August 13 coronavirus news

By Julia Hollingsworth, Adam Renton, Melissa Macaya, Ed Upright and Zamira Rahim, CNN

Updated 12:13 a.m. ET, August 14, 2020
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11:03 a.m. ET, August 13, 2020

St. Louis order limiting bar, restaurant and nightclub capacity goes into effect today

From CNN’s Kay Jones

An order by the health commissioner in St. Louis, Missouri, goes into effect today that limits capacity of bars, restaurants and nightclubs to 50% occupancy and institutes an 11:00 p.m. closing time.

Bars and restaurants in the city have not had any orders regarding capacity limits or a curfew up until this order was signed. 

Fredrick Echols, who is the acting of health and hospitals and the health commissioner for the city, said that over 50% of the new positive cases are from people in their 20s and 30s. 

The intent of the order says it is to “ensure that the maximum number of people and businesses take prudent precautions to reduce the exposure to, and slow the spread of, Covid-19.” 

The city’s new order also states that large venues are required to reduce their capacity to 50% or less and states that all businesses should encourage employees to quarantine or isolate if they have or believe they have Covid-19 or have been exposed to the virus. 

The order is set to expire on Sept. 7. 

 

10:50 a.m. ET, August 13, 2020

Okinawa extends state of emergency for two weeks

From Kaori Enjoji and Yoko Wakatsuki in Tokyo and CNN’s Sophie Jeong in Seoul

The southern Japanese prefecture of Okinawa raised its alert over coronavirus infections to the highest of its four levels and extended its state of emergency Thursday, according to the Okinawa prefectural government.

Okinawa's state of emergency, which was set to expire on Saturday, will be extended for two weeks until Aug. 29, the government said. 

The government has asked people to refrain from non-essential outings and dining in large groups and urged residents to go shopping alone. It also asked residents to refrain from going out after 10 p.m., local time particularly in nightlife areas. Businesses in Okinawa’s largest city, Naha, have been closing at 10 p.m. local time since Aug. 1 under government orders.

Latest figures: Okinawa reported 97 new cases on Thursday, bringing the prefecture's total to 1,404. Three new infections were confirmed at US bases in Okinawa. Two cases were at Camp Courtney, while one case was reported at Camp Kadena. The total number of cases at US bases in Okinawa is 323, according to the government.

Japan recorded 974 new cases and four deaths on Wednesday, according to the country’s Ministry of Health, bringing the total number of Covid-19 cases nationwide to 51,859.

Wednesday marks the third consecutive day that less than 1,000 new infections were recorded.

10:50 a.m. ET, August 13, 2020

Every New York City public school will have a certified nurse when they reopen, mayor says

From CNN's Elizabeth Hartfield

People walk past a public school in New York on July 8.
People walk past a public school in New York on July 8. Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images

Every single New York City public school building will have a certified nurse working in the building when they reopen in the fall, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced at a news conference on Thursday morning.

“We’re taking every precaution, but there’s a tremendous value to having a health professional present,” de Blasio said.

City officials are working in conjunction with the NYC Health & Hospitals system (the city’s public hospital system) — which brought in additional personnel to the city at the height of the coronavirus crisis — to make sure that every school is staffed when schools reopen roughly a month from now.

10:37 a.m. ET, August 13, 2020

American Academy of Pediatrics releases new guidance on face coverings and testing for children

From CNN Health’s Naomi Thomas

The American Academy of Pediatrics on Thursday released three new sets of guidances on cloth face coverings for children, testing protocols for children, and personal protective equipment for pediatric medical providers amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

On face coverings: The AAP advises that cloth face coverings can be safely worn by all children over age 2. Apart from rare exceptions, children with underlying health conditions can safely wear face coverings, which both protect the children and reduce the spread of Covid-19 in the community.

“Just like children understand that they must wear bicycle helmets and buckle into their car seats, they will come to learn to wear masks routinely when necessary,” AAP President Dr. Sally Goza said in a news release announcing the new guidance. “This virus is going to be with us for some time, and face coverings are a proven, effective way to prevent the spread of Covid-19. As parent prepare to send their children to school and into childcare settings, cloth face coverings should be part of their new normal.”

On testing: The testing guidance offers recommendations to help providers determine when to test for Covid-19.

Scenarios that indicate the need for a test include children with symptoms, children who have been in close contact with someone with confirmed Covid-19, or those having elective surgery.

