August 6 coronavirus news

By Jessie Yeung, Adam Renton, Meg Wagner and Melissa Macaya, CNN

Updated 4:28 p.m. ET, November 23, 2020
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9:38 a.m. ET, August 6, 2020

1.2 million more Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week 

From CNN's Anneken Tappe

Another 1.2 million Americans filed for first-time jobless benefits last week on a seasonally adjusted basis, the Department of Labor reported on Thursday. That was down from the prior week's 1.4 million claims.

First-time jobless claims peaked at 6.9 million in the last week of March and then declined for four months. But around mid-July, they reversed directions, and rose again. 

That's not a good look for a labor market that desperately needs to recover after millions of workers were displaced by the pandemic.

Rising Covid-19 infections across the country have stalled the reopening of the economy and have made it harder for people to return to work. In addition, money from the government's Paycheck Protection Program, which allowed companies to hire back workers, is running out.

Continuing claims for benefits — which count people who have applied for government aid for at least two weeks in a row — came in at 16.1 million on a seasonally adjusted basis.

And those numbers are only regular jobless benefits and don't include the pandemic assistance the government rolled out over the past months.

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8:47 a.m. ET, August 6, 2020

This Iowa teacher wrote her own obituary because she's scared of the state's reopening plan

From CNN's David Williams

Teacher Sarah Backstrom, right, said she'd love for her daughters Josephine ten, and Vivienne, four, to have in-person classes, but doesn't think it's safe.
Teacher Sarah Backstrom, right, said she'd love for her daughters Josephine ten, and Vivienne, four, to have in-person classes, but doesn't think it's safe. Courtesy Sarah Backstrom

Sarah Backstrom knew this school year was going to be different, even without the Covid-19 pandemic. The veteran teacher moved to Des Moines, Iowa, with her young daughters to teach in a new school district — but this is the first time she's been scared about returning to the classroom.

So, in addition to all her back-to-school preparations this summer, Backstrom wrote her own obituary and sent it to Gov. Kim Reynolds' office.

"It wasn't something at all that I took lightly. It was something that I really hoped that my governor would read and hear that if something were to happen to me, that this is who is no longer here," she told CNN. "I'm hoping that she will start to realize that these are real people, and these are real lives."

In her obituary, which she provided to CNN, she wrote, "Sarah loved her friends and family with her whole heart. She had a laugh that was infectious and could always be counted on for an off-hand remark or a joke. She was known for finding sunshine even in the darkest of times."

Backstrom, 43, said that she was known for her "rainbow hair and eccentric fashion sense," and urged her friends and loved ones to wear leopard print, funny T-shirts and rainbow wigs to celebrate her life.

She will be teaching gifted students at three elementary schools, and recently found out that her work will be 100% virtual to minimize the risk of her tracking the coronavirus from building to building.

Backstrom said she loves being in the classroom and is sad that she won't be able to greet her students with hugs and enjoy the back-to-school rituals that are so important to children.

"There's really nothing that can take the place of face-to-face talking with a student," she said. "There's something really magical that happens in a classroom when you're all in this space and kind of sharing energy."

She and her ex-husband also have two daughters going into preschool and fifth grade, so she knows firsthand how tough home schooling is on parents.

"More than anything, I want to be in the classroom, and I want to be in my schools, but I also don't want to get sick and I don't want my mom to get sick," she said.

Some background: Gov. Reynolds released guidance July 30 that said at least half of schools' instruction must be conducted in person and that schools couldn't request online-only education unless their county's positivity rate is 15% or higher.

Iowa has reported 46,656 cases across the state and a 9.4% positivity rate as of Tuesday, according to the Iowa Department of Health.

Backstrom said she was inspired to write after reading an article about Sioux City teacher Jeremy Dumkrieger, who published his own obituary in the Iowa Starting Line website.


8:37 a.m. ET, August 6, 2020

"It's up to us" to get Covid-19 cases down by election day, Fauci says

From CNN's Health Gisela Crespo


"It's up to us" to get the number of new Covid-19 cases down by November, when the country holds the presidential election, said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, during an interview on CNN's New Day Thursday.

"I really do believe, based on the data we see in other countries, and in the United States, in states and cities and counties that have done it correctly, that if we pay attention to the fundamental tenets of infection control and diminution of transmission, we can be way down in November," Fauci said.

"It isn't inevitable that we need to be way up there as we get towards [the] election. ... Everyone, all states, cities have to pull together for that," Fauci told CNN's John Berman.


8:28 a.m. ET, August 6, 2020

At least 53 hospital ICUs have reached capacity in Florida

From CNN’s Rosa Flores and Sara Weisfeldt

A medic transfers a patient on a stretcher from an ambulance outside of Coral Gables Hospital near Miami on July 30.
A medic transfers a patient on a stretcher from an ambulance outside of Coral Gables Hospital near Miami on July 30. Chanda Khanna/AFP/Getty Images

In Florida, at least 53 hospitals have reached intensive care unit capacity and show zero ICU beds available, according to data released by the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA). 

Eight of the hospitals at capacity are in Miami-Dade County, eight are in Hillsborough and six of them are in Broward County, AHCA data shows.

Another 33 hospitals have 10% or less ICU capacity available, according to AHCA.

AHCA reports about 15% ICU beds are available across the State of Florida. 

8:12 a.m. ET, August 6, 2020

Fauci: “Everybody on the team of American citizens need to pull together”

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, warned against people who feel “invulnerable” to getting the coronavirus. 

“By getting infected, you are propagating the outbreak,” Fauci said on CNN’s “New Day,” and thus potentially infecting people who could be seriously impacted by the virus.  

Yesterday, Fauci told CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta that if the US does not have a unified response against Covid-19, the country is at risk of continuing to "smolder."

“You've got to get that baseline down. And everybody on this group, everybody on the team of American citizens need to pull together. Because we're all in this together,” he said. 

Dr. Deborah Birx, White House coronavirus task force coordinator, outlined new areas of concern in nine US cities and California’s Central Valley on Wednesday.

“It’s a clear indication that you are getting an uptick in cases, which inevitably, as we've seen in the Southern states, leads to surges and then you get hospitalizations and then you get deaths,” Fauci said. “… She was warning the states and the cities to be careful, because this is a predictor of trouble ahead.” 

Fauci said that communities and economies can “carefully proceed” on reopening, as long as people follow guidelines on wearing masks and social distancing to do so safely.

“You can proceed to open up the country and get the economy back even when you have situations that we have now, so long as everybody does the five or six fundamental things … So we've got to get away from that all-or-none phenomenon,” he said. 

When asked where he sees the pandemic’s status by the time of the presidential election, Fauci said “it’s up to us.”

“If we pay attention to the fundamental tenants of infection control and diminution of transmission, we could be way down in November,” he said. 


7:38 a.m. ET, August 6, 2020

Beirut’s hospitals were already buckling. Then the explosion hit.

From CNN’s Tamara Qiblawi in London, Jomana Karadsheh in Istanbul and Mostafa Salem in Abu Dhabi

People work at a damaged hospital after the explosion in Beirut.
People work at a damaged hospital after the explosion in Beirut. Hassan Ammar/AP

On Tuesday morning, the head of Beirut’s main public hospital treating coronavirus patients said his facilities would soon reach full capacity after a surge in the country’s Covid-19 cases. It was a statement that seemed to foretell the worst case scenario for Lebanon’s healthcare system, already buckling under the weight of an economic meltdown.

Hours after the announcement, a massive explosion ripped through Lebanon's capital and its outskirts, devastating broad swathes of the city and killing more than 130 people.

Thousands flooded the hospitals, many of which were also damaged. Patients lay on the floor as they were administered IV-drips. The cries of babies bounced off the walls. One US citizen in Beirut told CNN that he visited the St George Hospital offering to donate blood. The security guard turned him away. "We don’t need blood, because there is no hospital. We are zero," said the guard.

For now, the health ministry has said that field hospitals will be set up to treat the over 5,000 wounded, and sections will be designated for coronavirus patients. But where and how, amid this devastation, Lebanon can tackle its growing Covid-19 spread is anyone’s guess

On Thursday, Lebanon’s Health Minister Hamad Hassan told radio station Sawt Loubnan that the country was bracing for a rise in infections, state news agency NNA reported. 

Due to the emergency and panic, I am worried that treating the wounded in hospitals and the loss of personal protection equipment supplies may have an impact on the number of coronavirus patients in the next 10 days," he said. 

