June 24 coronavirus news

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4:16 p.m. ET, June 24, 2020

Wearing face masks to stop coronavirus spread should not be a political issue, Fauci says

From CNN's Shelby Lin Erdman

Dr. Anthony Fauci removes his face mask before testifying at a hearing on the Trump administration's response to the Covid-19 pandemic on June 23 in Washington.
Dr. Anthony Fauci removes his face mask before testifying at a hearing on the Trump administration's response to the Covid-19 pandemic on June 23 in Washington. Kevin Dietsch/Pool via AP

Wearing a face mask in public to limit the spread of the deadly coronavirus should not be a political issue, according to the nation’s top infectious diseases expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci. 

Fauci was asked during an interview at the Sacramento Press Club Wednesday about the politicization of wearing face coverings, even as cases of Covid-19 continue increasing in more than 10 states.

“There's no secret formula for that, except to say get past it,” Fauci said. “It should not be a political issue. It is purely a public health issue. Forget the politics — look at the data.” 

Some context: President Trump and members of his administration have shunned wearing masks in public, even at crowded campaign rallies and White House events, prompting supporters to eschew wearing them, as well. 

Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said an analysis of mask use shows very clearly that it makes a difference. 

“It isn't perfect, but you don't want the perfect to be the enemy of the good. There is an advantage in protecting yourself from acquisition and protecting others from acquisition,” Fauci said.

3:43 p.m. ET, June 24, 2020

Apple is closing some stores in Texas due to spike in coronavirus cases

From CNN's Kate Trafecante

Apple plans to close seven stores in Texas again due to an uptick in coronavirus cases in the state.

"Due to current COVID-19 conditions in some of the communities we serve, we are temporarily closing stores in these areas," Apple said in a statement. "We take this step with an abundance of caution as we closely monitor the situation and we look forward to having our teams and customers back as soon as possible."

The following stores in the Houston area will be closing again: Highland Village, First Colony Mall, Houston Galleria, Memorial City, Willowbrook Mall, Baybrook, and The Woodlands.

Some context: Apple reopened dozens of its 271 United States stores last month after shutting them because of the coronavirus. But last week, Apple decided to once again shutter 11 locations in Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina and Arizona due to a surge in cases in those states.

CNN Business' Rishi Iyengar contributed to this report

4:08 p.m. ET, June 24, 2020

New York City reports more than 22,000 confirmed and probable Covid-19 deaths

From CNN's Rob Frehse

Medical workers transfer patients at the Maimonides Medical Center on May 27 in New York.
Medical workers transfer patients at the Maimonides Medical Center on May 27 in New York. Spencer Platt/Getty Images

New York City has 17,685 confirmed coronavirus deaths and 4,680 probable coronavirus deaths as of June 24, according to the most recent data on the city website.

The New York City Health Department defines probable deaths as people who did not have a positive Covid-19 laboratory test, but their death certificate lists as the cause of death “Covis-19” or an equivalent.

The total number of confirmed coronavirus deaths and probable coronavirus deaths in New York City is 22,365.

Some more context: There have been 210,185 coronavirus cases in the city and 54,504 people have been hospitalized, according to the city.

The data is from the New York City Health Department and was updated on June 24 at 1 p.m., according to the website.

The numbers may not line up exactly in real time with CNN’s database drawn from Johns Hopkins University and the Covid Tracking Project.

3:36 p.m. ET, June 24, 2020

Pregnant women with Covid-19 face "increased risk of ICU admission," CDC researcher says

From CNN's Jacqueline Howard

Pregnant women might be at a higher risk of being admitted to a hospital's intensive care unit or even needing ventilation if infected with the coronavirus, a researcher at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday.

This new information, which has not been published yet, contradicts some previous research suggesting that pregnant women may not be at a higher risk of becoming sick enough to need treatment in the ICU if they catch coronavirus.

"There can be physiologic changes in pregnancy that may increase the risk of severe illness, and severe disease has been associated with other viral respiratory infections in pregnant women. However, initial reports have been unclear regarding Covid’s impact on pregnant women," Sara Oliver of the CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases said during a meeting of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices on Wednesday.

Pregnant women are, for instance, much more vulnerable to influenza.

Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, there has been limited data on what risks pregnant women could face with Covid-19 — if any — but now the new information that Oliver presented in the ACIP meeting helps add to the scientific literature. The information is scheduled to be published in a CDC report on Thursday.

By the numbers: The report includes information about 326,335 women ages 15 to 44 who had a coronavirus infection between January 22 and June 7, Oliver said. There were 8,207 pregnancies reported among the women.

"This new report includes the largest US cohort of pregnant women with lab-confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection," Oliver said in her presentation. "Among pregnant women, 31.5% were reported as hospitalized compared with 5.8% of non-pregnant women."

"Pregnant women were 50% more likely to be admitted to the intensive care unit and 70% more likely to receive mechanical ventilation. Sixteen deaths were reported among pregnant women, in a similar proportion to non-pregnant women," Oliver added.

Oliver noted that a separate analysis previously found the risk of ICU admission and mechanical ventilation was actually lower among pregnant women with coronavirus and there was no statistically significant difference in the risk of in-hospital death — so more research is needed.

"More complete data are needed to assess if SARS-CoV-2 infection in pregnancy is associated with adverse pregnancy or neonatal outcomes," Oliver said. 

"However, results from this study do suggest an increased risk of ICU admission and mechanical ventilation, which are distinct proxies for severity, in pregnant women compared to non-pregnant women," Oliver said. "However, the absolute risk of clinical interventions is still very low in this population."

 

3:38 p.m. ET, June 24, 2020

Coronavirus is a "public health train wreck in slow motion," expert says

From CNN's Amanda Watts

Dr. David Blumenthal, president of The Commonwealth Fund, said the coronavirus pandemic in the United States is like watching a “public health train wreck in slow motion.”

The Commonwealth fund is a foundation that studies health systems.

Speaking during an Alliance for Health Policy and Commonwealth Fund webinar on Wednesday, Blumenthal said that leaves Americans in a difficult position.

“It can be frustrating and perplexing,” he said. “But now is the time to stop dwelling on the past and to start looking forward, and to ask ourselves how we can seize the moment, learn from experience and make things better.”

Dr. Reed Tuckson, managing director of Tuckson Health Connections, said those lessons learned are both good and bad.

Tuckson said he has seen the value of the health care profession go up, he has seen hospitals become more flexible in their ability to provide care, and the advancement of telehealth has been a “watershed moment in the future in the history of health care.”

Tuckson, an AHP board chair member, said, sadly, the bad outweighs the good.

“We don’t really have a health system,” he said. “So to talk about how the health system performed is probably a non sequitur.”

Some context: Tuckson said the pandemic has highlighted “the politicization of science and public health, the inability to overcome the legacy of distrust by people of color and other populations, the attacking of public health officials, and the intimidation of them through the politicization.”

“What is not getting enough attention is the suboptimal capacity of contact tracing. And it's not just the capacity of contact tracing, but the ability to gain the trust of the American people,” Tuckson said.

“We have failed in our health system to maintain or build those trusting relationships that could have withstood the challenges of the moment,” Tuckson said, adding that the problems were “exacerbated” by political leaders. 

“Unfortunately, we did not have the resiliency built into the system that we should have had,” he added.

3:56 p.m. ET, June 24, 2020

GOP senator from Florida: "Everyone should just wear a damn mask"

From CNN's Ali Zaslav

Sen. Marco Rubio, and Sen. Susan Collins, arrive for the Senate Select Intelligence Committee confirmation hearing for Peter Michael Thomson, nominee to be inspector general of the Central Intelligence Agency, in Russell Building on Wednesday, June 24.
Sen. Marco Rubio, and Sen. Susan Collins, arrive for the Senate Select Intelligence Committee confirmation hearing for Peter Michael Thomson, nominee to be inspector general of the Central Intelligence Agency, in Russell Building on Wednesday, June 24. Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call via AP Images

Republican Sen. Marco Rubio said today that "everyone should just wear a damn mask, like you guys are, like I am right now."

He made the comments as he left a GOP lunch where Vice President Mike Pence provided a coronavirus update. 

“I just hope everybody does the best they can to protect themselves,” the Florida Republican said. “And we know how. We've been told repeatedly how to do it — just do it."

