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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1:06 p.m. ET, July 22, 2020

Massachusetts governor says state's positivity rate is lower than it was prior to reopening 

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker held his coronavirus briefing today from a Salvation Army location in Lynn. The governor applauded the Salvation Army for distributing 8 million meals to families in Massachusetts since March.

Before the pandemic, the Salvation Army was helping 70 families a day and now they are helping 500 families a day, Baker said. 

Baker reported 143 new cases of coronavirus as of yesterday, which brings the total number of cases in the state to at least 107,000. At least 513 people are hospitalized for Covid-19, with 63 of those patients in the ICU, Baker said. The seven-day average for positive tests remains at about 1.7%, he added. 

“But I do want to point out that when we reopened…we actually had a higher positive test rate two and a half months ago than we have today,” Baker said. “Which speaks, not only to the strategic decision-making that went into developing and implementing that plan, but it also speaks in a very big way to the work that’s continued to be done by the people of Massachusetts to do the things that we know are most successful in containing the virus and reducing the spread.” 

One thing to note: These numbers were released by the Massachusetts governor and may not line up exactly in real time with CNN’s database drawn from Johns Hopkins University and the Covid Tracking Project.


12:55 p.m. ET, July 22, 2020

Covid-19 will spread to schools in areas where there is community transmission, WHO official says

From CNN's Gisela Crespo

Covid-19 will spread to schools if there is widespread transmission of the virus happening within a community, Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of the World Health Organization’s Health Emergencies Programme, said on Wednesday. 

Ryan said that schools are "a microcosm of our society, of our community" and "a subset of people from our community."

"So if we have spread of the virus in our community and that spread is intense and is widespread, then that disease will spread to the school environment," he explained while during a social media Q&A. 

"The disease may pass through children. It may find the child then that's less immune or has some compromise and can cause a more severe infection. Or it can also be brought to vulnerable grandparents or others. So, the way I would see it is that when you have intense transmission at community level, then we have to be careful about schools," Ryan added.

He also said school environments are very important to communities, as they act not only as a place where children receive an education, but also as a source of nutrition and safety "in areas that are not necessarily as safe socially for kids." 

Schools "are very important centers within our societies and within our communities. So we have to do everything possible to bring our children back to school. And the most effective thing we can do to stop the disease in the community," Ryan added.

The comments come as many US school districts are deciding how — and if — to reopen schools for in-person learning this fall. Many major school districts are refusing to reopen, some even defying state guidelines, until coronavirus cases begin to drop.

12:45 p.m. ET, July 22, 2020

How lessons from New York prepared some California doctors for a coronavirus surge

From CNN's Aditi Sangal

California surpassed New York as the state with the most coronavirus cases in the US. However, while New York reached its coronavirus peak within a month, California saw a slow build up to the surge, according to Johns Hopkins University.

As New York was one of the first states to be hit with the surge, it did not have much time to prepare, according to Dr. Mizuho Morrison, an emergency physician in Southern California.

However, as New York went through its surge and eventually bent the curve, she says doctors in California were learning from their New York colleagues and putting plans in place to manage its surge. 

“In emergency medicine, we actually call this time to prepare the golden hour. So we had that luxury,” she said.

“Based on what our colleagues were learning and essentially teaching us in live time from New York, we had time to develop impressive surge plans. Our new triage systems were actually stopping patients before they even enter the hospital, separating out those that may have Covid symptoms. We’ve separated our ICU and in-patient wards, and have ramped up outpatient telemedicine,” she explained.

However, Morrison says that she is dreading the upcoming flu season, which may complicate things, especially when states and schools start reopening and people go back to work.

“We have rapid influenza testing, but rapid Covid testing is not so robust. We don’t have enough of it. We really reserve it for those patients who’re coming to the hospital. As flu season begins to hit, because the symptoms and presentation is so similar, it’s going to be difficult for us to decipher, is this Covid or is this influenza?” Morrison said.

12:39 p.m. ET, July 22, 2020

Global coronavirus cases surpass 15 million

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases reported worldwide reached 15,000,424 on Wednesday, according to Johns Hopkins University’s tally of cases.

The global Covid-19 death toll rose to 617,832, according to JHU. 

The United States leads the world in total confirmed cases, nearing 4 million.

Here's a look at the country's with the highest number of cases and where they stand on Covid-19 deaths:

1:31 p.m. ET, July 22, 2020

Bill Gates will answer your questions at a CNN coronavirus town hall tomorrow. Ask yours here.

From CNN's Melissa Mahtani

Microsoft founder Bill Gates — whose foundation has pledged millions in Covid-19 relief efforts — will take viewers' questions during a special CNN coronavirus town hall on Thursday.

Leave your questions for Gates below, and tune in to the one-hour special at 8 p.m. ET on Thursday.

12:26 p.m. ET, July 22, 2020

United Airlines says it has banned fewer than 30 passengers for mask violations

From CNN's Greg Wallace

United Airlines planes sit parked at San Francisco International Airport on July 8 in San Francisco.
United Airlines planes sit parked at San Francisco International Airport on July 8 in San Francisco. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Fewer than 30 passengers have been banned from United Airlines flights for refusing to wear a mask while on its planes, the airline said Wednesday.  

