July 15 coronavirus news

By Jessie Yeung, Steve George, Tara John, Meg Wagner, Melissa Macaya and Mike Hayes, CNN

Updated 12:07 a.m. ET, July 16, 2020
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10:40 a.m. ET, July 15, 2020

New York Covid-19 death toll surpasses 25,000

From CNN's Elizabeth Joseph

Nine people across New York died due to coronavirus Tuesday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office announced Wednesday, bringing the statewide death toll to 25,003.

At least 831 of the 63,598 — or 1.3% — of the tests conducted across New York on Tuesday were positive, bringing the statewide total of confirmed cases to 404,006.

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

10:43 a.m. ET, July 15, 2020

Florida health system head says Covid-19 spike is due to "aggressive noncompliant people"

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

Florida’s largest public health system has seen a 226% increase in coronavirus patients since June 14, which Jackson Health System President and CEO Carlos Migoya attributes to people not wearing masks. 

“The challenges that we’ve had is that the people have not been masking or being socially distant, especially the younger people,” Migoya said. 

He said that the biggest offenders have not been residents, but visitors. 

“The biggest issue is we have a lot of aggressive noncompliant people, people that just do not believe that masking is the right thing to do,” Migoya said.  

In Florida, there are currently 54 hospitals that have reached ICU capacity and show zero ICU beds available, according to data released by the Agency for Health Care Administration. Ten of those hospitals are in Miami-Dade County.

Another 40 hospitals show ICUs at 10% available capacity or less, according to the AHCA data.

Migoya also attributes the spread of Covid-19 to younger people who may be asymptomatic passing it on to their parents or grandparents. 

“We saw a huge influx of young people coming in. Now, those young people are still coming in, but we're getting older people in,” he said, adding that younger people would have a “rude awakening” if they visited one of his hospital’s ICUs. 

Migoya said he expects more Covid-19 patients for the next few weeks.  


10:51 a.m. ET, July 15, 2020

GOP Senate leader: "Everyone needs to understand is this is not going away"

From CNN's Manu Raju

Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images
Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images

At a stop at a hospital in Shelbyville, Kentucky, this morning, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell continued issuing warnings that the coronavirus is here to stay. He said that while "there were some that hoped" the coronavirus would simply go away, it isn't.

"I think the straight talk here that everyone needs to understand is this is not going away," he said.

While he didn't mention Trump, it's the latest indication of how McConnell is voicing a much different message about the virus than the leader of his own party. 

10:54 a.m. ET, July 15, 2020

Walmart customers will be required to wear masks starting Monday

From CNN’s Nathaniel Meyersohn and Cristina Alesci

Scott Olson/Getty Images
Scott Olson/Getty Images

Walmart, the world's largest retailer, is the latest national chain to require all customers to wear masks, CNN Business reports. The change will start next week. 

Here is the company's statement from this morning:

“Currently about 65 percent of our more than 5,000 stores and clubs are located in areas where there is some form of government mandate on face coverings. To help bring consistency across stores and clubs, we will require all shoppers to wear a face covering starting Monday, July 20. This will give us time to inform customers and members of the changes, post signage and train associates on the new protocols.”

Walmart joins a growing list of businesses that have made this move. Starbucks said last week that it will require customers to wear facial coverings or masks in all 9,000 of its company-owned US stores beginning Wednesday. 

Best Buy announced Tuesday that it will also require all shoppers coming into its approximately 1,000 stores to wear face masks. Costco began requiring its members to wear masks in stores beginning in May.

Although no federal mandate to wear a mask exists, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says everyone "should wear a cloth face cover when they have to go out in public." The CDC said "face coverings are meant to protect other people."

10:24 a.m. ET, July 15, 2020

Rerouting Covid-19 data to White House is "another example of CDC being sidelined," former CDC head says

From CNN Health’s Michael Nedelman

The country's coronavirus response is taking "a step backwards" by rerouting hospital data on Covid-19 patients directly to the Trump administration instead of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, according to former CDC acting director Dr. Richard Besser.

"Given how political the response has been to date, it’s a step backwards to have these data going directly to HHS in Washington," Besser told CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta. "It's another example of CDC being sidelined. Not only should the data be coming to CDC, but CDC should be talking to the public through the media every day."

