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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5:52 p.m. ET, June 26, 2020

South Carolina governor says he will not lift restrictions until Covid-19 is under control

From CNN's Hollie Silverman


South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster said he will not lift restrictions on nightclubs, concert venues, theaters, auditoriums, spectator sports and other venues until Covid-19 is under control in the state.

"Ladies and gentlemen, we've got to follow the rules," McMaster said at a news conference. "This is a dangerous, deadly disease, you've got to follow the rules. Wear your mask."

He said that a majority of the new cases are among people under 40, particularly those age 30 to 35.

"They feel completely healthy yet they can be completely infected," McMaster said.

Rates of infection for that age group are "just going up, up, up," he said.

Despite the higher case counts, McMaster said that he will not mandate the use of masks.

"We cannot mandate. It is ineffective. It is impractical to have a mandate and everyone wear a mask because it is not enforceable and for me to tell us that we're going to require people to wear a mask, and then not be able to enforce it gives a false sense of security to those who believe that everybody is following the rules," McMaster said.

The numbers: South Carolina on Friday reported the highest number of people hospitalized in the state, Director of Public Health Dr. Joan Duwve said at the news conference.

There are currently 906 people hospitalized with complications from coronavirus, the largest number the state has seen, Duwve said.

At least 1,273 new cases were reported Friday, bringing the total to at least 30,263 cases and 694 deaths statewide, Duwve said. 

Hospitals are currently at 75% capacity, South Carolina National Guard Adjutant General Major General Van McCarty said at the news conference.

He said if hospitals reach 80% capacity statewide, they will deploy the surge plan. McCarty added that they will reduce elective surgeries if needed to help with capacity. 

"Our preference would be to keep patients in a traditional hospital. We will look to use the alternative measures we've talked about as only a second measure," McCarty said.

5:08 p.m. ET, June 26, 2020

Utah governor approves mask requirement for 2 counties

From CNN’s Andy Rose

People wait in line in front of a store in Salt Lake City on May 22.
People wait in line in front of a store in Salt Lake City on May 22. Rick Bowmer/AP

The governor of Utah is signing off on requests from two counties to require masks in public spaces. 

Brooke Scheffler, the spokesperson for Gov. Gary Herbert, told CNN that the governor has approved the requests from Salt Lake and Summit counties, although there is still not a statewide face covering rule in effect.

Scheffler said the two county governments are expected to announce details later Friday.

Utah has at least 20,050 coronavirus cases and at least 166 people have died from the virus, according to a tally from Johns Hopkins University.

4:48 p.m. ET, June 26, 2020

Recent protests have contributed to California's coronavirus case increase, state official says

From CNN's Cheri Mossburg

Protesters congregate in Los Angeles, at the intersection of Hollywood and Highland, on June 7.
Protesters congregate in Los Angeles, at the intersection of Hollywood and Highland, on June 7. David McNew/Getty Images

People commingling during recent racial justice protests are believed to be a contributing factor to the rise in coronavirus cases in California, according to Dr. Sonia Angell, the state's health director.

“We don’t have exact numbers, but we do know from speaking to our counties that it is a contributor. Of course it is difficult to tease out exactly because at the same time, the people were going out for these protests, we were also seeing increased movement for other reasons,” Angell said in a news conference.

Angell stressed that with community spread, health officials may not be able to distinguish exactly where someone may have been exposed.

“It’s highly likely given the increased numbers that we’re seeing, that some of this is in fact people who may have been in a crowded situation at one of the protests where there was spread,” Los Angeles Health Director Barbara Ferrer said earlier this week.

Sacramento County reported at least three individual cases that are apparently linked to recent demonstrations, according to California Department of Public Health.

4:39 p.m. ET, June 26, 2020

Major League Baseball team reports it had "isolated" Covid-19 cases

From CNN's Jacob Lev

Norm Hall/Getty Images
Norm Hall/Getty Images

Cleveland Indians President Chris Antonetti told reporters Friday that the organization has had some "isolated " cases of Covid-19. 

The individuals who tested positive were at their homes around the country, including a couple of cases in the Dominican Republic, and a couple more at their training facility in Goodyear, Arizona, Antonetti said.

However, all the members have either recovered or had "mild symptoms," Antonetti said.

"We have had a few isolated cases," Antonetti said on the call. "There have been a few from players that have been home, have just, at their home, at their houses spread throughout the country. A couple cases in the Dominican and then a few cases in our Goodyear facility. The encouraging thing on that front is all of those cases have been isolated. There has not been any spread within our environment. Thankfully all of those individuals have either recovered or are only showing mild symptoms." 

Some context: The Major League Baseball season is expected to resume with players reporting to training camps starting on July 1. Games are expected to start on July 23 or July 24. 

4:17 p.m. ET, June 26, 2020

Masks will be required in Alabama's Jefferson County starting Monday

From CNN's Kay Jones and Hollie Silverman

A pedestrian wearing scrubs and a mask crosses a street in Birmingham, Alabama, on April 28.
A pedestrian wearing scrubs and a mask crosses a street in Birmingham, Alabama, on April 28. Maranie Staab/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Face masks will be required in Jefferson County, Alabama, starting Monday.

The masks will be required at public establishments, according to a public health order declared Friday.

Jefferson County is home to Birmingham, which is the state's most populous city, according to the state's demographic website.

Birmingham adopted an ordinance requiring face coverings be worn in public within the city on April 28 and that order has been extended until July 3, the health order said.

About the order: Face coverings will be required for indoor spaces of business or venues open to the public, outdoor areas open to the public where 10 or more people are gathered and social distancing is not possible, and transportation service areas including mass transit, taxis, paratransit or ride-sharing services, the order said.

Exceptions to the order include children age two and under. Masks can be removed while eating or drinking, during medical examinations or procedures, and hair care services.

Masks can also be removed when there is a risk to personal safety or a need for effective communication, the order said.

Places of worship may "use their own discretion regarding face covering requirements," but are encouraged to recommend congregants to use masks during services, especially during singing or while speaking to other people.

4:10 p.m. ET, June 26, 2020

Texas Tech University announces 23 student-athletes and staff have tested positive for Covid-19

From CNN Sports Jacob Lev

John Weast/Getty Images
John Weast/Getty Images

Texas Tech University has reported that 23 out of 197 Covid-19 tests administered to the student-athletes and staff within the football program have returned positive.

"As part of its established safety protocols, Texas Tech’s sports medicine staff has notified and isolated each individual who tested positive for a period of at least 10 days in accordance with CDC guidelines and city of Lubbock Health Department procedures, including contact tracing. Close known contacts have also been asked to self-quarantine for 14 days. None of the cases have required hospitalization," the university said in a statement.

The school, which is in Lubbock, Texas, said that of the 23 positive results, 21 have reportedly recovered.

The NCAA Football season is slated to kick off on August 29.

4:20 p.m. ET, June 26, 2020

US health experts call out Pence's rosy portrayal of country's coronavirus status

From CNN's Andrea Kane

During the first White House coronavirus task force briefing in two months, Vice President Mike Pence described an alternate reality to what is really happening in American cities across the country with respect to the coronavirus pandemic, according to a couple of health experts.

“We’re seeing a massive resurgence in our metropolitan areas across the southwestern part of the United States — here in Houston, Dallas, Phoenix and in Los Angeles,” Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at the Baylor College of Medicine, told CNN's Brianna Keilar shortly after the briefing wrapped up.

“This is a tragedy, and what's more, it's not presented as a tragedy — it's presented as, ‘We're doing a pretty good job and now there are a couple of hotspots.’ These are not ‘hotspots’ — these are the largest metropolitan areas in the United States,” he said.

