July 30 coronavirus news

By Nectar Gan, Adam Renton, Emma Reynolds, Ed Upright, Melissa Macaya and Meg Wagner, CNN

Updated 12:00 a.m. ET, July 31, 2020
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5:04 p.m. ET, July 30, 2020

Other countries beat the US in setting up strong models of Covid-19 response, Bill Gates says 

From CNN’s Naomi Thomas

While the US has historically led the way when it comes to things like smallpox, polio and HIV, other countries were off the mark faster with a coronavirus response, Microsoft founder Bill Gates said Thursday.

A number of countries, which he did not name, got going a lot quicker than the US, said Gates, whose Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation funds multiple health care initiatives. Countries with previous experience fighting SARS or MERS were the quickest and set up strong models, Gates said in a Time 100 talk.

“If you score the US, our domestic response has been weak. It can improve. Our R&D response, funding vaccines and therapeutics, has been the best in the world," he said.

For instance, testing has been slow, Gates said.

“The US is now starting, you know, to say hey, the testing turnaround can’t be long like this,” he said. “We need to be more prudent in not having things like bars and restaurants open,” he added.

Gates also said that he doubted many people would be able to name an official at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which has been kept behind the scenes. But he was glad National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci was speaking prominently. 

5:05 p.m. ET, July 30, 2020

Libya to impose full lockdown as coronavirus cases grow 

From CNN’s Hamdi Alkhshali

Libya's UN-recognized government in Tripoli announced it will impose a full lockdown for five days starting on Friday in areas of the country it controls.

This comes in response to a rise in Covid-19 cases, the Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli said in a statement Thursday. 

According to the statement, the lockdown includes restricting all outside movement except to buy necessary items. The full lockdown replaces a partial overnight curfew. 

Libya’s National Center for Disease Control said that the outbreaks were mostly centered in Tripoli, the port of Misrata and in the southern desert town of Sebha. 

The total number of coronavirus cases in Libya as of Thursday was at least 3,222 with approximately 76 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins coronavirus tracker. 

5:06 p.m. ET, July 30, 2020

Illinois could reverse reopening if positive cases continue to climb, governor says

From CNN’s Janine Mack 

Gov. J.B. Pritzker
Gov. J.B. Pritzker Office of the IL Governor

Illinois could be headed to a “reversal” in the state's reopening plan if the positive cases of coronavirus continue to climb, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said during a news conference on Thursday.

The Illinois Department of Health reported at least 1,772 new cases of coronavirus and approximately 18 additional deaths on Thursday. 

The cases continue to be those who are 29 years and younger that typically show milder symptoms or are asymptomatic and spread the coronavirus unknowingly, Illinois Department of Health Administrator Julie Casper said.

The latest numbers: At least 176,896 positive cases of coronavirus and approximately 7,478 deaths have been reported in Illinois since the pandemic began.

Note: These numbers were released by the Illinois Department of 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.

5:07 p.m. ET, July 30, 2020

"Operation Warp Speed" will fund 8 vaccines, official says

From CNN's Elizabeth Cohen

Moncef Slaoui, chief advisor to Operation Warp Speed
Moncef Slaoui, chief advisor to Operation Warp Speed CNN

Operation Warp Speed, the federal government’s multi-billion effort to develop a vaccine against Covid-19, will fund eight vaccines, according to the head of the program.  

Five of those are already in Phase 3 clinical trials or will be starting by the end of September, said Moncef Slaoui, chief adviser to Operation Warp Speed.  

“They are all different vaccines. They are actually going very fast,” he said, noting that the virus was identified just six months ago. “I’ve been doing this for 30 years, and the fastest thing that I ever can remember that went from discovery to Phase Three trials was in four years.”  

So far, vaccines made by Moderna and Pfizer are in Phase 3, or phase 2/3, of human testing in the US. That’s the final round of trials before a vaccine is put on the market. Each trial will include about 30,000 volunteers.  

A vaccine from AstraZeneca and University of Oxford in the UK is in Phase 3 trials in the United Kingdom, Brazil and South Africa. Phase 3 trials for the vaccine in the US are scheduled to begin in August, Slaoui said.  

Phase three trials for vaccines made by two other companies – Johnson & Johnson and Novavax – are scheduled to begin in September, he added.  

Slaoui did not name the other three vaccines that will receive funding from Operation Warp Speed.  

Health officials have said that having several vaccines in the pipeline will help ensure that at least one will be successful. 

4:42 p.m. ET, July 30, 2020

Trump and Fauci encourage plasma donations at Red Cross event

From CNN's Nikki Carvajal

Evan Vucci/AP
Evan Vucci/AP

President Trump and Dr. Anthony Fauci held what’s become a relatively rare public event on Thursday afternoon: both men were in the same room with the cameras rolling. 

Trump and Fauci made an appearance at the American Red Cross National Headquarters, encouraging plasma donations from people who have recovered from coronavirus. 

During his remarks, Trump encouraged people to sign up to donate plasma "as soon as you can."

“We have a lot of people that would heal, would get better. As soon as you can, please," he said.

He also urged Americans to wash their hands, keep a 6-foot distance and wear a mask “when you cannot avoid crowded places.” 

“It just seems like so many things are taking place in crowded places,” the President, who has recently held events in crowded places, said. “We don't want that," he added.

