July 2 coronavirus news

By Nectar Gan, Brett McKeehan, Melissa Macaya, Meg Wagner and Mike Hayes, CNN

Updated 0002 GMT (0802 HKT) July 3, 2020
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3:15 p.m. ET, July 2, 2020

Facebook and Instagram to send users to CDC for coronavirus information

From CNN's Naomi Thomas

As Covid-19 cases in the US continue to rise, Facebook said on Thursday it would begin to promote information about face coverings and other preventive measures on its two social media platforms, Facebook and Instagram.

The alerts, in English and Spanish, will have links to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, where users can get more information, Facebook said.

“On Facebook, we’ll be sending an alert at the top of everyone’s News Feed and directing them to the COVID-19 Information Center to learn more, which will have additional prevention tips and links to the CDC for additional information,” Facebook spokespeople said in an email to CNN. 

“On Instagram, we’ll be putting a prompt at the top of everyone’s Feed that encourages people to wear face coverings and directs them to the CDC to learn more," the email added.

The alerts are beginning in the US with plans to expands further soon. 

3:05 p.m. ET, July 2, 2020

2020 Black College Football Hall of Fame Classic canceled due to pandemic

From CNN's Jabari Jackson

In a statement on Thursday, the Pro Football Hall of Fame has canceled all events surrounding the 2020 Black College Football Hall of Fame Classic citing a “public health precaution” as the country battles with coronavirus. 

“The health and safety of the Hall of Famers, players, fans and volunteers who make the Black College Football Hall of Fame Classic so special remains our top priority,” said David Baker, president and CEO of the Pro Football Hall of Fame in the statement. “The Pro Football Hall of Fame looks forward to having the Classic back in Canton in 2021.” 

Central State University and Howard University were set to face off at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton, Ohio, on September 6. 

3:39 p.m. ET, July 2, 2020

The first US clinical trial for a vaccine delayed until at least the end of the month, researcher says

From CNN's Elizabeth Cohen

 Dr. Carlos del Rio
Dr. Carlos del Rio CNN/FILE

The first US clinical trial for a Covid-19 vaccine will likely not start until the end of the month or the beginning of August, according to a researcher involved in the trials with Moderna. 

“It’s been delayed,” said Dr. Carlos del Rio, an infectious disease expert at Emory University School of Medicine and one of the investigators for the Moderna vaccine. 

On June 15, one of vaccine trial centers, the University of Illinois at Chicago, said it expected the trial to start July 9. 

“We won’t start until July 27, probably,” del Rio said. “But July 27 would still be absolutely amazing. Even if it happens in early August, that’s still amazing. This is going at a speed no other vaccine has ever gone.” 

He added that there are many steps involved in putting together a large clinical trial. 

“We still need to get FDA approval. We still need to get IRB approval,” del Rio said, referring to the US Food and Drug Administration and institutional review boards at specific centers where the trials will be done.  

In addition, he said there are logistical matters, such arranging for enough doses of the vaccine, as well as doses of the placebo that will be given to about half the patients as a comparison. 

“This is not an easy trial to get out there. It’s a 30,000 person trial,” del Rio said. 

The news of a delay was first reported by STAT. After the article was published, Moderna put out a statement on Twitter. 

“Moderna has previously disclosed that the Phase 3 trial of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate MRNA-1273 is expected to begin in July. The trial is still expected to begin in July and we expect to be the first to start a Phase 3 trial,” according to the statement. 

The University of Oxford in England has already started Phase 3 trials in the UK. 

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2:24 p.m. ET, July 2, 2020

Here's the latest coronavirus update from New York

From CNN's Sheena Jones

New York state reported 875 additional cases of Covid-19 and 10 deaths since yesterday, according to a statement from Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office. 

"As we are seeing in other states, America's Covid-19 crisis is far from over and in New York we continue to closely monitor the data and consult leading global experts on a daily basis to keep New Yorkers safe and be smart about our reopening," Cuomo said. 

What the numbers say: At least 394,954 cases of Covid-19 have been reported in New York state and at least 24,877 people have died from the virus. 


2:36 p.m. ET, July 2, 2020

Mike Pence lands in Florida, which reported a record high of new coronavirus cases today


Vice President Mike Pence just touched down in Tampa, Florida. He'll soon have a coronavirus briefing with the state's governor, Ron DeSantis, at the University of South Florida. Both leaders were wearing masks when they greeted each other on the airport tarmac.

