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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12:13 p.m. ET, July 19, 2021

US gymnast Kara Eaker tests positve for Covid-19, her father confirms

From CNN's Rachel Webb

Kara Eaker competes on the uneven bars during US Olympic trials on June 27.
Kara Eaker competes on the uneven bars during US Olympic trials on June 27. Amy Sanderson/Cal Sport Media/Zuma/AP

A Kansas City-area gymnast in Tokyo serving as an alternate on the US Olympic Gymnastics team has tested positive for Covid-19, her family confirms. Kara Eaker, 18, from Grain Valley, Missouri, is currently in isolation, along with another "close contact" on the team.

Eaker's father, Mark Eaker, confirmed the information for CNN affiliate KMBC 9 Monday morning.

Mark Eaker said Kara is not experiencing any symptoms but did test positive. She is fully vaccinated for Covid-19.

12:24 p.m. ET, July 19, 2021

American Academy of Pediatrics recommends universal masking in schools for everyone older than 2

From CNN’s Naomi Thomas

Elementary school students sit distanced from each other in Anaheim, California, on April 12.
Elementary school students sit distanced from each other in Anaheim, California, on April 12. Paul Bersebach/Orange County Register/Getty Images

The American Academy of Pediatrics released new Covid-19 guidance for schools on Monday that supports in-person learning and, among other things, recommends universal masking in school for everyone over the age of 2.

“The AAP believes that, at this point in the pandemic, given what we know about low rates of in-school transmission when proper prevention measures are used, together with the availability of effective vaccines for those age 12 years and up, that the benefits of in-person school outweigh the risks in all circumstances,” the guidance says.

One of the main interventions put forward by the AAP includes that all students over the age of 2, and all school staff, should wear masks at school unless they have a medical or developmental condition that prohibits this.

Reasons for this recommendation include, but are not limited to: a significant proportion of the student population not yet being eligible for vaccination, masking protecting those who are not vaccinated against Covid-19 and reducing transmission, and potential difficulty in monitoring or enforcing mask policies for those who are not vaccinated.

Additionally, other actions recommended by AAP include that all eligible individuals get vaccinated, that adequate and timely testing resources are available, and that strategies that are developed can be revised and adapted depending on the situation in the community.

“With the above principles in mind, the AAP strongly advocates that all policy considerations for school COVID-19 plans should start with a goal of keeping students safe and physically present in school,” the guidance says. The importance of in-person learning is well-documented, and there is already evidence of the negative impacts on children because of school closures in 2020.”

12:01 p.m. ET, July 19, 2021

Covid-19 hospitalizations and deaths in the US are increasing – and nearly all are among the unvaccinated 

From CNN's Deidre McPhillips

Covid-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths are on the rise in the United States – and the vast majority of them are among people who are not fully vaccinated.

Here's a look at the latest trends:

  • There were an average of 32,278 new cases each day over the past week – up 66% from last week and up 145% from two weeks ago, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
  • There were 24,923 confirmed Covid-19 hospitalizations – up 26% from last week and up 50% from two weeks ago, according to data from the US Department of Health and Human Services.
  • There were an average of 258 new deaths each day over the past week – up 13% from last week and up 12% from two weeks ago, according to JHU.

More than 97% of people who are entering the hospital now are unvaccinated, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said at a White House Covid-19 Response Team briefing on Friday.

“There is a clear message that is coming through. This is becoming a pandemic of the unvaccinated,” Walensky said.

And 99.5% of deaths are among the unvaccinated, US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy told CNN’s Dana Bash on “State of the Union” Sunday – a figure cited by the CDC earlier in the month.

Getting people vaccinated as quickly as possible “is our fastest, most effective way out of this pandemic,” Murthy said.

11:51 a.m. ET, July 19, 2021

Number of Covid-19 cases linked to Tokyo 2020 Games rises to 61

From CNN's Mohammed Tawfeeq

The number of Covid-19 cases linked to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in Japan has risen to 61, according to Tokyo 2020 organizers.

"The total number of positive cases linked with accredited personnel is 61. But it's important to look inside the numbers: among the total, 33 are positive cases from residents of Japan, 28 are from the Olympic Committees arriving from overseas," the spokesperson of Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee Masa Takaya said Monday.

"Regarding this 28, we need to look at the 22,000 people arriving in Japan. Looking into the positive case rate, the number is nearly 0.1%," the spokesperson added.

Tokyo 2020 did not reveal the names nor nationalities of the new cases. The Games are set to begin on Friday.

11:51 a.m. ET, July 19, 2021

Olympic officials are "doing the right thing" to mitigate virus spread in the village, doctor says

From CNN's Elise Hammond

Dr. Amy Compton-Phillips, the chief clinical officer at Providence Health System, said Olympic officials in Tokyo are "doing the right thing" to stop the spread of Covid-19 among athletes in the Olympic village.

Tokyo 2020 reported Monday that there are at least 58 Covid-19 cases linked to the Olympic Games so far. The Olympic Village, containing 21 residential buildings, will house about 11,000 athletes.

Compton-Phillips said officials are diligently screening, testing and isolating people.

"They're doing what one does with a novel pathogen when you want to contain it, not mitigate the spread, not slow down the spread, but stop it in its tracks," she told CNN on Monday. "What they're doing is actually preventing the Covid virus from getting out of control in the village, and as you noted, out of control in the broader Japanese community, so they're doing the right thing."

She said while there have been positive cases as people arrive in Tokyo for the Games, the positivity rate is still relatively low.

That is something that she said does give her "comfort," adding there are reasons why there are still some infections popping up.

