June 23 coronavirus news

By Ben Westcott, Adam Renton, Meg Wagner, Mike Hayes, Veronica Rocha and Melissa Macaya, CNN

Updated 12:05 a.m. ET, June 24, 2020
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11:01 p.m. ET, June 22, 2020

Two dozen US public health officials have left their roles during the Covid-19 pandemic

From CNN Health’s Naomi Thomas

At least 24 public health officials across the United States have either resigned, retired or been fired from the positions during the Covid-19 pandemic, the National Association of City and County Health Officials (NACCHO) said Monday.

Most are leaving because of pushback from people who don’t like public health restrictions needed to control the pandemic, Lori Freeman, CEO of NACCHO, told CNN.

“We’ve been tracking over 20 resignations, firings and unusual retirements that really would never happen in the course of a pandemic with a normal health official, typically because they’re so needed in the community,” Freeman said. She said her organization is seeing more positions being vacated in past weeks.

These incidents have been happening across the country and can cause problems in an already understaffed sector fighting a pandemic.

Freeman said officials find themselves having to enforce the guidelines around reopening states and giving out the best public health advice and guidance that they have, including about social distancing, wearing masks and hand hygiene. Some people don’t like it.

“What has typically been just pure public health advice coming from a trusted source in the community, the local health department, is being politicized and made to seem like the public health advice is something that is restricting people’s rights, their freedoms to move about,” said Freeman. For instance, many people dislike being told to wear a mask.

“It’s sort of this false narrative, this false dichotomy between being able to safely open and go about your business, but also be healthy and safe while you’re doing it.”

These losses don’t help at a time when public health departments are already understaffed.

“We came into this pandemic at a deficit, our local health departments across the country have lost 25% of their workforce over the past decade,” said Freeman.

“It just increases an imbalance in the leadership of the health department in a time when we really need our health departments to be front and center on this, on the front lines in fighting this pandemic.”

10:56 p.m. ET, June 22, 2020

16 sailors on Russian ship docked in South Korea tested positive for coronavirus

From CNN's Yoonjung Seo in Seoul

Sixteen Russian sailors have tested positive for Covid-19 onboard a Russian-flagged ship docked in the South Korean port of Busan, according to a Busan City government official. 

The ship, which departed from the Russian city of Vladivostok, arrived in Busan on Sunday.

Among the 21 Russian sailors on board, 16 tested positive for coronavirus the following day.

The government official added that around 60 people who had close contact with the sailors, including South Koreans who boarded the ship to unload its cargo, have been quarantined and are being tested for the virus.

10:54 p.m. ET, June 22, 2020

Trump says he told his people too much coronavirus testing puts US at 'disadvantage,' contradicting staff

From CNN's Maegan Vazquez and Nikki Carvajal

US President Donald Trump says that though he never gave an order to slow down testing, he really did tell his people that the United States would look better if fewer coronavirus tests were performed.

That explanation of his Saturday night rally comment comes after several White House officials asserted that the President was speaking "in jest" when he told supporters this past weekend that he had told members of the administration to slow down coronavirus testing.

Trump told supporters Saturday that Covid-19 testing was "a double-edged sword."

"I said to my people, 'Slow the testing down please,' " he said.

Soon after Trump made the comment, White House officials asserted that the President was joking.

But in an interview with CBN News that aired Monday evening, Trump said he told his "people" -- presumably his staff or Cabinet members -- about his perceived "disadvantage" to expanded coronavirus testing, adding that he never ordered testing levels be lowered.

Read the full story:

4:04 a.m. ET, June 23, 2020

Pandemic could push 120 million children in South Asia into poverty, says UNICEF

From CNN's Swati Gupta in New Delhi

An additional 120 million children in South Asia could be pushed into poverty due to the continuing spread of coronavirus throughout much of the region, according to a new report released by the United Nations children's agency.

South Asia, which is home to roughly one quarter of the world's population, has seen a rapid acceleration in the number of people infected with the virus in recent weeks, with India's total caseload rising to more than 440,000.

The UNICEF report, titled, "Lives upended: How COVID-19 threatens the futures of 600 million South Asian children," notes that while children are less susceptible to the virus itself, they are being severely impacted by the fallout, "including the economic and social consequences of the lockdown and other measures taken to counter the pandemic."

In the eight countries detailed in the report, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Maldives and Sri Lanka, an estimated 240 million children already live in "multi-dimensional" poverty -- where a person's experience of poverty includes multiple factors such as poor health, lack of education, poor sanitation and poor quality of work.

The pandemic could now push an additional 120 million children over the poverty line within the next six months.

Read more here: