July 1 coronavirus news

By Ben Westcott, Adam Renton, Meg Wagner, Melissa Macaya and Mike Hayes, CNN

Updated 0400 GMT (1200 HKT) July 2, 2020
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2:02 p.m. ET, July 1, 2020

Louisiana reports more than 2,000 new coronavirus cases

From CNN's Kay Jones   

The Louisiana Department of Health is reporting 2,083 additional Covid-19 cases bringing the state total to 60,178, according to data released on Wednesday by the state. 

Wednesday marks the single highest day increase since April 4 when the state recorded 2,199 new infections. 

The number of hospitalizations are also up according to the health department. As of Wednesday, the number of Covid-19 patients currently hospitalized was 799. 

In a tweet on Wednesday, the Louisiana Department of Health said 23,577 new tests have been reported to the state bringing the total number of tests to 752,088.

The department of health says 98% of the cases reported to the state on Wednesday were community spread, with 49% of these cases being among people aged 29 and under.

Read the tweet:

1:48 p.m. ET, July 1, 2020

Cuba opens offshore islands for tourism and keeps mainland on lockdown

From CNN's Patrick Oppmann in Havana 

Cuba reopened a handful of hotels and installations for international tourists on Wednesday for the first time since coronavirus forced the island’s communist-run government to shut down the Cuban tourism industry. 

Visitors will be able to visit five keys, offshore islands the Cuban government developed for tourism. The rest of the island — including the capital Havana — remains closed to international tourists.

Upon landing all tourists will be required to take a test to show they are coronavirus free, according to government health officials.

Travelers will either fly directly to the islands or land on the Cuban mainland and be driven in a guarded bus across a causeway to the islands to avoid potentially spreading the virus to Cubans.

The keys will remain off limits to Cubans except for hotel staff who will be regularly tested, health officials said.

Cuba closed its borders in March, canceling all regular commercial flights to and from the island, after three Italian tourists were diagnosed with coronavirus.

By the numbers: So far, the island has recorded 86 deaths and 2,348 cases of coronavirus, according to Cuban health officials.

1:46 p.m. ET, July 1, 2020

Citigroup delays office return of some employees due to rise in coronavirus cases

From CNN’s Alison Kosik


Citigroup announced on Wednesday that it will delay the return of some of its employees to its offices in the US due to a rising uptick in coronavirus cases. 

According to Citigroup’s Head of Corporate Communications Jennifer Lowney, the employees being delayed are located in 13 states including those located in the south, southeast, as well as a handful of employees located in western states. 

“We have always said our plans to return to the office would prioritize the health and safety of our colleagues and be centered around data not dates. Consistent with that, we delayed our return to a number of sites across the US given the health data in those locations, “ Citigroup said in a statement. 

The employees with delayed returns work in call centers, tech support and operations, according to Lowney. 

Globally, Citigroup employees about 200,000 people.


1:25 p.m. ET, July 1, 2020

"Blitz" testing in some areas could help detect asymptomatic Covid-19 patients, HHS says

From CNN's Amanda Watts

The federal government is encouraging a surge of testing in some states hit hard by coronavirus to try to see how much silent spread there is among young people, a top pandemic official said Wednesday.

“A blitz of testing over a few days could help to identify a lot of the under-35 year olds that are asymptomatics that may be spreading the virus,” Admiral Brett Giroir, assistant secretary for health at the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), said during a briefing. 

Giroir said HHS is in discussion with state health officials in Texas, Florida, and Louisiana regarding surge testing in their areas – and they hope to expand to other states soon.  

“It's very clear that the positives are being driven by the under-35 year olds, and we presume that most of them are asymptomatic or only very mildly symptomatic,” he said.  

This can make controlling the pandemic even more difficult, Giroir said. “When you have a lot of younger people who are asymptomatic — particularly in an outbreak situation — it is much harder, not impossible, but much harder to contact trace,” he said.

“In the situations we are now seeing, particularly in the South,” Giroir said, “the strategy would be to surge test so that you would do the number of tests that you would do in a month in just a few days, to try to make sure we identify these asymptomatics and get a better handle on them.” 

1:23 p.m. ET, July 1, 2020

Scientist leading Oxford vaccine effort says 8,000 people in UK vaccinated in phase three of the trial

From CNN's Jo Shelley in London

Eight thousand people in the UK have been vaccinated so far as part of the Oxford University vaccine trial, Sarah Gilbert, professor of vaccinology at the University of Oxford, and one of the scientist leading its vaccine initiative, told UK’s Science and Technology Committee on Wednesday.

“We now have 8,000 people vaccinated in the phase three trial in the UK,” she said.

“We have currently vaccinated a few hundred people in Brazil but within weeks that should be up to 4,000. And in South Africa, we are aiming for 2,000 people. And those are both areas of high transmission at the moment,” Gilbert added.

Sir John Bell, Regius professor of medicine at the University of Oxford, who is also working on the development of Covid-19 vaccine, was asked whether the UK should prepare for a winter without a vaccine.

He told the committee: “This whole epidemic has relied too heavily on assumptions that have turned out not to be true, so my strong advice is, be prepared for the worst.”

2:14 p.m. ET, July 1, 2020

Chile reports lowest number of new daily Covid-19 cases in more than 6 weeks

From CNN’s Tim Lister, Tatiana Arias and Ingrid Formanek

Nurses transfer a Covid-19 patient to the Critical Patients Unit at Barros Luco Hospital on June 24 in Santiago, Chile.
Nurses transfer a Covid-19 patient to the Critical Patients Unit at Barros Luco Hospital on June 24 in Santiago, Chile. Martin Bernetti/AFP/Getty Images

Chile’s Ministry of Health reported 2,650 new Covid-19 infection cases on Wednesday, the lowest daily increase since May 19, government data shows.

