July 21 coronavirus news

By Joshua Berlinger, Steve George, Ivana Kottasová, Ed Upright, Melissa Macaya, Meg Wagner and Mike Hayes, CNN

Updated 3:23 p.m. ET, July 22, 2020
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1:53 p.m. ET, July 21, 2020

Covid-19 is "exacerbating and exploiting" pre-existing health conditions, US surgeon general says

From CNN’s Naomi Thomas

US Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams
US Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams Win McNamee/Getty Image/FILE

Covid-19 is “exacerbating and exploiting” pre-existing health disparities, US Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams said at a virtual launch event for Shatterproof’s ATLAS resource.

ATLAS is a resource aimed at helping people find addiction treatment, which launched in six states on Tuesday.

Speaking about stigma at the event, Adams said that in his own experience, stigma is particularly apparent in rural communities and in communities of color. “And it’s not a coincidence that these are the same communities that are being hardest hit, in many cases, by substance misuse. And it’s not a coincidence that these same communities have also been particularly hard hit by the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said.

There are a number of known reasons for this, Adams said, which are “rooted both in pre-existing medical, as well as social conditions, that conspire to reduce resilience, opportunity and health.”

“Covid-19 is exploiting and exacerbating these pre-existing health disparities, including substance use disorders.”

Adams said that addressing Covid-19 should remain a top priority, but that other health issues cannot and must not be forgotten. They exacerbate the virus, will be exacerbated by the virus, and they will be present long after the pandemic ends.

Adams finished his address by talking about the public health practices that he called the best immediate defense against Covid-19, shutdowns, and worsening of other diseases and conditions, such as substance abuse.

He highlighted hand hygiene, social distancing, staying home when sick and wearing face masks. “I ask that you please help me reinforce this advice to others,” he said.

“These things,” Adams said, showing a mask, “really are an instrument of freedom.”

Doing these things will help to keep more places opens, including addiction treatment and recovery centers, he said.

“We need to make sure we’re doing everything possible to get people the help that they need,” Adams said. “And part of that is wearing a face covering.” 


1:51 p.m. ET, July 21, 2020

Many more people have had Covid-19 than what's showing up in official numbers, new CDC data reveals

From CNN’s Jen Christensen

Tami Chappell/AFP/Getty Images
Tami Chappell/AFP/Getty Images

The number of people who have had Covid-19 was much greater than the official case count, according to data and a new analysis released by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But the country is far from a level that would give the population herd immunity.

Depending on the region, the number of people infected was sometimes six to 24 times the number of reported cases, the CDC team said.

“For most sites, it is likely that greater than 10 times more SARS-CoV-2 infections occurred than the number of reported COVID-19 cases,” the team concluded.

These numbers are likely conservative, according to the study published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The data used in the analysis was published on the CDC website Tuesday. 

CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield said earlier this month that testing had likely missed 90% or so of cases.

The CDC wanted to see if the official test tally showed the actual numbers of infections. They analyzed test results from 16,000 people in 10 geographically diverse cities and states done between March and early May. These people were tested, not because they had coronavirus symptoms but for other reasons – for instance, if they were having surgery and the hospital did the test as a matter of course.

These tests would give a broader sense of who has been infected by the novel coronavirus than just the number of people who have sought tests because they didn’t feel well and suspected they had Covid-19. 

There is a limit to this methodology. These people tested may not have been representative of the general population, nor does it take into account the disease exposure risk. It’s also possible that there could be some overlap, and people may have been tested more than once, the CDC said. The infections may not be evenly distributed even in these regions.

The results do show that the majority of people in these 10 sites have not had Covid-19. It also shows that people who are asymptomatic are still contributing to the spread of the disease, so the authors argue that the public should continue to take steps to prevent the spread by wearing masks, staying physically distant and staying home as much as possible.


1:43 p.m. ET, July 21, 2020

Vaccine developers weigh in on whether they will sell Covid-19 vaccines at cost

From CNN's Jacqueline Howard

Stephen Hoge, president of Moderna
Stephen Hoge, president of Moderna House and Commerce Committee

Representatives from various pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies working to develop Covid-19 vaccines were asked during a congressional hearing on Tuesday whether their companies plan to sell their vaccines at cost, meaning no profit for the company, and provide contract transparency in order to verify they are not making a profit. 

"We will not sell it at cost," Stephen Hoge, president of Moderna, said during the hearing of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. 

Mene Pangalos, executive vice president of biopharmaceuticals research and development for AstraZeneca, said that "under the agreement we have with BARDA for the 300 million doses, we are selling that to the government at no profit." 

As for the pharmaceutical company Merck, "no we will not be selling vaccine at cost, although it's very premature for us since we're a long way," Julie Gerberding, executive vice president and chief patient officer for Merck, said in Tuesday's hearing. 

