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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12:51 p.m. ET, July 15, 2020

Senate GOP leader says he has "total" confidence in Fauci

From CNN's Ali Zaslav

Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images
Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Wednesday he has “total” confidence in Dr. Anthony Fauci, after he was asked by a reporter at a Kentucky appearance what his level of confidence is in the infectious disease expert at this point.

Why this matters: The top Republican leader’s remark comes as the public feud between the Trump White House and Fauci continues to simmer.

The White House is making a concerted effort to discredit Fauci as he becomes increasingly vocal about his concerns over reopening the country during a national surge in coronavirus cases. Trump and Fauci are also no longer speaking.

"Dr. Fauci is a nice man, but he's made a lot of mistakes," Trump said this week, undermining the public health expert Americans say in polls they trust more than the President.

But Trump does not plan to dismiss Fauci, and probably couldn't directly fire him if he wanted to, White House officials have determined. He insisted on Monday that his relationship with the doctor remains strong.

1:18 p.m. ET, July 15, 2020

Alabama will require face coverings in public

From CNN's Shawn Nottingham

Elijah Nouvelage/Bloomberg/Getty Images
Elijah Nouvelage/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Alabama will now require residents to wear a face covering while in public, according to a statement from Gov. Kay Ivey.

All individuals in public and within six feet of another person will be required to wear a face covering. Children under six will be exempt.

The new mandate is part of an amended safer-at-home order announced by the governor's office. The amended order runs until July 31.

With this mandate, Alabama becomes the 36th state to require a face coverings while in public.

Click here to see your state requires people to wear masks in public.

12:14 p.m. ET, July 15, 2020

Infectious disease expert compares US Covid-19 response to a toddler

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

Infectious disease expert Dr. Colleen Kraft said the United States doesn’t have a handle on coronavirus, largely due to people’s behavior. 

“I’m not really sure at this point…what to say differently, except that we may be more at a toddler status, where we have to sort of learn ourselves by putting our hand over a fire to actually learn that there's a problem,” Kraft said.  

Schools cannot open in-person and sports are being canceled due simply to “our inability to wear a mask, social distance and wash our hands,” she said. 

The United States saw a record number of new cases Tuesday with at least 67,417 new reported cases, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. 

Watch the interview:

12:13 p.m. ET, July 15, 2020

More than 136,000 people have died from Covid-19 in the US

There are at least 3,448,625 cases of coronavirus in the US and at least 136,699 people have died from the virus in the country, according to Johns Hopkins University's tally.

So far on Wednesday, Johns Hopkins recorded 17,051 new cases and 233 reported deaths. 

The totals include cases from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and other US territories, as well as repatriated cases. 

Visit CNN's tracker of US Covid-19 cases here.

12:09 p.m. ET, July 15, 2020

DC state of emergency will likely be extended through October

From CNN's Nicky Robertson

Semansky/AP
Semansky/AP

Washington, DC, Mayor Muriel Bowser said the district's state of emergency will be extended — likely through October. 

Meanwhile, the district has experienced delays in giving residents results from coronavirus tests, the mayor said at a news conference this morning.

"We have some internal capacity which we’ve maxed out,” Bowser told reporters.  

She added that they are using contractors to help with testing results. 

The mayor noted that if a resident is getting a coronavirus test, they should quarantine for 14 days regardless of whether or not they have their test results. 

When asked about jurisdictions no longer having to report coronavirus data to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Bowser said, “I think all of us in hearing that announcement were concerned that there was some political motive behind it.”  

The Department of Health and Human Services confirmed to CNN on Tuesday that hospital data on coronavirus patients will now be rerouted to the Trump administration instead of first being sent to the CDC.

The mayor said coronavirus data from the district will be shared with any government agency, “but we want to make sure it’s going to get to the hands of the scientists.”

 

1:10 p.m. ET, July 15, 2020

Oklahoma governor tests positive for Covid-19

From CNN's Kay Jones

Sue Ogrocki/AP
Sue Ogrocki/AP

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt announced today in a news conference that he tested positive for Covid-19. He said he was tested yesterday and that he feels fine other than being a little achy. 

Stitt said he is quarantining at his home and isolating away from his family.

The governor's diagnosis comes after he attended President Trump’s campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma last month and was spotted in the crowd without a mask on.

Tulsa has seen a surge in cases in the aftermath of the rally that health officials say was likely caused by the event that hosted roughly 6,000 people indoors, most of whom opted not to wear a mask.

Based on contact tracing, the Oklahoma State Department of Health says that the governor did not contract Covid-19 at the Trump rally in Tulsa in June.

