July 6 coronavirus news

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11:21 a.m. ET, July 6, 2020

San Antonio is a week away from running out of hospital beds, mayor says

From CNN's Aditi Sangal

If coronavirus cases continue to rise at the current pace, San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg said the Texas city is “a week away from running out of hospital beds and ICU capacity.”

“The time is now ticking in terms of our hospital capacity in San Antonio just hike a lot of other big cities in Texas.”

Testing has also seen a change in Texas, Nirenberg added.

“The situation for testing has been playing catch-up in Texas from the very start, and we have now just started to get to a point where we're seeing our positivity rates increase to nearly 22% to 25% nearly week over week,” he said.

Earlier San Antonio was testing everyone regardless of symptoms, which led to a great demand at public labs. But that’s changed now, Nirenberg said, and labs are now focused on getting tests for those who are exhibiting symptoms or may have been exposed to the virus.

“This is a very important week for San Antonio and for the rest of the state of Texas,” he reiterated.

Since the mask mandate went into effect, the mayor says he sees people take the order seriously but Nirenberg criticized the mixed messaging from federal and state leaders.

“We lost a good month with people not realizing how important this is, and we're starting to see that obviously in our numbers with hospital capacity being stretched to the very limit.”

Watch the interview:

10:26 a.m. ET, July 6, 2020

Washington Nationals cancel workout after Covid-19 test results are delayed

From CNN's Wayne Sterling

Nationals Park is pictured in Washington on July 1.
Nationals Park is pictured in Washington on July 1. Andrew Harnik/AP

The Washington Nationals have canceled their workout scheduled for this morning due to delayed Covid-19 test results.

“Per MLB’s protocol, all players and staff were tested for Covid-19 on Friday, July 3rd. Seventy-two hours later, we have yet to receive the results of those tests. We cannot have our players and staff work at risk. Therefore, we have cancelled our team workout scheduled for this morning," Mike Rizzo, president of baseball operations and general manager said in a statement Monday.

He continued:

"We will not sacrifice the health and safety of our players, staff and their families. Without accurate and timely testing it is simply not safe for us to continue with Summer Camp.  Major League Baseball needs to work quickly to resolve issues with their process and their lab. Otherwise, Summer Camp and the 2020 Season are at risk.”

 

10:33 a.m. ET, July 6, 2020

Israel shuts down clubs and bars again as Covid-19 cases surge

From Oren Liebermann in Jerusalem

Medical staff work in the Covid-19 isolation ward of Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan, Israel, on June 30.
Medical staff work in the Covid-19 isolation ward of Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan, Israel, on June 30. Gil Cohen-Magen/AFP/Getty Images

Israel has re-imposed a series of strict limitations — closing down event halls, clubs, bars, and more — as coronavirus cases rise across the country. 

The government also announced that gyms and public pools would be closed once again, as will cultural venues. Houses of worship would be limited to 19 people, and restaurants will be limited to 20 people in a closed area, or 30 people in an open area with sufficient distance between tables.

The latest numbers: On Thursday, Israel soared past a 1,000 new cases in one day, hitting a record daily figure of 1,140 new infections. Over the last week, Israel has averaged approximately 800 new cases a day, a near 40-fold increase from mid-May, when the country had approximately 20 new cases a day and appeared to have the virus well under control.

“The pandemic is spreading — it is as clear as the sun. It is rising sharply on a daily basis and is dragging along – contrary to what we have been told – severe cases in its wake,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at a cabinet meeting Monday.

He continued: “Today, there are around 90 severe cases and the number is doubling every four days. If we do not act now, we will have hundreds, and perhaps over 1,000, severe cases in the coming weeks, which will paralyze our systems. Therefore, we must take immediate steps that will prevent us from having to take even more extreme measures later.”

10:09 a.m. ET, July 6, 2020

FDA authorizes coronavirus antigen test that can yield results in 15 minutes

From CNN Health’s Lauren Mascarenhas

The US Food and Drug Administration granted emergency use authorization on Monday for an on-site coronavirus antigen test that can yield results in 15 minutes.

Here's how the test works: The diagnostic test uses a device made by medical technology company Becton, Dickinson and Company that is a little larger than a cell phone to analyze samples, it said.

It detects bits of the coronavirus called antigens. It’s not a home test, but can be used by medical professionals in pharmacies, urgent care centers and doctors’ offices.

The test itself uses a standard nose and throat swab to collect samples, which are put into a small cassette for use in the device for analysis.

