The latest on the Covid-19 pandemic as Olympics approach

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

Updated 10:09 PM ET, Tue July 20, 2021
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9:37 a.m. ET, July 20, 2021

US renews "public health emergency" due to Covid-19

From CNN's Jacqueline Howard

Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra testifies during a Senate Finance Committee hearing on June 10, 2021 in Washington, DC.
Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra testifies during a Senate Finance Committee hearing on June 10, 2021 in Washington, DC. Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

US Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra on Monday signed a renewal of the determination that the United States remains under a "public health emergency" due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The determination was last renewed in April and was set to expire – as it is up for renewal every 90 days. This latest renewal is effective starting Tuesday and will continue for another 90 days.

What this means: A public health emergency declaration, which can last for the duration of the emergency or 90 days, allows for the emergency use authorization of vaccines, the access of certain funds to address the emergency, and the deployment of military trauma care providers, among other factors.

The White House had signaled for weeks that it planned to extend the public health emergency determination.

In June, local health officials told CNN that the White House was expected to extend its declaration of a national public health emergency due to the pandemic.

"They are committed to ensuring that the emergency order remains in place through the end of the year – even as they recognize that the current order is about to expire in July," Lori Tremmel Freeman, chief executive officer of the National Association of City and County Health Officials, told CNN last month.

"There are a lot of things tied to that public health emergency order, including it helps states and local jurisdictions with the pandemic response, but it can be impactful to other forms of assistance like Medicaid eligibility coverage provisions that were changed under the declaration of a public health emergency order," Freeman said. "If an emergency order is lifted, some people could no longer be eligible for some of the health-related coverages that they had gotten under the emergency."

The nation's public health emergency has been in place since late January 2020.

8:35 a.m. ET, July 20, 2021

Covid-19 expected to be key topic during Biden's Cabinet meeting today

From CNN's Kate Sullivan 

President Biden is holding his second full Cabinet meeting on Tuesday to mark six months in office, and is expected to focus the discussion on Covid-19, infrastructure, climate and cybersecurity, a White House official tells CNN.  

Tuesday will be the first time the full Cabinet convenes in the Cabinet Room at the White House. The first full in person Cabinet meeting took place earlier this year in the East Room due to social distancing constraints because of the coronavirus pandemic.  

The meeting comes as the White House grapples with combating misinformation about the Covid-19 vaccines and is struggling to get the rest of the population vaccinated. There is heightened concern about the Delta variant, which is spreading in areas with low vaccination rates. 

The President will discuss the continued push on Capitol Hill for his twin economic proposals to rebuild the nation’s crumbling infrastructure and revamp the US economy in the wake of the pandemic. 

10:15 a.m. ET, July 20, 2021

Tokyo reports nearly 1,400 new Covid-19 cases 3 days out from Olympic Games

From CNN's Arthur Syin in Tokyo

Behrouz Mehri/AFP/Getty Images
Behrouz Mehri/AFP/Getty Images

Tokyo reported at least 1,387 new Covid-19 cases on Tuesday as the Olympic Games are just three days away.

This is Tokyo's second-highest daily increase of new cases since Jan. 21, according to Tokyo Metropolitan's Government website.

The number of Covid-19 cases in Japan linked to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games has risen to 71, according to Tokyo 2020 organizers Tuesday. 

Four of the 71 cases have been residents of the Olympic Village, three of which are athletes and one "Games-related personnel."

The capital is currently under a coronavirus state of emergency, set to expire on August 22.

8:27 a.m. ET, July 20, 2021

Olympic Czech beach volleyball coach tests positive for Covid-19

From CNN’s Aleks Klosok

The coach of the Czech Republic Olympic Beach Volleyball team, Simon Nausch, has tested positive for Covid-19, the Czech Olympic committee announced on Tuesday.

Nausch, who becomes the third member of the Czech Olympic team to test positive for the virus, has left the Olympic village and is currently isolating.

“As a result of previous cases in our team, we tried to be extremely careful, unfortunately it did not work. I'm, however, very glad I'm in isolation before I can jeopardize someone else's participation in the games,” said Nausch.
10:16 a.m. ET, July 20, 2021

Fauci believes schools may require Covid-19 vaccinations if pandemic is still not well controlled 

From CNN’s Naomi Thomas

Sarah Silbiger/AFP/Getty Images
Sarah Silbiger/AFP/Getty Images

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said he would not be surprised if schools considered including the Covid-19 vaccine as a required immunization. 

“That is not a policy right now so don’t anyone get confused by what I’m saying, what I am saying is that I would not be surprised that in the future this is something that would be seriously considered depending upon how we handle the outbreak,” he told CBS This Morning on Tuesday. 

He noted that making it required vaccination would likely depend on the handling of the pandemic. 

“That is not the situation right now, but I could imagine, as we get further into this and we see where we’re going with this outbreak, whether or not it’s going to be essentially with us for a considerable period of time, I would not be surprised," he continued.

If the pandemic is completely crushed, and stays away with very little activity, then Fauci said he doesn’t think school Covid-19 vaccinations will be required. However, if moving forward into this year and next year there is a still a problem with the coronavirus, “it very well might be required,” he said. 


8:17 a.m. ET, July 20, 2021

2 American athletes tested positive for Covid-19 days before the Games

From CNN's Dan Moriarty, Kevin Dotson and Chie Kobayashi

Two American athletes have tested positive for Covid-19 days before the start of the Tokyo Olympics.

Kara Eaker, a member of the US gymnastics team, tested positive for Covid-19 on Sunday, her father confirmed to CNN affiliate KMBC by telephone on Monday morning.

And Katie Lou Samuelson, a member of the US Olympic 3x3 Women's Basketball Team, announced on Instagram that she will not be able to compete in the Games after being diagnosed with Covid-19.

In addition, Zach LaVine of the US Olympic men's basketball squad will not travel with the team to Japan on Monday as planned because of health and safety protocols, USA Basketball announced Monday. No other details were released, but USA Basketball said it was hopeful LaVine will be able to join the team later this week.

The incidents represent the broader challenges in holding the Olympics, which start Friday amid a pandemic.

Eaker, an 18-year-old alternate member of the gymnastics team, recently arrived in Japan for the Games, which start Friday.

Despite displaying no symptoms and being vaccinated, Eaker had multiple Covid-19 tests come back positive after she arrived in Japan, her father, Mark Eaker, said.

Read more about the athletes here.

8:34 p.m. ET, July 20, 2021

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