Gerberding also said, "Yes to your question about transparency. Yes we have reported since 2018 transparency in our pricing. We have not raised our prices since the pandemic began." 

As for Johnson & Johnson, "we will be providing vaccine at a not-for-profit price during the emergency pandemic phase," Macaya Douoguih, head of clinical development and medical affairs for Janssen Vaccines at Johnson & Johnson, said during the hearing. 

Illinois Rep. Jan Schakowsky, who asked the question about pricing, said in the hearing that pharmaceutical company Pfizer already announced it would sell its vaccine for a profit.

1:02 p.m. ET, July 21, 2020

Vermont has lowest Covid-19 cases in country

From CNN’s Molly Silverman

Vermont Gov. Phil Scott speaks during a press briefing in Montpelier, Vermont, on July 17.
Vermont Gov. Phil Scott speaks during a press briefing in Montpelier, Vermont, on July 17. State of Vermont

Vermont Gov. Phil Scott reported today that Vermont now has the lowest coronavirus case count in the country, moving past Hawaii. 

Scott said the state's positivity rate is among the lowest, if not the lowest, in the country. 

There have been little to no new hospitalizations, with only three admitted to the hospital yesterday, he said.

Dr. Mark Levine, commissioner of health for Vermont, said that the state has had no deaths for 30 days, with the last Covid-19 reported death on June 16. The state has had 56 coronavirus-related deaths, he said.  

There have been a total of 1,366 Covid-19 cases in the state, Levine said.

Note: These numbers were released by the Vermont'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. 

12:50 p.m. ET, July 21, 2020

Having a Covid-19 test before travel could create a "false sense of security," health official says

From CNN's Health Gisela Crespo

As some countries in the Caribbean have reopened for nonessential travel, an official from the Pan American Health Organization said that getting a test ahead of getting on a plane could create a "false sense of security."

Dr. Sylvain Aldighieri, PAHO incident manager, said during a news briefing on Tuesday that the decision for countries to resume nonessential travel "should be gradual, and will be dynamic in terms of adjusting restrictions."

Aldighieri explained that a person from a location with widespread community transmission and who gets tested for Covid-19 before traveling could be infected between the time the sample was taken and the time the person boards a plane. A "negative test upon arrival could also occur in the early stages of infection," he added.

Aldighieri called on countries to plan for the risk of having travelers possibly import the virus by having contact tracing procedures in place, expanding the network of laboratories to improve testing capabilities, and by improving local health care systems. 

12:42 p.m. ET, July 21, 2020

Here's the latest news from the US's coronavirus hotspots

People cross the street in Huntington Beach, California, on July 19.
People cross the street in Huntington Beach, California, on July 19. Apu Gomes/AFP/Getty Images

Coronavirus cases are rising in many parts of the US as the nation's caseload approaches 4 million.

Here's a look at some of the latest news from the US's current coronavirus hotspots:


  • The state looks set to surpass New York as the state with the most cases in the nation. That milestone will come within days, according to numbers from Johns Hopkins University: It has recently been reporting about 9,000 new cases each day for a total of 397,870 on Monday, while New York has total number of cases Monday was about 404,000.
  • Los Angeles County is still the hardest hit with more than 40% of all the positive coronavirus cases in the state.


  • There are 54 hospitals in 27 Florida counties that are now at 0% capacity — meaning they have no intensive care unit beds left, according to data from the Agency for Healthcare Administration. 
  • Meanwhile, 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.


  • Hidalgo County Judge Richard F. Cortez issued a shelter-at-home for all residents due to the increase in Covid-19 cases and hospitalization. Hidalgo County includes the city of McAllen.
  • Dallas County and San Antonio have brought in refrigerated trucks because they're running out of space to hold the bodies of Covid-19 victims.

Here are the latest numbers:

12:52 p.m. ET, July 21, 2020

Covid-19 pandemic "showing no signs of slowing down" in the Americas, health organization says

From CNN's Health Gisela Crespo

An aerial view shows a long line of cars at a COVID-19 testing site at Dodgers Stadium in Los Angeles on July 15.
An aerial view shows a long line of cars at a COVID-19 testing site at Dodgers Stadium in Los Angeles on July 15. Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

Almost 900,000 new Covid-19 cases and nearly 22,000 deaths were reported last week in the Americas – with Brazil, Mexico and the US reporting most of the new cases and deaths, Dr. Carissa Etienne, director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) said on Tuesday.

"The Covid-19 pandemic is showing no signs of slowing down in our region," Etienne said during a news conference. There have been a total of 7.7 million cases and more than 311,000 deaths reported in the region as of July 20, she added. 

In her weekly snapshot of the coronavirus situation in the Americas, Etienne praised Canada for managing to flatten its epidemic curve "while most countries in North America are witnessing a surge in cases." She also said several countries in the Caribbean have now resumed nonessential travel after being able to control clusters of outbreaks. 

