August 9 coronavirus news

By Ben Westcott, Steve George, Amy Woodyatt, Ed Upright, Fernando Alfonso III and Amir Vera, CNN

Updated 12:03 a.m. ET, August 10, 2020
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7:47 a.m. ET, August 9, 2020

Just five US states have more than 40% of the country's nearly 5 million virus cases

From CNN's Christina Maxouris

Health care workers at a coronavirus testing site in Miami Beach, Florida on June 24, 2020.
Health care workers at a coronavirus testing site in Miami Beach, Florida on June 24, 2020. CHANDAN KHANNA / AFP

The US is nearing five million cases of coronavirus since the start of the pandemic -- and as experts have highlighted in the past, the true number of infections could be many times higher.

The number means the country holds about a fourth of global cases of the virus and also tops the list with the most reported deaths in the world. More than 162,000 Americans have died.

The pandemic shows no sign of slowing and health officials from coast to coast have urged the use of face masks in public places and pleaded with residents to avoid all kinds of social gatherings until the spread of the virus is under control.

As of this week, five states together hold more than 40% of all US infections: California (with the most cases in the country), Florida, Texas, New York and Georgia.

Read the full story here.

6:48 a.m. ET, August 9, 2020

Some of Europe's biggest countries are seeing Covid surges -- but not this one

From CNN's Barbie Latza Nadeau and Livia Borghese

A horrifying moment in the Covid-19 pandemic hit Italy on March 27, 2020, when the civil protection authorities announced that 969 people had died in just 24 hours. In the weeks before that, images of coffins stacked up in church parlors and being driven down the streets of the northern Italian town of Bergamo in a caravan of military trucks poured into the homes of Italians, by then locked down for nearly three weeks.

Now, just four months later, life in Italy, the country US Vice President Mike Pence once said "no one wanted to be like," is nearly back to normal, despite occasional spikes in cases that have been attributed to migrants arriving in the country or living in close quarters.

The death toll has leveled off at just over 35,000, with the number of new reported deaths now less than a dozen most days. The total number of cases now at 250,103 with daily increments in the low hundreds at most.

Nightclubs and schools aren't yet reopened, face masks are mandatory and social distancing is enforced, but summer is in full swing in this country. People are going out for dinner at restaurants, enjoying the summer tradition of an aperitivo on an open square, going on vacation and generally moving forward. It's nothing short of a miracle, especially compared to nations like Brazil and the United States, where the pandemic is still very much out of control.

Read the full story:

6:11 a.m. ET, August 9, 2020

At least nine killed in fire at makeshift Covid-19 hospital in India

From Rishabh Pratap in Delhi

At least nine people died in a blaze at a hotel being used to treat Covid-19 patients in Vijayawada, a city in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, on Sunday.

According to Vijayawada city police commissioner B Srinivasulu, the fire first broke out on the ground floor of the makeshift hospital, near the reception area and rapidly spread to the first floor.

The incident took place in the Swarna Palace hotel, which has been converted into a temporary Covid-19 facility by a private hospital, added Srinivasulu.

There were 30 coronavirus patients and 12 medical staff in the facility at the time of the incident, he confirmed.

An initial investigation suggests that the fire occurred due to a short circuit at the reception, but a detailed report is still awaited, Srinivasulu said.

The state of Andhra Pradesh has a total of 217,040 Covid-19 cases including 1,939 deaths, according to data released by India’s health ministry on Sunday morning.

5:29 a.m. ET, August 9, 2020

UK Prime Minister says keeping schools shut is “morally indefensible” 

From CNN's Laura Smith-Spark and Sebastian Shukla

UK Prime Minster Boris Johnson made the comments in the in Mail on Sunday newspaper.
UK Prime Minster Boris Johnson made the comments in the in Mail on Sunday newspaper.  Charlotte Graham - WPA Pool/Getty

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said that keeping schools closed across the country is “socially intolerable, economically unsustainable and morally indefensible.”

He added there is a "moral duty" to reopen schools next month for all students despite the continued threat from the coronavirus.

Writing for the Mail on Sunday newspaper, Johnson said it was "crucial" for children's welfare, health and future that they return to the classroom full time. "We can do it -- and we will do it. Social justice demands it."

Most UK schoolchildren have been at home since the government imposed coronavirus lockdown measures in March.

“This pandemic isn’t over, and the last thing any of us can afford to do is become complacent,” Johnson wrote. “But now that we know enough to reopen schools to all pupils safely, we have a moral duty to do so.”

Johnson said time spent out of the classroom could lead to lower educational attainment and have a lasting impact on children's future life chances.

"Most painfully of all, the costs of school closure have fallen disproportionately on the most disadvantaged, the very children who need school the most," he wrote.

"Keeping our schools closed a moment longer than absolutely necessary is socially intolerable, economically unsustainable and morally indefensible."

Teachers' unions have voiced concerns over the safety of staff and students when schools reopen.

4:40 a.m. ET, August 9, 2020

Indian politician tests positive for Covid-19 after endorsing spiced snack he claimed could fight virus

From Rishabh Pratap in Delhi

India’s junior minister for Parliamentary Affairs and Heavy Industries, Arjun Ram Meghwal, has tested positive for coronavirus just weeks after promoting a brand of spiced snack called “Bahabhi Ji” papad, which he claimed could ward off the deadly virus.

A video of Meghwal went viral on social media last month where he can be seen holding a packet of the papad product -- a thin, crispy, round flatbread -- made with ingredients such as turmeric, black pepper, cumin and salt.

In the video, he claimed it helped as an immunity booster against coronavirus.

"A manufacturer has brought out a brand with the name of Bahabhi Ji papad through which the means needed to develop anti-bodies to fight coronavirus will go in the body through food and will be helpful in the fight against coronavirus,” the minister said in the viral video.

Meghwal's unscientific and bizarre claims were ridiculed by many on Indian social media, with one post jokingly saying, “I have started eating Bahabhi Ji papad, now I don’t need a vaccine."  

On Saturday Meghwal tweeted: "After developing symptoms of COVID-19 I had undergone testing and was found positive in the second report. On the advice of doctors, I got admitted to AIIMS (Hospital) and I request all those who came in contact with me to take care of their health."

As of Sunday morning, India has a total of 2,153,010 coronavirus cases including 43,379 deaths, according to the country's health ministry. 

3:14 a.m. ET, August 9, 2020

More than 56,000 new coronavirus cases reported in the US in 24 hours

A sample is collected at a Covid-19 testing site at Minute Maid Park in Houston, on August, 8.
A sample is collected at a Covid-19 testing site at Minute Maid Park in Houston, on August, 8. David J. Phillip

There were 56,174 new coronavirus cases in the United States in the past 24 hours, According to the Johns Hopkins University tracker.

The US now has at least 4,997,929 confirmed cases of coronavirus, the highest in the world.

There have also been 1,076 new deaths in the past 24 hours, according to Johns Hopkins, bringing the total US death toll to at least 162,423 people.

The totals include cases from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and other US territories, as well as repatriated cases. 

For updates on the US numbers, follow CNN’s map which refreshes every 15 mins: 

2:11 a.m. ET, August 9, 2020

Doctor warns massive US biker rally could be a "super spreader" event

Motorcyclists ride down Main Street during the 80th Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in Sturgis, South Dakota on August 7.
Motorcyclists ride down Main Street during the 80th Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in Sturgis, South Dakota on August 7. Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images

As hundreds of thousands of motorcycle enthusiasts descend on the tiny city of Sturgis, South Dakota, for the 80th Strugis Motorcycle Rally, a medical expert has warned the mass gathering has the potential to be a "super spreader event' that could lead to a large-scale, regional coronavirus outbreak.

"I'm less concerned with these folks just riding their bikes through the hills than I am about what happens at night, in bars and restaurants and hotels," said CNN medical analyst Dr. Jonathan Reiner.
"When you look at the video from Sturgis now there are very few people wearing masks," he added.

