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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4:47 p.m. ET, July 22, 2020

Connecticut reports 127 new Covid-19 cases

From CNN's Sheena Jones

Connecticut reported 127 new Covid-19 cases today and no new deaths from the virus since yesterday, according to a statement from Gov. Ned Lamont. 

The state has a total of 48,223 cases of Covid-19 and 4,406 deaths from the virus, the statement said. 

Note: The numbers listed were released by the state of Connecticut and may not line up exactly in real time with CNN’s database drawn from Johns Hopkins University and the Covid Tracking Project.

4:30 p.m. ET, July 22, 2020

Seattle schools superintendent recommends starting the year remotely

From CNN’s Konstantin Toropin

The superintendent of Seattle Public Schools is recommending that the district start the 2020-21 school year remotely, a statement on the school district website said. 

“We will follow the remote instruction model until the risk of significant transmission of Covid-19 has decreased enough to resume in-person instruction,” the statement said.

Seattle Public Schools is the largest K-12 school system in Washington state and has an enrollment of more than 50,000 students, according to its website.

“We can't imagine a way to open schools without the risk of significant transmission of Covid-19 based on the current trajectory of infections in King County,” the statement said.

However, the district said that they “will adapt and respond as quickly as possible” as the Covid-19 outbreak evolves.

The school board will vote on the superintendent's recommendation and an associated plan for fall 2020 on August 12.


4:34 p.m. ET, July 22, 2020

São Paulo reports more than 16,000 new cases

From Marcia Reverdosa in Sao Paulo

Cemetery workers in protective clothing bury victims of the new coronavirus at the Vila Formosa cemetery in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Wednesday, July 15.
Cemetery workers in protective clothing bury victims of the new coronavirus at the Vila Formosa cemetery in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Wednesday, July 15. Andre Penner/AP/FILE

The Brazilian state of São Paulo registered 16,777 new coronavirus cases Wednesday — the second highest daily number since the start of the pandemic. The new cases bring the total number for the state, the most populous in Brazil, to 439,446. 

Sao Paulo also reported 361 new deaths, bringing the total number of deaths in the state to 20,532. 

The executive coordinator of the São Paulo Contingency Center, João Gabbardo, acknowledged the number of new cases was higher than expected but said there was no cause for alarm.

"If we analyze this week, from Sunday to Wednesday, considering the data from this epidemiological week, and the data from yesterday, we will reach the number of 27,000 confirmed cases," he said.

He added delays in the input of data by laboratories may explain Wednesday's high number. "In the same four days of the previous week, week 29, we had 35,000 confirmed cases," he said.

The highest daily figure in the state was 19,030, recorded on June 19.  

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.