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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1:43 p.m. ET, August 3, 2020

Florida reports more than 4,700 new resident Covid-19 cases

From CNN's Artemis Moshtaghian

 Joe Raedle/Getty Images
 Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The state of Florida is reporting at least 4,716 new cases of Covid-19 among Floridians and 73 additional resident deaths on Monday, according to Florida Department of Health (DOH).  

Florida’s state-supported Covid-19 testing sites in the path of Tropical Storm Isaias on Florida’s east coast are now slated to reopen since temporarily closing since Thursday evening in anticipation of Hurricane Isaias, CNN has reported. 

There are now 486,384 cases among residents and 491,884 total cases in the state, including out-of-state residents, DOH reports. Florida has reported 7,157 resident deaths to date, DOH data shows.

There are currently 7,969 people hospitalized in Florida with Covid-19, according to the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA).

You can see more of Florida's daily Covid-19 data here.  

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 

11:41 a.m. ET, August 3, 2020

Emergency department visits decreased by up to 63.5% during pandemic, study finds

From CNN Health’s Lauren Mascarenhas

Emergency department visits decreased by up to 63.5% during the first onslaught of the Covid-19 pandemic in five states, while hospital admissions increased by up to 149%, new research shows.

Dr. Molly Jeffery of the Mayo Clinic and colleagues aimed to understand the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on hospitalizations. The team focused on 24 emergency departments in five large health systems in Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York and North Carolina from the beginning of January to the end of April. 

What the research discovered: Jeffery’s team found that emergency department visits decreased by a range of 41.5% in Colorado to 63.5% in New York.

The rates plunged in March, when there was an increase in national public health messaging about the risk of Covid-19, they reported in JAMA Internal Medicine on Monday.

The researchers suggest this could be due to fears of being exposed to coronavirus in the ED, concerns about extended wait times or a sense of civic responsibility to conserve health care resources needed to respond to the pandemic. 

During the same four month period, more people were being admitted to the hospital at the same time coronavirus infections were on the rise. The increases ranged from 149% in New York to 22% in North Carolina. The team noted that admission rates remained stable until coronavirus rates in each area began to rise. 

Next steps: Because the researchers did not look into which emergency department visits were for Covid-19, they say further research is needed to understand the association between the virus and other emergency department visits. They also note that the results of the study may not generalize to populations beyond the five health systems studied. 

They say that public health care leaders and systems should encourage those who are experiencing serious symptoms to visit the emergency department and communicate with the public about the best avenue to receive care during the pandemic. 

This fits in with other research suggesting that people were staying away from hospitals and were not calling 911 for health emergencies even when they needed to. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in June that non-coronavirus emergency visits across the US were down by 42% from last year.

“Persons experiencing chest pain, loss of motor function, altered mental status or other life-threatening issues should seek immediate emergency care regardless of the pandemic,” the CDC advised.


11:27 a.m. ET, August 3, 2020

Maryland added 870 new Covid-19 cases

From CNN’s Pierre Meilhan

There were 870 new Covid-19 cases recorded Monday by the Maryland Department of Health (MDH), while the state added eight more deaths attributed to the virus.

In total, Maryland now counts 91,144 confirmed Covid-19 cases and 3,389 deaths, according to the MDH data.

The statewide positivity rate dropped from 4.6% to 4.36%.


11:12 a.m. ET, August 3, 2020

Portugal reports no coronavirus deaths for first time since March

From CNN’s Vasco Cotovio in Lisbon

Portugal has reported no new coronavirus deaths in the past 24 hours for the first time since March 16, the country’s health authorities announced on Monday.

“Zero deaths is for us a motive of great satisfaction,” the Portuguese Secretary of State for Health, António Lacerda Sales told journalists at a press conference on Monday.

The number of new deaths had slowly been declining despite small outbreaks in the Lisbon area in the past few weeks and currently stands at 1,738.

Moved by the news, an emotional Lacerda Sales confessed it had been “very difficult” to relay bad news over the past few months and said the government “was very happy that this has happened.”

“We look at these numbers with humility and with caution because we know that, from on moment to the next, this situation can reverse itself,” he said. “I wanted to convey this message of trust and hope for the Portuguese, but to also ask you for an individual and collective effort so that you help us maintain this process and guarantee that we have many more days with zero deaths.”

11:17 a.m. ET, August 3, 2020

House Speaker Pelosi says she is not willing to negotiate on federal $600 unemployment benefits

From CNN's Aditi Sangal

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Democrats want to extend the federal $600 unemployment insurance provisions in the next stimulus bill, adding that she is not willing to negotiate on the amount.

“I think that the number, the $600, is related more to the unemployment rate. If the unemployment goes down, then that number can go down,” she said. “You’re not saying to the American people, ‘We have more infections, we have more deaths, we have more unemployment, we have more hunger, and now we’re going to cut your benefit.’ That’s just not going to happen.”

She criticized Republicans for pushing for cuts to the $600 amount in federal unemployment insurance. 

“A building is on fire, and they’re deciding how much water they want to have in the bucket,” she said.

The federal unemployment benefits have lapsed for now even as unemployment in the US continues to remain high during the coronavirus pandemic. It can be revived through a new stimulus package but lawmakers and the White House are as far apart as they've ever been in talks on the next emergency aid package, sources say.

Pelosi said that it is “absolutely essential” to reach an agreement on additional coronavirus stimulus, ahead of a meeting between negotiators this afternoon.

Pelosi also said she doesn’t have confidence in Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House task force coordinator, because she hasn’t always challenged President Trump’s claims and public remarks about the virus.

