The latest on the coronavirus pandemic

By Nectar Gan, Adam Renton, Amy Woodyatt, Ed Upright, Meg Wagner and Melissa Macaya, CNN

Updated 12:27 a.m. ET, August 1, 2020
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2:15 p.m. ET, July 31, 2020

Oklahoma reports its lowest total number of positive Covid-19 cases in over a week

From CNN’s Kay Jones

Oklahoma's health department reported 747 new Covid-19 positive cases on Friday, the lowest total of daily cases in a week.

The state had reported more than 1,000 cases in four of the previous five days.

The health department reported 36,487 total cases and 541 total deaths, up five since Thursday’s report.

Note: These numbers were provided by the Oklahoma State Department of Health and may not line up exactly in real time with CNN’s database drawn from Johns Hopkins University and the Covid Tracking Project.

2:14 p.m. ET, July 31, 2020

Government must fund these 5 critical measures to reduce Covid-19 hospitalizations, executives say 

From CNN's Cristina Alesci

A health worker takes a nasal swab sample at a Covid-19 testing site on July 24 in Los Angeles, California.
A health worker takes a nasal swab sample at a Covid-19 testing site on July 24 in Los Angeles, California. Valerie Macon/AFP/Getty Images

The top executives of three major companies are calling on the US government to go further to protect the people most at-risk from Covid-19, according to a post on Medium.

“To protect the vulnerable, we also need additional federal action, even beyond what’s already been done,” the leaders of Ford Motor Company, Boston Consulting Group, and CVS Health wrote. "Such steps will save lives, strengthen our economy, and lead to a faster, more equitable recovery."

The executives argue that the government must fund five critical measures, which they say could reduce Covid-19 hospitalizations by more than 50%, based on their analysis.  

Here's what they are calling for:

  • Masks: Supply “high quality masks to at-risk” people who can’t afford them.
  • Testing: The executives are pressing to increase funding to state and local public health agencies for testing, including regular testing of asymptomatic individuals.
  • Shelter-in-place: The group urges the government to enable health-vulnerable populations who are either not working or working from home "to isolate and stay safe by funding mental health and counseling services as well as food security assistance."
  • Tax incentives: The business leaders also call for tax breaks for companies that implement enhanced safety measures.
  • Protect congregate living facilities: The group urges the government to "provide funding to implement health and safety measures in congregate living facilities, such as by creating spaces to quarantine infected residents, adding protections to rigorously limit visitors, and testing residents and workers at least weekly."

The executives added that implementation of these five measures would cost the federal government less than 10% of the monthly cost incurred during the first three months of the pandemic.

"We need policymakers to act now on wide sweeping actions to prevent further spread," the executives wrote. "Protecting the vulnerable, now, is critical to protecting us all."

1:42 p.m. ET, July 31, 2020

Covid-19 outbreak at Georgia camp is a warning for what could happen when schools reopen, CDC says

From CNN's Andrea Kane

A Covid-19 outbreak at a Georgia sleep away camp this June could have implications for school reopening, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. The camp had followed some but not all of the CDC mitigation steps against the spread of the new coronavirus — but was not enough to keep campers and staff free of illness.   

“Settings, like multi-day, overnight summer camps, pose a unique challenge when it comes to preventing the spread of infectious diseases considering the amount of time campers and staff members spend in close proximity,” the CDC wrote in a statement. “Correct and consistent use of cloth masks, rigorous cleaning and sanitizing, social distancing, and frequent hand washing strategies, which are recommended in CDC’s recently released guidance to reopen America’s schools, are critical to prevent transmission of the virus in settings involving children and are our greatest tools to prevent COVID-19.”

According to the study, published Friday in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, the camp adopted most of the components outlined in the CDC document “Suggestions for Youth and Summer Camps,” but it did not make campers wear cloth face masks – only the staff. Nor did the camp open windows and doors for increased ventilation In buildings. Additionally, camp attendees engaged in "daily vigorous singing and cheering,” which might have contributed to transmission. 

The study breaks down what happened at the camp when it opened its doors in mid-June to almost 600 campers and more than 120 staffers.  

