August 30 coronavirus news

By Joshua Berlinger, Jenni Marsh, Emma Reynolds, Fernando Alfonso III and Amir Vera, CNN

Updated 4:01 PM ET, Mon August 31, 2020
31 Posts
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10:48 p.m. ET, August 30, 2020

Some US experts are calling for an independent commission, separate from FDA, to review Covid-19 vaccines

From CNN Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen

Citing criticism of government agencies and increasing public distrust of vaccines, several prominent physicians and experts are calling for the creation of an independent commission to review data from coronavirus vaccine trials before a vaccine is allowed on the market.

The United States Food and Drug Administration regulates vaccines, and its OK is all that's needed to put one on the market. The physicians fear, however, that after several government blunders during the pandemic, a layer of review independent from the government is needed to give Americans confidence that the shot is safe and effective.

Dr. Kathryn Stephenson, an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School, said she thought of the idea of an independent panel to increase trust in the vaccine after several colleagues told her they did not want to get a coronavirus vaccine when it becomes available.

"I'm hearing this from my peers, from doctors and nurses. They're not anti-vaxxers. They're pro vaccine. They vaccinated their own children. But they are skeptical about this vaccine," said Stephenson, director of the clinical trials unit at the Center for Virology and Vaccine Research at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

Separately from Stephenson, bioethicist Arthur Caplan arrived at the same conclusion.

"We're used to this world where if the FDA or the CDC or the NAS says something is safe and effective, that's enough, but I don't think this time that's sufficient to overturn public skepticism," said Caplan, referring to the US Centers for Disease Control and the National Academy of Sciences. "I think we desperately need an independent national commission."

Read more:

9:57 p.m. ET, August 30, 2020

Colombia records more than 8,000 new Covid-19 cases

From CNN’s Sharif Paget in Atlanta

A worker disinfects the Salt Cathedral of Zipaquira, an underground church built into a salt mine, in Zipaquira, 45 km north of Bogota, on August 30.
A worker disinfects the Salt Cathedral of Zipaquira, an underground church built into a salt mine, in Zipaquira, 45 km north of Bogota, on August 30. Juan Barreto/AFP/Getty Images

Colombia recorded 8,024 new Covid-19 infections and 300 virus-related deaths in the past 24 hours, the country’s Ministry of Health reported Sunday. 

That brings the national total to at least 607,938 cases, including 19,364 fatalities, since the pandemic began, according to the ministry’s data.

Colombia surpassed Mexico on Thursday, August 27, to become the country with the third-highest number of coronavirus cases in Latin America, trailing only Brazil and Peru, according to data compiled by CNN and Johns Hopkins University. 

9:01 p.m. ET, August 30, 2020

Mexico reports more than 4,000 new coronavirus cases

From journalist Karol Suarez in Mexico City

A Guadalajara staff member disinfects the stands before the start of a Mexican Apertura tournament football match between Guadalajara and Pachuca in Guadalajara, Jalisco state, Mexico, on August 29.
A Guadalajara staff member disinfects the stands before the start of a Mexican Apertura tournament football match between Guadalajara and Pachuca in Guadalajara, Jalisco state, Mexico, on August 29. Ulises Ruiz/AFP/Getty Images

Mexico’s Health Ministry reported 4,129 new cases of Covid-19 on Sunday, bringing the country’s total number of infections to 595,841.

The health ministry also reported 339 new deaths for a total of 64,158.

Mexico has the fourth-highest number of total coronavirus cases in Latin America, behind Brazil, Peru and Colombia, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

7:28 p.m. ET, August 30, 2020

Birx is hopeful for a vaccine, but convinced community spread can be stopped right now

From CNN Health’s Naomi Thomas

White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx said that while she is hopeful for a vaccine, she is also convinced that community spread can be stopped right now.

Speaking at a media event in Minnesota Sunday, Birx said that people shouldn’t wait for a vaccine to do the right thing.

Do the right thing today,” she said. “Because if we do the right thing today, we go into the fall with much fewer cases.”

Birx also said that she is hopeful that when the data becomes available and the American people can see that a vaccine is safe and effective, that they will want to get vaccinated.

Right now, we gain freedom through wearing our masks and socially distancing. With a vaccine, it’s a very different potential interaction for all of us,” she said.

“Yes, I’m hopeful for a vaccine,” she said. “But I’m also very convinced right now that we can stop community spread by wearing masks, socially distancing and avoiding crowds.”

Birx pointed out that crowds are not just things like large concerts, but also backyard barbecues with 25 people who aren’t wearing masks.

7:27 p.m. ET, August 30, 2020

People need to be just as careful with Covid-19 at home as they are in public, Birx says

From CNN Health’s Naomi Thomas

White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx said Sunday that people need to ensure they are taking their public mitigation efforts home with them, when necessary.

Across the country, experts have seen that people sometimes make assumptions when gathering in private that “there couldn’t be anybody that has infection there,” Birx said during a press event in Minnesota. Because of this, they don’t wear masks when interacting, which leads to the virus spreading among family members and neighbors.

