August 28 coronavirus news

By Adam Renton, Steve George, Tara John and Ed Upright, CNN

Updated 8:11 a.m. ET, August 29, 2020
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6:53 p.m. ET, August 28, 2020

FDA extends emergency use authorization of remdesivir to all hospitalized Covid-19 patients

From CNN's Lauren Mascarenhas


Vials of the drug Remdesivir.
Vials of the drug Remdesivir. Ulrich Perrey/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

The US Food and Drug Administration said Friday it is extending emergency use authorization for remdesivir to all patients hospitalized for coronavirus, regardless of the severity of their disease. 

The FDA originally authorized remdesivir for emergency use in May only for patients with severe coronavirus who needed help breathing with extra oxygen or mechanical ventilation. The drug has been shown to shorten recovery time for some coronavirus patients.

The FDA said clinical trials of remdesivir, including Phase 3 trials, showed a five-day course of the drug could reduce recovery time in moderately ill patients with pneumonia from Covid-19. “The data show that this treatment has the potential to help even more hospitalized patients who are suffering from the effects of this devastating virus,” FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn said in a statement.

“As we learn more about COVID-19 and we further establish the efficacy and safety profile of Veklury, we see benefit to making the drug available to patients at earlier stages of the disease,” Dr. Merdad Parsey, chief medical officer of Gilead Sciences, said in a statement. “Today’s action by the FDA enables physicians to consider a broader range of eligible patients to potentially receive Veklury.” Veklury is the brand name for remdesivir.

An emergency authorization allows the FDA to expedite use of a coronavirus drug that has not yet received full approval. The FDA is examining data from a number of clinical trials for potential coronavirus treatment drugs.


6:39 p.m. ET, August 28, 2020

Ireland announces $19 million support package for pubs

From CNN's Lauren Kent

A barman in Murrays pub on Grafton street checks the head on a pint of Guinness on June 29 in Dublin, Ireland.
A barman in Murrays pub on Grafton street checks the head on a pint of Guinness on June 29 in Dublin, Ireland. Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

The Irish government announced a $19 million support package to help pubs, bars and nightclubs, which remain closed indefinitely, according to an Irish Department of Business statement released Friday.  

The support package will offer "restart grants" of between $6,700 and $41,700 to help businesses reopen when the time comes, and the government will also waive certain pub license fees for 2020. 

"It’s been a really difficult few months for pub owners," said Irish Deputy Premier Leo Varadkar. "Our publicans are making a massive sacrifice to protect their communities and the government is determined to help."

On Thursday, Irish health authorities announced "wet" pubs and bars, which do not serve food alongside alcohol, would remain closed indefinitely due to the rising number of cases in hospitals. 

That's the third delayed reopening for pubs, bars, and nightclubs, which were initially scheduled to reopen in July, which was kicked back to Aug. 10 and eventually Aug. 31. Meanwhile, pubs that also serve food were able to reopen in late June.  

"Our focus has to be on getting case numbers down, controlling the spread of this disease, and we will keep the reopening of pubs, along with the other measures that might be able to be eased, under review over the coming weeks," said Dr. Ronan Glynn, the Irish Department of Health's acting chief medical officer, during a briefing on Thursday.

Ireland recorded 127 confirmed new cases of Covid-19 on Friday and 93 confirmed new cases on Thursday, according to the latest Department of Health data.

"The cases, whilst not escalating rapidly, are continuing to escalate," said Glynn on Thursday. "If we continue along that road for a prolonged period of time, we will see more hospitalizations, we will see more people in critical care and it will have knock-on effects for many parts of our society and our economy," 

"We're not contemplating a national lockdown as things currently stand. We certainly hope that we don't get back to a situation like that, but ultimately the power to prevent that is is each of our hands as individuals over the coming weeks," he added.

In a video message posted to Twitter Friday, Irish Prime Minister Micheál Martin said, "Our core values will ensure we continue to suppress COVID-19 to allow our economic, social and cultural life to safely recover and flourish into the future," he added.

5:58 p.m. ET, August 28, 2020

University of Virginia will start in-person classes in September

From CNN's Molly Silverman

The University of Virginia will welcome students to residence halls in early September and in-person undergraduate classes will start Sept. 8, the school said an announcement.