Due to the similarities in symptoms between flu and the coronavirus, it may be necessary to test to confirm a diagnosis of Covid-19. Having an understanding of the community spread of Covid-19 could help providers make the decision to test or not, the guidance says.

The guidance also offers details on things such as the types of tests that are available, and how to counsel families after receiving results.

On PPE: The guidance for PPE says that protocols for all practices should include appropriate levels of PPE, hand hygiene, cleaning of equipment and physical facilities, and efforts to promote physical distancing as much as possible. Staff at increased risk for severe Covid-19 should be offered the most protective level of PPE.

All facilities should have written protocols that are consistent with federal state and local guidelines.

Among other things, it also says that health care workers may also consider increasing their level of PPE when performing procedures that may produce spit, tears, gags or coughs, according to the guidance.

 

11:36 a.m. ET, August 13, 2020

Vaccine production for Latin America to begin in Mexico in 2021, AstraZeneca executive says

From Karol Suarez in Mexico City

At a news conference Thursday morning in Mexico City, biotech firm AstraZeneca’s Executive Sylvia Varela said production for the Covid-19 vaccine will begin in 2021.

“During the first quarter of 2021, we will start manufacturing and packing in Mexico to export to other countries,” she said, adding that once they have Phase three results —expected in November —they will begin the registry.

The Phase three trial will cover 50,000 people in England, the US, South Africa and Brazil, she said

 “It’s a non-profit strategy, our goal is to bring the vaccine to Mexico as soon as possible. We feel honored to produce a vaccine in Mexico for the Mexicans and Latin America,” Varela said, adding that the final cost of the vaccine should be no more than 4 US dollars.

 “The production line set here gives us a lower price than the ones we've seen in other countries. We don't have the final cost because we're still working on it, but it will be around USD 4; it shouldn't exceed $4,” she said.

 Valera explained the agreement expects to set an equitable distribution across the region.

“We must try to set an equitable distribution in all the countries. Today we’re going to speak with the Latin American governments. They will decide their interest and purchase intention. Once we finish, we will prioritize vulnerable populations of each country to carry out this equitable access.”

“As you know, there are four memorandums of understanding for protocols of phase three in Mexico. The latest is this production agreement. When the authorities give permission, we will start producing it,” Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said at Thursday’s press conference.

Ebrard added that governments will request vaccines for their countries and appreciated the support and coordination from Argentina. 

Deputy Health Minister Hugo López-Gatell said the vaccine will be “universal and at no cost in Mexico because that's the Mexican government's plan.”

Some background: The first agreement for a Covid-19 vaccine available for all countries in Latin America, except Brazil, was announced Wednesday evening when Argentina’s President Alberto Fernandez said that the agreement signed between AstraZeneca and Mexican based Slim Foundation establishes the production of 150 to 250 million vaccines. The vaccines would be available for the first semester of 2021, he said.

The Mexican Foreign Minister referred to the access and distribution for the vaccine, saying, “It’s important to know that it’s a non-profit purpose; it’s that the region will have access to the vaccine. This will mean that the vaccine, instead of being distributed in Mexico in one year, will be distributed six or seven months ahead, which makes a difference for the economy and health.”

 

11:41 a.m. ET, August 13, 2020

White House economic adviser says they'll adjust executive order on payroll tax to include self-employed

From CNN's Betsy Klein, Lauren Fox, Clare Foran, Manu Raju and Ali Zaslav

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow speaks to reporters outside the White House on August 12.
White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow speaks to reporters outside the White House on August 12. Andrew Harnik/AP

Speaking to reporters in the rain, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow wouldn’t speculate on whether a stimulus bill would be passed and when, but on payroll tax holiday, he told CNN’s Joe Johns that the President’s executive order will cover the self-employed and there would be a technical change to address that.

On Social Security, he said he thought Trump had been clear that the payroll tax deferral will be forgiven. He reiterated that Trump isn’t eliminating the payroll tax.

Asked why the President keeps calling the unemployment benefit $400, he reiterated it is $300 but “could be” $400 if states choose to add $100. 

On USPS and mail, he initially said it was out of his lane but President Trump was “very concerned about an election run totally by mail in ballots.” Pressed again on USPS funding, he said he didn’t think it was that simple and reiterated the potential for election fraud. 

 He didn’t seem to indicate that there would be stimulus talks today. 

Remember: Negotiations over the next stimulus package intended to bolster the economy and help struggling Americans pay their bills have stalled on Capitol Hill with Democrats and Trump administration officials walking away after talks broke down last Friday.

