recheck the results and to rule out possibility of a false-positive result.”

A complete cleaning of Senate facilities was ordered following the announcement and members were banned from entering the state Capitol building, according to Atkins.  

“Unfortunately, the nature of the gathering that resulted in the exposures was such that virtually every member of the Republican Caucus is now unable to enter the Capitol without violating public health orders,” Atkins said. 

Republican lawmakers who may have been exposed to the virus are subject to a quarantine order and will be remotely voting from home.

“The Senate Rules Committee has arranged for our Republican colleagues to debate and vote from their residences as we work to conclude the people’s business by the August 31 constitutional deadline,” Atkins said.

White House announces purchase of 150 million rapid Covid-19 tests

Abbott Laboratories' BinaxNOW rapid Covid-19 test.

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany announced the purchase of 150 million rapid Covid-19 tests on Twitter Thursday afternoon.

“This is a major development that will help our country to remain open, get Americans back to work, and kids back to school!” McEnany tweeted.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the deal with Abbott Laboratories is worth $750 million.

Some background: Abbott Labs got emergency approval yesterday from the US Food and Drug Administration for its rapid antigen test, which can detect a Covid-19 infection in 15 minutes.

The FDA’s emergency use authorization is for Abbott’s BinaxNOW Covid-19 Ag Card. The size of a credit card, BinaxNOW will cost $5 and will come with a free mobile app that will let people who test negative display a temporary, date-stamped health pass that is renewed each time a new test is taken.

The antigen test, which involves a nasal swab, uses the same type of technology as a flu test. Abbott says it anticipates producing 50 million BinaxNOW tests a month by October.

“The massive scale of this test and app will allow tens of millions of people to have access to rapid and reliable testing,” said Joseph Petrosino, a professor of virology at Baylor College of Medicine, in a statement released by Abbott.

With reporting from CNN’s David Goldman, Andrea Kane and Nadia Kounang.

Ohio governor says state is seeing highest increases of Covid-19 cases in rural counties

New cases of Covid-19 in Ohio are continuing to move to rural counties, Gov. Mike DeWine said Thursday. 

Speaking during a news briefing, DeWine said the counties with the highest increases of Covid-19 cases in the last two weeks all have a population of under 60,000. 

DeWine explained the state has seen a slight increase in new cases compared to last week. “This is not surprising as more students are going back to school and people are moving around more,” he added. 

How the numbers look: In the last 24 hours, Ohio reported 1,244 new cases and 32 new deaths. The state has now reported a total of 118,828 cases and 4,076 total deaths. 

NOTE: The numbers below were released by the Ohio Department of Health and may not line up exactly in real time with CNN’s database drawn from Johns Hopkins University and the Covid Tracking Project.

Minnesota recorded its first back-to-back days of double-digit deaths since the third week of June

Minnesota recorded its first back-to-back days of double-digit coronavirus deaths since the third week of June, according to the state’s health department.

The department is also reporting 1,158 new cases of Covid-19 and 13 new deaths from the virus. 

Note: These numbers were released by the Minnesota Department of Health and may not line up exactly in real time with CNN’s database drawn from Johns Hopkins University and the Covid Tracking Project.

Germany expects to have Covid-19 vaccine ready by early 2021

German health authorities expect one or more vaccines against the novel coronavirus will be ready by early 2021, said the German center for disease prevention on Thursday. 

“Current data suggests that one or several COVID-19 vaccines are expected to be certified, first production quantities started and doses delivered by the beginning or 2021,” said the Robert-Koch-Institute (RKI) in its latest epidemiological bulletin. 

However, the institute also warns that there could be shortages of new Covid-19 vaccines. 

“It is expected that at the beginning there will not be enough vaccine available for the entire population so that prioritizing will be necessary,” the RKI added. 

Germany currently has several Covid-19 vaccine candidates in various phases of testing. Among the most advanced are efforts by Biontech/Pfizer and CureVac, both of which have received special grants from the German government to speed up testing and expand production capacities.

Lebanon records highest daily Covid-19 case increase since pandemic began

Health workers handle a coronavirus test at Rafik Hariri University Hospital in Beirut, Lebanon, on August 11.

