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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8:38 p.m. ET, July 16, 2020

These Indiana mayors have closed beaches in their cities as Covid-19 cases rise

From CNN’s Rebekah Riess

As Indiana continues to see increasing numbers of Covid-19 cases, the mayors of Whiting and Michigan City have closed their respective beaches.

Michigan City Mayor Duane Parry issued an executive order today, closing all city beaches after recent spikes in Covid-19 cases, deaths, and “the huge influx of out of state visitors to Washington Park,” according to a statement from his office. The closure will take effect Friday and go through midnight on July 23.

“This closure will undoubtedly cause inconveniences and disruptions to those who visit, utilize our beachfront, zoo, and park however the City is committed under these trying conditions to take precautionary and necessary measures intended to help reduce the risk of spreading the virus locally,” the statement said.

Whiting Mayor Joe Stahura closed Whihala Beach this week after it became "difficult for patrons to comply with the COVID-19 social distancing requirements and other CDC guidelines,” a statement from the city said. 

Stahura said he regretted being forced to take this action, but felt it was in the best interest of the city.

“We’ve witnessed an alarming disregard of all Covid-19 protocol and park supervision in recent weeks. We no longer feel confident that we can provide a reasonably safe ‘health’ environment for our patrons," he said.

8:45 p.m. ET, July 16, 2020

Former CDC director says "the virus isn't going to stop until we stop it"

 Former CDC director Tom Frieden
 Former CDC director Tom Frieden CNN

Dr. Tom Frieden, the former director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, called the US a "laggard" when it comes to handling Covid-19.

Frieden's rebuke of how the US is handling the pandemic followed remarks about how American children need to get back to school, a sentiment echoed earlier today by the nation's top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci.

"It's important not just for learning. It's important for health, for society, for mental health. It's important also for all of us to be able to get back to our work, and that's why it's so important that we work together to get the virus under control," Frieden said during CNN's global coronavirus town hall tonight. "The virus isn't going to stop until we stop it. The US is now a laggard. The virus is out of control. We're talking about 60,000 plus diagnosed infections, and many times that number of total infections every day."

Earlier today: The unintended, downstream consequences of keeping children out of school can be profound and that’s why we’ve got to try to get children to return to the classroom, Fauci said Thursday.

There are a lot of unintended negative consequences,” Fauci told Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg during a live chat. “Having said that, with the thought that the default should be to try and get kids to school, you've got to look at where you are, location-wise, because as I've said often, the United States is a large country geographically and demographically quite different and varied."

Watch here:

8:24 p.m. ET, July 16, 2020

More than 138,000 people have died from coronavirus in the US

There are at least 3,560,364 cases of coronavirus in the US and at least 138,201 people have died from the virus in the country, according to Johns Hopkins University's tally.

So far on Thursday, Johns Hopkins recorded 61,462 new cases and 786 reported deaths. 

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

7:51 p.m. ET, July 16, 2020

Dallas County to delay in-person instruction until September 8

From CNN's Raja Razek

The health director in Dallas County, Texas, announced today that he will be issuing an order to delay in-person instruction for all local public and private schools until September 8. 

"This order allows schools to begin remote instruction on schedule, but it does also ban all school-sponsored events and activities, such as clubs and sports until the school systems resume in-person instruction," said Dr. Philip Huang, director of the Dallas County Health and Human Services. "The order includes a provision that two weeks before beginning in-person instruction, schools must share their reopening safety plans with parents and the public."

"This order goes until September 8 because, given the data and where we are now, we don't feel that it is safe until that time," he added. 

Huang went on to say that an advisory group will make further recommendations. 

"This only goes until September 8, but as we talk with the superintendents, it is recognizing, you know that things may change, and we will also get this added input form these advisory groups." 

7:31 p.m. ET, July 16, 2020

Lab group urges more federal leadership on coronavirus testing

From CNN's Shelby Lin Erdman

The US federal government needs to provide clear coronavirus testing guidelines as US diagnostic laboratories strain under the pressure of increased testing amid a surge in the coronavirus pandemic, the head of a laboratory industry group said Thursday.

Labs are struggling to get enough supplies and guidance on how to speed up the testing process, perhaps by pooling test samples, said Julie Khani, the head of the American Clinical Laboratory Association.

“There’s an opportunity for an expanded role for the federal government, particularly around issuing clear ordering guidelines for clinicians,” Khani said in a statement to CNN. “Leadership in this area can help ensure we deploy the full spectrum of diagnostic tools where they are most needed.”

States and testing companies have been reporting major delays in Covid-19 test results – some as long as a week or more.

Labs are also still struggling with a shortage of supplies needed for testing, Khani said.

“What we have consistently heard from members is that reagents, test kits, pipettes and platforms are all in high demand,” said Khani, whose group represents the country’s major commercial labs.

Some experts have suggested specimen pooling or batch testing where a number of Covid-19 samples could be tested all at once, cutting down on needed supplies and maximizing test availability. 

But Khani said labs have not received any guidance on pool testing from the US Food and Drug Administration or the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Plus, she noted there are limitations to pooling.