Trump tried to assert executive power by signing four actions on coronavirus relief last Saturday, one of which will provide as much as $400 in enhanced unemployment benefits.

The other three actions he signed include a memorandum on a payroll tax holiday for Americans earning less than $100,000 a year, an executive order on "assistance to renters and homeowners" and a memorandum on deferring student loan payments.

10:40 a.m. ET, August 13, 2020

CDC director outlines four "simple things" Americans can do to fight Covid-19

From CNN's Faith Karimi, Steve Almasy and Lauren Mascarenhas

People visit Domino Park in Brooklyn, New York, on July 26.
People visit Domino Park in Brooklyn, New York, on July 26. Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images

A top federal health official issued a dire warning: Follow recommended coronavirus measures or risk having the worst autumn in US public health history.

US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Robert Redfield asked Americans Wednesday to do these "four simple things" for "their country right now and for the war that we're in against" coronavirus:

  1. Wear a mask
  2. Social distance
  3. Wash your hands
  4. Be smart about crowds

“I'm not asking some of America to do it,” Redfield said in an interview with WebMD Chief Medical Officer Dr. John Whyte. “We all gotta do it.”

Redfield reiterated his warning that if Americans do not adhere to these recommendations, this could be “the worst fall, from a public health perspective, we've ever had.”

Redfield urged Americans to prepare for a difficult fall season by getting the flu vaccine.

“Please don’t to leave this important accomplishment of American medicine on the shelf for yourself, your family, your church, your workforce,” he said. 

“By getting vaccinated, you can protect your children,” Redfield added. “Clearly when we look at the mortality that we see with flu, one thing is for certain, the kids that get vaccinated, they basically get protected against death.”

Redfield said the CDC has purchased 10 million doses of the flu vaccine for uninsured adults this year, compared to the typical 500,000 doses. 

“Eventually this virus is going to have its day,” Redfield said of the coronavirus that causes Covid-19. “It's either going to infect a majority of the global population, or we're going to have a biological countermeasure that's going to be an effective vaccine.”

Phase three trials are currently underway for several coronavirus vaccine candidates.

“The high-risk individuals that we're hoping this vaccine is used for are being included in these Phase three trials,” said Redfield.

Redfield said he is cautiously optimistic that the US will have one or more vaccines deployed by the start of 2021.

9:43 a.m. ET, August 13, 2020

US stocks open mixed

From CNN’s Anneken Tappe

Wall Street was mixed at the opening bell on Thursday. The S&P 500, the broadest measure of the US stock market, remains very close to the record high it reached in February before the pandemic hit the United States.

On Wednesday, it closed just five points below that level. But judging by the open, today may not be the day for a record either.

Here is where things stood at opening:

  • The Dow fell 0.4%, or 108 points.
  • The S&P 500 opened 0.3% lower.
  • The Nasdaq Composite rose 0.1%.
9:41 a.m. ET, August 13, 2020

“This is the greatest public health crisis to hit this nation in a century,” CDC director says

From CNN Health’s Lauren Mascarenhas

Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, testifies at a coronavirus hearing in Washington, DC, on July 2.
Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, testifies at a coronavirus hearing in Washington, DC, on July 2. Graeme Jennings/Pool/Getty Images

US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Robert Redfield said that non-coronavirus public health initiatives have been sidetracked during the pandemic, in an interview with WebMD chief medical officer John Whyte on Wednesday.

Redfield said the “collateral damage” of the pandemic is evident in that public health officials have been forced to turn their focus away from issues such as preventing maternal mortality, addressing AIDS, treating people for Hepatitis C, and preventing tobacco use in children. 

“There are thousands and thousands of people working 24/7 on this pandemic,” Redfield said. “The fact is that, really, all of our focus is on this pandemic right now.”

Still, the pandemic has exposed the ways in which the nation’s public health capabilities have fallen short.

“We have some states that were down to less than 40, 30, 20 contact tracers,” Redfield said.

“We really haven't invested, in this nation, in the core capabilities of public health,” he added. “Now is the time to invest in public health – data, data analytics, predictive data analysis, laboratory resilience in our public health labs, public health workforce.”

Redfield said we owe it to our children and grandchildren to make sure the nation is never this unprepared for a future public health crisis.

“This is the greatest public health crisis to hit this nation in a century,” Redfield said. “We were underprepared.”