The latest on the coronavirus pandemic

By Ben Westcott, Helen Regan, Laura Smith-Spark, Ed Upright and Meg Wagner, CNN

Updated 12:10 a.m. ET, July 25, 2020
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9:59 a.m. ET, July 24, 2020

WHO head slams Pompeo's claim that he was "bought" by China as "untrue and unacceptable"

From CNN's Emma Reynolds, Sharon Braithwaite and Luke McGee

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, left, and Mike Pompeo.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, left, and Mike Pompeo. AFP/Getty Images

The World Health Organization chief attacked US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's "unacceptable" claims that the Director-General had been "bought" by China and said countries should focus on saving lives during the coronavirus pandemic, in one of his strongest rebuttals to date against criticism from the United States.

Pompeo made the claim about Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus during a private meeting with British lawmakers in London on Tuesday, Labour MP Chris Bryant confirmed to CNN.

The Secretary of State also referred to China's efforts to "co-opt" WHO at a news conference in London on Tuesday, when he said the world needed to ensure every country, including China, behaved in ways that were consistent with the international order.

"You can't go make claims for maritime regions that you have no lawful claim to. You can't threaten countries and bully them in the Himalayas. You can't engage in cover-ups and co-opt international institutions like the World Health Organization," said Pompeo.

When asked to comment on Pompeo's remarks on Thursday, Tedros said "the comments are untrue and unacceptable and without any foundation, for that matter."

Read the full story here.

9:25 a.m. ET, July 24, 2020

More than 300,000 Americans could die if Covid-19 trajectory doesn't change, former FDA head says

From CNN's Gisela Crespo

A respiratory therapist walks into a Covid-19 patient's room on July 15 in the ICU at OakBend Medical Center in Richmond, Texas.
A respiratory therapist walks into a Covid-19 patient's room on July 15 in the ICU at OakBend Medical Center in Richmond, Texas. Mark Felix/AFP/Getty Images

Former US Food and Drug Administrator Dr. Scott Gottlieb said the US could see upwards of 300,000 deaths from Covid-19 if the country doesn't change its trajectory.

"In the United States, probably, you know, by the end of the year, we could have upwards of 300,000 if we continue on the current trajectory. Right now, we have close to a thousand casualties a day, so if we don't change that trajectory, you could do the math and see where we are at towards the end of the year," Gottlieb said Wednesday during an interview on CNBC's Squawk Box.

Gottlieb explained that while in-hospital mortality from the virus has declined, "the problem is we're hospitalizing a lot of patients."

"Right now we're gonna break our old record in terms of the total number of hospitalizations, which was 60,000. We're at 59,000 now and we're gonna eclipse that in the next week. So even if we end up preserving more life in the hospital – which we’re doing – if we end up hospitalizing a whole lot more patients, you’re ultimately going to have a lot of casualties, unfortunately, from this virus," Gottlieb said.

The stark project comes as some US medical experts, teachers, nurses and others are urging political leaders to shut down the US and start over to contain the pandemic.

"The best thing for the nation is not to reopen as quickly as possible, it's to save as many lives as possible," the group of more than 150 wrote in a letter sent to the Trump administration, leading members of Congress and state governors.

9:10 a.m. ET, July 24, 2020

Dr. Birx says this Covid-19 metric "is a real indicator that something is happening"

From CNN's Gisela Crespo

Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus task force coordinator, listens during a coronavirus briefing in Washington, DC, on June 26.
Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus task force coordinator, listens during a coronavirus briefing in Washington, DC, on June 26. Susan Walsh/AP

Officials better understand now that test positivity "is a real indicator that something is happening" even before there is a significant surge in Covid-19 cases, Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus task force coordinator, said Friday. 

The positivity rate is the percentage of people who test positive for the virus of those overall who have been tested.

"I think what's really important is to understand when you first see that increase in test positivity ... And I think we have a lot more knowledge now that when it just ticks up a little, even before you see a significant increase in cases, that that is a real indicator that something is happening," she said on the "Today" Show this morning. 

As an example, Birx mentioned the surge in cases observed after Memorial Day weekend, and thanked younger people for getting tested even if they had no symptoms. 

