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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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.

5:18 p.m. ET, July 8, 2020

New Orleans issues stricter guidelines for bars and restaurants following increase in Covid-19 cases

From CNN's Kay Jones

A waitress takes an order during lunch at Royal House Oyster Bar on May 22, in New Orleans, Louisiana.
A waitress takes an order during lunch at Royal House Oyster Bar on May 22, in New Orleans, Louisiana. Sean Gardner/Getty Images

New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell announced new restrictions on bars and restaurants in the city as cases of Covid-19 steadily increase across the city. 

Cantrell said during a news conference today that bars and restaurants will be limited to 25 patrons in total inside and that no bar seating will be allowed.

She also said masks will be required at all times, other than when patrons are eating and drinking. 

The new restrictions go into effect at 6 a.m. on July 11. 

"Bourbon Street worries me," Cantrell said. "I am concerned."  

Videos taken on Bourbon Street last weekend showed it crowded with people, many of whom did not have masks on.  

More context: There were 81 new cases reported in Orleans Parish on Wednesday for a total of 8,287 cases, according to the state’s Department of Health.

The city has a 10.03% positivity rate of tests conducted to date. 

5:07 p.m. ET, July 8, 2020

Los Angeles health director hopes schools can reopen in August

From CNN's Cheri Mossburg

Los Angeles County expects to issue guidance on reopening schools within the week, according to Health Director Barbara Ferrer.

Ferrer said she remains hopeful that cases stabilize by the end of July so districts can resume classes in mid-August.

“I’ll leave the politics around this to other people,” Ferrer said, adding that her focus is on protecting the health and safety of people in Los Angeles.

The county plans on reopening schools once the data shows it is safe to do so, she said.

“We would never open any other sectors without looking at our data. You absolutely would not want to open a sector when you thought that the result of reopening would be an explosion of outbreaks within that sector,” Ferrer said.

4:50 p.m. ET, July 8, 2020

Rhode Island governor calls Trump's remarks on reopening schools "dishonest and reckless"

From CNN's Lauren del Valle

Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo sits during a news conference Monday, June 22, in Providence.
Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo sits during a news conference Monday, June 22, in Providence. David Goldman/AP

Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo announced 41 new cases and two deaths related to Covid-19 Wednesday while denouncing President Trump's remarks about reopening schools.

Asked about Trump’s comments threatening to fine states that don’t reopen schools, Raimondo said, "I just, I think it’s irresponsible, dishonest and reckless."

The governor said $50 million has been allocated to assist school districts in taking necessary precautions due to Covid-19. 

"Having said that, I want to get kids back to school in Rhode Island," the governor added. 

About the state's reopening: Rhode Island beaches were crowded over the July 4 holiday, but no beach parking lots were ever at capacity, according to Raimondo. State officials handed out masks at beach entry points and asked beachgoers to disperse in the event of large groups congregating, she said.

As food and drink establishments have reopened in Rhode Island, state officials have found 10% are not in compliance with social distancing advisories and allow too much crowding.