June 3 coronavirus news

By Joshua Berlinger, Adam Renton and Laura Smith-Spark, CNN

Updated 0103 GMT (0903 HKT) June 4, 2020
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3:36 p.m. ET, June 3, 2020

Trump administration has picked 5 companies most likely to produce coronavirus vaccine

From CNN's Jim Acosta

The Trump administration has selected five companies as the most likely to produce a Covid-19 vaccine, a White House Coronavirus task force source tells CNN.

The same source added that the decision came from "Operation Warp Speed," which seeks to quickly ramp up production, organize distribution and determine who gets the first doses of a potential vaccine.  

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, has previously suggested January as a potential date for a vaccine, but vaccines typically take years to produce.

The New York Times first reported that the administration had selected five companies most likely to produce a vaccine. 

3:21 p.m. ET, June 3, 2020

World Health Organization "very concerned" about coronavirus in Haiti

From CNN's Mia Alberti, Chandler Thornton and Etant Dupain.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Wednesday it is "very concerned" about the evolution of the Covid-19 pandemic in Haiti.

"We are very concerned about Haiti at the moment because of its unique circumstances, unique fragility and the fact that the disease is accelerating in a highly vulnerable population", WHO's Executive Director for Health Emergencies, Michael Ryan, said during a press conference.

"What has been common to many regions has been intense community transmission and it is clear that once community transmission has been established it's very difficult to root the virus out", Ryan added.

By the numbers: Haiti has reported at least 2,507 confirmed cases of Covid-19 and at least 48 deaths, according to the latest report by the Haitian Ministry of Health from June 1.

3:26 p.m. ET, June 3, 2020

Brazil will be first country outside UK to test vaccine developed by Oxford University 

From CNN’s Shasta Darlington, Mia Alberti and Rodrigo Pedroso

Oxford University Pool/AP
Oxford University Pool/AP

Two thousand Brazilians will participate in June tests of a vaccine against Covid-19 developed by Oxford University in partnership with AstraZeneca pharmaceutical, the Federal University of Sao Paulo (Unifesp) said in a statement.

On Tuesday, the Brazilian Ministry of Health approved the beginning of the study that will vaccinate 1,000 patients in São Paulo and 1,000 more in Rio de Janeiro.

The country is the first site of these vaccination tests outside the United Kingdom.

The study will happen as Brazil is registering an increase in the number of cases and deaths. Tuesday's reported death toll of 1,262 was a record for a 24-hour period.

Brazil's biggest cities have started to relax the social isolation rules imposed since mid-March.

“The most important thing is to carry out this stage of the study now when the epidemiological curve is still rising and the results may be more assertive", the lead investigator of the study in Brazil and researcher at the Federal University of São Paulo (Unifesp), Lily Yin Weckx, said. 

Other countries will also participate in the study and the official registration of the vaccine is expected to be made later this year in the United Kingdom, Unifesp said in its statement.

Brazil is now the country with the second-highest number of cases after the United States, and the rate of infections continues to rise. 

2:37 p.m. ET, June 3, 2020

Restaurants in 7 regions across New York can reopen outdoor seating tomorrow

From CNN's Sheena Jones

At least seven regions in New York are ready to enter phase two and reopen restaurants for outdoor seating beginning tomorrow, according to a news release from Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office.

Restaurants in Capital Region, Central New York, Finger Lakes, the Mohawk Valley, the North County, the Southern Tier and Western New York can all reopen for outdoor seating, the release says.

Here are the guidelines restaurants must follow:

  • Outdoor tables must be spaced six feet apart
  • All staff must wear face coverings
  • Customers must also wear face coverings when not seated

New York state reported its lowest daily coronavirus death toll so far, with 49 deaths reported yesterday, Cuomo announced in a news conference today. The state confirmed 1,045 additional cases of Covid-19 for a statewide total of 374,085.

