June 19 coronavirus news

By Melissa Macaya, Meg Wagner, Helen Regan and Steve George, CNN

Updated 0644 GMT (1444 HKT) June 20, 2020
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2:57 p.m. ET, June 19, 2020

West Virginia State Fair canceled due to coronavirus concerns

From CNN’s Alec Snyder

Gov. Justice's Office
Gov. Justice's Office

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice announced Friday that West Virginia State Fair organizers opted to cancel this year's event due to concerns about spreading Covid-19.

Justice had signed off on the fair happening, but organizers still decided to cancel, partially due to recent spread of the virus at churches in the state, as well as the possibility of Myrtle Beach-goers bringing back the virus from South Carolina.

By the numbers: The state has not had a Covid-related death since June 12 and infection rate stands at 1.67%, the governor said.

Starting Monday, spectators will be allowed at outside events and youth sports teams will reconvene.

Justice was asked a question on whether this should or will be reconsidered in light of outbreaks at churches and places of congregation, to which Justice said that they're constantly rethinking everything and will make decisions accordingly.

2:37 p.m. ET, June 19, 2020

Navy decides to uphold firing of aircraft carrier captain who warned about coronavirus

From CNN's Zachary Cohen and Ryan Browne

Capt. Brett Crozier
Capt. Brett Crozier U.S. Navy via Getty Images/FILE

In a major reversal, the Navy has decided to fire the captain of the aircraft carrier who warned about the spread of the coronavirus pandemic aboard his ship, reversing the findings of a preliminary investigation that initially recommended the captain of the ship be reinstated, according to a US Navy official and a congressional aide familiar briefed on the investigation.   

While fired from the position as commander of the USS Theodore Roosevelt, Capt. Brett Crozier is expected to remain in the Navy.

The details: The investigation found that he made other poor decisions in response to the outbreak, the sources said. 

Additionally, the Strike Group Commander Rear Admiral Stuart Baker will also be held accountable for poor decision making and his promotion is being put on hold, both sources said.

The Navy has not yet made public the findings of the report.

The ship's former commanding officer, Capt. Brett Crozier, was initially fired in April for what the acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly, who subsequently resigned, said was poor judgment for too widely disseminating a warning about the spread of virus aboard his vessel, a warning that eventually made its way into the press.

2:29 p.m. ET, June 19, 2020

Philadelphia Phillies close team facilities after 8 Covid-19 cases

From CNN's Kevin Dotson

The Philadelphia Phillies announced Friday that the team is closing its facilities in Clearwater, Florida, indefinitely following eight positive Covid-19 tests.

Five players and three staff members have tested positive for the virus, the team announced. The team did not provide the names of any individuals who tested positive for Covid-19.

Eight other staff members have returned negative test results and another 32 individuals, including 20 players and 12 staff members, are still awaiting test results.  

“The Phillies are committed to the health and welfare of our players, coaches and staff as our highest priority, and as a result of these confirmed tests, all facilities in Clearwater have been closed indefinitely to all players, coaches and staff and will remain closed until medical authorities are confident that the virus is under control and our facilities are disinfected," Phillies managing partner John Middleton said.
2:23 p.m. ET, June 19, 2020

Rhode Island governor announces plans for reopening schools

From CNN's Melissa Alonso


Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo announced that phase three of reopening will begin around July 1 and said she hopes phase four can begin in August.

The state's phase three plan raises the limits for indoor social gatherings from 50 to 75 people and outdoor social gatherings from 75 to 150 people, Raimondo said at a news briefing Friday.

Movie theaters, arcades and bowling alleys can reopen at 66% capacity or 100 square feet per person, the governor said.

Phase four would allow indoor gatherings like weddings up to 100 people and 250 for outdoor gatherings, she said.

Raimondo said the goal to open schools is for August 31. The plan for elementary and middle schools includes keeping students in stable groups of up to 30.

Children should remain in their respective groups at all times and should stay 14 feet apart from other groups. High school students and teachers would have to wear masks if they can't keep six feet apart, Raimondo said. 

"Transportation will be hard to figure out," Raimondo said.

Innovative solutions are being explored for how to transport children safely, the governor added.

More context: There were 68 Covid-19 cases reported Friday, numbers and hospitalizations remain steady in the state, Rhode Island health officials said.  

2:09 p.m. ET, June 19, 2020

Massachusetts will let indoor dining and nail salons reopen next week

From CNN’s Anna Sturla

Massachusetts will allow indoor dining and close-contact services, such as nail salon, to reopen on Monday, as it enters the second half of its phase two reopening, Gov. Charlie Baker announced on Friday.

Offices may also increase office capacity from 25% to 50% capacity, the governor said.