Five days after the start of orientation and two days after the start of the camp session, a teenage staff member fell ill and left camp; the next day that person was confirmed to have Covid-19. Officials began sending campers home that day and closed the camp three days later.   

The Georgia Department of Health was notified and began its investigation the day after the first teenage staffer fell ill. 

Here's what the tests results found:

  • All in all, test results were available for 344 (58%) attendees; among these, 260 (76%) were positive.
  • At least 44% — 260 of 597 — got infected, although the researchers say not everyone was tested so the rate could be even higher.
  • In the different age groups, 51% among those age 6-10 years, 44% among those age 11-17 years, and 33% among those aged 18-21 years tested positive. 
  • The attack rate increased with increasing length of time spent at the camp, with staff members having the highest attack rate at 56%. 

“These findings demonstrate that SARS-CoV-2 spread efficiently in a youth-centric overnight setting, resulting in high attack rates among persons in all age groups, despite efforts by camp officials to implement most recommended strategies to prevent transmission,” the study authors wrote.

2:00 p.m. ET, July 31, 2020

Record number of new Covid-19 cases reported to WHO in last 24 hours

From CNN's Ben Tinker

A health worker takes a blood sample from a resident at a coronavirus rapid testing center on July 30 in Hanoi, Vietnam.
A health worker takes a blood sample from a resident at a coronavirus rapid testing center on July 30 in Hanoi, Vietnam. Nhac Nguyen/AFP/Getty Images

There were 292,527 new Covid-19 cases reported to the World Health Organization in the last 24 hours, according to a situation report published Friday. The total number of cases that have been reported to WHO from around the globe is now 17,106,007.

The rise in newly reported cases sets another record for cases reported to WHO within a 24-hour period. The previous record was set last Friday, July 24, when 284,196 new cases of Covid-19.

Today's report also noted there were 6,812 additional Covid-19 deaths reported to WHO in the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of deaths worldwide to 668,910. 


1:25 p.m. ET, July 31, 2020

Peru extends state of emergency and localized quarantine measures until August 31

From CNN’s Tim Lister

Residents await the results of a rapid test during a house-to-house coronavirus testing drive on July 21 in Lima, Peru.
Residents await the results of a rapid test during a house-to-house coronavirus testing drive on July 21 in Lima, Peru. Raul Sifuentes/Getty Images

Peru will extend its state of emergency and localized quarantine measures for another month as the number of coronavirus infections continues to rise.

Carlos Lozada, the minister of housing, construction and sanitation, told TVPeru on Friday that the Council of Ministers had made the decision after receiving the latest epidemiological data, which had shown an increase in the level of infections in some regions.

Lozada said the regions of Arequipa, Puno, Tacna and Cusco are places where Covid-19 infections were rising. 

"Some provinces in these regions are likely to be incorporated into the targeted quarantine, given the level of contagion that these regions have been presenting," Lozada said, according to the state-news agency Andina.

On Thursday, Defense Minister Walter Martos Ruiz said the curfew should continue because of the risk of "night activities," which he said could spread the virus. Martos warned that if the restrictions were lifted, many young people would attend discos, bars and other entertainment centers, Andina reported.

As of Friday afternoon, Peru reported at least 407,492 cases and 19,021 deaths, according to the health ministry.

1:43 p.m. ET, July 31, 2020

Illinois reports nearly 2,000 Covid-19 cases in 24-hour period

From CNN’s Brad Parks and Kay Jones

Workers check in residents at a mobile Covid-19 testing site set up in the Austin neighborhood of Chicago, Illinois, on June 23.
Workers check in residents at a mobile Covid-19 testing site set up in the Austin neighborhood of Chicago, Illinois, on June 23. Scott Olson/Getty Images

Illinois Department of Public Health reported 1,941 new Covid-19 cases over the past 24 hours, bringing the state’s total number of cases to 178,837.

The public health agency also reported 21 new deaths for a total of 7,495. Nearly 2.7 million people have been tested in the state, and the positivity rate for the past seven days is at 3.9%, according to a news release.

