August 3 coronavirus news

By Joshua Berlinger, Brad Lendon, Amy Woodyatt, Ed Upright, Meg Wagner, Melissa Macaya and Mike Hayes, CNN

Updated 12:09 a.m. ET, August 4, 2020
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9:18 a.m. ET, August 3, 2020

Covid-19 fatality ratio of 0.6% "may not sound like a lot, but it is quite high," WHO expert says

From CNN Health’s Naomi Thomas

Although the infection fatality ratio – or, how many people who are infected with Covid-19 die from it – sounds low, it is actually “quite high,” especially when compared with other pandemics, according to officials at the World Health Organization.

There are different ways that mortality can be calculated, and at this point, many groups are looking at the infection fatality ratio – which is the number of deaths among all the people who have been infected, Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO’s technical lead for coronavirus response, said at a press briefing in Geneva on Monday.

“Right now, we don’t know how many people have been infected because there are challenges with surveillance in detecting every single one of the cases, and certainly there are many unrecognized cases,” Van Kerkhove said.

While there are challenges, Van Kerkhove said that some studies have estimated the infection fatality ratio at 0.6%. That “may not sound like a lot, but it is quite high,” she said.

We know that mortality increase with age, and among people with underlying conditions, she said.

“We must do everything that we can to prevent ourselves, and those individuals, from getting infected,” Van Kerkhove said.

Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of WHO’s Health Emergencies Programme, put some perspective on the 0.6% infection mortality rate, saying “that 0.6% is just over 1 in 200 people infected, potentially dying.”

He did say that this was hugely skewed by age, with the risk being much higher in older ages groups.

Ryan compared this number with the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, where “it was more like 1 in 10,000 or 1 in 100,000,” he said. “But when you think 1 in 200 versus 1 in 10,000 or 1 in 100,000, you get a sense of just how more deadly this virus is in communities.”

This points to the fact, he said, that everyone should try to avoid getting infected.

“When we talk about death and fatality, that is the outcome of an infection, and an infection is the outcome of an exposure” Ryan said. “If people are not exposed to the virus, they cannot be infected. If they’re not infected, they cannot infect anyone else, and they don’t die.”

“I hope if we focus on that exposure reduction, infection reduction, then we will be talking about mortality going down,” he said.

9:23 a.m. ET, August 3, 2020

Congress is nowhere near a stimulus deal. Here's the latest on the negotiations. 

From CNN's Phil Mattingly

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer speak to reporters following a meeting with U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows on July 30 in Washington, DC.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer speak to reporters following a meeting with U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows on July 30 in Washington, DC. Samuel Corum/Getty Images

Key deadlines on extending a federal eviction moratorium and federal unemployment benefits have come and gone. Yet lawmakers and the White House, sources say, are as far apart as they've ever been in talks on the next emergency aid package.

As one person involved told CNN on Sunday night: "No clue how we get this done at this point. Just so much outstanding."

Here's what you need to know about the stimulus negotiations:

Bottom line: Negotiators on both sides emerged from a three-hour-plus meeting on Saturday with by far the most positive words about where things stood. What that really underscored was just how much of a mess these talks have been. The meeting was productive because negotiators left with a better understanding of the full scope of disagreements (and areas of potential agreement), according to two sources. Not because they'd made headway toward an actual deal.

What to watch: Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows will be back on Capitol Hill to meet with Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer.

The framing: To understand why the two sides remain so far apart, it's worth comparing how each is framing the scale of the crisis. Mnuchin, during the talks over the initial $2.2 trillion CARES Act, dismissed concerns about deficits due to historically low borrowing costs and the urgency of the moment. That has shifted — on Sunday he made a point of noting concerns about adding to much to the national debt in the next round.

This, on the other hand, was how Pelosi framed things in a letter to her House Democratic colleagues on Saturday night:

"All parties must understand the gravity of the situation in order to reach an agreement that protects Americans' lives, livelihoods and the life of our democracy."

There are a large number of policy differences here, but the biggest issue throughout the first week-plus of real negotiations has been the lens through which the two sides view the scale of the current crisis. And until that starts to merge, at least somewhat, there is no deal to be had.