More on this: This first briefing since the end of April comes as cases are going up in more than half the states, with infections in some large states close to being out of control and filling hospital intensive care units.

“The vice president said the good news is there's no increase in positivity rate. That's absolutely false. We're seeing a steep increase in positivity rate and we will soon see an increase in deaths as well,” said Hotez, noting that deaths will surely follow the big resurgence in the number of cases. “They still clung to this discredited idea that a lot of the increase is due to increase in testing.”

CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta also said the vice president presented a picture that does not at all match the facts of what is happening with coronavirus infections in the country.

“Despite what you heard, we are in the middle of a public health disaster. I know that people are going to hear different things. There's a cognitive dissonance out there, but let me just start with that,” Gupta told Keilar, stressing that this public health disaster wasn’t inevitable. 

“One of the first things that was said is all 50 states are opening safely and responsibly. That's simply not true. I don't think there's a single state that actually followed the opening criteria that the task force themselves actually laid out,” said Gupta. “They say that we have greatly expanded testing. We're still probably at a 10% of the testing that we should be doing at this point in this pandemic. They say we've had 45 days to stop the spread. Well, Brianna as you just mentioned, we haven't stopped the spread.”

Gupta said that the country had the highest number of daily infections since this pandemic began in the last 24 hours. “This is a problem. We can spin it in all sorts of different ways. But the reality is that not only are things bad, they’re as bad as they've been right now with regard to daily new infections.”

Hotez said the briefing missed the opportunity to present some solutions. “The terrible part for me was there were no ideas presented. They have no idea what to do,” he said. “There is no concrete federal plan for helping the metro areas; there was not a single suggestion made,” he added.

Watch more:

4:06 p.m. ET, June 26, 2020

Governor advises county in Southern California to reinstate stay-at-home order

From CNN's Cheri Mossburg

The El Centro Regional Medical Center is seen in El Centro, California -- the county seat of Imperial County -- on May 20.
The El Centro Regional Medical Center is seen in El Centro, California -- the county seat of Imperial County -- on May 20. Gregory Bull/AP

Gov. Gavin Newsom has advised Imperial County’s health officials to reinstate its stay-at-home order, he announced in a news conference.

Imperial County has a coronavirus positivity rate of 23%, with a case rate of 680 in the past week. The population of Imperial County is approximately 181,000.

These rates are well above state thresholds, said Sonia Angell, the state's health director. The state guidelines are a case rate of 100 and a positivity rate of 10%.

More than 500 patients have been transferred out of Imperial County in the past five weeks, the governor said, and reinforcements from the state, including 44 National Guard members, have been sent in to assist.

More details: Imperial County lies just east of San Diego along the borders of Arizona and Mexico.

Some drivers of the uptick include US citizens returning to the states to seek health care, the California Department of Public Health said earlier this week.

The governor said “it’s too early to tell” if the high number of cases in Arizona are a contributing factor to increases in Imperial County, but a "deep dive" study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is underway to look at that data.

Imperial is one of 15 counties under what Newsom calls a "watch list" as concerns mount in the state.

5:22 p.m. ET, June 26, 2020

Masks are not mandated statewide, Florida governor says

From CNN's Hollie Silverman

A sign asks people to wear a face mask in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on Thursday.
A sign asks people to wear a face mask in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on Thursday. mpi04/MediaPunch/IPX/AP

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said he isn't mandating masks statewide but will continue to provide guidance that people should social distance and use masks when that's not possible.

"We're going to continue to put out the messaging, we're going to continue to put out the guidance and we're going to trust people to make good decisions," DeSantis said. "I think that's the better approach than to try to prosecute someone criminally for it."

The governor said to make masks a mandate punishable by law could backfire.

DeSantis said that if local governments want to create an ordinance, it's up to them. Businesses also have the right to ask customers to wear masks

The governor said that some local sheriffs have said they won't enforce it and there are parts of the state where a mandate wouldn't make sense.