PAHO's director explained Mesoamerica is reporting its "highest weekly increases" of cases, while countries in the Amazon Basin – including Bolivia, Ecuador, Colombia and Peru – are seeing significant surges in "localized hot spots." French Guyana, Suriname and Guyana have also seen the virus spread in the past weeks, Etienne added.

Etienne also said countries in the Southern Cone "have made important progress in strengthening influenza surveillance and carrying out flu vaccination campaigns," adding that the low circulation of influenza reported in Chile, Argentina and Uruguay "suggests that hand hygiene and social distancing can also contribute to the reduction of other respiratory viruses."


12:39 p.m. ET, July 21, 2020

New York adds 10 more states to travel quarantine list 

From CNN's Kristina Sgueglia

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks during a press conference in Savannah, Georgia, on July 20.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks during a press conference in Savannah, Georgia, on July 20. CNN

New York state now has 31 states on their quarantine travel advisory list, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.

Ten more states were added today and Minnesota was removed from the list.

The states that were added today:

  • Alaska
  • Delaware
  • Indiana
  • Maryland
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • North Dakota
  • Nebraska
  • Virginia
  • Washington

More on this: Last month, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut issued a travel advisory that requires people arriving from states with high coronavirus rates to quarantine for 14 days.

The travel advisory applies to anyone coming from a state with a positive test rate higher than 10 per 100,000 residents over a seven-day rolling average or a state with a 10% or higher positivity rate over a seven-day rolling average, according to a joint announcement from the governors of the three states.

Where New York stands: Cuomo said the state conducted 66,000 Covid-19 tests yesterday with a positivity rate of 1.2%. 

New York reported two additional deaths from Covid-19.

CNN's Eric Levenson contributed to this report.n CNN'sevenson y CNNs y 

1:50 p.m. ET, July 21, 2020

Vaccine makers hope to have Covid-19 vaccine by end of 2020, but timeline will depend on data 

From CNN's Jacqueline Howard

Representatives from the pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies working to develop Covid-19 vaccines said in a House hearing today that they are still on track to have a possible vaccine by the end of this year or early next year — one even hoping for possibly this fall.

Asked if they believe their Covid-19 vaccine candidates could be available in the US by the end of the year and be safe and effective, officials from vaccine makers AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, Merck, Moderna and Pfizer said the speed of the process will depend on the data and how well the vaccine's development goes.

Here's what some of the representatives told lawmakers:

AstraZeneca: Mene Pangalos, executive vice president of BioPharmaceuticals R&D of AstraZeneca, said providing a timeline is a “difficult question to answer,” but added that his company is “very encouraged” by the phase 1 and phase 2 trial study results.

Pangalos noted results of the two closely watched trials published in The Lancet suggest a coronavirus vaccine developed by his company alongside University of Oxford are safe and induce an immune response. However, researchers stressed more study is needed to know whether the vaccine protects people against the virus.

When asked if the vaccine candidate gets approved on an emergency basis, does he hope it will be available by the end of the year on an emergency basis, Pangalos said, "Yes we do. So if we have efficacy data we hope we’ll have it any time from September onward."

Moderna: Stephen Hoge, president of Moderna, told lawmakers they are “cautiously optimistic” about their vaccine's next steps and are quite “encouraged” by the progress. Last week a Covid-19 vaccine being developed by Moderna, in partnership with the National Institutes of Health, found to induce immune responses in all of the volunteers who received it in a phase 1 study.

Now the vaccine is being developed further with a phase 3 trial planned for later this month.

Hoge said that presuming they are able to accrue cases quickly in their phase 3 study, they hope in the fall or towards the end of the year they’d have data they could submit to the Food and Drug Administration for them to make a determination if they were to approve the vaccine. Hoge said at that point they would hope to have millions of dosages of the vaccine ready for deployment.

Pfizer: John Young, chief business officer of Pfizer, also said his company is encouraged by the early data from their initial phase 1 study with regards to safety and effectiveness.

Young said they hope to complete the study by this month and submit the data to the FDA to be subject to their approval. He said the large phase 3 study will be "pivotal" in informing the safety and effectiveness profile of the vaccine.

Young said they have a "line of sight and a clear clinical path" to be able to deliver up to 100 million doses of commercial scale vaccine products in 2020 and up to 1.3 billion doses for a vaccine in 2021. Young said that despite the early encouraging signs, there is "a lot more work still to do."

Yesterday, Young's company and German biotechnology company BioNTech announced their Covid-19 vaccine candidate was shown to elicit "robust" antibody and T cell immune responses in an early phase 1/2 study.

The companies Johnson & Johnson and Merck appeared to have longer timelines. Representatives for those companies said in the hearing that their goals remain to deliver a Covid-19 vaccine next year if all goes well in trials.