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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6:09 p.m. ET, July 8, 2020

Texas reports highest number of Covid-19 deaths in a single day 

From CNN's Ashley Killough and Raja Razek 

A man gets tested for coronavirus at a Covid-19 testing center on July 7 in Austin, Texas.
A man gets tested for coronavirus at a Covid-19 testing center on July 7 in Austin, Texas. Sergio Flores/Getty Images

Texas reported 98 Covid-19-related deaths on Wednesday, the highest single-day increase in coronavirus fatalities.

The total number of Covid-19 deaths in the state now stands at 2,813. 

The state also hit a 15% Covid-19 positivity rate, a record high.

Texas also recorded 9,979 new coronavirus cases — the second highest number on record for the state. The total number of Covid-19 cases in the state is 220,564.

To note: These numbers were released by the Texas Health and Human Services, and may not line up exactly in real time with CNN’s database drawn from Johns Hopkins University and the Covid Tracking Project.

6:11 p.m. ET, July 8, 2020

Brazil is not removing employees who had contact with Bolsonaro from the office 

From CNN's Rodrigo Pedroso

The Brazilian government said it will not remove employees who recently had contact with President Jair Bolsonaro from the office after he tested positive for Covid-19. 

Brazil's General Secretary of the Republic released an official statement saying, “There is no medical protocol, either from the Ministry of Health or the WHO, that recommends isolation measures by simple contact with positive cases.”

The government offered guidance to public employees, telling them "to seek medical assistance when they experience symptoms related to Covid-19, to assess the need for testing.”

If someone is suspected to have symptoms, the government said, “The employees are advised to stay at home until the exams results."

More on this: According to the World Health Organization (WHO), an infected person can start transmitting the virus in the six days before the onset of symptoms. WHO recommends that a person who has had close contact with an infected person should spend 14 days in social isolation and away from the workplace.

Bolsonaro announced Tuesday that he tested positive for Covid-19 after having a reported fever the day before.

The Brazilian president participated in his normal agenda over the past week, holding meetings with businessmen, politicians and public authorities. But after announcing his diagnosis Tuesday in person in front of media, Bolsonaro has worked via video conferences, according to the president's press office.

5:55 p.m. ET, July 8, 2020

Study finds a wide variety of symptoms in kids with coronavirus

From CNN's Lauren Mascarenhas

Coronavirus causes a wide variety of symptoms in children, and targeted testing of kids may miss cases, a study published in an American Academy of Pediatrics journal finds. 

Dr. Rabia Agha and colleagues from Maimonides Children’s General Hospital in Brooklyn studied 22 children with coronavirus who were admitted to the hospital over four weeks between March and April, when local transmission was widespread.

They found that most of the patients did not have classic coronavirus symptoms, in contrast to what is seen in adults and some pediatric reports from China.

The patients had a wide variety of symptoms and circumstances. Almost half of the 22 patients were less than a year old. Fifteen patients had a fever. Nine had respiratory symptoms. Two had seizures. Sixteen had no known contact with a Covid-19 patient, and two were entirely asymptomatic. None of the patients in the study died.

The researchers initially followed guidelines from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only testing patients with fever, cough and shortness of breath, those who had traveled to high risk countries and those who had close contact with a confirmed coronavirus case. As the rate of infections increased, they started testing all admitted patients, regardless of their symptoms.

Of the four patients who required mechanical ventilation, only one did not have an underlying health condition – an otherwise healthy child who suffered a cardiac arrest. Three of the patients on ventilators qualified for compassionate use of the antiviral drug remdesivir and were eventually taken off the ventilators.

Seven patients who were hospitalized for non-Covid symptoms, including bacterial infections, appendicitis and inflamed muscles, tested positive for the virus. The researchers say it is unclear how large a role coronavirus played in their illness.

The youngest patient in the study, who was 11 days old with a healthy mother, was likely infected by asymptomatic family members at home.

The Maimonides team said infection rates at a particular time and region, rather than confirmed contact alone, should drive testing strategies, noting that 41% of the patients they studied would have been overlooked because they did not meet the then-recommended coronavirus testing criteria.