Pence is joined on the trip by Dr. Deborah Birx, a White House coronavirus task force official, Alex Azar, Health and Human Services Secretary, and Dr. Stephen Hahn, the head of the Food and Drug Administration — all of whom were seen wearing masks at the airport. The group exchanged pleasantries with Gov. DeSantis but did not shake hands or elbow bump.

According to the pool, no one on the flight wore face masks except for the press and the flight attendants.

Pence's trip comes as the state reported its highest single-day total of new coronavirus cases, with more than 10,000 new cases. That broke the previous record of more than 9,500 new cases in a single day, which was reported on Saturday.

Here's what else we know about coronavirus in the state:

  • No mask mandate: DeSantis has not issued a statewide requirement for people to wear masks in public, although many cities and counties have issued their own mask orders. Both the city of Tampa, which Pence is visiting today, and Hillsborough County, which Tampa sits in, require people to wear masks when visiting businesses that are open to the public.
  • Where reopening stands: While the state suspended on-premise alcohol consumption in bars across Florida, the governor has said the state will not revert to stricter measures to curb the outbreak.
  • The latest from Miami: Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Giménez said this week restaurants in the county will close nightly at midnight. Giménez said that not complying with the order is a second-degree misdemeanor and violators can be fined and spend up to 180 days in jail. Additionally, all people in Miami-Dade will be required to wear a mask or other facial covering when in public.
2:10 p.m. ET, July 2, 2020

US immigration agency braces for mass furloughs in August as pandemic pauses services

From CNN's Geneva Sands and Priscilla Alvarez 

The federal agency responsible for granting citizenship, providing immigration benefits, and processing visa applications is bracing to furlough thousands of employees in August — a move that could grind the US immigration system to a halt. 

US Citizenship and Immigration Services, a fee-funded agency, says it’s at a loss for money after having to close offices and put services on pause during the pandemic.

Over recent weeks, the agency has been preparing to furlough more than half of its workforce unless Congress provides additional funding. Notices went out to staff this week that can potentially be furloughed, according to an agency spokesperson. 

USCIS has been at the center of some of the Trump administration’s most significant immigration policies, including a litany of regulations intended to curb asylum in the United States.

The possible furlough of 13,400 of the agency’s nearly 20,000 employees risks disrupting USCIS operations.

“If you were to take a straight two-third cut, that’s going to slow everything to a crawl,” said Ur Jaddou, director of DHS Watch and former USCIS chief counsel. 

Michael Knowles, president of the American Federation of Government Employees local union that represents Washington, DC area employees, similarly expressed concerns over what the furloughs might mean for the agency and those who depend on its services. 

“It’s not in our national interest to let the immigration service fail. You need a functioning immigration service,” Knowles said. “The damage would be long lasting.”

How Congress is reacting: While USCIS is sounding the alarm over lack of funding, the agency has not submitted a formal funding request to Congress. 

“The Trump White House is responsible for requesting supplemental funding, but all they have sent Congress is a one-page letter that provides virtually no information on the shortfall or proposed remedies,” said Evan Hollander, communications director for the House Appropriations Committee. 

“Despite this egregious lack of communication, House Democrats are closely tracking USCIS’ financial difficulties and are prepared to discuss solutions as part of negotiations on the next phase of coronavirus response legislation,” he added.

A congressional aide told CNN that Democratic staff sent USCIS a proposal two weeks ago that lays out a plan to pay back the funds that might be appropriated, but haven’t heard back from the agency.

Senate Appropriations Committee Vice Chairman Patrick Leahy, a Democrat from Vermont, sent a letter to the Office of Management and Budget in late June, urging action from the administration.

Leahy said he spoke with USCIS Deputy Director for Policy Joseph Edlow who informally requested $1.2 billion in emergency funding to get USCIS through the end of the calendar year. But no formal request has come through. 

