The latest on the Covid-19 pandemic as Olympics approach

By Meg Wagner, Melissa Macaya, Melissa Mahtani, Mike Hayes and Veronica Rocha, CNN

Updated 8:00 p.m. ET, July 19, 2021
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1:41 p.m. ET, July 19, 2021

Florida governor urges people to get vaccinated as cases rise

From CNN's Tina Burnside 

WKMG
WKMG

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is stressing the importance of getting the Covid-19 vaccine as cases in the state continue to rise. 

During a news conference on Monday, DeSantis said the case spike in July was expected as the virus is following a seasonal pattern. 

"If you are vaccinated though, the number of people that end up hospitalized is almost zero, it's incredibly, incredibly low, so I think there's some misinformation out there where someone will say 'oh these people were vaccinated, then they tested positive,'" DeSantis said. 

The governor said the ultimate goal is to keep people out of the hospital.

"We have three vaccines available to anyone, any adult can get it at pharmacies, health departments, you name it," he said. 

DeSantis said although he doesn't support vaccine mandates, it is very important to have the right messaging for people who may be skeptical of receiving the vaccine. 

1:42 p.m. ET, July 19, 2021

White House in a "battle with the virus" not Facebook, press secretary says 

From CNN's Allie Malloy

Susan Walsh/AP
Susan Walsh/AP

The White House is "not in a war or battle with Facebook" but in a "battle with the virus," press secretary Jen Psaki said, adding that the administration is still not taking "any options off the table" in their response to Covid-19 vaccine misinformation.  

Earlier Monday, Biden put pressure on Facebook over the online dissemination of Covid-19 vaccine information but backed off his recent accusation that the company was directly responsible for "killing people."

Asked whether Biden's comments mean there will be no regulatory actions on the matter, Psaki said: "I don't think we've taken any options off the table. That's up to Congress to determine how they want to proceed moving forward." 

"Let me just note that we are not in a war or a battle with Facebook. We're in a battle with the virus and the problem we're seeing that our surgeon general elevated just last week, is that disinformation, traveling through a range of mediums- some of them are a range of social media platforms- some of them are media, some of them are through the mouths of public official," Psaki said.

"That bad information, inaccurate information about vaccines is killing people. That's where our concern is and that's what the president is working to express."

Earlier Monday, Biden told CNN's Kaitlan Collins that "Facebook isn't killing people."

"Facebook isn't killing people — these 12 people are out there giving misinformation. Anyone listening to it is getting hurt by it. It's killing people. It's bad information," Biden said, appearing to cite data from the nonprofit Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH). A report published by the organization in March indicated that about a dozen people were super-spreaders of anti-vaccine misinformation.

 

1:30 p.m. ET, July 19, 2021

US sending vaccines to Gambia, Senegal, Zambia, Niger and Guatemala

From CNN's Kate Sullivan

The United States is sending more than one million Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccines to Gambia, Senegal, Zambia and Niger, White House press secretary Jen Psaki announced Monday. 

The US is also sending three million vaccines to Guatemala on Tuesday, Psaki told reporters at a White House briefing, noting the Biden administration’s prioritization of Latin American countries. The US sent 1.5 million Moderna doses to Guatemala earlier this month. 

“The United States continues its tremendous effort to donate Covid-19 vaccines from the US global supply,” Psaki said. 

“The shipments demonstrate the United States is fulfilling our promise to be an arsenal of vaccines for the world, and we're proud to be donating these doses to save lives and help those in need,” she added.

The move is part of the President's effort to reassert US leadership on the world stage and have America be an "arsenal of vaccines" in the fight against Covid-19. 

Biden has allocated 80 million vaccines to countries around the world and has also pledged to donate an additional 500 million Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine doses globally. 

1:24 p.m. ET, July 19, 2021

CDC raises Covid-19 risk assessment for UK to highest level

From CNN's Naomi Thomas

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has raised the Risk Assessment Level for Covid-19 to “Level 4: Covid-19 Very High.”

CDC suggests that people avoid travel to destinations that are classified as Level 4, and that if people must travel there, they make sure they are fully vaccinated before they go.

The US Department of State still classifies travel to the United Kingdom at Level 3, saying that travel there should be reconsidered due to Covid-19.

This comes as almost all Covid-19 restrictions are lifted in England, including mandatory mask wearing.

1:23 p.m. ET, July 19, 2021

UK will require double vaccination for nightclubs and large venues by end of September

From CNN's Lindsay Isaac

People wait in line to get into a nightclub in London, England, on July 19.
People wait in line to get into a nightclub in London, England, on July 19. Rob Pinney/Getty Images

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said proof of double vaccination against Covid-19 will be required in England for entrance into nightclubs and venues with large crowds by the end of September. 

Speaking on Monday, so-called "Freedom Day" — when all remaining restrictions in the country were dropped — Johnson said the rules will come into effect after all people over the age of 18 will have had the opportunity to be fully vaccinated, with both doses.

“As we said last week, we do reserve the right to mandate certification, at any point, if it's necessary to reduce transmission ... By the end of September, when all over 18 year olds will have had their chance to be double jabbed, we're planning to make full vaccination the condition of entry to nightclubs and other venues where large crowds gather. Proof of a negative test will no longer be enough,” Johnson said during a news conference he lead from his country residence where he is isolating.    

“I would remind everybody that some of life's most important pleasures and opportunities are likely to be increasingly dependent on vaccination. There are already countries that require already, to be double jabbed as a condition of quarantine-free travel, and I'm afraid that list seems likely to grow," he continued.

