July 22 coronavirus news

By Ben Westcott, Steve George, Tara John, Meg Wagner, Melissa Macaya and Mike Hayes, CNN

Updated 3:10 a.m. ET, July 23, 2020
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4:11 p.m. ET, July 22, 2020

NFL will require fans to wear face coverings at games

From CNN's Homero De La Fuente

The National Football League announced Wednesday that fans who attend games will be required to wear face coverings.

Brian McCarthy, the league’s vice president of communications, tweeted on Wednesday, “For those wondering, yes, it is league-wide: fans at NFL games this season will be required to wear face coverings.”

It is still unclear how many teams will host fans in the upcoming season, as there is currently no league-wide policy on the matter.

Here's what some teams are saying about hosting fans:

  • The Los Angeles Rams said they plan to allow fans at “a limited or no capacity” in their newly built SoFi Stadium.
  • The Atlanta Falcons announced Wednesday to season ticket members they will have “limited capacity of up to 10,000-20,000” at Mercedes-Benz stadium during the team’s home games to ensure proper social distancing.
  • Las Vegas Raiders owner Mark Davis said he is leaning toward not allowing fans at their new Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas. Davis told ESPN.com, "My mindset today is no fans [should attend games]. I don't even know if it's safe to play." 
  • Others, like the New York Jets and New York Giants, who both play at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey, will not be allowed to host fans after New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy signed an executive order to prohibit fans from attending until “further notice.”

The NFL’s regular season is scheduled to kick-off on Sept. 10.

4:12 p.m. ET, July 22, 2020

Indiana governor announces statewide mask mandate

From CNN’s Eileen McMenamin

Gov. Eric Holcom
Gov. Eric Holcom Indiana Governor's off

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb today announced a statewide mask mandate to go into effect on Monday, citing rising Covid-19 numbers both within his state and in surrounding states. 

“Face coverings can and will help us blunt this increase. It has in other places around the country and around the world,” he said at a news conference. “And this is time sensitive now. It's that time of the year, after all, when schools are going back. This might be one of the most important reasons.”

“There has been a rise in Covid-19 positivity across the state, from a low of 3.6% just a month ago, to where we find ourselves today with a seven-day average rate of just about 7% — the last couple days it was closer to 8%," the governor said. 

Health officials said Indiana has also seen a rise in overall hospitalization rates from 600 a day near the end of June to about 800 a day, currently. The governor said a number of counties “that have never even been a blip on the radar screen for positive tests are, in some cases, reporting regular double digit Covid-19 positive cases.” 

Holcomb said that while not wearing a face covering will be a misdemeanor, “mask police will not be patrolling our streets.” He called on residents to “do the right thing” by wearing a mask. 

“We have continued to fare better than many other states,” he said. “Now we have to hunker down in a different way. Which is why wearing masks will become the fashion of the day.”
4:03 p.m. ET, July 22, 2020

Backlog of 115,000 green cards caused by budget issues at US immigration agency

From CNN's Geneva Sands

An ongoing backlog in the federal government's production of green cards and other documents was prompted by budget issues and a hiring freeze at the US agency that handles legal immigration benefits. 

In June, US Citizenship and Immigration Services reduced its capacity to print secure documents, such as green cards and employment authorization documents when it ended a contract with an outside company, according to the agency’s ombudsman.

The agency planned to hire federal employees to fill the roles, but a budget shortfall resulted in a hiring freeze and slowed down printing of the cards, the ombudsman said in an announcement Wednesday.  

“Currently, there is limited production” at the facilities that produce the cards, a spokesperson from USCIS told CNN in a statement, adding that USCIS is currently producing around 10,000 cards per day. 

The Washington Post first reported that the administration scaled back printing of these documents without telling Congress. 

The current production backlog is roughly 115,000 green cards and employment authorization documents, according to the spokesperson with the oldest pending card order in the queue from July 6.

Some background: The agency is bracing to furlough more than half of its staff next month —  a move that could grind the US immigration system to a halt. USCIS, a fee-funded agency, says it's in the hole after having to close offices and put services on pause during the pandemic. The agency has asked Congress for $1.2 billion.

“Should there be a furlough of USCIS employees on August 3, 2020, card production backlogs will likely increase,” wrote the ombudsman.

In the meantime, legal permanent residents awaiting a card may obtain proof of their status by requesting a stamp of temporary evidence in a valid passport, according to the USCIS ombudsman.


