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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8:41 a.m. ET, July 30, 2020

US unemployment claims rise for second week in a row  

From CNN’s Tami Luhby

In yet another sign that the economic recovery is teetering in a resurgence of coronavirus cases, the number of Americans filing first-time unemployment claims rose for the second week in a row.

About 1.4 million people filed for initial jobless claims last week, up 12,000 from the prior week's revised level, which was the first increase in 16 weeks.

On an unadjusted basis, 1.2 million people filed first-time claims, down 171,000 from the week before. The seasonal adjustments are traditionally used to smooth out the data, but that has tended to have opposite effect during the pandemic.

Continued claims, which count workers who have filed for at least two weeks in a row, stood at 17 million for the week ending July 18, up 867,000 from the prior week's revised level.

These seasonally adjusted claims peaked in May at nearly 25 million.

11:06 a.m. ET, July 30, 2020

The US economy just had its worst quarter on record

From CNN’s Anneken Tappe

The US economy contracted by 32.9% between April and June, its worst drop on record, the Bureau of Economic Analysis said Thursday.

Business ground to a halt during the pandemic lockdown in the spring of this year, and America plunged into its first recession in 11 years, putting an end to the longest economic expansion in US history.

A recession is commonly defined as two consecutive quarters of declining gross domestic product, the broadest measure of the economy.  

Between January and March, the GDP declined by 5%.

But this is no ordinary recession. The combination of public health and economic crises is unprecedented, and numbers cannot fully convey the hardships millions of Americans are facing. 

The pandemic pushed the economy off a cliff. The GDP drop was nearly four times worse than during the peak of the financial crisis, when GDP fell 8.4% in the fourth quarter of 2008.

Quarterly GDP numbers are expressed as an annualized rate. This means that the economy didn't actually contract by a third from the first quarter to the second. The annualized rate measures how much the economy would grow or shrink if conditions were to persist for 12 months. But by either measure, the second quarter is still the worst on record.

The US only began keeping quarterly GDP records in 1947, so it's difficult to compare the current downturn to the Great Depression. That said, in 1932 the US economy contracted 12.9%. 


8:35 a.m. ET, July 30, 2020

FDA head: There's no evidence wearing a mask can give you Covid-19

From CNN's Gisela Crespo

US Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn said there is no evidence that people can contract Covid-19 from wearing masks, after a Republican congressman incorrectly suggested as much.

Rep. Louie Gohmert, who has frequently refused to wear a mask, tested positive for coronavirus yesterday. After his diagnosis, during an interview with KETK, he wondered if "by keeping a mask on and keeping it in place, that if I might have put some germs or some of the virus onto the mask and breathed it in.” 

But during an interview on the “Today” show Thursday, Hahn said there is no "medical evidence that that's the case." 

"What our data show is that people should wear masks, particularly when they can't socially distance. And they should follow their local ordinances with respect to masks," Hahn added. 

When asked if it was frustrating to have a sitting congressman say he may have contracted the virus by wearing a face covering, Hahn said he was focusing on being consistent about common-sense public health measures, such as wearing a mask.

"I will continue to do that to make sure that people understand that we have the power. We have the power as American people to slow the spread of this virus. We've seen this virus spread in the US, but we've also seen it around the world. So we know it's with us. We have to take this seriously," Hahn told NBC's Savannah Guthrie.

9:03 a.m. ET, July 30, 2020

Texas has recorded more coronavirus cases than New York

From CNN's Madeline Holcombe

A nurse conducts a coronavirus test in El Paso, Texas, on July 21.
A nurse conducts a coronavirus test in El Paso, Texas, on July 21. Cengiz Yar/Getty Images

Coronavirus cases in Texas have risen to more than 418,000, putting the state at a higher case count than New York.

Once the US epicenter of the pandemic, New York now ranks fourth in total case count behind California, Florida and Texas, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Medical teams on the frontlines in Texas said that spikes in the state have taken a toll.

"It's very hard. We're seeing entire families in our communities ravaged by the virus," said Dr. Martin Schwartz, who treats patients in intensive care units. "A lot of deaths inside one single family. It's terrible."

The main hotspot in the state has been the Rio Grande Valley, where hospitals began reaching capacity earlier this month.

Health officials say the pandemic is wreaking havoc on communities in Hidalgo County.

"It's a tsunami what we're seeing right now," said Dr. Federico Vallejo, a critical care pulmonologist. He told CNN last week that he is treating up to 70 patients a day compared to the usual 15 to 20 a critical care doctor sees during a rotation.

Texas was one of the first states to reopen in May, but Gov. Greg Abbott announced a pause to any further reopening in June when cases surged. Now Texas is one of the 41 states to implement mask requirements in some form to protect against the virus's spread.

Here are the latest updates out of Texas.

8:25 a.m. ET, July 30, 2020

FDA "will not cut corners" on authorizing use of a potential Covid-19 vaccine, Hahn says 

From CNN's Health Gisela Crespo

Stephen Hahn, Commissioner of Food and Drugs at the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) attends a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing on June 30.
Stephen Hahn, Commissioner of Food and Drugs at the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) attends a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing on June 30. Al Drago/Pool/Getty Images

Dr. Stephen Hahn, commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration, said Thursday that his agency "will not cut corners" when it comes to approving a Covid-19 vaccine.

On Wednesday, an FDA official announced that the agency could issue an emergency use authorization for a coronavirus vaccine in a matter of weeks -- once a vaccine meets efficacy requirements.

Speaking on NBC’s Today show on Thursday, Hahn said that even though things have been moving quickly on the vaccine development front, the FDA will focus on assisting developers and making sure a potential vaccine meets the safety and efficacy standards.

"We're going to call the balls and strikes on this," Hahn said. "We will not cut corners. We will use our very high standards of safety and effectiveness. We'll look at those data, and we'll make a determination based upon those high standards. We have terrific scientists and people at FDA, and I know -- and I'm confident -- that we'll do that job on behalf of the American people."

Hahn said it's possible that a vaccine could be ready for distribution by the end of the year. "Things have been moving very quickly. I know our team is looking at data in real-time from these trials. And that should help us expedite this," Hahn told NBC's Savannah Guthrie.

He said the decision on whether to take hydroxychloroquine, a drug that has been both promoted and taken by President Donald Trump, should be made between a patient and their doctor.

When asked whether he was concerned about misinformation regarding the drug, Hahn said that “what I’m concerned about is that FDA provide all the information about the side effects, the potential side effects, as well as the efficacy.”

8:21 a.m. ET, July 30, 2020

Miami-Dade mayor: "We're going to see a higher level of deaths for some time"

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

For a second straight day, Florida broke its record for the number of daily coronavirus deaths. Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez said that the county will see a high number of deaths for a while, but that there is a “silver lining.” 

“We're going to see a higher level of deaths for some time, until we start to drop our positivity rate below 10%. It was a steep rise to the top, and I think it's going to be a gradual decline,” Gimenez said on CNN’s “New Day.” 

But the hospitalization rate is stable, and cases are not rising anymore, he said. 

“We are stabilized and we're coming down. So not rising is also very, very good news … There is a silver lining to this, but it will take some time for us to go down to where we would like to see it, somewhere around the 5% level. We're still a long way,” he said. 

The average positivity rate is at about 18%, he said. 


8:16 a.m. ET, July 30, 2020

87% of Georgia's critical care beds are in use

From CNN's Tina Burnside

As the state of Georgia continues its fight against coronavirus, state records show 87% of critical care beds are in use, according to data released on Wednesday by Georgia Emergency Management. 

A total of 2,584 critical care hospital beds are in use across the state. Nearly half — or 1,017 — of the critical care bed occupancy are at hospitals in the metro Atlanta area, according to state data.  

Overall, Georgia has 178,323 cases of coronavirus and 3,642 deaths. 

8:22 a.m. ET, July 30, 2020

World No. 2 golfer says he might not return to play in Europe this year amid Covid-19 fears

From CNN's Ben Morse and Jill Martin

Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland plays his shot from the fourth tee during the third round of The Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio, on July 18.
Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland plays his shot from the fourth tee during the third round of The Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio, on July 18. Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

Rory McIlroy has suggested that he may not return to Europe to compete in golf tournaments this year due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

The Northern Irishman is competing in the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational in Tennessee this week and will play in the US PGA Championship next week and the US Open in September. 

But when asked about the possibility of returning for the European Tour, McIlroy cast doubt, saying he might avoid traveling to reduce being exposed.

I honestly don't know if I see myself going back to Europe this year," the world No. 2 said.

"I don't know if I want to travel, I don't know if I want to be exposed to more things and more people. So I don't know, I have no idea and I'm sort of taking it week by week."

Fellow players Lee Westwood and Eddie Pepperell decided not to travel to San Francisco for the PGA Championship next week, with Westwood saying he doesn't "feel comfortable."

Tennis: Australia's Ashleigh Barty, the top-ranked singles player in women's tennis, has announced she will not play in either the Western & Southern Open or the US Open, citing Covid-19 concerns.

"My team and I have decided that we won't be travelling to the US for the Western and Southern Open and the US Open this year," said Barty, who won the French Open last year for her first major title, in a statement.

"I love both events so it was a difficult decision but there are still significant risks involved due to Covid 19 and I don't feel comfortable putting my team and I in that position."

"I will make my decision on the French Open and the surrounding WTA European tournaments in the coming weeks," she added.

9:18 a.m. ET, July 30, 2020

Living in "the fire pit of hell": The Rio Grande Valley has emerged as a Covid-19 hotspot

From CNN's Ed Lavandera and Ashley Killough

Rolando and Yolanda Garcia were doing everything they could to protect themselves from the coronavirus. They rarely ventured out of their home in the Rio Grande Valley. One of their children described them as "retired home bodies." 

After the Memorial Day weekend, more businesses started reopening and more people started venturing out in larger numbers. Priscilla Garcia believes her parents were infected with Covid-19 during a trip to their neighborhood grocery store. The Rio Grande Valley has emerged as a coronavirus hotspot that Priscilla describes as living in "the fire pit of hell." 

The symptoms quickly emerged but the couple initially tested negative for the coronavirus. Then Yolanda started having fainting spells. Rolando developed flu-like symptoms. On June 28, the couple needed emergency help. They were taken to different hospitals. 

A week later on July 4, Rolando's body "ended up shutting down on its own," his daughter said. 

Four days later, Yolanda suffered a heart attack and Priscilla had one last chance to speak with her mother. 

"I just told her that dad was waiting for her and that he was ready to take her with him," Priscilla told CNN. "He knew that they couldn't be apart."

Priscilla was infected after spending several days caring for her parents before they went to the hospital, and has been quarantined in her parents' home until the virus passes. Priscilla's husband and daughter were also infected but have only felt mild symptoms.

Yolanda's sister was also stricken with Covid-19 and is on a ventilator. 

Background: More than 600 people have died of the coronavirus in the Rio Grande Valley, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services. The vast majority of those died just in July. The spike in deaths is also taking its toll on the medical teams treating the patients, with nurses left emotionally drained as they endlessly deliver bad news to families.

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