June 26 coronavirus news

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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. 

9:12 a.m. ET, June 26, 2020

WHO hopes to deliver 2 billion Covid-19 vaccine doses by the end of 2021

From CNN Health's Jacqueline Howard

A medical worker injects a vaccine trialist with the clinical trial for a potential vaccine against the COVID-19 coronavirus at the Baragwanath hospital in Soweto, South Africa, on June 24 ,2020. 
A medical worker injects a vaccine trialist with the clinical trial for a potential vaccine against the COVID-19 coronavirus at the Baragwanath hospital in Soweto, South Africa, on June 24 ,2020.  Siphiwe Sibeko/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

By the end of 2021, the World Health Organization plans to deliver about 2 billion doses of a coronavirus vaccine to people across the globe, WHO officials announced during a virtual media briefing on Friday.

One billion of those doses will be purchased for low- and middle-income countries, according to WHO.

This new goal is part of WHO's Access to Covid-19 Tools Accelerator program, which launched in April to bring together governments, health groups, scientists, businesses and philanthropists to support efforts to end the coronavirus pandemic.

The program has four pillars focused on Covid-19 tests, treatments, vaccines and health systems.

WHO chief scientist Dr. Soumya Swaminathan said during Friday's briefing that "the only way to prevent further spread and transmission" of the coronavirus would be to have an effective and safe vaccine.

"Obviously this virus has affected all countries and all populations and therefore a vaccine — ideally and from an ethical standpoint — should also be available across the world," Swaminathan said, adding that only a small proportion of the world's population has developed natural immunity to Covid-19.

"The principle of equitable access is a simple thing to say, but a complicated thing to implement. It requires active collaboration between governments, industry, health organizations, civil society organizations and communities," WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during Friday's briefing. "Vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics are vital tools — but to be truly effective, they must be administered with another essential ingredient, which is solidarity."

According to WHO, the ACT-Accelerator initiative's plans to deliver tests, therapeutics and a vaccine all over the world are estimated to cost about $31.3 billion in funding, of which $3.4 billion has so far been pledged.

8:44 a.m. ET, June 26, 2020

Miami mayor says "you can't discount" the possibility of another stay-at-home order

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

Miami Mayor Francis Suarez said “all options have to be on the table” when asked if he would consider implementing another stay-at-home order for the Florida city as Covid-19 cases rise. 

“I hope we don't get to that point, but you can't discount that option as a possibility,” he told CNN’s Alisyn Camerota. 

As of last night, the city of Miami is now mandating the wearing of face masks in public. Suarez said that he would recommend a mask mandate across the entire state.

“Frankly, we really don't want to have to go backwards and undo some of the openings and potentially reimpose a stay-at-home order,” Suarez said. 

Florida has seen a sharp rise in coronavirus cases over the past week, particularly among younger people.

“The state is four times greater than the high-water mark in March. … In Miami-Dade County, we’re twice as intense as we were in March,” Suarez said.

The mayor, who tested positive for Covid-19 back in March, attributes the increase to complacency of some residents after the city reopened in late May. 

“People believed this thing was over,” he said. 

Watch more:

8:45 a.m. ET, June 26, 2020

The White House coronavirus task force will hold its first public briefing today since April 27

From CNN's Matthew Hoye and Caroline Kelly

Vice President Mike Pence at Lordstown Motors Corporation, Thursday, June 25, 2020, in Lordstown, Ohio. 
Vice President Mike Pence at Lordstown Motors Corporation, Thursday, June 25, 2020, in Lordstown, Ohio.  Tony Dejak/AP

The White House announced that Vice President Mike Pence would lead a public coronavirus task force briefing today at 12:30 p.m. ET, the first public meeting in almost two months. The last formal briefing was held on April 27.

Today's briefing comes as at least 32 states are seeing an increase in cases of Covid-19, and California, Oklahoma and Texas are seeing fresh high peaks.

The briefing will not take place at the White House, but at the Department of Health and Human Services, according to a schedule released by the White House.

In recent days, President Trump has tried to declare the pandemic "over" despite the rising numbers, and has instead focused his administration's energy on reopening the economy.

Since Pence was tapped to lead the coronavirus task force on February 27, there have been a total of 47 briefings at the White House, most led by President Trump, and a few led by the vice president.

Note: This briefing count does not include a Rose Garden event in which President Trump touted the administration's testing efforts on May 11, since it was not an official coronavirus task force briefing. 

8:27 a.m. ET, June 26, 2020

New coronavirus cases are declining in just 7 US states

At least 32 states are reporting an increase in new coronavirus cases in the past week compared to the previous week.

Of those, 11 states — included as Florida, Texas and Arizona — have seen a 50% increase or more.

New cases are declining in just seven states: Connecticut, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New Hampshire and South Dakota.

Here's a look at where things stand:

8:36 a.m. ET, June 26, 2020

These countries have the highest number of Covid-19 cases in Latin America

From CNN's Gisela Crespo and Mia Alberti

Aerial view showing the burial of a victim of COVID-19 at the General Cemetery in Santiago, Chile on June 23, 2020
Aerial view showing the burial of a victim of COVID-19 at the General Cemetery in Santiago, Chile on June 23, 2020 Martin Bernetti/AFP/Getty Images

The number of Covid-19 cases in Latin America reached a total of more than 2 million infections this week, according to the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO). 

Cases of Covid-19 in Latin America tripled from almost 690,000 on May 23 to more than 2 million as of yesterday, PAHO's director Dr. Carissa Etienne said Wednesday.

