August 12 coronavirus news

By Nectar Gan, Adam Renton, Melissa Macaya, Meg Wagner and Mike Hayes, CNN

Updated 2124 GMT (0524 HKT) August 13, 2020
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12:01 p.m. ET, August 12, 2020

Masters golf tournament to be held without spectators

From CNN's David Close

A Masters logo is seen on a jacket during the 2018 Masters Tournament in Augusta, Georgia.
A Masters logo is seen on a jacket during the 2018 Masters Tournament in Augusta, Georgia. Jamie Squire/Getty Images

November’s Masters golf tournament will be held without spectators. Chairman of Augusta National Golf Club, Fred Ridley, announced Wednesday that the previously earmarked week of Nov. 9-15 would indeed be the week the club would host the famed golf major.

Ridley explained in a statement that the “potential risks of welcoming patrons and guests to our grounds in November are simply too significant to overcome.”

Ridley says that those fans possessing coveted 2020 tickets will be guaranteed tickets for next year’s event. 

The tournament is planning a return to its traditional April spot in the golf calendar come 2021. 

11:09 a.m. ET, August 12, 2020

White House to release "eight measures" on school reopening

From CNN's Betsy Klein

Drew Angerer/Getty Images
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway previewed the President’s afternoon event on reopening schools, where, she told reporters, he will be announcing new guidance.

“We want them to open soon and safely,” she said during an appearance on Fox News, adding that they will be announcing “eight measures on how to do that.”

She later told reporters that there will be guidance and resources, but decisions will ultimately need to be made at a state and local level.

 “We’re the federal government. We’re not telling school districts what to do. We’re providing guidance and resources,” she said, adding that they will also be putting out a fact sheet.

Conway noted that parents in surveys “overwhelmingly say they feel safe” and that President Trump is “on the side of parents.”

Conway also criticized Democrats for abandoning stimulus negotiations, reiterating Mnuchin’s statement earlier today that Democrats are more interested in Nov. 3.

She again touted the “additional $400 per month,” which White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said yesterday will actually be $300.

11:07 a.m. ET, August 12, 2020

House Oversight chair introduces new bill to reverse changes at US Postal Service 

From CNN's Sam Fossum

Rep. Carolyn Maloney at a hearing on March 12.
Rep. Carolyn Maloney at a hearing on March 12. Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

House Oversight Chairwoman Rep. Carolyn Maloney introduced a new bill on Wednesday aimed at reversing organizational and structural changes undertaken at the US Postal Service by the new Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a Republican donor and ally to the President.  

 “Our Postal Service should not become an instrument of partisan politics, but instead must be protected as a neutral, independent entity that focuses on one thing and one thing only—delivering the mail," Maloney said in a press release announcing the "Delivering for America Act."

"A once-in-a-century pandemic is no time to enact changes that threaten service reliability and transparency. The Delivering for America Act would reverse these changes so this fundamental American service can continue unimpeded.”

What's in the bill: The proposed bill prohibits USPS from implementing any operational changes it had in place as of the beginning of this calendar year until the end of the coronavirus pandemic, a timeframe that would also postpone the changes beyond the November election.  

Some more context: USPS customers have seen a slowing of mail delivery in some place under DeJoy and under his leadership the agency has recently implemented new efforts that some workers blame for delays across the country, which has prompted fears that ballots may not reach election offices in time come November. 

DeJoy told the Postal Service Board of Governors last week that USPS is not "slowing down" election-related mail or any other mail and said the agency will be undergoing "organizational realignment." President Trump has often criticized USPS as a money-losing venture. 

10:25 a.m. ET, August 12, 2020

Stein Mart will close most of its 300 stores after filing for bankruptcy

From CNN’s Jordan Valinsky

Chris Perello/Shutterstock
Chris Perello/Shutterstock

Discount retailer Stein Mart has filed for bankruptcy and plans to close most of its nearly 300 stores. 

The 112-year-old company blamed its failure on changing consumer habits and the pandemic, both of which "have caused significant financial distress on our business," Stein Mart CEO Hunt Hawkins said in a release today. Like other retailers, its operations were severely hit after the pandemic forced temporary store closures in many states. 

Stein Mart, a discount department-store chain, said it doesn't have "sufficient liquidity to continue operating in the ordinary course of business." As a result, it's permanently closing a "significant portion, if not all" of its brick-and-mortar stores with liquidation sales beginning immediately. 

The company is also considering strategic alternatives, including the sale of its website and its intellectual property.

Today's Chapter 11 filing wasn't a surprise: Stein Mart had said in June that Covid-19 caused financial distress for the company, adding in a regulatory filing that the company had "substantial doubt" it would continue to operate for the next year. 

Stein Mart began in 1908 as a small department store in Mississippi before eventually expanding to nearly 300 locations across 30 states. Each store has around 30 employees, and the company currently employs more than 8,000 people.

9:56 a.m. ET, August 12, 2020

Covid-19 deaths in Florida prisons increased 52% in 15 days

From CNN's Rosa Flores and Sara Weisfeldt 

The number of Covid-19 related deaths in Florida prisons has increased by 52% in 15 days, according to data released by the Florida Department of Corrections (FDC).  

On July 27, 46 inmates had died in Florida prisons from Covid-19 related complications. That number jumped to 70 on August 11.

During that same time period the number of cases in inmates went from 6,217 to 12,988, a 109% increase. Inmates who test positive are placed in medical isolation until they recover, per the FDC website.