The dorms on campus will only be two-thirds full, which is about 4,400 students, and they have been modified to make social distancing easier, the university said. The school will also test everyone in the dorms if an outbreak happens.

The university explained their decision to welcome students back to campus, saying on the university's UVA Today website that "a key part of that experience is the opportunity for our students to step out on their own, in a caring and protective environment, to find their own interests, to define their personal commitments, and to form friendships that will sustain them for many years, if not a lifetime. This is quite difficult, if not impossible, to do online." 

The university also said that conditions in Virginia, in terms of coronavirus, have improved and testing material supply chain concerns have already been addressed. 

5:33 p.m. ET, August 28, 2020

California's new coronavirus reopening system takes more cautious approach

From CNN's Jon Passantino

Visitors wearing face masks walk past a display of Pink Flamingos at the Los Angeles Zoo as it reopens on August 26, in Los Angeles, California.
Visitors wearing face masks walk past a display of Pink Flamingos at the Los Angeles Zoo as it reopens on August 26, in Los Angeles, California. Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images

California’s sweeping new coronavirus reopening system takes a slower, more cautious approach to allowing businesses and activities to resume after Gov. Gavin Newsom faced criticism for allowing counties to quickly reopen in the spring, leading to a dramatic rise in infections and deaths.

“We're going to be more stubborn this time, and have a mandatory wait time between moves,” Newsom said Friday. “We didn't do that last time and that is a significant distinction between what we've learned from the past and what we now are advancing in this more stringent, but we believe more steady approach to moving counties within tiers and modifying the activities within those respective counties.”

The governor previously faced criticism for allowing counties to reopen businesses too quickly before meeting key metrics required by the state. As California saw a resurgence in coronavirus cases in June, Newsom began shutting down much of the economy again, placing the majority of the state’s 58 counties on a state “monitoring list” that forced the closure of many indoor businesses and activities. In recent weeks, the state has seen its average number of new daily confirmed cases fall by more than 3,000 from its July peak as well as a falling hospitalization and death toll. 

Under the state’s new reopening rules unveiled Friday, counties must wait a minimum of 21 days before they can move to a less restrictive tier. In order to ease restrictions further, counties will need to meet reopening metrics for two straight weeks. A failure to meet those targets may require counties to return to a more restrictive tier, Newsom warned. 

The new system, the governor said, is “simple” but also “slow,” with the vast majority of the state’s population beginning the new framework under the first tier, requiring most nonessential businesses and schools to remain closed.

On Friday, the state reported 140 additional deaths, raising the statewide total since the start of the pandemic to 12,690. It also reported 5,329 new confirmed cases for a total of 688,858.

4:59 p.m. ET, August 28, 2020

1-year-old Georgia boy dies from Covid-19, youngest reported victim in the state

From CNN's Angela Barajas, Natasha Chen and Dianne Gallagher

The Georgia Department of Public Health has reported the death of a 1-year-old African-American boy from Covid-19 in Cobb County, just outside of Atlanta.

He is the youngest Covid-19 death reported in the state, the department said. 

According to the department's data, the toddler had a comorbidity. The director of communications for Cobb County Public Health, Valerie Crow, told CNN that he had serious medical conditions.  

On Friday, Georgia’s Department of Public Health reported 2,383 new Covid-19 cases on Friday, and 79 new deaths from the virus.

4:56 p.m. ET, August 28, 2020

Louisiana governor is concerned about drop in Covid-19 testing due to Hurricane Laura

From CNN's Devon M. Sayers  

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards speaks Tuesday, July 28, at a press conference update on the state's Covid-19 situation at the Governor's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness in Baton Rouge.
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards speaks Tuesday, July 28, at a press conference update on the state's Covid-19 situation at the Governor's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness in Baton Rouge. Travis Spradling/The Advocate/AP

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards is concerned about the slowdown in testing for Covid-19 due to Hurricane Laura.

“Frankly we cannot afford to loose sight of our testing, because it was about three weeks ago that our schools came back. We have had students back on our college campuses and as you know it take about two weeks after behavior changes to see if there is any changes in positivity which will lead to more hospitalizations and deaths. So this is a very bad week for us not to be doing robust testing,“ Edwards said at a news conference.

The governor said that 6,200 members of his National Guard were in the state assisting with recovery from the hurricane, but he added that he was eager to get them back on the Covid-19 mission. 


4:12 p.m. ET, August 28, 2020

Operation Warp Speed officials can't see coronavirus vaccine data early, official says

From CNN's Maggie Fox

Operation Warp Speed officials cannot peek early at any data coming out of clinical trials of experimental coronavirus vaccine, an official told reporters Friday. 

Paul Mango, deputy chief of staff for policy at the US Department of Health Human Services, sought to reassure reporters that the process of approving any eventual coronavirus vaccine will be the same as for any vaccine. 

“There is a thing called a Data Safety Monitoring Board, an independent body that is assigned to each clinical trial,” Mango said during a telephone briefing. “We have no insight into the data until the DSMB says we can look at it. They can come back and say, ‘This is not a good vaccine.’ They could come back before we even have 30,000 folks enrolled and say ‘We have enough. This looks great.’”

Adverse reactions to the vaccine could also trigger the DSMB to stop the trial.

Makers of vaccines in advanced clinical trials in the US are seeking to enroll at least 30,000 volunteers so they can tell whether the vaccine is really safe and protects people from infection. But there could be enough data even before 30,000 people are enrolled, Mango said.

“What we are really looking for is cases — the number of positive cases from both the placebo and the vaccine group,” Mango said. “Once we get to 150 or so, statistically that is significant regardless of how many enrollees we have in the trial."

“That may be surprising to some, but really the number of events that have to occur … is relatively small,” added US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Robert Redfield.

3:47 p.m. ET, August 28, 2020

Turkey records highest coronavirus death toll since May

From CNN’s Gul Tuysuz in Istanbul

Turkey announced 36 new coronavirus deaths over the last 24 hours, according to the Turkish health ministry. This marks the highest daily number of fatalities since mid-May.

The country's daily positives of Covid-19 cases have been on an upward trajectory, hitting a high of 1,517 for the first time since June, according to the health ministry's numbers.  

Turkey has increased it testing capacity over the last week and currently tests more than 100,000 people per day, according to the ministry's numbers.

“Our active cases and critical condition patients are on the rise… the key to preventing deaths and lowering the number of patients is adherence to the preventative measures,” Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca tweeted, along with the daily coronavirus number update.  

Earlier this week as a part of new measures, the Turkish interior ministry issued a limitation for wedding and engagement parties. In 14 provinces including Ankara, Bursa, Diyarbakır, Gaziantep, Mardin, Urfa, and Van wedding parties are limited to an hour and must be held without dancing or food and beverage service, except for water. 

Engagement, bachelorette and circumcision parties have been banned in the listed provinces, according to the interior ministry. 

Government offices throughout the country will not be able to serve beverages, except for bottled water, the ministry said. Turkish government offices traditionally have tea and coffee services. 

3:39 p.m. ET, August 28, 2020

Mayor Bill de Blasio says schools will start on time

From CNN’s Alec Snyder

Bill de Blasio, mayor of New York, speaks during a news conference at New Bridges Elementary School in the Brooklyn borough of New York on Wednesday, August 19.
Bill de Blasio, mayor of New York, speaks during a news conference at New Bridges Elementary School in the Brooklyn borough of New York on Wednesday, August 19. Jeenah Moon/Bloomberg/Getty Images

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said schools are still on track to start in-person learning on Sept. 10.

Teachers will stick with the same students through both in-person and remote instruction, de Blasio said on WNYC’s “The Brian Lehrer Show” Friday.

Asked whether the schools around the city had enough substitute teachers and were adept technologically at handling remote learning needs, de Blasio said the pool for substitute teachers “was ready” and that teachers “have four months of remote teaching under their belt."

The mayor expressed anger and frustration when asked about how outdoor schooling would be funded, saying “so many people don’t know what the hell they’re talking about.” He said schools could use football fields, courtyards and spaces on closed-off streets that would serve no extra cost to the city's Department of Education.

Youth sports will also return on or around Sept. 15, with a permit required to restart leagues. Leagues receiving permits will be given three strikes of violating health and Covid-19 guidelines before having their play suspended.