"Covid-19 is still a real threat and we're still battling it. I know it's not on the front pages today, but it is still in people and in society," Gov. Cuomo said. "But thanks to the people of New York and the nurses, doctors and essential workers, today we have the lowest number of hospitalizations ever and we have the lowest death toll ever. We are continuously evaluating activities that can be safely reopened, and today we are adding outdoor seating at restaurants to phase two."
2:14 p.m. ET, June 3, 2020

Dutch government to allow some European tourism starting June 15

From Mick Krever in London

People walk on a shopping street in Sluis, Netherlands, near the Belgian-Dutch border on May 31.
People walk on a shopping street in Sluis, Netherlands, near the Belgian-Dutch border on May 31. Nicolas Maeterlinck/Reuters

The Dutch government announced Wednesday that it will allow citizens to travel abroad for vacation to a large number of European countries, and will also allow some foreign tourists to come to the Netherlands. The policy goes into effect on June 15. 

The government will continue to advise against nonessential travel to the United Kingdom and Sweden, “because the health risks there are estimated to be higher.” Travel outside Europe will still be “discouraged.”

“The short answer to all questions is that we can indeed go on vacation this summer – but not everywhere, and anyhow, there are uncertainties,” Prime Minister Mark Rutte said in a news conference on Wednesday.

Starting on June 15, the Dutch government will lower its health travel warnings for Belgium, Bulgaria, Germany, Estonia, Italy, Croatia, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Portugal, Slovenia, the Czech Republic, and the Dutch islands of the Caribbean.

France and Spain have yet to make a decision about whether Dutch tourists will be welcomed, the government said, and Denmark has already made clear that it does not want Dutch tourists.

The government said that it would welcome “foreign tourists from countries with similar or lower health risks as in our country.” The government uses a three-level, color-coded scale of yellow, orange, and red, to indicate the health risk of a foreign country.

“It will therefore be a different summer vacation than usual,” Rutte said. “The main advice is to think carefully about what you do, and if you do go on vacation, travel wisely.”

1:53 p.m. ET, June 3, 2020

Governor signs order requiring mail-in ballots be sent to all California voters over health risk concerns 

From CNN's Cheri Mossburg

California Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks during a news conference at the Veterans Home of California in Yountville, California, on May 22.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks during a news conference at the Veterans Home of California in Yountville, California, on May 22. Eric Risberg/Pool/AP

California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an executive order today requiring mail-in ballots be sent to all registered voters in the state for the upcoming general election in November.

The executive order cites the health risks posed by the Covid-19 pandemic and the potential of spreading the virus through in-person voting.

In addition to mail-in ballots, county officials are directed to provide voting locations remain available for those wishing to cast their ballots in person. At least one voting location per 10,000 registered voters is required. 

“We are committed to protecting the hard-fought right for Californians to make their voices heard this November, even in the face of a pandemic,” Newsom said. “As the demonstrations across the country remind us, civic participation is critical to our democracy. If we are to address the racial inequities that exist in our institutions, policies and representation, we must ensure that all eligible Californians have an opportunity to safely cast their ballot.”


1:31 p.m. ET, June 3, 2020

ER visits for non-Covid emergencies have dropped 42% across the US, CDC says

From CNN's Jacqueline Howard

A sign at a Manhattan hospital treating coronavirus patients directs visitors to the emergency room entrance on May 12 in New York.
A sign at a Manhattan hospital treating coronavirus patients directs visitors to the emergency room entrance on May 12 in New York. Spencer Platt/Getty Images

ER visits during the pandemic for non-Covid emergencies have dropped 42% across the United States, when compared to this same time last year, according to a new report from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The new research published on Wednesday found that emergency department visits drastically fell from about 2.1 million visits per week between March 31 and April 27 last year, to 1.2 million between March 29 and April 25 this year.

The "steepest decreases" were among children 14 and younger, women and girls, and people living in the Northeast region of the country, CDC researchers noted in the report.  

Yet overall, "the proportion of infectious disease-related visits was four times higher during the early pandemic period," according to the report.

In the report, CDC recommended for people to keep using virtual doctor's visits and triage help lines during the pandemic, but not to hesitate seeking care for serious conditions, such as heart attack.

The research had some limitations, including that the number of hospitals reporting to National Syndromic Surveillance Program change over time; the data do not capture all US hospitals, just those who reported to the surveillance program; and the data is limited to emergency department visits only, so people who may have sought treatment elsewhere are not captured in the data.

