July 19 coronavirus news

By Helen Regan, Jenni Marsh and Amy Woodyatt, CNN

Updated 12:50 a.m. ET, July 20, 2020
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12:07 p.m. ET, July 19, 2020

US is on a good path when it comes to vaccines, NIH director says  

From CNN Health’s Naomi Thomas

from NBC
from NBC

The ability to distribute vaccines and the fear that the rush to make a vaccine may make it unsafe are significant concerns, according to Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health. But, he said it’s important to look at the positive side. 

“This has been an amazing trajectory that we’ve been on,” Collins said, talking on NBC’s Meet the Press. 

Within a day or two of getting the virus genome sequence, he said that a vaccine was already starting to be designed. After 62 days, this was being injected into the first phase one trial participants. 

“That data which was just published looks extremely good,” Collins said. “So we’re on a good path here.” 

Collins also encouraged people to sign up for vaccine clinical trials, especially is places where the virus is spreading and people who are at higher risk. 

Speaking about reports that Russian cyber actors are targeting organizations involved in coronavirus vaccine development, Collins said it wasn’t entirely clear to him what it was all about, but that “most of what we do in science, we publish it, we put it out there, people don’t have to go hacking to find it. We’re all about transparency.” 

He also said he wasn’t sure that there was serious risk involved, “mischief, yes, but serious risk, I’m not so sure.” 

12:01 p.m. ET, July 19, 2020

Pennsylvania reports 786 additional cases of Covid-19

From CNN's Sheena Jones

Pennsylvania reports 786 additional cases of Covid-19 and 8 deaths from the virus, according to a release from the Pennsylvania Department of Health.

The state has a total of 101,027 cases of Covid-19 and 7,015 total deaths from the virus. 

“The department is seeing significant increases in the number of COVID-19 cases among younger age groups, particularly 19 to 24-year-olds. An alert was sent to healthcare providers about the changing Covid-19 case demographics, as there are more cases in younger age groups than in those 50-64 and 65+," the release says.  

One thing to note: The numbers listed were released by the state of Pennsylvania and may not line up exactly in real time with CNN’s database drawn from Johns Hopkins University and the Covid Tracking Project.

12:01 p.m. ET, July 19, 2020

Protective measures should be something we all do, NIH director says 

From CNN Health’s Naomi Thomas

from NBC
from NBC

“We Americans are individuals, and if given the appropriate information, and if it’s not sort of confused by a lot of other conspiracy theories, we’re capable of figuring out what to do,” said Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health. 

“If we want to see this current surge, and it’s a real surge, turn around,” he said on NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday, “all Americans need to recognize it's up to us.” 

Collins encouraged wearing a mask when outside the house, social distancing, not convening in large groups, especially indoors, and hand washing. 

“We can turn this around and we don’t have to wait for some sort of serious high level edict to say so,” Collins said. “This just makes common sense at this point, it just ought to be something we all do.” 

Collins said that a good job was done in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, and that steps that were put in place meant that those areas came down to close to zero. 

“Meanwhile the rest of this country, perhaps imagining this was just a New York problem, kind of went about their business, didn’t really pay that much attention to CDC’s recommendations about the phases necessary to open up safely and jumped over some of those hoops,” said Collins. 

People began congregating, not wearing masks and “feeling like it’s over and maybe summer it’ll all go away.” 

Collins said that we now have not only 70,000 cases almost every day, but a quite concerning number of hospitalizations, in his perspective, which are almost as high as they were in April. 

“We’ve got to really double down here,” said Collins. “We Americans are pretty good at rising to a crisis, we got one now, let’s see what we can do together.” 

12:00 p.m. ET, July 19, 2020

Democratic congresswoman on school reopening: Congress needs to "lead in absence of the Trump administration"

From CNN's Chandelis Duster, CNN

Massachusetts Rep. Ayanna Pressley on Sunday said the nation should not be in a rush to reopen schools amid the coronavirus pandemic and called for Congress to "lead in the absence of this Trump administration."

"We cannot move too quickly on this. The consequences are too great to consider. This is about the public health," the Democrat told CNN's Jake Tapper on "State of The Union." "What needs to happen is Congress needs to continue to act as the conscience of this nation and to lead in the absence of this Trump administration to provide reoccurring payments and to mitigate the financial hardships and the burdens that families are feeling. To continue to address food insecurity. But we should not rush to reopen schools."

Pressley continued that teachers "have already proven themselves to be courageous and dedicated educators."

"We are now asking them to be caseworkers and in some instances martyrs. And that is unconscionable. Again, we need to pass the HEROES Act which is sitting on the desk of Mitch McConnell which makes massive federal investments to support the reopening of our schools when it is safe and this virus is under control."

More on this: President Donald Trump and members of his administration have pushed for schools to reopen in coming weeks even as the number of coronavirus cases has surged. Some schools districts have announced they would continue remote learning in the fall and some have said they would implement a combination of remote learning and in-person instruction.

Read more here.

11:50 a.m. ET, July 19, 2020

Atlanta mayor accuses Georgia governor of trying to silence her with mask lawsuit

From CNN’s Jasmine Wright

from CBS
from CBS

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms once again slammed Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp for the lawsuit against her and members of her city counsel, implying that it could be because she is a woman or her city’s demographics while on CBS’ Face the Nation.

Calling it “bizarre,” she pointed out language from the suit filed Thursday, that asks the judge to stop Bottoms from telling the press in releases and interviews that she has the authority to impose measures outside of ones issued by Kemp himself. Bottoms has accused him of trying to silence her.

“There were other cities in our state who instituted mask mandates and he did not push back then,” she said. “I don't know if perhaps they were led by men or if it's perhaps because of the demographic in the city of Atlanta. I don't know what the answers are. But what I do know is that the science is on our side.” 

Bottoms cited the unreleased report from the White House that showed her state was declared a red state for the surging Covid-19 cases. And she pushed back that protests for equality led to spikes in Covid-19 cases. Bottoms says her police do have the ability to enforce her mandates requiring masks and pushing the city back to phase one, as if they were issuing a citation for seatbelts. And she slammed the governor who talks about local control for abusing her own.

“At the end of the day, the party that speaks of local control has taken away local control and attempting to silence our voices in this state,” she said.

Some more context: Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp announced Thursday he is suing Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance 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.

The mayor also tweeted about Kemp's lawsuit today:

11:32 a.m. ET, July 19, 2020

This Pennsylvania county reports more than 130 new Covid-19 cases

From CNN's Sheena Jones

Allegheny County, PA — which includes Pittsburgh and surrounding areas — reports 138 new Covid-19 cases, one new hospitalizations and one additional death from the virus, according to a statement from the Health Department. 

“In the newest cases, ages range from 11 months to 93 years old with the median age being 40. Positive results are from tests that span July 3 through July 18,” the release says.

Allegheny County has a total of 6,263 cases of Covid-19.

One thing to note: The numbers listed were released by the Allegheny County Health Department and may not line up exactly in real time with CNN’s database drawn from Johns Hopkins University and the Covid Tracking Project.

11:31 a.m. ET, July 19, 2020

White House Chief of Staff says stimulus negotiations will start "in earnest" on Monday

From CNN's Nicky Robertson

Alex Wong/Getty Images
Alex Wong/Getty Images

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows Sunday said that the administration has been engaged in discussions on the next stimulus bill for the past week, but negotiations will start “in earnest” Monday on Capitol Hill. 

“As we’ve started to engage with our Senate and House colleagues up on Capitol Hill, those will start in earnest starting tomorrow, Monday,” Meadows said in an interview on Fox News.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy will meet with President Trump and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, “to actually start to fine tune it,” Meadows added. 

Some context: The White House and Senate Republicans are at odds over the amount of funding that should be given to the Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention in the next round of stimulus spending, a source with direct knowledge of the matter told CNN on Saturday. 

He outlined the administration’s priorities for the next stimulus package: expediting warp speed for treatments and keeping people employed, and making sure there are “protections for the American workers and those that employ individuals.”

“Whether it’s a payroll tax deduction, whether it's making sure that unemployment benefits continue without a disincentive to return to work,” Meadows noted. The issue of continuing unemployment benefits has been a sticking point for Democrats in negotiations. 

“It looks like” the bill will be in the trillion dollar range, Meadows stated. 

Meadows added, “bluntly we are looking at a number of areas to look at manufacturing, bringing some of those critical manufacturing jobs back from overseas.” 

The Chief of Staff announced that there will be “multiple initiatives” coming out this week, including one on schools. 

Meadows said that the President has “already authorized to work Congress” over 70 billion dollars for schools, and that “you will see a very broad five to six points in terms of what we will be doing in terms of making sure that our schools are safe.”

11:16 a.m. ET, July 19, 2020

US Navy teams deployed to South Texas to fight Covid-19 spread

From CNN's Brad Parks and Chandler Thornton

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced that five US Navy teams will be deployed Sunday to areas in South and Southwest Texas "to help combat the spread of Covid-19."

The teams will assist at various hospitals in the cities of Harlingen, Del Rio, Eagle Pass and Rio Grande City, according to a press release from the governor's office.

"These teams consist of medical and support professionals which are being deployed to help meet medical needs in hospitals throughout the state," the press release says.

"The support from our federal partners is crucial in our work to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in our communities throughout Texas," said Governor Abbott. "I am grateful for this ongoing partnership with the Department of Defense and the U.S. Navy, and the State of Texas will continue to utilize every resource available to protect public health and keep Texans in every community safe." 

11:16 a.m. ET, July 19, 2020

The average testing delay is too long NIH director says 

From CNN Health’s Naomi Thomas

from NBC
from NBC

“The average test delay is too long,” said Dr. Francis Collins on NBC’s Meet the Press Sunday. “And that really undercuts the value of the testing, because you do the testing to find out who’s carrying the virus and then quickly get them isolated so they don’t spread it around.” 

This is hard to do when there is a long delay in the testing, said Collins, director of the National Institutes for Health. 

“We need to do things that are more on the spot,” Collins said. “There’s a number of new technologies that are coming along that look very promising in that space. We need to invest a lot of money, and the government is willing to do so, in scaling those up.” 

Collins said that the science of this is critical and that NIH was “deeply engaged” with in efforts to try to develop an additional array of point of care tests. 

He also pointed out that this week, around seven or eight hundred nursing homes will be getting sent FDA approved point of care tests, so that people who are in a high risk environment will be able t find out if they have the virus in less than an hour, according to Collins. 

“That the kind of thing that I personally, along with many others and other parts of the government, are working on night and day to try to do a better job of this,” he said. “You’re right, we have to come up with a better turnaround time.”