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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12:11 p.m. ET, July 22, 2020

Fauci says there is “not a chance” he would walk away from Covid-19 challenge

From CNN Health’s Naomi Thomas

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, said there is “not a chance” he would walk away from the challenge of Covid-19.

“I would never do that,” Fauci said, after being asked what keeps him from going back to his day job. “This is such an important public health challenge that we are facing.”

“This is what I do. This is what I’ve been doing all my life. This is what I’ve been trained for. This is what I have all my experience in,” he continued.

Walking away from this challenge would be unimaginable “no matter what they throw at me,” he said.

 “This is just too important. There’s too much at stake for the world for me to walk away from this,” he said. “Not a chance.”

Watch:

 

11:53 a.m. ET, July 22, 2020

Schumer slams Republicans' "disarray" on next Covid-19 relief bill

From CNN's Ali Zaslav, Ted Barrett, and Ian Sloan 

Sen. Chuck Schumer on July 21.
Sen. Chuck Schumer on July 21. Carolyn Kaster/AP

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer further dug into Republicans Wednesday over their “dysfunction” and “disarray” on the next coronavirus relief bill.

“There are only three weeks left until the August work period, and Republicans are still in the opening phases of preparing their bill,” Schumer said in a floor speech, claiming they're “tied in a knot” and can’t come up with a proposal.

“This isn’t the typical Republican disfunction on whether or not they didn’t or did see the President’s last tweet,” he also said. “The disarray on the Republican side has real consequences.”

Schumer also noted Democrats will be sending a letter to the administration “to demand answers on how data is being reported to the White House,” he said, referring to the recent announcement that hospital data on coronavirus patients will be sent directly to the administration instead of being first sent to the CDC.  

He added that if the administration “refuses to reverse course,” Democrats will demand data transparency be included in the next relief bill.

On President Trump resuming his coronavirus task force press briefings, he said, it’s “remarkable” that he’s “lowered the bar so much” that his performance yesterday was seen as a “change in tone.” 

“Americans must be hanging their heads in shame and disbelief that this administration is still trying to sort out the basics,” he said.

Schumer also criticized Trump for calling the coronavirus the ‘China virus’ at his press conference, saying it shows how he continues to “deflect blame”. 

“President Trump started his press conference by labeling Covid-19, the China virus, which shows the President’s still trying to deflect blame, play political games with this deadly serious virus. Games that are divisive,” Schumer said.

11:26 a.m. ET, July 22, 2020

The US is nearing 4 million cases. Here's where Covid-19 infections are surging.

From CNN's Christina Maxouris and Holly Yan

The US is heading in the wrong direction with Covid-19 numbers, and it's doing so with astonishing speed.

Just after 1,000 people died in a single day, the US is about to reach 4 million Covid-19 cases.

To put that in perspective, the first reported case came on January 21. After 99 days, 1 million Americans became infected. It took just 43 days after that to reach 2 million cases.

And 28 days later, on July 8, the US reached 3 million cases. Case number 4 million could be reported just two weeks after that.

Here's a look at how the total number of Covid-19 cases have progressed in the US, according to Johns Hopkins University data:

While some US leaders, including President Trump, have pinned the spike in coronavirus numbers on increased testing, it's actually the prevalence of the disease that's causing cases to climb.

A CNN analysis of testing data from the Covid Tracking Project reveals that the positive test rate — indicated by the average number of positive test results out of 1,000 tests performed —has increased significantly in many states that have seen the largest increases in new cases in recent weeks, including Florida, Arizona, Texas and Georgia.

Florida, for instance, saw an average rate of 35 positive results per 1,000 tests during the month of May. But in June, that number nearly tripled to 105. So far in July, the average rate has been 187 out of 1,000.

Over the weekend, nearly 50 hospitals across the state reported no ICU beds were left. The ICU bed availability statewide stood at about 15.98% on Tuesday, down from about 18.1% Monday.

Track the virus in your state and across the US

11:21 a.m. ET, July 22, 2020

Florida reports more than 9,700 additional Covid-19 cases

From CNN's Tina Burnside

The state of Florida is reporting 9,785 new cases of Covid-19 and 139 additional deaths on Wednesday, according to data released by the Florida Department of Health. 

This brings the state's total cases to 379,619 according to the state department of health. The statewide resident death toll is now 5,345.

11:27 a.m. ET, July 22, 2020

More than 100,000 people have signed up for Covid-19 vaccine clinical trials, Fauci says

From CNN's Health Gisela Crespo

 Al Drago/Pool/Getty Images
 Al Drago/Pool/Getty Images

More than 100,000 people have signed up to participate in Covid-19 vaccine clinical trials, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said on Wednesday.

Speaking with the TB Alliance, Fauci said people have signed up through the Coronavirus Prevention Network (CoVPN) and a public database. 

