July 15 coronavirus news

TOPSHOT - Medical personnels take medical samples of patients at a "drive-thru" coronavirus testing lab set up by local community centre in West Palm Beach 75 miles north of Miami, on March 16, 2020. (Photo by CHANDAN KHANNA / AFP) (Photo by CHANDAN KHANNA/AFP via Getty Images)
Alabama becomes 36th state to require masks in public
02:17 - Source: CNN

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Latin America and the Caribbean top 3.5 million Covid-19 cases and more than 150,000 deaths

A nurse plays the violin for patients infected with Covid-19, at a hospital in Santiago, Chile on July 9.

Latin American and Caribbean countries have now recorded more than 3.5 million Covid-19 cases and more than 150,000 deaths, according data from Johns Hopkins University.

The 33 countries in the region have reported a total 3,524,908 cases and 150,973 deaths.

The following 33 countries are included in this region:

Brazil, Peru, Chile, Mexico, Ecuador, Colombia, Argentina, Dominican Republic, Panama, Bolivia, Guatemala, Honduras, Haiti, El Salvador, Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Paraguay, Uruguay, Jamaica, Guyana, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, the Bahamas, Barbados, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, Belize, Saint Lucia, Dominica, and Saint Kitts and Nevis.

White House defends Trump after Atlanta mayor accuses him of breaking mask law

Congressman Rick Allen, from left, President Donald Trump, Congressman Doug Collins, Senator David Perdue, and Senator Kelly Loeffler greet each other at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta on July 15.

The White House said Wednesday evening that President Donald Trump followed guidelines from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention during his trip to Atlanta, after the city’s mayor accused him of breaking the law by not wearing a mask at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.

Trump was spotted not wearing a mask during his visit to Atlanta on Wednesday, and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms told CNN that Trump broke the law.

Hartsfield-Jackson airport is owned and operated by the city of Atlanta and thus included in her executive order requiring masks, Bottoms said.

When asked for a response, the White House did not directly address Bottoms’ accusation and said Trump was instead following CDC guidance.

“The President takes the health and safety of everyone traveling in support of himself and all White House operations very seriously,” deputy press secretary Judd Deere said in a statement to CNN.

“When preparing for and carrying out any travel, White House Operations collaborates with the Physician to the President and the White House Military Office, to ensure plans incorporate current CDC guidance and best practices for limiting COVID-19 exposure to the greatest extent possible.”

An administration official added that the President and all those in close proximity to him are tested and he also never left the airport.

Read more here:

keisha lance bottoms atlanta protest 06042020

White House says Trump followed CDC guidance after Atlanta mayor accuses him of breaking mask law

Moderna chief medical officer says chances of Covid-19 vaccine working is "pretty good"

Moderna Therapeutics headquarters is seen here in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Moderna’s chief medical officer said Wednesday that he’s “cautiously optimistic” about the biotechnology company’s Covid-19 vaccine developed in partnership with the National Institutes of Health.

“We believe that the chances of this working are pretty good,” said Dr. Tal Zaks, chief medical officer for Moderna. “And the reasons are that the ability to neutralize antibodies to mediate the right immune response I think has been demonstrated for other similar viruses and in preclinical models.”

The results, published in the New England Journal of Medicine on Tuesday, showed that the vaccine worked to trigger an immune response with mild side effects — fatigue, chills, headache, muscle pain, pain at the injection site — becoming the first US vaccine candidate to publish results in a peer-reviewed medical journal.

Zaks insisted that an independent body of experts will continue to monitor the study as it enters a large phase three trial — the final trial stage before regulators consider whether to make the vaccine available.

“I feel very confident you’re not going to have to trust me on this, there will be the right appropriated body of experts that will look at the data as it emerges to ascertain indeed the benefit risk profile warrants deployment,” Zaks said. 

New Mexico records its second-largest single-day Covid-19 case increase 

New Mexico reported its second-largest single-day Covid-19 case increase today, according to a tweet from New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham.

Hospitalizations in New Mexico have gone up 37% in the last two weeks, she added. 

