August 15 coronavirus news

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11:56 p.m. ET, August 15, 2020

New Zealand reports 13 new cases, as the country's most populous city stays under lockdown

From CNN's Sol Han

Cars queue at a Covid-19 test center in Auckland, New Zealand, on August 13.
Cars queue at a Covid-19 test center in Auckland, New Zealand, on August 13. Dean Purcel/AP

New Zealand has recorded 13 new cases of coronavirus in the past day, health officials said Sunday, as the country maintains new restrictions amid a sudden Covid-19 outbreak.

Of the new cases, 12 were in the Auckland community, with none having traveled outside the region recently. All had close links to the existing outbreak; two of the new cases belonged to the same household as a previously confirmed patient.

The remaining case is a child in managed isolation who arrived in early August from Afghanistan.

New Zealand has recorded 1,271 confirmed cases since the pandemic began, said health authorities. It currently has 61 active cases, of which 49 were locally transmitted and 20 were imported from abroad.

Auckland under lockdown: On Friday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced that Auckland -- the city of around 1.5 million people at the center of the new outbreak -- will remain under a level three lockdown for another 12 days, while the rest of the country stays under level two restrictions, meaning gatherings are limited to no more than 100 people.

The rules extend restrictions that came into effect earlier this week.

Just five days before then, New Zealand was marking an enviable milestone -- 100 days without any community transmission. But this week demonstrated how fast that can change, even in a country that been held up as a world leader for its handling of the virus.

10:47 p.m. ET, August 15, 2020

Bolivia's coronavirus death toll tops 4,000

From CNN's Stefano Pozzebon in Bogota

A mourner writes the name of the deceased on the fresh cement at Mercedario Cemetery in El Alto, Bolivia, on July 29.
A mourner writes the name of the deceased on the fresh cement at Mercedario Cemetery in El Alto, Bolivia, on July 29. Gaston Brito Miserocchi/Getty Images

Bolivia has seen 64 coronavirus-related deaths in the past day, its health ministry announced Saturday.

That brings the country's total virus death toll to 4,003.

Bolivia also recorded 1,196 new coronavirus infections, bringing its total confirmed cases to 99,146. 

Of those new cases, 520 cases -- nearly half -- came from the administrative capital La Paz, the current epicenter of Bolivia’s outbreak.

9:56 p.m. ET, August 15, 2020

South Korea reports nearly 280 new cases

South Korea reported 279 new coronavirus cases on Saturday, according to the South Korean Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Of those cases, 267 were locally transmitted and 141 were in the capital of Seoul.

The country has now reported 15,318 confirmed infections, of which 1,103 are in quarantine and 13 are in critical condition.

The death toll stands at 305.

From Sunday, social distancing measures will be reintroduced in the Seoul area to prevent the spread of the virus.

9:29 p.m. ET, August 15, 2020

Mexico reports more than 6,000 new cases

From CNN's Karol Suarez in Mexico City

Mexico’s Health Ministry has reported 6,345 new cases of Covid-19 on Saturday, bringing the country's total to 517,714 confirmed cases.

The ministry reported 635 new deaths, bringing the country's death toll to 56,543. 

On Thursday, Mexico’s government signed an agreement with biotech firm AstraZeneca to produce a Covid-19 vaccine in Mexico to be exported to Latin America and the Caribbean in 2021.

Production for a Covid-19 vaccine could begin in 2021, Sylvia Varela, chief executive of AstraZeneca Mexico, said Thursday at a press conference in Mexico City.

8:18 p.m. ET, August 15, 2020

CDC blindsided by Trump's statement it could deploy teams to schools this fall

From CNN's Nick Valenica

Leaders at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were blindsided this week when President Donald Trump announced that the agency could deploy teams to assist schools with safely reopening in the fall, a senior CDC official told CNN, the latest example of a breakdown in communication between the agency and the White House.

My administration also stands ready to deploy CDC teams to support schools that are opening and schools that need help in safety and in order to safely reopen," President Trump said on Tuesday during a briefing.

The announcement left CDC officials scrambling this week to train staff to be able to deploy if they are called upon, the senior official said. 

