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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8:12 p.m. ET, July 15, 2020

Georgia governor extends emergency restrictions through the end of the month

From CNN’s Andy Rose

Gov. Brian Kemp
Gov. Brian Kemp Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution/AP

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.

8:03 p.m. ET, July 15, 2020

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

From CNN’s Maggie Fox

Registered Respiratory Therapist Niticia Mpanga looks through patient information in the ICU at Oakbend Medical Center in Richmond, Texas, on July 15.
Registered Respiratory Therapist Niticia Mpanga looks through patient information in the ICU at Oakbend Medical Center in Richmond, Texas, on July 15. Mark Felix/AFP/Getty Images/FILE

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.

8:00 p.m. ET, July 15, 2020

Psychiatric groups describe steps needed for reopening schools during the pandemic

From CNN's Jen Christensen

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.
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. Michael Loccisano/Getty Images/FILE

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.

7:43 p.m. ET, July 15, 2020

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

From CNN's Alexandra Meeks 

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

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." 

7:36 p.m. ET, July 15, 2020

Supplemental CDC recommendations on schools expected as early as Friday

From CNN’s Nick Valencia

Tami Chappell/AFP/Getty Imges/FILE
Tami Chappell/AFP/Getty Imges/FILE

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. 

7:19 p.m. ET, July 15, 2020

Harvard says Covid-19 surge across South did not come from northern vacationers, as CDC director claims

From CNN’s Shelby Lin Erdman

Dr. Robert Redfield
Dr. Robert Redfield Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP/File

Coronavirus cases are surging in the South because states reopened too soon, not because northerners traveled to Southern destinations over Memorial Day, the Harvard Global Health Institute asserted in a statement Wednesday

The institute is pushing back against comments made by US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Dr. Robert Redfield on Tuesday, blaming travelers from the north for the Southern surge.

“Northerners are not the cause of big outbreaks in the south,” the Institute said in a statement. “What the states that are seeing large outbreaks have in common is that they relaxed COVID-19 regulations around the same time in May, leading to the surge of cases seen in early June.”

The institute pointed to Virginia as an example, noting that the state remained in phase one of its reopening through the end of May and has, as a result, managed to contain the spread of coronavirus “significantly better than its neighbors.”

Redfield, in an event Tuesday, said the early reopenings in May are not to blame for a spike in coronavirus cases in mid-June between the 12-16, saying instead, “we're of the view that there was something else that was the driver.”

He suggested it was a result of travel over Memorial Day. “A lot of northerners decided to go South for vacations. The Southern groups had never really taken the mitigation steps that seriously, because they really didn't have an outbreak,” he said.

That is not true, the Harvard Institute said.

“That is not the case: In Southern states that are currently seeing large outbreaks, infections started rising around June 1st,” it countered. That was well before mid-June and too soon to blame Memorial Day travelers. 

7:13 p.m. ET, July 15, 2020

Coronavirus cases in Latin America and the Caribbean top 3.5 million

From CNN’s Taylor Barnes in Atlanta

Latin American and Caribbean countries have recorded more than 3.5 million Covid-19 cases and more than 150,000 deaths as of Wednesday, according to a CNN tally based on data from Johns Hopkins University’s Coronavirus Resource Center.

The 33 countries in the region have reported a total 3,524,908 Covid-19 cases and 150,973 deaths.

6:34 p.m. ET, July 15, 2020

Tennessee governor will attend NASCAR race tonight

From CNN's Jamiel Lynch

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee tweeted that he will be attending the NASCAR All-Star Race in Bristol tonight.

Lee said he will be wearing a mask to the event.

The event, which could attract up to 30,000 NASCAR fans, will be the largest sporting crowd since mid-March. The stadium holds 160,000 people, but will only allow 20% of its capacity. Organizers say seats will be assigned and positioned six feet apart.

6:21 p.m. ET, July 15, 2020

Ohio governor calls on people to wear masks as Covid-19 continues to spread

From CNN’s Rebekah Riess

The Ohio Channel
The Ohio Channel

Gov. Mike DeWine called for Ohioans to show unity and take action against the rapid spread of Covid-19 in the state.

At the beginning of the pandemic, it took Ohio 20 days to reach its first 1,500 total Covid-19 cases, DeWine said during a briefing Wednesday.

Last week, Ohio saw over 1,500 cases in a single day.

“And to think, just a month ago, we were at only 400 new cases per day,” DeWine said.

DeWine emphasized that the number of new cases is not just the result of increased testing.

“I know some say that our case numbers are increasing because we are simply doing more testing. Yes, our testing has gone up by 87%. But our number of positive cases has skyrocketed by almost 200%," the governor said.

He encouraged Ohioans to wear masks, adding that masks are not enough.

“Let’s be honest, some have started to let our guard down. I know I sometimes have. We’re tired. We want to go back to the way things were – and that’s very understandable. But when our guard is down, we're playing Russian Roulette with our lives," DeWine said.