"Particularly access to vaccines in other countries and being able to get people fully vaccinated before they get to the village. But the higher the number of vaccinated people go, the lower risk of epidemic spread amongst the Olympic Village," she said.

11:51 a.m. ET, July 19, 2021

2 alternates on US Women's Gymnastics Team now in isolation after 1 tests positive for Covid-19

From CNN’s Dan Moriarty and Kevin Dotson

Members of the US women's gymnastics team pose for a photo following Olympic trials in St. Louis, Missouri, on June 27.
Members of the US women's gymnastics team pose for a photo following Olympic trials in St. Louis, Missouri, on June 27. Jamie Squire/Getty Images

A second member of the United States women’s artistic gymnastics team is also in isolation after an alternate on the team tested positive for Covid-19 on Sunday, USA Gymnastics announced in a statement. Both affected people are alternate athletes. 

USA Gymnastics also says that its Olympic athletes were moved to a separate lodging accommodation and a separate training facility on Monday, as originally planned, where they will continue preparations for competition.

On June 27, USA Gymnastics announced its women’s artistic gymnastics team roster and included Kayla DiCello, Kara Eaker, Emma Malabuyo and Leanne Wong as the alternate athletes.

11:51 a.m. ET, July 19, 2021

These are some of the Covid-19 measures implemented in the Tokyo Olympic Village 

From CNN's Jacob Lev

An aerial view of the Tokyo Olympic Village on July 19.
An aerial view of the Tokyo Olympic Village on July 19. Yuki Iwamura/AFP/Getty Images

The opening ceremony of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics is only days away, but the rising number of Covid-19 cases tied to the competition has fueled concerns as to whether the Olympics can be safely held during the ongoing pandemic.

More than 50 confirmed Covid-19 cases linked to the Games have been reported. Teams from more than 200 countries are due to arrive in the city in the coming days.

As of Friday, more than 15,000 Olympic people had entered Japan, according to Thomas Bach, president of the IOC.

Here's a look at some of the Covid-19 measures being implemented at the Olympic Village and Games' venues:

  • Organizers announced this month that the Tokyo venues will not have spectators due to the city's coronavirus state of emergency — an unprecedented move, according to an International Olympic Committee spokesperson said.
  • The Olympic Village, containing 21 residential buildings, will house about 11,000 athletes and is prepped with Covid-19 testing and health centers.
  • There are signs reminding residents to wear face masks and keep at least one meter (about 3.3 feet) away from each other.
  • Athletes will be contact-traced and tested for Covid-19 daily.
  • If athletes test positive, they will be taken to an isolation facility outside the Olympic Village, and will not be able to compete.

Japan, meanwhile, has grappled with a second wave of infections in the spring, with numbers peaking in April and May with close to 6,000 newly recorded cases per day. Cases began falling in June, but have risen again in recent weeks.

11:51 a.m. ET, July 19, 2021

Nearly 60 confirmed Covid-19 cases linked to the Olympic Games have been reported

A man wearing personal protective equipment stands in a Covid-19 testing center in Tokyo, on July 14.
A man wearing personal protective equipment stands in a Covid-19 testing center in Tokyo, on July 14. Takashi Aoyama/Getty Images

Tokyo 2020 reported Monday that there are 58 Covid-19 cases linked to the Olympic Games so far.

Early Monday, the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee confirmed that an alternate on the women’s artistic gymnastics team tested positive for Covid-19. 

She tested positive on Sunday and her doctor confirmed the test result after another test Monday. The unidentified athlete has been transferred to a hotel to quarantine.

On Sunday, three members from South Africa's Olympic soccer team — two players and an official — became the first people to test positive for Covid-19 after arriving at the Tokyo Olympic Village, according to the South African Football Association. The whole team is now under quarantine "until cleared to train," according to the the association said.

Several prominent athletes have also dropped out of the Games. American tennis star Coco Gauff tested positive for the virus and is unable to participate in the Games.

Some background: The rescheduled Tokyo 2020 Games is set to begin on Friday, but the rising number of Covid-19 cases tied to the competition has fueled concerns as to whether the Olympics can be safely held during the ongoing pandemic.

Teams from more than 200 countries are due to arrive in the city in the coming days. As of Friday, more than 15,000 Olympic individuals had entered Japan, according to Thomas Bach, president of the IOC. The Olympic Village, containing 21 residential buildings, will house about 11,000 athletes.

11:51 a.m. ET, July 19, 2021

6 British athletes forced to self-isolate in Tokyo

From CNN's Jacob Lev

Six British athletes and two staff members are self-isolating after coming into close contact with an individual who tested positive for Covid-19 on their flight to Japan, the British Olympic Association said Sunday.

All eight tested negative at the airport and are now under the supervision of the British delegation's medical team, the association said in a statement

The individual who tested positive was not a member of the delegation.

Team Great Britain's chief of mission, Mark England, said that the news was disappointing but "respects" the protocols in place. "We will offer them every support during this period and we are hopeful they will be able resume training again soon," England said.

The rescheduled Tokyo 2020 Games is set to begin on Friday, but the rising number of Covid-19 cases tied to the competition has fueled concerns as to whether the Olympics can be safely held during the ongoing pandemic.

Organizers announced this month that the Tokyo venues will not have spectators due to the city's coronavirus state of emergency – an unprecedented move, according to an International Olympic Committee (IOC) spokesperson.

Teams from more than 200 countries are due to arrive in the city in the coming days. As of Friday, more than 15,000 Olympic individuals had entered Japan, according to Thomas Bach, president of the IOC. The Olympic Village, containing 21 residential buildings, will house about 11,000 athletes.

You can read more about the Olympic Village and its Covid-19 safety regulations here.

CNN's Jessie Yeung contributed reporting to this post.