The surprise statement by Trump was reminiscent of early on in the pandemic when the CDC Task Force regularly learned about assignments during presidential briefings, finding out in real time along with the public, a senior official said.

The CDC official said the agency is expected to come up with a vaccine plan for schools in at least four states by October, even though there is no realistic expectation that a vaccine would be ready by then. 

7:48 p.m. ET, August 15, 2020

Trump disagrees with CDC director's warning that fall could be worst in history for public health

From CNN’s Jason Hoffman and Lauren Mascarenhas

President Donald Trump at a news conference at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, on Saturday.
President Donald Trump at a news conference at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, on Saturday. Susan Walsh/AP

President Donald Trump said Saturday that he disagreed with CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield's warning that this fall could be one of the worst in US history from a public health perspective.

Redfield reiterated a warning this week that if Americans don't follow coronavirus prevention guidelines, like wearing masks and avoiding crowds, the country could be in store for "the worst fall, from a public health perspective, we've ever had." Redfield noted that the coronavirus pandemic has been the worst public health crisis in a century and said Americans could prepare for fall by getting a flu vaccine.

No, I don't agree with that," Trump said. "I mean you can't compare it to 1917, that was incredible. That was the worst ever by far."

The President then praised Americans for taking the mitigation steps the CDC recommends, including wearing masks, though pointing out that views on masks changed during the pandemic. 

I do believe that Americans, many are wearing masks which is a good thing. Again, some people thought that you shouldn't wear a mask,” Trump said. "You know, when this whole thing started, Dr. Fauci, who I like and respect, said don't wear masks. So did Dr. Redfield."

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious diseases expert, and Redfield both changed their guidance on the importance of regularly wearing face masks as new evidence emerged.

But wash your hands, good hygiene, all of those things, I think people are really doing it to a level that they've never done before,” Trump said. "When you look at the numbers, the way the numbers are coming out, I mean, it's very impressive ... We've done it right. We closed it up."
7:08 p.m. ET, August 15, 2020

Georgia governor issues new Covid-19 executive order

From CNN’s Melissa Alonso and Dianne Gallagher 

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp speaks during a press conference in Atlanta on August 10.
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp speaks during a press conference in Atlanta on August 10. Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images

Georgia Gov. Brian P. Kemp issued a new Covid-19 executive order Saturday, according to a statement from the governor’s office.

The order extends the shelter-in-place order for the medically fragile, continues the ban on large gatherings and maintains health and safety protocols for Georgia businesses, Kemp said in his statement.

The order "protects Georgia businesses from government overreach by restricting the application and enforcement of local masking requirements to public property. While I support local control, it must be properly balanced with property rights and personal freedoms," Kemp said in the statement.

The order says local governments "who choose to impose a Local Option Face Covering Requirement" must not fine businesses, fine violators more than $50 or enforce masks at polling places, the order says.

Masks cannot be enforced on private property, the order says. Anyone who violates local mask rules must be warned about the health risks of not doing so before a citation is issued, according to the order. 

7:08 p.m. ET, August 15, 2020

Georgia governor says Covid-19 cases down 22%

From CNN's Hollie Silverman and Natasha Chen

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp said in a series of tweets Saturday that Covid-19 hospitalizations and positivity rates are down in the state, citing data from August 9.

7:06 p.m. ET, August 15, 2020

US-South Korean joint military drills delayed over coronavirus

From CNN’s Yoonjung Seo

South Korea and the United States have delayed their annual joint military drills, which were expected to run between August 16 and 28. South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff issued a statement on Sunday, which said the drills will begin two days later on this coming Tuesday.

"The ROK-US alliance decided to conduct the combined command post drills from August 18 to 28, taking into account the situations including COVID-19," the statement said. "The drills this time will focus on maintaining the combined defense posture and some rehearsals adopting the future combined forces structure after the OPCON transfer."

A South Korean military official familiar with the US-ROK joint drills told CNN the postponement was due to a South Korean military officer testing positive for coronavirus on Friday. South Korean media widely reported that this officer was due to participate in the drills.