August 10 coronavirus news

By Julia Hollingsworth, Adam Renton, Meg Wagner and Melissa Macaya, CNN

Updated 12:01 a.m. ET, August 11, 2020
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12:01 p.m. ET, August 10, 2020

New York reaching “new low” number of Covid-19 hospitalizations since pandemic began, governor says

From CNN’s Sonia Moghe

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks during a daily media briefing at the Office of the Governor of the State of New York on July 23 in New York City.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks during a daily media briefing at the Office of the Governor of the State of New York on July 23 in New York City. Jeenah Moon/Getty Images

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Monday in a call with reporters that hospitalizations, intensive care unit admissions and intubations for coronavirus patients fell to a “new low” number since the state started seeing cases back in March. 

Total hospitalizations fell to 535  — 127 were in ICU and 62 were intubated, Cuomo said. 

Of the 54,000 Covid-19 tests yesterday, 476 were positive, with a positivity rate of .88%. 

Two New Yorkers died yesterday, Cuomo said. 

11:28 a.m. ET, August 10, 2020

More than 70% of NYC students plan to do in-person or blended learning, mayor says

From CNN’s Lauren del Valle

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks during a press conference in New York City on August 10.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks during a press conference in New York City on August 10. NYC Media

Parents with children in the New York City public school system were given the opportunity to opt out of the schooling plans announced at the end of last week, but as of Monday, 74% of students say they are planning to participate in in-person learning and/or blended learning which closely mirrored the city survey taken earlier this summer, Mayor Bill de Blasio said today at his daily presser. 

The virus positive test rate has been under 3% positive in NYC for two months running, which de Blasio said makes New York City schools ready to open under caution. The positive testing rate on Monday was 1%. 

Parents will start to get notification of their kids’ school schedules next Monday and everyone will have that information by the week after that. 

When asked about teacher union concerns about city schools without nurses, de Blasio said he's working on that right now, and there will be a significant testing and contact-tracing presence from the city in schools.

When asked about ventilation in schools, the mayor said schools and custodial staffs are working on it. He said if a classroom can't be prepared well enough it won't be used. This in part is why additional learning locations will be necessary. Specifically the mayor said schools will be opening windows as much as possible for ventilation. 

When asked about a Daily News report that 650 of 1,500 schools have at least one reported exhaust fan issue, de Blasio said it’s being worked on but reiterated if a classroom isn’t ready, it won’t be used and if there’s a bigger problem in a school, that adjustment will be made.  

11:22 a.m. ET, August 10, 2020

California's health director steps down

From CNN's Stella Chan

Former California Department of Public Health Director and State Health Officer Dr. Sonia Angell speaks during a news conference at the California Department of Public Health on February 27 in Sacramento, California.
Former California Department of Public Health Director and State Health Officer Dr. Sonia Angell speaks during a news conference at the California Department of Public Health on February 27 in Sacramento, California. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

California’s health director and state public health officer resigned from her post on Sunday, according to the California Department of Public Health.

Dr. Sonia Angell sent an email to staff announcing her departure:

 “Since I joined this Department as Director and State Public Health Officer in October 2019, we have been responding to emergencies, from E-cigarette and Vaping Associated Lung Injury, to the Public Safety Power Shutoffs and wildfires, and now to a global infectious disease pandemic. We have done all this, even as we have continued to deliver on the Department’s core public health functions. It is with deep appreciation and respect for all of this work that I share with you my own plans to depart from my position, effective today,” Dr. Angell wrote.

“I want to thank Dr. Angell for her service to the state and her work to help steer our public health system during this global pandemic, while never losing sight of the importance of health equity,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said.

State Health and Human Services Agency Secretary, Dr. Mark Ghaly said he was "grateful to Dr. Angell for her service to the people of California during this unprecedented public health crisis. She has worked tirelessly for all Californians, always keeping health equity in mind. Her leadership was instrumental as Californians flattened the curve once and in setting us on a path to do so again.”

Sandra Shewry will be appointed acting California Department of Public Health Director and Dr. Erica Pan will assume the role of acting State Public Health Officer, according to the CDPH.

California has the dubious distinction of being the state with the most number of coronavirus cases.

The state is currently battling a technical glitch in its disease reporting database (CalREDIE) causing an underreporting in coronavirus cases. Gov. Newsom has launched an investigation. 

He will hold a press conference today at 12:00 p.m. PT.