Rubio said he also encouraged his Republican colleagues during lunch to wear a mask.  

“It's a respiratory virus that spreads from person to person and the more people you come in contact with in an unprotected setting the likelier you are to be infected by it,” he added.

Some context: Several states have seen spikes in coronavirus cases in recent weeks, including Rubio’s home state. Today marked Florida’s highest number of new and confirmed coronavirus cases in a single day since the start of the pandemic, according to the Florida Health Department. 

3:18 p.m. ET, June 24, 2020

Trump suggests coronavirus pandemic currently raging in the US is over

From CNN's Kevin Liptak

Polish President Andrzej Duda meets with U.S. President Donald in the Oval Office  on Wednesday, June 2.
Polish President Andrzej Duda meets with U.S. President Donald in the Oval Office on Wednesday, June 2. Erin Schaff-Pool/Getty Images

Both President Trump and his Polish counterpart suggested Wednesday the coronavirus pandemic currently raging in the United States was in the rearview as in-person diplomacy resumed in the Oval Office.

"This is the first after Covid, after the start of the plague, as I call it, and it’s an honor to have you here," Trump told his visitor, Polish President Andrzej Duda, as they began talks at the White House.

Duda, who faces a tight re-election in four days, said it was an honor to be Trump's first invitee after an extended period of pandemic-forced lockdown.

"It’s a privilege and honor to be here with you in the White House, the first president of state after the lockdown at the end of the coronavirus," he said.

Trump and Duda both hailed their close personal ties and the broader relationship between the United States and Poland.

"We’ve had many discussions and we worked very well with Poland. I don’t think we’ve ever been closer to Poland that we are right now," Trump said. "I think it’s a great honor and frankly Poland’s a country we have a tremendous relationship with. And I have a very good personal relationship with the president."

3:16 p.m. ET, June 24, 2020

New report details how schools can be reopened safely

From CNN's Naomi Thomas

Teachers confer with each other in an empty classroom at Freedom Preparatory Academy on May 18, in Provo, Utah. The school was closed on March 16, along with all other schools in Utah by order of the Utah Governor.
Teachers confer with each other in an empty classroom at Freedom Preparatory Academy on May 18, in Provo, Utah. The school was closed on March 16, along with all other schools in Utah by order of the Utah Governor. George Frey/Getty Images/FILE

Strategies such as increasing air ventilation, installing touchless technology, and modifying schedules to stagger arrival and departure times could help schools reopen more safely as the coronavirus pandemic continues, according to a new report published Wednesday.

Schools can also limit sharing of equipment in physical education classes and limit personal contact with strategies like taking parent-teacher conferences online, environmental safety expert Joseph Allen and colleagues at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health said in their report.

These should be put in place alongside known measures such as hand washing, mask use, widespread testing for the virus, and encouraging people to stay home when they are sick.

“No one control strategy alone can limit the transmission of disease,” the report reads. “Schools should approach reopening with a layered defense strategy, where many small interventions and strategies are combined, simultaneously.”

Allen said it’s better to send kids back to school than to keep them sequestered at home. He said online learning was missing many, if not most, students.

“Schools will eventually need to reopen,” the report says. “Keeping schools closed comes with massive, long-term individual and societal costs. Many children cannot effectively learn, grow, engage, socialize, be active, eat healthy food, or get supports until schools reopen.”   

3:11 p.m. ET, June 24, 2020

NBA player Malcolm Brogdon announces positive Covid-19 test

From CNN's Jacob Lev

Andy Lyons/Getty Images/FILE
Andy Lyons/Getty Images/FILE

Indiana Pacers guard Malcolm Brogdon said he has tested positive for Covid-19. 

Brogdon, who leads the team in assists per game (7.1) this season, said he is "feeling well" and plans to join his teammates in Orlando, Florida, when the NBA season resumes.

"I recently tested positive for the Covid virus and am currently in quarantine. I'm doing well, feeling well and progressing well. I plan to join my teammates in Orlando for the resumption of the NBA season and playoffs," Brogdon said in a statement posted on the Pacers website.

The NBA season is expected to resume on July 30 at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida.