August 15 coronavirus news

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4:12 p.m. ET, August 15, 2020

France sees another record for post-lockdown coronavirus cases, ICU and hospitalizations rising

From CNN's Barbara Wojazer

With 3,310 new cases in 24 hours, France has passed another record of post-lockdown daily coronavirus cases, according to numbers released by the National Health Agency on Saturday.

The number of hospitalizations increased by 29 to 4,857, according to the national agency website. The number of patients in intensive care also slightly increased to 376.

The death toll stands at 30,409, according to the national health agency.

4:09 p.m. ET, August 15, 2020

South Africa downgrades Covid-19 restrictions as the peak eases

From CNN’s David McKenzie

President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a significant downgrade of South Africa’s strict Covid-19 restrictions on Saturday during a televised address to the nation and said that the country appears to be moving beyond the peak of infections. 

“I address you this evening amidst signs of hope,” Ramaphosa said, adding that fewer people were being admitted to health facilities in the country.

Ramaphosa announced that the alcohol ban will be lifted in the coming days and the controversial ban on cigarette sales will be rescinded. 

Large gatherings and international travel are still not allowed and a curfew will remain in place between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m., but travel between South African provinces will now be allowed.  

Ramaphosa said that the swift action to lock down the country in March had a significant impact on the transmission of the virus.

“Difficult days still lie ahead, but we have proven our resilience as a nation for the past five months,” he said. 

2:57 p.m. ET, August 15, 2020

More than 7,000 children have tested positive for coronavirus in Alabama

From CNN's Hollie Silverman

More than 7,000 children have tested positive for coronavirus in Alabama, according to data on the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) website.

There are currently 103,357 confirmed Covid-19 cases and 4,223 probable cases, as well as 1,828 confirmed deaths and 68 probable deaths from Covid-19 in the state, the website shows.

Of those cases, 7% are in people aged 5 to 17, according to the demographics provided on the ADPH Covid Dashboard.

A total of 7,234 children have tested positive for the virus, according to calculations made using the data from the website.

Three pediatric deaths have been reported in Alabama, Dr. Karen Landers, area health officer for ADPH, told CNN in an email. 

The deaths included two infants and one teenager, all which had underlying health problems, Landers said. 

The age group with the highest number of cases is those aged 25 to 49, accounting for roughly 40% of all Covid-19 cases in the state, the website said. 

2:14 p.m. ET, August 15, 2020

FDA grants emergency use authorization to quick, inexpensive saliva-based Covid-19 diagnostic test

From CNN Health’s Lauren Mascarenhas

Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images
Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images

The US Food and Drug Administration announced Saturday that it has granted emergency use authorization to a Covid-19 diagnostic test that uses a new, inexpensive method of processing saliva samples. 

The test, called SalivaDirect, has been found to be highly sensitive, yielding similar outcomes to nasopharyngeal swabbing. Under the observation of a health care worker, saliva is self-collected in a sterile container without the use of a specific swab or collection device.

The molecular diagnostic test can yield results in under three hours, researchers said, and up to 92 samples can be tested at once. Researchers said the test costs only a couple dollars for reagents, and they expect labs to charge only about $10 per sample.

The method is being used by the National Basketball Association to test asymptomatic people for coronavirus. The NBA was among the groups that funded the research.

“The SalivaDirect test for rapid detection of SARS-CoV-2 is yet another testing innovation game changer that will reduce the demand for scarce testing resources," Adm. Dr. Brett Giroir, the White House Covid-19 testing coordinator, said in a statement.

Looking to the future: The FDA has authorized four other coronavirus tests which use saliva samples. Emergency use authorization allows the FDA to greenlight a product to test for coronavirus on an expedited basis.

1:35 p.m. ET, August 15, 2020

Catch up: Here's what you need to know about the coronavirus pandemic today

Travelers arrive from a Eurostar train at St Pancras Station in London, Friday, Aug. 14, 2020. People arriving in UK from France, the Netherlands, Monaco, Malta, Turks & Caicos and Aruba from 04:00 Saturday Aug.15 will need to self-isolate for two weeks as these countries are removed from the travel exemptions list. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
Travelers arrive from a Eurostar train at St Pancras Station in London, Friday, Aug. 14, 2020. People arriving in UK from France, the Netherlands, Monaco, Malta, Turks & Caicos and Aruba from 04:00 Saturday Aug.15 will need to self-isolate for two weeks as these countries are removed from the travel exemptions list. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth) Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP

It's Saturday in the US, where more than 5.3 million cases of coronavirus have been reported since the pandemic began.

Here's what you need to know:

  • Children at risk: Covid-19 rates in children are "steadily increasing," according to new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Health experts say children make up more than 7% of all coronavirus cases in the US — while comprising about 22% of the country's population — and the number and rate of child cases have been "steadily increasing" from March to July.
  • British tourists are rushing home: Thousands of British holidaymakers have tried returning home from France in an attempt to avoid new quarantine restrictions imposed by the UK government. The UK imposed a 14-day quarantine, starting Saturday, on all arrivals from France, the Netherlands, Malta and Monaco.
  • Russia's vaccine: The production of Russia's coronavirus vaccine, Sputnik V, has started, the Russian health ministry said on Saturday, according to Russian state news agency TASS. Around 2,000 people are slated to take part in that critical stage of the Russian vaccine, according to Sputnik V’s website.
  • A nation in mourning: Mexico President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has announced 30 days of national mourning to honor the country's Covid-19 victims, according to a statement released by his office Friday. 
  • Infections persist in Florida: Florida health officials have reported 6,352 new cases of coronavirus and 204 additional Covid-19-related deaths on Saturday, according to the state's health department. This marks the 53rd consecutive day Florida has reported more than 4,000 cases in a single day, according to CNN's tally.   
1:31 p.m. ET, August 15, 2020

Mexico City mayor tests negative for Covid-19 after self-isolation

From Karol Suarez

Mayor of Mexico City Claudia Sheinbaum in 2019
Mayor of Mexico City Claudia Sheinbaum in 2019 Hector Vivas/Getty Images

Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum has tested negative for Covid-19 after entering self-imposed isolation on Monday.

She announced her negative test result while speaking to reporters Saturday. 

CNN reported Monday that Sheinbaum self-isolated following a colleague’s positive test result.

1:33 p.m. ET, August 15, 2020

Michigan governor signs order requiring Covid-19 testing in prisons and jails 

From CNN's Sheena Jones

Michigan Office of the Governor via AP
Michigan Office of the Governor via AP

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has signed an executive order requiring Covid-19 testing in prisons and jails, according to a news release sent Saturday. 

“Testing is the at the very center of any strategy to keep prison and jail populations safe. By reducing the spread of Covid-19 in prisons and jails, we protect corrections officers and their families, incarcerated people, and the whole community,”  Whitmer said.
1:07 p.m. ET, August 15, 2020

Chairman of Irish tourism authority resigns after holiday in Italy

From CNN's Vasco Cotovio

Michael Cawley in 2009
Michael Cawley in 2009 Thomas Frey/imageBROKER/Shutterstock

The chairman of Fáilte Ireland, the Irish tourism authority, has resigned after it was reported he was on holiday in Italy despite government advice to avoid all non-essential travel.

Michael Cawley's resignation was announced by Catherine Martin, the Irish Minister for Media Tourism, Arts, Culture, Sport and the Gaeltacht, on Saturday.

“I was disappointed to learn that the chair of Fáilte Ireland was holidaying in Italy. I rang Mr. Cawley this morning and he has offered his resignation which I have accepted. I wish to thank Mr. Cawley for his service as chair of Fáilte Ireland,” Martin said in a statement. “While Italy is on the green list, meaning that people who return from there do not have to restrict their movements, the government has called on people to avoid all non-essential travel.”

Cawley went against another recommendation from the government which also called on the Irish people to spend their holidays inside the country. 

12:31 p.m. ET, August 15, 2020

Mexico’s president declares 30 days of mourning for Covid-19 victims

From CNN’s Claudia Dominguez

Workers dig fresh graves in a section of the Municipal Cemetery of Valle de Chalco, which opened three months ago to accommodate the surge in deaths amid the coronavirus pandemic, on the outskirts of Mexico City on August 7.
Workers dig fresh graves in a section of the Municipal Cemetery of Valle de Chalco, which opened three months ago to accommodate the surge in deaths amid the coronavirus pandemic, on the outskirts of Mexico City on August 7. Rebecca Blackwell/AP

Mexico President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has announced 30 days of national mourning to honor the country's Covid-19 victims, according to a statement released by his office Friday. 

Mexico’s government expressed its “most sincere condolences to the families of the victims and to those affected by the pandemic” and recognized the efforts made by all health workers to prevent the spread of coronavirus, the statement said.

Flags will be flown at half-mast from Aug. 13 until Sept. 11, according the statement. A daily moment of silence will continue at noon every day during this period.