2:58 p.m. ET, July 2, 2020

Herman Cain did not meet with Trump at Tulsa rally, campaign says

From CNN's Jeremy Diamond

President Donald Trump arrives on stage to speak at a campaign rally at the BOK Center, Saturday, June 20, in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
President Donald Trump arrives on stage to speak at a campaign rally at the BOK Center, Saturday, June 20, in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Evan Vucci/AP/"FILE

Former 2012 Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain did not meet with President Trump at the Tulsa rally on June 20, Trump campaign spokesperson Tim Murtaugh told CNN.

Cain tested positive for Covid-19 on June 29 and was hospitalized on July 1 after developing symptoms serious enough to be hospitalized, according to a statement posted on Twitter. He spent the night in an Atlanta-area hospital and is "awake and alert," according to the statement.  

“Contact tracing was conducted after the Tulsa rally but we do not comment regarding the medical information of individuals. Regardless, Mr. Cain did not meet with the President," Murtaugh said.

Cain, as a co-chair of Black Voices for Trump, was one of the surrogates at Trump's rally in Oklahoma.

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1:59 p.m. ET, July 2, 2020

Indianapolis residents required to wear face masks in public

From CNN's Sheena Jones

Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett issued a public health order requiring all residents to wear face coverings in public spaces, according to a statement from his office.

The mandate requires residents to wear face masks indoors and outdoors when in public spaces, according to the statement.

“This isn’t complicated. It’s a piece of cloth that could save your life and the lives of those around you. It is the right thing to do,” Hogsett said.

The order will go into effect July 9.

4:10 p.m. ET, July 2, 2020

New form of coronavirus spreads faster, but doesn't make people sicker, new study says

From CNN’s Maggie Fox

A global study has found clear evidence that a new form of the coronavirus has spread from Europe to the US. The new mutation makes the virus more infectious but does not seem to make people any sicker, an international team of researchers reported Thursday.

The mutation affects the spike protein — the structure the virus uses to get into the cells it infects. Now the researchers are checking to see if this affects whether the virus can be controlled by a vaccine. Current vaccines being tested mostly target the spike protein.

The study, published in the journal Cell, confirms earlier work suggesting the mutation had made the new variant of virus more common. The researchers call the new mutation G614, and they show that it has almost completely replaced the first version to spread in Europe and the US, one called D614. 

“Our global tracking data show that the G614 variant in Spike has spread faster than D614,” theoretical biologist Bette Korber of Los Alamos National Laboratory and colleagues wrote in their report. “We interpret this to mean that the virus is likely to be more infectious,” they add. “Interestingly, we did not find evidence of G614 impact on disease severity.”

What this means: This could be good news, said Lawrence Young, a professor of medical oncology at the UK’s University of Warwick, who was not involved in the study. “The current work suggests that while the G614 variant may be more infectious, it is not more pathogenic. There is a hope that as SARS-CoV-2 infection spreads, the virus might become less pathogenic,” he said in a statement.

About the study: The team tested samples taken from patients across Europe and the US and sequenced the genomes. They compared these genome sequences to what’s been shared publicly. Comparing these sequences helped them draw a map of the spread of the two forms. 

“Through March 1, 2020 the G614 variant was rare outside of Europe, but the end of March it had increased in frequency worldwide,” they wrote.

Even when the D614 form had caused widespread epidemics, in places such as Wales and Nottingham in England, as well as in Washington state, G614 took over once it appeared, they found. 

“The increase in G614 frequency often continues well after stay-at-home orders are in place and past the subsequent two-week incubation period,” they added.

The new version seems to multiply faster in the upper respiratory tract — the nose, sinuses and throat – which would explain why it passes around more easily, the researchers said. But tests on 1,000 hospitalized coronavirus patients showed those infected with the new version did not fare any worse than those who caught the original strain.

Other mutations often go along with the G614 mutation, but it’s not clear what effect they have. “The earliest sequence we detected that carried all 4 mutations was sampled in Italy on Feb. 20,” they wrote. “Within days, this haplotype was sampled in many countries in Europe. 

The G614 mutation can be neutralized by convalescent serum – the blood product taken from people who have recovered from a coronavirus infection, the researchers said. 

“But it will be important to determine whether the D614 and G614 forms of SARS-CoV-2 are differentially sensitive to neutralization by vaccine-elicited antibodies or by antibodies produced in response to infection with either form of the virus,” they added.

More work is needed, of course, to solidify the findings and to see what the changes mean for the epidemic and for patients, the researchers said. 

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