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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1:08 p.m. ET, June 17, 2020

DC will enter phase 2 of reopening Monday if current trends continue, mayor says

From CNN's Nicky Robertson

Patrons sit outside of Mr. Henrys, a bar and restaurant in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Washington, D.C., on Friday, May 29.
Patrons sit outside of Mr. Henrys, a bar and restaurant in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Washington, D.C., on Friday, May 29. Amanda Andrade-Rhoades/The Washington Post/Getty Images

Washington, DC, Mayor Muriel Bowser announced today that the District will enter into phase two of reopening on Monday if the current trends in Covid-19 metrics continue.

“We are trending in the right direction,” Bowser told reporters at a press conference this morning.

The mayor said she expects to be able to announce this Friday whether or not the District will be ready to enter phase two Monday.

In phase two of reopening:

  • Gatherings of more than 50 people are still banned, nonessential retail can open at 50% capacity, and restaurants can have indoor dining at 50% capacity.
  • Houses of worship are encouraged to hold virtual services, but are permitted to have up to 100 people, or 50% capacity. DC recommends that churches do not have choirs or singing.
  • Personal services, including nail care, tattooing and waxing will be permitted under phase 2 with certain restrictions in place. 

Officials said three out of the four key metrics used to decide if DC is ready to move into phase 2 have been met, barring a spike in community spread cases of coronavirus over the coming days.

The fourth metric is that the contact tracing force has a 90% success rate contacting positive cases within one day —that is yet to be met.

Director of DC Public Health LaQuandra Nesbitt explained that the government has a new digital system and has increased the number of contact tracers, which Bowser said “gives us confidence in saying that we are hitting, going to hit, where we need to be.”

As of today, Washington, DC, has at least 9,847 positive community spread cases of the coronavirus, and 523 people have died from the virus.

When asked if the District should wait to enter phase two until the effects of protests are clear on the spread of the coronavirus, Bowser said “we always have the ability to turn up or turn down our reopening.”

“This virus is not gone, it is still here,” Bowser added.

1:01 p.m. ET, June 17, 2020

Oklahoma sees 3% jump in Covid-19 cases since Tuesday

From CNN's Shawn Nottingham

The Oklahoma Department of Health has reported an additional 259 cases of Covid-19 since Tuesday.

The state now has at least 8,904 confirmed positive cases of coronavirus according to data from the state’s Department of Health. The jump represents a 3% increase since Tuesday.

12:45 p.m. ET, June 17, 2020

Panama extends suspension of international flights for 30 more days due to Covid-19

From CNN's Elizabeth González and Tatiana Arias

A Copa airlines plane taxis on a runway as others sit on the tarmac at Tocumen International Airport in Panama City, Panama, on March 22.
A Copa airlines plane taxis on a runway as others sit on the tarmac at Tocumen International Airport in Panama City, Panama, on March 22. Luis Acosta/AFP/Getty Images

Panama will extend the suspension of all international flights for 30 more days due to the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a statement from the country's civil aviation authority published Tuesday.

"Humanitarian and necessary flights for the transport of medicines, vaccines or other essential health-supplies are exempted from these restrictions," the statement said.

The extension of the travel ban on international flights is scheduled to start on June 22 at midnight.

Currently, Panama reports 21,962 cases of coronavirus and 457 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

12:40 p.m. ET, June 17, 2020

New York governor says Friday will be his last daily coronavirus briefing

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks during a press conference in Albany, New York, on June 17.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks during a press conference in Albany, New York, on June 17. State of New York

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said today that Friday will be his last daily coronavirus briefing.

The governor said that his office would still hold briefings on Covid-19 when it's necessary moving forward.

12:25 p.m. ET, June 17, 2020

Texas governor and local officials clash over enforcing mask requirements

From CNN's Melissa Alonso and Ashley Killough  

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott speaks at a news conference at city hall in Dallas on June 2.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott speaks at a news conference at city hall in Dallas on June 2. LM Otero/AP

Local Texas officials want Gov. Greg Abbott to require face masks but the governor's office says they have not imposed penalties already available to them, a spokesperson for Abbott tells CNN. 

Nine Texas mayors, including the top officials in Houston, Dallas, Austin and San Antonio, have urged the state's governor to require face masks to stop Covid-19 from spreading in their cities.  

"None of these local officials have lifted a finger to impose penalties and enforcement mechanisms currently available to them. The one time a county judge did, a business owner wound up in jail," said John Wittman, a spokesperson for Abbott regarding the recent calls by mayors and county judges for the governor to allow them to enforce the use of masks. 

Wittman seemed to refer to Shelley Luther, a Texas salon owner, who was sent to jail for seven days for violating the state's stay-at-home order. 

"No one could be jailed for not wearing a mask under my or the City of Dallas' orders," Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said earlier this week. "I’m simply asking the governor to lead on the masking requirement the medical experts say is the single most important thing we can do right now."  

"All of us have a collective responsibility to educate the public that wearing a mask is the best thing to do. Putting people in jail, however, is the wrong approach for this thing and that's exactly what I believe the Dallas County judge wants to do," Abbott said in during a briefing Tuesday.  