Lebanon recorded 146 new cases on Wednesday, and 209 on Tuesday, according to an official statement by the Health Ministry on Twitter. 

The country has seen a total of 5,417 coronavirus cases and 68 deaths so far, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. 

7:10 a.m. ET, August 6, 2020

Trump singles out Texas and Florida for help with coronavirus response

From CNN's Priscilla Alvarez, Jeremy Diamond and Ryan Browne

Florida National Guard members at a press conference on April 17 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Florida National Guard members at a press conference on April 17 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

President Donald Trump agreed to continue paying for the full cost of National Guard troops deployed to help with the coronavirus response in just two states -- Texas and Florida -- after their Republican governors appealed directly to him.

Other states will now have to pay a quarter of the cost of National Guard deployments in their states, despite their governors also requesting the federal government continue to foot the entire bill. A White House official said Trump made an exception for Texas and Florida because their governors -- who enjoy close relationships with Trump -- made "special, direct cases to the President."

The official said Trump "is open to speaking with any governor from any state."

While Texas and Florida both have a large number of coronavirus cases -- more than 466,000 and 502,000, respectively -- other states with large numbers of cases, like California and Arizona, will only see three-quarters of the costs covered by the federal government.

Democrats immediately pushed back, accusing the President of showing favoritism.

With American lives at risk, the President is continuing to manipulate our nation's pandemic response to benefit his own political fortunes," said Noam Lee, executive director of the Democratic Governors Association, in a statement. "The National Guard deployments are the latest development in the partisan games the President has played with states seeking critical supplies and aid."

Read more here:

6:37 a.m. ET, August 6, 2020

Almost 100 people in Ohio were infected with coronavirus after man attended church service

From CNN's Steve Almasy

A man with Covid-19 went to church in mid-June, then 91 other people got sick, including 53 who were at the service, according to Ohio's governor.

It spread like wildfire, wildfire. Very, very scary," Gov. MIke De Wine said Tuesday. "We know that our faith-based leaders want nothing more than to protect those who come to worship."

To illustrate how one infected person can spread the virus, state health officials released a color graphic showing how the cases radiated to some who weren't even at the service.

DeWine urged people attending religious services to wear masks. He had mandated wearing face coverings for people 10 and older on July 22. On Wednesday, he ordered children in schools to wear masks, with a few exceptions.

The governor said he was going to send letters to churches, mosques and synagogues to share important health information.

It is vital that, any time people gather together, everyone wear masks, practice social distancing, wash hands, and while indoors, making sure there is good ventilation and airflow," he said.
6:15 a.m. ET, August 6, 2020

In the latest sign of Covid-19-related racism, Muslims are being blamed for England's coronavirus outbreaks

From CNN's Zamira Rahim

A volunteer uses hand sanitizer as he enters Minhaj-ul-Quran Mosque in London on July 31.
A volunteer uses hand sanitizer as he enters Minhaj-ul-Quran Mosque in London on July 31.

Coronavirus conspiracy theorists have been sharing baseless rumors online -- frequently targeting minorities -- since the beginning of the pandemic. In England the latest wave of vitriol criticizes Muslims, blaming them for spreading Covid-19.

Muslims were caught off guard last week, when the UK government suddenly announced local lockdowns in a slew of areas in northern England where cases have spiked. The announcement came just hours before Eid al-Adha, one of the holiest festivals in Islam.

The affected areas included Greater Manchester, Burnley, Blackburn with Darwen, Bradford and Leicester -- all places with a significant Islamic population according to the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB).

The restrictions -- published late last Thursday evening -- banned people in the named areas from mixing with other households.

Local politicians and Muslim leaders criticized the timing of the announcement.

"The timing ... it focused people's minds [on Muslims]," Rabnawaz Akbar, a Labour Party councilor in Manchester, told CNN.

The government "have done it on the eve of Eid," leading people to think "it must be the Muslim community's fault," Akbar said. "You see how people would have come to the assumption. [The government] have done it without thinking but of course, they're highlighting a particular demographic. And people are angry and now that anger is focused on a particular community."

A Downing Street spokesperson said in a statement to CNN: "Decisions on lockdowns are based solely on scientific advice and the latest data. Where there are local outbreaks, our priority will remain taking whatever steps are necessary to protect people."

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