July 15 coronavirus news

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8:15 a.m. ET, July 15, 2020

US labs are getting more coronavirus tests than they can process in a day

From CNN's Maggie Fox

A healthcare worker tests a person for Covid-19 at the test site located in the Hard Rock Stadium parking lot on July 13, in Miami Gardens, Florida.
A healthcare worker tests a person for Covid-19 at the test site located in the Hard Rock Stadium parking lot on July 13, in Miami Gardens, Florida. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Laboratories in the United States running coronavirus tests are getting more samples than they can process, said the American Clinical Laboratory Association on Tuesday.

“In light of the ongoing spread of Covid-19 in states across the country, many labs are now receiving more test orders than they are able to process in a single day,” ACLA President Julie Khani said in a statement.

“We have urged ordering providers to prioritize testing for those most in need, especially hospitalized and symptomatic patients.”

On Monday, Quest Diagnostics, a member of the ACLA, said some of its tests were taking seven days to turn around because of the demand.

Why this matters: Without quick testing, people cannot know whether they have the virus and take steps to avoid spreading it. Fast testing is central to contact tracing, the method that public health experts say is key to controlling the spread of the pandemic.

What they're doing about it: ACLA member labs are now working on new testing strategies and technologies to maximize their testing capacities, Khani said.

These labs collectively have performed over 20 million molecular tests for Covid-19 since the end of February, when the federal government cleared regulatory hurdles to expand testing.

Testing capacity has tripled since early April, and ACLA labs are performing more than 300,000 tests a day, Khani said.

8:14 a.m. ET, July 15, 2020

Outbreak in Victoria, Australia, is spreading across state borders

From CNN's Angus Watson in Sydney

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews speaks to the media during a press conference on July 15, in Melbourne.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews speaks to the media during a press conference on July 15, in Melbourne. Robert Cianflone/Getty Images

The ‘patient zero’ for an ongoing coronavirus outbreak in the Australian city of Sydney came from Melbourne, located the next state over, said officials on Wednesday.

Sydney is located in New South Wales state, while Melbourne is in Victoria. Melbourne was placed under lockdown again last week after a dramatic spike in cases.

34 local infections in Sydney have now been traced to the outbreak in Victoria, said NSW health officials.

Patient Zero is a man who arrived in Sydney from Melbourne on June 30. He met with coworkers on July 3 in a hotel pub, officials said.

“We do know that the strain that has genetically turned up in New South Wales is from Victoria,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison said today Wednesday in an interview with radio station Triple M.

The border between Victoria and New South Wales -- Australia’s two most populous states -- has been closed for more than a week, in a bid to to stop the spread of outbreak. 

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews on Wednesday announced 238 new Covid-19 cases in his state with one new death related to the virus.

New South Wales health officials, meanwhile, announced 13 new coronavirus cases in the state in the past day, 10 of which were connected to the hotel pub cluster.

12:35 a.m. ET, July 15, 2020

It's official: The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention wants you to wear a mask

From CNN's Maggie Fox

Commuters arrive at Boston's South Station on Tuesday.
Commuters arrive at Boston's South Station on Tuesday. Craig F. Walker/The Boston Globe/Getty Images

The science shows face masks work both to protect the wearer and to protect others from coronavirus, and everyone needs to wear one around others in public, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday.

Even cloth face masks help enough to be worthwhile, three top CDC officials said in a commentary published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

“While community use of face coverings has increased substantially, particularly in jurisdictions with mandatory orders, resistance continues,” CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield, CDC’s chief medical officer Dr. John Brooks and Deputy Director for Infectious Diseases Dr. Jay Butler said in a joint editorial.

There is “ample evidence” that people who have no symptoms and may not realize they are infected may be driving the ongoing surge in infections, they wrote.

Redfield has been increasingly vocal about his support for the use of face masks, and the CDC published details on Tuesday of a study that found two hairdressers in Springfield, Missouri, who were infected with coronavirus did not infect any of 139 clients they worked with, probably because they wore face masks.

“Covering mouths and noses with filtering materials serves two purposes: personal protection against inhalation of harmful pathogens and particulates, and source control to prevent exposing others to infectious microbes that may be expelled during respiration,” the three officials wrote.  

Even homemade, cloth masks help. Face coverings aren't needed all the time -- for instance, people driving or walking alone in uncrowded spaces are probably safe without one.

“But when individuals choose to go out or must be close to others in public, a cloth face covering can help reduce the spread of COVID-19 from asymptomatic individuals or others."

12:15 a.m. ET, July 15, 2020

Japan defense minister says outbreak at Okinawa US military bases is a “very serious situation” 

From CNN's Kaori Enjoji and Junko Ogura in Tokyo

Japan's Defense Minister Taro Kono waits for US Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun (not pictured) prior to their bilateral meeting in Tokyo on July 10.
Japan's Defense Minister Taro Kono waits for US Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun (not pictured) prior to their bilateral meeting in Tokyo on July 10. Behrouz Mehri/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

The outbreak of coronavirus cases at US military bases in Japan is "extremely serious," said Japanese Defense Minister Taro Kono on Tuesday.

A total of 100 US military personnel and their families have so far been diagnosed with Covid-19 across six US Military facilities in Japan since early July. 

The US Marine Corps Air Station Futenma on Okinawa, with 71 confirmed cases, is the worst-impacted location.

Patients on commercial planes: Three US personnel, who tested positive after arriving in Tokyo over the weekend, took commercial flight en route to Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni in Yamaguchi Prefecture -- despite guidelines prohibiting them from using public transportation on Tuesday.

“It is an extremely serious situation. I asked the US side to strictly punish them and to take a serious action to prevent recurrence in the future,” Kono said.

Okinawa Gov. Denny Tamaki is arriving in Tokyo today to seek help from the Japanese government to press for more disclosure from the US military, and halt the arrivals of new US military personnel from outside Japan.