June 26 coronavirus news

By Meg Wagner, Melissa Macaya, Jessie Yeung and Adam Renton, Zamira Rahim and Lindsay Isaac CNN

Updated 0003 GMT (0803 HKT) June 27, 2020
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10:57 a.m. ET, June 26, 2020

NYC's indoor dining will resume at reduced capacity on July 6, mayor says

From CNN's Julian Cummings

As a part of phase three of reopening in New York City, personal care business and indoor dining at 50% capacity can begin on July 6, according to Mayor Bill de Blasio. 

Personal care businesses include nail salons, massage parlors, spas, tanning, tattoo and piercing and waxing. 

As restaurants resume indoor dining at 50% capacity in phase three, NYC small business commissioner Jonnel Doris said the city will distribute 2.5 million face coverings and connect businesses to purchase items such as sneeze guards and personal protective equipment.

The city will also expand outdoor dining to take place on closed city streets starting July 4.

11:31 a.m. ET, June 26, 2020

Some states are slowing their reopening plans as coronavirus cases spike

A number of states are putting their reopening plans on hold as new coronavirus cases continue to rise.

At least 32 states are reporting increases in new cases, and the US is currently averaging more new coronavirus cases per day than at any point in the pandemic, according to a CNN analysis of numbers provided by Johns Hopkins University.

Here's a look at how some states are slowing down their plans to reopen:

  • Arizona: Gov. Doug Ducey announced yesterday the state’s reopening plans are now “on pause." He said Gov. Ducey said the state will not roll back business reopening plans, but will be requiring businesses to follow social distancing rules that are still in effect. 
  • Florida: Gov. Ron DeSantis indicated his state would not be moving to relax present restrictions.
  • New Mexico: Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said the state is putting further economic reopening plans on hold.
  • Texas: Yesterday, Gov. Greg Abbott paused any further phases to reopen as the state recorded nearly 6,000 Covid-19 cases. Today, Abbott announced plans to restrict certain businesses to curb the spread of the virus: Bars that get more than 51% of their gross receipts from the sale of alcoholic beverages must close today, among other measures.
10:29 a.m. ET, June 26, 2020

Houston's Harris County will increase coronavirus response level to most severe

From CNN’s Alexandra Field and Meredith Edwards

Harris County, Texas, Judge Lina Hidalgo will increase the county’s warning system to its highest level of “severe” today, a county official tells CNN. Houston, Texas' most populous city, is in this county.

This level threat system recommends residents to “Stay Home.” 

What this alert level means: Harris County defines the updated alert level as one that signifies a severe and uncontrolled level of Covid-19 in Harris County, meaning outbreaks are present and worsening and that testing and contact tracing capacity is strained or exceeded.

At this level, the county urges residents to take action to "minimize contacts with others wherever possible and avoid leaving home except for the most essential needs like going to the grocery store for food and medicine.“

Some background: The three most populous US states are setting records for new coronavirus cases daily — and an expert fears major Texas cities could see "apocalyptic" numbers if the trend continues.

In Texas, if the current case trajectory continues, Houston could be the hardest-hit city in the US with numbers rivaling those in Brazil.

10:46 a.m. ET, June 26, 2020

Texas governor limits certain businesses to contain the spread of Covid-19

Lynda M. Gonzalez-Pool/Getty Images
Lynda M. Gonzalez-Pool/Getty Images

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order today that limits certain businesses and services as part of the state’s effort to "contain the spread of Covid-19."

Texas is among at least 11 states seeing a 50% increase or more in cases compared to the previous week.

Here is what the order includes:

  • All bars that get more than 51% of their gross receipts from the sale of alcoholic beverages are required to close at 12:00 p.m. today.
  • These businesses may remain open for delivery and take-out, including for alcoholic beverages, as authorized by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission. 
  • Restaurants can remain open for dine-in service, but their capacities can not exceed 50% of total listed indoor occupancy, beginning on Monday.
  • Rafting and tubing businesses must close.
  • Outdoor gatherings of 100 or more people must be approved by local governments, with certain exceptions.

“As I said from the start, if the positivity rate rose above 10%, the State of Texas would take further action to mitigate the spread of Covid-19,” Abbott said in a statement. “At this time, it is clear that the rise in cases is largely driven by certain types of activities, including Texans congregating in bars. The actions in this executive order are essential to our mission to swiftly contain this virus and protect public health."

10:11 a.m. ET, June 26, 2020

Health experts are talking about "pool testing" today. Here's what that means.

From CNN Health's Jacqueline Howard

Multiple health experts are discussing the possibility of "pool testing" — a method of coronavirus testing that mixes several samples together into a "batch," or pool.

Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, said the new approach could drastically expand the nation's knowledge of how and where the virus is spreading,

"If you look around the globe, the way people are doing a million tests or 10 million tests is they're doing pooling," Birx said during an online conference of the American Society for Microbiology. "Pooling would give us the capacity to go from a half a million tests a day to potentially 5 million individuals tested per day by those poolings." 

Birx added that there could be opportunities to do five-people pools or greater, which would allow for people to return to schools sand workplaces with the ability to test on a frequent basis. 

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, said Friday that the White House coronavirus task force is “seriously considering” pool testing for Covid-19. 

“Something’s not working,” Fauci said of the nation's current approach in an interview with The Washington Post  “I mean, you can do all the diagramming you want, but something is not working.”

Here's how Pooling works: “Pooling refers to a testing technique in which allows a lab to mix several samples together in a 'batch' or pooled sample and then test the pooled sample with a diagnostic test. For example, four samples may be tested together, using only the resources needed for a single test," Dr. Jeffrey Shuren, director of the Center for Devices and Radiological Health at the US Food and Drug Administration, said in a written statement last week.

"If the pooled sample is negative, it can be deduced that all patients were negative. If the pooled sample comes back positive, then each sample needs to be tested individually to find out which was positive," Shuren said. "Because samples are pooled together, ultimately fewer tests are run overall, meaning fewer testing supplies are used, and results can be returned to patients more quickly in most cases."

9:47 a.m. ET, June 26, 2020

US average of daily new coronavirus cases hits highest point of pandemic

The US is currently averaging more new coronavirus cases per day than at any point in the pandemic, according to a CNN analysis of numbers provided by Johns Hopkins University.

The seven-day moving average of new cases stood at 33,035 Thursday. The previous peak was 31,630, reached on April 10.

Thursday marked a record for the most new cases reported in a single day in America — at least 39,972.

9:43 a.m. ET, June 26, 2020

US stocks open lower as worries over a resurgence in Covid-19 cases continue 

From CNN’s Anneken Tappe

US stocks kicked the session off lower on Friday. Worries about the state of the economy, as well as a resurgence in Covid-19 cases, remains on investors' minds following Thursday’s stress test results from the Federal Reserve.

While the results gave banks a clean bill of health, it highlighted the fragility of the economy once more. America’s big banks, which were among the top gainers Thursday, dropped at the opening bell.

Here is where things stood at opening:  

  • The Dow opened 0.7%, or 190 points, lower.
  • The S&P 500 slipped 0.4%.
  • The Nasdaq Composite kicked off 0.2% down.
9:53 a.m. ET, June 26, 2020

Fauci says US considering new testing strategy because "something’s not working" currently

From CNN's Jim Acosta and Sam Fossum 

Kevin Dietsch/Pool/AFP/Getty Images
Kevin Dietsch/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, said Friday that the White House coronavirus task force is “seriously considering” pool testing for Covid-19. 

The proposal is still in the discussion stage, and is not expected to be announced at the task force briefing later today, Fauci told CNN. Dr. Fauci first mentioned the discussions in an interview with The Washington Post published on Friday morning.

“Something’s not working,” Fauci said of the nation's current approach in an interview with The Post. “I mean, you can do all the diagramming you want, but something is not working.”

Here's what "pool testing" means: The strategy works by mixing several samples together into a "batch," or pool, and then testing the pooled sample with one diagnostic test.

This way you can test a group of, for example, 25 people with one test rather than 25 separate diagnostic tests.

If the test comes back negative, then you have eliminated 25 people with one test.  If you get a positive result you go back and test people individually. 

Fauci's comments come after the US Food and Drug Administration recommended such a strategy earlier this month on to companies seeking to make tests for mass screening of people for coronavirus. And last month, local health authorities in the Chinese city of Wuhan said they managed to test more than 9 million people using 6.6 million tests. Chinese media reported that Wuhan used a pooled testing approach.

“What you need to do is find the penetration of infected people in your society,” Fauci told The Washington Post. “And the only way you know that is by casting a broad net.”

Fauci also told The Post that the high levels of asymptomatic spread of the Coronavirus are forcing health experts to rethink how to approach mitigating the spread of Covid-19. 

“We now know the level of virus in an asymptomatic person is about the same as the level of virus in somebody who has symptoms,” Fauci said. “So it’s like, oh my goodness, how do you address that?”

Fauci stressed to CNN that this is not a new policy, but it is under consideration. 

9:26 a.m. ET, June 26, 2020

American Airlines will allow full flights to fly next week

From CNN's Greg Wallace and Pete Muntean

An American Airlines flight on May 15, 2020.
An American Airlines flight on May 15, 2020. Chris Graythen/Getty Images

American Airlines plans to begin selling every seat on its aircraft, something it has not done since the pandemic struck this spring – leading to the prospect of more full flights. 

The move comes ahead of the July 4 travel weekend. An American spokesperson said the holiday could be its busiest period since March.   

Air travel overall is down about 80% from where it stood last year, according to Transportation Security Administration data. But it is steadily increasing: The 623,000 people it screened yesterday were 23% of the 2.7 million the agency saw a year before, and the agency’s busiest day since air travel cratered in mid-April.  

Airlines for America — which represents major US air carriers, including American — told CNN this week that the average flight is about half full at 54.7%. But the group declined to say how many flights are full.  

American has been limiting capacity on its flights since April. 

“As more people continue to travel, customers may notice that flights are booked to capacity starting July 1,” the company said in a statement on Friday.  “American will continue to notify customers and allow them to move to more open flights when available, all without incurring any cost.” 

The airline said it will begin notifying all customers that their flights may be full and will continue to waive change fees through September 30.

What other airlines are doing: United said it has been notifying customers whose flights may be more than 70% full, but an American spokesperson said putting a specific number to their notifications is not practical because flights could fill up after the notification window has passed. 

Delta and Southwest have said they are capping capacity in an attempt to keep middle seats open and promote social distancing.