June 27 coronavirus news

By Jessie Yeung, Brett McKeehan, Tara John, Fernando Alfonso III and Amir Vera, CNN

Updated 0434 GMT (1234 HKT) June 28, 2020
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4:29 p.m. ET, June 27, 2020

Washington state to pause moving to phase 4 as Covid-19 cases rise, governor says

From CNN’s Artemis Moshtaghian

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee speaks during a press conference in March.
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee speaks during a press conference in March. Karen Ducey/Getty Images

Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee announced that he’s pausing the state's planned move into phase four of reopening due to rising cases across the state and concerns about the continued spread of Covid-19, according to a statement released on Saturday.

"Phase four would mean a return to normal activity and we can’t do that now due to the continued rise in cases across the state," Inslee said in the statement. "We all want to get back to doing all the things we love in Washington during the summer, and fully open our economy, but we aren’t there yet. This is an evolving situation and we will continue to make decisions based on the data."
3:51 p.m. ET, June 27, 2020

European Union pledges $6 billion to help vulnerable countries "devastated" by coronavirus

From CNN’s Zahid Mahmood in London

The president of the European Council, Ursula Von Der Leyen, said on Saturday that the European Union will pledge 4.9 billion Euros ($6 billion) to help vulnerable countries “devastated” by the coronavirus pandemic.

During the summit "Global Goal – Unite for our Future," Von Der Leyen said the EU needs to “rebuild communities,” and pledged the money alongside a partnership with the European Commission and the European Investment Bank.

“We will only end this pandemic when it has been ended everywhere,” Von Der Leyen said. “That means every person in the world having access to tests, treatments and vaccines, no matter where they live, where they are from or what they look like."

Von Der Leyen said the EU must "invest in producing vaccines at unprecedented speed and scale." Von Der Leyen added that she was a “firm believer” in vaccine multilateralism, saying that you cannot beat the virus by only “vaccinating your own people while neglecting others."

“We live in a very connected world,” she said.

Von Der Leyen also said she is trying to convince high income countries to reserve vaccines not only for themselves, but also for low and middle income countries, adding it is a “stress test for solidarity.”

3:02 p.m. ET, June 27, 2020

Miami-Dade County mayor is concerned about spike in Covid-19 cases among younger people

From CNN’s Deanna Hackney

Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez said he is concerned about the rising percentage of coronavirus cases in the region.

"We were running around 8%, and now we're running, last two weeks, over 14%, so that's what's causing me a little bit of concern,” he told CNN on Saturday. "It's the younger people that are getting infected, which then may give it to their parents or their grandparents, which again is the age group that we're really concerned about."

Gimenez said they are seeing a spike in the 18-to-34 and 35-to-44 age groups.

Miami-Dade beaches are closing on the July 4 weekend as a pro-active measure to prevent "a spike on top of a spike" in positive coronavirus cases, the mayor said.

"Here in Miami-Dade we expected huge crowds to be at the beach, it would have been very hard for us to control our social distancing and having people abide by the rules," Gimenez said.

Statewide numbers: Florida health officials reported at least 9,585 new coronavirus cases on Saturday, according to the Florida Department of Health. This is the highest single-day increase the state has seen since the start of the pandemic.

2:04 p.m. ET, June 27, 2020

Flight attendant union wants protective equipment for airline staff


Sara Nelson, the international president of the Association of Flight Attendants, is calling for more protections and federal support for airline staff – including things like a mask mandate for passengers and personal protective equipment for attendants.

"We're aviation's first responders. Because of supply chain issues, and our health care professionals on the front line don't even have full access to N95 masks; we don't have access to those either – but we should have those as well," she told CNN on Saturday.

Nelson also said flight attendants need to be able to social distance when working.

"So if our workspace is within 6 feet of passengers' seats, those seats should be blocked out," she said.

On the issue of passengers wearing masks, she said flight attendants are the ones enforcing individual airline's policies without the backing of federal leadership. This makes it difficult, Nelson said.

"The federal government had led people to believe that this is a political issue rather than a public health issue. So we're dealing with conflicts there, just in enforcing this policy that keeps everyone safe," Nelson said.

1:52 p.m. ET, June 27, 2020

Dominican Republic tops 30,000 coronavirus cases

From CNN's Ana Cucalon and Tatiana Arias

The Dominican Republic’s Ministry of Health reported 855 new cases of the novel coronavirus on Friday, bringing the country’s total number of cases to 30,619.

Six new deaths were also reported on Friday, bringing the Caribbean country’s death toll to 718, according to health authorities. 

The Dominican Republic’s Covid-19 death rate is currently 2.34% of the total number of confirmed cases, according to a health report published Saturday on the ministry��s Twitter account.

