July 16 coronavirus news

By Jessie Yeung, Steve George, Meg Wagner, Melissa Macaya, Veronica Rocha and Fernando Alfonso III, CNN

Updated 0424 GMT (1224 HKT) July 17, 2020
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3:15 p.m. ET, July 16, 2020

New Jersey governor unveils plan to help students with distance learning this fall

From CNN's Annie Grayer

Pool
Pool

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy announced his roughly $115 million plan Thursday to close the digital divide for all students in the state as remote learning remains part of the experience for students in the fall due to the pandemic.

This effort will include providing devices and increasing connectivity for all public school students.

“Today I am honored to be with these leaders to announce the steps we're going to take to close the digital divide, to eliminate this disadvantage, and to ensure every student not most, but every, has the same opportunity to learn, whether it be in person or online,” Murphy said. “This is a cost we cannot ignore in light of the current fiscal reality by pushing it off to another year. We must address this.”

New Jersey will need to raise approximately $54 million. The remainder will be paid through the federal money from Congress through the Cares Act and Title One federal funding awards. 

More details: In order to raise the money within the state, Murphy announced all philanthropy avenues will be exhausted, the Department of Education will offer a one-time $10 million formula grant, and his administration will redirect Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) funds to close any remaining gap.

Murphy and New Jersey Education Commissioner Lamont Repollet had previously announced the state's plans to reopen schools for in-person instruction at the beginning of the school year, absent a change to the current public health data statewide.

3:04 p.m. ET, July 16, 2020

Publix will require customers to wear face coverings

From CNN's Kate Trafecante

A customer checks out at a Publix store on April 1.
A customer checks out at a Publix store on April 1. Jeffrey Greenberg/Education Images/Universal Images Group/Getty Images/FILE

Grocery store chain Publix will require all customers to wear face coverings when entering any of their stores throughout the United States beginning July 21.

“With the number of coronavirus cases continuing to grow and current CDC guidance indicating face coverings can help slow the spread of COVID-19, we believe requiring face coverings in our stores is another way we can do our part to help protect our communities,” said Publix Director of Communications Maria Brous.

More on this: Publix is the latest US store to require customers wear face masks while shopping. CVS, Kohl's, Kroger, Target and Walmart will also require customers wear face coverings.

The National Retail Federation, the main lobbying group for the industry, also called on retailers to require masks for customers.

3:06 p.m. ET, July 16, 2020

New York City reports more than 23,000 confirmed and probable Covid-19 deaths

From CNN's Rob Frehse

New York City has 18,754 confirmed and 4,617 probable coronavirus deaths as of July 16,��according to the most recent data on the city website.

The New York City Health Department defines probable deaths as people who did not have a positive Covid-19 laboratory test, but their death certificate lists as the cause of death “Covid-19” or an equivalent.

The total number of confirmed coronavirus deaths and probable coronavirus deaths in New York City is 23,371.

More data: There has been 217,230 coronavirus cases in the city and 55,589 people have been hospitalized since the start of the pandemic, according to the city.

The data is from the New York City Health Department and was updated on July 16 at 1 p.m. ET, according to the website.

Note: These figures may not line up exactly in real time with CNN’s database drawn from Johns Hopkins University and the Covid Tracking Project.

3:06 p.m. ET, July 16, 2020

Experts say other countries reopened schools because the pandemic "was under control"

From CNN's Amanda Watts

Students sit in a classroom at a primary school in Eichenau, Germany, on June 16.
Students sit in a classroom at a primary school in Eichenau, Germany, on June 16. Christof Stache/AFP/Getty Images

Countries that reopened schools were able to do so because they first got their coronavirus cases under control, experts said Thursday.

“We have fairly reassuring data from other countries that have gone about the work of reopening schools,” Dr. Jennifer Nuzzo, senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, said at a news briefing sponsored by the university.

Austria, Denmark, Germany and Norway have been able to open their schools, panelists told the briefing.

Nuzzo said these countries have been “taking measures to maximize safety in the school setting.

“[T]he key is, they have all started from a place of having low transmission and low level of illness in the surrounding communities," Nuzzo said.

Simply put, “each of these countries had their epidemic under control,” Nuzzo added. 

More insight: Annette Anderson, an assistant professor of education at Johns Hopkins, said one of the most important factors in getting kids back into face-to-face learning is to build trust with the parents and caregivers.

“Schools must convince parents and teachers that they are ready and safe to reopen,” she said. 

Anderson said schools and districts should have parents come in and see what in-person learning will look like in the fall.

“Having parents come in to physically see what those plans look like in action, so that it's not just something ephemeral,” she said. “Parents can see what it would look like to be in a socially distanced classroom, to see what it would be like to be in a socially distanced gym class, to see what it would be like to be in a socially distanced cafeteria."

2:55 p.m. ET, July 16, 2020

Arkansas will require face coverings in public

From CNN's Shawn Nottingham

Arkansas will now require face coverings in public, Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced at an afternoon news conference.

“We need to do more,” the governor said as he spoke about the order.

Hutchinson said the new order, which will take effect on Monday, will require masks to be worn when people are in the presence of non-household members and aren’t able to social distance. Children under the age of 10 are exempt from the order.

The mask order, he said, is enforceable and offenders can be cited and fined.

2:45 p.m. ET, July 16, 2020

Florida governor says labs are responsible for backlogged data, not health department

From CNN's Hollie Silverman

WFTS
WFTS

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Thursday that commercial labs are responsible for backlogged test results and not the Florida Department of Health.  

The governor said that labs are responsible for entering the test results into the state and sometimes don't enter each test each day.

"It is not the department of health, per se. It is the labs that are inputting this and some of those labs on there have inputted under multiple different entries and so obviously I want every single thing reported perfectly by the labs," DeSantis said. "But as we've seen in this process, we have a system, the states only doing I mean we do some testing, the hospital do a lot of testing, there's a lot of testing going on. That stuff gets sent, a lot of it to commercial labs, our state labs can do stuff, but I mean they only do a limited bandwidth, we're trying to expand it."
2:41 p.m. ET, July 16, 2020

California reports 118 new coronavirus-related deaths

From CNN's Sarah Moon

Workers direct cars as they wait in line for coronavirus testing at Dodger Stadium on Tuesday, July 14, in Los Angeles.
Workers direct cars as they wait in line for coronavirus testing at Dodger Stadium on Tuesday, July 14, in Los Angeles. Mark J. Terrill/AP

California reported 8,544 new cases of coronavirus and 118 additional deaths on Thursday, according to new data from the state's Department of Public Health.

The new cases represent a 2.5% increase and the deaths reflect a 1.6% increase from Wednesday’s data. 

Hospitalizations and intensive care unit admissions have slightly decreased from Wednesday with nine less patients hospitalized and 10 less patients in the ICU.

There are a total of 6,777 Covid-19 positive hospital patients and 1,897 ICU patients in the state.

The positivity rate in California over a two-week period is now 7.2%.

As of Thursday, California had a total of 356,178 confirmed Covid-19 cases and 7,345 deaths due to the virus. 

To note: These figures were released by California Department of Public Health and may not match up exactly in real time with CNN’s database drawn from Johns Hopkins University and the Covid Tracking Project.

2:22 p.m. ET, July 16, 2020

Hydroxychloroquine doesn't help Covid-19 patients who aren't hospitalized, new study finds

From CNN's Jen Christensen

A pharmacy tech pours out hydroxychloroquine pills in May.
A pharmacy tech pours out hydroxychloroquine pills in May. George Frey/AFP/Getty Images

The antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine did not benefit non-hospitalized patients with mild symptoms from Covid-19 who were treated early in their infection, according to a study to be published Thursday in the medical journal Annals of Internal Medicine. 

