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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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.”

2:05 p.m. ET, July 16, 2020

Database reveals 72 NFL players have tested positive for Covid-19

From CNN's Homero De La Fuente

The National Football League Players Association’s database reveals that 72 NFL players had tested positive for Covid-19 as of July 10.

Although the database is inconclusive on how many total players were tested, it’s meant to keep players and personnel up to date with the latest information on the spread of coronavirus around the league and the country.

Asked about the context of 72 players testing positive for the virus, a NFLPA spokesperson would only reveal that protocols call for the league and the players union to share confirmed cases and that an update may happen on Friday.

2:09 p.m. ET, July 16, 2020

Some restrictions will be relaxed in this locked down UK city

From CNN's Lindsay Isaac

Restrictions have been in place in Leicester, England, since June 29.
Restrictions have been in place in Leicester, England, since June 29. Joe Giddens/PA Images/Getty Images)

Some coronavirus restrictions in a locked down city in England will be relaxed, UK Minister of Health Matt Hancock said Thursday. 

Leicester went into a local lockdown on June 29 after a spike in Covid-19 cases. Speaking in Parliament, Hancock said restrictions on schools and early years child care will be removed as of July 24.  

Hancock said a “more targeted approach” will be taken towards nonessential shops, with local authorities deciding on closures if necessary. 

Remember: All pubs, bars and restaurants will remain closed. Restrictions on travel remain in place and social gatherings are still limited to six people.

1:59 p.m. ET, July 16, 2020

Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference suspends fall sports season due to Covid-19 pandemic

From CNN's Jabari Jackson

The Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference will suspend all fall sports competition amid the country’s ongoing battle with the coronavirus pandemic.

In a statement released by the conference on Thursday, the league revealed the decision was influenced by the “rapid escalation” of Covid-19 cases along the East Coast and the virus’ impact on minority communities.

“Obviously this is an arduous decision because everyone wants to have a fall season for student-athletes, fans and others,” said MEAC Commissioner Dr. Dennis Thomas in the statement. “Part of our responsibility is to ensure the mental and physical health and safety of our student-athletes, coaches, and staff is paramount. It is imperative that everyone recognize that is our first and foremost responsibility.”

The conference intends to proceed with the current winter sports schedule “unless health and medical professionals advise otherwise.” A decision surrounding fall sports moving to the 2021 spring semester has yet to be determined. 

The MEAC is comprised of all historically Black colleges and universities with members from Florida to Delaware.  

1:30 p.m. ET, July 16, 2020

US Health Department directs CDC to add hospital data back to its website

From CNN's Kaitlan Collins

The Department of Health and Human Services directed the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to re-establish on their website public hospital data after they were criticized because some of it was removed Wednesday.

"HHS is committed to being transparent with the American public about the information it is collecting on the coronavirus. Therefore, HHS has directed CDC to re-establish the coronavirus dashboards it withdrew from the public on Wednesday. Going forward, HHS and CDC will deliver more powerful insights on the coronavirus, powered by HHS Protect," said Assistant Secretary of Public Affairs Michael Caputo. 

As of now, the previously removed dashboard modules were back online. The CDC has also added language to their page announcing that they will not be updating this data past July 14. 

What this is about: Last night, some data was no longer available on the CDC.gov website after the Trump administration’s decision to reroute coronavirus hospital data first to the administration instead of sending it directly to the CDC.

As of this morning, raw inpatient and intensive care occupancy data up to July 7 was available for download from the site.

1:33 p.m. ET, July 16, 2020

Most Covid-19 patients surveyed had either a fever, cough, or shortness of breath, new CDC study finds

From CNN's Jen Christensen

Covid-19 can cause a wide variety of symptoms, but a new analysis of records by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that most patients seemed to share at least one of three symptoms: fever, cough or shortness of breath.

The report published Thursday covered 164 people with lab confirmed cases of Covid-19. The patients all had symptoms, and all were sick between January 14 and April 4.

Since Covid-19 was a new disease and since information about symptoms was limited, especially among patients that hadn’t been hospitalized, the CDC sent a further survey to patients identified by local health leaders. The patients were asked to report on a wide variety of symptoms and also asked to report on any additional symptoms that were not widely recognized. 

Among these patients, nearly all — 96% — had had either a fever, cough, or shortness of breath and about 45% experienced all three.

Cough was the most common symptom: 84% of surveyed patients said they had a cough, the team of CDC and state health officials found. Fever was the next most common symptom, with 80% of patients reporting they had a fever. Shortness of breath was more commonly associated with people who were hospitalized.

Patients also experienced a wide variety of other symptoms including muscle pain, chills, fatigue and headache. At least one stomach issue, most commonly diarrhea, was each reported by half of the patients. Some patients also reported GI symptoms such as abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting.

A higher percentage of people who did not have to go to the hospital lost their sense of taste or smell. 

Remember: These results are not generalizable, since testing was restricted to certain patients during this time period and hospitalized patients are likely overrepresented in the sample of people surveyed, but the data does give doctors a better sense of who might need to be tested or even isolated to slow the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.


1:59 p.m. ET, July 16, 2020

US travel bans came too late for New York City, CDC study finds

From CNN’s Jen Christensen

People visit an international terminal at New York's John F. Kennedy Airport on March 13. That was the day the United States restricted travel from Europe.
People visit an international terminal at New York's John F. Kennedy Airport on March 13. That was the day the United States restricted travel from Europe. Kathy Willens/AP

Travel bans meant to stop coronavirus from getting to the US from China came too late, according to a new analysis of cases from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The US restricted travel from China on February 2 and from Europe March 13, but by March 8, Covid-19 was already circulating among the community in New York City, and by March 15, community transmission was already widespread, the analysis found. 

What was circulating most closely matched the strain of the virus circulating in Europe, not China.

This study looked at data collected by the New York Department of Health and Mental Hygiene between March 1-20. It was early in the pandemic. It was only on March 8 that the department had announced that there was sustained community transmission.

The department examined specimens taken from people who went to the emergency room with flu-like symptoms. Of the 544 specimens tested, 36, or 6.6%, were positive for novel coronavirus.

Doing additional genetic sequencing of the samples, the strain of the virus more closely resembled the one circulating in Europe, rather than the one circulating in China. That means that the novel coronavirus was likely introduced to New York through Europe or by travelers from other US locations, the report said.

By the time the Trump administration had placed travel restrictions on Europe the importation of the virus and the community spread of the disease had already started in New York City, according to the report. Testing was limited at the start of the epidemic in New York City and that added to a number of cases going undetected that added to the spread of Covid-19.


1:53 p.m. ET, July 16, 2020

These Texan counties are bringing in refrigerated trucks as morgues reach capacity

From CNN's Kay Jones, Jeremy Grisham, Faith Karimi and Steve Almasy

Refrigerated trailers arrive in San Antonio.
Refrigerated trailers arrive in San Antonio. City of San Antonio

With skyrocketing coronavirus hospitalizations in Texas, hard-hit counties are bringing in refrigerated trucks as morgues fill up.

The city of San Antonio and Bexar County has secured several refrigerated trailers to store bodies until they can be released to area funeral homes. 

"With the growing number of Covid-related deaths and many funerals on hold right now, hospitals are beginning to experience a backlog of deceased patients," Mario Martinez, metro health assistant director, said in a video interview released by the city.  

He said that they currently have two in operation with another three that will be operational by the end of the week. He also said that several local hospital systems have also placed order for and secured trailers. 

“This is a morbid topic and it’s not one we enjoy talking about but it really does underscore the severity of Covid-19 in our community,” Martinez said.

Meanwhile, the Dallas County morgue had to use an external refrigerated truck this week due to the increased caseload, the Medical Examiner's office told CNN.

“We have had to go to the external refrigerated truck once this week due to increased caseload, but today we are back with all cases inside," Dr. Jeffrey Barnard, the Dallas County Medical Examiner, said in a statement. "I anticipate that we will at some point have to use the truck again based on continuing increased volume.”

Dallas County Health and Human Services reported 485 total fatalities since the pandemic began, with 59 of those deaths occurring over the past week. There are 36,969 total cases throughout the county. 

CNN reported earlier that the counties of Cameron and Hidalgo are sharing a large refrigerated trailer to store bodies of coronavirus patients because of a lack of space at the morgues.

Note: The latest Dallas figures were released by Dallas County Health and Human Services, and may not line up exactly in real time with CNN’s database drawn from Johns Hopkins University and the Covid Tracking Project.