“FDC is closely monitoring developments associated with the spread of this disease. FDC's Office of Health Services, institutional medical staff and institutional operations staff work hand-in-hand with the Department of Health to quickly engage and resolve infectious disease outbreaks as soon as they occur,” said FDC to CNN in a statement.

To try to curb the spread at facilities with increased numbers, FDC says it has implemented several measures. 

At the Century Correctional Institute in northwest Florida, more than half the inmates have tested positive for Covid-19, according to the FDC. The facility houses about 1,500 inmates and 753 have tested positive for Covid-19.

In response to the outbreak, per FDC, the Century Correctional Institute is providing medical services and meals within housing units. Also, all staff and inmates are required to wear cloth face masks, inmates with positive results are in isolation and temperature checks of inmates are being conducted daily, per FDC.

The Florida Department of Corrections incarcerates about 90,000 inmates, per the FDC website.

9:46 a.m. ET, August 12, 2020

Face masks will be mandatory on Swiss flights starting this week

From CNN’s Niamh Kennedy in London 

Face masks will be mandatory on all flights taking off or landing in Switzerland starting on Saturday, the Swiss government announced Wednesday.

Starting Oct. 1, gatherings of more than 1,000 people will also be allowed for events such as a football matches or concerts, government spokesperson André Simonazzi said in a series of tweets.

However, local authorities can refuse permission if there is a coronavirus outbreak in the area or contact tracing cannot be guaranteed. 

It comes after France on Tuesday extended its ban on mass gatherings of 5,000 people or more until Oct. 30.

10:21 a.m. ET, August 12, 2020

Here's which masks and face coverings are most effective, according to research 

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Duke University professor Warren S. Warren and a group of researchers conducted a test to analyze which masks and face coverings are most effective in combating the coronavirus.

Using a laser to see droplets when people speak, Warren and his team concluded that standard cotton masks “really do a pretty good job,” but other designs are not as effective, he said on CNN’s “New Day.” 

“My rule of thumb would be if you can see a light through the fabric stretched out the way you're normally wearing it, it probably isn't doing a very good job protecting you,” Warren said. 

 Based on the Duke University research, these are the types of masks that work best:

  • N95 masks
  • three-layer surgical masks
  • cotton masks

And these are the types that do not work as well:

  • Neck fleeces (gaiter masks)
  • bandanas 
  • knitted masks

CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta says his review of different mask research was similar to Warren’s findings, and cautioned people to not let up on mask-wearing. 

“It's amazing to me that so many people still don't wear these properly, or they're potentially constantly touching the outside of the mask, getting their hands contaminated and then potentially infecting themselves by touching their eyes, nose or their mouth … You want to wear the right material and make sure you're doing it properly,” Gupta said. 

He also advised people to continue wearing masks indoors as well. 

“Unless you're with your own family that you’ve been with, if you're going to be indoors with other people at a workplace, school, whatever, you need to have a mask on,” Gupta said, adding that “it’s amazing to me at this point in the pandemic that this basic thing is not being followed” without mask mandates in states like Georgia. 


9:23 a.m. ET, August 12, 2020

The US has recorded fewer than 50,000 new daily cases for 3 days in a row

From CNN's Christina Maxouris

For three consecutive days, the US has reported fewer than 50,000 new daily cases of coronavirus, according to tallies from Johns Hopkins University.

  • On Sunday, Johns Hopkins reported 46,935 new cases and 515 new deaths. 
  • On Monday, Johns Hopkins reported 49,536 new cases and 525 new deaths.
  • On Tuesday, Johns Hopkins reported 46,808 new cases and 1,074 new deaths.

Some context about these numbers: The average number of daily new cases in the US is now more than 54,000 — down from more than 65,000 per day in mid- to late-July.

However, average daily Covid-19 deaths, have hovered above 1,000 for more than two weeks. The country had been below that level for seven consecutive weeks before that.

"We have nothing to celebrate (just) because we're going to 50,000 cases per day. We have a huge amount of morbidity and mortality at our feet right now and in the weeks ahead," Dr. Rochelle Walensky, chief of infectious diseases at Massachusetts General Hospital, said Tuesday.

"Even at 18,000 cases per day (as the US had) in mid-May, we were unable to really squelch this," Walensky said.

9:17 a.m. ET, August 12, 2020

Consumer price inflation beats expectations

From CNN’s Anneken Tappe

Consumer price inflation staged a return in July and beat economists' expectations. Even though this means prices for consumers rose on the whole, it is a good sign because it comes after the largely deflationary shock of the pandemic.

Prices increased by 0.6% on a seasonally-adjusted basis in July, the same amount as in June, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Wednesday. Together, the summer month increase puts a solid end to three months of price declines during the height of the pandemic lockdown. Over the past twelve months, prices increased by 1%, not adjusted for seasonal effects.

Gas and energy prices, which soared in June, continued to increase. Gasoline prices alone contributed about a quarter of the monthly price rise last month.

Meanwhile, food prices actually declined by 0.4%, and the 'food at home' index fell 1.1%. The 'food away from home' index rose 0.5%, showing that Americans are eating out more again.

Core inflation, which strips out more volatile food and energy items, rose 0.6% in July, the largest increase since January 1991, according to the BLS.

Moderate inflation is important for a functional growing economy. Some market participants are worried that the large sums of stimulus money from Washington, particularly the Federal Reserve, could lead to too much inflation, but the Fed has repeatedly said that it's not concerned about this right now.