“We’re doing a much better job in public, in our public mitigations. We have to take those home to private and ensure we’re also doing that in the household -- protecting our grandparents and our aunts and uncles that may have comorbidities," Birx said.

Birx urged people who may have been exposed to the novel coronavirus to wear masks when interacting with those who may be more vulnerable to severe outcomes of Covid-19, and to try to get tested.

When someone knows they have done things that may have exposed them to the virus is when they really have to work on protecting others, she said.

“We know we can’t always be perfect. We know that we’ll put this message out about private gatherings and something will happen and you’ll realize you have been in a situation, you’ve been around people, you didn’t have your mask on,” Birx said. “That is the time to make sure you’re protecting others in your household and around you by wearing a mask when you’re around them, even if they’re family.”
6:31 p.m. ET, August 30, 2020

Birx says knowledge gained about Covid-19 the last 6 months 'means we have power against it'

From CNN Health’s Naomi Thomas

Deborah Brix
Deborah Brix Drew Angerer/Getty Images

White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx said on Sunday that Covid-19 is a serious threat, but the knowledge that has been gained over the last six months means we have power against it.

“We see the numbers on the TV and in the news every single day of the number of Americans who have lost their lives to this virus. We don’t lose that many Americans to a virus like the flu virus every year,” Birx said during a media appearance in Minnesota. “So, this is a serious threat.”

Birx said while it’s true that Covid-19 is a more serious threat to certain individuals, we still don’t know for sure who those people are.

Out of respect for one another, the virus is real, but most importantly, we know how to stop transmission to each other,” she said.

Birx said that over the last six months, we have learned more about why masks are important, that homemade cloth two-ply masks work well, that you have to cover your mouth and nose, that physical distancing is important, and that crowds -- both indoors and outdoors -- can and have spread the virus.

Not only is the virus real, the consequences of the virus is real. The hospitalizations that we still have every week is real. The number of Americans that we have lost to this virus are real,” Birx said. “But what is also real is we have a way to prevent its spread, and I think this really needs to be a balanced message of ‘we have power against this virus, but it requires all of us to exert our power together.’ ”

5:58 p.m. ET, August 30, 2020

Brazil reports more than 16,000 new coronavirus cases

From journalist Marcia Reverdosa in São Paulo

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro fixes his face mask before the event "Brazil beating Covid-19" at Planalto Palace in Brasilia, on August 24.
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro fixes his face mask before the event "Brazil beating Covid-19" at Planalto Palace in Brasilia, on August 24. Evaristo Sa/AFP/Getty Images

Brazil’s Health Ministry has reported 16,158 new Covid-19 cases over the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of cases in the country to 3,862,311.

The Ministry also reported 366 new coronavirus deaths on Sunday, raising the country’s death toll to 120,828.

Brazil is second only to the United States in the highest total number of coronavirus cases and deaths in the world, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

5:19 p.m. ET, August 30, 2020

Temple University to suspend in-person classes for two weeks following 103 active Covid-19 cases on campus

From CNN's Laura Ly

Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, announced on Sunday that it would be suspending in-person classes for two weeks following the identification of 103 active Covid-19 cases on campus.

The university said the 103 cases were found after conducting over 5,000 tests in the last two weeks. Most of the cases are asymptomatic and a small number have mild to moderate flu-like symptoms. The new cases appear to result from small social gatherings happening off-campus, Temple University said.

Students who were scheduled to take in-person classes will now take online classes through at least September 11 and an assessment will be made later to decide how classes will be conducted moving forward, the university said.

4:09 p.m. ET, August 30, 2020

Twitter removes QAnon supporter's false claim about coronavirus death statistics which Trump had re-tweeted

From CNN's Daniel Dale and Jamie Gumbrecht

Twitter took down a tweet containing a false claim about coronavirus death statistics Sunday afternoon that was made by a supporter of the baseless QAnon conspiracy theory – a post that President Donald Trump had retweeted earlier Sunday.

The tweet has been replaced with a message saying: “This Tweet is no longer available because it violated the Twitter Rules.”

The claim from tweeter "Mel Q," copied from someone else’s Facebook post, was that the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had “quietly” updated its numbers “to admit that only 6%” of people listed coronavirus deaths “actually died from Covid,” since “the other 94% had 2-3 other serious illnesses."

Trump shared the false information with his 85 million-plus followers. As of 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, the now deleted "Mel Q" tweet Trump amplified had been retweeted more than 48,000 times.

Its latest regular update to a public statistics page on the pandemic, the CDC said that for 6% of the deaths included in its statistics, “Covid-19 was the only cause mentioned” on the deceased person’s death certificate. 

That is not at all the same thing as saying only 6% of reported Covid-19 deaths “actually died” from Covid-19. It simply means that the other 94% were listed as having at least one additional factor contributing to their death.

For example, the other 94% includes people whose death certificate listed both Covid-19 and obesity, both Covid-19 and diabetes, or both Covid-19 and heart disease -- among other conditions. 

People can live with obesity, diabetes or heart disease for years but then get infected with Covid-19 and die quickly. The fact that they also had an underlying condition does not mean that Covid-19 was not a major reason, or the major reason, they died when they did.