July 20 coronavirus news

By Ben Westcott, Brad Lendon, Melissa Macaya, Meg Wagner, Mike Hayes and Veronica Rocha, CNN

Updated 12:40 a.m. ET, July 21, 2020
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3:53 p.m. ET, July 20, 2020

West Virginia governor reports Covid-19 outbreaks in seven churches

From CNN's Laura Dolan

Gov. Jim Justice’s Office/TV Everywhere
Gov. Jim Justice’s Office/TV Everywhere

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice reported multiple Covid-19 outbreaks in seven churches across seven counties in the state.

At his news conference Monday, Justice said there was a total of 75 cases reported at churches in Boone, Grant, Logan, Kanawha, Raleigh, Taylor and Wood counties.

He warned churchgoers to be cautious, "Please, please know that a church setting is the ideal setting to spread this virus."

"You have got to wear a mask in church. I know that's hard to do, I know that's really difficult to do. But for right now, that has to be done because if we don't, all we're going to do is perpetuate this terrible killer into more and more and more people and we're going to lose people," the governor added.

State Health Officer Dr. Ayne Amjad said at the news conference that one church in each county has an outbreak with five to eight cases per church.

The governor said the state had 89 new positive Covid-19 cases and no new deaths since last Friday.


3:12 p.m. ET, July 20, 2020

Second Brazilian minister tests positive for Covid-19

From journalist Rodrigo Pedroso in São Paulo

Brazil's Minister of Education Milton Ribeiro tested positive for Covid-19 on Monday, just hours after another cabinet minister revealed he was infected earlier in the day.

"I've just received a positive Covid-19 result this morning. I am already medicated, and I'll work remotely," Ribeiro tweeted.

The minister's spokesperson told CNN affiliate CNN Brasil that Ribeiro is working from a hotel in the capital Brasília.

Ribeiro did not specify what medication he is taking.

More top Brazilian officials are infected with coronavirus: Brazil’s Minister of Citizenship Onyx Lorenzoni tweeted Monday that he tested positive for Covid-19. In a series of tweets, Lorenzoni wrote that he was tested after his symptoms started last Friday.

Earlier this month, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro tested positive for Covid-19, following months of downplaying the virus.

Three other high-ranking government officials have also previously tested positive. In March, after returning from a trip to the United States for meetings between the Brazilian and US presidents, Mines and Energy Minister Bento Albuquerque, and Institutional Security Minister General Augusto Heleno tested positive, along with Bolsonaro’s communication secretary Fabio Wajngarten and another 15 members of the Brazilian delegation.

3:11 p.m. ET, July 20, 2020

Baltimore police suspend in-service training after positive Covid-19 tests

From CNN’s Rebekah Riess

Mitchell Layton/Getty Images
Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

The Baltimore Police Department (BPD) has temporarily suspended in-service training after four trainees and two staff members tested positive for Covid-19 since Friday, according to a release from the department. 

Baltimore's police department is working with the University of Baltimore to have their training facility cleaned and disinfected, and the training academy will continue through remote learning in the meantime, according to BPD.

Some context: Since the beginning of the pandemic, 65 members of the department have tested positive for Covid-19. An additional 42 members are currently out on quarantine, and 638 department employees have been quarantined for some amount of time due to potential Covid-19 exposure since the start of the pandemic, the release said.

“COVID-19 continues to challenge the policing profession, as we look to research best practices and create innovative solutions in resuming much needed training to the members of the department,” Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison said. “We continue to examine all procedures and precautionary measures put in place to minimize exposure to COVID-19 for all of our members.”
3:05 p.m. ET, July 20, 2020

Florida educators file lawsuit after state forces schools to reopen this fall

From CNN's Annie Grayer and Randi Kaye

Middle-school teacher Brittany Myers takes part in a protest Thursday in front of the Hillsborough County Schools District Office in Tampa, Florida.
Middle-school teacher Brittany Myers takes part in a protest Thursday in front of the Hillsborough County Schools District Office in Tampa, Florida. Octavio Jones/Getty Images

Florida educators have filed a lawsuit seeking to overturn the state's emergency order that forces schools to open for in-person instruction next month.

President of the Florida Education Association Fedrick Ingram announced the suit against Gov. Ron DeSantis, Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran, Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Giménez, the Florida Department of Education and the Florida State Board of Education. The suit was filed in the 11th circuit court in Miami.

Corcoran issued the emergency order earlier this month, requiring all "brick and mortar schools" to open "at least five days per week for all students."

“We believe that that is reckless,” Ingram said of the executive order. “We believe that it is unconscionable, and we also believe that the executive order is unconstitutional.”

“No one wants to be back in a classroom and reopen our school more than educators,” Ingram added. “But we want to do it safely. And we don't want to put people at risk.”

Leaders of the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association both joined the news conference in support of the lawsuit. AFT President Randi Weingarten said DeSantis, who has been pushing for schools to reopen, is in “intense denial."

“As a national affiliate, we'll do everything we can do to make sure not only our members are safe, but our community is safe, and that we do not lose a generation of children because of the denial and the recklessness,” Weingarten said.

NEA President Lily Eskelsen García said “it is a false choice to either keep schools close stop learning or open them unsafely.”

In addition to union leaders, teachers from Florida also joined the virtual news conference to issue their support.