Scientists from University of Minnesota launched the trial March 22 to see if the drug could decrease the severity of symptoms and prevent hospitalization. This was the first randomized clinical trial to study hydroxychloroquine in Covid-19 patients who weren’t hospitalized.

It was tested in 491 adults in the United States and Canada. Half the patients received a five-day hydroxychloroquine treatment and half the patients received five days of a placebo. The adults were enrolled within the first four days of reporting symptoms, and 56% were enrolled in the trial the first day they reported any symptoms. Doctors monitored symptoms for two weeks.

What the study found: At the end of two weeks, the study found that there was no advantage to taking the drug. About 24% of the hydroxychloroquine group had symptoms that persisted over 14 days, compared to the 30% who took the placebo. But hospitalizations were nearly the same — 2% of those in the hydroxychloroquine group were hospitalized, compared to the 3% taking the placebo. The death rate was identical for both groups, at 0.4%.

And, 43% of those who took hydroxychloroquine had side effects, compared to the 22% that took a placebo. Gastrointestinal symptoms were the most commonly reported side effect.

The study also found there was no benefit seen among people who took zinc or vitamin C along with the placebo or hydroxychloroquine. 

The University of Minnesota researchers’ first randomized trial, published in the New England Journal of Medicine in June, looked at the drug as a possible post-exposure prophylaxis for adults who had been recently exposed to someone who was positive for Covid-19. It showed hydroxychloroquine did not prevent illness.

“Taken together, there is no convincing evidence that hydroxychloroquine can either prevent COVID-19 after exposure or reduce illness severity after developing early symptoms,” study author Dr. Caleb Skipper said in a statement. “While disappointing, these results are consistent with an emerging body of literature that hydroxychloroquine doesn’t convey a substantial clinical benefit in people diagnosed with COVID-19 — despite its activity against the coronavirus in a test tube.” 

President Trump has called hydroxychloroquine a “game-changer” for treating patients with Covid-19, and said he took it himself to prevent infection, but several studies have found no benefits to treating Covid-19 patients with the antimalarial drug. 

The US Food and Drug Administration revoked its emergency use authorization for both hydroxychloroquine and a related drug, chloroquine, for the treatment of Covid-19, saying the drugs are unlikely to be effective in treating the virus based on the latest scientific evidence. The National Institutes of Health announced last month it was halting its clinical trial of hydroxychloroquine for coronavirus patients. 

One study published this month by researchers at Henry Ford Health System in Southeast Michigan found hydroxychloroquine increased hospitalized patients’ chances of survival. However, researchers not involved with the study were critical of it, saying it wasn't of the same quality of the previous studies that showed hydroxychloroquine did not help patients. 

 

2:17 p.m. ET, July 16, 2020

Governor tightens Covid-19 enforcement penalties for New York City bars and restaurants

From CNN’s Sonia Moghe

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the state will start enforcing a “three strikes and you’re closed” policy for New York City restaurants and bars that serve alcohol and fail to comply with social distancing regulations put in place to prevent the spread of Covid-19. 

Cuomo said if New York City restaurants and bars fail to comply with regulations three times, they will be closed, and that egregious violations can result in immediate loss of liquor licenses. 

He said the new regulations will also prevent restaurants and bars across the state from only serving liquor to patrons. Drinks must only be served if patrons are ordering food.

The reason for this, Cuomo said, was that social distancing in restaurants outdoor seating can be better enforced if patrons are sitting in smaller groups at tables that are kept apart.

“If you’re not eating a meal and you’re just drinking and then it’s just an outdoor bar and people are mingling and not isolated at tables,” Cuomo said. 

Walk-up bar service would also no longer be allowed across the state. 

Cuomo said the state is seeing “significant” evidence of restaurants and bars failing to comply with Covid-19 social distancing regulations. He estimated at least 5,000 establishments in downstate New York were failing to comply with the regulations. He said his office has received thousands of complaints and videos showing restaurants and bars with improper social distancing. 

“This is a question of public health,” Cuomo said. “New Yorkers have paid a dear price for Covid.”