July 8 coronavirus news

By Helen Regan, Steve George, Laura Smith-Spark, Ed Upright, Melissa Macaya, Mike Hayes and Meg Wagner, CNN

Updated 0001 GMT (0801 HKT) July 9, 2020
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3:58 p.m. ET, July 8, 2020

Illinois expands Covid-19 mobile testing program 

From CNN's Raja Razek

Gov. J.B. Pritzker
Gov. J.B. Pritzker Pool

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Wednesday the expansion of the state's Covid-19 testing program to bring testing to areas most in need. 

"Governor JB Pritzker announced the expansion of the state's mobile testing operation with twelve COVID-19 mobile testing teams operating throughout Illinois," the statement from the governor's office said. "These twelve teams will offer mobile testing to residents in hard-hit communities and visit facilities like homeless services centers and nursing homes."

The mobile testing sites would offer free drive-thru and walk-up tests to any Illinois resident who wants to be tested, according to the statement. The mobile teams are in addition to the already existing 11 free, state-run drive-thru and walk-up testing sites in the state. 

Additionally, the National Guard will transition state-run testing sites to contract workers, according to the statement.

"More than 500 Illinois National Guard (ILNG) members will conclude their missions at the eleven state-run testing sites this month, with contract staffers supporting those sites going forward," the statement read. 

3:52 p.m. ET, July 8, 2020

Covid-19 hospitalizations in California are up 44%, governor says

From CNN's Cheri Mossburg

A woman wears a face-covering while walking past a sign leading to the Emergency section at the Los Angeles County+USC Medical Center in Los Angeles, on July 2.
A woman wears a face-covering while walking past a sign leading to the Emergency section at the Los Angeles County+USC Medical Center in Los Angeles, on July 2. Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images

Coronavirus hospitalizations in California are up 44% over the past two weeks, Gov. Gavin Newsom said today in a news conference. That translates to about 6,100 patients.

The number of patients in intensive care has climbed by 34% in the past 14 days.

California has added 11,694 additional cases, but Newsom cautions that approximately 2,000 of those are from a backlog in Los Angeles County. This brings the total number of cases to nearly 290,000.

California’s seven-day positivity rate is about 8%, Newsom said, and the 14-day rate stands at 7.1%. The state is averaging more than 100,000 tests each day.

3:26 p.m. ET, July 8, 2020

8 steps schools should take when they reopen, according to a former CDC head's advocacy group

From CNN Health’s Andrea Kane

Vital Strategies
Vital Strategies

It could be impossible to operate schools safely in communities where coronavirus infections are out of control, Dr. Tom Frieden, former director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said today.

Frieden is now CEO of Resolve to Save Lives, an advocacy and public health consultancy group that has put together a plan for how to reopen schools safely.

“The hard truth is that there is no route to zero risk of Covid-19 in the near future, but we can reduce the risk with careful planning and precautions,” Frieden said while speaking at a livestream event today. “But here’s the bottom line: The single most important thing we can do to keep our schools safe has nothing to do with what happens in schools -- it's how well we can control Covid in the community.”

He said that right now, because there are places around the country where the virus is spreading explosively, “it would be difficult — if not impossible — to operate schools safely there until the virus is under better control in those communities.” 

When the time comes to reopen schools, Resolve to Save Lives introduced an eight-point plan “designed to complement evidence-based guidelines, such as that from the CDC, and to help education leaders make important decisions for each state and school district,” Frieden said.

The eight points are:

  1. Shield the most vulnerable
  2. Reduce risk wherever possible, which may mean re-engineering the school environment
  3. Keep the virus out by restricting access and requiring visitors to wear face masks and wash their hands
  4. Reduce occupancy, which may include a split shift or a week-on/week-off schedule
  5. Reduce mixing by dividing students into smaller groups
  6. Have teachers and students wear masks all day long
  7. Implement new health and safety protocols, including more frequent cleaning
  8. Prepare for cases; have protocol in place for when Covid-19 cases develop

“We don't live in an ideal world, and we don't have all the information we wish we had about how to protect our children's health and future. We need to use the best available information to continue to learn so we can figure out how to improve the safety of our children at schools, the robustness of our society and of our economy,” Frieden said. 

He said reopening schools is something we must do to more fully open our society and our economy.

“We can succeed if we take careful steps forward and respond rapidly to new information or cases. Our children's future depends on it,” he said.

3:08 p.m. ET, July 8, 2020

Brazil's president vetoes parts of law that protects indigenous people against Covid-19

From CNN’s Rodrigo Pedroso in Sao Paulo

Andressa Anholete/Getty Images/FILE
Andressa Anholete/Getty Images/FILE

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro vetoed several points of a law aimed at protecting indigenous communities against Covid-19 on Wednesday, according to the government’s Official Gazette.

He vetoed points that assured access to drinking water, free distribution of hygiene products like soap and toothpaste, cleaning and disinfection materials for indigenous communities and mandatory emergency funds for indigenous people’s health.

Parts that dealt with the emergency provision of additional hospital beds and intensive care units to indigenous people, and the acquisition of ventilators and blood oxygenation machines were also turned down.

More on this: The law establishes an emergency plan to combat the pandemic in indigenous territories and asserts that indigenous peoples and other traditional communities are considered "groups in situations of extreme vulnerability" and at high risk for public health emergencies.

The text, approved by the country’s Congress on May 21 and by the Senate on June 16, still has to go back to Congress, which will decide whether to approve presidential vetoes.

The publication of the law with Boslonaro’s vetoes takes place on the same day Supreme Court judge Luis Roberto Barroso ordered the federal government to take measures to protect indigenous communities against Covid-19.

Barroso asked for the creation of a national emergency plan, the installation of sanitary barriers and the establishment of a "Situation Room" to manage the response to the disease in indigenous territories.

For isolated and recently contacted indigenous people, the judge ordered the removal of outsiders from indigenous lands.

The action, which mandates that all indigenous people must have access to the public indigenous health system, was initiated by the Association of Indigenous Peoples of Brazil (APIB)

The latest numbers: According to APIB, until June 7, more than 12,000 indigenous people were infected with novel coronavirus, and at least 445 died since the beginning of the pandemic in the country. According to the Brazilian Indigenous Health service (SESAI), 3,421 indigenous people were infected and 184 died of the virus since the beginning of the pandemic.

SESAI only counts indigenous people living in indigenous territories, not urban centers. 

2:59 p.m. ET, July 8, 2020

Clinical trials have begun for inhaled version of remdesivir

From CNN's Wes Bruer

Gilead Sciences, the maker of remdesivir, has announced the start of clinical trials for an inhaled version of the antiviral drug to treat Covid-19 patients who do not require hospitalization.

The trial will be comprised of 60 healthy individuals ages 18-45 in the US to determine the safety and tolerability of the drug in this format.

“With promising data emerging from the randomized, clinical trials of intravenous remdesivir administered to hospitalized patients, it became clear that efforts were needed to investigate the drug’s potential in the outpatient setting. Significant research efforts have been undertaken to deliver remdesivir in an inhaled, nebulized format. We are pleased to announce the initiation of a Phase 1a clinical study to evaluate the safety, tolerability and pharmacokinetics of an investigational, inhaled solution of remdesivir in healthy volunteers,” Gilead Sciences Chief Medical Officer Dr. Merdad Parsey said in a statement Wednesday.

Remdesivir, which is currently administered intravenously through infusions, is the only drug that has an emergency use authorization from the US Food and Drug Administration to treat coronavirus infections.

“Additional clinical trials evaluating remdesivir in combination with anti-inflammatory medicines, in vulnerable patient populations and in outpatient settings are ongoing or planned to initiate in the near future,” the statement said.


2:59 p.m. ET, July 8, 2020

Covid-19 hospitalizations up 70% in Miami-Dade County

From CNN's Rosa Flores and Sara Weisfeldt 

In the past 13 days, Florida's Miami-Dade County has seen a 70% increase in the number of Covid-19 patients being hospitalized.

The number of intensive care unit beds being used has risen to 84% and the use of ventilators is at 116%, according to the latest data released by Miami-Dade County government.

3:00 p.m. ET, July 8, 2020

Chile continues downward trend of daily Covid-19 cases as two regions ease lockdowns

From CNN's Tatiana Arias

A medical worker takes a swab sample from a senior resident for COVID-19 test in San Miguel of Santiago, Chile, Tuesday, July 7.
A medical worker takes a swab sample from a senior resident for COVID-19 test in San Miguel of Santiago, Chile, Tuesday, July 7. Xinhua/NTB Scanpix/ZUMA Press

Chile's Ministry of Health reported 2,064 new cases of coronavirus Wednesday, bringing the country's total to 303,083.

The number of new cases represent an increase of 0.69% in the last 24 hours, the lowest figure recorded since early May, according to CNN's count.

However, health authorities reported 139 new deaths on Wednesday, a sharp increase of 2.16% on the new number of daily deaths since July 4 – bringing the death toll to 6,573.

Lockdown easing measures were announced Wednesday for the regions of Aysen and Los Rios and they will take effect starting next Monday.  

“I thank our people who have allowed us to start this de-escalation process very slowly and very carefully," Chile’s Health Minister Enrique Paris said.

For those regions, sporting events of 10 people maximum in enclosed spaces and up to 50 in open areas are now permitted.

People older than 75 can now go outside once a day. Theaters, cinemas, restaurants and cafes can operate at a 25% maximum capacity, according to Chile’s authorities.

2:48 p.m. ET, July 8, 2020

West Virginia sets September 8 as target date for reopening schools

From CNN’s Alec Snyder

Gov. Jim Justice
Gov. Jim Justice West Virginia Governor's office

West Virginia is setting up September 8 as its target date for reopening schools across the state, Gov. Jim Justice said Wednesday in a news conference.

The governor said the state feels ready to start now if it was safe but said he knows and believes it is too early. Gov. Justice also voiced his support for President Trump and his hopes for his reelection in the fall as part of a passing statement about Trump's desire to get kids back to school.

Positive case rates continue to increase in West Virginia, the governor said. The positivity rate in the state is under 2%, but that rate has varied from testing period to testing period. 

Justice faced pushback for using CARES Act funds toward road and highway rehabilitation and repairs across the state but defended his actions Wednesday with the justification that the state has extra money that he'd otherwise have to give back at the end of the year if it didn't get claimed.

2:47 p.m. ET, July 8, 2020

Florida's Miami-Dade County reports 28% Covid-19 positivity rate

From CNN's Rosa Flores and Sara Weisfeldt

Miami-Dade County officials reported a 28% Covid-19 positivity rate on Wednesday, according to data released by Mayor Carlos Giménez's office. The positivity rate is tracked daily by the county. 

Giménez's office said the goal is to not exceed a positivity rate of 10%. The county has exceeded the 10% mark for the past 14 days. The current 14-day average is 23%, the data shows.

Remember: A positivity rate is the percentage of people who test positive for the virus of those overall who have been tested.

So, as more and more people are being tested, the focus is shifting to the positivity rate — how many of those tested are actually infected.