Montana will now require masks in counties with 4 or more active cases of Covid-19
From CNN’s Jennifer Henderson
Montana Gov. Steve Bullock issued a new directive during a news conference today that requires face coverings in certain indoor business settings for counties with four or more active Covid-19 cases effective immediately.
Face coverings will also be required for outdoor gatherings of 50 people or more when social distancing isn’t possible.
Some context: Montana has doubled the number of Covid-19 cases just since the start of July, Bullock said.
Cluster cases in Montana have contributed to one third of the cases this month, he added.
5:07 p.m. ET, July 15, 2020
Vice President Pence says there's consideration being made to hold convention in an outdoor setting
From CNN's DJ Judd
In a campaign call with reporters, Vice President Mike Pence said that the upcoming Republican National Convention in Jacksonville, Florida, next month “is a work in progress,” and “there's consideration being given to having the convention in an outdoor setting, and also putting the kind of measures in place that put the health of all of those that are participating, our delegates, visitors, and anyone else is present, we'll put the health of everyone participating first.”
As previously reported, the RNC Host committee has indicated they plan to test all those within the perimeter on a daily basis.
Pence went on to encourage Americans, “particularly in the impacted areas, to take those steps to heed state and local guidance, to wash your hands, practice good hygiene, wear a mask when it's indicated by state and local officials, and, and also to wear a mask when social distancing is not possible.”
It’s worth noting that President Trump is currently in Georgia, where he’s conspicuously not observing Atlanta’s mask ordinance.
4:55 p.m. ET, July 15, 2020
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.