"So much of that early spread in 20- to 30-year-olds is asymptomatic. They would never appear at an emergency room or a testing site. They would have no reason to do it ... We asked them after Memorial Day when we could see Americans on the move, that if they were in large gatherings, no matter if it was in the street or in a bar or in a private home, to go and get tested. And I think it's because of their responsibility, we [were] able to see that original tick up," Birx explained. 

"Until you can see that explosion, it's hard for people to understand how deeply you have to clamp down. And that's why we called out the next set of cities where we see early warning signs. Because if you make changes now, you won't become a Phoenix," she added. 


9:01 a.m. ET, July 24, 2020

Here’s what Baltimore has learned from in-person summer schooling

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

Sonja Brookins Santelises on CNN's "New Day" on July 24.
Sonja Brookins Santelises on CNN's "New Day" on July 24. CNN

A “small number” of students are physically in summer school right now in Baltimore, according to Sonja Brookins Santelises, CEO of the Maryland city’s public schools. 

There are about six to nine students in each classroom, with hand sanitizing stations and temperature checks.

“And yes, children are keeping their masks on,” she said in an interview on CNN’s “New Day.”

Santelises said the small number of students in classrooms has been the biggest way to make families and teachers most comfortable. 

Baltimore schools are supposed to open for the fall virtually on Aug. 31, but Santelises wants to push it back to Sept. 8 to better orient families and teachers for online learning.

Parents need better support with virtual learning, she said. There are parent hotlines already, but schools will be offering more virtual orientations and are asking community organizations to help. 

Preparing for the upcoming school year is a balancing act, and there’s no simple solution, Santelises said.

“I don't think you would find an educator anywhere who would say that in-person relationship-based teaching and learning is more advantageous for the large majority of students. However, we also know that large numbers of our families, large numbers of our educators, want to feel physically safe,” she said. 

Watch the full interview:

8:52 a.m. ET, July 24, 2020

Would Fauci get on a plane or dine out? Here's what he says

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, arrives for a hearing in Washington, DC, on June 30.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, arrives for a hearing in Washington, DC, on June 30. Al Drago/Pool/Getty Images

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, said he's not eating at restaurants right now and "can’t think of a reason" to get on a flight across the Atlantic.

In an interview with MarketWatch, Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, was asked about what he's doing — and not doing — as coronavirus cases continue to climb in the US.

"I presume you are not hanging out in restaurants or bars. Is it really more dangerous to eat indoors at a restaurant than outdoors?" MarketWatch asked Fauci.

Fauci responded that "yes, absolutely," indoor dining is more dangerous than outdoor dining.

"If you’re going to go to a restaurant, try as best as you can to have outdoor seating that is properly spaced between the tables," Fauci recommended.

However, he added: "I am not going to restaurants right now."

MarketWatch reporter Quentin Fottrell said he's in Ireland, and thought about Fauci on a flight across the Atlantic.

"I wondered whether Dr. Fauci would get on a flight at the moment?" Fottrell asked.

Here's how Fauci responded:

"Well, the answer is 'No' for the following reason: I am in a risk category. I don’t like to admit it, but I’m 79 years old. I can’t think of a reason to go trans-Atlantic. Right now, I’m very sequestered. I’m on a coronavirus task force. I go to the White House almost every day. I spend half a day in my office trying to develop a vaccine and drugs for COVID-19, and that’s really what I need to do. I don’t fancy seeing myself getting infected, which is a risk when you’re getting on a plane, particularly with the amount of infection that’s going on right now."
8:27 a.m. ET, July 24, 2020

Experts want another shutdown, and the Florida RNC is off: What you need to know about coronavirus today

It's Friday morning in the US, which has reported more than 4 million cases of coronavirus since the pandemic began.

Here are the top headline to get your day started:

  • Another shutdown? Experts are pleading for another nationwide shutdown to keep things from getting worse in the US. More than 150 prominent medical experts, scientists, teachers, nurses and others have signed a letter urging politicians to take the unpalatable, but potentially necessary step.
  • Florida GOP convention scrapped: The Jacksonville portion of this summer's Republican National Convention is off, President Trump announced yesterday, saying the timing of the event was "just not right." Florida reported a record number of new coronavirus deaths yesterday.
  • About back-to-school this year: Despite rising coronavirus cases across the US, New US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines on education and child care come down hard in favor of opening schools, saying children don't suffer much from coronavirus, are less likely than adults to spread it and suffer from being out of school.
  • Be careful this weekend: This weekend, as a heat wave bakes huge swaths of the US, experts fear that the collision of Covid-19 and triple-digit temperatures could make an already dangerous situation even deadlier.
8:16 a.m. ET, July 24, 2020

Covid-19 cases start to plateau in these 4 hotspots, White House coronavirus official says

From CNN's Gisela Crespo

A health care worker takes a nasal swab from a person at a Covid-19 testing site in Miami, Florida, on July 23.
A health care worker takes a nasal swab from a person at a Covid-19 testing site in Miami, Florida, on July 23. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Covid-19 cases are starting to plateau in four states that have seen large increases — Texas, California, Arizona and Florida, Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus task force coordinator said Friday. 

"We're already starting to see some plateauing in these critical four states that have suffered under the last four weeks. So Texas, California, Arizona and Florida, those major metros and throughout their counties," she said on the “Today" show this morning.

Birx compared what's been going on in these states to the outbreak in New York in the spring, adding "it's very serious and it's very real." 

She called on the American people to wear masks and increase social distancing "to really stop the spread of this epidemic." 

"This first wave that we see now across Florida, Texas, California, and Arizona began with under 30-year-olds — many who were asymptomatic and didn't know they were spreading it. And so, they have to assume that they're infected and positive and we all need to protect those who need our protection right now," Birx told NBC's Savannah Guthrie, referring to people with comorbidities who are at higher risk of getting severely ill from the virus. 
7:50 a.m. ET, July 24, 2020

US regulators order inspections of Boeing 737s parked in pandemic after engine failure incidents

From Pete Muntean

US federal regulators have found a serious consequence to airlines parking planes because of the coronavirus pandemic, and ordered an emergency fix. 

The Federal Aviation Administration has issued an emergency notice to all airlines that fly Boeing 737 jets, saying planes that have returned to service could have their engines suddenly fail “without the ability to restart, which could result in a forced off-airport landing.”

The 737 is the backbone of several major airlines which have been returning jets to service as they bank on a recovery in ticket sales. 

Under the directive, airlines will have to inspect engines on hundreds of the workhorse jets looking for corroded parts. 

The FAA found the engine part in question may “fail to close when power is reduced at top of descent, resulting in an unrecoverable compressor stall and the inability to restart the engine.”

The agency said the directive “was prompted by four recent” reports of incidents where an engine shut down.

7:40 a.m. ET, July 24, 2020

Red Cross warns coronavirus crisis could prompt "massive" new migration

International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies Secretary-General Jagan Chapagain is pictured in Geneva, Switzerland, on July 22.
International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies Secretary-General Jagan Chapagain is pictured in Geneva, Switzerland, on July 22. Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images

The head of the Red Cross has warned in an interview with the AFP news agency that the economic damage caused by the coronavirus pandemic could lead to huge new waves of migration.

Jagan Chapagain, head of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), said many people in poverty faced the desperate choice of risking exposure to the virus or going hungry.

“Increasingly we are seeing in many countries the impacts on the livelihoods and the food situation,” he said in Geneva late Wednesday.

“What we hear is that many people who are losing livelihoods, once the borders start opening, will feel compelled to move,” he said. “We should not be surprised if there is a massive impact on migration in the coming months and years.”

Chapagain, from Nepal, told AFP that more migration driven by desperation could result in more tragedies, such as deaths at sea. He said there was an economic as well as moral imperative to help those most in need.

“The cost of supporting the migrants, during the transit and of course when they reach the country of destination, is much more than supporting people in their livelihoods, education, health needs in their own country,” he said.

He also warned that inequalities in access to healthcare could prompt further migration.

“People could feel that there is a better chance of survival on the other side of the sea,” he said, adding that another major factor would be “the availability of vaccines.”

“If people see that the vaccine is say, for example, available in Europe but not in Africa, what happens? People want to go to a place where vaccines are available,” Chapagain said.

He condemned efforts by some countries to secure vaccine supplies for their own people first.

“The virus crosses the border, so it is pretty short-sighted to think that I vaccinate my people but leave everybody else without vaccination, and we will still be safe,” he said. “It simply doesn’t make sense.”