This week, Brazil has surpassed 1 million Covid-19 cases, joining the United States as the only other country in the world with cases in the seven digits, PAHO said. Mexico also rose to the fourth country with most cases in the continent. On Thursday, Colombia reported a new record high number of daily Covid-19 deaths.

There is now widespread transmission in most of Central America, while the Caribbean has hotspots on the border of Haiti and the Dominican Republic, as well as in northern South America, according to Etienne.

The 10 countries with the highest number of Covid-19 infections and deaths in Latin America are:

  1. Brazil: 1,228,114 cases, 54,971 deaths
  2. Peru: 268,602 cases, 8,761 deaths
  3. Chile: 259.064 cases, 4,903 deaths
  4. Mexico: 202,951 cases, 25,060 deaths 
  5. Colombia: 80,599 cases, 2,654 deaths
  6. Ecuador: 53,156 cases, 4,343 deaths
  7. Argentina: 52,457 cases, 1,150 deaths
  8. Dominican Republic: 29,141 cases, 698 deaths (last updated on June 24)
  9. Panama: 29,037 cases, 564 deaths
  10. Bolivia: 28,503 cases, 913 deaths

Those figures current as of 6:00 a.m. ET today.

Nearly 400,000 people will die from Covid-19 in Latin America and the Caribbean by October, according to a new study released Thursday from The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington projects.

8:13 a.m. ET, June 26, 2020

Austin mayor says Covid-19 trajectory right now "has us in danger"

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

Following Texas' announcement that it will pause any further phases to reopen the state as Covid-19 cases increase, Austin Mayor Steve Adler says that “pausing will not make things better.”

“The trajectory that we're on right now has our hospitals being overwhelmed, probably about mid-July. So the status quo, the path we're on right now is the path that right now has us in danger. We need to do something that's different than that. We need our people in our community here to act differently. The status quo will not protect us,” he told CNN’s John Berman. 

In Austin, the hospitalization count is more than 200% higher than what it was two weeks ago, the mayor said. 

Adler said the state opened up before it had sufficient testing and tracing in place — but the key issue is that wearing masks is not mandatory in the state. 

“When you open up an economy, [you have] to couple that with religiously wearing face masks and religiously maintaining social distancing. That has to be part of opening up the economy, and that's something that did not happen here,” he said. 

President Trump and Gov. Greg Abbott undercut the message to wear masks, Adler said, and that people in the state need to change their behavior now.  

“Our governor wears face masks. The problem is that by not making it mandatory, even he sends a conflicting message. We have to make it mandatory,” Adler said. 

WATCH the interview:

8:19 a.m. ET, June 26, 2020

Millions more could die in a possible 2nd coronavirus wave, WHO official warns

From CNN's Valentina Di Donato

Crowds on the beach in Bournemouth, southern England, on June 25, 2020.
Crowds on the beach in Bournemouth, southern England, on June 25, 2020. Glyn Kirk/AFP/Getty Images

Millions of people could die if the coronavirus pandemic sees a second wave of infections, a World Health Organization official warned Friday, adding that the deadly outbreak has so far unfolded much like officials at WHO had anticipated.

“The comparison is with the Spanish Flu, which behaved exactly like Covid: it went down in the summer and fiercely resumed in September and October, creating 50 million deaths during the second wave,” Dr Ranieri Guerra, WHO assistant director-general for strategic initiatives told Italy’s Rai TV. 

“The pandemic is behaving as we hypothesized,” he added. 

Guerra’s remarks come as several countries in Europe – and across the globe – begin to relax national confinement measures, originally introduced to limit the spread of coronavirus. 

EU officials today are set to decide which countries will be subject to travel restrictions after countries reopen their borders to international travel. With high rates of infection and mortality still being recorded in the US and parts of South America, it is expected that visitors from the region may still be subjected to travel restrictions in Europe. 

8:34 a.m. ET, June 26, 2020

Germany and France pledge hundreds of millions of extra funding to World Health Organization

German Health Minister Jens Spahn looks on during a press conference at the World Health Organization headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, on June 25, following a meeting about the COVID-19 outbreak.
German Health Minister Jens Spahn looks on during a press conference at the World Health Organization headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, on June 25, following a meeting about the COVID-19 outbreak. Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images

Germany and France have pledged hundreds of millions in extra funding for the World Health Organization (WHO) just weeks after Donald Trump announced the US would terminate its relationship with the body.

German Health Minister Jens Spahn announced at a press conference in Geneva on Thursday that his government was set to provide an extra €266 million ($298 million) in funding to the WHO.

"We... are supporting WHO with an additional €41 million for its core mandate until 2023," Spahn said Thursday.

"Additional to this we are providing [an] additional €25 million for the implementation for the strategic preparedness response plan."

"And due to the still remaining major funding gap to implement the strategic preparedness response plan until the end of this year, the German government has decided to provide [an] additional €200 million to the WHO on top of the €110 million ... which we have already pledged."

Spahn said the funding had not been approved by the German parliament but added that the government was "very confident" it would be approved.

Germany will also provide medical masks and equipment, including ventilators, for countries in need.

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Twitter that the organization was "very grateful" for the country's pledge.

"All this with the previous pledge of €110M brings [Germany's] contribution to €500 million in 2020, its highest ever in a year," he said.

France will give €90 million to a WHO center, a further €50 million towards the WHO's coronavirus response effort and €100 million worth of masks.

The funding effort comes after President Trump said he would end the US' relationship with the international health organization on May 29.

The US was previously by far the agency's largest donor; in the two-year funding cycle of 2018 to 2019, it gave $893 million to WHO.