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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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.

9:18 a.m. ET, August 12, 2020

Mnuchin "can't speculate" on whether stimulus will pass soon

From CNN's Betsy Klein

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin arrives for a meeting at the Capitol in Washington, DC, on July 28.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin arrives for a meeting at the Capitol in Washington, DC, on July 28. Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Wednesday that he “can’t speculate” as to whether another stimulus bill will pass in the near-term, days after negotiations came to a stalemate. He also called for a capital gains tax cut and made a rare (for him) criticism of Joe Biden’s economic policies.

“I can’t speculate. If the Democrats are willing to be reasonable, there is a compromise. If the Democrats are focused on politics and don't want to do anything that's going to succeed for the President, there won't be a deal,” Mnuchin said during an appearance on Fox Business.

He railed against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, who he said are “just not willing to compromise.”

His message to negotiators: “Let’s do this,” suggesting that there could be an approximately $1 trillion bill now and perhaps another later this year or in early 2021.

“This will be the fifth bill, we can always come back later in the year, or in January, and do a sixth bill, we don't need to do everything at once… Our view is, let's spend a little over a trillion dollars on areas of the economy that are going to be very impactful now, that we can agree on. And if we need to do more, we'll come back and do more and work together but now is the time to have bipartisan support,” he said.

Mnuchin also reiterated the President’s suggestion that the administration is considering a capital gains tax cut, which would require legislation.

“Well, the President like would like to do, capital gains tax cuts and we do need legislation to do what we want on that front,” he said, going on to explain how previous similar cuts stimulated economic investment.

“That's what we need now because of Covid. So I think for the next few years while we recover, we should reduce those capital gains,” he added, going on to, in an unusual move for Mnuchin, criticize Joe Biden for voting against a capital gains reduction in 2003 and drawing contrasts on policy with the Democratic ticket.

“So again you see two very different economic policies. One is tax more and hurt the economy, one is create selective tax cuts regulatory relief and economic agenda trades that will stimulate the economy,” he said.

9:08 a.m. ET, August 12, 2020

There's been a lot of news about vaccines lately. Here's what you need to know.

Vials containing the two components of a Covid-19 vaccine are seen at the Gamaleya National Research Center in Moscow on August 6. The vaccine is developed by the Gamaleya National Research Center for Epidemiology and Microbiology and the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF).
Vials containing the two components of a Covid-19 vaccine are seen at the Gamaleya National Research Center in Moscow on August 6. The vaccine is developed by the Gamaleya National Research Center for Epidemiology and Microbiology and the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF). Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Researchers in the US and across the world are continuing their work developing vaccines for Covid-19.

Here's where things stand this morning:

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

Rapid facility-wide testing in nursing homes can help control Covid-19's transmission, study says

From CNN's Naomi Thomas

Quickly performing facility-wide coronavirus testing after a Covid-19 case is identified might help control its transmission among residents and health care workers, according to research published Tuesday in the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Nursing homes are some of the highest risk environments for contracting Covid-19 in the US.

Authors from the CDC compiled data from seven state and local health departments that conducted facility-wide testing in a total of 288 nursing homes from March 24 to June 14.

The researchers found that health departments in Arkansas, Detroit, New Mexico, Utah and Vermont performed facility-wide Covid-19 tests in 93 nursing homes, which helped authorities detect new cases in 79% of facilities.

“Facility-wide testing of residents and health care personnel (HCP) can identify asymptomatic and presymptomatic infections and facilitate infection prevention and control interventions,” the report said, noting that state health departments needed to have the resources for widespread testing.

As well as being a high risk environment for elderly patients, nursing homes also pose a health risk to the employees who work there.

More than 900 US health care workers have died of Covid-19, according to a news release from the Kaiser Family Foundation published Wednesday.

8:06 a.m. ET, August 12, 2020

5 European countries report drop in cases

From CNN's Vasco Cotovio in Lisbon

People spend time outside in Cascais, Portugal, on August 9.
People spend time outside in Cascais, Portugal, on August 9. Horacio Villalobos/Corbis/Getty Images

Five European countries have recorded a drop in Covid-19 cases even as most nations in the continent grapple with rising levels of infection, according to a report by the European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC).

Portugal, Sweden, Croatia, Latvia and Slovenia have all recorded a decreasing trend in the number of new infections in the past two weeks, while the rest of the continent has seen an uptick in reported cases per 100,000 people.

The positive signs come as the UEFA Champions League finals kick-off in Lisbon. 

UEFA made the decision to host the final stages of the competition in the Portuguese capital in June, attributing the decision to the country’s reputation as a “safe and low-risk Covid-19 destination” at the time, compared to other European nations.

Looking specifically at the Lisbon region, the ECDC report says the 14-day trend for the area also shows a “decrease” in the number of cases. 

On Tuesday, Portuguese health authorities reported an additional 120 infections from the novel coronavirus in the entire country, a 0.2% increase on the previous day, for a total of 52,945 cases diagnosed since the outbreak began.