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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1:55 p.m. ET, July 20, 2020

Louisiana reports more than 3,100 new Covid-19 cases

From CNN's Tina Burnside

The Bourbon Cowboy bar is boarded up in New Orleans' French Quarter on Tuesday.
The Bourbon Cowboy bar is boarded up in New Orleans' French Quarter on Tuesday. Sean Gardner/Getty Images

The Louisiana Department of Health reported 3,187 Covid-19 cases since Sunday bringing the total number of cases reported to the state to 94,892, according to data released by the department of health on Monday. 

Of the 3,187 cases, 1,583 cases are attributed to a backlog collected between May 18 and July 13. The cases will be assigned to those dates on the LDH’s dashboard.

Because of the daily removal of newly identified duplicates and out of state cases, the new case increase may not match the difference between today’s and yesterday’s total case count.

Since yesterday, 33,620 new tests have been reported to the state. That brings the total number of tests to 1,102,924.

Here are more details about the cases:

  • 99% of the cases reported to the state today were community spread.
  • 45% of the cases reported today are of individuals aged 29 and under.

There have been 29 deaths reported to the state today. The current total death count is 3,462.

1:33 p.m. ET, July 20, 2020

National Zoo and Smithsonian Museum in Virginia to reopen Friday

From CNN's Lindy Royce

A young boy watches a California sea lion at the National Zoo in Washington, DC.
A young boy watches a California sea lion at the National Zoo in Washington, DC. Alex Wong/Getty Images

The National Zoo in Washington, DC, and National Air and Space Museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia, will reopen on Friday, the Smithsonian announced today.

“As a public entity, we thrive on serving our visitors and making our collections readily available to them, virtually and in person,” Lonnie Bunch, secretary of the Smithsonian, said in a statement. “However, the safety and well-being of our staff, visitors and volunteers come first and are paramount, so we are taking a deliberate, phased and cautious approach to reopening. Our goal is to be safe and measured in order to adjust and pivot as necessary.”

Both buildings will reopen with multiple safety measures in place.

Here are some of those safety measures:

  • Visitors ages six and older will be required to wear face coverings inside the zoo and Udvar-Hazy Center. Social distancing will also be implemented, and hand-sanitizing stations will be provided.
  • The number of people inside the facilities will be limited. Visitors will be able to reserve free passes ahead of their visit. The Smithsonian will make available 5,000 passes to the zoo and 1,500 passes for the Udvar-Hazy Center daily.
1:12 p.m. ET, July 20, 2020

WHO "deeply concerned" by Covid-19's impact on indigenous people in the Americas 

From CNN's Mia Alberti

Indigenous nurses from the Special Secretariat for Indigenous Health (Sesai) of the Arapiuns ethnic group and Tapuia ethnic groups perform rapid COVID-19 testing on the banks of the lower Tapajos River in the municipality of Santarem in western Para on Sunday, July 19.
Indigenous nurses from the Special Secretariat for Indigenous Health (Sesai) of the Arapiuns ethnic group and Tapuia ethnic groups perform rapid COVID-19 testing on the banks of the lower Tapajos River in the municipality of Santarem in western Para on Sunday, July 19. Tarso Sarraf/AFP/Getty Images

Indigenous people in the Americas are especially vulnerable to Covid-19, the World Health Organization said on Monday.

"Although Covid-19 is a risk for all indigenous peoples globally, WHO is deeply concerned about the impact of the virus on indigenous peoples in the Americas which remains the current epicenter of the pandemic," said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the organization’s director-general. 

As of July 6, more than 70,000 indigenous people in the Americas had been infected with Covid-19 and more than 2,000 had died, according to WHO.

"Like other vulnerable groups, indigenous peoples face many challenges. This includes a lack of political representation, economic marginalization, and lack of access to health, education, and social services. Indigenous people often have a high burden of poverty, unemployment, malnutrition, and communicable and incommunicable diseases, making them more vulnerable to Covid-19 and its serious outcomes," Tedros said.

Tedros said WHO is working with regional indigenous organizations in the Amazon river basin "to step up the fight against Covid-19" and urged governments to invest in contact tracing strategies.

"One of the key tools for suppressing transmission in indigenous communities and all communities is contact tracing. No country can take control of its epidemic if it doesn't know where the virus is," Tedros added. 

12:57 p.m. ET, July 20, 2020

UK health secretary reiterates call for global access to coronavirus vaccine

From CNN's Nada Bashir

Parliament TV
Parliament TV

UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock has reiterated the government’s call for global access to a successfully developed coronavirus vaccine, telling lawmakers in the House of Commons on Monday that the government “rejects narrow nationalism” in the race to find a vaccine. 

“The UK is not just developing world leading vaccines, we’re also putting more money into the global work for a vaccine than any other country. With likeminded partners, we’re working to ensure that whoever’s vaccine is approved first, the whole world can have access,” Hancock said.  

“We reject narrow nationalism. We support a global effort because this virus respects no borders and we’re all on the same side,” he added. 

The health secretary’s remarks come after preliminary results from trials carried out by the University of Oxford showed that a newly developed vaccine induced a strong immunity response in patients. 

“I can report to the House that the trial shows that the Oxford vaccine produces a strong immunity response in patients, in terms of both antibody production and T-cell responses, and that no safety concerns have been identified,” Hancock told members of parliament.  

“This is promising news and it takes us one step closer to finding a vaccine that could potentially save lives all around the world,” he added.

12:46 p.m. ET, July 20, 2020

ICU bed capacity in Florida's Miami-Dade County is at 130%

From CNN's Randi Kaye 

Intensive care unit capacity in Miami-Dade County, Florida, is now at 130.20%, up from 127% on Sunday, according to the county's Covid-19 dashboard

As of Monday, 513 Covid-19 ICU admissions were recorded. The ICU bed capacity in the county is 394, according to county data. 

Data released by the county on Monday also shows 2,278 Covid-19 patients are currently hospitalized in Miami-Dade. Out of the 513 patients in ICU beds, 293 of those are currently on ventilators. 

12:36 p.m. ET, July 20, 2020

Masks are not a substitute for other public health measures, WHO official says

From CNN's Naomi Thomas

Achmad Ibrahim/AP
Achmad Ibrahim/AP

The World Health Organization supports the use of masks as part of a comprehensive strategy for Covid-19, but they cannot be used as a substitute for other public health measures, said Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO’s technical lead for Covid-19. 

Van Kerkhove said WHO is hearing about changes in policies from many governments, who are applying mask use as part of their Covid-19 strategy, particularly in areas with active transmission or where physical distancing is not possible.

“We support the use of masks as one of the tools that can be put in place. However, it is not a substitute for other public health measure that also must be in place,” Van Kerkhove said at a WHO briefing in Geneva on Monday. “You cannot substitute the use of a mask for hand hygiene – for cleaning your hands. You cannot substitute the use of a mask for physical distancing. You cannot substitute the use of the mask for testing, finding cases, for contact tracing, for quarantining cases.”

Everything has to be done as a part of a comprehensive approach, Van Kerkhove said.

12:45 p.m. ET, July 20, 2020

Protesters shout throughout Florida governor's coronavirus briefing


Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis' coronavirus news conference was met with loud protests this afternoon.

DeSantis is currently holding a news briefing about his state's response to the pandemic, and shouting can be heard throughout the governor's remarks.

Protesters chanted "Shame on you Ron DeSantis!" and "You are lying to the public!" during the news conference.

DeSantis stopped speaking momentarily while the men were escorted out by sheriff's deputies. "We will not be defunding the police," the governor quipped when he began speaking again.

Watch the moment:

12:27 p.m. ET, July 20, 2020

Venezuela returns to lockdown, with 20% of country's total Covid-19 cases reported in past week

From CNN’s Stefano Pozzebo

A city worker sprays disinfectant in a building in the Chacao neighborhood of Caracas, Venezuela, Saturday, July 18.
A city worker sprays disinfectant in a building in the Chacao neighborhood of Caracas, Venezuela, Saturday, July 18. Matias Delacroix/AP

Venezuela is returning to planned lockdown measures, as the country reported 20% of its total number of coronavirus infections in just the past week, according to data collected by the government of embattled President Nicolas Maduro.

Venezuela reported more than 1,000 cases of coronavirus in the past three days and more than 2,000 cases in the past week.

In total, the country has reported 11,891 coronavirus cases. More than 20% of those – 2,426 cases – were reported in just the last seven days. At least 112 people are reported to have died from the coronavirus in Venezuela.

The majority of cases and deaths reported are concentrated in the two main urban areas of Caracas and Maracaibo, according to data collected by the Maduro government.

The Venezuelan opposition and international organizations have questioned the government's capacity to trace and report coronavirus cases.

Speaking on Sunday in Caracas, Maduro urged Venezuelans to respect social distancing measures as the country returned to total lockdown from Monday. Venezuela has established a planned "7+7 lockdown approach" under which lockdown measures are relaxed for seven days and reintroduced for the following seven days.

Maduro also defended his government policy to limit the number of migrants allowed to return to Venezuela. The Maduro government has previously labeled illegal migrants as "biological weapons" and "bioterrorists."

Some background: Since the beginning of the pandemic, the Maduro government has allowed only a few hundred Venezuelan migrants to return home each day, as an estimated tens of thousands have been attempting to return with lockdown measures imposed across South America.

More than 70,000 migrants have returned since March, Maduro said Sunday. He said migrants who crossed the border illegally will "infect" Venezuela with coronavirus.

At least 1,136 Venezuelan citizens have been detained after returning to the country illegally, the Armed Forces Chief of Staff Admiral Remigio Ceballos said Sunday.


12:08 p.m. ET, July 20, 2020

Trump says he'll likely resume coronavirus briefings tomorrow

From CNN's Kevin Liptak

Evan Vucci/AP
Evan Vucci/AP

President Trump says he'll resume regular coronavirus briefings as the country experiences a resurgence of cases.

"We have had this big flare up in Florida, Texas, a couple of other places," Trump said from the Oval Office on Monday. "I’ll get involved and we’ll start doing briefings."

The acknowledgement came as Trump's advisers debate a return to the daily briefings, which were a hallmark of the pandemic's earlier days. They ceased after Trump repeatedly found himself sparring with reporters and going on tangents, including one about ingesting disinfectant.

Now, however, many of Trump's aides worry he appears absent as the crisis continues to rage. Trump no longer attends daily coronavirus task force meetings and hasn't held an event specifically focused on the virus in two weeks.

Trump said the revival of briefings would allow him to tout advancements on therapeutics and vaccines and explain the "positive things" his administration is doing to combat the virus.

"I think it’s a great way to get information out to the public," Trump said, adding they would likely resume on Tuesday at 5 p.m. ET — the same time he typically briefed in the spring.

"We had a good slot. A lot of people were watching," Trump said, using television ratings lingo to describe the sessions: "We had record numbers watching," he said. "In the history of cable television there’s never been anything like it."