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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9:41 a.m. ET, July 20, 2020

Getting retested for Covid-19 multiple times is completely unnecessary, US health official says

From CNN Health’s Naomi Thomas

US Assistant Secretary for Health and Human Services Admiral Brett Giroir told CNN’s Alisyn Camerota that getting retested multiple times for Covid-19 is unnecessary, if someone has been symptom-free for three or more days, or if it has been 10 or more days since the onset of their symptoms.

“It has always been a CDC guideline,” Giroir said on New Day Monday, “that if you are 10 days or more since the onset of your symptoms and you’re three days or more symptom free, you do not need to be retested.”

“We have lots of data now that shows after eight or nine days, you cannot transmit the virus – the virus is gone,” he said. “What we’re seeing now is people getting retested four, five, six, eight times – and that’s completely unnecessary.”

Giroir also said that it is known that PCR tests can be positive and a person not be infectious. This can keep people out of schools and workplaces unnecessarily.

“It wastes resources, clogs up the system and it’s unnecessary,” Giroir said. “You do not need to be retested if you follow those clinical guidelines.”

The exception is if you’re in the hospital, very sick or immunocompromised, as you can shed the virus for a lot longer and that is a different situation, according to Giroir.


11:46 a.m. ET, July 20, 2020

There's "hope" for an agreement on EU coronavirus recovery fund, German chancellor says 

From CNN's Nadine Schmidt and Fred Pleitgen

German Chancellor Angela Merkel makes a statement at the European Council building in Brussels, Belgium, on July 19.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel makes a statement at the European Council building in Brussels, Belgium, on July 19. Francisco Seco/Pool/AP

European Union leaders have come up with a "framework" for a possible agreement on the EU coronavirus recovery fund after overnight negotiations, German Chancellor Angela Merkel told reporters in Brussels.

"Last night — after long negotiations — we have come up with a framework for a possible agreement. That is progress — and it gives us hope that there may be an agreement today or at least that an agreement is possible," Merkel said on Monday.

EU leaders have been locked in heated negotiations about the economic recovery plan for three days, including overnight Sunday into Monday, with the sticking points including the size of loans versus grants.

Austria, the Netherlands, Denmark and Sweden, the so-called "Frugal Four," had vehemently opposed the idea of 500 billion euros ($571 billion) in grants over concerns of loading their countries with national debt to fund the spending of other countries.

Whereas countries like Spain and Italy said they couldn’t accept a reduction in the volume of grants.

Merkel said it was "clear negotiations would be incredibly tough" but that negotiations continue. 

"But extraordinary situations also require extraordinary efforts. So far we have lived up to this and I hope we will be able to make it the rest of the distance, which will not be easy," Merkel told reporters.

9:25 a.m. ET, July 20, 2020

Peru records slight increase in Covid-19 cases since lockdown eased, health minister says

From CNN’s Claudia Rebaza

Workers disinfect streets in Puno, Peru, on July 17.
Workers disinfect streets in Puno, Peru, on July 17. Carlos Mamani/AFP/Getty Images

Peru’s Health Minister Pilar Mazzetti admitted Covid-19 cases have increased in the country since the government eased the total lockdown and resumed some economic activities on July 1.

“At the moment we are seeing a slight increase” Mazzetti told a local TV station on Sunday evening.

“If we continue to see an increase we would need to take other measures” Mazzetti added and acknowledged the government is handling the pandemic with limited resources.

On Sunday evening, Peru’s Health Ministry reported 4,090 new Covid-19 cases bringing the total number to 353,590. The number of new cases in the last 24 hours is the highest increase in the last 10 days. Lima region, Peru’s capital, continues to be the area with the highest number of infections.

Peru’s government has extended the country’s state of emergency until July 31 and allowed localized lockdowns in 7 of 24 regions, permitting some economic activities to resume gradually. On Monday, restaurants in these regions are expected to reopen with a limit of 40% of their capacity. 

Peru has the second-highest number of Covid-19 cases in Latin America, after Brazil.


