August 2 coronavirus news

By Julia Hollingsworth, Adam Renton, Ivana Kottasová, Fernando Alfonso III and Amir Vera, CNN

Updated 12:06 a.m. ET, August 3, 2020
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12:31 p.m. ET, August 2, 2020

Mitigation measures are more important than contact tracing during outbreaks, Giroir says 

From CNN's Naomi Thomas

Admiral Brett Giroir testifies during a House Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis hearing on July 31 in Washington, DC.
Admiral Brett Giroir testifies during a House Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis hearing on July 31 in Washington, DC. Kevin Dietsch/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

Contact tracing can be very effective during the early or late parts of an outbreak, but when there is widespread outbreak, mitigation measures are more important according to Adm. Brett Giroir, a member of the White House’s coronavirus task force. 

��Yes, contact tracing is important,” Giroir said on NBC on Sunday, “but it’s much less important right now than the public policy mitigation measures.”  

Contact tracing can be very effective, he said, during the very early parts of an outbreak. 

“When you have a widespread, multi-focal outbreak, where many people are asymptomatic, testing and tracing are of limited utility versus public health policy measures,” Giroir said.

Once the virus is back to very low levels, he said, testing and contact tracing become much more important.  

“Where we are right now, with the widespread, multi-focal, across many states, just like many other countries, the solution was the mitigation steps, not the contact tracing,” Giroir said.  

 

12:14 p.m. ET, August 2, 2020

New York governor says it's "all very good news" when it comes to daily Covid-19 numbers

From CNN's Sheena Jones

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said when it comes to reporting the latest Covid-19 numbers, it is “all very good news.”

Of the 58,951 total tested, 531 people tested positive for Covid-19 across the state, which brings the state to a 0.09% positive rate, Cuomo said.

Cuomo said 556 people are hospitalized with the virus and that is “the lowest number since we began."

Intensive care unit admission is down to 141 people, with 71 people intubated, the governor said.

Three people were reported dead from the virus, the governor said.

Some context: The state has performed more than 6 million Covid-19 diagnostic tests since March, Cuomo said.

12:23 p.m. ET, August 2, 2020

Hydroxychloroquine is not recommended as a Covid-19 treatment, coronavirus testing czar says

From CNN's Naomi Thomas

A pharmacy tech holds a Hydroxychloroquine pill at Rock Canyon Pharmacy in Provo, Utah, on May 20.
A pharmacy tech holds a Hydroxychloroquine pill at Rock Canyon Pharmacy in Provo, Utah, on May 20. George Frey/AFP/Getty Images

Hydroxychloroquine is not recommended as a treatment for Covid-19, Adm. Brett Giroir, a member of the White House coronavirus task force said on NBC on Sunday.

“At this point in time, there’s been five randomized controlled, placebo controlled trials, that do not show any benefit to hydroxychloroquine,” Giroir said. “So, at this point in time, we don’t recommend that as a treatment.”

Giroir said that hydroxychloroquine needs to be prescribed by a physician, and there may be circumstances where it is prescribed, in response to a question about the potentially mixed messages that are being sent out about the drug.

“But I think most physicians and prescribers are evidence based and they’re not influenced by whatever is on Twitter or anything else,” he said. “And the evidence just doesn’t show that hydroxychloroquine is effective right now.”

Giroir said that he thinks “we need to move on from that and talk about what is effective.”

This includes public health measures like hand washing and mask wearing, and therapeutics and treatments that are known to be effective.

“We have many things that do work,” Giroir said. “Right now, hydroxychloroquine, I can’t recommend that." 

More details: Giroir said that there were other therapeutics which have shown promise, such as remdesivir and steroids which have reduced mortality. He also said that while they still don’t know about immune plasma, there are trials and it has worked in other cases.  

12:00 p.m. ET, August 2, 2020

Florida reports more than 7,000 new Covid-19 cases

From CNN's Melissa Alonso 

Motorists line up for Covid-19 tests on July 22 on Miami Beach, Florida.
Motorists line up for Covid-19 tests on July 22 on Miami Beach, Florida. Chandan Khanna/AFP/Getty Images

The state of Florida has reported 7,047 new cases of Covid-19 among Floridians and 62 additional resident deaths on Sunday, according to Florida Department of Health (DOH).       

There are now 481,668 cases among residents and 487,132 total cases in the state, including out of state residents, DOH reports. Florida has reported 7,084 resident deaths to date, DOH data shows. 

There are currently 7,985 people hospitalized in Florida with Covid-19, according to the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA).

Florida’s state-supported Covid-19 testing sites in the path of Tropical Storm Isaias on Florida’s east coast have been temporarily closed since Thursday evening in anticipation of Hurricane Isaias, CNN has reported. 

One thing to note: These numbers were released by Florida's public health agency, and may not line up exactly in real time with CNN’s database drawn from Johns Hopkins University and the Covid Tracking Project.