Because antigen tests are relatively quick and easy, they have been eyed as a potentially valuable screening tool to quickly test large amounts of people for the virus. 

What antigen tests do: An antigen test looks for a piece of the Covid-19 virus – often the characteristic spike-like proteins on its surface ­– as opposed to the more common molecular coronavirus test, a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test, which looks for the virus’ genetic material.

PCR tests are more accurate, but they are complex and take longer to deliver results – often days.

This is the second antigen test to receive emergency use authorization from the FDA.

Word of caution: Under an EUA, the agency can greenlight a medical product to address a public health emergency on an expedited basis. These products require further evaluation to receive full FDA approval. The FDA has authorized more than 160 tests under EUAs, including 136 molecular tests and 25 antibody tests.  

While acknowledging the potential of antigen tests as a triage tool, the World Health Organization cautioned against their use in April, saying they are not terribly accurate.

They generally have a 34% to 80% sensitivity range – meaning they correctly detect the virus just 34% to 80% of the time.

The BD antigen test is capable of 84% sensitivity, according to the company, which referenced clinical studies of the test at more than 20 sites across the US.

Antigen tests require a larger viral load than molecular tests to detect the virus. That means the sample must be taken correctly and must include enough of the virus for the test to find it.

While positive results are very reliable, a negative test should be followed up with a PCR test to be sure.

“Similar to all immunoassay tests, FDA recommends that negative test results be confirmed by a molecular method to confirm the result, if necessary, for patient management,” BD said in a statement. 

The company already has 25,000 testing devices in use in labs and hospitals across the US to detect flu and strep. BD said it plans to manufacture up to 10 million coronavirus tests for use in the devices by September and 2 million a week by the end of September. Dave Hickey, president of Integrated Diagnostic Solutions for BD, said the company plans to expand internationally as regulatory conditions are met.

9:59 a.m. ET, July 6, 2020

Covid-19 cases climb throughout the Middle East

From CNN's Dana Ford and Hamdi Alkhshali

A health official is seen at a hospital in Sulaymaniyah, Iraq, on June 29.
A health official is seen at a hospital in Sulaymaniyah, Iraq, on June 29. Fariq Faraj Mahmood/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Health officials in countries throughout the Middle East are reporting higher numbers of coronavirus infections.

Here’s a look at the latest figures:

  • In Kuwait, cases jumped Monday to more than 50,000, according to the Health Ministry.
  • The Health Ministry in Qatar said that cases there have topped 100,000, while officials in Oman reported nearly 48,000 confirmed cases.
  • Iran reported at least 2,613 new cases of coronavirus Monday, bringing the country’s total to more than 243,000.
  • In Iraq, the total case count exceeds 62,000, with 1,796 new cases reported Monday, according to the Health Ministry.
  • Numbers also continued to climb in Egypt and Saudi Arabia, where total counts of confirmed coronavirus cases stand at more than 75,000 and more than 145,000, respectively. Saudi Arabia reported 3,580 new cases Sunday, according to the Health Ministry. Egypt recorded 1,218 new cases Sunday, state news outlet Al-Ahram reported.
9:37 a.m. ET, July 6, 2020

Stocks rally at Monday's opening bell

 From CNN’s Anneken Tappe

US stocks rallied higher at Monday’s opening bell, following global stocks. 

Asian markets had a particularly impressive session, with the Shanghai Composite recording its best day in five years. This positive market sentiment spilled over into the European and US trading sessions and gave investors a new reason to ignore rising Covid-19 infections across America.

Here's how the market opened:

  • The Dow opened 1.4%, or 365 points, higher.
  • The S&P 500 rose 1.3%. The index is on track for its longest winning streak since December – five days.
  • The Nasdaq Composite climbed 1.5%. The Nasdaq ended last week at a record high and could eke out another record today. 
9:37 a.m. ET, July 6, 2020

Officials in states with surging Covid-19 cases now say they reopened too soon

From CNN's Christina Maxouris

Medical staff in Houston push a stretcher with a deceased patient into a car outside the Covid-19 intensive care unit at United Memorial Medical Center on June 30.
Medical staff in Houston push a stretcher with a deceased patient into a car outside the Covid-19 intensive care unit at United Memorial Medical Center on June 30. Go Nakamura/Getty Images

This week marks about two months since many states kicked off their reopening plans  — which now officials across the country say came too quickly.

