June 4 coronavirus news

By Joshua Berlinger, Brett McKeehan, Laura Smith-Spark and Peter Wilkinson, CNN

Updated 7:57 a.m. ET, June 5, 2020
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1:48 a.m. ET, June 4, 2020

Almost 20,000 new Covid-19 cases were identified in the US on Wednesday

From CNN's Joe Sutton

A worker collects information from local residents as he check them in at a drive-thru coronavirus testing location at Six Flags America in Bowie, Maryland, on May 29.
A worker collects information from local residents as he check them in at a drive-thru coronavirus testing location at Six Flags America in Bowie, Maryland, on May 29. Alex Wong/Getty Images

The United States has reported a total of 1,851,520 cases of coronavirus, including at least 107,175 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University's tally.

Johns Hopkins reported 19,699 new cases and 995 virus-related deaths in the country on Wednesday.

The totals includes cases from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and other US territories, as well as repatriated cases. 

1:21 a.m. ET, June 4, 2020

It's nearing 1:30 p.m. in Hong Kong and 2:30 a.m. in Rio de Janeiro. Catch up on the most recent headlines

Funeral workers perform a burial in a cemetery in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on May 29.
Funeral workers perform a burial in a cemetery in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on May 29. Allan Carvalho/AGIF/AP

If you're just joining us, here's the latest on the coronavirus pandemic:

  • Deaths continue to rise in Latin America: Two of the region's hardest-hit countries, Brazil and Mexico, announced record numbers of daily virus-related deaths on Wednesday. Mexico also became the 14th country to surpass 100,000 confirmed infections.
  • Vaccine latest: 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. Meanwhile, a Covid-19 vaccine developed by Oxford University in partnership with AstraZeneca pharmaceutical will be tested in Brazil, the Federal University of Sao Paulo (Unifesp) said in a statement.
  • George Floyd tests positive: Floyd, the African-American man whose death at the hands of police sparked nationwide protests in the United States, tested positive for the coronavirus, according to an autopsy. However, the virus played no known role in Floyd’s death and he was unlikely to have been contagious.
  • A tradition canceled: For the first time in 30 years, Hong Kong authorities will not allow the city's annual vigil to commemorate those killed in Beijing's Tiananmen Square massacre to go ahead today. Officials cited the threat of the coronavirus as their reason to cancel the event, but critics say the explanation rings hollow since life in the city has started returning to normal.
12:53 a.m. ET, June 4, 2020

Autopsy shows George Floyd tested positive for coronavirus

From CNN’s Andy Rose

George Floyd, whose death in police custody has sparked massive protests throughout the United States, tested positive for the novel coronavirus in a new autopsy report released today. 

The post-mortem nasal swab was found to be “positive for 2019-nCoV RNA,” said the report, using another term for the type of coronavirus that causes Covid-19.

Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Andrew Baker said the type of test performed for the autopsy, called PCR, can show a positive result “for weeks after the onset and resolution of clinical disease.” 

As a result, Baker said, “the autopsy result most likely reflects asymptomatic but persistent PCR positivity from previous infection” -- meaning the virus played no known role in Floyd’s death and he was unlikely to have been contagious.

Follow the latest on the protest in the US:

12:29 a.m. ET, June 4, 2020

Top US infectious disease expert says it might be "a bit of a reach" to keep schools closed in the fall

From CNN's Annie Grayer

Dr. Anthony Fauci, left, with White House Coronavirus Task Force response coordinator Deborah Birx in Washington, DC on April 29.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, left, with White House Coronavirus Task Force response coordinator Deborah Birx in Washington, DC on April 29. Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the US National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said he believes it's a "bit of a reach" to keep schools closed in the fall because of coronavirus safety concerns for children.

In a phone interview with CNN Wednesday, Fauci said children tend to have milder symptoms -- or even no symptoms -- when they are infected with Covid-19.

What's not yet clear, however, is whether children get infected as frequently as adults and whether they pass the infection on to others as easily. Fauci said ultimately, the decision to reopen schools needs to be predicated on the level of infection in each community.