Local officials "have the ability to impose fines, not for face masks, but for other strategies" like certain gatherings, Abbott said.  

Texas currently has 93,044 Covid-19 cases and 2,044 coronavirus-related deaths, according to John Hopkins University. It is among the at least 21 states that are seeing upward trends in newly reported cases from one week to the next.

12:42 p.m. ET, June 17, 2020

New York City expected to allow outdoor dining next week

People walk through a central shopping district as stores prepare for gradual reopenings in the coming weeks on June 16 in New York.
People walk through a central shopping district as stores prepare for gradual reopenings in the coming weeks on June 16 in New York. Spencer Platt/Getty Images

New York City is on tack to begin phase two of reopening on Monday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said at a news conference.

The city is meeting its thresholds for reopening, and will have been in phase one for 14 days by Monday, Cuomo said at a news conference

"We don't change the rules for New York City," Cuomo said of the metric thresholds.

Here's what phase two means: Phase two allows for a wider range of businesses to continue to reopen under Covid-19 guidelines, including retail businesses and offices, according to the state's reopening website.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has announced that once the city enters phase two, restaurants will be able to open for outdoor seating, and convert parking spaces into seating areas.

Malls, gyms, movie theaters and casinos will remain closed in phase two.

11:44 a.m. ET, June 17, 2020

New York reports 17 coronavirus deaths — "lowest number" since pandemic started, governor says

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that 17 more people died in the state from coronavirus, adding that is the "lowest number since we started.

"The only way I could feel better is if that number ever becomes zero," he said.
11:24 a.m. ET, June 17, 2020

At least 5 additional testing sites opening across NYC as mayor eyes next phase of reopening

From CNN's Sheena Jones

New York CIty Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks during a press conference in New York on June 17.
New York CIty Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks during a press conference in New York on June 17. NYC Media

At least five additional Covid-19 testing sites will open across New York City this week, Mayor de Blasio announced today.

The sites will open across Brooklyn, Staten Island, Bronx and Queens, the mayor says.

This comes as the Covid-19 indicators continue to be below the city's threshold for reopening.

As of June 15, the city's indicators are as follows:

  • Covid-19 hospital admissions are at 55.
  • Patients in ICU’s at New York City Heath and Hospital are at 333
  • 2% of NYC residents tested positive for Covid-19

The mayor is hoping to make a final decision on the city beginning phase two in the next few days, De Blasio said.

10:58 a.m. ET, June 17, 2020

Health officials worry Covid-19 pandemic could stall progress against neglected tropical diseases

From CNN Health's Jacqueline Howard

Health officials from various nations met in a World Health Organization webinar on Wednesday to discuss the impact of Covid-19 on fights against neglected tropical disease around the world.

Global experts have long warned that the coronavirus pandemic could influence how nations are impacted by and responding to other communicable diseases — including neglected tropical diseases, a diverse group of illnesses that prevail in tropical and subtropical conditions across 149 countries. 

Neglected tropical diseases or NTDs, such as dengue and guinea worm disease, affect about 1 in 6 people worldwide. 

"In Rwanda, like many other countries in the world, we are fighting one enemy which is Covid-19 but other health essential programs may be also important to watch and follow so that we don't have double damage in this context," Dr. Sabin Nsanzimana, director general of Rwanda Biomedical Centre, said during Wednesday's webinar.

"The evolving situation of Covid-19 has been always managed in the context that we adapt to what we see," Nsanzimana said. For instance, the distribution of essential health services or drug prescriptions to treat or prevent NTDs or other illness could be extended to eliminate the risk of someone breaking Covid-19 social distancing guidelines to access medications.

"I see a lot of things will be turning around — how we strengthen our health systems to deal with different threats," Nsanzimana said. "There’s expectation that we’re probably going to work double or work harder than before to prevent the consequences of infectious and neglected tropical diseases forward. … We don’t know what is going to be the next pandemic."

In January 2012, WHO published a document that provides a "roadmap" for countries to follow in tackling neglected tropical diseases.

The document establishes goals for nations to reach while working to control, prevent, eliminate and even eradicate certain NTDs. That roadmap was revised this year with new guidelines and goals for the year 2030. 

Mwelecele Malecela, director of WHO's Department of Control of Neglected Tropical Diseases, said in a written announcement about the webinar, that shifts are needed both during and after Covid-19 to achieve the roadmap targets for 2030.

 "WHO’s upcoming road map for neglected tropical diseases for 2021–2030 proposes a new model of operation," Malecela said in the announcement. "This road map, with its major shifts, is even more relevant in the context of Covid-19 as it promotes resilience, health system strengthening, community participation, equity, country ownership and enhanced partner involvement through integrated, multisectoral collaboration."

Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO's regional director for Africa, said during Wednesday's webinar that some of the methods used and steps taken to tackle neglected tropical diseases could be adopted in response to Covid-19 and vice versa.

"Those methods of helping people to understand, to incorporate, to be empowered to take action have been very much part of the NTD community-level interventions and they’re very much needed now so that people understand that I have to keep my distance, I have to wear my mask above my nose all the time," Moeti said. "We’ve seen that many people working in the programs have been repurposed to support the pandemic."