3:59 p.m. ET, July 22, 2020

Minnesota will require people to wear face coverings in indoor businesses and public settings

From CNN's Raja Razek

Gov. Tim Walz
Gov. Tim Walz WCCO

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz announced Wednesday that he signed an executive order that requires residents to wear face coverings in indoor businesses and indoor public settings to slow the spread of coronavirus. 

"Until there is a widely available vaccine, wearing a mask is one of the best tools we have for limiting the spread of COVID-19 and its harmful impacts," said Minnesota Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm in a statement. 

Minnesota Department of Health, along with the Department of Employment and Economic Development, will distribute masks to underserved communities and businesses across the state, according to the statement.

"Individuals with a medical condition, mental health condition, or disability that makes it unreasonable for the individual to maintain a face covering are exempt from the order," the statement said. 

The mandate goes into effect on Saturday.

3:38 p.m. ET, July 22, 2020

FDA commissioner says the possibility of another pandemic keeps him up at night 

From CNN Health’s Jen Christensen

US Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn said he loses sleep over the possibility of another pandemic.

“What keeps me up at night, is not necessarily thinking that it’s going to happen next week, but how do we be proactive,” Hahn said Wednesday during an online conversation with the Paley Center for Media. “How do we prevent something like this from happening, if possible.”

Hahn said he also wants to make sure the FDA is ready when there is another pandemic. A key will be advanced manufacturing and domestic manufacturing to make sure the country has adequate supplies of medical products and a supply that’s under US control. 

Hahn said the agency is undergoing a mid-action review to make sense of the lessons the agency has learned from the pandemic. He said he also has been working with the FDA’s leaders to determine how it can sustain some of the innovations they’ve seen during the pandemic.

Hahn said what gives him hope is what he sees from the American people. Doctors, nurses, scientists and pharmacists have done “great things” in response to the pandemic.

“We have challenges, no question about it, but that gives me great hope,” Hahn said. 

“I also have great hope because I know … what’s coming down the pike, in terms of therapeutics and vaccines," he added.

He said Americans need to take the pandemic seriously and follow public health guidelines: Wear masks, maintain physical distance, use good hand hygiene.

“We will get beyond this pandemic,” he said. “I know that we’re going to do this together.” 

3:48 p.m. ET, July 22, 2020

Tulane University plans to have students back on campus this fall

From CNN's Kay Jones and Elizabeth Stuart

Education Images/Universal Images Group/Getty Image/FILE
Education Images/Universal Images Group/Getty Image/FILE

Tulane University in New Orleans is planning for a full-campus reopening next month, with the return of university operations and academics. But at least one official at Tulane — which is often ranked as one of the country's top party schools — warned that partiers will be punished.

Tulane President Michael Fitts and other university leaders announced Monday the plan for returning to campus, which includes free Covid-19 testing to all students who plan to live on-campus. Students must have a negative test result before they can move into campus housing, according to the plan.

"Returning to campus means that we will be able to connect with old friends again and make new ones," said Fitts in a statement. "Most importantly, we have taken, and are taking, a multitude of measures to promote the safety of our campus community and to mitigate risks associated with COVID-19. We know of no other school implementing all of the measures Tulane is to achieve this goal,” he said.

The fall semester will begin on Aug. 19 and will continue through Nov. 24, with classes ending before the Thanksgiving holiday. According to the plan, students, faculty, and staff will be required to wear masks in common areas and classrooms.

Following the July 4 holiday weekend, Dean of Students Erica Woodley sent a harshly worded email to students warning against parties and large gatherings.

"Do you really want to be the reason that Tulane and New Orleans have to shut down again?" Woodley wrote.

She admonished students who hosted July 4 events for their "disrespectful, selfish and dangerous" behavior. Woodley also warned, in all caps and bold print, that anyone who hosts a group of more than 15 people will face suspension or expulsion from the university.

3:40 p.m. ET, July 22, 2020

NBA tips-off league's first competition since March

From CNN's David Close

Joe Murphy/NBAE/Getty Images
Joe Murphy/NBAE/Getty Images

The NBA's Orlando Magic and Los Angeles Clippers have tipped off at the Disney World Resort near Orlando, Florida, in the league's first competition since March 12.

Despite stats and scores being recorded, the scrimmage format allows for teams to collaborate with each other to work on game plans and play execution. 

On the Magic and Clippers broadcast, the scorer’s table can be seen enclosed by plexiglass.

Coaches and players not in the game can be seen sitting separated from one another. Some team staff members are wearing face coverings. 

