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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6:56 p.m. ET, July 23, 2020

Los Angeles County records more than 2,000 new coronavirus cases

From CNN's Cheri Mossburg

Los Angeles County reported more than 2,000 new coronavirus cases for the fourth day straight, Health Officer Muntu Davis said at a briefing. 

L.A. County added 2,014 new cases today, bringing the total number of cases in the county to 166,848.

There have been at 4,262 Covid-19-related fatalities in the county. More than half all Covid-19 deaths in California have occurred in Los Angeles County.

6:47 p.m. ET, July 23, 2020

10 hospitals in Mississippi have no ICU beds available

From CNN’s James Froio and Jamiel Lynch

Gov. Tate Reeves
Gov. Tate Reeves Pool

There are 10 hospitals in Mississippi with no intensive care unit beds available, Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves said in a news conference on Thursday.

Reeves said there is approximately 115 ICU bed reserves that can be flexed up to make additional ICU beds. 

He said the state is seeing increases in positive cases in people ages of 0 and 17, which have had a 37% growth rate since July 12.

The second fastest age group is between 18 and 29, which has seen a 30% increase since the start of the pandemic.

6:40 p.m. ET, July 23, 2020

Covid-19 transmission from mothers to babies unlikely with proper precautions, study finds 

From CNN’s Marisa Peryer 

Mothers infected with Covid-19 are unlikely to pass the infection to their newborns when appropriate health precautions are taken, according to a study published Thursday in The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health. 

Researchers reported no cases of viral transmission among 120 babies born to 116 Covid-positive mothers, even when both shared a room and the mothers breastfed. 

Still, precautions were taken: Babies remained in enclosed cribs and six feet apart from their mothers, except while breastfeeding. Mothers were also required to wear surgical masks when handling their child and followed proper hand and breast washing procedures. 

All babies included in the study were tested for Covid-19 via a nasal swab within 24 hours after birth. After, researchers conducted follow up exams and tests. 

Of the original 120 babies, 82 completed a follow up five to seven days after birth. The majority, 68 babies, had roomed with their mothers and 64 were still breastfed. Seventy-nine of these babies were tested again at five to seven days, and 72 were tested two weeks after birth. 

None of the results were positive, and none of the babies showed Covid-19 symptoms, the team at Weill Cornell Medicine-New York Presbyterian children’s hospital reported.

They noted that blood, fecal and urine Covid-19 tests had not been approved at the time of the study. If a baby was infected in the womb, the nasal swab test might not have detected the virus. The researchers also relied on what the mothers reported themselves about their hand hygiene and mask usage.

Recommendations for mothers with Covid-19 and their newborns vary. The study affirms current guidance by the World Health Organization and the American Academy of Pediatrics. The pediatricians’ group updated its guidance Wednesday.

6:38 p.m. ET, July 23, 2020

Brazil's Bolsonaro says he'll take another Covid-19 test "in the next few days"  

From Márcia Reverdosa in São Paulo

Brazil's most famous coronavirus patient, President Jair Bolsonaro, said during his daily walk Thursday that he will be taking another coronavirus test "in the next few days" and asked for patience while the country is trying to address several challenges. 

"Brazil has been doing a lot of wrong things that have been going on for a long time, we can't fix it overnight. I ask for your patience, right? Any business there, people usually criticize and shoot down," Bolsonaro said. 

Bolsonaro told CNN affiliate CNN Brasil on Wednesday that he had tested positive again for Covid-19, just over two weeks after his initial test came back positive. He has been working in semi-isolation from the presidential residence since July 7, when he first announced he had tested positive.

Bolsonaro touted hydroxychloroquine again, despite a warning from the Brazilian Society of Infectious Diseases urging medical professionals to stop using the drug to treat coronavirus because it has been proved ineffective and can cause damage.

6:36 p.m. ET, July 23, 2020

Cloth face coverings should be at least two layers thick to be most effective, research finds

From CNN's Naomi Thomas

Cloth face coverings should have at least two layers to be most effective, and preferably three, according to new research published Thursday. And a set of videos brings the evidence to life.

A team in Australia used tailored LED lighting and a high-speed camera to capture the dispersal of airborne droplets from someone talking, sneezing and coughing while wearing different types of face coverings – bare faced, with a single layer of cloth, a double layer and a medical grade surgical mask.

The results were clear, the team at the School of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering at the University of New South Wales reported in the British Medical Journal’s Thorax.

While they said a single-layer face covering is better than nothing "a double-layer cloth face covering was significantly better at reducing the droplet spread caused by coughing and sneezing," they added.

The single layer mask was made from a t-shirt, using a no-sew method. The two layer mask was made using the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s method that uses two rectangles of cotton layered over one another. 

While the surgical mask was the most effective at preventing transmission of droplets, cloth face coverings did reduce the spread of droplets. 

“From the captured video it can be observed that, for speaking, a single-layer cloth face covering reduced the droplet spread but a double-layer covering performed better. Even a single-layer face covering is better than no face covering,” the researchers wrote.

“Guidelines on home-made cloth masks should stipulate multiple layers (at least 3),” they added. “Several other factors determine the efficacy of cloth masks such as type of material, the number of layers, the arrangement of different layers and frequency of washing.”

6:16 p.m. ET, July 23, 2020

Jacksonville officials say they appreciate Trump's decision to cancel RNC activities in their city

From CNN’s Jamiel Lynch 

Jacksonville, Florida, Sheriff Mike Williams and Mayor Lenny Curry said in a joint statement they appreciate President Trump considering public health and safety and canceling the Jacksonville portion of the Republican National Convention.

"We appreciate President Donald Trump considering our public health and safety concerns in making this incredibly difficult decision," they said.

The mayor and sheriff continued: "As always, in Jacksonville public safety is our number one priority. President Trump has once again reaffirmed his commitment to the safety of Jacksonville, Florida and the people of the United States of America."

6:05 p.m. ET, July 23, 2020

US medical experts urge leaders to shut down the country and start over to contain Covid-19

From CNN’s Shelby Lin Erdman

More than 150 prominent US medical experts, scientists, teachers, nurses and others have signed a letter to political leaders urging them to shut down the country and start over to contain the surging coronavirus pandemic.

“The best thing for the nation is not to reopen as quickly as possible, it’s to save as many lives as possible,” they wrote in the document, which was sent to the Trump administration, leading members of Congress and state governors on Thursday.

“Right now we are on a path to lose more than 200,000 American lives by November 1st. Yet, in many states people can drink in bars, get a haircut, eat inside a restaurant, get a tattoo, get a massage, and do myriad other normal, pleasant, but non-essential activities," the letter said.

They say the only way to reopen the economy and the country safely is to follow a set of protocols that public health experts deem necessary for controlling the spread of Covid-19. The group includes things like having enough daily testing to test everyone with flu-like symptoms, a work force of contact tracers large enough to track all current cases and more personal protective equipment to keep essential workers safe.

In addition, the letter says all nonessential businesses should be closed and restaurants nationwide should only provide take-out service. People should only leave their homes to get food and medicine or fresh air and exercise, and masks should be mandatory in all situations, the letter urged. Leaders should also ban interstate travel to help contain the virus. 

“If you don’t take these actions, the consequences will be measured in widespread suffering and death,” the letter warned.

“Our decision makers need to hit the reset button,” said Matt Wellington, the public health campaigns director for the advocacy group US PIRG, which joined with health experts to draft the letter.

“Continuing on the path we’re on now will result in widespread suffering and death. And for what? Health experts laid out criteria for how to reopen safely. It’s time to listen to them,” Wellington said.

6:02 p.m. ET, July 23, 2020

New Mexico delays in-person learning through at least Labor Day

From CNN’s Jennifer Henderson

New Mexico will delay in-person learning through at least September 7, Labor Day, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said in a news conference today. 

Schools may begin online or distance learning in August, Lujan Grisham added. After Labor Day, New Mexico will phase in a hybrid model bringing the youngest students back to school first, then middle schoolers and finally high schoolers, she said.

Prior to this decision to delay in-person learning at the state-level, 40% of school districts had already made the decision to pause in-person learning, Lujan Grisham said. 

6:00 p.m. ET, July 23, 2020

American Academy of Pediatrics releases guidance for youth sports during coronavirus pandemic

From CNN's Marisa Peryer

New guidance released by the American Academy of Pediatrics on Thursday outlines interim advice for families weighing a return to youth sport activities based on the most current coronavirus research. 

“We recommend that parents talk to their pediatrician about the type of sport and setting, local disease activity, and individual circumstances, such as an underlying health condition that places the athlete or family members at high risk,” said Dr. Susannah Briskin, an author of the guidance, in a news release.  

Recommendations made by the American Academy of Pediatrics for sports include a prioritization of non-contact activity, physical distancing and disinfecting frequently touched equipment. It also said families can expect modifications made by sporting bodies and local governments to practices, competitions and events amid Covid-19.

Testing for Covid-19 before participating in sports is discouraged unless an athlete is symptomatic or has been exposed to someone known to be recently infected.

“The risk can be decreased, but not eliminated, by athletes, parents, coaches, and officials who follow safety protocols,” Briskin added. “Ultimately, this will be an individual choice for the parent to decide if they will allow their child to participate in sports.” 

Consistent practice groups that don’t mix youth athletes may help reduce team-wide outbreaks, it says. Sharing of equipment and use of communal spaces such as locker rooms should be reduced. When possible, areas with poor ventilation, such as weight rooms, or small spaces where distancing isn’t possible should be avoided.

More precautions: Cloth face coverings should be worn by coaches, officials, spectators and volunteers.

Athletes should wear a cloth face mask and physically distance on the sidelines. Masks should be worn when nonvigorous exercise is being performed and physical distancing isn’t possible. Cloth masks should not be worn for water activities or when they can catch on equipment or result in impaired vision, such as in gymnastics or cheer.