Dr. Lance Frye, commissioner of the Oklahoma State Department of Health, said they don't know exactly when the governor was infected, but that it would've been within the last couple of weeks. He added that it would not have been as far back as Trump's rally. 

Stitt stressed that he has been tested periodically since the rally and it wasn't until Tuesday that he tested positive.

Some background: Stitt has been criticized throughout the pandemic for his aggressive push to reopen the state and seeming lack of adherence to the advice of medical experts.

 In March, as the country was coming to terms with how serious coronavirus was and businesses were shuttering their doors, Stitt tweeted a photo of himself and his children eating at a crowded restaurant. He later deleted the tweet.

Oklahoma had one of the most aggressive reopening plans in the country, and despite a rise in cases, Stitt has said that shutting down businesses is not under consideration.

11:36 a.m. ET, July 15, 2020

Nearly 250 new cases of Covid-19 reported in the Pittsburgh area

From CNN's Sheena Jones

Overnight, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, the area where Pittsburgh is located, reported 246 new cases of Covid-19, according to a statement from the Allegheny County Health Department. 

The county announced 5 additional deaths, on Wednesday, and one new hospitalization. 

This information is based on 2,944 test results from June 30 through July 14, the release said.

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

11:22 a.m. ET, July 15, 2020

Philadelphia's public schools will have hybrid start this fall

From CNN's Annie Grayer and Elizabeth Stuart

The Philadelphia Independent School District plans to reopen schools in September with a hybrid of in-person and online learning, with most students physically attending school two days per week. Under this plan, schools in Philadelphia would resume on Sept. 2. 

Each of the more than 200 schools within the district will create its own individual plan, while abiding by the safety guidelines outlined by Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. Wednesday.

These measures mirror those that many other major school districts nationwide are taking, including temperature/health checks, masks, social distancing, limiting classroom capacity, and increased cleaning of classrooms and public spaces.

"We all are living through a pandemic, and there will surely be challenges ahead, doing these uncertain times," Hite said. "But I am confident that by working together, we will be able to provide our students with the education they need and deserve. And by working together, we will be able to develop solutions and as issues arise, and ensure that we will all get through this safely as possible.”

Here are some of the safety guidelines from the plan:

Hybrid learning:

  • K-12 students will be assigned to come to school on Mondays and Wednesdays or Tuesdays and Thursdays, with all students doing digital learning on Fridays.
  • The city aims to provide face-to-face learning for students with complex needs, and an A/B schedule for all other K-12 students.

Masks and face coverings:

  • Teachers and students will be provided masks that must be worn at all times that six feet of social distancing cannot be maintained. The district has different face covering requirements depending on grade level and will provide the necessary equipment for each student.
  • For students in pre-kindergarten through grade 5, all students will be provided two face shields and five surgical masks per week. Teachers in these grade levels will be provided two face shields per week. Students in grades 6-12 will be provided five disposable surgical masks per week. And special needs students will be provided two face shields per week. 
  • School safety officers and transportation staff will be provided one durable face shield for the year and a disposable surgical mask daily.
  • Cleaning and maintenance staff will be provided one face shield weekly and one disposable surgical mask daily.
  • Nurses will receive one face shield weekly and a disposable surgical mask daily. All employees will receive one cloth mask.

Hite predicted that this plan would cost “somewhere north of $60 million” and “could go as high as $80 million.”

11:19 a.m. ET, July 15, 2020

Rash inside the mouth might be Covid-19 symptom, preliminary research suggests

From CNN Health's Jacqueline Howard

Preliminary research now suggests that skin rashes and rashes inside the mouth might be a symptom of coronavirus infection — but more study is needed.

The research, published in the medical journal JAMA Dermatology on Wednesday, found that among 21 patients in Spain who were confirmed to have Covid-19 and a skin rash, six of those patients or 29% had enanthem, or lesions or rash in the mouth.

The mean amount of time between the onset of Covid-19 symptoms and developing enanthem was about 12 days among the patients, according to researchers from the Hospital Universitario Ramon y Cajal in Madrid.

Specifically, the researchers found that one patient developed enanthem 24 days after the onset of symptoms; two patients developed enanthem 19 days after; one developed enanthem 12 days after; one developed enanthem two days after; and another developed enanthem two days before.

"This work describes preliminary observations and is limited by the small number of cases and the absence of a control group," the researchers wrote, adding that their findings still suggest enanthem to be a possible Covid-19 symptom and not a reaction to medications, for instance.

"Despite the increasing reports of skin rashes in patients with COVID-19, establishing an etiological diagnosis is challenging," the researchers wrote. "However, the presence of enanthem is a strong clue that suggests a viral etiology rather than a drug reaction."