As CNN reported on Thursday, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said in a news conference that the state could be headed to a “reversal” of its reopening plan if positive cases continue to rise.

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. 

12:44 p.m. ET, July 31, 2020

How parents can help students who might be worried about going back to school

As students and teachers prepare for the upcoming school year, CNN's "Coronavirus: Fact vs. Fiction" podcast is dedicating a week of episodes to how kids and teachers may return to school safely.

In today's episode, one young student said she's nervous for the school year and asked, "What if I get the virus?"

Here's how CNN's education experts, Laura Jarrett responded:

"It's OK to be nervous. It's really important to know that a lot of adults are nervous these days, too. Parents are doing the best they can to protect their families. Teachers are doing the best they can to protect their students, of course. And after months of being told to wear a mask and wash your hands all the time, it makes sense that you might be a little anxious about going back into a classroom. 
So parents out there, remember that stress can take a special toll on kids in vulnerable stages of life, especially if they don’t understand what’s going on and don’t have experience bouncing back from a challenge. 
So if that's the case, it could be helpful to explain to your child that they actually have a lower risk of having symptoms if they end up getting Covid-19. Tell them what’s being done to keep them safe and validate their concerns. 
Now, experts also recommend taking kids outside regularly with a mask, of course, so that they can see other kids playing and get some fresh air. They also say kids have the capacity to adapt to new things. So give them the time to do so."

You can listen to the full episode here.

12:47 p.m. ET, July 31, 2020

Salt Lake City schools will begin the year remotely

From CNN’s Konstantin Toropin 

Junior high teacher Angela Andrus attends a Safe Schools Mask-In at the Utah Capitol on Thursday, July 23 in Salt Lake City.
Junior high teacher Angela Andrus attends a Safe Schools Mask-In at the Utah Capitol on Thursday, July 23 in Salt Lake City. Rick Bowmer/AP

The Salt Lake City School District will begin the school year in a remote setting, an announcement on the district’s website said. 

“Remote learning will be in place until the end of the first quarter, OR until health conditions in our city improve and allow us to bring our students back into the classroom,” the statement said.

The district will begin school on Sept. 8 instead of the usual Aug. 25, the district added.

The extra time will be used to learning devices like laptops for students and for teachers to adjust plans and learn new online tools, the statement explained.

The district serves more than 23,000 students and employs around 1,120 teachers, according to federal data.

12:20 p.m. ET, July 31, 2020

NIH invests $248.7 million to fund technology that could improve Covid-19 testing

From CNN's Jen Christensen and Naomi Thomas

The National Institutes of Health announced Friday that it is investing $248.7 million in new technologies that should help ease some of the country’s problems with Covid-19 testing.  

The NIH launched the Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics (RADx) in April after it received an emergency supplemental appropriation of $1.4 billion from Congress. There was an “overwhelming response” to the department’s call for new technology, the NIH said. It received more than 650 applications.  

The initiative gives contracts to seven biomedical testing companies that should significantly increase the number and kinds of tests available as early as September. The demand for tests is estimated to be millions more per day than what is currently available, the NIH said. 

The seven companies that got the contracts use different approaches to testing. Four of the technologies should speed up and increase the capacity of lab testing, using next generation sequencing methods. Three of the technologies use platforms that should give more rapid results in point-of care-settings like in childcare centers, nursing homes, schools and workplaces. Some of these new tests should also be easier to use than the current nasal swab, and will use saliva instead.  

The seven companies that have been awarded contracts are Mesa Biotech, Quidel, Talis Biomedical, which all provide point-of-care tests, and Ginkgo Bioworks, Helix OpCo, Fluidigm and Mammoth Biosciences, which have laboratory tests. 

All the companies that have won these contracts either have emergency use authorization from the FDA for their technology or their applications are in process, according to the NIH. 

“This is an exciting milestone,” said Bruce J. Tromberg, director of the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and a leader of RADx Tech, said in a release.

“It will increase US testing capacity exponentially over the next few months. These and other technologies emerging from our RADx pipeline will guide patient care and inform public health measures to stop the spread of the virus and leave us better equipped to address future pathogens and other diseases.”