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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2:13 p.m. ET, July 21, 2020

More than 141,000 people have died from coronavirus in the US

From CNN's Haley Brink

A National Guard troop directs cars as people are tested by healthcare workers at the COVID-19 drive-thru testing center at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens on Sunday, July 19.
A National Guard troop directs cars as people are tested by healthcare workers at the COVID-19 drive-thru testing center at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens on Sunday, July 19. David Santiago/Miami Herald/Tribune News Service/Getty Images

There are at least 3,858,686 cases of coronavirus in the US, and at least 141,426 people have died, according to Johns Hopkins University's tally of cases. 

On Tuesday at 2:00 p.m. ET, Johns Hopkins has reported 28,676 new cases and 520 reported deaths. 

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

2:16 p.m. ET, July 21, 2020

If 90% of people did these 3 things, there would be no large outbreak of Covid-19, study finds

From CNN Health’s Jen Christensen

People wearing face masks wash their hands with hand sanitizer at an entrance of a shopping mall on July 11, in Tokyo.
People wearing face masks wash their hands with hand sanitizer at an entrance of a shopping mall on July 11, in Tokyo. Lyu Shaowei/China News Service/Getty Images

Three simple behaviors could stop most all of the Covid-19 pandemic, even without a vaccine or additional treatments, according to a new study. Those behaviors are:

  • Washing hands regularly
  • Wearing masks
  • Keeping physical distance from others

The study, published Tuesday in the journal PLoS Medicine, created a new model to look at the spread of the disease and prevention efforts that could help stop it.

The contact rates in the study were based on people's interaction in the Netherlands, but the model is appropriate for other Western countries, the team at the University Medical Center Utrecht said.

"A large epidemic can be prevented if the efficacy of these measures exceeds 50%," they wrote.

If, however, the public is slow, but does eventually change behavior, it can reduce the number of cases — but not delay a peak in cases, according to the model. 

If governments shut down early, but no one takes additional personal protective steps, this will delay, but not reduce a peak in cases. A three-month intervention, would delay the peak by, at most seven months, the study found.

But if there's government-imposed social distancing combined with disease awareness and personal steps, the height of the peak can be reduced, even after government imposed social distancing orders are lifted.

"Moreover, the effect of combinations of self-imposed measures is additive," the researchers wrote. "In practical terms, it means that SARS-CoV-2 will not cause a large outbreak in a country where 90% of the population adopts handwashing and social distancing that are 25% efficacious."

The reason it isn't 100% is because even with self-imposed social distancing, contacts with others might not be totally eliminated. For instance, people who live together will interact, increasing the likelihood that someone could get sick.

The researchers argue that governments should educate the public about how the disease spreads and raise awareness about the crucial nature of self-distancing, hand washing and also mask use to control an ongoing epidemic. It does not differentiate between mandating some of these behaviors or encouraging them.

Remember: There are limits to the model. It doesn't take into effect demographics, nor does it account for the imperfect isolation of people who are sick with Covid-19, meaning they can infect others who care for them in a health care setting or at home. It also doesn't account for the possibility of reinfection. 

2:03 p.m. ET, July 21, 2020

Possible coronavirus vaccine unlikely to be made widely available before 2021, UK vaccine head says

From Becky Anderson, Anna Gorzkowska and Mohammed Al-Saiegh

Kate Bingham, chair of the UK Vaccine Taskforce
Kate Bingham, chair of the UK Vaccine Taskforce CNN

A possible coronavirus vaccine may not become widely available before 2021, the head of the UK Vaccine Taskforce told CNN Tuesday, cautioning that it remains uncertain as to whether a vaccine could be developed before Christmas.  

“I would not assume there are any vaccines before next year. There will be some vaccines, if everything goes right, potentially at the end of this year, but that is not something I’d be going to the bank on in terms of everyone can get vaccinated by Christmas,” said Kate Bingham, chair of the UK Vaccine Taskforce. 

I don’t think [access] to all of us is something that is going to happen for a long time because we need to make sure the priority populations are vaccinated first, and that will take some time,” she added. 

Bingham’s remarks come just a day after the University of Oxford announced that the early results of its phase one and two trials suggest a newly developed coronavirus vaccine is safe and induces an immune response.  

Meanwhile, working in conjunction with the University of Oxford, pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca told a US congressional hearing on Tuesday that it is on track to have a possible vaccine ready as early as September. 

Speaking to CNN, Bingham said such projections remain “no more than possibility” at present.

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: