August 15 coronavirus news

By Tara John, Melissa Macaya, Zamira Rahim, Laura Smith-Spark, Alaa Elassar and Amir Vera, CNN

Updated 12:20 a.m. ET, August 16, 2020
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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.

6:43 p.m. ET, August 15, 2020

Brazil reports more than 40,000 new coronavirus cases and more than 700 new deaths

From journalist Fernanda Wenzel in Porto Alegre, Brazil.

Brazil has reported 41,576 new Covid-19 cases and 709 deaths in the past 24 hours, the country’s health ministry reported Saturday. 

The total number of confirmed coronavirus infections now stands at 3.3 million. At least 107,232 have died from coronavirus in the country, according to the ministry’s data.

São Paulo state reported 11,408 new cases and 167 new deaths on Saturday, down from 11,667 and 289 the day before.

São Paulo has been the state hardest hit by the coronavirus in Brazil, with 697,530 total confirmed cases and 26,780 confirmed deaths.

6:52 p.m. ET, August 15, 2020

Trump: "I want college football to come back"

From CNN's Nicky Robertson and Jason Hoffman 

Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images
Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

President Donald Trump once again called for college football to "come back" during a news conference at his golf club in New Jersey on Saturday.

I want to say I want college football to come back. These are strong, healthy, incredible people," Trump said, reiterating his comments from earlier this week that urged college football play this fall.

Trump again mentioned that he spoke to Clemson University quarterback Trevor Lawrence. who has been vocal about wanting to play this fall.

They want to play football, and he made the statement that he's safer on the field, he’s safer on the field than he is outside of the field, he feels very safe," Trump said of Lawrence.

He congratulated the SEC, ACC and Big 12 athletic conferences for planning to play this fall and said he wished the Big Ten and Pac-12 would come back as well. The Big Ten and the Pac-12 each voted earlier this week to postpone college football and all their other fall sports seasons. The five conferences, known collectively as the Power Five, generate the most revenue in the NCAA.

I just want to say I’m sort of sad because I’ve been fighting for football to come back," Trump said. "We’re trying to help the NFL as long as they stand for our National Anthem, as long as they honor our flag and our country, if they start kneeling I'm not going to be helping them much."
6:42 p.m. ET, August 15, 2020

Cluster of Covid-19 identified in UNC Chapel Hill fraternity

From CNN’s Kay Jones

A pedestrian walks though a tunnel at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill in June.
A pedestrian walks though a tunnel at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill in June. Gerry Broome/AP

The University of North Carolina issued an alert on Saturday afternoon saying a cluster of Covid-19 cases has been identified in the Sigma Nu fraternity.

This comes a day after the University said that clusters had been identified in the Ehringhaus Community and Granville Towers.

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services defines a cluster by five or more cases in close proximity in a location, like a single residential hall or dwelling.

The individuals  in this cluster  have been identified and are isolating and receiving medical  monitoring," the alert said. It also said that all residents in the living space have been given information about the next steps in the process.

UNC says they will not release information about individual positive cases.

The Sigma Nu national headquarters has posted Covid-19 information and resources for members of the fraternity. CNN has reached out to the Sigma Nu headquarters for additional comment but has not heard back.