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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2:44 p.m. ET, July 24, 2020

Universal Studios cancels Halloween Horror Nights due to coronavirus pandemic

From CNN's Melissa Alonso

A look inside last year's Halloween Horror Nights in Orlando.
A look inside last year's Halloween Horror Nights in Orlando. Gerardo Mora/Getty Images

Universal Studios announced it has canceled this year’s Halloween Horror Nights at its Orlando and Hollywood theme parks.  

“We are disappointed, too. But we look forward to creating an amazing event in 2021," the theme park tweeted.

Universal Orlando is focused on operating safely for daytime guests, the tweet said.  

Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights, now in its 30th year, is comprised of haunted houses and scary-themed attractions, according to its website. 


2:39 p.m. ET, July 24, 2020

UK prime minister says government could have handled the pandemic differently

From CNN's Josefine Ohema

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson gestures during a visit to the Tollgate Medical Centre in London on Friday.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson gestures during a visit to the Tollgate Medical Centre in London on Friday. Jeremy Selwyn/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has acknowledged that the British government could have dealt with the early outbreak of coronavirus “differently,” he told the BBC in an interview Friday.

Johnson said the government followed the guidance of its scientific advisers in all its policy decisions. 

“There are things that we could have done differently, as I have said, and of course there will be time to understand what exactly we could have done or done differently,” Johnson said. "If you look at the timing of every single piece of advice that we got from our advisers, from SAGE (Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies), you will find that whenever they said we needed to take a particular step, we stuck to it."

Johnson said the UK needs "to make sure that we are prepared for the future and that is why we are getting on with our work for preparing for what could very well be a resurgence."

Asked whether the government response was too late, Johnson told the BBC that there were things the government did not understand about the virus in the early stages. 

“Everybody can see that this was something that was new, that we did not understand in the way that we would have liked in the first few weeks,” Johnson said. “I think the single thing that we did not see at the beginning is that it was being transmitted asymptomatically from person to person."

4:41 p.m. ET, July 24, 2020

Pelosi urges Republicans to include unemployment provisions in stimulus package

From CNN's Haley Byrd

Michael A. McCoy/Getty Images
Michael A. McCoy/Getty Images

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi urged Republicans to include a full extension of the $600 federal unemployment insurance provisions that are set to expire soon in the next round of coronavirus relief.

“This is central to the wellbeing of America’s families,” Pelosi said at a news conference with several other House Democrats Friday afternoon. “What do the Republicans and the White House have against working families in our country that they would begrudge them $600 of absolutely necessary sustenance?”

She also slammed Republicans for not introducing their proposal for the next round of stimulus this week. 

“They’re in disarray. And their disarray is causing great, great damage to America’s working families,” she said. “This is an alarm that needs to be sounded as loudly as possible about what are we doing here if we’re not addressing the needs of people who’ve lost their jobs through no fault of their own?”

She said the idea of advancing a short-term extension of the unemployment provisions is “a fraudulent tactic” that Republicans are considering “in order not to honor our other responsibilities.” 

“Our house is burning down in terms of the economic security of America’s families and these people are fiddling wherever they may be this weekend,” Pelosi added. 

2:11 p.m. ET, July 24, 2020

At least 19 people got coronavirus after attending a local fair in Ohio, health officials say

From CNN’s Rebekah Riess and Carma Hassan

At least 19 people got Covid-19 after attending the Pickaway County Fair in Ohio, the county's public health agency said in a report.

Three more cases were reported in family members of those who attended the fair and were infected with the virus, Pickaway County Public Health District said.

The health district is also investigating a coronavirus death linked to the fair, the agency said in the report.

“For the Pickaway County Fair Board and people executing the fair planning and event, there was a lack of implementation on the precautions taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19. This failure is shown in the number of concerns people had about having the fair during a global pandemic and it is also reflected in the data showing the spike of cases due to the COVID-19 pandemic," the report said.

Pickaway County Public Health said “food vendors … allowed condiment bottles to be set out for use by any attendee of the fair,” which allowed “for a significant amount of spread of COVID-19 disease from fair attendee to fair attendee.” Additionally, the report said staff and food vendors did not adhere to the mask wearing guidance. 

CNN reached out to the fair for comment, but has not heard back.

The fair ran from June 20 to June 27 in Circleville, Ohio.

2:20 p.m. ET, July 24, 2020

Costa Rica won't allow international tourists from the US yet

From CNN’s Claudia Rebaza

People work outside an empty terminal Monday at the Juan Santamaría International Airport in San Jose, Costa Rica.
People work outside an empty terminal Monday at the Juan Santamaría International Airport in San Jose, Costa Rica. Arnoldo Robert/Getty Images

Costa Rica’s government has announced it will allow international travelers from the European Union, Canada and the UK starting on Aug. 1 — but not from the United States yet.  

Costa Rica’s President Carlos Alvarado and Tourism Minister Gustavo Segura said that the decision means a gradual reopening of Juan Santamaría and Daniel Oduber International airports.

“This means few tourists will be coming per week but it is a good step in the right direction,” Segura explained. 

Asked about why flights from the United States are not included in the announcement, Segura admitted the US has traditionally been a very significant market for tourism in Costa Rica, representing between 45% and 50% of the visitors before the pandemic, but his government is being cautious. 