2:16 p.m. ET, June 27, 2020

California records single day increase of nearly 6,000 positive cases of Covid-19

From CNN’s Artemis Moshtaghian

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) has reported a single day increase of 5,972 positive cases of coronavirus, with 60 deaths from Friday to Saturday, according to an update released Saturday morning.

The CDPH also reported that the Golden State’s rate of positive testing is trending modestly upward in the 14-day average.

1:49 p.m. ET, June 27, 2020

Covid-19 has infected many times more people than reported in US, antibody survey estimates

From CNN's Gisela Crespo and Michael Nedelman

The total number of Covid-19 infections may be six to 24 times greater than reported, according to a survey of blood samples in six areas across the country conducted by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The survey looked for Covid-19 antibodies in blood samples from commercial laboratories – which were collected for reasons unrelated to Covid-19, between March 23 and May 3 – in Connecticut, South Florida, the New York City metro area, Missouri, Utah and western Washington State.

In Connecticut, the survey estimated that 5% of people had antibodies to Covid-19 between April 26 and May 3, which meant there were six times more cases than reported.

In the New York City metro area, that number was 7% of people around late March – 12 times higher than the number of cases reported then. And the survey estimates that 2.65% of Missourians had antibodies in late April. In that case, there were nearly 162,000 cases by April 26 in the state – 24 times higher than the 6,800 reported at the time.

CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield hinted at preliminary results on Thursday when he told reporters, "The estimates that we have right now … is that's about 10 times more people have antibody."

Redfield said that earlier testing efforts may have missed mild and asymptomatic cases, instead focusing on people who were ill in hospitals or nursing homes.

Moving forward: The seroprevalence survey is ongoing, and the CDC says it plans to test about 1,800 samples every three to four weeks from these areas, in addition to four additional states: California, Louisiana, Minnesota and Pennsylvania. 

The agency says these samples may not be representative of the total populations in these areas, and the survey didn't look at risk factors among those sampled – such as a person's occupation or underlying health conditions.

The survey suggests that while the estimated number of infections may be much greater than official numbers, the vast majority of people have not been infected with the virus.

The jury is still out when it comes to what antibodies mean for immunity to this virus.

"Other studies are planned to learn more about SARS-COV-2 antibodies, including how long they last, whether or not they provide protection against getting infected again, and if you get infected again, whether or not they can make that illness milder," the agency said.

The CDC adjusted its estimates to account for false positive and false negative results, which may occur frequently in some areas, and cautions against interpreting results on an individual basis for this reason.

4:08 p.m. ET, June 27, 2020

Until a vaccine is found, Mitch McConnell calls masks "really important"

From CNN's Adrienne Winston and Sam Fossum


Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell stressed that people should continue to social distance and wear masks in public until there is a vaccine for Covid-19. 

"Until we find a vaccine, these are really important," McConnell said Friday while holding up a blue mask, according to CNN affiliate WKYT. "This is not as complicated as a ventilator, and this is a way to indicate that you want to protect others."

Some context: The comments from McConnell, as well as other leading congressional Republicans, are in contrast to President Trump's refusal to wear a mask in public and his urge to move on from the pandemic even as cases surge.

McConnell made the comments while visiting a hospital in Morehead, Kentucky, to talk about the money provided to rural health care systems from the CARES Act, the massive coronavirus stimulus package that was enacted two months ago. 

"I see various events on television in which people are clearly not wearing masks, not taking it seriously and not doing others a favor," McConnell also said, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal. "We need to get past that in order to protect not only ourselves but our friends and colleagues and others until we get to a vaccine."

In contrast to other nation's dealing with the pandemic, mask wearing in the US has taken on a political dimension –– in part because of Trump. 

1:01 p.m. ET, June 27, 2020

Global health professor worries US schools could be shut down until May or June of next year

An empty school cafeteria in Manhattan on March 19.
An empty school cafeteria in Manhattan on March 19. Michael Loccisano/Getty Images

Dr. Ashish Jha, the director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, said he thinks schools in the US won't operate normally until May or June of 2021.

"I think people have pretty unrealistic expectations of how the fall and winter are going to go," he told CNN on Saturday.

"I'm hearing a lot of parents say, 'let's scrap the fall and we'll maybe start in the spring,'" Jha added. "January and February aren't going to be better. They're going to be the deep winter months and March will be pretty tough. I don't expect a widespread vaccine will be available, and widespread and readily available, by January or February."

Jha said he is concerned that if schools do open in the fall and send students back into classrooms, they will not be able to stay open.

This is a possible scenario for communities that have a high number of cases, he said, adding that he is worried schools across the country will be shut down for most of the fall, winter and spring.

"The single biggest determinant of whether a kid will be able to go to school or not is not the plan of the school, not how much deep cleaning they're doing, temperature checks. It is about how much virus there is in the community," Jha said.

"If we don't get our act together and get the virus under control we're going to have a whole year of online education for all of our children. It is going to have a lot of effects on kids and parents," he added.