Kohl's says all customers are required to wear face masks starting July 20
From CNN's Kay Jones
Retail chain Kohl's announced today that all its customers will be required to wear face masks beginning July 20.
Associates have been wearing masks as a requirement and a statement from the company said that will continue.
"As Covid-19 cases continue to rise, face covering mandates have grown to apply to approximately 70% of our store base, therefore we’ve made the decision to take a consistent approach across our entire store fleet," the company said.
4:41 p.m. ET, July 15, 2020
Kroger to require customers in all locations to wear a mask starting July 22
From CNN's Rebekah Riess
Kroger stores will require all customers in all locations to wear a mask when shopping starting July 22, joining its employees who continue to wear masks, according to a statement from the company.
“We are taking this extra step now because we recognize additional precautions are needed to protect our country,” the statement from Kroger said Wednesday. “As an employer, grocery provider and community partner, we have a responsibility to help keep our associates, customers and communities safe.”
4:33 p.m. ET, July 15, 2020
Stock market closes higher after promising Covid-19 vaccine news
From CNN's David Goldman
It wasn't all good news for stocks Wednesday — the Nasdaq was negative for much of the day — but hump day ended on a positive note.
Excitement about a promising Covid-19 vaccine, tested by Moderna, and better-than-expected Goldman Sachs earnings helped boost stocks. That overcame continued fears about the coronavirus pandemic spiraling out of control and weighing on the economic recovery.
Here's how the market closed:
The Dow closed 228 points higher, ending the day up 0.85%.
The S&P 500 ended the day up 0.9%.
The Nasdaq rose 0.6%.
4:31 p.m. ET, July 15, 2020
More than 11,000 new coronavirus cases reported in California
From CNN's Sarah Moon
California reported its second highest single-day increase in coronavirus cases and deaths on Wednesday, with 11,126 new cases and 140 additional deaths, according to data from the state's Department of Public Health.
The new cases represent a 3.3% increase and the deaths reflect a 2% increase from Tuesday’s data.
The state recorded its highest single-day number of cases on July 7 with 11,694 cases and its highest single-day increase of deaths with 149 fatalities the next day.
Hospitalizations and intensive care unit admissions in the state also reached new all-time highs Wednesday.
The state reported 41 new hospitalizations and 21 new ICU admissions on Wednesday. There are a total of 6,786 Covid-19 positive hospital patients and 1,907 patients in ICU.
Gov. Gavin Newsom warned last Wednesday that approximately 2,000 of the cases recorded on July 7 were from a backlog of cases from Los Angeles County.
As of Wednesday, there are a total of 347,634 confirmed coronavirus cases and 7,227 deaths in California.
One thing to note: These numbers were released by California Department of Public Health, and may not line up exactly in real time with CNN’s database drawn from Johns Hopkins University and the Covid Tracking Project.
4:20 p.m. ET, July 15, 2020
Connecticut governor requests that National Guard remain in state for the rest of 2020 to help with Covid-19
From CNN's Rob Frehse
Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont has asked the US Department of Homeland Security to keep the National Guard in the state through the end of the year to continue to help respond to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The Connecticut National Guard has demonstrated that its ability to respond is constant, and their unwavering response is a big reason why we have been able to significantly bend the curve from the initial outbreak,” Lamont said in a statement. “Not only are they providing state government with needed support, but they regularly partner with local and federal agencies to help protect our communities. I thank the Guard for their commitment to the citizens of Connecticut and the impact they’ve made here.”
Since March 20, more than 1,000 members of the Connecticut National Guard and members of the State Militia have been called up to respond to the pandemic, Lamont said.
4:15 p.m. ET, July 15, 2020
Orange County teachers “making plans for students and teachers dying"
From CNN’s Jenn Selva
An elementary school teacher in Orange County said teachers are “making plans for students and teachers dying” after the county Board of Education voted this week to return children to schools this fall without face masks or social distancing despite a surge in coronavirus cases in the state.
“We’re creatures of habit. We like our routines. We miss our kids terribly. We lay awake at night wondering if they’re okay. How horrible is it that one of the things on the list to do is to have a plan for students and teachers dying?” Denise Bradford, a teacher in the Saddleback Valley Unified School District, told CNN’s Brianna Keilar.