“At the moment we consider that the right decision is to reopen with limited routes and this analysis will continue in the next few weeks” Segura added.  

Much of the United States is seeing a surge in infections, and the rate of transmission is much higher than in most of Europe.

Segura explained that all international travelers will need to submit a digital health form upon arrival, show a Covid-19 test with negative results done within 48 hours of entering the country and submit a copy of their travel insurance, which includes coverage for Covid-19.

Alvarado said Costa Rica needs to reopen tourism because of the economic situation, "carefully and with caution but also with a promise to support the tourism sector."

What the pandemic is like in Costa Rica: Costa Rica has seen a sharp uptick in coronavirus cases in recent days, although the death toll remains low. On Thursday, it recorded 768 new Covid-19 cases, a record daily increase, bringing the total number of cases to at least 13,129, according to Health Minister Daniel Salas. The country’s death toll has reached 81.  

Earlier this week Dr. Ciro Ugarte, the director of Health Emergencies for the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), warned that the situation in Costa Rica was changing after initially low figures for infections.

“We are seeing a second and rapid increase in cases in areas where there was a relaxation of social distancing. But there is also a perception that since they had few cases, they felt confident to relax measures” said Ugarte. 


1:52 p.m. ET, July 24, 2020

Covid-19 hospitalizations in Florida are up 83.5%

From CNN’s Rosa Flores and Denise Royal

Covid-19 hospitalizations in Florida have increased 83.5% since July 4, according to data released to CNN by the state’s Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA). 

On July 4, the state recorded 5,022 Covid-19 hospitalized patients, the data shows. Today, that number stands at 9,215. 

According to AHCA, the agency began collecting the data on July 4, but had only publicly released hospitalization data as of July 10. CNN obtained the data through an information request.

Remember: Florida’s hospitalization data only includes patients in which Covid-19 is the primary reason for admission and care, according to the AHCA. That means patients who are already at the hospital for other medical issues and have tested positive for coronavirus are excluded from the state total.

1:53 p.m. ET, July 24, 2020

McDonald's and Chipotle will require customers to wear masks as Covid-19 cases surge

From CNN’s Danielle Wiener-Bronner

People wear face masks outside a McDonald's in Brooklyn, New York, in late June.
People wear face masks outside a McDonald's in Brooklyn, New York, in late June. Noam Galai/Getty Images

McDonald's and Chipotle announced they would soon require customers to wear masks or other face coverings as cases of Covid-19 surge across the United States. 

McDonald's announced Friday that starting August 1, customers who walk into its restaurants will have to wear face coverings.

Chipotle's mask requirement was effective Friday, and signage has been put up at restaurants to let people know about the policy, a spokesperson told CNN Business. 

The moves follow similar policies from major restaurant chains and retailers, including Starbucks, Panera, Walmart and Kroger. 

McDonald's said that about 80% of its restaurants are in areas that already require face coverings. But "it's important we protect the safety of all employees and customers," the company said in a statement.  

It's also anticipating that some customers might not like the new rule. 

"In those situations where a customer declines to wear a face covering, we'll put in place additional procedures to take care of them in a friendly, expedited way," McDonald's said, adding that that employees will be trained "to ensure they are prepared to address this new policy in a friendly and positive way."

Customers who enter a McDonald's location without a mask will be offered one by an employee. If they refuse to wear it, they'll be asked to stand at a designated spot, away from other customers, where they'll receive their orders. 

McDonald's also said Friday that it is continuing its pause on reopening dining rooms for another 30 days. 

1:56 p.m. ET, July 24, 2020

Fauci: We need to get as many people vaccinated against flu as possible this season

From CNN's Gisela Crespo

A man gets a flu shot at a health facility in Washington, DC, in January.
A man gets a flu shot at a health facility in Washington, DC, in January. Eva Hambach/AFP/Getty Images

As many people as possible should get vaccinated for influenza this year, as Covid-19 will complicate flu season, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Friday.

"Certainly if we get anything that resembles a typical influenza season, there will be complications and confounding," Fauci told the Washington Post’s Robert Costa during a Post Live event.

Fauci continued: "If we have Covid in the fall and winter, which is likely we will... if you have two co-circulating respiratory diseases, it makes things more complicated. And for that reason, one of the things we can do is to make sure that we get as many people vaccinated for influenza as we possibly can. Because that would ultimately help to mitigate against at least one of those two potential recirculating respiratory diseases."

1:38 p.m. ET, July 24, 2020

This Texas county orders in-person schooling to be delayed

From CNN’s Kay Jones

The health department in Harris Country, Texas, is issuing an order requiring all public and non-religious private schools in the county to remain closed to in-person instruction until at least Sept. 8, County Judge Lina Hidalgo said Friday.

She said that date may be too early, and the start of in-person instruction may be delayed further. Officials would need to get the virus under control before they can “responsibly bring our kids back to in-person schooling."

Hidalgo said that Harris County, not including Houston, has 552 new Covid-19 cases on Friday. She added that while they are seeing slight declines in hospitalizations, there are still huge increases in cases.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said that allowing children to return to school next month would be difficult with the rising number of positive cases. Houston Independent School District is the state’s largest school system, with about 210,000 students, according to the latest information provided by the district.

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