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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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.”

9:27 a.m. ET, August 13, 2020

Iraq records 3,841 new Covid-19 cases — highest daily case increase since start of pandemic

 From CNN’s Aqeel Najim in Baghdad

A medic collects drops of blood at a Covid-19 testing station in Najaf, Iraq, on August 9.
A medic collects drops of blood at a Covid-19 testing station in Najaf, Iraq, on August 9. Ameer Al Mohammedaw/picture alliance/Getty Images

On Thursday, Iraq’s Ministry of Health reported 3,841 new confirmed cases of coronavirus cases, the highest daily case number recorded since the start of the pandemic.

This brings the total number of cases in Iraq to 164,277 .

The health ministry also reported 53 Covid-19 related deaths. This brings the total number of deaths in Iraq to 5,641.

9:31 a.m. ET, August 13, 2020

These are the risks of playing sports during the pandemic, according to infectious disease experts

From CNN Health’s Amanda Watts

Two fellows from the Infectious Diseases Society of America said that when it comes to playing sports in the fall, it’s all about the risk – and there are two main ways to look at the same data.

Dr. Colleen Kraft, Associate Professor of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases at Emory University School of Medicine, said, “There are a number of ways to approach complicated issues.”

Some conferences are trying a “dip your toe in and see what happens” approach, while others are not playing at all, Kraft said.

For those choosing to play, Kraft predicts coronavirus cases will pop-up. “They will be able to see the experience that many of the others of us have had, where there will be transmission, it will be difficult.”

Dr. Carlos del Rio, Executive Associate Dean at Emory University School of Medicine at Grady, said individuals assess risk all the time in our personal lives.

“I'm getting ready to cross the street and I see a car coming, I would do a rapid calculation. ‘Okay, I can stop and let the car go through, or I can run across the street,’" del Rio said.

 “Both are different decisions and one I stayed in one I go, but I decided it based on how much risk I was willing to take,” he added.

9:34 a.m. ET, August 13, 2020

College football player says he didn't want team to become a "hotspot" for coronavirus

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

Nick Ford on CNN's "New Day" on August 13.
Nick Ford on CNN's "New Day" on August 13. CNN

The Big Ten and Pac-12 conferences each voted to postpone college football and all their other fall sports seasons.

Nick Ford and Treyjohn Butler, Pac-12 conference football players, said the concerns about health and safety for themselves, their teammates and communities led them to push for coronavirus protections.

“It’s kind of disheartening that they did choose to end the season and everything because that's not the fight we were pushing for. Do I approve of it? It's a hard question to answer. Do I think it was the right or the safer call? I would agree and say yes,” said Ford, a University of Utah guard, in an interview with CNN’s “New Day.”

Treyjohn Butler on CNN's "New Day" on August 13.
Treyjohn Butler on CNN's "New Day" on August 13. CNN

Ford said that a uniform response to the virus should’ve already been in place for months. 

“We didn't want to come back and have the university and the football team become a hotspot for the coronavirus and then have it, you know, wreak havoc throughout the community,” Ford said. 

Butler, a Stanford University cornerback, said he’s concerned about athletes with underlying conditions and the lack of a clear testing strategy.

“We want to play football…but we want to do it safely,” he said. 


9:10 a.m. ET, August 13, 2020

NCAA head doctor says “we’re moving into very troubled waters right now”

From CNN Health’s Amanda Watts

The chief medical officer of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) said, “we're moving into very troubled waters right now,” during a Thursday webinar.

“When we started talking about return to sport in April, we were envisioning that there would be a continued downward trajectory of Covid-19 new infections and deaths – that there would be a national surveillance system, national testing and national contact tracing – that would allow us to really navigate this pandemic into re-socializing both in sport and in the rest of society, and that hasn't happened," Dr. Brian Hainline, senior vice president and chief medical officer with the NCAA, told the Infectious Diseases Society of America.

“And it's made it very challenging to make decisions as we approach fall sport,” he said.

“We're moving into very troubled waters right now,” Hainline said. “It's a very narrow path to get ball sports right.”

9:05 a.m. ET, August 13, 2020

The US reported its highest number of fatalities yesterday since May 

From CNN's Faith Karimi and Steve Almasy

Deaths from the virus remain high in the US.

Coronavirus has infected more than 5 million people and killed over 166,000 in the country, according to Johns Hopkins University. On Wednesday alone, there were 55,910 reported new cases and 1,499 deaths — the highest number of fatalities since May.

Meanwhile, the seven-day average of daily coronavirus deaths was over 1,000 on Wednesday, the 17th consecutive day the US averaged over 1,000 deaths per day.

Adjusting for population, states in the Southeast are seeing the most new cases. Georgia and Florida — states led by Republican governors who have not issued face mask requirements — have the highest per capita new cases over the past seven days, followed by Alabama and Mississippi.

On Wednesday, Florida health officials announced more than 8,000 new case reports and 212 new deaths.

Track the virus in the US here.

9:05 a.m. ET, August 13, 2020

Dallas superintendent says starting school again is a balancing act

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

Michael Hinojosa on CNN's "New Day" on August 13.
Michael Hinojosa on CNN's "New Day" on August 13. CNN

Classes in the Dallas Independent School District were supposed to start next Monday, but they’ve been moved to Sept. 8 as officials continue to monitor coronavirus cases. 

“The numbers in Texas and Dallas County are getting better, but we still don't know exactly where we're going to end up. And yes, our employees are scared to death, and so we're trying to balance that,” Superintendent Michael Hinojosa said on CNN’s “New Day.” 

There is a meeting today with the school board, and 50 people have signed up to speak, according to Hinojosa.

The superintendent said that the district is working with the county health department in the case that cases spike up again while school is in session.

“We have a lot of things we have to juggle. … We’re almost in a catch-22, but any time we make a decision to pivot if we start, we are told we could have five-day rolling shutdowns as we have cases,” he said. 


8:57 a.m. ET, August 13, 2020

First-time jobless claims fall below 1 million for the first time since March

From CNN’s Anneken Tappe

A person fills out unemployment paperwork in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on July 15.
A person fills out unemployment paperwork in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on July 15. Nick Oxford for The Washington Post/Getty Images

Another 963,000 Americans filed for first-time unemployment benefits last week on a seasonally adjusted basis, the Department of Labor said Thursday.

This was the lowest number of weekly initial claims since the pandemic shut down the US economy. It is the first time in five months that fewer than 1 million have filed for first-time jobless benefits.

Economists say it's encouraging that claims for unemployment are going down because it means people keep returning to work. That said, the persistently high claims numbers also tell us this recovery won't be an easy or quick feat.

Continued jobless claims, which count people who have filed for unemployment benefits for at least two weeks in a row, stood at 15.5 million.

9:26 a.m. ET, August 13, 2020

Cruises on the Mediterranean Sea return Aug. 16 — but it's not back to business as usual 

Barbie Latza Nadeau with Livia Borghese and Nicola Ruotolo

Costa Deliziosa cruise ship
Costa Deliziosa cruise ship Courtesy MSC Cruises

On Aug. 16, one of the most common sights on the Mediterranean Sea will return once again: cruise ships.

But it's not back to business as usual for this beleaguered travel sector, which has lost an estimated half of its $150 billion in annual global revenue since the Diamond Princess, docked off the coast of Japan in February, became emblematic for how fast the new Covid-19 can spread on a ship.

That triggered a global shutdown of sea cruises until July, when the few that dared start up again were hit with infections right away. The 180 passengers on the Norwegian cruise liner MS Roald Amundsen are still under quarantine after 36 crew members and four guests tested positive on an Arctic voyage.

Fears over potential fresh outbreaks prompted the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in July to extend a "no sail order" until September 2020. Some cruise lines have gone further, canceling voyages until December or even 2021.

How will the Mediterranean cruises be different?

The Med cruises on offer for the moment are only for residents of Europe's 26-nation Schengen Area, according to new stipulations set forth by the Italian government on August 10.

During the cruise, people will not be allowed off the ship onto Italian soil unless they are part of tightly controlled organized excursions with fellow passengers only and minimum contact with the general population..

The MSC Grandiosa will be the first to test the waters on August 16 with a seven-night cruise that will stop in Genoa, Civitavecchia/Rome, Naples, Palermo and Valletta, Malta.

"Stringent safety measures"

Pierfrancesco Vago, MSC's executive chairman, said in a statement that all passengers and crew will be tested for Covid-19 before being allowed to board.

"During the pause in our operations, we focused on developing a comprehensive operating protocol that builds upon already stringent health and safety measures that have long been in place on board our ships," Vago said in a statement posted on the company website.

The procedures include Covid-19 testing for all guests and crew before embarkation and shore visits only as part of approved excursions, he said.

"With all of these measures in place, we aim to offer our guests the safest possible holiday."

Leonardo Massa, MSC's Italy country manager, told CNN that the security procedures to access the ship will be threefold.

Passengers will need to fill out a form and have their temperature taken followed by an immunofluorescence test to detect the potential for the virus. If they pass that test, they can then check in and get their cruise card.

Read more here.