June 12 coronavirus news

By Jessie Yeung, Steve George, Helen Regan and Laura Smith-Spark, CNN

Updated 0322 GMT (1122 HKT) June 13, 2020
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12:30 p.m. ET, June 12, 2020

South Carolina governor lifts more coronavirus restrictions

From CNN’s Natasha Chen and Lindsay Benson

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster speaks during a meeting of the Accelerate SC economy initiative in Columbia, South Carolina, on May 19.
South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster speaks during a meeting of the Accelerate SC economy initiative in Columbia, South Carolina, on May 19. Tracy Glantz/The State/AP

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster has issued a new state of emergency Friday, as part of an executive order that also allows the reopening of bowling alleys and lifts restrictions on retail business capacity limits.

Previous limits on retail spaces required no more than five customers every 1,000 square feet, or no more than 20% capacity, whichever was less. That restriction has now been lifted, with no mandated reduced capacity.

The executive order also lifts the previous restriction on gatherings of more than 50 people on public property, since more public employees are returning to work.

This comes during a week when South Carolina has seen a large increase in daily new cases, including Thursday having the single largest daily increase in the state since the pandemic began. 

Brian Symmes, the governor's communications director, said the state acknowledges people have not been properly social distancing. Symmes said the governor has forcefully explained to residents that this is a dangerous and deadly virus, and that people need to take precautions.

“That has not changed. The virus is still here. And it’s still being transmitted,” Symmes said.

But Symmes said that McMaster philosophically does not believe that government putting its thumb on the scales and making broad mandates that are largely unenforceable is the answer. The answer, Symmes said, is educating the public, which the governor and Department of Health and Environmental Control have done consistently.

He added that it is in the best interest of the business from a liability standpoint to follow guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 


12:33 p.m. ET, June 12, 2020

Utah governor pauses lifting Covid-19 restrictions following spike in cases

From CNN's Pamela Wessmann

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert speaks at a press conference at the Utah State Capitol in Salt Lake City on June 11.
Utah Gov. Gary Herbert speaks at a press conference at the Utah State Capitol in Salt Lake City on June 11. Spenser Heaps/Deseret News/Pool/AP

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert has paused the lifting of restrictions following spikes in Covid-19 cases over the past two weeks.

The governor said during a news conference Thursday that the increase in cases is “giving them pause.” 

The state will remain in the "yellow" phase of reopening with the exception of one county, Brooke Scheffler, public information officer for Herbert, told CNN in a text Friday. 

She also confirmed that Salt Lake City will remain in the "orange" phase, which is below yellow.

"What should we in fact do as a reaction to this spiking of infection? For the most part, I think the answer is that we will pause and really for the most part maintain yellow guidance in most of the state,” Herbert said Thursday. 

Utah’s state epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn said in the news conference there was a “great spike in the growth rate of cases” after Memorial Day.

 Here are the numbers, according to Dunn:

  • Daily state cases have been in the 200 to 300 range since Memorial Day.
  • In the weeks leading up to Memorial Day, the percent of positive tests was hovering "around 4 to 4 ½ %."
  • In the two weeks since Memorial Day, they have seen the trend increase to 7% for a weekly average and then 10% percent positive for the last week.

“There are some parts of the state that are being hit harder than others, and there's localized outbreaks and hotspots, but by and large, we are seeing this increase in cases throughout the state,” Dunn said.

The governor said he “doesn’t want to take a step forward and then take a step backward.” 

Under yellow guidance, there are no economic activities that are categorically prohibited, Herbert explained.

"We've not gone down the road as many other states have done of identifying essential or nonessential businesses and services," he said. "We've had minimal restrictions for in house dining, public schools closing, which are not insignificant in its impact, but we have been listed as the fourth least restrictive state in America and addressing this pandemic, we've not closed down the economy."

Other states and cities — like Oregon and Nashville, Tennessee — have also announced delays in reopening plans due to elevated cases.

12:12 p.m. ET, June 12, 2020

Texas county official issues warning as coronavirus cases rise

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

Judge Lina Hidalgo, the top elected official in Harris County, Texas — which includes the city of Houston — said the county saw its highest numbers of coronavirus cases and hospitalizations this week. 