In his comments, Fauci began by thanking the President for his “support of this very important program.” 

“When we talk about what is going on in this country and the challenges we’re facing we often say that it’s something where we’re all in it together and we all have to pull together,” Fauci said. 

“An important part of the process of being together is helping each other,” he continued. “You know, when I can think of nothing more manifesting the helping of each other than someone donating from their experience of being ill and this is something that I think is part of the American spirit, and we should be proud of it and we should show it. So it's a very important thing. It's important part of the entire response to this outbreak.”

On masks: Trump did not wear a mask at the roundtable, but did wear one as he met with a patient donating plasm prior to the event, a practice which US Surgeon General Jerome Adams tried to encourage. 

“I was in Miami just a few weeks ago when I promised them I would tell you this,” Adams said to the President. “I was in Trump country. And they told me to deliver you a message, Mr. President. They told me to tell you you look badass in a face mask. I promised them I would tell you that. Miami, I told the President he looks badass in a face mask.”

4:40 p.m. ET, July 30, 2020

Fort Worth schools to begin school year all-digital

From CNN’s Andy Rose

The Fort Worth Independent School District in Texas is moving the beginning of its school year back by three weeks.

Classes will now begin on Sept. 8, and at least the first four weeks of the year will be all-digital.

“We’ve had to deal with changing guidance from state and local agencies,” said Superintendent Kent Scribner. “Our local county health department indicated that in-person instruction should be delayed.”

Fort Worth also will be doing digital learning for at least the first four weeks of the delayed school year. Originally, the district said parents would have the choice of whether to have their children taught on campus or at home. The superintendent says they will allow some students will special needs to be taught in-person, but only in small, socially distanced groups.

Scribner said they were influenced by teachers who expressed serious concern about the idea of trying to start the school year on time.

“They were very appreciative that the start date was postponed,” he said.

Some context: Fort Worth is the 36th largest school district in the country by enrollment. The school board’s decision Wednesday came at the end of a meeting.

4:20 p.m. ET, July 30, 2020

Countries need to work together to stop the pandemic from starting over again, Bill Gates says

From CNN's Naomi Thomas

Countries have to work together to stop the coronavirus pandemic, Bill Gates, Microsoft founder and co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, said in a Time 100 Talk on Thursday.

The pandemic is hitting people’s health as well as economies everywhere, Gates said. So while countries must work to stop the spread inside their own borders, the work cannot stop there. 

“They also need to get together with other countries,” he said. “Because until we stop the pandemic in the entire world, it’s going to keep coming back.”


4:24 p.m. ET, July 30, 2020

Iowa governor encourages in-person learning in back-to-school guidance

From CNN’s Nakia McNabb

Gov. Kim Reynolds
Gov. Kim Reynolds KCCI

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds released guidance Thursday on plans to return to in-person learning at schools across the state. She encouraged in-person learning, and added that in order to request online-only learning, schools must have a positivity rate of at least 15% in their county. 

“The CDC stated schools are an important part of the infrastructure of our communities. They provide a safe supportive learning environment for students. They employ teachers and other staff and enable parents, guardians and caregivers to work in Iowa,” she said.

Reynolds said 93 of Iowa’s 99 counties meet the less than 10% positivity threshold that the Centers for Disease Control recommends for students to return to the classroom. Reynolds said that future decisions on school openings will be based on the positivity rate over the previous 14 days and student and staff absenteeism.

Iowa State Public Health Medical Director Dr. Caitlin Pedati explained the process schools should go through when exposure to the virus happens. 

“We'll come up with that list of people who would have been exposed and the recommendation will be for people who have been in close contact with a confirmed case that they need to stay home or quarantine for a period of 14 days. When we talk about quarantine that means people who are still healthy but who have been exposed to somebody who has Covid. If that person were to themselves become sick, they should seek health care and get tested as appropriate and if they were positive, they would then isolate,” Pedati said.

Pedati stressed that state agencies, school districts and county health departments will need to be flexible.

"We might need to adjust guidelines in the future as we learn new things and as the science develops" Pedati said.

4:23 p.m. ET, July 30, 2020

Head of Operation Warp Speed says he expects coronavirus vaccine to be highly effective, "in the 90%" range

From CNN's Elizabeth Cohen

Moncef Slaoui, chief adviser to Operation Warp Speed
Moncef Slaoui, chief adviser to Operation Warp Speed CNN

In his first television interview, the head of Operation Warp Speed, the federal government’s multi-billion effort to develop a vaccine against Covid-19, said he “wouldn’t be surprised” if the vaccine was about 90% effective. 

“It’s very hard to predict of course – that’s why we’re doing the trial. My personal opinion based on my experience, I think this vaccine is going to be highly efficacious. I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s in the 90% [range],” said Moncef Slaoui, chief adviser to Operation Warp Speed. “I think it will be a very effective vaccine. That’s my prediction.” 

Slaoui spoke Thursday with CNN while touring a Covid-19 vaccine clinical trial site in Savannah, Georgia. He’s a former GlaxoSmithKline executive who began his position with Operation Warp Speed in May.

Vaccines have various effectiveness rates: According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a full round of polio vaccines is 99% to 100% effective; full vaccination against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis is 80-90% effective, while the flu shot is 40-60% effective.

Slaoui added that “it’s possible that we will need a booster” after initial vaccination “every year or every two years or every three years.”