The timing: The policy deadlines, at least up to this point, didn't spark a deal. The Senate is scheduled to leave for August recess at the end of this week, but there's zero sense something will come together before then. Neither side wants to leave town for the month without reaching an agreement, but at this point, that agreement —and then the process of actually getting it through both chambers — is a long way off.

"I'm not optimistic that there will be a solution in the very near term," Meadows said on CBS's "Face the Nation."

8:45 a.m. ET, August 3, 2020

WHO official to US residents: "Be part of this fight with us"

From CNN Health’s Naomi Thomas

World Health Organization officials on Monday addressed remarks made by White House coronavirus response coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx Sunday that the Covid-19 epidemic was entering a new phase in the United States. Birx said that the country could still turn things around, and that the state-based planning and implementation seemed to be the right path.

“I think their intention wasn’t to create a sense of a new phase. I think they were trying to really – I hope I interpret what they’re doing correctly – but to really remind all states that the disease never went away, that there’s a huge potential for the disease to increase its speed and acceleration,” Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of WHO’s Health Emergencies Programme, said during a press briefing in Geneva. 

This acceleration was shown in the Southern states, and there are signs in other more central states that the acceleration may be occurring, Ryan said.

“I think they were taking a very prudent step in warning all states to really reexamine exactly where they were in the pandemic, to implement all of those comprehensive measures,” he said. “And I think those lead scientists are laying out exactly what they feel needs to happen in order to suppress this and getting this virus back to the box.”

From what he has seen from reports, Ryan said it is also prudent to be “stepping back some of the measure of reopening, and taking a step back and trying to reset in certain areas back to an earlier stage of virus control.” 

Ryan said that the intensity of transmission in many countries means that it is going to take a huge effort in terms of personal and community behavior to suppress it. 

“It is not our job to tell the US what it should be doing at sub-national level. The state-based planning and implementation guided by the national scientists seems to be the right path,” he said. “The difficulty for us all is sometimes we know the right path; the difficulty is choosing to walk it.”

Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO’s technical lead for coronavirus response, said, “The United States can turn this around. … We know that, we have seen this in many, many countries that have applied this comprehensive approach."

Van Kerkhove appealed to everyone in the US to follow guidance.

“Stay at home if you’re asked to stay at home. Wear a mask if you’re asked to wear a mask,” she said. “Be part of this fight with us. And we know that you can turn it around.”

9:19 a.m. ET, August 3, 2020

French prime minister urges citizens not to let guard down in fight against Covid-19

From CNN's Pierre Bairin in Paris and Sharon Braithwaite in London

French Prime Minister Jean Castex speaks during a meeting on July 30 in Paris.
French Prime Minister Jean Castex speaks during a meeting on July 30 in Paris. Stephanie de Sakutin/AFP/Getty Images

French Prime Minister Jean Castex urged people not to let guard down in the fight against coronavirus, after an increasing number of infections in the country.

“We shouldn’t let our guard down. As I usually say, the virus is not on vacation, neither are we. And I have been doing it since I took office, as my predecessor did,” Castex said Monday during a visit to the northeastern city of Lille.

“I call on every Frenchwoman, every Frenchman, every person to remain very vigilant, because the fight against the virus, the fight against this disease, relies of course on the State, of course on local communities, of course, on all institutions that are mobilized, but also relies on each and every one of us,” he added. 

8:44 a.m. ET, August 3, 2020

Coronavirus "extraordinarily widespread," Birx warns

From CNN's Veronica Stracqualursi

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

Dr. Deborah Birx on Sunday said the US is in a new phase in its fight against the coronavirus pandemic, saying that the deadly virus is more widespread than when it first took hold in the US 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's Dana Bash on "State of the Union."

Birx stressed that Americans need to follow health recommendations, including wearing a mask and practicing social distancing.

"To everybody who lives in a rural area, you are not immune or protected from this virus," Birx said. "If you're in multi-generational households, and there's an outbreak in your rural area or in your city, you need to really consider wearing a mask at home, assuming that you're positive, if you have individuals in your households with comorbidities."

"This epidemic right now is different and it's more widespread and it's both rural and urban," she added.

new ensemble forecast, published by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, projects more than 173,000 American deaths by August 22, and former US Food and Drug Administrator Dr. Scott Gottlieb warned on CNBC last month that the coronavirus death toll could double to 300,000 deaths by the end of the year, if the country doesn't change its trajectory.

On Sunday, Birx would not give a projection of how many deaths the US would see by the end of year, but she said a death toll largely depends on southern and western states to maintain and accelerate their mitigation efforts. Those states have become hot spots for the virus.

"It's not super spreading individuals, it's super spreading events and we need to stop those. We definitely need to take more precautions," Birx told Bash.

Asked if it was time to reset the federal government response to the pandemic, Birx said, "I think the federal government reset about five to six weeks ago when we saw this starting to happen across the south."

Meanwhile, more than 4.6 million Americans have been infected and at least 154,859 have died from coronavirus, according to Johns Hopkins University data. California leads the country in total cases, followed by Florida and Texas.

8:40 a.m. ET, August 3, 2020

Plans to keep Covid-19 out of US classrooms are already showing some cracks

From CNN's AJ Willingham and Christina Maxouris

Desks are spaced apart in an elementary school classroom on July 9 in Monterey Park, California.
Desks are spaced apart in an elementary school classroom on July 9 in Monterey Park, California. Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images

Students are returning back to school in some parts of the US, and plans to keep the coronavirus out of schools are already showing some cracks. An Indiana junior high school student tested positive on the first day back, after attending class for part of the day. Another student in Mississippi tested positive after the first week of classes. 

And Georgia's largest school district confirmed that at least 260 employees have either tested positive for Covid-19 or have been exposed. 

School reopenings will have to be done carefully, Birx said, and areas that have reported a rise of infections should first stop cases before engaging in talks about welcome students back to class.

"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 said.

In late July, the CDC issued new guidelines that came down hard in favor of reopening schools. The guidelines said children don't suffer much from coronavirus but suffer from being out of school. The CDC recommended local officials consider closing schools or keeping them closed if there is substantial, uncontrolled transmission of the virus.

The guidelines also said children are less likely to spread the virus than adults — but new studies suggest children can contribute to its transmission.

In Miami-Dade County, dubbed by some experts as the country's epicenter, the superintendent announced Sunday students will continue virtual learning until at least October.

In areas where school hasn't started yet, leaders are still considering plans. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo says he'll make a decision later this week about whether schools in his state should plan to reopen. 

8:29 a.m. ET, August 3, 2020

The UK's troubled coronavirus response becomes more complicated

From CNN's Luke McGee in London

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson wears a face mask while visiting the London Ambulance Service NHS Trust headquarters on July 13 in London, England.
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson wears a face mask while visiting the London Ambulance Service NHS Trust headquarters on July 13 in London, England. Ben Stansall/WPA Pool/Getty Images

The UK's troubled response to the coronavirus pandemic became even more confused on Monday, as government guidance seemingly at odds with itself rolled out across England, pushing the four nations of the UK further apart.

From Monday, employers in England can ask staff to return to workplaces if they believe they are Covid-19 safe.

When the policy was announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson last month, he was accused of "passing the buck on this big decision to employers" by the UK's Trades Union Congress (TUC). The TUC criticized the government for announcing such a move while the country's widely-criticized test and trace infrastructure was "still patchy."

Also launching on Monday is an eye-catching government scheme, "Eat Out to Help Out," aimed at getting restaurants back on their feet as the UK's furlough scheme comes to an end. Throughout August, people dining out from Monday to Wednesday are to be offered a 50% discount -- limited to £10 ($13) per person -- and not including alcoholic drinks.

Both policies are part of a wider plan to get the UK's economy moving after months of lockdown kept many Brits stuck indoors and working from home while businesses in the hospitality industry that relied on their custom were forced to stop operating.

But these moves to soften coronavirus prevention measures, in order to restart the economy, come at the same time as cases are rising in Europe.

Last week, Johnson himself warned that "the risk is starting to bubble up again," on the continent, adding: "I'm afraid you are starting to see in some places the signs of a second wave of the pandemic."

In the UK several localized mini-lockdowns have been implemented, as fears of that second wave move from possible to probable.

These localized containment measures have created a particularly stark situation in areas like Manchester, where it is now against the rules to meet family members in a back garden, and yet absolutely fine, according to the rules, to go to a restaurant.

The move marks a significant shift towards prioritizing economic recovery ahead of other issues, including public health.

Read the full story here.

8:23 a.m. ET, August 3, 2020

German governments blasts weekend coronavirus protests

From CNN’s Fred Pleitgen in Berlin

Thousands of demonstrators march down the street to protest against the current coronavirus restrictions on August 1 in Berlin, Germany.
Thousands of demonstrators march down the street to protest against the current coronavirus restrictions on August 1 in Berlin, Germany. John Macdougall/AFP/Getty Images

Germany's government has heavily criticized this weekend’s protests against measures to curb the coronavirus pandemic.

“What we had to witness this weekend was not acceptable," government spokeswoman Ulrike Demmer said at a press conference in Berlin on Monday. "The actions of many of the protesters are not in any way justified,” she added.

On Saturday around 17,000 protesters gathered in the German capital calling for an end to government restrictions to stop the virus from further spreading, according to a count from Berlin’s police.

The protest, organized mostly by conspiracy theorists, anti-vaxxers, as well as far-right and far-left groups, saw heavy breaches of physical distancing and mask-wearing rules. Berlin police shut the protest down after several hours.

7:58 a.m. ET, August 3, 2020

Eli Lilly moves into late-stage trial of its antibody therapy for Covid-19

From CNN Health’s Jen Christensen

Researchers prepare mammalian cells to produce possible Covid-19 antibodies for testing in a laboratory in May in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Researchers prepare mammalian cells to produce possible Covid-19 antibodies for testing in a laboratory in May in Indianapolis, Indiana. David Morrison/Eli Lilly/AP

Eli Lilly and Company said Monday it is moving into a Phase 3 clinical trial of its antibody treatment for Covid-19.

The Indianapolis-based pharmaceutical giant said that it plans to recruit 2,400 residents and staff at long-term care facilities for its trial.

Nursing home residents and staff are particularly vulnerable to severe forms of Covid-19. As of July 30, there have been nearly 63,000 deaths in long term care facilities, accounting for at least 44% of total deaths in 43 states, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. That percentage is very likely an undercount.

In June, Lilly became the first company in the US to start testing an antibody therapy in humans. LY-CoV555, as it’s called, was created by Lilly in cooperation with AbCellera, from an antibody first identified in a blood sample taken from one of the first US patients to recover from Covid-19.

With this trial, the company will work with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the Covid-19 Prevention Network to administer the therapy to residents and staff at several long-term care facilities that have had a recently diagnosed case of Covid-19.

The hope is that this antibody therapy will provide protection, and possibly ease symptoms for those who do get infected.

What are antibodies? Antibodies are proteins the immune system makes naturally to provide the body protection from a virus or toxin. Unlike with a vaccine -- which stimulates the body to make these protective antibodies over a couple of weeks -- a therapy like this delivers a lab-made antibody that provides protection instantly.

The protection doesn’t last as long as a vaccine would, but if it works, it could be given as a protective treatment every few months.

More about the trial: This trial will determine if a single dose reduces the rate of infection through four weeks. It will also determine if it can reduce complications from Covid-19 for eight weeks.

To help with the trial, Lilly has created custom-made mobile research units to assist long term care facilities conduct these studies. These units will be sent to long-term care facilities throughout the country and will bring a lab, clinical trial supplies and specialized staff on-site, creating an on location infusion clinic.

Lilly has two other ongoing trials in the US with LY-CoV555. The company has finished dosing hospitalized patients in a Phase 1 study, but it continues to follow up with those patients. A Phase 2 study involving people who have been recently diagnosed with Covid-19 is ongoing.

The company says the treatment so far has been “well tolerated” by patients, and there have been no drug-related severe adverse events. How well these therapies work is still to be determined.