Lee, a Republican, issued a temporary reprieve the death row inmate on Friday, citing the Covid-19 pandemic. His order does not state a specific reason why the execution should be delayed as a result of the pandemic.
Nichols raped and killed Karen Pulley in 1988. He had been set to die on August 4.
"I am granting Harold Wayne Nichols a temporary reprieve from execution until December 31, 2020, due to the challenges and disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic," Lee wrote on Twitter.
1:25 p.m. ET, July 18, 2020
New Jersey reports 309 new Covid-19 cases and 16 additional deaths
From CNN's Sheena Jones
New Jersey reported 309 new cases of Covid-19 and 16 additional deaths from the virus, Gov. Phil Murphy tweeted.
The state reported a total of 176,814 cases of Covid-19. At least 13,725 people have died from the virus statewide.
Note: The numbers listed were released by the state of New Jersey and may not line up exactly in real time with CNN’s database drawn from Johns Hopkins University and the Covid Tracking Project.
1:01 p.m. ET, July 18, 2020
More than 2,000 health care workers in Ghana have tested positive for coronavirus since the pandemic began
From Zaina Adamu
More than 2,000 health care workers in Ghana have tested positive for coronavirus since the beginning of the outbreak in March, according to the Ghana Health Service.
Of those infected, six have died — five were engaged in active clinical practice, a health adviser for the office of the president said.
"I want to be clear," Dr. Anthony Nsiah-Asare said to CNN on Thursday. "The number of those infected is a cumulative figure and not a number that was a result over a short period of time."
Dr. Patrick Kuma-Aboagye, director-general of the Ghana Health Service, could not specify exactly how 2,000-plus health care workers became infected but initially, he said, the country faced personal protective equipment shortages that made it difficult for workers to adequately protect themselves.
Since then, he said, the number of those infected has reduced significantly.
"Over 90% of the infected has recovered and we now have a sufficient supply of PPE," Kuma-Aboagye said to CNN on Thursday.
FDA issues first emergency use authorization for Covid-19 pool testing
From CNN's Gisela Crespo
The US Food and Drug Administration on Saturday announced it has issued an emergency use authorization that allows Quest Diagnostics to pool samples from up to four individuals to test for Covid-19.
This is the first Covid-19 diagnostic test in the United States to be authorized for use with pooled samples, the agency said in a statement.
"This EUA for sample pooling is an important step forward in getting more Covid-19 tests to more Americans more quickly while preserving testing supplies," FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn said in the statement. "Sample pooling becomes especially important as infection rates decline and we begin testing larger portions of the population."
Sample pooling allows multiple people to be tested at once. The samples are collected and then tested in a pool or "batch" using just one test. If the pool tests positive, this means one of or more of the people tested in that pool may be infected with the virus. Each of the samples would then have to be tested again individually.
The FDA last month published guidance for developers that want to make and use tests for pooled samples.
In late June, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said the White House coronavirus task force was "seriously considering" pool testing as a new strategy to improve testing as the nation experienced a surge in Covid-19 cases.
In its statement, the FDA said that while there is a "concern that combining samples may make it more difficult to detect positives, since pooling in the laboratory dilutes any viral material present in the samples," Quest’s validation data correctly identified all of the pooled samples that contained a positive sample.
11:23 a.m. ET, July 18, 2020
Florida reports more than 10,000 new Covid-19 cases
From CNN's Dan Shepherd, Rosa Flores and Melissa Alonso
Florida’s health officials reported 10,328 new cases of Covid-19 and 90 new deaths on Saturday, according to data released by the Florida Department of Health (DOH).
This brings the state’s total cases to 337,569, DOH data shows. The statewide death toll is now 4,895.
Florida currently has 9,162 Covid-19-related hospitalizations, according to the Agency for Health Care Administration.
Note: These numbers were released by Florida's public health agency, and may not line up exactly in real time with CNN’s database drawn from Johns Hopkins University and the Covid Tracking Project.
11:07 a.m. ET, July 18, 2020
At least 39 states have implemented some type of face mask requirement
Science shows that face masks protect the wearer and those around them from coronavirus, and everyone should wear one when around others in public, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday.
What we know: At least 39 states as well as Washington, DC and Puerto Rico have implemented some type of face mask requirement.
But in Georgia —which is among the 18 states in the coronavirus "red zone" that should roll back reopening measures, according to an unpublished document prepared for the White House — the governor has clashed with mayors on such restrictions.
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp sued Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms on Thursday over her efforts to require face masks in public places. Several other mayors say they are prohibited from enacting the mask requirements supported by their residents because of on order from Kemp.
"This is the exact opposite of what we need to be doing," Utah County Commissioner Tanner Ainge said at the meeting room in Provo. "We're supposed to be physically distancing, wearing masks. This gathering violates current health recommendations."
10:14 a.m. ET, July 18, 2020
Here's the latest coronavirus update from New York state
From CNN's Kristina Sgueglia
There were 11 coronavirus-related fatalities reported across New York State Friday — including two in the New York City area — bringing the state death toll to 25,035, the governor’s office said in a statement.
New York state added 754 Covid-19 cases, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. The state has reported a total of 406,305 confirmed cases.
Patient hospitalizations are down to 743, a new low since March 18.
New York City reported a 1.3% positivity rate in testing for Friday.
“We remain alarmed by spikes in much of the country and the risk of a lack of compliance at home as the state pursues a phased, data-driven reopening," Cuomo said Saturday.
“New Yorkers' vigilance, courage and adoption of basic behaviors—mask wearing, hand washing and social distancing—has driven our ability to control the virus, and we have to continue on that path to success.”
Note: These numbers were released by New York State’s public health agency, and may not line up exactly in real time with CNN’s database drawn from Johns Hopkins University and the Covid Tracking Project.
10:16 a.m. ET, July 18, 2020
Moroccan seasonal workers who were trapped in Spain start their journey home
From CNN's Laura Pérez Maestro in Madrid
More than 7,000 Moroccans, most of them women, are stranded in Spain after their country closed its borders to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Of the 7,200 Moroccan women, who were trapped in Spain after their fruit picking jobs ended, 1,221 leave today for Morocco.
A spokesperson for Interfresa, one of the biggest strawberry pickers associations in Spain, told CNN "the are extremely happy and excited to go home."
Some background: They arrived in Spain to pick fruit in March, sending their earnings back home to families, and were trapped when the season ended in May.
Interfresa said that some workers had been in the country as early as December, and added that it was in "daily contact" with the governments of Spain and Morocco.
The two countries signed an agreement in 2001 granting the seasonal workers temporary visas to harvest fruit in Spain.