In Florida, officials shut multiple beaches throughout the state hoping to avoid Fourth of July crowds. The state reported 9,999 new coronavirus cases Sunday, bringing Florida's total to more than 200,000 infections.

"There's no doubt ... that when we reopened, people started socializing as if the virus didn't exist," Miami Mayor Francis Suarez told ABC This Week.

In Texas, which reported its second highest day of new cases over the weekend, a local leader said the state opened "too early, too much," driving Houston hospitals to surge capacity in recent days.

"Wishful thinking is neither good economic policy, nor good public health policy," Texas Judge Lina Hidalgo said on ABC's "This Week" Sunday. "If we had stayed shut down for longer and opened more slowly, we would probably be in a more sustainable place in our economy."

The announcement came days after the governor himself  — who pushed for one of the most aggressive reopening plans in the country  — shut bars back down.

"If I could go back and redo anything it probably would have been the opening of bars, now seeing in the aftermath how quickly the coronavirus spread in the bar setting," Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has told CNN affiliate KVIA.

In Arizona, Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego told ABC's "This Week" that her state "opened way too early," attributing much of the "explosion" in cases to people between the ages of 20 and 44.

Here's a look at how new Covid-19 cases have progressed in these three states:

9:17 a.m. ET, July 6, 2020

White House doubles down on Trump's false claim that 99% of coronavirus cases are "harmless"

From CNN's Betsy Klein

White House chief of staff Mark Meadows listens during a meeting at the White House on April 30.
White House chief of staff Mark Meadows listens during a meeting at the White House on April 30. Doug Mills/The New York Times/Pool/Getty Images

White House chief of staff Mark Meadows this morning doubled down on false comments from the President that 99% of coronavirus cases are “totally harmless.”

Meadows made his first television appearance in his new role on Fox News and gaggled with reporters today.

“I’m not sure which public health experts that you’re talking about. I probably get to review more numbers, and when you look at the facts, when you look at, really, what we’re dealing with, a lot of these cases are asymptomatic. Additionally, when we look at a population of over 325 million people and what we’re looking at, those statistics would indicate about 102%. When that 99% came, it came from actual numbers. And you can look at numbers a number of different ways,” he told reporters at the White House.

Remember: Data from Johns Hopkins University suggests a coronavirus fatality rate of 4.6%, not to mention effects on many Americans who are getting very sick but not dying.

Meadows continued, “Probably the biggest thing that I’m looking at is how do we track and how do we make sure that those are protected. And if you look at the vast majority of those 65 years of age and younger, if they don’t have a comorbidity, we’re looking at this as not only not as dangerous as a number of other things that potentially cause a loss of life, and that’s the real key – it’s when you start to take out some of the deaths we’ve had in nursing homes. It’s not to downplay the deaths that we’ve had, but it’s really, to look statistically, to know that whatever risks you may have or I may have or my children or my grandchildren may have, let’s look at that appropriately, and I think that that’s what he was trying to do.” 

He later suggested Trump did not intend to downplay people getting sick as a result of the virus.

“I don’t think it was the President’s intent to downplay that as much as saying let’s look at the risk and let’s look at this in an appropriate way based on facts and figures,” he said.

9:12 a.m. ET, July 6, 2020

TSA screened 2.7 million people over US holiday weekend

From CNN's Gregory Wallace

Airline travel over the Fourth of July holiday weekend surged to new pandemic-era highs.   

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) said it screened more than 700,000 people on each of three days this weekend – the first time above 700,000 since mid-March. 

The nearly 2.7 million people screened over the four-day period from Thursday through Sunday were about 28% of the 9.4 million people seen during the equivalent weekend last year. 

The agency has also reported more than 960 cases of coronavirus among its workforce, including six deaths. 

The weekend was the first since April when American Airlines began selling flights up to full capacity. 

United Airlines has also been selling flights up to capacity. Both airlines say they are warning passengers that flights could be full and will allow passengers to re-book without a fee to a less-full flight. 

American said Saturday its three busiest days since the pandemic hit were the first three days of July. 

While airlines note travel volumes are still far below sustainable levels, they have been preparing for growth from the lows hit in mid-April. 

Data from Airlines for America, representing major U.S. carriers, shows airlines have removed 800 planes put into storage during the pandemic as of Sunday. Thirty nine percent of the US fleet is grounded right now, according to the group.   

 US airlines are operating only 46% of their usual capacity, according to the group.