“I hesitate to make any broad statements about whether it is or is not quote 'safe' for kids to come back to school," Fauci told CNN. "When you talk about children going back to school and their safety, it really depends on the level of viral activity, and the particular area that you're talking about. What happens all too often, understandably, but sometimes misleadingly, is that we talk about the country as a whole in a unidimensional away.” 

Fauci also said that schools need to “be creative” with classroom planning. He suggested that one option is to space out children at every other desk, or every third desk, to maintain proper social distancing.

“In some situations there will be no problem for children to go back to school,” he said. "In others, you may need to do some modifications. You know, modifications could be breaking up the class so you don't have a crowded classroom, maybe half in the morning, half of the afternoon, having children doing alternate schedules. There's a whole bunch of things that one can do.”
12:01 a.m. ET, June 4, 2020

Critics skeptical after officials cancel Hong Kong's Tiananmen Square massacre vigil over coronavirus

From CNN's James Griffiths in Hong Kong

People hold up candles during a vigil in Hong Kong on June 4, 2019, marking 30 years since the massacre at Tiananmen Square in Beijing.
People hold up candles during a vigil in Hong Kong on June 4, 2019, marking 30 years since the massacre at Tiananmen Square in Beijing. Joshua Berlinger/CNN

An annual vigil commemorating the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre will not take place in Hong Kong today, after police refused organizers permission to hold a mass gathering during the coronavirus pandemic.

Every year on June 4, thousands have gathered at a candlelit rally in Hong Kong to mark the anniversary -- the only mass memorial held on Chinese soil and a key emblem of the semi-autonomous city's political freedoms.

The massacre made headlines around the world -- with iconic images such as the "Tank Man" defying troops -- but it particularly resonated in Hong Kong, which was then eight years away from being handed over from British to Chinese control. No official death toll has ever been released, but rights groups estimate hundreds, if not thousands, were killed.

Yet Hong Kong police would not give permission for this year's rally to go ahead, citing coronavirus restrictions. For many in the democratic opposition, however, the justification rings hollow: organizers had said they would work with the authorities to ensure a safe and socially distanced rally, and meanwhile the city's shopping districts, subway and public parks have been open for weeks with little issue.

The decision by police carries extra weight as many already feared this week might be the last opportunity to freely mark the anniversary. Last month, China announced it would impose a national security law on Hong Kong, in response to widespread and often violent anti-government unrest last year.

Read more about why this might be the last time Hong Kong marks the Tiananmen Square anniversary:

11:40 p.m. ET, June 3, 2020

Warehouse workers are suing Amazon

From CNN Business' Brian Fung

A new lawsuit targeting Amazon claims a lack of Covid-19 protections at its Staten Island facility has put workers -- and their families -- at risk.

The complaint, filed Wednesday by three Amazon workers at its JFK8 warehouse, alleges the company erected a "a façade of compliance" to meet public health guidelines while simultaneously pressuring employees to report to work under unsafe conditions.

The result is that while "most New Yorkers have remained safe by complying with the state's stay-at-home order ... for JFK8 workers and their families, home has been a place of danger," the complaint said.

"We are saddened by the tragic impact COVID-19 has had on communities across the globe, including on some Amazon team members and their family and friends," Rachael Lighty, an Amazon spokesperson, said in a statement to CNN Business. "From early March to May 1, we offered our employees unlimited time away from work, and since May 1 we have offered leave for those most vulnerable or who need to care for children or family members"

Read more:

11:07 p.m. ET, June 3, 2020

Stricter lockdowns are better for economies, new model suggests

From CNN's Maggie Fox

Strict lockdowns like those instigated in China -- when the coronavirus outbreak began -- are better for economies than the longer, more moderate closures like the United States and many European countries have taken, a new international study suggests.

Shorter but stricter lockdowns don’t hit businesses as hard, researchers reported Wednesday in the journal Nature Human Behavior. Businesses can weather a short, extreme shutdown but run out of supplies and reserves as time goes on.