9:10 a.m. ET, July 20, 2020

Walmart will require all customers to wear face masks starting today

From CNN's Nathaniel Meyersohn

People shop at a Walmart in Burbank, California, on July 15.
People shop at a Walmart in Burbank, California, on July 15. Etienne Laurent/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Walmart will require customers at all of its US stores to wear masks beginning today, becoming the largest retailer to mandate facial coverings as coronavirus cases continue to rise.

About 65% of Walmart's more than 5,000 stores, including its Sam's Club locations, are located in areas where there is a government mandate on face coverings.

"To help bring consistency across stores and clubs, we will require all shoppers to wear a face covering starting Monday, July 20," Walmart US chief operating officer Dacona Smith and Sam's Club chief operating officer Lance De La Rosa said in a blog post last week. "This will give us time to inform customers and members of the changes, post signage and train associates on the new protocols."

Although no federal mandate to wear a mask exists, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says everyone "should wear a cloth face cover when they have to go out in public." The CDC said "face coverings are meant to protect other people."

Walmart said it will enforce the new policy by stationing "health ambassadors" near the entrance to remind shoppers of the requirement.

Some background: Other national chains have made similar moves as Walmart. Kroger and Kohl's announced they would start requiring all customers to wear masks, signaling that more retailers are lining up behind mask-wearing mandates. The National Retail Federation, the main lobbying group for the industry, also called on retailers to require masks for customers.

Most major retailers and grocers initially hesitated to enact their own mask mandates for customers during the pandemic, partly over fears of antagonizing shoppers who refuse to wear them. Retailers have said they are reluctant to put their employees in the position of enforcing mask requirements.

8:54 a.m. ET, July 20, 2020

Stimulus negotiations begin in DC today. Here's where things stand now.

From CNN's Phil Mattingly

The Trump administration has been engaged in discussions on the next stimulus bill for the past week, but negotiations will start "in earnest" today on Capitol Hill, the White House said.

Where Republicans stand: GOP senators CNN has spoken to say the plan is to present the pieces of the GOP proposal at the closed-door Senate GOP policy lunch. The proposal itself would be released publicly sometime midweek.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has stuck to a simple framing for the forthcoming GOP proposal for weeks: it's about jobs, kids and health care. It's messaging, sure, but it also encapsulates the stated approach for each of the committee chairs who drafted pieces of the bill. 

What the Democrats want: Democrats already have their proposal on the table — the $3 trillion House-passed measure known as the Heroes Act. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has made clear that's what Democrats will be fighting for in the negotiations — and that any talks must include House Democrats.

As one Democratic senator told me this weekend: "The onus is on them. We've been clear about where we are and how crucial it is that this be taken seriously for months. We're here and have been her. It's time for them to get in the game."

Remember: The time window is tight, but get ready for a slog. Democrats and Republicans are far apart on central details, but the impetus to get something done, while not unanimous as it largely was in March, is still quite palpable. But the road between now and Trump signing something into law is filled with hurdles, road blocks and potential pitfalls. 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said last week she is "absolutely" willing to delay the August congressional recess for Covid-19 aid package negotiations.

9:33 a.m. ET, July 20, 2020

US Covid-19 surge being approached with "extreme seriousness," White House task force member says

From CNN's Naomi Thomas

Admiral Brett Giroir on CNN's "New Day" on July 20.
Admiral Brett Giroir on CNN's "New Day" on July 20. CNN

"Yes, we are having increased cases, predominantly in the sunbelt,” Admiral Brett Giroir told Alisyn Camerota on CNN’s New Day Monday. “We are having more cases that we did a week ago, two weeks ago, three weeks ago, four weeks ago – that is very clear,” he added.

Giroir, a member of the White House coronavirus task force, said he would like to point out that there are probably fewer cases compared to April because of more testing, but “there is no question we are having a surge right now. We are approaching this with extreme seriousness.” 

According to Giroir, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention teams have been sent into every state, surge teams have visited 19 sites, surge testing is happening and medical professionals are being deployed across the country.