11:45 a.m. ET, August 10, 2020

Georgia lawmaker says teachers are fearful of whistleblowing about Covid-19 concerns in their schools

From CNN's Pamela Kirkland

Georgia state representative Beth Moore speaks during a virtual press conference on August 10.
Georgia state representative Beth Moore speaks during a virtual press conference on August 10. Georgia Democratic Party

Georgia state representative Beth Moore said she’s received messages from hundreds of anonymous teachers and students since Friday about concerns of Covid-19 and schools. 

During a virtual news conference hosted by the Georgia Democrats, Rep. Beth Moore said she posted a video on her social media on Friday asking teachers, students, and school administrators to anonymously send their concerns related to school reopening in the state.

She said she did so after hearing about a student in Paulding County, Georgia who was suspended for posting a picture of her crowded school hallways on Twitter. That suspension was later rescinded.  

“I’ve been receiving emails from teachers in dozens of different school districts. From Fulton County, to Cherokee, to Paulding, to Gilmer counties. I think the theme that is emerging from these messages is that teachers are fearful of whistleblowing,” Rep. Moore said. 

She read a portion of an email from a high school English teacher in Forsyth County, Georgia who was concerned about class size.

Rep. Moore said the email read, in part, “every class, I teach 5, has 30 to 31 students, except for one that has 33. No masks are required. I am scared to death.”

Watch her interview on CNN:

10:32 a.m. ET, August 10, 2020

WHO official: "we can outsmart the virus"

From CNN Health’s Naomi Thomas

Social distancing signs are seen in Blackburn town center on July 17 in Blackburn, England.
Social distancing signs are seen in Blackburn town center on July 17 in Blackburn, England. Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

Covid-19 is brutal in its simplicity and its cruelty, but there are things that can be done to outsmart it, according to World Health Organization officials.

“When we talk about what is the virus trying to do and the virus being an enemy, the virus doesn’t have a brain. We’re the ones with the brains,” said Dr. Mike Ryan, director of WHO’s Health Emergencies Programme, during a news conference in Geneva on Monday.

Ryan described the virus as a simple biologic entity that can enter a human cell and instruct that cell to make more viruses, which can at minimum infect someone else; or in the worst case, kill the person.

“It’s brutal in its simplicity. It’s brutal in its cruelty,” Ryan said. “But it doesn’t have a brain. We have the brains. And I think Maria may outline how we can outsmart something that doesn’t have a brain, but we’re not doing such a great job right now.” 

Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO’s technical lead for coronavirus, elaborated on how this can be done, saying that the goal of the virus is to reproduce, find individuals to pass between but not kill too many, as it Is unable to pass to another person if it kills its host.

“There’s many, many things that we can do right now with the tools that we have right now, to outsmart this virus,” she said.

While work on therapeutics and vaccines will continue, at this point chains of transmission can be broken, she said.

These include social distancing, contact tracing, quarantining infected individuals, the use of masks when physical distancing isn’t possible, and hand washing.

“If we do all of these things, we can outsmart the virus, and we can prevent this virus from passing from one individual to another,” she said, adding that everyone on the planet needs to understand that they have a role to play in breaking chain of transmission.

10:02 a.m. ET, August 10, 2020

9 of the 12 Florida counties starting in-person schooling this week had a positivity rate above 5%

From CNN's Rosa Flores and Sara Weisfeldt 

As the legal battle over the reopening of Florida public schools continues, at least 12 county public schools systems are planning to reopen this week and offer in-person instruction, according to Mark Richard, Florida Education Association attorney.

According to Richard and the school district websites, the school districts opening this week are Baker, Bradford, Dixie, Franklin, Gilchrist, Hamilton, Suwannee, Martin, Calhoun, Hardee, Union and Wakulla.

CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield said last month that officials in counties with a positivity rate higher than 5% might consider keeping schools closed; and White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx agreed with Redfield’s take on the matter on CNN’s State of the Union with Dana Bash on August 2.

On Saturday, 9 of 12 counties reopening schools this week had a positivity rate above 5%, according to the latest data available from the Florida Department of Health. The same data showed that in the past two weeks, all 12 counties on some days exceeded 5% positivity rate, with some counties far exceeding that metric. For example, Baker County had a 36.9% positivity on Friday and Bradford had a 42% positivity rate on Thursday.