Stefanie Miller, who had Covid and was on a ventilator for 21 days, has been a teacher in Broward County for 22 years.

“I don't wish this on anyone,” Miller said of her recovery from the virus. “I, of course, want to go back to teaching, but it needs to be safe. There's no way that children can sit in their seat for six hours, wearing a mask and not feel the stress of this situation. Teaching online is not optimal, but it's best to keep teachers, personnel, and families safe.”

2:57 p.m. ET, July 20, 2020

World Health Organization "very concerned" that Covid-19 cases may accelerate in Africa

From CNN's Marisa Peryer

People walk past coronavirus guidance in Soweto, South Africa, on July 13.
People walk past coronavirus guidance in Soweto, South Africa, on July 13. Themba Hadebe/AP

South Africa has reported 364,328 coronavirus cases as of Monday. Officials from the World Health Organization are concerned that the country’s rising numbers could signal greater Covid-19 spread throughout Africa.

“While South Africa is experiencing a very, very severe event, I think it is really a marker of what the continent could face, if urgent action is not taken to provide further support,” Dr. Mike Ryan, director of WHO’s Health Emergencies Programme, said Monday during a media briefing in Geneva.

South Africa has the fifth most confirmed Covid-19 infections in the world, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Ryan said South Africa is experiencing an acceleration in Covid-19 cases, which have increased by about 30% in the last week.

“Sometimes, this disease can take off very quickly,” Ryan said. “And sometimes, in other situations, it takes off more slowly, and then accelerates – and it's difficult to understand fully why that is the case.”

Ryan noted other countries in the region have seen Covid-19 increases, though their total case counts are still lower than South Africa’s. In the past week, cases in countries such as Madagascar, Namibia and Botswana have increased by 50%, 69% and 66%, respectively, according to Ryan.

“I'm very concerned right now that we're beginning to see an acceleration of disease in Africa,” Ryan said. “And we all need to take that very seriously and show solidarity and support to those countries who may now be experiencing increasing numbers of cases and deaths.”

2:36 p.m. ET, July 20, 2020

More than 140,000 people have died from coronavirus in the US

From CNN's Brandon Miller

There have been at least 3,794,355 cases of coronavirus in the US, and at least 140,716 people have died since the start of the pandemic, according to Johns Hopkins University's tally of cases.

On Monday, Johns Hopkins reported 21,095 new cases and 182 deaths. 

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

2:36 p.m. ET, July 20, 2020

South Carolina's health department says state exceeded July testing goal

From CNN’s Natasha Chen

Medical professionals conduct a drive-thru testing site in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, on Friday.
Medical professionals conduct a drive-thru testing site in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, on Friday. Josh Bell/The Sun News/AP

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control said that between July 1 and July 16, the state exceeded its monthly Covid-19 testing goal by completing more than 140,000 tests. 

The department also announced 1,445 new confirmed Covid-19 cases and nine new confirmed deaths.

The positivity rate of those tested Sunday was 17.7%.

2:31 p.m. ET, July 20, 2020

Dominican Republic declares state of emergency due to "concerning increase" in Covid-19 cases 

From CNN's Jessica Hasbun, Claudia Rebaza and Tim Lister

A worker fumigates an area of San Cristobal, Dominican Republic, in June.
A worker fumigates an area of San Cristobal, Dominican Republic, in June. Erika Santelices/AFP/Getty Images

Dominican Republic President Danilo Medina declared a state of emergency in the country for the next 45 days due to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Medina issued a presidential decree on Monday announcing the decision due to “the concerning increase of Covid-19 transmission and in order to avoid our public and private health system from overflowing.”

The president has not specified yet which restrictive measures will be taken during this period. 

On Sunday, the country’s civil defense announced the closure of beaches across the country in order to enable social distancing, the agency said via Instagram. 

Dominican Republic reported a total of 53,956 Covid-19 cases on Sunday, with 1,101 new cases in the last 24 hours. The country’s death toll has now reached 993. 

Some background: While the number of deaths has consistently averaged about a dozen per day this month, the number of infections reported has begun to move upwards. The daily average in the first week of July was 1,002. The daily average over the last week (to July 19) is 1,346 — an increase of one third in the number of new infections since the beginning of the month.

The director for the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), Dr. Carissa F. Etienne, had warned about an increase of cases “in hotspots on the border of Haiti and the Dominican Republic as well as within the Guianese Shield.”

PAHO has also reported "a significant increase of cases" in Haiti, expecting they will continue to rise in the coming weeks, Dr. Ciro Ugarte, director of Health Emergencies, said last week.


2:20 p.m. ET, July 20, 2020

California reports more than 6,800 new cases and 9 deaths

From CNN's Sarah Moon

California reported 6,846 new cases of coronavirus and nine additional deaths on Monday, according to updated data from the state's Department of Public Health.

Hospitalizations and intensive care unit admissions have slightly increased. A total of 6,921 Covid-19 positive patients are hospitalized and 1,943 patients are in the ICU.

As of Monday, California has a total of 391,538 confirmed cases and 7,694 deaths.

One thing to note: These numbers were released by California Department of Public Health, and may not line up exactly in real time with CNN’s database drawn from Johns Hopkins University and the Covid Tracking Project.