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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3:41 p.m. ET, June 19, 2020

The US is in process of notifying WHO that it is withdrawing, senior state official said

From CNN's Jennifer Hansler

The US is “in process of notifying the WHO that we are withdrawing," Jim Richardson, the director of the Office of Foreign Assistance at the State Department, told reporters Friday.

“This is not a light switch moment, it's more like unscrewing a light bulb so it does take a little bit of time. But we are, the State Department, is working very hard to give the proper notice that we are withdrawing from WHO,” Richardson said.  

Some background: President Trump announced last month his decision to withdraw the US from the World Health Organization.

Richardson said the State Department and United States Agency for International Development have “alternative implementers” in the countries where Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reportedly encouraged the administration to continue funding WHO operations because there weren’t other options. Those countries are Afghanistan, Egypt, Libya, Pakistan, Sudan, Syria and Turkey.

“We still have a hard time finding implementing partners for polio, for instance, and so we're still working through an interagency process to come to a resolution on that issue, and see how we want to proceed as the government in those unique cases,” Richardson said.

3:33 p.m. ET, June 19, 2020

The best way to fight Covid-19 may be with a combination of drugs, expert says

From CNN's Amanda Watts

Dr. Rick Stevens, associate laboratory director for Computing, Environment and Life Sciences at the Argonne National Laboratory, told the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology on Friday that the best drug to fight coronavirus may end up being a combination of them.

“We think the best strategy is probably a multiple … therapeutic mix, that would go after multiple targets — maybe a target that would help in blocking viral entry, one that might block replication, and one that might block some host process that is a problem,” Stevens said.

“You would probably end up, at the end of the day, with a mixture of compounds in a future drug treatment,” he added.

Stevens said it’s important to remember “to develop the kind of drugs that we are imaging will take a long time.”

“It took many, many years before there were effective HIV therapies — over a decade. And while we're moving faster, and we have better tools, this is a very hard problem,” he added.


3:20 p.m. ET, June 19, 2020

Indoor dining can resume on June 26 in Chicago

From CNN's Hollie Silverman 


Indoor dining and drinking can resume June 26 in Chicago with 25% capacity, a press release from Mayor Lori Lightfoot's office said Friday.

Restaurants, bars, breweries and other businesses will be able to open indoor service under limited capacity and with safety restrictions in place, according to the release.

Businesses will need to operate indoor service at 25% capacity with a maximum capacity of 50 people per room or floor, the release said.

Patrons must be seated at tables that are six feet apart with 10 or fewer people per table, according to the release. 

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.

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