What this is about: The Department of Health and Human Services confirmed the new policy to CNN on Tuesday. While CDC is a division of HHS, there has been tension between the CDC's Atlanta-based agency and those in Washington, Besser said.

"One of the nice things about CDC being in Atlanta — being away from Washington — is that we're able to avoid a lot of political pressure that you get in when you're in DC," he said. "What I worry with the data going directly to HHS is that it could be further politicized, and that’s the last thing you want."

Michael Caputo, the assistant secretary for public affairs at the department, said in an earlier statement that "new faster and complete data system is what our nation needs to defeat the coronavirus and the CDC, an operating division of HHS, will certainly participate in this streamlined all-of-government response. They will simply no longer control it."

"These systems need to be modernized," Besser said, "but the answer to this isn’t bypassing CDC; it's working to ensure that the flow is going faster, making sure that they're getting the right data."

10:20 a.m. ET, July 15, 2020

More than 30 students from an Illinois high school test positive for coronavirus

From CNN's Kay Jones, Brad Parks and Kevin Flower

Numerous Covid-19 positive cases have been identified among participants at a high school athletic camp as well as social gatherings among students at Lake Zurich High School, according to a press release from the Lake County Health Department.

The health department said on Wednesday that at least 36 students from the high school have tested positive.

They have instructed all participants from the Lake Zurich High School athletic camps to self-quarantine for 14 days from their last possible exposure.  

Lake Zurich High School held its first day of athletic camp on Monday, July 6. According to the release, numerous students were turned away during health screenings at the beginning of camp while others were sent home the first day after experiencing symptoms.

The school district was notified on the evening of the 6th that numerous students across multiple sports developed symptoms and tested positive. 

Through contact tracing, the Lake County Health Department said they have identified several social gatherings prior to the camps where exposures may have occurred. 

10:08 a.m. ET, July 15, 2020

Some Arizona schools to use "power breezers" to spray disinfectant in classrooms

As schools prepare to reopen this fall in Arizona, school officials are finding creative ways and alternatives to safely welcome students back in the classroom.

CNN correspondent Evan McMorris-Santoro visited Coatimundi Middle School in Rio Rico, Arizona, where "power breezer" machines are being set up in classrooms to spray disinfectant when students are not in class. These giant machines have been used in NFL sidelines to cool down football players.

The school also plans to use a hybrid schedule and reduce the number of students in each class. In a class with 28 desks, for example, the class will be reduced to 14 desks that are spaced apart.

David Verdugo, superintendent of Santa Cruz Valley Unified School District, said he hopes classrooms will be safe, but there is "no 100% answer." He said the goal is to provide as much opportunity for students, families and staff to stay safe.

CNN takes you inside the classroom:

10:07 a.m. ET, July 15, 2020

Dow surges on promising vaccine trial results

From CNN's David Goldman

US stocks soared once again at Wednesday’s opening bell.

Here is where things stood at opening:

  • The Dow opened up 350 points after a Moderna coronavirus vaccine showed promising results. Moderna shares surged 14%.
  • The S&P 500 was up 1%.
  • The Nasdaq rose 0.7%.

The vaccine hopes sent travel companies like Delta Air Lines and Carnival sharply higher.

Goldman Sachs is rallying 4% on near-record revenue driven by robust trading and investment banking results.

US stocks finished sharply higher Tuesday, with the Dow spiking 557 points, or 2.1%.

9:36 a.m. ET, July 15, 2020

Covid-19 cases are surging along the Georgia coast

From CNN’s Jason Morris

Georgia’s Glynn County, a popular coastal beach destination, has seen a significant recent increase of positive Covid-19 cases since the Memorial Day and July 4 holidays.  

“We have clearly seen a higher rate of positivity among those being tested,” Glynn Commissioner J. Peter Murphy told CNN.  

On Tuesday, Glynn County reported 1,622 confirmed new cases of Covid-19, 10 new deaths, and 84 hospitalizations, according to Georgia’s Department of Public Health.   

Commissioner Murphy told CNN that the “volumes” of visitors and cars at St. Simons beaches and piers beyond the local residents in the county has been “quite striking.”    

“The volume of people exploded in the area, and has a direct correlation in uptick and spike in number of individuals testing positive for coronavirus,” Murphy told CNN.