June 20 coronavirus news

By Julia Hollingsworth, Brett McKeehan and Fernando Alfonso III, CNN

Updated 0447 GMT (1247 HKT) June 21, 2020
15 Posts
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7:46 a.m. ET, June 20, 2020

French Health Ministry sprayed with red paint by coronavirus protesters

From CNN's Fanny Bobille 

Rafael Yaghobzadeh/AP
Rafael Yaghobzadeh/AP

Protesters in Paris have sprayed red paint over the front of the Health Ministry building to “symbolize those who lost their lives” to Covid-19 and to highlight the poor conditions for healthcare workers.

Many of the demonstrators were part of the Association for the Taxation of Financial Transactions and Citizen Action (Attac), a left wing activist group.

Around 30 demonstrators from Attac and Inter-Urgences, an association of paramedical staff, took part in the protest.

The two associations have criticized the French government’s treatment of health workers, including the country's offer of a medal to medical staff. The French state's offer of a bonus for medical workers, awarded using strict criteria, has also been criticized.

“We are here to show our support to the health care staff who have been in first line during the sanitary crisis, but especially to demand they have finally the necessary means to work and to decently take care of us,” Aurélie Trouvé, spokesperson for Attac France, said in a statement.
“Health care staff deserve more than medals and tear gas,” Trouvé added, referring to clashes on 16 June when police officers fired tear gas at healthcare workers protesting in Paris.

The demonstration was the first by health workers since the easing of lockdown in France.

“In the face of this indecency, healthcare staff have decided to show the real face of the government and its ministers by offering them the medal of contempt,” Attac's statement added.

Rafael Yaghobzadeh/AP
Rafael Yaghobzadeh/AP
8:00 a.m. ET, June 20, 2020

Greta Thunberg compares reaction to Covid-19 with climate response

From CNN's Zahid Mahmood

Greta Thunberg on March 6
Greta Thunberg on March 6 John Thys/AFP via Getty Images

Swedish teen climate activist Greta Thunberg has said the pandemic shows the world can act with “necessary force” when it wants to, while comparing the reaction to Covid-19 with efforts to fight climate change.

Speaking on Sweden’s Sveriges Radio, Thunberg said that from a climate perspective there was nothing positive about the pandemic as the changes made to daily lives had “extremely little similarity” with the action required to deal with climate change.
“The corona tragedy of course has no long-term positive effect on the climate apart from one thing only, namely the insights into how you should perceive and treat an emergency. Because during the corona crisis we suddenly act with necessary force,” Thunberg said.
“International emergency meetings take place on a daily basis, astronomical financial bailouts magically appear out of nowhere.
"Cancelled events and tough restrictions make people change their behavior and the approach overnight," she added. "Media completely transitions, puts other things on hold and almost exclusively reports on Covid-19, with daily press conferences and live updates 24/7.
“All parts of society come together and politicians put their different views aside and cooperate for the greater good of everyone.”

Thunberg said people in positions of power in politics, business and finance had said “they will do whatever it takes,” during the pandemic as “you can’t put a price on a human life."

The activist said that when millions had died because of air pollution, those were lives “[society] can put a price on.”

“Those words and this treatment of a crisis opens up a whole new dimension because you see every year at least 7 million people die from illnesses related to air pollution according to the WHO,” she said.

 “Those are apparently peoples whose lives we can put a price on. Since they died from the wrong causes and in the wrong parts of the world.”

Thunberg inspired worldwide climate protests last year after staging weekly sit-ins outside the Swedish Parliament on Fridays from August 2018.

8:03 a.m. ET, June 20, 2020

Stay home this summer solstice, Stonehenge urges revelers

From CNN's Amy Woodyatt

A general view from the A303 of Stonehenge on May 24.
A general view from the A303 of Stonehenge on May 24. Alex Davidson/Getty Images

As the evening of 20 June approaches, so too does summer solstice.

But this year, the coronavirus pandemic has cast a shadow over the event, which marks the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere, and the official start of summer.

One of the world's largest solstice celebrations in the world usually takes place at the sarsen rocks of Stonehenge in England, but this year, the organization which manages the site in Wiltshire, southwestern England, has asked revelers to stay home and tune in online.

Usually tens of thousands would gather at the site, but English Heritage has renewed its pleas for people to enjoy the occasion from the comfort of their own homes after declaring the site closed for the celebration back in May.

"Stonehenge is currently closed due to the coronavirus pandemic so please do not travel to site for summer solstice," English Heritage said on Twitter on Saturday.

Read more here.

6:55 a.m. ET, June 20, 2020

More than 2.2 million Covid-19 cases in the US

From CNN's Alta Spells

At least 2,222,576 coronavirus cases have been recorded in the US, according to Johns Hopkins University. The disease has caused at least 119,131 deaths there.

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

Donald Trump has claimed that coronavirus is "dying out" in the US, a claim countered both by the rising numbers shown by government's data and health experts.

"It's not going away, it's just sort of moved around the country, which was exactly what was expected. It's not dying away," Dr. Sanjay Gupta said on Wednesday, in an interview with Don Lemon.

The US president has also come under fire for organizing a campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma on Saturday. Health experts worry that the event could become a new hotspot for coronavirus infections.

"There are going to be tens of thousands of people in attendance. So, it is a great place to spread virus," Catherine Troisi, an infectious disease epidemiologist at The University of Texas Health Science Center, told CNN.

CNN is tracking coronavirus' spread across the US here.

7:35 a.m. ET, June 20, 2020

France to ease coronavirus restrictions for summer

From CNN's Fanny Bobille

A couple has lunch under plexiglass in Paris on May 27.
A couple has lunch under plexiglass in Paris on May 27. Alain Jocard/AFP via Getty Images

Casinos and amusement arcades will be allowed to reopen on Monday in France, as part of a further easing of coronavirus restrictions, the country’s Prime Minister Édouard Philippe said.

The improvement of the sanitary situation indeed allows the lifting of certain interdictions,” a statement from Philippe’s office said.

Team sport practice will also be allowed to resume Monday, but contact sports remain banned.

“Its (contact sport) situation will be discussed before September,” the statement says.

July 11 marks the end of France's state of emergency. Up to 5,000 people will be allowed to fill stadiums from that date, though some restrictions will remain. The statement adds that “activities involving more than 1,500 people will have to be declared in order to guarantee the necessary precautions."

The 5,000-person limit will continue until September 1, but “the national epidemiological situation will be reassessed mid-July to see if an easing is possible for the second part of August," according to Philippe's office.

The proprietors of nightclubs and organizers of international sea cruises will have to wait until September to know whether they can resume their activities.

France has recorded 196,083 coronavirus cases and 29,620 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.

5:05 a.m. ET, June 20, 2020

US local officials hit roadblocks while trying to curb coronavirus spikes

From CNN's Madeline Holcombe

Gov. Gavin Newsom, wears a face mask during his visit to the Queen Sheba Ethiopian Cuisine restaurant on June 19 in Sacramento, California.
Gov. Gavin Newsom, wears a face mask during his visit to the Queen Sheba Ethiopian Cuisine restaurant on June 19 in Sacramento, California. Rich Pedroncelli/AP

As coronavirus cases spike in states across the country, some communities hoping to enact measures to mitigate the virus' spread are hitting major roadblocks.

In California, which on Friday broke another record for the number of cases in a single day, Gov. Gavin Newsom mandated that masks be worn inside public spaces and in situations where staying six feet apart from others is not possible. But at least five sheriff's departments in the state say they won't enforce the order since the offense is minor and the danger of an encounter during a pandemic is major.

The governor of Nebraska also pushed back against attempts to make masks mandatory.

Gov. Pete Ricketts said he will withhold federal coronavirus relief funds from counties that require people to wear face masks in government buildings, according to a state guidance document obtained by CNN on Friday.

Read more here.

4:21 a.m. ET, June 20, 2020

India records its highest number of new cases for third consecutive day

From CNN's Swati Gupta

India has recorded its highest daily number of confirmed coronavirus cases for a third consecutive day.

In the 24 hours up to 8 a.m. local time on Saturday (10.30 p.m. ET Friday), 14,516 new infections and 375 deaths were reported across the country.

In total India has reported 395,048 coronavirus cases and 12,948 deaths, its Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said Saturday.

More than 86,000 cases have been added to India’s total in the past week.

According to the Indian Council of Medical Research, 6,616,496 tests have been conducted in the country, with 189,869 tests conducted on June 19.

3:38 a.m. ET, June 20, 2020

NASA's Perseverance rover will launch to Mars with a global tribute to health care workers

From CNN's Ashley Strickland


A mission 10 years in the making, NASA is one month out from launching the Perseverance rover to Mars. The rover, launching during a pandemic, will carry a tribute to healthcare workers around the world. 

The 3-by-5-inch aluminum plate, installed on the left side of the rover chassis, shows Earth supported by the ancient symbol of the serpent entwined around a rod to represent the global medical community. A line represents the rover's trajectory from Central Florida to Mars, according to NASA.

"We wanted to demonstrate our appreciation for those who have put their personal well-being on the line for the good of others," said Matt Wallace, Perseverance deputy project manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, in a statement. 
"It is our hope that when future generations travel to Mars and happen upon our rover, they will be reminded that back on Earth in the year 2020 there were such people."

When Alexander Mather, a seventh-grade student in Virginia, entered his submission in a nationwide contest last year to name the rover, a pandemic wasn't on the horizon. But his winning entry for Perseverance has proven to be the perfect name for a rover launching during unprecedented times.

These last few months of preparing the rover for launch have happened during the constraints of safe operation during a pandemic. But the teams rose to the challenge, and the launch remains on schedule. 

"The team never wavered in its pursuit of the launch pad," said Michael Watkins, director of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, in a statement. "It was through their dedication and the help of other NASA facilities that we have made it this far."

Read the full story here.

2:25 a.m. ET, June 20, 2020

Australia's Victoria state reimposes Covid-19 restrictions after worst daily spike in months

From CNN's Angus Watson in Sydney 

A woman wears a face mask while walking through Melbourne's business district on June 17.
A woman wears a face mask while walking through Melbourne's business district on June 17. William West/AFP/Getty Images

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announced on Saturday that the state was at a "critical crossroads" after 25 positive Covid-19 cases were detected on Friday. 

The figure was up on the 13 new cases announced Friday and the 18 announced Thursday, as authorities try to suppress an outbreak linked to a family gathering. 

“Today, our case numbers have hit the highest they’ve been in more than two months. I know that’s not what people want to hear — but sadly that’s our reality,” Andrews said in a statement. “The numbers are being driven by families having big get-togethers."

He said homes would be limited to a maximum of five visitors from June 21, with outdoor gatherings reduced from a 20-person cap to 10. 

A plan to increase the maximum number of people allowed in restaurants, bars, museums, libraries and places of worship from 20 to 50 on Monday has been pushed back to July 12.