June 25 coronavirus news

By Helen Regan, Adam Renton, Meg Wagner, Melissa Macaya and Mike Hayes, CNN

Updated 1:47 p.m. ET, June 27, 2020
13 Posts
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8:35 a.m. ET, June 25, 2020

Texas cities could see "apocalyptic" numbers of Covid-19 cases, expert warns

From CNN’s Jen Christensen

A healthcare professional takes a sample from a patient at a United Memorial Medical Center Covid-19 testing site on Wednesday, June 24, in Houston.
A healthcare professional takes a sample from a patient at a United Memorial Medical Center Covid-19 testing site on Wednesday, June 24, in Houston. David J. Phillip/AP

The US city of Houston could be the worst-hit in the entire country if the current trajectory in Covid-19 cases continues as it has, a health expert has warned.

Dr. Peter Hotez, the dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine, said that new infection rates are also accelerating in Dallas, Austin and San Antonio, and that case numbers could rival those in Brazil.

“The big metro areas seem to be rising very quickly and some of the models are on the verge of being apocalyptic,” Hotez told CNN’s Anderson Cooper.

Hotez, who is also a professor of pediatrics and molecular virology and microbiology at Baylor College of Medicine is working on a potential Covid-19 vaccine. 

He said the models are showing that Houston could have a four-fold increase in the number of daily cases by July 4.

“That is really worrisome and as those numbers rise, we’re seeing commensurate increases in the number of hospitalizations and ICU admissions and you worry, you get to the point where you overwhelm ICUs and that’s when the mortality goes up," he said.

Houston does have hospital bed capacity now, but Hotez said he is concerned about the future. “We have more room, but who wants to go there?” 

Something is needed to stop community transmission, he said. 

On Thursday, Texas announced 5,551 new Covid-19 cases -- the state's highest single-day rise. Florida and California also reported their biggest single-day increase in cases.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott warned residents on Tuesday that because the spread of the novel coronavirus is so rampant right now the safest place for citizens to be is at home. He did not issue an official order to stay home.

Reopening could have contributed: Hotez said the state was aggressive with social distancing at the start of the pandemic, which kept the number of cases down, but the state reopened at the end of April and right after Memorial day the number of cases started to rise. Hotez said the state did not put a “sufficient level” of public health infrastructure in place.

1:34 a.m. ET, June 25, 2020

US reports more than 34,500 new Covid-19 cases

From CNN's Joe Sutton

A medical personnel member takes samples on a man at a coronavirus testing site in Miami Beach, Florida on June 24.
A medical personnel member takes samples on a man at a coronavirus testing site in Miami Beach, Florida on June 24. Chandan Khanna/AFP/Getty Images

The United States reported 34,516 coronavirus cases and 751 deaths on Wednesday, according to Johns Hopkins University.

The national total now stands at 2,381,538 confirmed infections, including at least 121,979 deaths from the virus, per JHU.

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

CNN’s interactive map is tracking the US cases:

1:21 a.m. ET, June 25, 2020

FDA Commissioner is "confident about our ability to find appropriate therapies" for Covid-19

From CNN Health’s Jen Christensen

Dr. Stephen Hahn testifies before a hearing of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce on Capitol Hill on June 23, in Washington, DC.
Dr. Stephen Hahn testifies before a hearing of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce on Capitol Hill on June 23, in Washington, DC. Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images

US Food and Drug Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn said he's optimistic that scientists will develop an FDA approved treatment for Covid-19.

“The short answer is, I am optimistic,” Hahn said on FDA Insight, the podcast the agency launched on Wednesday. “Of course, I can’t give a definitive answer because that depends on the science and the data, but we have great people working on this.” 

Hahn said that from the beginning the FDA has worked closely with the private sector to develop therapies and vaccines for Covid-19. “They have responded greatly to this pandemic,” Hahn said.

Hahn said there are more than 144 Covid-19 focused clinical trials underway in the US.

The FDA has been working closely with the NIH on ways they can speed up the discovery and approval process, Hahn said. The agencies developed a platform trial for Covid-19. 

