July 26 coronavirus news

By Jessie Yeung, Jenni Marsh, Zamira Rahim, Fernando Alfonso III and Amir Vera, CNN

Updated 2:50 a.m. ET, July 27, 2020
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10:11 a.m. ET, July 26, 2020

White House coronavirus task force member says that he won’t be happy until testing is under control

From CNN Health’s Naomi Thomas

Admiral Brett Giroir told CNN that Covid-19 testing must be brought under control as it relates to access and turnaround times.

“I’m never going to be happy until we have this under control,” he said. “[W]e’re going to continue to push every single day to improve the testing, the type of testing that we have, in the rapidity of turnaround.” 

Giroir, a member of the White House’s coronavirus task force, said "we are not going to stop our efforts until testing is exactly where we want it to be with rapid turnaround times."

Giroir said that over 54 million tests have been done, 770 thousand a day, which is a “140 fold increase in terms of turnaround.”  

Around a quarter of the tests are point of care, with a 15 minute turnaround and that another quarter are done at local hospitals and labs, with a general turnaround of 24 hours, according to Giroir.  

“The delays that most people talk about are at the large commercial labs that perform about half the testing in our country,” he said. 

The data says that the average turnaround is about 4.27 days, according to Giroir.

“I follow that morning and evening, I know exactly when it’s ordered and when it’s resulted,” he said. “We are trying to bring that down.”

This week, pool testing was authorized at Quest and LabCorp, which will improve efficiency, Giroir said.

 

10:07 a.m. ET, July 26, 2020

Reopening schools is not "one size fits all," coronavirus task force member says

From CNN's Naomi Thomas

Admiral Brett Giroir, a member of the White House’s Coronavirus task force, told CNN that there is no-one-size-fits-all when it comes to reopening schools.

“We have always been clear that the presumption needs to be that we want our kids in school for all the reasons you know,” he told CNN on Sunday. “There is no one size that fits all." 

New US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines on education and child care favor the 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.

But the new guidelines posted Thursday do recommend that local officials should consider closing schools, or keeping them closed, if there is substantial, uncontrolled transmission of the virus.

The CDC has been promising new guidelines for more than a week, after demands from President Trump that the agency alter its recommendations for opening schools.

9:57 a.m. ET, July 26, 2020

California congresswoman says Los Angeles should reissue a stay-at-home order as cases spike

Rep. Karen Bass, a Democrat from California, says that Los Angeles County should return to a stay-at-home order as cases surge.

Bass told CNN, "yes, I would go back" to stay-at-home in LA, adding, "I would reopen very conservatively."

"If I were in charge of L.A. County I would go back to that and be very, very conservative how we opened up so you know you have to show a certain amount before you open up, a time period around three weeks and I think we didn't strictly adhere to that so yes. I would go back and I would reopen very, very conservatively," Bass said.

Some context: California surpassed New York with the most cases in the nation this past week.

Los Angeles County alone has more than 172,000 confirmed cases — the most of any county in the nation — according to the latest count from Johns Hopkins University.

On Wednesday, Los Angeles County health officials announced that the virus is on track to be the second leading cause of death in the county — with at least 3,400 fatalities in the first six months of the year.

9:28 a.m. ET, July 26, 2020

Spain wants islands excluded from UK quarantine rules

From CNN's Laura Perez Maestro in Spain

The Spanish government is focused on dialogue with Britain in order to have the Canary and Balearic Islands excluded from the UK's new quarantine rules, according to Spain's Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya. 

Speaking to reporters in Madrid on Sunday, Gonzalez Laya said the popular holiday destinations should be excluded because the epidemiological Covid-19 data there is "extremely positive" and "well below data in the UK."

Gonzalez Laya added that the Spanish government would not be retaliating against the UK government's decision, saying it is "not a tit-for-tat exercise." 

"If we think that in any country in Europe the epidemiological data requires stricter measures on our side we will do this," Gonzalez Laya added.

8:28 a.m. ET, July 26, 2020

Hong Kong records more than 100 new Covid-19 cases for the fifth straight day

From CNN's Chermaine Lee

Hong Kong has recorded 128 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, the fifth straight day of cases surpassing the 100 mark, according to the head of the communicable disease branch of the Department of Health, Chuang Shuk-kwan, at a press conference on Sunday.

The city has been struggling to contain a third wave of the virus.

Among the new infections, 103 are local transmissions and 25 are imported cases. Among the 103 local cases, 68 are related to previous cases and the sources of 35 are still under investigation. Hong Kong's total case tally stands at 2,634 as of Sunday.

Health officials also announced Sunday that standard crew change arrangements for passenger and goods ships without cargo would be suspended from July 29.

More details: Crew members on goods vessels entering Hong Kong for cargo operations will have to remain on board the ship and cannot enter the city. Crew members arriving at the airport have to present a negative result of a nucleic acid test before entering.

Instead of crew members entering the city in order to switch from vessel to vessel, shipping companies will be expected to arrange ship to ship transfers, according to the Hong Kong's Department of Health.

Flight crews will also be required to present a negative test result within 48 hours before boarding a flight to Hong Kong. Otherwise, they have to take a test at the Hong Kong airport and wait for the results at the designated locations.

7:26 a.m. ET, July 26, 2020

Latin America is battling disaster as a mammoth recession looms

From CNN's Tim Lister

Even as coronavirus cases soar in Latin America, another calamity looms: Sharply contracting economies, unsustainable debt and deepening inequality could unleash social turmoil in the region.

The regional economy of Latin America and the Caribbean is expected to shrink more than any other region worldwide -- a contraction of nearly 10% this year, according to the International Monetary Fund's June forecast.

The IMF said the "pandemic's still rapid spread indicates that social distancing measures will need to remain in place for a longer time, depressing economic activity in the second half of 2020."

A new UN report goes further -- saying Covid-19 could lead to "the worst economic and social crisis in decades, with highly damaging effects on employment, the fight against poverty and the reduction of inequality."

Read more here.

7:09 a.m. ET, July 26, 2020

India's leader says the country's fight against Covid-19 has proven the world wrong

From CNN's Rishabh M. Pratap 

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said the country's response to the pandemic has defied global expectations.

"The way Indians came together to fight against coronavirus in the last few months, we have proved the world wrong," he said Sunday, delivering his monthly radio address to the nation.

India has the third-highest number of virus cases worldwide, with more than 1.3 million recoded instances of Covid-19 and 32,060 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Modi claimed the coronavirus recovery rate was better in India than in other countries but warned that the threat of the disease remained.

We need to remain vigilant. We have to remember that coronavirus is still as dangerous as it was in the beginning," he said.

India on Sunday recorded 48,661 new cases. Research conducted by the country's National Center for Disease Control suggests that nearly one in four residents in New Delhi, the country's capital, have contracted the virus.

6:03 a.m. ET, July 26, 2020

UK government advises against travel to mainland Spain

From CNN's Tim Lister, Laura Perez Maestro and Hilary McGann 

The UK government has advised against travel to mainland Spain, in a dramatic reversal of policy.

Britain is "very clear now that we advise against travel to mainland Spain," Foreign Secretary Dominic Rabb said on Sunday while speaking about the sudden removal of a travel corridor between the two countries.

On Saturday Britain unexpectedly announced people returning from all parts Spain would be required to self-isolate for two weeks, reversing their previous stance with immediate effect. 

The quarantine advice applies to all parts of the country, while the travel warning applies only to mainland Spain.

The decision came after Spain announced 922 new Covid-19 cases on Friday, and 971 on Thursday -- the highest increase since May 8. 

Speaking on Sky News on Sunday, Raab said the government "took the decision as swiftly as we could, and we can't apologize for doing so."

His comments came as the Spanish government said Spain is a "safe country."

The "outbreaks are localized, isolated and controlled," the country’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement. 

Travel operator TUI said it was "incredibly disappointed" with the lack of notice from the British government about its decision. TUI cancelled all flights from the UK to mainland Spain and the Canary Islands on Sunday, according to a statement sent to CNN.

"We also look to understand why quarantine has been issued for a whole country, including the Canary Islands and Balearic Islands, when the travel advice isn't aligned (only applying to mainland Spain.) It demonstrates why clear regional travel corridors need to be considered," TUI's Managing Director Andrew Flintham said in the statement.

The Government of the Balearic Islands -- home to popular destinations like Mallorca and Ibiza -- expressed "great concern" over the new British quarantine measures, adding it will cause "serious problems" to their tourism industry. 

"The Balearic Islands' government has been working over the last few hours to establish the basis for a safe air corridor with the UK," a government spokesperson tweeted from an official account, while pointing out the infection rate per 100,000 people is higher in the UK than on the islands. 

One of the British government's ministers -- Transport Secretary Grant Shapps -- is currently in Spain, a spokesman told CNN on Sunday. His presence in the country has prompted criticism from British opposition figures.

"I think that tells you everything about the government's approach to this," Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth said.

Ashworth described the communication around the U-turn as "shambolic."

The UK has a higher number of both total confirmed cases and deaths than Spain, with the third-highest death toll globally.

5:31 a.m. ET, July 26, 2020

Across the globe, online survivor groups are a source of hope for those diagnosed with Covid-19

From CNN's Christina Maxouris

The posts come every few minutes. Members from South Africa to Arizona report their coronavirus symptoms. Someone asks for vitamin suggestions. Another user asks for prayers for their mom.

This unlikely support group began as a way for 32-year-old Andrey Khudyakov, from Paris, to keep in touch with his family members during the pandemic, some of whom live in New York, others in Sweden and some in Italy. They began inviting friends to the Facebook group, who added their own friends and soon the online community grew to more than 28,000 members.

It's very hard when you're all alone by yourself at home locked down. And maybe sometimes you don't have family support," he says. "And you just need to share with someone what's going on and have feedback."

Coronavirus support groups, like Khudyakov's, have multiplied in recent weeks. With more than 16 million global cases and the fear of infection heightened all over the world, those who catch the virus can often still be stigmatized, says New York-based psychiatrist Dr. Julia Samton. And the online groups serve as safe spaces to connect with others trekking on the same path.

Read more here.