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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1:26 p.m. ET, July 8, 2020

United warning 45% of frontline workforce could be furloughed this fall

From CNN’s Pete Muntean

A pilot walks by United Airlines planes as they sit parked at gates at San Francisco International Airport on April 12 in San Francisco.
A pilot walks by United Airlines planes as they sit parked at gates at San Francisco International Airport on April 12 in San Francisco. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Clobbered by the coronavirus pandemic, United Airlines is sending warning letters nearly half of its frontline workforce that they could be furloughed when restrictions on a federal bailout expire October 1.

The world's third-largest airline says 36,000 workers — including 15,000 flight attendants, 11,000 customer service and gate agents, 5,550 maintenance employees and 2,250 pilots — are about to receive 60-day mass layoff notices. The reductions are in addition to furloughs of office-based employees the company previously said it would cut. 

"The reality is that United simply cannot continue at our current payroll level past October 1 in an environment where travel demand is so depressed," the company said in a message to employees. 

The Wednesday announcement paints a grim picture for an air travel recovery only days after United announced it would ramp up its schedule in August.  

The airline is operating only a quarter of flights compared to last year and says that planes are, on average, 55% full. United executives say demand for air travel has slipped recently in markets such as New York, where bookings at its Newark hub dropped as Covid cases surged. 

United executives told reporters the company has done everything it can to protect employees — urging them to take early retirement and voluntary separation plans and aggressively raising millions in new money — but the airline is still hemorrhaging $40 million each day. 

The airline, which reached an agreement this week with the Treasury Department to tap a loan fund, is also not counting on another round of relief to pass Congress. 

“We do not feel like we can count on additional federal government support to survive and we have to take steps to protect the company and protect the long-term interest of the company and the prospects for united employees,” a company executive said.

1:09 p.m. ET, July 8, 2020

Here are the latest coronavirus updates from New York state

From CNN's Melanie Schuman

People stand in line outside The Shops at Columbus Circle on July 7,
People stand in line outside The Shops at Columbus Circle on July 7, Noam Galai/Getty Images

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced new details on reopening plans and provided updates on coronavirus case numbers at a briefing today.

Here's what you need to know:

  • Schools: By July 31, local school districts across the state will have to submit their plans including protocols and how they will reopen. On August 1-7, the state will announce a decision on whether or not those schools reopen.
  • Malls: Beginning Friday, malls can open in phase four regions so long as they have enhanced HVAC filtration system and measures in place. The Department of Health is asking for malls to install MERV-13 filters or the highest compatible filter for their current system which can filter out coronavirus.
  • Hospitalizations: There were 841 hospitalizations across New York state as of Tuesday and 97 intubations – the first time the latter number is under 100 and first time this low since March 16. There were 11 deaths on July 7 — nine in hospitals and two in nursing homes.
  • Testing: In New York City, 1.2% of those tested over the last five days were positive. Cuomo debunked the theory that there are more positive cases across the country because of testing, citing the rise in hospitalizations.
  • Quarantine list: Nineteen states are on a quarantine list, including the three additions announced Tuesday – Delaware, Kansas and Oklahoma. New York, New Jersey and Connecticut issued a travel advisory last month that requires people arriving from states with high coronavirus rates to quarantine for 14 days.

One thing to note: The numbers were released by the state Department of Health and may not line up exactly in real time with CNN’s database drawn from Johns Hopkins University and the Covid Tracking Project.

1:04 p.m. ET, July 8, 2020

How the US went from zero coronavirus cases to 3 million in 170 days

From CNN's Madeline Holcombe and Holly Yan

The US has recorded more than 3 million coronavirus cases since the pandemic began, according to Johns Hopkins University numbers.

That's almost two times more than the second hardest-hit nation, Brazil, which has reported more than 1.6 million cases.

Here's a quick timeline of how quickly the virus spread in the US:

  • Jan. 21: The US reports its first reported case.
  • 99 days later: At least 1 million Americans have been infected
  • 43 days later: The US reports more than 2 million cases
  • 28 days later: The US reached 3 million cases
12:53 p.m. ET, July 8, 2020

Pence says White House will be "respectful" of states that can't reopen schools

From CNN's Kevin Liptak

The White House will be "very respectful" of states and local communities who determine they cannot fully reopen schools, Vice President Mike Pence said Wednesday.

Despite President Trump's insistence that all schools reopen, and his vow to pressure governors to do that, Pence acknowledged there could be places where case counts prevent a full return to classrooms.

"I think we would account for the fact that while we hope every school in America is able to open this fall, there may be some states and local communities that given cases or positivity in that community may adjust to either a certain set of days or certain limitations," Pence said.

"We’ll be very respectful of that," he said, adding it was "imperative" that states "take steps to get kids back into the classroom to the fullest extent possible."

He said the federal government would work with localities where outbreaks prevent a full return to in-person schooling.

Asked about Trump's threat earlier Wednesday to withhold funding to schools that do not reopen, Pence noted that most education funding comes from states but said that in discussions with Congress about new funding, "we’re going to be looking for a way to give states a strong incentive and encouragement to get kids back to school."


12:46 p.m. ET, July 8, 2020

CDC director says guidance is not intended to be used to keep schools closed 

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Robert Redfield said agency guidance on schools should not be utilized to keep schools closed.

“The guidance that CDC continues to put out for schools K-12 and higher learning is intentional for reopening and keeping our schools open,” Redfield said.

The CDC will issue new guidance on reopening schools next week. 

“I want to make it very clear that what is not the intent of CDC's guidelines is to be used as a rationale to keep schools closed,” he said. 

Redfield said his agency is willing to work with individual school districts to advise them on the different strategies outlined in the updated guidance. 

“We’re prepared to work with all the school districts and schools to help them facilitate their development of their own unique plan to accomplish that,” he said. 


1:25 p.m. ET, July 8, 2020

Gov. Cuomo on Trump's "threat" about school funding: "You're not going to bully New Yorkers"

From CNN's Melanie Schuman

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks during a press briefing in New York on July 8.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks during a press briefing in New York on July 8. NY1/Pool

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo brushed off President Trump’s “threat” about defunding states if governors don’t reopen schools. 

“You’re not going to bully New Yorkers. That’s not going to happen, right?" he said.

The state spends about $70 billion on education each year and only $3 billion comes from the federal government. Those federal funds go to the students most in need, according to Jim Malatras, president of the State University of New York’s Empire State College and working on the governor’s task force for reopening.

Expanding on potential schools reopening in the fall, Cuomo said specific district plans can be denied, accepted or districts can be asked for alterations.

Following those decisions, the state will make a global decision as to whether any school district can reopen.

He said it’s possible to have a regional reopening and he acknowledged concerns about teachers’ safety.

“When we came to the reopening of the economy, I’m said I’m not going to put someone in a dangerous situation. There is no money on the planet that can pay for a life as far as I’m concerned so it’s a balance and the same is with schools,” Cuomo said Wednesday.

Responding to a reporter’s question about greenlighting the proposed New York City plan for reopening, Cuomo said ideally you would make the decision the night before. “I don’t have the luxury of waiting for the night before. Our institutional, systemic drop-dead date is the first week in August,” he said.


12:44 p.m. ET, July 8, 2020

Birx lays out "encouraging" trends for coronavirus in Arizona, Texas and Florida

From CNN's Maegan Vazquez

White House coronavirus task force coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx speaks during a White House coronavirus disease task force briefing at the U.S. Education Department in Washington, DC., on July 8.
White House coronavirus task force coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx speaks during a White House coronavirus disease task force briefing at the U.S. Education Department in Washington, DC., on July 8. Pool

White House coronavirus task force coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx said Wednesday that the Trump administration is seeing some “encouraging” trends in Arizona, Texas and Florida — three of the hotspot states seeing a surge of coronavirus cases across the sunbelt.

“The seven-day average (of coronavirus cases in Arizona) is showing some flattening and I find that encouraging. Also, equally encouraging at this point, because we know that the test positivity rate is the first thing to increase and we’re hoping that it heralds a stability in Arizona of at least reaching a plateau in their curve,” Birx said.

Birx also referenced a stabilizing of emergency room visits for Covid-19-like symptoms in Arizona, calling it “an early indicator and we find that encouraging.” 

Similarly, in Florida, Birx said, they are starting to see “early suggestions of decreasing emergency room visits for the symptoms of Covid and some stability starting in that (test positivity rate) hoping that heralds a stability in the number of daily reported cases.”

However, CNN's health team notes that they are not hearing the same when it comes to hospitalizations. 

“We also understand that we went through a holiday weekend and holiday weekends can impact data on both ends — underreporting through the weekend and catch up reporting on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday after a holiday weekend,” she added. 

“Texas is in a similar situation with their (test positivity rate),” Birx said.

12:24 p.m. ET, July 8, 2020

States with surges should return to "phase one" guidelines, Birx says

From CNN's Kevin Liptak

People living in states with coronavirus surges should return to the White House's original "phase one" recommendations on gatherings, Dr. Deborah Birx said on Wednesday.

Citing guidelines like wearing face masks and avoiding bars and indoor events, Birx said those steps should be resumed in order to bring cases back under control.

She said they are "asking the American people in those counties and in those states to not only use those face coverings, not going to bars, not going to indoor dining, but really not gathering in homes either. And decreasing those gatherings back down to our phase one recommendation, which was 10 or less."

Birx touted the importance of mask-wearing and said "any kind of indoor gathering" should be avoided in places experiencing a spike in cases.

President Trump has repeatedly said the economy should not be shut down again, even as cases increase.


12:20 p.m. ET, July 8, 2020

Pence says new CDC school guidelines coming next week: "It's time" to get kids back to school

From CNN's Sam Fossum

Vice President Mike Pence leads a White House coronavirus disease task force briefing at the U.S. Education Department in Washington, DC., on July 8.
Vice President Mike Pence leads a White House coronavirus disease task force briefing at the U.S. Education Department in Washington, DC., on July 8. Carlos Barria/Reuters

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will issue new guidance on reopening schools next week after President Trump dismissed their current recommendations as “very tough & expensive."

Speaking at a briefing by the White House coronavirus task force, Vice President Mike Pence said the new guidance would be "part of a five-part series of recommendations that will give all new tools to our schools."

"We’re absolutely determined to work in partnership with our states to give the guidance for states and communities to be able to safely reopen our schools," Pence said.

Still, he repeated a statement made a day earlier by the CDC's director that the agency's guidelines should not act as a barrier to reopening schools.

"We’re here to help," Pence said. "We don't want federal guidance to be a substitute for state and local laws and rules and guidance. We’re here to assist with the shared objective, which I think is shared by every parent in America, which is we want to get our kids back. We want to get them back in the classroom."

"As the President made clear yesterday it's time. It's time for us to get our kids back to school," Pence said.

Some context: Earlier Wednesday, Trump accused the CDC of producing “very tough & expensive guidelines for opening schools,” saying he disagreed with the health agency’s recommendations.

“While they want them open, they are asking schools to do very impractical things,” Trump wrote. “I will be meeting with them!!!”