July 23 coronavirus news

By Ben Westcott, Brad Lendon, Ed Upright, Meg Wagner and Melissa Macaya, CNN

Updated 12:09 a.m. ET, July 24, 2020
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5:00 p.m. ET, July 23, 2020

Missouri sets record for single-day increase in Covid-19 cases

From CNN's Raja Razek

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services has reported 1,637 new Covid-19 cases on Thursday, a record single-day increase.

The total number of coronavirus cases in the state now stands at 37,700, the department said.

Today's record number surpasses Wednesday's record of 1,301 Covid-19 cases reported in a single day. 

The department also reported 20 new Covid-19-related deaths, bringing the total number to 1,179 in Missouri.

"The daily report of new cases represents a wide variation in when specimens were collected, when tests were performed, and when results are reported and entered," the department tweeted. "For this reason, we continue to focus on the 7-day positivity rate which has been increasing and tells us that community transmission is occurring in some parts of the state."

The department said there is no delay in reporting positive results from labs to patients.

To note: These figures were released by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Service, and may not line up exactly in real time with CNN’s database drawn from Johns Hopkins University and the Covid Tracking Project.

4:59 p.m. ET, July 23, 2020

Brazilian government will stop funding country's largest epidemiological Covid-19 study 

From Fernanda Wenzel and Marcia Reverdosa

The Brazilian Health Ministry will not renew its contract to continue the country's largest epidemiological Covid-19 study as the pandemic continues to take a toll across the country, according to the university heading up the research. 

EPICOVID19-BR is a serological study by Federal University of Pelotas (UFPel) to understand the “evolution of the prevalence of Infection by Covid-19."

Preliminary results released by the university on July 2 suggested that almost 90% of people infected with coronavirus are symptomatic, even when the symptoms are mild. The research also found that loss of smell and taste are symptoms of Covid-19, and that children can be infected as much as adults. 

The EPICOVID19-BR study also suggests that the number of people infected with coronavirus in Brazil is 6.5 times higher than the official government figure. 

It is one of the largest Covid-19 studies of its kind in the world, based on the number of test participants, according to Pedro Hallal, an epidemiologist and dean of UFPel. 

More than 90,000 people in each of Brazil’s 26 states and the Federal District of Brasilia have been tested in three stages of research to map the pandemic so far, at a cost of about $3 million, said Hallal. 

Until now, the research was funded by Brazil’s Ministry of Health.  

"When we presented the results of the last phase of the study at the beginning of July, we were told the government would like to continue it. But, since then, the ministry is totally silent," Hallal said.

In a news conference on Tuesday, Interim Health Minister Eduardo Pazuello said the study was very good, but unable to deliver a national view of the pandemic.

"Brazil is very heterogeneous, and we would need individualized studies in each region of the country. That is what we are analyzing," he said.

Hallal explained it’s important to continue the study because Brazil is still in the middle of the pandemic.

"We would understand the new moments of the pandemic. We would know to what extent the outbreak is stronger now in the south and the center-west, we would know if it is really going down in the north,” Hallal said.

With the apparent lack of continued funding from the federal government, the university is looking for other potential backers, and is currently in negotiations with one entity, according to Hallal.

4:58 p.m. ET, July 23, 2020

Florida governor talked to Trump today about Covid-19 

From CNN's Rosa Flores and Denise Royal

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis addresses the media during his daily coronavirus press conference at Health First's Holmes Regional Medical Center in Melbourne, Florida, on Thursday, July 23. 
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis addresses the media during his daily coronavirus press conference at Health First's Holmes Regional Medical Center in Melbourne, Florida, on Thursday, July 23.  Craig Bailey/Florida Today/USA Today Network/Sipa USA 

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis had phone conversations with President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence Wednesday to discuss Covid-19, the governor’s press office told CNN.

The office would only say that DeSantis and Trump discussed Covid-19 and would not expand further. The governor and Pence, the office said, discussed the need for the antiviral drug remdesivir in Florida.

At a news conference today, DeSantis announced Florida would be receiving a shipment of 11,000 vials of remdesivir on Friday.

When CNN asked for a readout of the calls, the governor’s press office said it does not generate readouts of the governor’s calls.