"And we're also concerned, as they are in other countries, by the continuing risk posed by nightclubs. I don’t want to have to close nightclubs, again, as they have elsewhere. But it does mean nightclubs need to do the socially responsible and make use of the NHS COVID pass which shows proof of vaccination, a recent negative test or natural immunity as a means of entry,” he added.
1:19 p.m. ET, July 19, 2021

Expect hospitalizations and deaths among unvaccinated people, Fauci says

From CNN’s Sarah Braner

Expect serious illness, hospitalization and death among people who are not vaccinated against Covid-19, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci said Monday.

“This is a virus that has now shown us that it has a very strong capability of more efficiently spreading from person to person than the previous prototype viruses that we've experienced,” Fauci told CNN’s Kate Bolduan.

“And for the unvaccinated, that means not only getting infected. That means some proportion of the people who are infected will get seriously ill, requiring hospitalizations – and in some cases, unfortunately – death," Facui added.

Fauci stressed that vaccinated people are still protected “very well – to the tune of 90% or more – against hospitalizations, severe disease and deaths,” and that this has “held strong, regardless of where the study is – in the United States or in several foreign countries.”

“So although you're dealing with a virus that because of this extreme capability of spreading from person to person, is causing more infections including breakthrough infections of vaccinated people, for those who are vaccinated, it's still doing very well against severe disease,” he said.

“Unfortunately, we can't say the same for unvaccinated people. … We can expect among the unvaccinated hospitalizations, and eventually in some situations, deaths," he added.

1:16 p.m. ET, July 19, 2021

Personal decisions about air travel are a relative risk evaluation, Fauci says

From CNN's Naomi Thomas

People travel through LaGuardia Airport in New York on July 2.
People travel through LaGuardia Airport in New York on July 2. Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CNN’s Kate Bolduan on Monday that people who are fully vaccinated against Covid-19 have diminished risk when traveling – and that decisions about traveling are relative risk evaluations.

Fauci said that the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has made it very clear that the risk of infection when traveling – and in travel hubs like airports – is increased compared to not traveling, but also that vaccinated people can feel that their risk is “dramatically diminished because they are vaccinated.”

“Certainly, if you’re an unvaccinated person, given what’s going on right now, I would say that you’d have to be careful, depending upon where you are and to where you want to go, that you should be careful because an unvaccinated person is clearly at risk of getting infected, and perhaps, depending on their status, getting a severe outcome,” Fauci said. “That risk is dramatically diminished if you are vaccinated.”

“It’s going to be a relative risk evaluation on the part of people,” he said. “Depending upon what the purpose of the travel is, people will have to make up their mind about the risk benefit ratio, knowing that in fact, if you are vaccinated, your level of protection is high.”

Asked by CNN whether he thinks it will be safe to fly without a mask if the TSA’s mask requirement for air travel ends when it is set to on Sept. 13, Fauci said “I think that we’re going to have to wait to see what the situation is in September.” 

“We have a month and a half to go before then. You know, things could get considerably better. I would hope that as more people get vaccinated – and I hope we continue to have a steady flow of people getting vaccinated – that things do improve considerably,” he said. “If they go the opposite direction, then I think you need to reconsider those things, particularly since it’s a month and half away.”

12:56 p.m. ET, July 19, 2021

If "recalcitrant people" don't get vaccinated, expect a "smoldering" outbreak in the US, Fauci says

From CNN's Sarah Brane

Blank vaccination cards sit on a table at a Family Heath Center mobile Covid-19 vaccination site in Santee, South Carolina, on Tuesday, July 13.
Blank vaccination cards sit on a table at a Family Heath Center mobile Covid-19 vaccination site in Santee, South Carolina, on Tuesday, July 13. Micah Green/Bloomberg/Getty Images

The United States can expect a “smoldering” outbreak if more “recalcitrant people” don’t get vaccinated, according to National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci.

“If we don't get a significant proportion of these recalcitrant people vaccinated, you're going to be seeing a smoldering of this outbreak in our country for a considerable period of time,” Fauci told CNN’s Kate Bolduan on Monday. “Which is really unfortunate, because what everybody wants in this country – and elsewhere throughout the world – is to be able to crush this outbreak in the sense of getting the level of vaccination so high that the virus has no place to go.”

“But you're not going to have that until you get a very substantial proportion of the population vaccinated, and we're not there yet,” he said.

Fauci suggested that “trusted messengers” and full approval of the vaccines might persuade more people to get vaccinated. 

“I still maintain hope that if we can get trusted messengers, that even those people who appear to be recalcitrant now could be persuaded when their family physician, their health care provider, their trusted clergy members in the community – if they can reach out to them, not government officials, but people who are trusted in the community – I think we can sway some proportion of those people.”

Fauci also said that “I believe when the vaccines get fully approved and full licensure, even though it's no doubt that they are highly effective now and very safe … you're going to see more people get vaccinated.”

12:31 p.m. ET, July 19, 2021

England lifts all remaining Covid-19 restrictions as part of much anticipated "Freedom Day"

England has lifted all remaining Covid-19 restrictions despite a significant surge in new cases.

Mandatory mask wearing is gone, limits on the numbers of people who can mix indoor or outdoor have ended, social distancing is limited to people who have tested positive for the virus and airports, and venues like nightclubs and sports stadiums are free to open at full capacity. Nightclubs across the country reopened at the stroke of midnight on Sunday night, with revelers packing out dance floors for the first time in months.

Despite the ease in restrictions, many questions remain regarding the trajectory of the virus as UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is forced to self-isolate after coming into contact with a positive case.

CNN's Phil Black explains all the changes in the video below: