US needs to focus on Covid-19 cases now instead of possible second wave in the fall, Fauci says
From CNN'S Amanda Watts
Dr. Anthony Fauci, who is speaking live now during a US Chamber of Commerce virtual event, said the United States needs to concentrate on what’s happening right now with coronavirus cases.
“People keep talking about the possibility of a second wave in the fall — that's a historic terminology related to another time and another outbreak. I think we need to concentrate on where we are right now,” the nation's leading expert on infectious diseases said.
Fauci said the US is “essentially still in the first wave.”
“When you're having up to 70,000 new infections in certain areas of the country, that's something you need to focus on right now, as opposed to looking at what's going to happen in September or October,” he said.
11:28 a.m. ET, July 17, 2020
Miami-Dade mayor says county has not exceeded ICU capacity, despite what dashboard shows
From CNN's Rosa Flores and Kay Jones
Miami Dade Mayor Carlos Giménez said today that the county has not exceeded the ICU capacity, although the county's dashboard showed that the capacity is at 107%.
Giménez said in a news conference this morning that the 107% number is of the "normal capacity" but that they have not reached "absolute capacity."
He explained that hospitals have the ability to add hundreds of ICU beds by not having elective surgeries, which allows for the hospitals to convert the recovery rooms into ICU rooms. He also said that the number of beds available is a rolling number.
While the number of hospitalizations were not available during the news conference Friday, Gimenez said that the increase of hospitalizations has somewhat plateaued over the past four days.
"We still have capacity here in Miami Dade County," Gimenez said.
He did say that the county needs additional medical personnel to staff the additional beds and that Gov. Ron DeSantis is helping with that request.
11:22 a.m. ET, July 17, 2020
Doctors urge Colombian president to impose strict lockdown
From journalist Stefano Pozzebon
Colombian doctors are urging president Iván Duque to impose a strict lockdown in the city of Bogota and the most affected areas of the country after record increases in both Covid-19 cases and related deaths were reported on Thursday.
Dr. Herman Bayona, president of the College of Doctors of Bogota told CNN on Friday: "It's evident that the virus is spreading faster than our capacity to treat patients and test them. This week has been a remarkable acceleration."
ICUs occupancy rate is over 90% in Bogota, Bayona added.
Bayona also stressed that thousands of new Covid-19 cases have been reported from regions that so far were lightly affected by the pandemic, signaling Covid-19 is no longer confined in the main two hotspots in Bogota and the Atlantic coast.
The country's president has so far resisted calls to re-impose lockdowns after they were partially lifted at the beginning of June.
“To think that the only alternative is only a total lockdown clearly cannot be the solution” Duque told a local radio station on Thursday responding to recent criticism.
Some context: Earlier in the week, 14 medical associations published an open letter calling authorities for a total lockdown to be imposed in Colombia’s capital with immediate effect.
Several of Colombia's largest cities — such as Bogota, Barranquilla and Cartagena — are currently under localized lockdowns imposed by local authorities rather than a centralized plan mandated by the government.
On Thursday evening, Colombia’s Ministry of Health reported a total of 173,206 Covid-19 cases with 8,037 new cases in the last 24 hours. The country death toll reached 6,029 deaths with 215 new deaths.
11:16 a.m. ET, July 17, 2020
Florida's Miami-Dade mayor says county is not near a shutdown yet
From CNN's Rosa Flores and Kay Jones
The mayor of the city of Miami, Francis Suarez, told CNN on Thursday that the city is a few days away from a possible shutdown. Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Giménez said today the county is not there yet.
In a press call today, Giménez said that while he doesn't think Suarez meant that he was thinking of shutting down today or tomorrow, they'll be discussing the statement later today in a meeting with all of the county mayors.
He said that while the city of Miami is the biggest city in the county, it only represents 15% of the population.
Giménez said that the decision to implement a shut down will be driven by the data.
"The decisions that we make could cause irreparable damage, not in a healthy perspective, but on economic basis for a long, long time," Giménez said. "I take this very seriously. And I will speak to my medical advisors, you know, on what the next steps should be if we have to take them."
Latest figures: Miami-Dade, considered Florida's epicenter of the virus, has seen an increase in the number of Covid-19 patients being hospitalized (46%), in the number of ICU beds being used (54%) and in the use of ventilators (86%), according to the county's latest data.
Earlier today, a spokesperson for Giménez said in a statement to CNN's Rosa Flores that Miami-Dade's "hospitals have more Covid patients in ICU beds than they have available ICU beds." The ICU capacity "figure is above 100 percent," the statement says.
11:12 a.m. ET, July 17, 2020
Stimulus package negotiations are expected next week. Here's what one Trump adviser thinks will be in it.
From CNN's Betsy Klein
White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow took one quick question from reporters this morning after a pre-taped appearance on Fox News, and essentially echoed what he’s said before on provisions for the next stimulus bill.
“There will be unemployment insurance. For some reason some people in the media have said we’re ending it, that’s just not true," he said of the next stimulus package.
"We’ll probably put a cap on federal and state unemployment, and make sure there are incentives to go back to work. We’ll probably have a reemployment benefit and the President is very keen, as we are, on the payroll tax holiday. It could be a deferral, it could be a tax rate cut, but it’ll incentivize going to work, take home more wages,” Kudlow added.
How next week will play out: A viscerally divided Congress (and White House) facing a roughly three-week deadline to reconcile diametrically opposed visions of what the economy needs to survive the resurgence of the coronavirus pandemic.
Senate Republicans are slated to release their plan and actual talks will, for the first time, kick into gear. All sides acknowledge the stakes are enormous. What nobody seems to agree on is how — and when — Congress and the White House will come together on an agreement.
11:07 a.m. ET, July 17, 2020
New York City on track to begin phase 4 of reopening Monday, but there still wont be indoor dining
From CNN's Kristina Sgueglia
New York City is on track to enter phase four of reopening on Monday with specific modifications, including continuing to stall the restart of indoor dining, according to Mayor Bill de Blasio.
Indoor dining will not resume in phase four as its considered “high risk," de Blasio said.
Malls and museums will also be “still closed for now," he added.
Here's what will open in phase four: Low-risk outdoor entertainment activities, including things like botanical gardens and zoos, can reopen at a reduced capacity of 33%.
Production of movies and TV shows can proceed, the mayor said, and sports can come back but without audiences.
He also announced the city is adding 40 more blocks for restaurants on open streets beginning this weekend.
10:31 a.m. ET, July 17, 2020
The battle over Atlanta's mask mandate is heating up. Here's how we got here.
From CNN’s Carma Hassan
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, who filed a lawsuit against the Atlanta mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms over her city's mask mandate, said the city order "cannot be enforced."
"Mayor Bottoms’ mask mandate cannot be enforced, but her decision to shutter businesses and undermine economic growth is devastating. Atlanta businesses are hurting, violent crime is up, and families are rightfully worried,” the governor said.
"I refuse to sit back and watch as disastrous policies threaten the lives and livelihoods of our citizens. We will fight to stop reckless actions and put people over pandemic politics," he added.
Here's the backstory on the Kemp-Bottoms feud:
Earlier this month: In an executive order dated July 8, Bottoms required "all persons to wear a mask or a cloth face covering over their nose and mouth within the city of Atlanta."
Wednesday: Kemp issued an executive order that voids masks mandates imposed by some local governments.
Thursday: Bottoms' office said the “Mayor’s Order remains in effect, as science and data will continue to drive the City’s decisions. Masks save lives.”
Later on Thursday: Kemp announced the lawsuit against Bottoms over the city's mask mandate, claiming the measure violates his emergency orders. "This lawsuit is on behalf of the Atlanta business owners and their hardworking employees who are struggling to survive during these difficult times," Kemp tweeted. Bottoms quickly, tweeting "3104 Georgians have died and I and my family are amongst the 106k who have tested positive for COVID-19. Meanwhile, I have been sued by @GovKemp for a mask mandate."
10:29 a.m. ET, July 17, 2020
Union for Miami-Dade's Jackson Health System employees demands hazard pay due to increased Covid-19 exposure
From CNN's Rosa Flores and Dan Shepherd
A union representing about 5,000 Jackson Health System employees in Miami-Dade is demanding hazard pay as Covid-19 hospitalizations continue to grow, according to Rene Sanchez, president of the union AFSCME Local 1363.
In a statement to CNN, Jackson Health System said it “simply cannot afford to provide hazard pay” to employees at this time.
The AFSCME Local 1363 represents licensed practical nurses, respiratory therapists, radiology techs, security workers and finance personnel, among others, according to Sanchez.
Sanchez said union members are facing increased exposure to Covid-19 as they see double and triple the amount of patients, increased workloads and decreased staffing. Hospital security specialists are working in new roles like screening patients as they enter the hospitals.
“Our workers are being worked past their limits,” said Sanchez in a press release. “We lost lives from this pandemic and face the real risk of losing more before it is over.”
Jackson Health explained its financial situation in a statement: “As we shifted our operations to focus solely on providing the best care to hospitalized Covid patients and others who need emergency, lifesaving care, Jackson leadership made the prudent decision to stop elective procedures, which brings in the most revenue to Jackson. That, along with the high costs associated with overtime, supplies, and emergency staffing, have pushed our health system toward a dire financial crisis, yet no employees have been laid off, furloughed, or had their salaries reduced.”
Sanchez says he went public with this pay issue because as the pandemic continues to surge he worries about the members of the AFSCME Local 1363.