Lebanon reported 689 new cases of Covid-19 in the past 24 hours, which is the highest daily number of infections recorded since the beginning of the pandemic, the country’s Ministry of Public Health said.

The latest recorded cases bring the country’s total case count to 14,935. There were also seven new fatalities recorded in the last 24 hours, raising the national death toll to 146, the ministry said.

This comes as the country decided on Thursday to reduce lockdown hours starting Friday, according to a statement released by the country Interior Ministery.

Lebanon is currently under a curfew that went into effect last Friday. It takes place from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. (local time). All but essential businesses must remain closed during this curfew.

On Friday, the daily lockdown hours will be reduced by four hours. It will be from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. (local time).

Lebanon’s new Covid-19 cases have been more than doubled since the Beirut port blast on Aug. 4, which killed at least 180 people, wounded around 6,000 people and displaced about 300,000 people.

Stocks finish higher

Stocks finished higher on Thursday, and the S&P 500 again closed at an all-time high, up 0.2%. It was its fifth-straight record.

It was also a big day for the Dow, which briefly turned positive for the year for the first time since the pandemic hit. The index closed 0.6%, or 161 points, higher.

The Nasdaq Composite slipped 0.3%.

Earlier in the day, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell updated the public on changes to the central bank’s monetary policy framework.

The bottom line: interest rates will be lower for longer. That’s good for stocks and boosted the market.

Kamala Harris: The reality of Covid-19 "absent" from Republican National Convention

Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris slammed President Trump for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic during an address on Thursday.

Harris highlighted the lack of attention the pandemic has received during the Republican National Convention.

“The numbers that define this crisis are staggering,” Harris said.

“We need to see and we need to hear what is happening in our country. The quiet desperation that has taken over so many lives in America. The family, packing in at five ‘o clock in the morning, hoping the local food bank still has something left when they get to the front of the line. The 50-year-old store manager, who’s been laid off and knows he can’t pay the rent on the first of the month. … The alarming and disproportionate rate at which Black, Latino and indigenous families are contracting and dying of Covid-19. That is the reality of America right now. A reality completely absent from this week’s Republican National Convention.”

Harris also drew a sharp contrast between the Democratic National Convention and the Republican National Convention.

“Unlike the Democratic convention, which was very clear-eyed about the challenges we are facing and how we will tackle them, the Republican convention is designed for one purpose: to soothe Donald Trump’s ego,” she said.

United Airlines could furlough 20% of its pilots this fall

Workers load cargo onto a United Airlines plane at San Francisco International Airport on July 8.

United Airlines says roughly 20% of its pilots could be furloughed after restrictions attached to a federal bailout expire this fall.

In a new memo to pilots, United’s head of flight operations said new furlough WARN notices will be sent to an additional 600 pilots, meaning a total 2,850 United pilots could be furloughed as a result of the pandemic. 

“With travel demand dramatically reduced, our airline will need to become much smaller,” United senior vice president of flight operations Bryan Quigley said.

Some context: Major airlines have been barred from shedding any jobs until the CARES Act expires Oct. 1. In the memo, United said while it remains “hopeful that Congress will make head-way on an extension of the Payroll Support Program, we need to prepare and plan for the future should an extension not be granted.”

Iowa governor closes bars in 6 counties due to uptick in Covid-19 cases

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds announced Thursday that she is closing all bars, taverns, breweries and nightclubs in six counties because of an uptick in Covid-19 cases.

Starting Thursday afternoon, bars in six counties will close until further notice; the counties include Blackhawk, Dallas Johnson, Linn, Polk, and Story, Reynolds said.  

Restaurants in those counties can stay open, but must stop serving alcohol at 10 p.m., she said.   

The latest numbers: The state reported 921 new Covid-19 cases and 59,688 total cases. Iowa currently has a 9.7% positivity rate, according to the state health website.  

North Carolina State orders majority of students living on campus to move out following Covid-19 spike

Students and parents begin to move belongings out of Bragaw Hall at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, North Carolina, on August 27.

North Carolina State University is asking students who live on campus to move out of their housing by Sept. 6, following what the University Chancellor referred to as a “rapid spread” of coronavirus cases.