“I don’t have confidence in anyone who stands there while the President says, ‘Swallow Lysol, it’s going to cure your virus,’” Pelosi said. 

She said Birx “has enabled” falsehoods from the President. 


10:48 a.m. ET, August 3, 2020

Mexico schools will begin year with remote learning

From Karol Suarez in Mexico City

The 2020-2021 school year will begin with remote learning on Aug. 24, according to Mexico’s Education Minister Esteban Moctezuma at Monday’s presidential briefing.

“We all want to return to the schools with our friends and teachers that we miss; however, the health risk remains high,” Moctezuma added.

He said in-person classes in Mexico will start when the national traffic light monitoring system based on the coronavirus transmission rate are “at the green level.”

The Mexican government implemented a weekly "traffic light" system based on the coronavirus transmission rate to start easing restrictions since June 1.

“We're convinced that despite the adversity, it's possible to go forward with our students' learning. This doesn't mean replacing the schools, teachers are irreplaceable," the minister said.

To address the lack of internet access in many households across the country, on Monday the government signed an agreement with some of the main media outlets in the country that will serve more than 30 million students of 16 academic degrees on six television channels.

Coverage will be 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and students will be evaluated, Moctezuma said. Those who do not have television access would have a radio frequency as well. 

"Those families that don't have internet access, but the main part is TV, the 94% of families have it, and in the poorest communities, the efforts will be focused on making it through radio," he added.

According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in June, the Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated inequalities across Latin America and highlighted the “digital divide in Latin American households,” with just 34% of primary, 41% of secondary and 68% of higher education students having access to an internet-connected computer at home.

10:47 a.m. ET, August 3, 2020

"Everyone is feeling the fatigue of this pandemic, but we have a long way to go," WHO official says

From CNN Health’s Naomi Thomas

Fabrice Coffrini/Pool/AFP/Getty Images
Fabrice Coffrini/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

At a press briefing in Geneva on Monday, the World Health Organization’s technical lead for coronavirus response, Maria Van Kerkhove, spoke about the impact that Covid-19 can have on the future, and how it provides an opportunity for improvement.

“Everyone is feeling the fatigue of this pandemic, but we have a long way to go,” Van Kerkhove said. “We need to remain focused. We need to remain strong. We need to accept that this is challenging, but use these challenges to really put it towards something positive and fight this pandemic together.”

“I hope we will never see something like this again,” she said. “But we also must use this as an opportunity to build back stronger, to build back better.”

Van Kerkhove said that Covid-19 should be used as an opportunity to enhance public health infrastructure, and to build it up in many places. That means having surveillance in place, having a public health workforce in place, having trained health workers – who have the right equipment and personal protective equipment – and ensuring that there is the supplies that protect frontline workers, who in turn protect everyone else.

“Again, we need to use this as an opportunity to build back better,” she said. “And so, if this does happen again, that we are in a much better position to be able to tackle it.”

10:41 a.m. ET, August 3, 2020

This teacher says she may have signed her own death warrant when she voted for Trump in 2016

From CNN's Aditi Sangal

Nancy Shively, an Oklahoma teacher, voted for Trump in 2016. Now, amid a heated debate on reopening schools and watching the President’s response to the pandemic, she says she fears for her life.

“It's not just my death warrant I might have signed. There's 150,000 Americans who are dead because of this. And you know, I have to take responsibility for my personal vote that enabled that,” she said.

Teachers will “literally be risking their lives” if they are forced to return to work when schools reopen, she added.

“It's a cascading failure from the President down to Oklahoma's governor, down to school boards, till it gets to the two groups of people who can't pass the buck, and that's teachers and children,” she told CNN’s Jim Sciutto.

The pandemic will fundamentally change the way teachers provide instructions, whether it’s in-person or online, Shively says. 

“I feel that we're conducting this vast experiment at the cost of probably health and lives of teachers and children.”

President Trump also threatened to cut off education funding for schools if they don’t reopen. Shively calls the pressure “cruel.”

“Oklahoma has historically underfunded education. So we're on shoestring budgets as it is,” she said. “Holding money over the head of people that are already underpaid in a system that's underfunded is wrong.”


10:31 a.m. ET, August 3, 2020

Governors ask Trump to extend National Guard deployments for coronavirus response

From CNN's Priscilla Alvarez and Ryan Browne

Governors nationwide are urging the Trump administration to extend National Guard deployments to assist with the coronavirus response ahead of another deadline. 

In late May, President Trump extended federal funding for National Guard deployments until mid-August, saying at the time the extension would help "states succeed in their response and recovery efforts."

But in order to meet Covid-19 safety requirements, Air and Army Guard supporting personnel will need to demobilize no later than Friday, according to a Defense official. That’s raising alarm among governors who are preparing for the possibility that an extension is not granted.  

“While we appreciate the Administration’s support over the past few months, short-term extensions and last-minute authorizations are adversely impacting and disrupting state plans and operations,” the National Governors Association said in a statement Monday. 

“Governors strongly urge the President to authorize an extension of Title 32 today. Unnecessary delays in extending Title 32 create significant challenges for states and territories, which are amplified in the middle of a crisis," the statement said.

Title 32 status provides federal funding for the National Guard deployments across the country while allowing those forces to remain under the control of state governors as they help with staffing community-based testing sites, building test kits, among other activities. 

CNN reported Friday that the Trump administration is weighing an extension. A Defense official told CNN that the Defense Department is expecting an extension, but it’s sitting at the White House.