The New Mexico Department of Health announced 330 new Covid-19 cases totay for a total of 15,841 cases statewide, according to a news release from Lujan Grisham’s office. There have been six additional deaths to bring the total to 557 deaths.

There are currently 174 people hospitalized with Covid-19 in the state.

To note: These figures were released by the New Mexico 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.

Mexico reports more than 550 new Covid-19 deaths

Crematorium workers place the body of a person who died of COVID-19 into the oven to be cremated at the San Isidro Crematorium in Azcapotzalco,  on Wednesday, July 15,  in Mexico City.

Mexico’s health ministry recorded 6,149 newly confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus Wednesday, bringing the country’s total to 317,635.

The ministry also reported 579 new deaths from the virus, bringing Mexico’s death toll to 36,906.

Some context: On Wednesday, Latin American and Caribbean countries surpassed more than 3.5 million Covid-19 cases and more than 150,000 deaths, according to a CNN tally based on data from Johns Hopkins University.

Chile reports lowest daily increase of Covid-19 cases in more than 2 months

People queue outside a Health Ministry van to be tested for COVID-19 in Santiago, Chile, on July 10.

Chile’s Ministry of Health reported 1,712 new cases of novel coronavirus Wednesday, its lowest daily increase since May 12, when the country reported 1,658. 

Wednesday’s daily increase rate of 0.54% is also the lowest percentage since early May, according to CNN’s tally of cases. 

Chile’s total number of confirmed Covid-19 cases now stands at 321,205. 

Health authorities also reported 117 new deaths from the virus on Wednesday, bringing the nationwide death toll to 7,186. 

“The variation of confirmed cases nationwide continues to decrease. It decreased 14% in the last 7 days and 36% in 14 days. The positivity rate is 16% and the number of deaths in the last days –the moving average, is 88. This is the lowest number of deaths in the last 32 days,” Chile’s Minister of Health Enrique Paris said during Wednesday’s news conference.

Georgia governor extends emergency restrictions through the end of the month

Gov. Brian Kemp

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp is extending the state’s emergency coronavirus restrictions, but is not requiring citizens to wear a mask.

The order, which was signed Wednesday, also continues to prevent local governments from enacting rules that are stricter than the state’s restrictions.

“To flatten the curve, I urge all local elected officials to enforce the terms of this order,” Kemp wrote on Facebook. Without the extension, state guidance would have expired at the end of the day Wednesday.

Under Kemp’s order, face coverings are recommended, but not required.

ICU deaths from coronavirus are lower than we thought, study finds

Registered Respiratory Therapist Niticia Mpanga looks through patient information in the ICU at Oakbend Medical Center in Richmond, Texas, on July 15.

The reported death rates of patients being treated for coronavirus in intensive care units around the world have fallen by almost a third since the beginning of the pandemic, from 60% of patients to 42% at the end of May, according to new research published Wednesday.

It doesn’t appear that there’s been a dramatic change in the virus or specific treatments for patients that lowered death rates, and it could be that hospitals were reporting only the worst outcomes at first, British researchers reported in the journal Anaesthesia.

“Our analysis is reassuring in that in-ICU mortality is lower than early reports suggested,” Dr. Tim Cook of Royal United Hospitals in Bath, UK, and colleagues wrote.

“This is the first systematic review and meta-analysis of outcomes of patients admitted to ICU with COVID-19.” 

The researchers looked at the data from 24 observational studies, including 10,150 patients in Asia, Europe and North America. They reported mortality rates of between 0% and 85% for coronavirus patients treated in the ICU.

“Sub-group analysis by continent showed that mortality is broadly consistent across the globe,” they wrote. But it has changed over time.

“As the pandemic has progressed, the reported mortality rates have fallen from above 50% to close to 40%” as of May 31, they wrote. Yet no specific treatment for coronavirus was found over the time. There is still no cure, and doctors are applying various cocktails of drugs – including steroids and blood thinners – to keep patients alive.

“There are several explanations for this finding. It may reflect the rapid learning that has taken place on a global scale due to the prompt publication of clinical reports early in the pandemic. It may also be that ICU admission criteria have changed over time, for example, with more non-invasive ventilatory management outside ICU,” they wrote. 

“There is a possibility, too, that early studies, which were smaller, were prone to overestimating mortality,” they added.

Psychiatric groups describe steps needed for reopening schools during the pandemic

A teacher collects personal belongings and supplies needed to continue remote teaching through the end of the school year at Yung Wing School P.S. 124 on June 09, in New York City.

The American Psychiatric Association and the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry said that school is an “essential component of successful and healthy development” for all children and that is especially true when so many have had their education interrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

To reopen, the associations suggest that schools proceed with the utmost care for student, teacher and staff health, according to a joint statement on Wednesday, and provide “appropriate protections” for all.

The associations said that public health agencies must make recommendations about how schools reopen based on scientific evidence and make decisions that are “devoid of politics” with the best interest of students, teachers and staff.

“One size cannot fit all,” the statement said.

When classroom education isn’t possible, schools should use techniques that will still encourage social interactions alongside educational goals. Students also need equal access to equipment to make remote learning possible for all. 

Special needs children will require extra resources, as will children who need English language instruction, and children who live in foster homes or whose families live in poverty. Schools should set aside funding to create safe environments for all childrenthe groups said.

Since mental health is a key part of a child’s overall health and well-being, these issues need to be addressed by the school both in the classroom and in people’s homes, if remote learning is needed.

Students in California's Sacramento County will not return to campus this fall

A reminder for people to wash their hands is displayed on a sign outside Theodore Judah Elementary School in Sacramento, California on April 1.

Sacramento County students will not return to public school campuses in the fall, joining several other California counties that will start the academic year with online distance learning only. 

Following similar announcements from Los Angeles County, San Diego County and San Francisco County, the addition of Sacramento County means more than 1 million students in California will not return to school classrooms in August. 

“Conditions are not safe enough for students, staff and families to allow schools to open up in person at this time,” David Gordon, Sacramento County superintendent of schools, said Wednesday. “We’re focused on protecting the health and safety of nearly 240,000 students and nearly 40,000 school employees.”

By the numbers: Sacramento County’s coronavirus case rate has recently increased by more than 1,000 new cases each week, Sacramento County Health Director Dr. Peter Beilenson said.

In comparison, Sacramento reported 2,000 total cases in the first 19 weeks of the pandemic. 

“The disease continues to spread among young people,” Beilenson said. “In collaborating with the school system, we agreed it made sense not to start right now.” 

Supplemental CDC recommendations on schools expected as early as Friday

A senior official at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tells CNN that the American public should expect to see two sets of supplemental recommendations to existing guidance related to schools safely reopening as early as Friday.

The first set of supplemental guidance is from the CDC and is still going through the interagency review process, but CDC officials were told that Friday was the target release date, the senior official said.

The second set of supplemental guidance is expected to come from the newly created White House work group, the official said.

The newly minted school reopening work group, requested by White House coronavirus response coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx, includes officials from the US Department of Health and Human Services, the Domestic Policy Council, as well as an official from the US Department of Education. The guidance documents expected from this group will be geared towards parents, the senior CDC official said.

About the guidance: Asked what the public should expect to be included in the CDC’s guidance, the official said that the new version will reiterate the most up-to-date science on the novel coronavirus. 

“That’s what we will always do. In everything that the CDC does, we go for balance based on science. We are not offering opinions,” the official said. 

Stressing the plan to “safely reopen,” the official said safety is the CDC’s top priority. Acknowledging that some areas of the US still have high community transmission of the virus, the official said “it’s not feasible to open” in those areas.

“We have said from the beginning that if you have a case in a school, to shut down that part of the school and do contact tracing and make sure no additional cases are present. If kids are coming in infected, or coming from areas with uncontrolled community transmission, it won’t make sense to open.”

The official added that areas that don’t have a lot of cases and can institute social distancing and have school staff wear masks can probably reopen safely.

“Our science is more well-informed about the risk to kids and adults in schools, the efficacy of masks and social distancing. We know more as the science gets better,” the official said.