“For instance, pooling tests from populations of high prevalence would actually increase costs, because nearly every test pool could return positive results, requiring retesting of too many samples,” she said.

Such limitations are an example of why FDA or CDC guidance is sorely needed.

Just this week: Quest Diagnostics, one of the nation’s leading commercial laboratories, announced soaring demand for Covid-19 tests is “slowing the time” the company can provide test results, even after rapidly scaling up its capacity.

Other labs are facing the same problems, in addition to supply shortages. 


7:27 p.m. ET, July 16, 2020

How Starbucks trains employees to deal with mask-less customers

From CNN's Cristina Alesci

Starbucks is training its employees to handle customers who enter its stores without a mask, according to an internal document obtained by CNN. 

The document outlines three scenarios for employees:

  • Unhappy customers who question the policy in the absence of a government mandate
  • Unhappy customers who refuse, citing their rights as Americans 
  • Customers with medical conditions 

In all scenarios, employees are encouraged to provide alternatives like drive-thru or curbside ordering.  

Employees should ask customers with medical conditions without a mask to wait in a designated area, which could be curbside, for their orders, according to the material. 

The training guide tells employees to always assume positive intent but that if the customer refuses and doesn't have a medical condition, employees can refuse to serve the customers. When the customer returns with a mask, the employee can provide a beverage free of charge. 

If the situation escalates further, the training material urges employees to avoid proximity to items or fixtures that can be used as weapons. 

It also recommends certain steps to deescalate, including urging employees to never turn their backs on customers.  

If necessary, employees may need to call 911 but shouldn't inform customers they're doing so.

"The goal is to give a customer the best experience," a company official said. "So if they don’t have a mask, we want to give them options that still allow them to have a good experience." 
7:11 p.m. ET, July 16, 2020

Colombia tops 173,000 coronavirus cases and 6,000 deaths

From CNNE's Abel Alvarado in Atlanta

Colombian soldiers patrol the streets in Usme neighborhood, in Bogota, on July 15.
Colombian soldiers patrol the streets in Usme neighborhood, in Bogota, on July 15. Juan Barreto/AFP/Getty Images

Authorities in Colombia reported 8,037 new coronavirus cases on Thursday and 251 deaths. 

The new numbers bring the total number of cases for the country to 173,206 and the number of deaths to 6,029. 

More than 76,000 people have so far recovered from the virus, according to government data. 

7:18 p.m. ET, July 16, 2020

Our default should be to try to get children back to school safely, Fauci says

From CNN’s Andrea Kane

The unintended, downstream consequences of keeping children out of school can be profound and that’s why we’ve got to try to get children to return to the classroom, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, said Thursday.

There are a lot of unintended negative consequences,” Fauci told Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg during a live chat.

“Having said that, with the thought that the default should be to try and get kids to school, you've got to look at where you are, location-wise, because as I've said often, the United States is a large country geographically and demographically quite different and varied," he said.

"You can be in a part of the country, a county, a city, a state in which the level of virus infection, the dynamics, is so low, you could send kids back to school without any modification or any worry. But there are also some areas, when you look in the dynamics of the infection, are so intense you have to say ‘Wait a minute, let me think about it,'" Fauci added.

Fauci said that ultimately the safety of the children and the health of the teachers is paramount to driving that decision.

“If you can't do it in a natural way, do a modification. Some of the school principals and the superintendents have very creative ways of doing that, of modifying the class structure, outdoors maybe a little bit more, protecting the vulnerable, it can be done. It can be done,” he said.

His advice to parents: “Listen to the recommendations; the CDC has guidelines. The health officials locally will make a decision – hopefully, and I cannot imagine they won't – based on a concern for the safety at the same time as the need to get the children back to school.”

Watch here:

6:43 p.m. ET, July 16, 2020

Young people should not feel like they are immune to serious infection, Fauci warns

From CNN's Lauren Mascarenhas

From Facebook
From Facebook

Dr. Anthony Fauci said that the younger generation is driving the new surge of coronavirus infections across the nation.

“Young people are intimately and heavily involved in what's going on now with this pandemic,” he said in an interview with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

“You look at what's going on with the new infections – the age range of the infection. The median age is about a decade and a half younger today than it was a few months ago,” Fauci said.

While the data shows that young people are less likely than older people to become seriously ill, Fauci said he has seen ample evidence of young people being “knocked out on their back and brought to their knees pretty quick,” by Covid-19. “I've never seen an infection with this broad range of manifestations," he added. 

He cautioned against young people assuming they are immune to serious infection.

“There are many, many young people who get infected. They get sick. They feel horrible for weeks and weeks,” Fauci said, adding that he has noticed young people experiencing something similar to chronic fatigue syndrome after recovering from the virus.

“Even when they clear the virus, and they test negative – they don't have any virus – they can feel out of sorts for weeks and weeks," he said.

Fauci directly urged young people to consider their societal responsibility. 

“You're going to get back to normal, and you'll be able to freely have fun, go to the bars, go with the crowds, but not now,” said Fauci. “Now's not the time to do that.”