June 17 coronavirus news

By Helen Regan, Adam Renton, Luke McGee and Peter Wilkinson, CNN

Updated 0407 GMT (1207 HKT) June 18, 2020
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2:36 p.m. ET, June 17, 2020

Arizona reports its second highest day for new Covid-19 cases

From CNN's Melissa Alonso

Arizona health officials reported 1,827 new coronavirus cases and 20 new Covid-19-related deaths on Wednesday, according to the state Department of Health Services website.  

Wednesday's case count marks the state's second highest total reported in a single day, behind yesterday's 2,392 cases, according to the health website.  

There has been at least 40,924 cases of coronavirus in the state and at least 1,239 people have died from the virus, the health website said.  

 

2:34 p.m. ET, June 17, 2020

Texas reports record high Covid-19 hospitalizations

From CNN's Melissa Alonso 

Texas has reached a somber record — 2,793 coronavirus patients are currently hospitalized, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services dashboard.  

The current number of patients is a nearly 85% increase since Memorial Day, when 1,511 hospitalizations were reported. 

State health officials report 13,815 available hospital beds in Texas. 

 

2:35 p.m. ET, June 17, 2020

Parents should know Covid-19 prevalence in their area before expanding social circle, pediatrician says

From CNN's Health Gisela Crespo

A youngster wearing a mask looks at the camera while sitting on his father's shoulder in Central Park in New York, on May 24.
A youngster wearing a mask looks at the camera while sitting on his father's shoulder in Central Park in New York, on May 24. Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images

There are a few things parents should consider before expanding a family's social circle during the Covid-19 pandemic, including the prevalence of cases in their community, said a pediatrics professor at John Hopkins University School of Medicine.

"A lot of this is coming down to individual people's risk tolerance," Dr. Aaron Milstone said Wednesday during a virtual discussion hosted by JHU.

Milstone said that if a child wants to socialize with other kids in the neighborhood, it's important for their parents to know the prevalence of the virus in their area.

"They have to think of it as cobweb or this network that has lots of tentacles, and if you bring in one new person, you're also bringing in all the people that those people are exposed to," Milstone said.

He encouraged parents to have conversation with other parents about health safety to make sure their priorities align. Families should also continue practicing social distancing even when interacting with others, They should wear masks when gathering indoors, and continue to follow good hygiene practices.

2:27 p.m. ET, June 17, 2020

Oklahoma governor will visit the White House 2 days before Trump's Tulsa rally

From CNN's Kristen Holmes

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt speaks during a news conference in Oklahoma City, on May 14.
Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt speaks during a news conference in Oklahoma City, on May 14. Sue Ogrocki/AP

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt is scheduled to visit the White House on Thursday, two sources familiar with the meeting tell CNN. 

The governor's spokesperson described the meeting as a discussion on “how to continue to partner with the federal government to help Oklahoma’s economy and get small businesses back on their feet.”

Oklahoma small business owners will also be in attendance, according to a White House official. 

Some context: The meeting comes days ahead of President Trump's campaign rally in Tulsa on Saturday — his first large-scale event since the coronavirus pandemic brought American life to a standstill. 

The director of the Tulsa Health Department said he wishes Trump would postpone the rally, citing concerns about a recent increase in local cases of Covid-19.

But a judge on Tuesday denied an emergency motion to stop the rally. That lawsuit was filed on behalf of a series of community groups and two specific individuals, who the attorneys describe as particularly vulnerable to the spread of Covid-19. 

2:39 p.m. ET, June 17, 2020

McEnany won't answer when asked if Trump will take responsibility if rally attendees get coronavirus

From CNN's Nikki Carvajal 

White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany speaks during a news briefing at the White House in Washington, on June 17.
White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany speaks during a news briefing at the White House in Washington, on June 17. Alex Wong/Getty Images

White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany would not directly answer when asked if President Trump or the White House would take responsibility if attendees catch coronavirus during a rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma set to be held Saturday.

McEnany got into an extended exchange with CNN’s Jim Acosta, but never responded directly to the question. 

“The campaign has taken certain measures to make sure this is a safe rally, temperature checks, hand sanitizers, and masks,” McEnany said during a press briefing Wednesday. “We are taking precautions. 

CNN reported that attendees of Trump's upcoming rally must agree not to sue the campaign if they contract coronavirus.

Rallygoers are asked to RSVP to gain admission to the event and by registering, they must agree to a disclaimer that states they acknowledge the "inherent risk of exposure to COVID-19 exists in any public place where people are present."

Asked by Acosta if attendees would be required to wear masks, McEnany said they will not be required.  