11:49 a.m. ET, August 2, 2020

36 crew members on Norwegian Arctic cruise ship test positive for coronavirus

From CNN’s Arnaud Siad in London

The expedition cruise ship MS Roald Amundsen is docked on July 31 in Tromso, Norway.
The expedition cruise ship MS Roald Amundsen is docked on July 31 in Tromso, Norway. Rune Stoltz Bertinussen/NTB Scanpix/AFP/Getty Images

There are 36 crew members on Norwegian Arctic cruise ship MS Roald Amundsen who have tested positive for coronavirus, Hurtigruten Cruises said in a statement Saturday.

As a result, 387 passengers from two July expeditions on the cruise ship have been asked to self-quarantine.

According to the statement, on Friday four crew members tested positive after they had been in isolation for “several” days ago for showing “other disease symptoms” but none associated with Covid-19.

“The safety and well-being of our guests and crew is Hurtigruten’s number one priority. All crew members are closely monitored and screened daily," the company said the statement.

Additional testing of the entire crew concluded that 32 other crew members were infected with Covid-19, bringing the total to 36.

More details: The ship is currently docked in Tromsø, Norway, with no passengers on board. It was scheduled to sail to Svalbard, a Norwegian archipelago north of Norway, on Friday afternoon. That trip has now been cancelled. The MS Roald Amundsen had two expeditions to the Arctic, one on July 17 with 109 guests, and another on July 24 with 178 guests on board.

 

11:12 a.m. ET, August 2, 2020

Birx says that reopening schools in areas with Covid-19 increases should be done cautiously

From CNN Health’s Naomi Thomas

In areas with widespread case increases, the cases need to be stopped first before there can be talks about reopening schools safely, according to Dr. Deborah Birx, White House coronavirus task force coordinator. 

“I certainly would endorse what Dr. Redfield is saying,” she said on CNN on Sunday. “In the areas where we have this widespread case increase, we need to stop the cases and then we can talk about safely reopening.” 

“If you have high caseload and active community spread, just like we are asking people not to go to bars, not to have household parties, not to create large spreading events, we are asking people to distance learn at this moment so we can get this epidemic under control,” she added.  

As coordinator for the task force, Brix said that she works with Robert Redfield, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and looks at the data every single day and that she would do “what the CDC guidelines have recommended, and certainly the director.” 

 

10:52 a.m. ET, August 2, 2020

Large indoor gatherings across New Jersey are not a "widespread problem," state police say

From CNN’s Anna Sturla

The New Jersey State Police does not consider large indoor gatherings to be a "widespread problem," press officer Major Brian Polite told CNN.

"With that being said, any indoor home gathering must fall within the guidelines set forth in the executive order and any violations of such will result in enforcement," Polite said.

Some context: The police statement comes after Airbnb removed or suspended 35 listings across New Jersey in order to crack down on "party houses," according to a statement from Airbnb.

One house party in late July had 700 people, taking more than five hours to be broken up by police, officials said.

11:42 a.m. ET, August 2, 2020

Arkansas governor says there is no correlation between Covid-19 spike and lifting of restrictions

From CNN’s Chandler Thornton

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson speaks with CNN's Dana Bash on Sunday, August 2.
Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson speaks with CNN's Dana Bash on Sunday, August 2. CNN

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson told CNN the state will not shut down bars and restaurants despite the recent spike in cases.

When asked Sunday if the state's high number of new cases and deaths could have been prevented had there been restrictions imposed earlier, Hutchinson said the "economy and people cannot be shut down for that long." 

The governor said bars and restaurants would remain open at "limited capacity" because "so far we have not seen any correlation between an increase in cases and lifting of restrictions."

"We're going to be dealing with this for some time and so you can't shut down the economy," Hutchinson said, adding that he's issued a mask mandate and "of course the most important about that is that people comply with it."

More context: The state of Arkansas reported a 10% positivity rate for new coronavirus cases Friday and currently has 43,173 total cases and 458 deaths.

11:33 a.m. ET, August 2, 2020

Birx warns that the US is "in a new phase" of Covid-19 pandemic

From CNN's Veronica Stracqualursi

Dr. Deborah Birx speaks after a White House Coronavirus Task Force briefing on June 26 in Washington, DC.
Dr. Deborah Birx speaks after a White House Coronavirus Task Force briefing on June 26 in Washington, DC. Joshua Roberts/Getty Images

Dr. Deborah Birx said the US is in a new phase in its fight against the coronavirus pandemic, saying that the virus is more widespread than when it first took hold in the country earlier this year.

"What we are seeing today is different from March and April. It is extraordinarily widespread. It's into the rural as equal urban areas," Birx, the White House coronavirus task force coordinator, told CNN on Sunday.

Birx's comments come as the US has reported more coronavirus cases and deaths than any other country.

More context: As of Sunday, the US had reported more than 4.6 million cases of Covid-19 and at least 154,449 Americans have died, according to data from the Johns Hopkins University. 

Read more here.