“Over the past few days, our campus community has experienced a quickly rising number of positive cases of COVID-19 in both on- and off-campus housing,” NC State Chancellor Randy Woodson wrote in a letter. “We hoped and strived to keep residence halls open and safe to best serve our students. However, the rapid spread and increasing rate of positive cases have made our current situation untenable.”

The university reported 325 positive cases of Covid-19 during the period between August 20 and Aug. 26 out of a total of 3,105 tests performed — a positivity rate of a little over 10% — according to their coronavirus dashboard.

Students can apply for waivers to stay in their housing if circumstances require, but the school says their “goal is to reduce the on-campus population significantly.” 

“Students will receive prorated refunds for unused portions of housing and dining for the fall semester,” the letter adds.

Biden to Trump on Covid-19: "Get us out of this mess, Mr. President"

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden hammered President Trump’s handling of Covid-19 in an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper this afternoon, saying that if the President truly cared about the safety of Americans he’d work harder to solve the pandemic still roiling much of the nation. 

“You want to talk about safety?” asked Biden, responding to Trump’s rhetoric about protests and violence on the streets of some American cities.

 “Look at the biggest safety issue in the nation, Covid,” said Biden, before citing the latest death tolls.

“[Trump] has been incompetent in the way in which he has dealt with this,” Biden continued. “…Get us out of this mess, Mr. President.”

France reports highest number of new Covid-19 cases since March 31

French Health authorities have reported 6,111 new Covid-19 cases in the past 24 hours, the highest since March 31, at the height of the pandemic.

Prime Minister Jean Castex warned, however, that “these figures must be interpreted with caution since compared to this period, the month of May, we are testing many, many more people.”

Yet the percentage of positive tests is increasing slightly as well, from 3.7% to 3.8% in a floating seven-day period. It was around 1% at the end of the lockdown in May according to Castex.

Currently, 4,535 patients are in hospital for coronavirus symptoms in France including 381 in intensive care units.

There have been 30,576 deaths in France since beginning of the pandemic.

More than 100 USC students test positive for coronavirus in 3 days

The University of Southern California is reporting 104 positive cases of coronavirus in the last three days, according to University Student Health.

At least 73 students tested positive from symptomatic and exposure testing, while another 31 were part of population testing. For the latter, anyone who is asymptomatic can be tested. The positivity rate is now 2.7% which is considered high, according to Chief Health Officer Dr. Sarah Van Orman. She notes spread is generally through small gatherings.

In a memo to students Monday, USC Student Health said “it has received an alarming increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in students in the University Park Campus Community as the first week of the fall semester has concluded.” At that time, 43 students tested positive – 29 through symptomatic and exposure testing, plus 14 through population testing. 

University Health wants students to work together to protect the community.

“Even simple board games involving touching shared objects can become a super-spreader event,” advised University Health, adding that eating and drinking in a group is a particularly high-risk activity.

USC started the fall semester on August 17.

WHO recommends testing even more people for coronavirus

Coronavirus testing should be expanded to not only find people with no symptoms, but also to cover those who have come into contact with someone positive for the virus, Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO’s technical lead for Covid-19, said Thursday.

The US federal government is fighting criticism for having revised back guidelines for who should be tested. New Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance says people who have been in contact with a coronavirus case might not need to be tested if they don’t have symptoms.

But the new guidance from WHO says just the opposite. 

“What we’ve outlined are strategies to actively find cases,” Van Kerkhove said. “So we have recommendations to test suspect cases, and in situations where it is feasible and is possible, to expand testing where necessary to really look for the cases so that they could be isolated and contact tracing can ensue.”

When investigating clusters, Van Kerkhove said, “testing may need to be expanded to look for individuals who are on the more mild end of the spectrum or who may indeed be asymptomatic.” 

“What’s really important is that testing is used as an opportunity to find active cases so that they can be isolated and so that contact tracing can also take place where you identify all of the contacts of a known case and that they can be quarantined,” she said. “And this is really fundamental to breaking down chains of transmission.” 

Most important is to test people likely to be infected, she said.