Bradford said teachers in her district are concerned about the possibility of becoming infected with the virus that has claimed more than 7,000 lives in California and said they can’t return to school until it's safe.
Orange County Supervisor Don Wagner, who was part of the 11-person county Board of Education panel that voted for the school guidelines, said he thinks face masks should be “optional” for children at schools and that it’s a decision “each individual school district needs to make.”
Despite the vote, many of the county’s 28 school districts won’t adhere to the board’s guidance.
CNN reached out or reviewed information from all of the districts on Tuesday. Of the districts that responded or posted plans online — more than half — none said they would return children to school without masks or social distancing.
4:13 p.m. ET, July 15, 2020
Fauci clarifies remarks comparing Covid-19 to the 1918 flu pandemic, saying he meant it's "historic"
From CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta and Ben Tinker
On Tuesday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, compared Covid-19 to the 1918 flu pandemic, during a Georgetown University Global Health Initiative webinar.
“If you look at the magnitude of the 1918 pandemic, where anywhere from 50 to 75 to 100 million people globally died, that was the mother of all pandemics and truly historic. I hope we don’t even approach that with this, but it does have the makings of, the possibility of … approaching that in seriousness,” Fauci said.
On Wednesday, Fauci clarified his comments to CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta.
Fauci said he was not suggesting that tens of millions of people will die of coronavirus, but that it is “historic” in the sense that it is also a highly contagious and lethal novel virus, for which there is currently no vaccine.
What is different in 2020 is that we have more tools at our disposal to combat the pathogen, as well as instant communications to warn and inform the public, Fauci said.
3:53 p.m. ET, July 15, 2020
Hospitals in Laredo, Texas, are at capacity due to the pandemic
From CNN's Kay Jones
Hospitals in Laredo, Texas were at 100% capacity on Tuesday, Laredo Health Authority Dr. Victor Trevino told the Laredo City Council during a meeting on yesterday night.
Interim fire chief and emergency management coordinator Ramiro Elizondo said during the meeting that a team from Federal Emergency Management Agency would be arriving in the city this week to convert a local hotel to a surge hospital site to treat Covid-19 positive patients.
Elizondo said the surge site would provide 106 beds and the capacity will help expand the hospital capacity for non-intensive care unit patients. The hotel would be fully staffed and funded by the team coming from FEMA, according to the city manager.
Trevino said there is a still an issue in the area with ICU capacity that needs to be addressed.
“Even if we have temporary hospitals, we still have to press the issue of ICUs," Trevino told the council. "To set up a temporary ICU would be a feat in itself, but we have to be pushing for that, because we could run out of Covid ICUs."
By the numbers: Laredo officials reported another 162 cases on Wednesday, bringing the total to 3,373 total positive cases, with 2,383 of those active.
They officials also said that there are 168 people currently hospitalized, 71 of those are in the ICU.
4:09 p.m. ET, July 15, 2020
Houston Public Schools will be virtual for at least the first 6 weeks of the academic year
From CNN's Bianna Golodryga and Annie Grayer
The Houston Independent School District will begin its 2020-21 school year virtually on Sept. 8 with all online instruction for six weeks.
In-person instruction is planned to begin on Oct. 19, the district said.
This is a significant change from previous tentative plans for a mid-August reopening date, most likely implementing a hybrid model.
Interim Superintendent Grenita Lathan announced Wednesday that those dates are still subject to change based on Covid-19 conditions across the city.
"After hearing multiple voices from health experts, parents, students, staff and community members all HISD students will begin the 2020-21 school year, virtually on Tuesday, September, 8. Our decision to begin the upcoming school year virtually and delay the start of the school year for two weeks, was due to the rising number of positive Covid-19 cases in the area," Lathan said.
Looking to the future: On Oct. 19, face-to-face instruction for students is slated to begin. This date is subject to change based on Covid-19 conditions across Houston and guidance from local, state and federal health officials.
Parents will have the option to opt out of face-to-face instruction entirely for the fall semester and 2020-2021 school year. Parents who select online-only must attend a virtual class outlining expectations and sign an agreement committing to virtual learning.