June 22 coronavirus news

By Jessie Yeung, Nectar Gan, Steve George, Meg Wagner, Melissa Macaya and Mike Hayes, CNN

Updated 12:07 a.m. ET, June 23, 2020
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1:09 p.m. ET, June 22, 2020

Four hydroxychloroquine trials have been halted

From CNN's Elizabeth Cohen and Dana Vigue

A pharmacy tech holds a pill of hydroxychloroquine at Rock Canyon Pharmacy in Provo, Utah, on May 20.
A pharmacy tech holds a pill of hydroxychloroquine at Rock Canyon Pharmacy in Provo, Utah, on May 20. George Frey/AFP/Getty Images

Two more clinical trials of hydroxychloroquine – the drug President Trump has touted as a “game changer” for Covid-19 – have been halted, bringing the total number to at least four.

The National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases closed a hydroxychloroquine trial early after enrolling only 20 study subjects, according to a statement issued by the institute on Saturday.

That trial originally intended to enroll about 2,000 Covid patients, according to clinicaltrials.gov.

The NIAID statement said that they ended the trial because “the rate of participant enrollment has been inadequate for the trial to meet its objectives in a timely manner.”

The Veterans Health Administration Office of Research and Development denied funding for a proposed hydroxychloroquine study for Covid patients, Dr. Salomeh Keyhani, a researcher at the San Francisco VA Health Care system, told CNN Thursday.

“It seems [the VA] made the right decision given all the [information] on lack of efficacy and concern for safety,” Keyhani wrote in an email to CNN.

That trial was supposed to enroll 300 patients, according to clinicaltrials.gov. 

On Saturday, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute announced it had halted a trial of more than 500 study subjects.

After more than 470 participants were enrolled, a data and safety monitoring board recommended that the NHLBI stop the study because, “while there was no harm, the study drug was very unlikely to be beneficial to hospitalized patients with COVID-19.” 

Pharmaceutical giant Novartis announced Friday it would cancel its study due to challenges recruiting enough participants.

“The recruitment challenge facing our HCQ trial has made it unlikely that the clinical team will be able to collect meaningful data in a reasonable timeframe to determine the effectiveness of HCQ in treating patients with COVID-19,” according to the Novartis statement.

Novartis aimed to enroll 444 participants, according to clinicaltrials.gov.

1:12 p.m. ET, June 22, 2020

University of Michigan plans for adjusted fall calendar

From CNN's Meridith Edwards

A cyclist rides through University of Michigan's central campus on October 25, 2017.
A cyclist rides through University of Michigan's central campus on October 25, 2017. Shutterstock

The University of Michigan is planning to launch its fall semester August 31 with a combination of in-person and remote classes, an adjusted academic calendar, and an emphasis on following public health measures.

Fall on the Ann Arbor campus will have a different feel this year, according to University President Mark Schlissel, who made the announcement in a video message released Monday.

“We now have the opportunity to begin a new journey together, equipped with the very best guidance and ideas from our leading scholars, innovative students and expert staff,” Schlissel said.

The university is planning an adjusted academic calendar, with on-campus classes ending at Thanksgiving in the fall to minimize student travel home and back to campus. Winter semester will start later in January, and both the fall and winter breaks will be eliminated.

According to Schlissel, students will be able to choose from courses in-person, remote and mixed instruction depending on curricular needs. Some students will choose or need to take all their classes remotely, and the university’s 19 schools and colleges will provide a robust set of fully remote classes that will enable most students to make that choice.

"Students also will see additional changes to their campus experience such as physical distancing requirements in libraries and other common spaces and buildings, limited access to certain areas, additional cleaning, boxed meals and staggered timelines for activities such as move-in and dining," according to the plan.

There are more than 47,000 undergrad and graduate students on the university's Ann Arbor campus. The university is one of the state's top five employers, and has an economic impact of more than $10 billion for Michigan annually.