"We have well over 100,000 people that have already signed up as volunteers," Fauci said. "I think we'll be fine with regards to getting enough people. In the first trial is going to be 30,000 people in the trial, and there are gonna be more than one trial, so you're talking about tens and tens of thousands of people that will be needed for these multiple vaccine trials."

Watch:

 

10:58 a.m. ET, July 22, 2020

Citing safety, Lowe's will not require employees to enforce customer mask mandate

From CNN’s Alison Kosik

Lowe’s Home Improvement says it will not require its employees to enforce a customer mask mandate at its stores across the country.

In a statement to CNN, Lowe’s spokesperson Steve Salazar said, “we will not ask our associates to put their safety at risk by confronting customers about wearing masks, so we are consistently requesting that customers wear masks for the safety of everyone in our stores.”

The home improvement chain says it’s added signs at its stores, requesting that customers wear masks for the safety of everyone. They’re also providing free masks to customers who need them.

Some background: Without a federal mask mandate, companies have had to step in and make their own rules.

CVS, Walgreens, Walmart and Home Depot are among many companies not asking employees to enforce their mask wearing policies. 

CNN Nathaniel Meyersohn contributed to this report

11:25 a.m. ET, July 22, 2020

"We are going as quickly as we possibly can" on vaccine development, Fauci says

From CNN Health’s Naomi Thomas

“We are going as quickly as we possibly can” on vaccine development, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said during a webinar with the TB Alliance on Wednesday.

“If you want to do it correctly, with safety, and real attention to safety and efficacy, I think we are going as fast as we possibly can,” Fauci said.

He said that the speed of the result of vaccine trials will always be determined by the level of infectious activity that is present.

“In other words, if you can get that vaccine trial going in the middle of a lot of viral activity, such as we are experiencing now in the United States, with 50 to 60 to 70 thousand new infections per day, that’s bad news for public health, but that certainly facilitates the development and the proving of the efficacy of a vaccine,” he said.

“So I think, Betsy, we are going as quickly as we possibly can now,” without jumping over important steps Fauci said.

Click here to catch up on the latest on the development of a Covid-19 vaccine.

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11:55 a.m. ET, July 22, 2020

White House adviser says some states reopened "a little too quickly"

From CNN's Betsy Klein

Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway attempted to shift blame for surging coronavirus cases to the nation’s governors, claiming that Trump’s somber message and shift in tone was “not a change,” but instead, a reaction to some states that reopened too quickly. 

“It’s not a change. The briefings stopped, but his work hasn’t stopped,” Conway said in response to a question from CNN.

Remember: Trump warned the coronavirus pandemic is likely to worsen before improving, during the first outing of his revived daily briefings on Tuesday. His tone was relatively sober and offered more realistic projections.

“I think what he added yesterday is him seeing that some of these states moved through our gated criteria, moved through some of our phases, and they opened up some of the industries a little too quickly like bars,” Conway said today of Trump's briefing.

Governors, she said, “wanted complete latitude” over reopening, but, Trump “also sees that if he provides information to the public as the President, he's also giving people guidance as to how to do our part to help flatten that curve and to help some of these cities.” 

She pointed to Georgia as an example of where the President pushed back on reopening phases.

Amid criticism of the President’s Tuesday remarks that the administration is “developing a strategy,” she said, “We do have a strategy,” but suggested that Trump was talking specifically about vaccine development and therapeutics and sheltering vulnerable populations.  

Conway said Trump was briefed on the testing matter by Dr. Deborah Birx and Jared Kushner and his team, but acknowledged, “We all think it’s gotta be better,” pointing to many Americans waiting days for results. 

She was also asked about the lack of public health officials at yesterday’s briefing and noted that they are frequently on television or on Facebook or, in a nod to Dr. Anthony Fauci, “throwing pitches.”

Trump and Fauci, she said, “don’t have a piece of tissue paper between him,” before pivoting to criticize Joe Biden. 

11:09 a.m. ET, July 22, 2020

"I don't really see us eradicating" Covid-19, Fauci says

From CNN's Health Gisela Crespo)

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Wednesday the world may not eradicate Covid-19 – but we may be able to control it with a vaccine and good public health measures. 

Speaking during a webcast hosted by the TB Alliance, Fauci explained that due to Covid-19's ability to transmit from human to human, he doesn't think it will disappear like SARS did.

"I think we ultimately will get control of it. I don't really see us eradicating it. I think with a combination of good public health measures, a degree of global herd immunity and a good vaccine — which I do hope and feel cautiously optimistic that we will get. I think when you put all three of those together, I think we will get very good control of this," Fauci said.

"Whether it's this year or next year, I'm not certain ... but I think we will bring it down to such a low level that we will not be in the position that we're in right now for an extended period of time," Fauci added.

Earlier this month, the World Health Organization also said it is unlikely that the world can eradicate or eliminate Covid-19 any time soon.

Watch: