Even as coronavirus cases increase across the country — and as members of his administration encourage some states to reverse their reopenings — President Trump said Monday that some governors need to loosen restrictions.
"I really do believe a lot of the governors should be opening up states that they’re not opening," Trump said, without specifying which states should be opening.
The message doesn't align with what members of the White House coronavirus task force have advised governors in states where cases are increasing. Health experts like Drs. Anthony Fauci and Deborah Birx have said states with spiking case counts should close bars and indoor restaurants, among other restrictions.
Trump offered a more optimistic view, saying that rapid development of a vaccine and therapeutics to treat coronavirus would help spur an economic resurgence.
"I think the recovery’s been very strong," Trump said.
4:04 p.m. ET, July 27, 2020
Coronavirus cases surge in California's Central Valley with state's highest infection rate
From CNN’s Sarah Moon
Eight counties in California’s Central Valley, where the coronavirus positivity rate has surged up to 18% and caused a significant increase in hospitalizations, are seeing a disproportionate impact from Covid-19, Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a news conference on Monday.
The Central Valley, home to the state’s vast agricultural region, is seeing the highest transmission rates in the state, according to California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly.
The 14-day positivity rate in some counties has reached 18%, Ghaly said. This is more than 10% higher than the state’s positivity rate at 7.5%.
Newsom said a $52 million federal government grant will be dispersed to the eight counties to improve isolation protocols, testing protocols, and provide more support and personnel in the health care industry. The funds will help support and protect the essential workforce that work in large processing plants where community spread and the likelihood of Covid-19 transmission is relatively high.
New resources, including a strike team, will be deployed in all eight Central Valley counties. The teams will support efforts to unify engagement and mitigate the spread, Newsom said.
3:50 p.m. ET, July 27, 2020
Major League Baseball commissioner has not discussed canceling season with owners
From CNN's David Close
Following Monday’s postponement of two games due to Covid-19 threat, Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred did not discuss canceling the season with the league’s team owners.
Manfred held a previously scheduled conference call with the 30 team owners on Monday that did not include the prospect of stopping the 60-game regular season, a source with knowledge of the call told CNN.
More on this: Eleven Marlins players and two coaches tested positive for the virus, ESPN reports. Marlins CEO Derek Jeter said the team is staying in Philadelphia, where it just played a three-game series, pending the results of a new round of testing.
CNN's Wayne Sterling and Eric Levenson contributed to this report.
3:41 p.m. ET, July 27, 2020
Pence says "there'll be no short cuts" on possible Covid-19 vaccine
From CNN's Nikki Carvajal
Vice President Mike Pence assured that any coronavirus vaccine that makes it to market will be safe — but he did not detail how the administration plans to convince the American public of that.
“There’ll be no short cuts,” Pence said about vaccine development in Florida on Monday. “There’ll be no cutting corners on safety in the development of this vaccine.”
He added that the Food and Drug Administration is applying the “highest standards to the development of this medicine.”
“As we go through the trials, as we see the results of this and other versions of the vaccine, the American people will see the carefulness with which we are approaching this,” Pence said.
Pence was asked during a news conference at the University of Miami about recent polls that suggest some Americans wouldn’t get a Covid-19 vaccine because they don’t trust it, and his answer did little to address how the administration plans to change that.
FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn went on to detail how the FDA is speeding up development of a vaccine without compromising safety.
“I think it’s important to understand that the reduction in time with respect to the development has a couple of different aspects to it,” Hahn said, explaining how the vaccine trials had been compressed. He also said that FDA is doing a “real time review. We’re not just waiting for the end of the trial, we’re reviewing in real time so that we can look at the data in real time and then come to a quicker decision at the end of the trial.”
Hahn said the FDA was also “maintaining regulatory independence” from President Trump's Operation Warp Speed.
“One thing I can promise you is the great scientists at FDA, incredible expertise they have, they will call the balls and strikes on this one and they will do it based upon our gold standard of efficacy and safety, and they will do it to the benefit of the American people,” Hahn said.
3:42 p.m. ET, July 27, 2020
Miami Beach mayor blames Florida governor for "unconstrained growth" of Covid-19
From CNN's Rosa Flores and Sara Weisfeldt
In a scathing letter to Florida’s Gov. Ron DeSantis, Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber called out DeSantis for the “unprepared” and “failed” contact tracing response to Covid-19 which led to the “unconstrained growth of the virus” in Miami-Dade County.
“A large part of the blame falls on an unprepared and understaffed contact tracing operation,” Gelber wrote.
“Florida’s contact tracing program in Miami-Dade County is unprepared to meet the challenges of this pandemic and I urge you to take immediate action to expand its capacity and improve its competencies,” Gelber continued. “When Miami-Dade emerged from our shelter in place in May, the State’s contact tracing program fully failed to cabin subsequent disease surges as we reopened our economy.”
Gelber pointed out that Miami-Dade County needed more than 800 trained contact tracers when the reopening plan began. Gelber said his understanding is that Miami-Dade had less than 200 in May.
A few weeks ago, Gelber added, he was advised that on a “successful” day Florida connected with 17% of people who had been infected.
Gelber’s letter included a chart showing the state’s efforts to contact trace. Gelber added that “case closed” does not mean the connections have been completed, instead these are newly infected people who were unwilling to cooperate or failed to return calls.
“Your DOH is successfully contact tracing an average of 18% of those infected per day and sometimes as low as 7% over this 14 day period,” Gelber wrote.
Gelber said local officials are being tasked with the decision-making while localities lack health department officials who can provide advice on the pandemic.
The mayor warned that if the infection levels continue at the current pace, he could see a return to sheltering in place.
CNN has reached out to DeSantis’ office for comment.
3:39 p.m. ET, July 27, 2020
Tennessee is poised to see rapid spread of coronavirus, Birx says
From CNN's Naomi Thomas and Marisa Peryer
Tennessee is poised to see rapid and widespread growth of coronavirus unless the state acts quickly to turn things around, White House coronavirus task force coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx said Monday.
The spread being seen in Tennessee is more dangerous than the first outbreaks in March and April, Birx said at a news conference in Nashville after meeting with Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee.
“Tennessee stands at that very important moment in time, where their test positivity has just increased into to greater than 10%,” she said. “Is this very moment where we can change the trajectory of the epidemic, before it goes into full, what we call logarithmic spread, as we’ve seen across the South?” she asked.
Birx said she was visiting Tennessee, like she had visited Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky, because of concerns about the spread of the virus.
“What has really worried us is this particular wave of the Covid virus is very different than the wave that we experienced in March and April,” she said. It’s not just hitting cities this time, but also the suburbs and rural areas. And, as in other places seeing new bursts of infections, the spread is mostly among people under the age of 35. “Many of them were asymptomatic and spread the virus unknowingly to others,” she added.
Birx said she also spoke with Lee about how important it is for all rural Tennesseans to wear a mask.
“We've talked to the governor about the importance of mask mandates. I think he has a sound strategy that he's working through the state,” she said.
Lee said he would hold firm against a statewide mask mandate. “I happen to believe that statewide mandates are not the best strategy, they're not the best approach, and they don't effectively bring about the wearing of masks as well as other strategies,” he said, adding that “there's nothing off the table.”
“I've also said we're not going to close the economy back down and we're not going to. But, I appreciate their recommendations and we will, we take them seriously,” Lee said.
Tennessee added 2,553 new Covid-19 cases on Monday, the state’s Department of Health said.
3:32 p.m. ET, July 27, 2020
Florida governor says parents should have a choice on sending kids back to school
From CNN’s Kay Jones
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said today during a press conference with Vice President Mike Pence that parents should have a choice on what instruction is best for their children this fall.
DeSantis said that if a parent believes that distance learning is the best for their child right now, they should have a right to do that. He said he is proud of what they have done in the state of Florida in distance learning but at the same time, the kids have lost a lot of gains by not being in the classrooms.
“To shut out millions of kids, parents from even having a choice to bring them back, I think would be a mistake,” DeSantis said during the press conference.
He said that many parents in the state of Florida want to see their kids get back to school while a lot of teachers want to get back to the classrooms as well.
“I really believe that the teachers and the administrators that are there, they serve important functions in the lives of so many of our kids, particularly those who come from more disadvantaged backgrounds,” DeSantis said.
3:20 p.m. ET, July 27, 2020
California attorney general investigates Amazon over worker safety complaints during pandemic
From CNN’s Brian Fung
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra is investigating Amazon amid complaints about the company's handling of worker safety during the coronavirus pandemic, according to a state judge.
In addition to Becerra’s office, the state’s Division of Occupational Health and Safety (Cal/OSHA) and state public health officials are also conducting their own investigations, wrote San Francisco Superior Court Judge Ethan Schulman in a court filing Monday.
Schulman’s filing comes a week after Becerra’s office acknowledged in a letter to the court that it had reached out to Amazon in May requesting information about how it is protecting California workers from Covid-19.
Becerra’s office declined to comment. Amazon didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Ordinarily the attorney general’s office does not “publicly disclose or comment on ongoing investigations,” the letter from Becerra’s office read. But, it continued, Amazon itself disclosed the existence of the probe in its response to a lawsuit brought by a grocery picker at an AmazonFresh fulfillment center in San Francisco. Schulman is the presiding judge in the case.
CNN’s Jon Passantino contributed to this report
3:17 p.m. ET, July 27, 2020
MAAC cancels fall sports season citing the Covid-19 pandemic
From CNN's Jabari Jackson
The Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference will cancel all fall sports competition due to health and safety concerns surrounding coronavirus.
In a statement released on Monday, the MAAC commissioner Rich Ensor stated, “The fall sports impacted by the Council’s decision include men’s and women’s soccer, women’s volleyball, and men’s and women’s cross country and sports that conduct non-traditional season segments in the fall.” Football is not a commissioned sport in the conference.
“It is the goal of the MAAC to ensure it recognizes a MAAC champion in each sport and it will review possible championship formats for the fall sports in accordance with evolving state and local regulations," Ensor added.
All athletic-related activities and training for student-athletes will be in accordance with school’s procedures and state health regulations. A decision on fall sports being played in the spring will be made at a later date.
Current conference members include Canisius College, Fairfield University, Iona College, Manhattan College, Marist College, Monmouth University, Niagara University, Quinnipiac University, Rider University, Saint Peter’s University, and Siena College.