“That way you can study multiple different drugs, all at the same time and much more efficiently and quickly study those,” Hahn said. It’s an approach he hopes the agency will be able to take with other therapies and diseases.

Safety, accuracy and effectiveness are essential to drug approval, Hahn said, and especially where this fast-moving pandemic is concerned, so is urgency.

“I can’t tell you when we’ll have a treatment for Covid-19,” Hahn said. “But a lot of great work in this country is in progress and I am confident about our ability to find appropriate therapies.”
1:03 a.m. ET, June 25, 2020

Beijing official says virus outbreak "basically contained" as city continues to post new cases 

From CNN's Shawn Deng in Beijing and Vanesse Chan in Hong Kong

An epidemic control worker wears a protective suit as they perform a nucleic acid swab test for Covid-19 on June 24, in Beijing.
An epidemic control worker wears a protective suit as they perform a nucleic acid swab test for Covid-19 on June 24, in Beijing. Kevin Frayer/Getty Images

The coronavirus outbreak linked to a wholesale food market in the Chinese capital Beijing has "basically been contained," an official said Wednesday.

Xu Hejian, a spokesman for the Beijing Municipal People's Government, said that "the pandemic situation directly related to the Xinfadi market has basically been contained."
The official warned that “the pandemic prevention and control situation is still complicated and should not be underestimated as cluster outbreaks and sporadic cases were still found in the communities."

His comments come as Beijing reported 13 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, the country's National Health Commission (NHC) said.

Nationwide, China reported 19 new Covid-19 cases, including the 13 from Beijing on Wednesday.

Fourteen cases -- 13 in the capital and one in Hebei province -- were locally transmitted, while the rest were imported, the NHC said.

China has confirmed a total of 83,449 coronavirus cases with 4,634 deaths, according to the NHC. 

Of those cases, more than 78,400 patients have been discharged. 

12:40 a.m. ET, June 25, 2020

"Going out in public without a mask is like driving drunk," US health expert warns

From CNN's Shelby Lin Erdman

A woman wearing a mask commutes on the subway in the Brooklyn borough on June 22, in New York City.
A woman wearing a mask commutes on the subway in the Brooklyn borough on June 22, in New York City. Stephanie Keith/Getty Images

Health experts continue to express the importance of wearing masks as coronavirus cases surge in some parts of the United States.

"Going out in public without a mask is like driving drunk," Dr. Jonathan Reiner, a cardiologist and professor of medicine at George Washington University, told CNN’s Erin Burnett. "If you don't get hurt. You might kill somebody else."

Reiner continued, "That's how I want people to think about not wearing a mask in public, just like driving drunk."

The nation’s top disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, responded Wednesday to the recent politicization of mask wearing, saying, "It should not be a political issue. It is purely a public health issue. Forget the politics -- look at the data." 

Yet mask wearing still faces resistance.

In Florida, where coronavirus cases spiked by 5,500 on Wednesday -- eight times more than in New York state -- Gov. Ron DeSantis said that any mandate ordering cloth face coverings in public would be too hard to enforce.

"The governor of Florida needs to make a clear, unequivocal statement that it’s dangerous to your community if you go out in public without a mask," Reiner said.

He faulted the White House for not setting a national example.

"This should really come from the White House, except the President is laser focused on reelection and he thinks that wearing a mask will impede that somehow. It’s bizarre," Reiner said.
12:18 a.m. ET, June 25, 2020

Cruise ship passengers file lawsuit over coronavirus exposure

From CNN’s Andy Rose

The Zaandam cruise ship prepares to come into Port Everglades on April 2, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
The Zaandam cruise ship prepares to come into Port Everglades on April 2, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Two passengers of the MS Zaandam cruise ship filed suit against Holland America and its parent company, Carnival Corporation, Wednesday. 

Leonard Lindsay and Carl Zehner, who are married, accuse the company of mishandling the Covid-19 outbreak onboard. They say it led to Zehner contracting the disease and being on a ventilator for three weeks.

“This cruise was a life-threatening nightmare,” plaintiffs’ attorney Kenny Byrd says in a news release.

The attorneys are asking a federal judge to give the case class action status covering all of the passengers aboard the MS Zaandam. They claim Holland America did not follow through with promises to ensure the health of its passengers, who were allegedly not given a temperature screening at boarding.

“Additionally, Defendants did not implement social distancing among the passengers, or implement other reasonable precautions at this stage of the cruise,” the lawsuit states.

According to the suit, the ship was denied entry to a port in Argentina in March, but it was nearly a week before the crew began telling passengers to isolate in their staterooms. The plaintiffs claim the company was already aware that some of its crew members had become ill with coronavirus symptoms. It was not until April 3 that most passengers were allowed to disembark in Port Everglades, Florida.

CNN has reached out to Holland America for a response to the lawsuit.

11:52 p.m. ET, June 24, 2020

Australia's Qantas to cut at least 6,000 jobs due to coronavirus pandemic

From Angus Watson in Sydney 

Qantas planes are parked on the tarmac at Sydney Airport on April 22, in Sydney, Australia.
Qantas planes are parked on the tarmac at Sydney Airport on April 22, in Sydney, Australia. Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

Australian airline Qantas announced on Thursday that it’s cutting at least 6,000 jobs as part of a three-year plan to help it recover from the coronavirus crisis.

The airline will also continue to stand down 15,000 employees and ground up to 100 aircraft for up to 12 months, some for longer, including most of its international fleet, according to a statement from the company.

The plan aims to save the company 15 billion Australian dollars ($10.3 billion) in costs over three years, the statement said.

Announcing the plan, Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said the crisis had left them with no choice.

"We have to position ourselves for several years where revenue will be much lower. And that means becoming a smaller airline in the short term,” Joyce said. 
11:52 p.m. ET, June 24, 2020

Dozens of Secret Service agents will be quarantined after Trump's Tulsa rally

From CNN's Jim Acosta and Paul LeBlanc

Dozens of US Secret Service agents will be quarantined as a precaution following President Donald Trump's rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, a law enforcement official told CNN on Wednesday.

The official said the number of quarantined agents is on the "low" side of dozens. A Secret Service official said the quarantining will not impact the agency's operations.

The news was first reported by The Washington Post.

A US Secret Service source who worked advance for Saturday's rally and is now quarantining told CNN that agents from Dallas and Houston worked the event as well, and they had been warned before the trip from those field offices that they would need to quarantine when they got home.

The step comes after two Secret Service agents who attended the rally tested positive for coronavirus, a person familiar with matter previously told CNN.

"The U.S. Secret Service remains prepared and staffed to fulfill all of the various duties as required. Any implication that the agency is in some way unprepared or incapable of executing our mission would be inaccurate," US Secret Service spokesperson Catherine Milhoan told CNN in a statement Wednesday evening.
"To protect the privacy of our employees' health information and for operational security, the Secret Service is not releasing how many of its employees have tested positive for COVID-19, nor how many of its employees were, or currently are, quarantined," she continued.

Read the full story:

10:28 p.m. ET, June 24, 2020

Brazil announces plan to expand coronavirus testing

From journalist Rodrigo Pedroso in Sao Paulo and CNN's Maggie Fox

Brazil announced plans to expand coronavirus testing in a televised briefing from the health ministry Wednesday.

The ministry estimates the delivery of 46.5 million tests to the public health system by the end of the year, Secretary of Health Surveillance Arnaldo Correia said in the briefing. 

Of those tests, there will be 24.5 million PCR tests that look for direct evidence of the virus and 22 million serological tests, which measure antibodies to indicate a previous infection.

Brazil previously only allowed testing for those hospitalized, but the new recommendations will also allow for tests on people reporting mild Covid-19 symptoms, Correia added.

Correia also said the ministry was expecting the curve from newly reported cases to flatten last week, but the numbers showed an increase from the previous week.

In the past three days alone, the country reported 103,593 new cases. Total confirmed cases stand at 1,188,631, according to the health ministry Wednesday.