1:02 p.m. ET, June 22, 2020

At least 175 Covid-19 cases reported at poultry processing center in Wales

From CNN's Sharon Braithwaite and Simon Cullen in London

Another 17 workers at a Welsh poultry processing center have tested positive for coronavirus, taking the total number to at least 175, according to Public Health Wales.

All workers and contractors at the 2 Sisters Food Group on the Isle of Anglesey have been asked to self-isolate for 14 days to curb the further spread of the virus.  

“The deployment of rapid test and trace facilities has helped identify this situation, and we will continue to keep control measures in place to bring the outbreak to a rapid conclusion,” said Christopher Johnson with Public Health Wales.

The First Minister of Wales, Mark Drakeford, said the government is considering whether further steps need to be taken – including a local lockdown – to curb the spread of Covid-19.

“If there is a public need to do so, we will,” he said on Monday. “If a public health case isn't there to go beyond what we are doing already then we will take that advice equally seriously.”

The poultry plant has been closed since June 18.

12:51 p.m. ET, June 22, 2020

New York City's contact tracing calls include personal questions that can be a turn-off, tracer says

From CNN's Evan McMorris-Santoro

A contact tracer in New York City described that tracer calls last between 30 and 50 minutes and have extremely detailed personal questions that sometimes turn off callers. 

The tracer, who spoke to CNN on the condition on anonymity Sunday, said that the questions include specifics about ethnicity, origin and sexuality.

The tracer added that all information has to be reported anonymously, which can lead to snags.

For example, the tracer will tell the respondent that the he or she was in contact with someone who tested positive on a specific day — but won’t reveal the identity of the sick person the individual came in contact with. 

Sometimes the respondent declines to talk because of the anonymous nature of it, the tracer said. 

The tracer added that calls usually register as “Contact Tracer” on caller ID, but calls often take too long, which leads to skepticism.

“The plane is being built as it’s trying to fly,” the tracer said. While they are confident that tracing can work, they worry the system is too fragile and will be easily overwhelmed if there is a surge.

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12:30 p.m. ET, June 22, 2020

Golden Globe Awards move to February due to coronavirus pandemic

From CNN's Megan Thomas

The 78th Golden Globe Awards are moving from January to February, following a similar delay to the Academy Awards due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The annual event, considered the unofficial kickoff to Hollywood awards season, honors top films and television shows as selected by members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.

The show will now take place on Sunday, February 28 — the original date for the next Oscars before it was announced last week it would be pushed back. 

Tina Fey and Amy Poehler are slated to return as hosts of the Globes for a fourth time. 

12:27 p.m. ET, June 22, 2020

Here's how LAX will test travelers for fevers

From CNN's Pete Muntean and Greg Wallace

A woman crosses the street at LAX airport on May 22, in Los Angeles.
A woman crosses the street at LAX airport on May 22, in Los Angeles. Apu Gomes/AFP/Getty Images

High-tech equipment will now screen passengers for fevers as they walk through the Los Angeles International Airport, the world's third-busiest airport. 

LAX officials announced Monday that thermal imaging scanners will be placed at two spots in the Thomas Bradley International Terminal. The scanners are part of a trial run which LAX officials say can rapidly identify passengers or workers with a fever higher than 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit.

LAX is believed to be the first major airport in the US to install such a system. 

Feverish passengers "will be advised by a medical assistant that health authorities recommend that they not travel," but still allowed to proceed to the gate if they choose, according to information provided by the airport.

The move comes as the commercial aviation industry is in dire need for passengers to come back. Depressed air travel figures show a slight uptick in people screened by Transportation Security Administration officers across the country, but is still only about 20% of the more than 2 million passengers who were flying daily at this time last year. 

LAX officials said the goal of the pilot program is to see if the technology can be expanded, adding they will "provide key data and learnings" to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and TSA. CNN reported last month that the TSA was considering screening passengers for fevers, but thus far, there has been no movement on that proposal.

 

12:24 p.m. ET, June 22, 2020

Rising US coronavirus cases "not entirely explained through just increased testing," says WHO official

From CNN's Jacqueline Howard

The rising number of Covid-19 cases in the United States — especially among young people in the southern region of the nation — cannot be explained by testing alone, a World Health Organization official said on Monday.

"What is clear is that the increase is not entirely explained through just increased testing. There’s some evidence of increase in hospitalizations. But this was always a possibility when restrictions are lifted," Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of WHO's health emergencies program, said during a briefing in Geneva.

"I’ve seen the reports that some of this is amongst younger people. That may reflect the fact that younger people are more mobile and are getting out and taking advantage of the reduction in the restrictions of movement," Ryan said. "This is something that WHO has spoken about many times — many countries have experienced clusters of disease or upticks in the aftermath of reducing stay at home orders or allowing population mobility to happen."

Ryan added that continuing to follow guidelines to prevent the transmission of the coronavirus is key to help reduce this rise in cases.

"Maintaining vigilance around physical distance; personal hygiene; the wearing of masks according to the national guidelines and where appropriate; the increase of surveillance of the clusters that are investigated, testing, tracking, isolating cases, quarantining contacts -- this is what needs to continue," Ryan said.

"The issue is not the rising numbers per se. The issue is what is to be done to bring those numbers back and what combination of measures can be used in order to do that, in terms of targeted public health measures, increasing surveillance, increasing cluster investigation and ensuring that we identify cases and contacts as quickly as possible," he said.
12:24 p.m. ET, June 22, 2020

UK unveils plans to ease shielding guidance for those most vulnerable to coronavirus 

From CNN's David Wilkinson and Nada Bashir in London 

Britain's Health Secretary Matt Hancock leaves 10 Downing Street in central London on May 11 after attending a coronavirus briefing.
Britain's Health Secretary Matt Hancock leaves 10 Downing Street in central London on May 11 after attending a coronavirus briefing. Ben Stansall/AFP/Getty Images

The UK government has unveiled its plans to ease its guidance on shielding for those considered to be “clinically extremely vulnerable” to coronavirus in England. 

In a statement on Monday, Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced that those currently advised to shield at home will be able to gather in groups of up to six outdoors and form a “support bubble” with another household starting July 6.

“I want to thank all those who have been shielding for so many weeks for their commitment to the shielding program. I know this has been incredibly tough,” Hancock said. 

“Now, with infection rates continuing to fall in our communities, our medical experts have advised that we can now ease some of these measures, while keeping people safe,” he added. 

According to the plan set out by the government, those considered to be clinically vulnerable will no longer be advised to shield starting August 1. 

UK Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr. Jenny Harries cautioned that while the current infection rate has allowed for a gradual relaxation of the shielding guidance, government advice will be adjusted accordingly should the infection rate begin to rise. 

“The prevalence of the virus in the community is now lower and chances of getting infected are reduced, so we believe it is the right time to relax some of the advice so people can start to regain a degree of normality once more in their daily lives,” Harries said.

“We will continue to monitor the evidence closely and adjust the advice accordingly if there are any changes in the rates of infection that could impact on this group,” she added. 

12:01 p.m. ET, June 22, 2020

Several Iraqi MPs and 28 parliamentary staffers have Covid-19, says speaker

From CNN's Nada Altaher

The speaker of Iraq's parliament says the legislative body cannot meet regularly because some of its lawmakers, as well as several staff, have contracted coronavirus.

Mohammed al-Halbousi said at least six Iraqi MPs had tested positive for Covid-19, but that the number could be as high as 20.

He said at least 28 parliamentary staff members have also tested positive, including some of the guards who provide security for Iraqi lawmakers.

Al-Halbousi made the comments during an interview Sunday on a Dijla TV show called "Nafas Ameeq," which translates as "Deep Breath."

"This is why you cannot hold sessions," the interviewer asked in response to the speaker's comments.

"It’s hard," al-Halbousi said.

Iraq has reported 30,868 coronavirus cases and 1,100 deaths according to Johns Hopkins University.