“Black Lives Matter” is painted on the court. 

There are four scrimmages on the schedule Wednesday and four on Thursday. 

The NBA regular season tips in eight days on July 30. 

3:26 p.m. ET, July 22, 2020

FDA commissioner says Covid-19 pandemic has pointed out vulnerabilities in the US food supply

From CNN’s Jen Christensen

US Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn said that while the US food supply is safe, the system itself has come under pressure from the Covid-19 pandemic.

“America has the safest and most secure food supply in the world. There’s lots of evidence in that. We saw that come under pressure. Amazing, how well the system responded, but we understood that it exposed to us some things that we need to address,” Hahn said Wednesday during an online conversation with the Paley Center for Media.

Early on, he said, the food division of the FDA anticipated that if people who work in the food industry were to get sick, that it would put pressure on the US food supply. “And I think we’ve seen that bear out,” Hahn said.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted a significant number of deaths and cases in the food industry. As of July 7, the CDC reported that among the 23 states reporting Covid-19 outbreaks in meat and poultry processing facilities, there were 16,233 cases in 239 facilities, including 86 Covid-19-related deaths. These cases and deaths disproportionately impact racial and ethnic minorities, with nearly 90% of the cases were among ethnic and racial minority groups.

Hahn said the FDA is working closely with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the CDC, as well as with food industry groups, to determine where the problems are that may encourage the spread of the disease. The FDA has developed an internal tool that matches information about the food supply with information about Covid-19 hot spots, so it can predict and proactively address potential problems with suppliers.

The FDA also has been working with other agencies and the industry to take a closer look at workers’ living and working conditions. Both make it difficult to physically distance and reduce the spread. Hahn said the FDA wants to figure out how to get these workers more personal protective equipment and how to make sure they’re among the first groups to get a vaccine when one is approved.

“Food security and safety is a national security issue, just like our frontline workers, just like police, just like firemen, just like others,” Hahn said. “We need to find the most vulnerable. We need to make sure that they’re prioritized.”

3:36 p.m. ET, July 22, 2020

Chilean police dogs being trained to sniff out Covid-19 in humans

From CNN's Tatiana Arias and Cristopher Ulloa

Sergeant Fuentealba trains Clifford at Carabineros de Chile Dog Training School in the Parque Metropolitano on July 17, in Santiago, Chile. The Carabineros Dog Training School is training four dogs only to detect COVID-19 by placing a patch on a person's armpit with possible symptoms for two hours and then taking it to the dog to detect the virus.
Sergeant Fuentealba trains Clifford at Carabineros de Chile Dog Training School in the Parque Metropolitano on July 17, in Santiago, Chile. The Carabineros Dog Training School is training four dogs only to detect COVID-19 by placing a patch on a person's armpit with possible symptoms for two hours and then taking it to the dog to detect the virus. Marcelo Hernandez/Getty Images

Police dogs in Chile are being trained to detect Covid-19 in humans by sniffing their sweat. 

Chile’s National Police and the Catholic University of Chile are working on a joint project to train three golden retrievers and a labrador to detect “a new odor" in humans which in this case belong to Covid-19 patients, the university’s professor and veterinary epidemiologist, Fernando Mardones told CNN's Spanish-language news network, CNN en Español.

"The selected dogs have years working on the detection of drugs, explosives and other types of things. For them, it is simply learning to detect a new smell, a new aroma," Mardones said.

Coronavirus does not have a smell per se, but sweat does and dogs can be trained to detect the smell of a person going through an infection process, Mardones explained.

"A body that contracts Covid-19 generates volatile organic compounds. A sample is taken from a person in the early stages of the infection. A gauze is left for about 15 minutes on an individual's underarm. That's the sample we store and use to train the dogs with," Mardones explained.   

The “bio-detector” dogs, as they are called by the Chilean police, are expected to be trained by mid-September and sent to places with high concentrations of people – such as malls, sports centers, bus terminals and airports, according to the Chilean police. 

A dog can smell 250 people in an hour, so they can be deployed when these places reopen," Julio Santelices from the Chilean police said.

"Their olfactory capacity is so great that they would be able to detect the disease early on" Santelices said, adding that "this means that an asymptomatic person could be detected by the bio-detector dog." 

The dogs can take from two weeks up to two months to be fully trained. The canines are being taught to sit next to the individual with the Covid-19 virus they have detected, instead of "pawing" the individual as they currently do when sniffing drugs, the Chilean police told CNN.