“Guidelines to test pediatric patients need to be broadened and take into account that patients presenting with other illnesses may also be positive for COVID-19,” they wrote. 

“Testing of all hospitalized patients will not only identify cases early in the course of their admission process, but will also help prevent inadvertent exposure of other patients and health care workers, assist in cohorting infected patients and aid in conservation of personal protective equipment.”

5:49 p.m. ET, July 8, 2020

37 football players and staff at University of North Carolina test positive for Covid-19

From CNN's David Close

The University of North Carolina has suspended the football program’s voluntary workout program after 37 players and staff tested positive for Covid-19. 

The Orange County Health Department in North Carolina determined the number of results to be a cluster forcing the Tar Heels to halt activities. The school says it administered 429 tests to players, coaches and staff with roughly 12% returning positive for coronavirus.

The university did not disclose the severity of symptoms of the 37 people who contracted the virus.

5:43 p.m. ET, July 8, 2020

Website to volunteer for Covid-19 vaccine trials in US is now live

From CNN's Elizabeth Cohen

A new website that allows people to volunteer to take part in Covid-19 vaccine clinical trials in the US is now live.

The website – coronaviruspreventionnetwork.org – will handle registration for the four large vaccine studies expected to start this summer and fall, and any others that follow.  

The US Department of Health and Human Services announced the website Wednesday, along with the appointment of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle as the coordinating center for vaccine clinical trials run by the Covid-19 Prevention Network, which is funded by the National Institutes of Health. 

On the new website, anyone interested in joining a vaccine study can fill out a quick questionnaire. After registering, your information will be sent to the study site closest to you. 

Several of the questions are designed to assess how likely you are to become infected and sick with Covid-19, including your race, what kind of work you do, and how many people you come into contact with on a daily basis. Based on those answers, you might be rejected.

People who don’t get out much, and who wear a mask when they do leave home would not make the best study subjects. That’s because the point of the study is to see if the vaccine protects people from getting sick with Covid-19. If people who mostly stay home get vaccinated, and they don’t get sick with Covid-19, it’s hard to know if the vaccine protected them or if their lifestyle kept them away from the virus in the first place.  

Some context: It’s unclear exactly how many volunteers will be needed for all the vaccine trials.

In a June interview, National Institutes of Health Director Dr. Francis Collins told CNN each trial would have around 30,000 volunteers, but a statement Wednesday from Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center said there will be 10,000 to 30,000 volunteers per trial. 


5:42 p.m. ET, July 8, 2020

Brazil surpasses 1.7 million coronavirus cases

From CNN's Rodrigo Pedroso

Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro stands with his arms crossed outside the official presidential residence, Alvorada Palace, in Brasilia, Brazil, Wednesday, July 8. 
Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro stands with his arms crossed outside the official presidential residence, Alvorada Palace, in Brasilia, Brazil, Wednesday, July 8.  Eraldo Peres/AP

The number of coronavirus cases in Brazil surpassed 1.7 million on Wednesday after the country's health ministry recorded 44,571 new cases in the past 24 hours.

The country's total number of confirmed cases is 1,713,160, according to the Brazil's health ministry.

The ministry also reported 1,223 new Covid-19 fatalities, bringing the nationwide death toll to 67,964.

This comes after Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro announced Tuesday he tested positive for the virus, maintaining his less serious approach to the pandemic by taking his mask off during the news conference and telling young people, "if you are affected by the virus, rest assured that, for you, the possibility of something more serious is close to zero."

5:35 p.m. ET, July 8, 2020

Covid-19 rates are rising in Los Angeles County

From CNN's Cheri Mossburg and Jenn Selva

Coronavirus cases, infection rates, and hospitalizations are rising in Los Angeles County, Health Director Barbara Ferrer said today.

The average daily case count is up a staggering 84% in the past month, going from 1,300 in the beginning of June to 2,400 today.

“We are at a very critical juncture in our pandemic,” Ferrer said, noting that the increase of community-spread coronavirus has brought hospitalization rates to levels not seen since late April.

“Our cases are rising, the rate of infection is increasing, and the number of hospitalizations is up,” she added.

Even a small increase in the fatality rate is worrisome, Ferrer said, as deaths tend to lag behind case increases.

Additionally, the intensive care unit at a Southern California hospital has reached full capacity after receiving an influx of coronavirus patients, prompting the medical facility to open a surge space for additional room.

"There is a limit to how much we can serve, and we can't continue on the path we are on right now," Dr. John Fankhauser, CEO at Ventura County Medical Center, said today, adding that the ICU at the facility is now "full."

There are currently 71 coronavirus patients hospitalized in the county’s eight hospitals, and 31 are currently in ICUs, Ventura County Health Director Rigo Vargas said.

5:26 p.m. ET, July 8, 2020

CDC guidelines are the minimum of what should be done to reopen schools, says health expert

From CNN's Andrea Kane

Public health expert Dr. Ashish Jha.
Public health expert Dr. Ashish Jha. Source: CNN

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for reopening schools are the minimum of what the country should be doing to make sure that schools can reopen and stay open, public health expert Dr. Ashish Jha told CNN today.

“I think the CDC's recommendations are really basic and, in fact, I think they should go further. Look, you can open up schools anywhere you want. That's really not the debate,” said Jha, the faculty director of the Harvard Global Health Institute. “The question is can you keep schools open? Can you prevent massive outbreaks among teachers and staff and kids? And if we don't do the things the CDC is asking for, and more, the schools will all be shut by Columbus Day and they will be shut for long periods of time. That's what we have to avoid and we're not. We can't bluff our way through this; we've got to let science drive it.”

Jha added that the spread of Covid-19 in the community must be kept under control for schools to open safely – something that is not happening in multiple hotspots around the country.

“We, in those hotspots, can't afford to have indoor gatherings of 10 or more,” Jha said.

Jha said it is “cavalier” to say it would be safe to open schools because the virus does not make children sick as often as it does adults. Kids can and do get sick, and kids can spread the virus to adults, Jha noted.

Jha also disputed remarks made by Vice President Mike Pence and Coronavirus Task Force Response Coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx, who said they are seeing encouraging trends in hotspots like Texas, Arizona and Florida.

Jha said he sees the numbers as going up, not down.

“I'm looking at the same data that they are, and I'm not seeing it. I wish they, I hope that they're right,” he said. “But positivity rates in my mind are continuing to go up in Arizona and Texas and Florida. Cases are going up, hospitalizations are going up, and now I think we have very clear evidence that death rates are starting to go up in these in these places as well."

Across the country: Jha said national coronavirus infection numbers do not give a complete view.

He said while infection rates are going down in some places, like New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts, they are spiking in other parts of the country, such as Texas, Arizona, Florida, South Carolina, Mississippi and Nevada.

“If you put both of them together in the same picture, it looks flat,” he said.

5:17 p.m. ET, July 8, 2020

White House says Trump and CDC are "very much" on the same page, despite tweets

From CNN's Allie Malloy 

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany.
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany. Win McNamee/Getty Images

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany told CNN’s Kaitlan Collins that President Trump and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are “very much” on the same page — despite Trump tweeting: “I disagree with the CDC.”

“I would note that the CDC is very much on the same page as the President — which is why you heard the CDC director today underscore these are not prescriptive, these are not requirements and that there will be supplemental guidelines. So they’re on the same page,” McEnany said Wednesday.

Trump tweeted seven hours earlier: “I disagree with @CDCgov on their very tough & expensive guidelines for opening schools. While they want them open, they are asking school to do very impractical things. I will be meeting with them!!!”

Collins also asked McEnany why the President won’t attend task force meetings so he can talk about guidelines and other issues.

"(Trump) is routinely briefed about the coronavirus each and every day that relevant information is brought to him on the big decisions and then he moves forward in the way that’s best for our country," McEnany responded.

CNN has reported that Trump has not attended a coronavirus task force meeting since April.