9:55 a.m. ET, August 10, 2020

Mnuchin on stimulus negotiations: "We're prepared to put more money on the table"

From CNN's Betsy Klein

Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin speaks to members of the press at the U.S. Capitol on August 7 in Washington, DC.
Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin speaks to members of the press at the U.S. Capitol on August 7 in Washington, DC. Alex Wong/Getty Images

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said the administration is prepared to put more money on the table as stalled stimulus negotiations continue on Capitol Hill, but couldn’t say when his team would meet with Democrats.

 “We’re prepared to put more money on the table,” he said during an appearance on CNBC, adding, “We’re not stuck at the $1 trillion dollars, but we’re not going to go to unlimited amounts of money that don’t make sense.”

Mnuchin declined to say when negotiators would be meeting, but said he heard House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer over the weekend, and “if we can get a fair deal, we’ll do it this week.”

“I’m not gonna comment on the specifics of the logistics of negotiations because I don’t think that’s helpful,” he said when pressed on when they would meet next.

One area where they were willing to compromise is food assistance for children: “I listened to the Speaker over the weekend. She’s right. We started low on food. We realize there’s a lot of kids out there and that there is an issue,” he said, adding that they will “go down the list” on further issues. 

He reiterated the administration’s position against funding for state and local governments after the President’s executive action slashed the federal unemployment benefit from $600 to $400, requiring states to pay for 25%.

Trump told reporters late Sunday it will depend on the state and the federal government could pick up the entire cost if governors make a request, but the action received criticism from many governors.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer roundly criticized the move and how it will impact states with “severe holes in our budgets” and suggested it shows he’s more focused than winning the election than fighting the virus.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo called it “laughable.” And Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine told CNN he’s not sure if his state will take the federal money.

Mnuchin said House-passed legislation with $1 trillion of aid to state and local governments was an “absurd number.”

He claimed “all 100%” is coming from the federal government and claimed states had “plenty of money.” 

“The 25% isn’t really coming from the states because we’re authorizing them to use money out of the $150 billion we just sent them… I have from every single state how much money they have left over. They have plenty of money,” he said. 

He suggested states would get that money back in additional legislation.

 Mnuchin said he would be on Monday’s governors call and had spoken with many of them amid widespread concern from governors regarding the President’s executive actions. 

The closed call is at 3:00 p.m. ET.

9:49 a.m. ET, August 10, 2020

Covid-19 is “proving exceptionally difficult to stop,” WHO says

From CNN Health’s Naomi Thomas

Covid-19 is proving exceptionally difficult to stop, and it is important to identify where the human-animal barrier was breached, Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of the World Health Organization’s Health Emergencies Programme, said during a news conference in Geneva on Monday.

“This virus is proving exceptionally difficult to stop,” Ryan said, saying that it was important to reflect on what is known about the virus, in terms of the ease of spread, the multiple transmission modes and the existence of asymptomatic and presymptomatic transmission.

“This is not an easy virus and not an easy virus, either, to detect. It’s not an easy virus to stop,” he said.

Ryan explained that it is difficult to detect and distinguish between Covid-19 and other syndromes without adequate and immediate testing which is being seen in countries where both Covid-19 and influenza are circulating at the same time.

An epidemiologic investigation will start in Wuhan, because that’s where the first clusters of cases were picked up, he said, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that is where Case Zero was, according to Ryan. 

“If you follow the data and the science, you will find, hopefully, the point at which the disease crossed the species barrier,” he said.

Finding Case Zero helps to distinguish this crossing of the barrier between species.

“It is important that we find that, because as long as the animal-human breach has not been discovered, there’s always a chance that that barrier can be breached again," he said.

Although finding this breach is important, it can take some time, according to Ryan, who said It took years for MERS, and has never been fully established for SARS.

 The world is at greater risk for these species breaches, Ryan said.

“We are pressuring the biologic system. We live in a biome. We live in a world of biology. And we are creating – actively creating – the pressures that are driving the breaches of those barriers,” he said. “And we need to do better at managing the risks associated with that.”

9:44 a.m. ET, August 10, 2020

US stocks move cautiously higher after Trump's executive action

From CNN’s David Goldman

US stocks advanced slightly Monday morning as Wall Street tried to gauge how much President Trump’s recent executive actions would stimulate the economy.

Trump announced this weekend he would go around Congress to deliver aid to Americans affected by the pandemic. But a close read of the actual text of the executive actions he signed Saturday suggests that even if they are deemed constitutional, they will not quickly deliver the aid Trump promised. They may not deliver much at all.

Here's how things looked at the opening:

  • The Dow was up 110 points, or 0.4%
  • The S&P 500 rose 0.2%
  • The Nasdaq was 0.2% higher