Despite the United States having almost 5 million cases of Covid-19, the highest in the world, the huge motorcycle rally is still going ahead as planned. Last year more than 500,000 people attended the annual gathering, this year organizers estimate as many as 250,000 could show up, making it among the largest gatherings worldwide since the beginning of the pandemic.

At the Sturgis Buffalo Chip, a large campground close to the event, the owner, Rod Woodruff, said he's not concerned about the rally.

"Ride free, take risks. That's our motto," he said. "That doesn't mean you don't calculate them. And these people calculate their risks every time they get on a motorcycle."

South Dakota has recorded 9,477 coronavirus cases and 146 deaths as of Saturday, according to the South Dakota Department of Health, far lower than many US states. However, local officials in the area around Strugis, which has a permanent population of around 7,000, have said they are concerned about the potential for the virus to rapidly spread through participants at the 10-day event.

"They're not going to be able to handle any kind of social distancing, there's a significant amount of alcohol involved, it's a huge party," said Laura Armstrong, city council president in Rapid City, the largest town near Sturgis. 
"They can infect our Native American population, our law enforcement, potentially our bar staff, our tourist attractions, our hotels and motels, and even our grocery stores."

Reiner said he was particularly concerned about what would happen when the rally was over and the participants then headed back to their home states across the US, potentially helping to further spread the highly-infectious coronavirus.

"A quarter of a million people are going to spread out into their communities, so this has the potential to be a super spreader event," said Reiner.
"We heard a visitor saying they were just tired of this and looking to have some fun. Well the virus doesn't really care," he said. "This is a ridiculous thing to have in the middle of a pandemic ... The rest of the world is laughing at us."

Watch the full interview here:

12:34 a.m. ET, August 9, 2020

It has been 100 days since New Zealand had a locally-transmitted coronavirus case

Director-General of Health Dr. Ashley Bloomfield speaks to media during a press conference at Parliament in Wellington, New Zealand on August 06
Director-General of Health Dr. Ashley Bloomfield speaks to media during a press conference at Parliament in Wellington, New Zealand on August 06 Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images

As the rest of the world struggles to contain the coronavirus, New Zealand marked 100 days since its last locally transmitted case on Sunday.

In a statement from the New Zealand Ministry of Health, the government said the vast majority of the country's 1,219 confirmed cases had already recovered.

Only 23 people with coronavirus remained under treatment in isolation facilities across New Zealand.

Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said that while 100 days without community transmission was a "significant milestone," people couldn't afford to get complacent.

“We have seen overseas how quickly the virus can re-emerge and spread in places where it was previously under control, and we need to be prepared to quickly stamp out any future cases in New Zealand," Bloomfield said in a statement today.
“Don’t let the team down – none of us can afford to do that."
12:03 a.m. ET, August 9, 2020

Researchers created a test to determine which masks are the least effective

From CNN's Alaa Elassar

Schools are reopening, amusement parks are welcoming back visitors, and outdoor dining is the new way to eat out. But despite the signs that life is returning back to normal, the coronavirus pandemic has gone nowhere.

That's why a group of researchers at Duke University created a simple technique to analyze the effectiveness of various types of masks which have become a critical component in stopping the spread of the virus.

The quest began when a professor at Duke's School of Medicine was assisting a local group buy masks in bulk to distribute to community members in need. The professor wanted to make sure the group purchased masks that were actually effective.

In the study published Friday, researchers with Duke's physics department demonstrated the use of a simple method that uses a laser beam and cell phone to evaluate the efficiency of masks by studying the transmission of respiratory droplets during regular speech.

"We use a black box, a laser, and a camera," Martin Fischer, one of the authors of the study, told CNN. "The laser beam is expanded vertically to form a thin sheet of light, which we shine through slits on the left and right of the box."

In the front of the box is a hole where a speaker can talk into it. A cell phone camera is placed on the back of the box to record light that is scattered in all directions by the respiratory droplets that cut through the laser beam when they talk.

A simple computer algorithm then counts the droplets seen in the video.

Read the full story here.