“We don't see evidence that our public health interventions are being able to contain, to control, the spread of that virus, so I want to … sound that alarm that we've got to take action now so that we avoid a shutdown in the future,” Hidalgo said.

Harris County is the third most-populous county in the US. Hidalgo, who serves as its chief executive officer, warned the county “may be approaching the precipice of a disaster” in a press conference yesterday.

Hidalgo said they are seeing the numbers increase as the state has started to reopen over the past few weeks.  

“I’ve always said I think the reopening timeline was a little too fast. I wouldn't have done it that quickly,” she said.

“I want the economy to reopen as much as anyone. I just want it to be sustainable. I don't want us to be ping-ponging between open and close,” Hidalgo added.

She said that while there is enough hospital space right now, it’s “alarming” that more than 15% of ICU space is being occupied by Covid-19 patients. 

She is working with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s office and alerting the state on the latest numbers, she said. 

Watch more:

12:35 p.m. ET, June 12, 2020

Cuomo says New York has lowest rate of Covid-19 transmission out of any state in the country

From CNN's Brian Vitagliano

A nearly empty street is seen in Times Square in New York on June 11.
A nearly empty street is seen in Times Square in New York on June 11. Jeenah Moon/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Friday is day 104 of the Covid-19 crisis and the numbers are going down, with 42 deaths related to Covid-19 on Thursday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.

“Since we have reopened, the number has continued to go down… because we have been disciplined in our reopening,” he said.

Cuomo also said the state has the lowest rate of transmission saying, “the virus is spreading at the lowest rate of transmission in the state of New York of every state in America, that is incredible.” 

He went on to say, “we were the number one state in terms of infection, number one in the nation, number one on the globe, per capita, and now we are the last state in terms of rate of transmission, that is because New Yorkers stepped up, they were smart they were disciplined they did what they had to do and we need to stay there.”

Citing US states that have seen elevated numbers in coronavirus cases, the governor called it a "pivotal moment" in making sure this does not happen to New York.

"This is deja vu," Cuomo said. "They reopen and then the number goes up, which is common sense on one level."

11:50 a.m. ET, June 12, 2020

Covid-19 hospitalizations hit lowest level in 2 months

From CNN's Elizabeth Joseph

Coronavirus-related hospitalizations in Maryland have fallen by more than 100 over the past 48 hours and “are now at their lowest level in 66 days,” Gov. Larry Hogan announced on Twitter Friday morning.

At least 9,748 people across the state have been tested for Covid-19 over the past 24 hours, bringing the statewide total of completed tests to 473,271, he said, adding the statewide positivity rate is now 6.9%.

10:38 a.m. ET, June 12, 2020

Trump economic adviser claims there "is no second wave"

From CNN's Betsy Klein

White House chief economic adviser Larry Kudlow speaks during a roundtable in the State Dining Room of the White House on May 29 in Washington.
White House chief economic adviser Larry Kudlow speaks during a roundtable in the State Dining Room of the White House on May 29 in Washington. Alex Brandon/AP

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow sought to calm markets after stocks tumbled Thursday on news of a projected second wave of coronavirus, claiming there “is no second wave.”

“I’m not the health expert, but on the so-called spike, I spoke to our health experts at some length last evening. They are saying there is no second spike, let me repeat that, there is no second spike. And that – Sec. Mnuchin said yesterday in testimony and I totally agree, we are not going to shut down the economy,” Kudlow said during an appearance on Fox News Friday.

After fears about a rise in coronavirus cases, US stocks posted their sharpest selloff in three months. US stocks surged at Friday's opening bell.

But Kudlow appears to contradict himself almost immediately by saying some places are up — although he is quick to say the Trump Administration has it handled. 

Kudlow continued, “What you do have is certain spots are seeing a little bit of a jump up. Some small metropolitan areas are seeing it. CDC and the health people are all over it – they sent some task forces out to deal with that. You know, nowadays, we have better equipment, much more experience, much better testing. I mean the testing itself has jumped up, so you’re going to get a little more positivity from that. But if you look nationally, the important point is the rate of increase of new cases is between 0 and 1 percent. It’s really flattened out, and with respect to fatalities, it’s the same, it’s actually lower than that, it’s like zero to a half a percent.”