United and other major US airlines rolled out policies in mid-June threatening a ban for any passenger who refuses to wear a mask onboard their planes. United’s policy calls for airline officials to conduct an investigation and consider a ban when the passenger does not comply with crew member instructions.  

United announced this morning its mask requirement will soon expand to include airports – from check-in through baggage claim. Until now, it has only required passengers wear masks when boarding and while aboard planes. Some airports already require the wearing of masks under local rules for public facilities. It is also requiring passengers who want to claim an “extraordinary circumstances” exemption from the mask requirement receive permission from United.  

United executives said on a call with reporters that most passengers are complying with the requirements, and that the bans will be lifted when the mask requirement is rescinded.  

The officials also said fewer than 1% of customers are changing their flight plans when informed their plane will be more than 70% full. United, at times, sells flights until they are filled up, but says it informs passengers when it happens so they are able to rebook. Other carriers have limited the number of passengers on a given flight. 

There is no federal requirement that passengers wear masks aboard planes. 

12:08 p.m. ET, July 22, 2020

Baltimore mandates face coverings and suspends indoor dining

From CNN’s Elizabeth Joseph

A sign is displayed near the entrance of a food hall in Baltimore on July 15.
A sign is displayed near the entrance of a food hall in Baltimore on July 15. Julio Cortez/AP

Baltimore City Mayor Bernard “Jack” Young signed an Executive Order Wednesday suspending indoor dining at restaurants and bars effective Friday at 5 p.m ET.

“Under the Mayor's order, restaurants and bars are permitted to continue with outdoor dining that's socially distanced, along with offering carryout and delivery services,” Young’s office said in a press release.

Dr. Letitia Dzirasa, the city’s health commissioner, also issued a health order Wednesday, mandating the use of face coverings within the city for all individuals over the age of 2.

"These decisions were not easy, but are rooted in current data and trends we're seeing in COVID-19 cases in Baltimore City," Dr. Dzirasa said. "When considered together, this information warrants the implementation of restrictions to help halt the further spread of COVID-19," she said.

Residents will be required to wear face coverings when in public and and unable to socially distance at least six feet from others. They aren’t required to wear face coverings while seated at outdoor dining establishments.

The dining restriction and face covering mandate will be in place for two weeks and evaluated by city health officials daily, the city says.

Covid case counts, death rates, ICU and hospital bed utilization, case positivity rates and the number of coronavirus tests performs are the markers the Baltimore City Health Department will be monitoring. 

12:56 p.m. ET, July 22, 2020

Fauci says he goes to the White House almost every day to meet with the coronavirus task force

From CNN Health’s Naomi Thomas

Dr. Anthony Fauci stands behind President Donald Trump at a press conference in the Rose Garden of the White House on May 15.
Dr. Anthony Fauci stands behind President Donald Trump at a press conference in the Rose Garden of the White House on May 15. Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Dr. Anthony Fauci says he goes to the White House almost every day to meet with the Coronavirus Task Force.

When asked during a webinar with the TB Alliance on Wednesday about how he splits his time between his role as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, he said, “It’s almost a 50/50 – half the day at the NIAID and half the day at the White House.”

Fauci said he spends most of the morning working with his team at NIAID on vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics – and “almost every day, I go down to the White House and meet with the Coronavirus Task Force.”

“Like today, I’m meeting with the group of doctors before the Task Force meeting, namely Debbie Birx and Bob Redfield and Steve Hahn and others,” he said.

Fauci said he then attends the Task Force meeting with the Vice President, after which he meets with people at the White House “with regards to that responsibility,” he said.


12:33 p.m. ET, July 22, 2020

Phase 3 trials will watch for possibility of vaccine-induced enhancement of infection, Fauci says

From CNN Health’s Naomi Thomas

Certain safety elements, including the possibility of vaccine-induced enhancement of infection, will be paid special attention in the Phase 3 trials of Covid-19 vaccines, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, said during a webinar Wednesday with the TB Alliance.

Phase 1 data gives you immediate safety, not necessarily all the parameters, and Phase 2 gives you more, Fauci said, but as they go into Phase 3, which is fundamentally efficacy to see if it works in the field, “we are also going to pay a special attention to certain safety elements.”

One of these, he said, is they “want to keep a special eye on is the possibility of vaccine-induced enhancement of infection.”

Fauci explained that this is when “you get vaccinated, you get infected, and the fact that you have been vaccinated with a level, an inadequate level, of suboptimal antibodies, that you can actually enhance the infection, because you’ve been vaccinated.”

He said they want to, and will, keep an eye on this in Phase 3 trials.

Fauci said that he doesn’t have a particular reason to believe this will be a problem, but as they have seen these kind of issues before, he wants to pay attention to it.

“I don’t use the word ‘I’m worried about it.’ Rather than worry, I try to do something about it,” he said.