“It really is all hands on deck,” he said. “This is serious, but we know how to stop this.”

 Giroir said that masks, physical distancing and hand washing are all incredibly important.


8:58 a.m. ET, July 20, 2020

These US virus hotspots broke records over the weekend 

From CNN's Christina Maxouris

People visit Alamitos Beach in Long Beach, California, on July 18.
People visit Alamitos Beach in Long Beach, California, on July 18. Keith Birmingham/MediaNews Group/Pasadena Star-News/Getty Images

As US cities and states navigate their next steps to combat the rapid spread of Covid-19, unwanted records keep getting smashed.

Here are some hotspots that broke records over the weekend:

  • Los Angeles reported the highest number of hospitalizations in a day, with at least 2,216 people hospitalized. More than half of the 2,848 new cases reported Sunday in Los Angeles were in people under 41 years old, officials said.
  • At least two states reported record single-day case increases Saturday, according to data from Johns Hopkins. Georgia reported 4,688 new cases for a total of 139,880 statewide while North Carolina reported 2,522 new cases, reaching 98,092 infections across the state.
  • Arizona reported its highest death count since the pandemic on Saturday, with a total of 147 deaths, according to the Covid Tracking Project and Johns Hopkins. The state's previous one-day record, set on July 7, was 117 deaths, according to the Covid Tracking Project.
  • In Florida, a state that has broken its own single-day case record several times in recent weeks, there were at least 49 hospitals with no ICU beds available Sunday, according to data from a state agency.

Meanwhile, at least 31 states are seeing an increase in new cases compared to the previous week. Here's a look at where cases are rising across the country:

9:18 a.m. ET, July 20, 2020

Nearly 9,400 coronavirus patients hospitalized in Florida

From CNN's Randi Kaye 

As of Monday morning, 9,362 people are hospitalized in the state of Florida due to coronavirus related illness, according to data released by Florida's Agency for Healthcare Administration (AHCA). 

The three hardest hit southern counties in the state are: Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach County. Miami-Dade has recorded 2,008 hospitalizations. Broward County is seeing 1,240 hospitalizations and Palm Beach has recorded 618, according to AHCA.

More than 3 million people in Florida have been tested for Covid-19, with at least 350,047 testing positive.

The overall positivity rate as of 7:30 a.m. ET today is 18.7% up from 18.2% on Sunday, according to the John Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center. 

Watch Jackson Health System President & CEO:

8:43 a.m. ET, July 20, 2020

US surgeon general says national mask mandate isn't necessary

From CNN's Jason Hoffman

US Surgeon General Jerome Adams holds a face mask during a coronavirus briefing at the White House on April 22.
US Surgeon General Jerome Adams holds a face mask during a coronavirus briefing at the White House on April 22. Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

Surgeon General Jerome Adams echoed President Trump, saying he does not think a national mask mandate is necessary, but at the same time urged all Americans to continue to wear face coverings. 

“This administration really fights to protect our freedoms, but we want people to know freedom comes with responsibility and part of that responsibility means wearing a face covering when you go out,” Adams said in an interview on Fox News.  

Asked about a national mask mandate, Adams said “in many cases we are letting the politics and the policy get in the way of the actual practice.” Adams said that the science shows that wearing masks will allow for America to reopen and stay open sooner. 

The surgeon general said he believes a mandate would work better at a local and state level than a federal level because if there was a federal mandate, there would need to be a way for the federal government to enforce it. 

“If you are going to have a federal mandate you have to have a federal enforcement mechanism and right now as scientist and an educator, I would rather help people understand why they should cooperate with wearing a mask and how they benefit from it, versus just simply saying we are going to force you to do it, particularly by sending in federal troops or using federal mechanisms,” Adams said.

What Trump has said: In an interview with Fox that aired Sunday, President Trump said he does not feel a national mask mandate is necessary because he wants people to “have a certain freedom”

Trump said over the weekend that he does not believe the disease will go away if everyone wears masks.