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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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.

3:02 p.m. ET, June 26, 2020

Florida governor claims expanded testing created large new case counts

 

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks during a press conference in Miami on June 8.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks during a press conference in Miami on June 8. Eva Marie Uzcategui/Getty Images

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said an increased positivity rate and expanded testing is creating the large new case counts that have been announced this week.

DeSantis said during a news conference Friday that the state is now seeing 45,000 new test results reported daily, up from 24,000 test results that were reported daily the last week of May. 

He attributed the high case count of nearly 9,000 reported Friday to a "test dump."

"Really nothing has changed in the last week," the governor said.

The majority of new cases are now people who are younger, with the median age ranging from 33 to 35 years old, DeSantis said.

He said the new cases are typically asymptomatic and primarily due to community transmission. 

DeSantis told vulnerable populations to be vigilant and continue to avoid large crowds and other situations where transmission could be possible.

 

2:56 p.m. ET, June 26, 2020

New York City reports more than 22,400 confirmed and probable Covid-19 deaths

From CNN's Rob Frehse

New York City has 17,753 confirmed coronavirus fatalities and 4,668 probable coronavirus deaths as of June 26, 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 “Covid-19” or an equivalent.

The total number of confirmed coronavirus deaths and probable coronavirus deaths in New York City is 22,421.

There have been 210,908 coronavirus cases in the city and 54,578 people have been hospitalized, according to the city.

The data is from the New York City Health Department and was updated on June 26 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.

2:50 p.m. ET, June 26, 2020

Texas governor announces extension of federally-supported Covid-19 testing sites

From CNN's Brad Parks 

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott speaks at a press conference at the Texas State Capitol in Austin on May 18.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott speaks at a press conference at the Texas State Capitol in Austin on May 18. Lynda M. Gonzalez/Pool/Getty Images

The federal government has granted Texas Gov. Greg Abbott's request to extend operations of community-based Covid-19 testing sites across the state today. 

According to a statement, the federal government will maintain the program's support while surging resources to Dallas and Houston.

"These federally-supported testing sites are a vital component of this commitment," Abbott said in the statement. "I thank our federal partners for extending these operations in Texas, and for their flexibility in allocating their resources to the communities of Dallas and Houston that are experiencing a high number of COVID-19 cases right now."

Cases surge: Abbott ordered further restrictions on businesses today, a day after he "paused" a phased economic reopening following a surge in coronavirus cases.

The state reported a record of almost 6,000 new cases on Thursday.

2:42 p.m. ET, June 26, 2020

The US needs to consider "flooding the system with testing," Fauci says

From CNN's Gisela Crespo

Dr. Anthony Fauci speaks at the White House coronavirus task force briefing at the Department of Health and Human Services in Washington, DC on June 26.
Dr. Anthony Fauci speaks at the White House coronavirus task force briefing at the Department of Health and Human Services in Washington, DC on June 26. Joshua Roberts/Getty Images

The US needs to start considering "flooding the system with testing" in light of new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggesting that for every person infected with Covid-19, 10 more people in the country go undiagnosed, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Friday.

Speaking during a pre-recorded interview with CNBC, Fauci called the CDC's findings "sobering news."

"No way is it good news when you think there are 10 times more people infected than you thought there were," Fauci said. "So I think that's something that we need to address … to consider start literally flooding the system with testing, to really get a good handle about what is going on in the community."

Fauci said contact tracing was not going well ⁠— with some exceptions ⁠— and argued for pool testing over individual identification, particularly in areas where people don't want to cooperate with contact tracing efforts.

"Instead of I test me, and I test you... you could take 20, 30, 40 pool them, do one test. If they're all negative, then you know that that's negative. You now have 40 people who are negative. If you get a positive, then you backtrack and try and figure out who that positive is," Fauci said.