The total number of infections since the start of the pandemic stands at 282,043, according to the ministry’s statistics.

The country’s health authorities reported another 65 deaths due to the novel coronavirus, bringing the country’s death toll to 5,753.

The daily figure of new cases has been steadily decreasing over the past week in Chile, with a current daily average of 3,947 new cases. That average was calculated for the past seven days. 

That is a dramatic decline when compared to mid-June, with the daily average of 9,273 infections for a seven-day period, peaking on June 21.

Chile ranks seventh globally with the highest number of Covid-19 infections and third in Latin America, according to Johns Hopkins University.

2:18 p.m. ET, July 1, 2020

Here's what went wrong in California, according to a state senator

From CNN's Stella Chan

California State Senator Dr. Richard Pan speaks with CNN's Kate Bolduan on July 1.
California State Senator Dr. Richard Pan speaks with CNN's Kate Bolduan on July 1. CNN

Asked about what went wrong with the state’s coronavirus cases, California State Senator Dr. Richard Pan, a Democrat, told CNN's Kate Bolduan that “people got complacent."

Pan said reopening may have given people the impression that the virus was going away. The politicization of the virus also may have shifted focus away from fighting the virus when public health officials should be delivering the message.

“Here in California we had protesters who had protested not only the stay-at-home orders and mask wearing were out there intimidating public health officials,” he said

Pan slammed President Trump's response, urging him to have his public health experts speak to the press.

“He needs to put his public health people in front, talking about what we need to do and he needs to support them. For example, the CDC has been completely silenced. Experts at the CDC who spoke out early are now not permitted to talk to the press,” said Pan.

He pointed out that Dr. Deborah Birx and Dr. Anthony Fauci, members of the White House coronavirus task force, “tend to play second fiddle to the President.”

“We need to stop politicizing this pandemic," Pan said.

He said closing some bars and locations is helpful but he appealed to people’s use of free will to decide how they impact others.

With the holiday weekend looming, Pan had a message for Americans: “Let’s be sure we have freedom from this disease. Let’s be sure we protect each other. And we need our public health officials to be up front, educating us, and what we need to do to stop this pandemic.”

1:08 p.m. ET, July 1, 2020

UK has "adequate supplies" of remdesivir, top medical official says

From Niamh Kennedy in Dublin

The UK has “adequate supplies” of the antiviral drug remdesivir, England’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer Jonathan Van-Tam told lawmakers Wednesday.

Van-Tam was speaking to the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee after the United States bought 100% of the production of the drug, which has been shown to have some effect against coronavirus.

He said that although quantities of the drug will be “less plentiful” and “less easy to obtain,” the UK has “adequate supplies” of the treatment drug.

Some background: Clinical trials suggest that the antiviral drug helped reduce the length of coronavirus patient hospital stays.

The UK has not yet conducted its own formal assessment of the drug, which has been recommended for European authorization by the European Medicines Agency.

Van-Tam said the UK Task Force had been keeping “a very close eye” on the progress of trials elsewhere. Remdesivir is currently available for emergency use by clinicians in UK hospitals.

He also spoke of the UK’s successful clinical trials of the steroid dexamethasone, saying that the government task force made the decision to gather supplies weeks before a successful outcome to put the UK “in the best possible position.”

Van-Tam called the dexamethasone trials “the most dramatic success in terms of active success and rapid recruitment,” hailing the drug as an “extremely cheap” and “accessible” form of treatment.

“Depending on which medicine you discover works for Covid-19, if it’s one of the ones that is already licensed for something else, then it tends to be plentifully available. But if it’s something brand spanking new from a developer it is likely to be in short supply in the first instance,” he added. 

1:08 p.m. ET, July 1, 2020

Teens test positive for Covid-19 after attending 300-person party in Texas

From CNN's Gregory Lemos  

The mayor of Lakeway, Texas, a city in the Lake Travis area outside Austin, is asking teens who attended a June 20 party known as "Pong Fest" to self-isolate as the Covid-19 case rate continues to climb in the area.   

"The large gathering of teenagers took place in a community just outside of the City of Lakeway," Mayor Sandy Cox wrote in an email to CNN Wednesday. "We have asked that anyone who attended the gathering and those they live with to self-isolate and contact their physician."  

Cox said there were a number of infected students at the party, some of whom "didn't know they were positive until after the party.”

The Austin Public Health Department (APH) said the gathering included "up to 300 teenagers" and confirmed to CNN that a number "have now received positive test results." 

"We are asking that participation in gatherings be mentioned for contact tracing purposes when people are getting tested," Shelly Parks, spokesperson for the Austin Homeland Security & Emergency Management, said Wednesday in a statement to CNN. "Epidemiologists are asking that participation in gatherings be mentioned during their contact tracing investigations because the virus often hides in the healthy and is given to those who are at grave risk of being hospitalized or dying." 

Parks said because of medical privacy law known as HIPAA, the agency would not be disclosing the number of cases resulting from Pong Fest.  

Lakeway has had 105 cases, 50 of which are currently active, Cox said.  

"This is the highest point we have been in our area," Cox said during a Facebook Live event on June 25. "Unfortunately our case load is probably going to increase."  

Cox, who made repeated calls in her June 25 Facebook Live for her constituents to wear masks and socially distance, said the city has been working with the local hospital, Baylor Scott & White, to ensure both the party-goers and anyone they have interacted with get tested.