What we know about the virus: While new case rates aren’t growing significantly for now, 19 states are experiencing rising cases as of Friday. In many states, hospitalizations are also increasing, an indicator of people seriously ill with Covid-19.

Kudlow also suggested Dr. Deborah Birx – who has been largely silent and away from cameras – may be seen Friday, but it’s unclear how or when.

“If I can calm fears, again I’m not the health expert, Amb. Birx may be out and about later today. Nonetheless, there is no emergency, there is no second wave. I don’t know where that got started on Wall Street,” he said.

10:37 a.m. ET, June 12, 2020

Mass transit ridership is up across New York City following reopening, mayor says

From CNN's Sheena Jones

People enter the subway at Times Square during rush hour on the first day of phase one of the reopening after the coronavirus lockdown on June 8 in New York.
People enter the subway at Times Square during rush hour on the first day of phase one of the reopening after the coronavirus lockdown on June 8 in New York. David Dee Delgado/Getty Images

Mass transit ridership is up across New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Friday at the city’s daily news conference.

This comes as the city started phase one of its reopening plan earlier this week.

Subway ridership, as of Wednesday, has been up 25% compared to the Wednesday before, de Blasio said.

Bus ridership is up 23%, compared to that same time, and Staten Island Ferry ridership is up 31%.

Traffic into Manhattan is up 14% during that time period, de Blasio said.

The mayor also noted that daily Covid-19 indicators for the city showed a "good news report."

Citing data from Wednesday, the mayor said:  

  • 70 patients were admitted to hospitals for suspected Covid-19
  • 339 people were being treated in health and hospitals ICUs
  • 3% of those tested for Covid-19 tested positive – “We have been around that number for many days and that’s a very good sign,” de Blasio said.
9:43 a.m. ET, June 12, 2020

US surgeon general urges protesters to take coronavirus precautions

From CNN's Jacqueline Howard


U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams speaks during an event in the Rose Garden at the White House on May 26 in Washington.
U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams speaks during an event in the Rose Garden at the White House on May 26 in Washington. Win McNamee/Getty Images

US Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams said he wants people who decide to protest against racial injustice to do so as safely as possible during the pandemic — and he said he understands why the protests are being prioritized.

"I understand the anger, the frustration, the fear and why people feel that they need to prioritize going out and protesting," Adams told Politico's Dan Diamond during an episode of the podcast "Pulse Check" on Thursday. 

"If you are going to go out, then we want you to take precautions," Adams added. "We want you to try to stay six feet apart from each other whenever you can. We want you to wear a face covering. We want you to practice good hand hygiene, including carrying hand sanitizer."

Adams also advised to bring as little with you as possible, because if you are carrying a backpack or multiple layers of clothing, for instance, those items would need to be disinfected.

"What I've always said for anyone going out is that if you're going to go out, know your risk and know how to stay safe. It's important for people to know that there are communities where we are seeing upticks and spread and the coronavirus is still here — it is still deadly, it is still contagious," Adams said.

"If you choose to go out in that setting, you need to understand whether or not you are someone who is at higher risk — someone with chronic diseases, someone who is older, again 94% of mortality is over the age of 60," Adams added. "You need to understand if you're living with someone who is at risk, because the last thing you'd want to do is go out and protest and then bring coronavirus home to your vulnerable loved one."

9:47 a.m. ET, June 12, 2020

42,000 people to participate in the next phase of this Covid-19 vaccine trial

From CNN Health’s Elizabeth Cohen and Wes Bruer

The phase 3 trial of the Covid-19 vaccine candidate developed by University of Oxford is underway, and is expected to include 42,000 people when the Oxford-led trial is combined with a phase 3 trial led by its partner, AstraZeneca.  

In phase 3, Oxford is enrolling 10,000 people in the UK, and AstraZeneca is enrolling 30,000 in the US. On June 2, the Brazilian government approved the inclusion of volunteers in their country, with 2,000 volunteers to be tested there.

The AstraZeneca portion of the phase 3 trial will begin in August, according to the National Institutes of Health, which will be conducting and funding the trials. 

Participants in the phase 3 group will “receive one or two doses” of their Covid-19 vaccine candidate, or another licensed vaccine that will be the control group.