4:49 p.m. ET, July 23, 2020

McConnell says the GOP stimulus plan will be released "next week"

From CNN's Manu Raju and Clare Foran

 Al Drago/Bloomberg/Getty Images
Al Drago/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell addressed the delayed timeline for the release of the GOP stimulus plan in remarks on the Senate floor Thursday afternoon, saying the Trump administration has asked for more time to review the plan before its unveiling.

The stimulus plan should be out "early next week," McConnell said.

McConnell said that GOP senators, who have taken a leading role in crafting the plan, will introduce individual components of the proposal on Monday.  

“The Senate majority has assembled a framework for CARES 2. The administration has requested additional time to review the fine details, but we will be laying down this proposal early next week. We have an agreement in principal on the shape of the package,” he said.

Some context: Senate Republicans had initially planned to unveil the proposal today, but the release was delayed amid holdups.

“Chairman Alexander, Chairman Shelby and Chairman Blunt are finalizing an ambitious package of funding and policy to help our schools reopen. They will lay out a reopening-related funding package for schools and universities north of $100 billion. That’s more money than the House Democrats proposed for a similar fund,” McConnell said, adding, “there will be several important policies to help childcare providers, grant new flexibility to elementary and secondary schools and more.” 

McConnell previewed other components of the plan, saying that “Republicans want to send a second round of direct payments to American households, and Senator Collins and Senator Rubio have crafted a sequel to their historic and incredibly successful Paycheck Protection Program." 

4:29 p.m. ET, July 23, 2020

Public health measures are helping Covid-19 outbreaks, HHS official says

From CNN’s Jen Christensen

The United States has done about 51.7 million Covid-19 tests and has been performing an average of about 770,000 tests per day recently, according to Admiral Dr. Brett Giroir, the assistant secretary for health for the US Department of Health and Human Services.

Currently there is a national positivity rate of 9.08% over the past seven days, he said during a briefing with reporters on Thursday.

“We’re all very concerned about the outbreaks which are occurring across the country,” Giroir said, adding they are particularly concerned about California, Arizona, Texas and Florida.

But, Giroir said public health measures are starting to make a difference.

“We are making progress,” Giroir said. The positivity rate is starting to level off, he said, and in some cases, starting to drop. The seven-day rolling averages of cases is starting to turn downward, he said. 

“No one is declaring victory about this,” Giroir added.

Giroir said face masks, physical distancing and good hand hygiene is important, especially in the hotspots that are seeing a surge in cases. The hotspots need to have 90% or more of people wearing masks, he said. That, combined with closing bars and indoor dining, is “essentially the equivalent to shutting down the entire economy.” 

The Covid-19 response team in the past two weeks has gone to 19 locations. The government is also sending teams to help with testing at nursing homes and opening up a surge testing site in Miami, Giroir said.

On testing: Giroir said the government wants to reduce test turnaround time as much as possible and pooled testing could help improve the efficiency by 20% or 30% in labs. The government will prioritize certain areas as well. It will be putting point-of-care testing in nursing homes that will improve the turnaround time there and better protect those vulnerable populations.

There are 654 point-of-care testing machines in nursing homes currently. Over the next two to three weeks, the government will send out an additional 1,700.

Giroir also said that his department is working with manufacturers to better understand their production schedules for August. He expects about 51 million tests will be available, half of which will be used for point-of-care testing.

In September, there should be 65 million tests. Giroir said some of the other testing supplies will remain “tight” as long as there is infinite demand. 

4:24 p.m. ET, July 23, 2020

Marine assigned to presidential helicopter unit tests positive for coronavirus

From CNN's Ryan Browne

A US Marine assigned to Marine Helicopter Squadron One, the unit responsible for transporting the President, has tested positive for coronavirus.

The service member had flown to Bedminster, New Jersey, in anticipation of President Trump's upcoming visit there.  

"Out of an abundance of caution, Marines who may have had contact with the infected Marine have been removed from the detachment. The infected Marine was never in direct contact with the President’s helicopter, Marine One," a spokesperson for the US Marine Corps told CNN in a statement. "Prior to the President’s planned travel to Bedminster, NJ, Marine Helicopter Squadron One (HMX-1) was informed that a HMX-1 Marine on detachment in Bedminster, NJ in support of the White House had tested positive for Covid-19."

Politico was first to report that a member of the unit tested positive.  

4:24 p.m. ET, July 23, 2020

People in their 20s make up one-third of Wisconsin's new Covid-19 cases

From CNN’s Gregory Lemos

Wisconsin Department of Health Services Secretary-designee Andrea Palm
Wisconsin Department of Health Services Secretary-designee Andrea Palm Wisconsin Governor's office

One-third of all coronavirus cases confirmed in the past month in Wisconsin were among people in their 20s, said Andrea Palm, secretary-designee of the state's Department of Health Services.

Palm said the increase in cases is attributed to residents “attending gatherings like parties, bars, and barbecues.” 

At least 45,899 cases of coronavirus have reported in Wisconsin and at least 878 people have died from the virus in the state since the beginning of the pandemic.

"Please the safest thing to do is stay home, limit your interactions, and wear a mask or cloth face covering," Palm said.  

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

7:40 p.m. ET, July 23, 2020

He spent 128 days fighting coronavirus in a New York hospital: "This disease is no joke"

From CNN's Jason Kurtz

"Miracle Larry" Kelly is home.

After 128 days in the hospital — including 51 on a ventilator — the 64-year-old New Yorker is a coronavirus survivor.

"I was one of the early cases. And in many ways I was a Guinea pig because they knew nothing about it. So, they threw everything at me," Kelly told CNN's Brianna Keilar during a live interview.

Kelly's early prognosis was so grim that doctors suggested he be taken off of life support, and family members had begun to pay their last respects. But Kelly had other ideas.

"The last text message I sent to my wife right before I was vented, I said I promise I'll never stop fighting. I kept that promise," he said.

As Kelly battled for four months, fighting a virus that to date has claimed the lives of more than 140,000 Americans, one mid-April Sunday offered a sliver of hope.

"I open my eyes on Easter Sunday, which is why I believe the moniker 'Miracle Larry' came from. But on Easter Sunday in New York, 527 people died," said Kelly. "So people were dying all around me and I didn't die. And is that a miracle? I don't know."

Further hampering Kelly's fight were complications including a coma, pneumonia in both lungs, and massive bleeding in the brain.

There were "tubes everywhere, EEG (electroencephalogram) on his brain. He looked awful. My sister didn't even want to see him like that," Kelly's daughter Jackie recalled.

Family members took turns recording messages on a mobile phone, playing them in Kelly's ear one by one inside his Mt. Sinai hospital room. Months later, the recordings have taken on a different tone.

"Jackie actually played the phone conversations with the doctors that she had with her crying and them telling them all the gloom and doom," Kelly said. "Jackie and Dawn were getting very upset and they looked over at me and I wasn't. And they were staring at me and I said to them 'well, I know how it ends.'" 

Even with a contagious sense of humor, Kelly admits to grim days during his Covid-19 fight.

"I was in a very dark place. And you know, I didn't see any white light but I saw a lot of black and dark and a pit. And I thought I was heading the other direction, which is why I probably survived. I kept thinking let me explain myself."

With family by his side, Kelly credits not only those closest to him — but also those he'd never met — for his remarkable story of survival.

"There's so many commercials on that say we're all in this together. And that's the only message I can give people. I was a stranger to those people at Mt. Sinai and they worked tirelessly to keep me alive," Kelly said, before adding a word of caution to those still doubting the severity of Covid-19.

"This disease is no joke. And if there's anybody out there thinking it's a big hoax, I'm so glad my family and a lot of my friends who know me, are following protocol because I don't want to lose any of them."

CORRECTION: This post has been updated to reflect that Larry Kelly spent 51 days on a ventilator in a hospital.

4:03 p.m. ET, July 23, 2020

Arkansas reports more than 1,000 new Covid-19 cases

From CNN’s Janine Mack

Arkansas Governor's office
Arkansas Governor's office

The Arkansas Department of Health is reporting at least 1,013 new positive cases of coronavirus since Wednesday.

That brings the total statewide to at least 36,259 positive cases and at least 386 deaths since the pandemic began, Gov. Asa Hutchinson said during a news conference on Thursday.

Arkansas’ cumulative positivity rate is 8%, at least 107 patients are on ventilators and at least 480 patients are hospitalized, according to Dr. Jose Romero, Arkansas Department of Health Acting Secretary.

Hutchinson said some of the increase was due to delay in reporting.