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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7:34 p.m. ET, July 8, 2020

Coronavirus may have arrived in the US from China, but most of the spread was domestic, model suggests

From CNN’s Naomi Thomas

Coronavirus was probably spreading widely across the US in February, new modeling data suggests, and it only took a few imported cases from other countries to set off rapid spread inside the borders.

While direct imports from China and other countries may have been responsible for the early introduction of Covid-19 to the US, most spread was state to state, researchers led by a team at Northeastern University in Boston reported.

“We estimate widespread community transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in February, 2020,” a team led by Northeastern’s Laboratory for the Modeling of Biological and Socio-technical Systems wrote on MedRxiv, a pre-print server. Their work has not been peer-reviewed.

“Our results indicate that many states were seeded from domestic sources rather than international,” they wrote. “For most of the continental states, the largest contribution of imported infections arrived through domestic travel flows.”

The US announced restrictions on travel from China on Jan. 31. The researchers say their modeling study suggests the restrictions came far too late.

“Importations from mainland China may be relevant in seeding the epidemic in January, but then play a small role in the COVID-19 expansion in the US because of the travel restrictions imposed to/from mainland China after January 23, 2020,” they wrote.

“Domestic sources account for 85% of the virus introductions in Nebraska, 86% in New Mexico, 86% in Arkansas, and 95% in North Dakota,” they added.

The model jibes with evidence from several studies that suggest there were already a significant number of infections in the US by the time the travel restrictions were announced on January 31, the researchers wrote.

7:30 p.m. ET, July 8, 2020

University of Wisconsin reports new Covid-19 cases

From CNN's Kevin Dotson

Bascom Hall and a statue of Abraham Lincoln are seen on the campus of the University of Wisconsin–Madison.
Bascom Hall and a statue of Abraham Lincoln are seen on the campus of the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Shutterstock

The University of Wisconsin athletic department has announced that more student-athletes have tested positive for Covid-19 since the school’s initial round of testing a month ago. 

Seven Wisconsin student-athletes in total have now tested positive after two initially tested positive last month. 

Wisconsin Athletics says it is isolating individuals who have tested positive, and the UW Athletics' Infection Response Team is monitoring them.


7:17 p.m. ET, July 8, 2020

Fauci defends Pence's optimism on coronavirus, says he's doing "a very good job"

From CNN’s Shelby Lin Erdman

Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, listens during a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing in Washington, DC, on June 30.
Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, listens during a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing in Washington, DC, on June 30. Al Drago/Pool/Getty Images

The nation’s leading infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, said White House coronavirus task force leader Vice President Mike Pence is doing “a very good job.”

Fauci and task force coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx regularly sound the alarm about the pandemic at briefings or in interviews while Pence has touted what a good job the Trump administration is doing.

“In fairness to the vice president, the vice president understands that but he is trying in his role as the vice president to really, in a certain sense, also point out some of the things that are going well,” Fauci told the Wall Street Journal in a podcast Wednesday. 

“So, he's a person who's an optimistic person and he's doing a very good job as the leader of the task force, I must say,” said Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

“I look at the data, I analyze the data and I give my best opinion based on the evidence,” Fauci said.

He said there are many facets to the task force discussions on the pandemic and that he and his colleagues are primarily focused on public health. Pence, he said, has other concerns.

“There’s the issue and the need, from an economic standpoint, to get open. So all of that goes into the mix and then you see the kind of recommendations that go out but you know as a member of the task force, I’m telling you that we have a serious situation that we really do need to address.”

Fauci said the public health and economic policies need to work in tandem. Other health experts worry that President Trump has pushed his economic priorities at the expense of American lives. So far more than 132,000 Americans have died from Covid-19. 

“We shouldn't think of it as one against the other because once you start thinking there’s public health and there's the economy opening it looks like they're opposing forces,” Fauci said. 

“So, what we're trying to do is to get the public health message, if heard and implemented, be actually a gateway to facilitate opening and an easier way instead of there’s guys are on this side and those guys and ladies are on the other side.”

7:08 p.m. ET, July 8, 2020

Atlanta mayor says she is signing an order to mandate masks in the city 

From CNN's Pierre Meilhan

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms.
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms. Source: CNN

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said she will be signing an order on Wednesday to mandate masks in her city to try to slow down the number of coronavirus infections. 

“We've seen other cities in Georgia mandate masks. And we've decided to give it a moment just to see what the governor and the state's response would be to these other cities mandating masks. I am signing an order today to do the same in Atlanta,” Bottoms told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer in The Situation Room.

She said Covid-19 numbers are going “through the roof” and local hospitals are filling up very quickly.

“All of the experts that I’m hearing from are saying that to help slow the spread we need to mandate masks. And that is what we're going to do in Atlanta and hopefully it will help some,” Bottoms said.

6:38 p.m. ET, July 8, 2020

Pomona College will not welcome back students in the fall

From CNN's Elizabeth Hartfield

Pomona College, located in Los Angeles County, California, will not be welcoming back students for the fall semester and will continue remote learning, the president of the college announced in a letter Wednesday.

“This situation is not what we hoped for,” Pomona President G. Gabrielle Starr said. “On-campus, in-person education is central to our liberal arts mission. The reality is that if we had brought students back for fall, it would be under such restricted conditions that campus life would bear little resemblance to the community we cherish: No public gatherings or performances, no face-to-face meetings between students and professors, no orientation trips—the list of 'no’s' would be extensive.”

The college said that the school would be reaching out to international students in the coming days with updates on how they planned to address the guidance issued by Immigration and Customs Enforcement earlier this week.

In a news release Monday, ICE said that students who fall under certain visas "may not take a full online course load and remain in the United States," adding, "The U.S. Department of State will not issue visas to students enrolled in schools and/or programs that are fully online for the fall semester nor will U.S. Customs and Border Protection permit these students to enter the United States."

7:58 p.m. ET, July 8, 2020

Ivy League postpones all fall sports

From CNN's Homero De La Fuente

In this November 17, 2018 file photo, Yale quarterback Griffin O'Connor, left, tries to elude Harvard linebacker Cameron Kline (52) while scrambling for a gain during the first half of an NCAA college football game at Fenway Park in Boston.
In this November 17, 2018 file photo, Yale quarterback Griffin O'Connor, left, tries to elude Harvard linebacker Cameron Kline (52) while scrambling for a gain during the first half of an NCAA college football game at Fenway Park in Boston. Charles Krupa/AP

The Ivy League Council of Presidents announced on Wednesday the conference will be postponing all fall sports for the 2020 season due to the coronavirus pandemic.

"With the safety and well-being of students as their highest priority, Ivy League institutions are implementing campus-wide policies including restrictions on student and staff travel, requirements for social distancing, limits on group gatherings, and regulations for visitors to campus," the group said in a statement. "As athletics is expected to operate consistent with campus policies, it will not be possible for Ivy League teams to participate in intercollegiate athletics competition prior to the end of the fall semester.”  

The Ivy League Council of Presidents becomes the first Division I conference to postpone its fall sports, including college football and basketball until January 1. Division II’s Morehouse and other Division III schools have canceled their seasons completely.

In March, the conference faced criticism for being the first to cancel its men and women’s basketball conference tournaments because of the concerns of Covid-19, but other major conferences shortly followed suit.

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.”