And if the pandemic returns, a second round of lockdowns will really hurt economies, the team led by economist Dabo Guan from Tsinghua University in China found. 

“While predicting the true cost of lockdowns is not possible at this stage, our research suggests that shorter, stricter lockdowns minimize the impact on supply chains, while gradually easing restrictions over the course of a year may also be less disruptive than a swift lifting of restrictions followed by another lockdown,” Guan said in a statement.

The team simulated three kinds of lockdown: a strict lockdown in which 80% of travel and labor ceases, similar to what China did; a more moderate lockdown with a 60% reduction in work and travel, similar to what the US did; plus a third, lighter lockdown with 40% reductions.

A gradual easing of the restrictions over a year would minimize damage to the global supply chain, they said. But if the virus resurged in the fall, forcing a second round of restrictions, costs to the economy would worsen by a third.

“Our analysis quantifies the global economic benefits of robust public health responses and suggests that economic justifications to reopen businesses could backfire if they result in another round of lockdowns,” said Steve Davis of the University of California Irvine, who took part in the study.

The situation will be even worse if countries stagger a second round of closures and restrictions instead of coordinating them if a second global lockdown occurs. A coordinated global lockdown would raise costs by 33% -- but if countries just move on their own, costs will rise by 57%, the model predicts.

10:39 p.m. ET, June 3, 2020

Mexico identified a record number of Covid-19 deaths in the past 24 hours

From CNN's Matt Rivers and Natalie Gallón in Mexico City

A health worker attends to a coronavirus patient on life support in Atlacomulco, Mexico, on May 28.
A health worker attends to a coronavirus patient on life support in Atlacomulco, Mexico, on May 28. Ricardo Castelan Cruz/Eyepix/Abaca/Sipa/AP

Mexican authorities recorded more deaths Wednesday than any other day since the Covid-19 pandemic began.

Health officials said 1,092 coronavirus-related fatalities were identified in 24 hours -- more than doubling the previous single-day record. The previous high, 501 deaths, was announced last week.

More than 11,700 virus-related deaths have been recorded in the country.

An important caveat: Deputy Health Secretary Hugo López Gatell has consistently said the vast majority of deaths reported each day did not occur the day they were reported. Delays in counting deaths attributed to the virus mean that the deaths reported each day have occurred over the past several weeks.

Another record: Authorities said they also identified another 3,912 cases of Covid-19 -- another daily record and the second day in a row that Mexico had its largest daily increase of new cases.

Mexico has now recorded 101,238 cases -- surpassing 100,000 cases for the first time and becoming the 14th country worldwide to do so, according to Johns Hopkins University's tally.

10:20 p.m. ET, June 3, 2020

Brazil's coronavirus restrictions continue to loosen in some areas as death toll hits new peak

From journalist Rodrigo Pedroso in Sao Paulo  

A gravedigger working at the Nossa Senhora Aparecida cemetery where Covid-19 victims are buried in Manaus, Brazil, on June 2.
A gravedigger working at the Nossa Senhora Aparecida cemetery where Covid-19 victims are buried in Manaus, Brazil, on June 2. Michael Dantas/AFP/Getty Images

Brazil registered a record number of coronavirus-related deaths for the second day in a row on Wednesday.

The country's health ministry reported 1,349 new Covid-19 fatalities in the previous 24 hours, raising the total to 32,548.

The ministry also recorded 28,633 new confirmed cases Wednesday, for a total of 584,016.

Despite the rise in cases, parts of the country started loosening virus-related restrictions this week.

More deaths in Rio: The Brazilian state of Rio de Janeiro also recorded a record number of coronavirus-related deaths in a day, according to the state health secretary. 

Authorities said Wednesday that 324 Covid-19 deaths had been identified in the past 24 hours, bringing the statewide total to 6,010 fatalities.

The state also recorded 2,508 new confirmed cases -- taking the total there to 59,240.

The city of Rio de Janeiro began opening some nonessential businesses and activities Tuesday after an announcement from Mayor Marcelo Crivella Monday. Crivella said he expects the Brazilian city to “return to normal” in early August.