The announcement comes after Covid-19 hospitalizations dropped below 1,000, the lowest since at least mid-April, according to the governor.

The state will wait for at least two weeks of data from indoor dining before considering moving into phase three of its four-stage reopening plan, pinning that start date to the beginning of July at the earliest, the governor indicated.

In phase three, fitness centers, museums, theaters overnight camps and other businesses would be allowed to reopen, according to the state's website. Large out door gathering would also be allowed to convene.

2:48 p.m. ET, June 19, 2020

White House press secretary says she won't wear a mask at Tulsa rally

From CNN's Sarah Westwood

Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images
Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said she would not wear a mask to President Trump’s campaign rally tomorrow in Tulsa.

She said the decision by aides to wear masks or not is “personal.”

“It’s a personal choice. I won’t be wearing a mask. I can’t speak for my colleagues,” McEnany said. 

“It’s a personal decision,” she said. “I’m tested regularly. I feel that it’s safe for me not to be wearing a mask.”

Asked earlier in the briefing whether anyone in the White House had any reservations about proceeding with the rally despite a recent spike in coronavirus cases in Oklahoma, McEnany said no one was concerned.

“We are all on board for going to Oklahoma,” she said.

Masks will be provided for attendees at the rally, but people will not be required to wear them.

Oklahoma is seeing a steady increase in its average of new confirmed cases per day.

According to a CNN analysis of Johns Hopkins University data, Oklahoma averaged about 247 new cases per day over the week ending June 18, which is approximately 140% higher than the previous seven-day period.

Watch here: 

2:51 p.m. ET, June 19, 2020

White House explains why the coronavirus task force briefings ended

From CNN's Kevin Liptak

Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images
Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images

The White House said the demise of public coronavirus task force briefings is due to establishing a "regular routine" after the height of the pandemic.

Press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Friday the task force still "meets regularly" and is "constantly reviewing data."

She said the public briefings only came during the "very early days of Covid and the pandemic," though those briefings transpired daily for more than a month.

She said that "now we're in a more regular routine," the briefings are no longer necessary.

“We don’t have regular updates for you other than for the updates I give you as news merits and I’m regularly in consultation with Dr. (Deborah) Birx and the others," McEnany said.

Watch here: 

1:53 p.m. ET, June 19, 2020

Texas public schools will return this fall, and mask use will be up to districts

From CNN's Ashley Killough

Texas public schools can return this fall, according to the Texas Education Commissioner, but families with health concerns will have some flexibility for remote education. 

The state will not impose a statewide mask requirement and will allow districts to create their own rules on facial coverings.

“It will be safe for Texas public school students, teachers, and staff to return to school campuses for in-person instruction this fall. But there will also be flexibility for families with health concerns so that their children can be educated remotely, if the parent so chooses,"  Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath said in a statement. 

Frank Ward, a spokesperson for the Texas Education Agency, said districts will have latitude on mask requirements. "We want to emphasize local control."

The agency will issue more specific guidance for reopening schools on Tuesday. 

1:54 p.m. ET, June 19, 2020

The difference between a second wave and a second peak of coronavirus, according to WHO

From CNN’s Amanda Watts

World Health Organization
World Health Organization

There are no specific definitions for classifying a second wave or a second peak of coronavirus, Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of the World Health Organization’s Health Emergencies Program, said during a briefing on Friday.

Ryan did explain some differences between both:

A second wave, Ryan said, is when “a number of cases rises and it falls down to a very low or detectable level.”

“There’s a period of time in which there's very low or no activity, and then the disease returns in a large way. That's what we see with seasonal influenza,” Ryan said.

A second peak is a different concept — one that “many countries are facing now,” Ryan said.

“When they've come off the peak of the first wave, but they haven't reduced the disease down and they're in a steady state where they're struggling to reduce the incidence of the disease, and then they get a second peak,” Ryan said. During a second peak, community transmission is still occurring, he added.

“You may have a second peak within your first wave. And then you may have a second wave. It's not either or,” Ryan warned.

“The second peak depends on how good, how strong and how effective the control you have over the disease at this present moment. If you start to experience a second peak, then the chances are that the disease is spreading in a way that you have not got full control over that,” Ryan said.

The impact of testing: Ryan added that sometimes when countries get better at testing, their number of cases often goes up.

To gauge if this is part of a second wave or peak, Ryan said look for these markers: “It's very important at that time to look at things like hospitalizations and deaths. If you start to see hospitalizations going up, that's not because of testing.”

Equally important, Ryan said countries should be watching for clusters in places where transmission is very low.

“When you're down to a very low level of disease, and you see a cluster, you have to jump on the cluster. You have to take the cluster seriously, because you want to avoid that second peak, you want to avoid going back into community transmission.”