1:37 p.m. ET, June 3, 2020

Spanish Parliament approves a sixth extension of the state of emergency


Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez addresses a plenary session at the parliament to debate on an extension of the state of emergency amid the coronavirus outbreak in Madrid on June 3.
Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez addresses a plenary session at the parliament to debate on an extension of the state of emergency amid the coronavirus outbreak in Madrid on June 3. Di Lolli/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

A sixth, and last extension of the state of emergency was approved in a close vote by the Spanish Parliament, to last until June 21.

Now in its third month, the extended state of emergency, which has been in place since March 14, will give the government continued authority to control movement across Spain even as the country continues to relax confinement measures. 

The country’s 17 regional governments will have the power to determine the pace and course taken during the last, third phase, of the de-escalation process in their communities, which has been managed by the central government until now.

“We’ve overcome the worst of the pandemic,” Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said during the debate ahead of the vote in Spain’s lower chamber. 

He said the state of emergency, considered to be Europe’s strictest confinement measures, were fundamental to controlling the spread of Covid-19.

Answering the main conservative opposition Popular Party leader Pablo Casado’s accusation that the Prime Minister “was unable to save lives", Sánchez said: “Today, we have zero deaths from Covid-19 in Spain,” referring to the previous day’s zero mortality statistic. He continued by saying that “the strict confinement has been efficient” in battling Spain’s health emergency.

Sánchez, whose Socialist minority government worked in recent days to ensure enough votes from other parties to pass the extension, urged parliamentarians to approve it this last time, saying said it is needed in order to complete the country’s de-escalation towards a “new normality.”

Opposition parties, including the far-right Vox party, the third largest in parliament, have accused the government of dictatorial rule through the state of emergency, and pushing the country into economic ruin. Sanchez responded by saying “the government understands the impatience of economic sectors, but health takes priority. Without health, no business will stay open.”

Sanchez also said his cabinet will approve a decree for a “new normality,” with necessary containment measures until a vaccine or treatment is found.

Some more context: 70% of Spain is currently in Phase 2 of de-escalation from the severe confinement measures in place at the height of the pandemic, but the capital, Madrid, and Spain’s second largest city, Barcelona, are behind in Phase 1. 

They were the hardest hit areas by the virus, with the most cases and deaths. Four small islands in Spain’s Canaries and Balearic Islands have already advanced to Phase 3, which has the fewest restrictions on activity and movement.

Most recent data from Spain’s Ministry of Health published Wednesday afternoon show a total of 27,128 deaths due to Covid-19, and 240,326 infections. One new Covid-19 death has been reported in the latest data.

1:18 p.m. ET, June 3, 2020

WHO says coronavirus is not mutating, but that doesn't mean it is not dangerous

From CNN's Amanda Watts

The World Health Organization (WHO) said a large number of scientists across the world are studying coronavirus and none of the genome sequences show the virus is mutating to become more dangerous.

But WHO warns that doesn’t mean the pandemic is not getting more dangerous. 

“There are more than 40,000 full genome sequences that are available,” WHO infectious disease epidemiologist Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove told a briefing.

“Scientists are looking to see, are there changes in the virus? And as it is a coronavirus — it is an RNA virus — there are normal changes in this virus that one would expect over time,” she said. RNA viruses such as influenza and coronaviruses are generally more unstable and prone to mutation than viruses that use DNA to replicate.

“None of these changes so far indicate that the virus itself is changing in terms of its ability to transmit or to cause more severe disease,” Van Kerkhove added. 

But Van Kerkhove said that doesn’t mean the spread of the virus isn’t becoming more dangerous. “People grow tired,” she said. They may become lax in the measures needed to control the spread of the virus, such as social distancing. “It's very difficult to keep up all of these measures and we must remain strong and vigilant,” she said.

As lockdowns are lifted, slowly, across the globe, some “social measures may need to be reintroduced again, and that may frustrate people,” Van Kerkhove said. 

“And that, in a sense, could make the virus more dangerous because people become complacent. And it's important that no one becomes complacent. This is far from over.” 

Dr. Mike Ryan, WHO executive director of Health Emergencies Program, said the virus does remain stable, but added, “This is already a dangerous virus; we've been seeing this consistently for months now.”