“They will be given a mask, it’s up to them whether to make that decision,” she said, adding that, “CDC guidelines are recommended, but not required,” and that it was a “personal choice of individuals.” 

McEnany then accused the media of a lack of “internal coherence,” for not asking the same questions of the protesters who came out across the country after the death of George Floyd. 

Acosta pointed out that they were marching against injustice, racism, and police brutality, not attending a political rally, and again asked if the President or White House would take responsibility if people get sick. 

McEnany deflected, attacked health experts who came out in support of the protests, and reiterated that the campaign has taken “certain measures to make sure this is a safe rally.” 

Asked later by another reporter if the White House position was that outdoor events and indoor events carry the same risk for coronavirus, McEnany said that it’s the White House position that “the media should not be making decisions about their guidelines to us about social distancing based on political ideology.”

2:02 p.m. ET, June 17, 2020

New Jersey releases guidance for colleges to reopen

A sign warns the public about social distancing in the wake of Covid-19 on the campus of Princeton University, New Jersey, on March 26.
A sign warns the public about social distancing in the wake of Covid-19 on the campus of Princeton University, New Jersey, on March 26. EQRoy/Shutterstock

The Secretary of Higher Education in New Jersey today released guidance for colleges and universities to reopen for in-person instruction for the upcoming summer and fall sessions. 

Here's what's in the guidance:

  • Cleaning and social distancing: The guidance requires institutions to observe social distancing of six feet, hand washing, cleaning and disinfection, and must have procedures in place to accommodate individuals with symptoms or a positive Covid-19 diagnosis.
  • Mask wearing: Institutions must require face masks in all indoor spaces, except when doing so would be bad for an individual's health.  
  • Dorms: A limited number of students will be allowed to return to residential facilities, but institutions need to develop quarantine and isolation protocols for residents and all common areas in buildings must remain closed. Schools are also asked to prioritize on campus housing for the students for whom it’s most necessary. 
  • Dining: Campus dining and campus transportation will be required to abide by the state-issued reopening guidelines.
  • Classes: Institutions can have instruction that occurs completely outdoors as long as they are abiding by state-established restrictions. 
  • Testing: College and universities will be responsible for establishing their own testing protocols, working with local health officials. 

“Colleges this fall and summer will not look the same as they did last year,” New Jersey Higher Education Secretary Dr. Zakiya Smith Ellis said Wednesday.   

Schools must submit their restart plans to the office of the Secretary of Higher Education at least 14 days before any staff or students return to campus. 

1:43 p.m. ET, June 17, 2020

Days before Trump rally, Tulsa sets daily record for confirmed coronavirus cases

From CNN’s Kay Jones, Kristen Holmes and Ryan Nobles

City of Tulsa Facebook
City of Tulsa Facebook

Ninety-six Tulsa residents tested positive for Covid-19 in the past day, according to Dr. Bruce Dart of the Tulsa Health Department.

This is a new daily record for the county, according to Dart. He said the number of cases reported are continuing to set new records. 

There are 1,825 total positive cases in Tulsa County. At least 1,166 people have recovered and 64 residents have died.

In a news conference, Dart also issued a warning ahead of President Trump's campaign rally in the city on Saturday saying that "anyone planning to attend a large scale gathering will face an increased risk of becoming infected with Covid-19."

The rally would be Trump's first major campaign event since the coronavirus pandemic shut down most of American life, and officials are expecting hundreds of thousands of supporters to attempt to attend. 

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt said in the news conference today that more than 1 million requests have been made to attend the rally.

1:32 p.m. ET, June 17, 2020

More than 117,000 people have died from coronavirus in the US

There are at least 2,143,193 cases of coronavirus in the US, and at least 117,129 people have died, according to a tally from Johns Hopkins University.

So far on Wednesday, Johns Hopkins reported 5,486 new cases and 167 deaths.  

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

1:41 p.m. ET, June 17, 2020

Tulsa health director says he has concerns over large gatherings in the city ahead of Trump rally

From CNN’s Kay Jones

City of Tulsa Facebook
City of Tulsa Facebook

Dr. Bruce Dart of the Tulsa Health Department issued a warning ahead of President Trump's campaign rally on Saturday: "Anyone planning to attend a large scale gathering will face an increased risk of becoming infected with Covid-19."

Dart said he shared the same concerns as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention regarding large in-person gatherings. The CDC warns that "the more people an individual interacts with at a gathering and the longer that interaction lasts, the higher the potential risk of becoming infected with COVID-19 and COVID-19 spreading."

He went on to say that he supports the right to assemble but asked those who are part of a vulnerable population to stay at home and to seek other ways to participate in the event virtually. 

Dart also recommended that anyone attending the rally wear a mask covering correctly, covering your nose and mouth.