August 16 coronavirus news

By Jessie Yeung, Jenni Marsh, Tara John, Fernando Alfonso III, Alaa Elassar and Amir Vera, CNN

Updated 12:01 a.m. ET, August 17, 2020
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11:44 a.m. ET, August 16, 2020

Florida reports more than 3,700 news coronavirus cases

From CNN's Melissa Alonso

Florida health officials have reported 3,779 new cases of coronavirus and 107 additional deaths on Saturday, according to the state's health department.

This marks the first day since June 18 that Florida reported less than 4,000 cases in a single day, according to CNN's tally. 

The state has 573,416 total Covid-19 cases and 9,452 resident deaths, according to data from the department.

Note: These numbers were released by Florida's public health agency and may not line up exactly in real time with CNN’s database drawn from Johns Hopkins University and the Covid Tracking Project  

12:15 p.m. ET, August 16, 2020

Democrats say they are ramping up postal investigation, call on top officials to testify

From CNN's Kevin Bohn

Scott Olson/Getty Images
Scott Olson/Getty Images

House Democrats said Sunday they are “ramping up” their investigation of the Postal Service and as Democratic leaders, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, called on Postmaster General Louis DeJoy and Chairman of the Postal Service Board of Governors Robert Duncan to testify.

The leaders said they want the officials to appear at a hearing a week from Monday to discuss what they call “recent, sweeping and dangerous operational changes at the Postal Service that are slowing the mail and jeopardizing the integrity of the election," according to a statement.

“House Democrats, led by Chairwoman (Carolyn) Maloney of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, are ramping up their ongoing investigation by requesting that Postmaster General Louis DeJoy and Chairman of the USPS Board of Governors Robert Duncan testify at an urgent hearing before the Committee on August 24. The hearing will examine the sweeping operational and organizational changes at the Postal Service that experts warn could degrade delivery standards, slow the mail and potentially impair the rights of eligible Americans to cast their votes through the mail in the upcoming November elections,” the leaders said in a statement.

The Postmaster General and top Postal Service leaders "must answer to the Congress and the American people as to why they are pushing these dangerous new policies that threaten to silence the voices of millions, just months before the election," the statement added.

Several House Democrats on Saturday called for the subpoenaing of DeJoy if he won’t appear voluntarily. 

Some context: Senate Democrats, including Sen. Gary Peters who have limited investigatory power because they are in the minority, started an investigation last week.

The statement said Senate Democrats are asking Homeland Security Chairman Ron Johnson to call DeJoy and Duncan for a hearing as soon as next week for what they call “vigorous and urgently-needed oversight.”

12:16 p.m. ET, August 16, 2020

Trump chief of staff says White House supports separate postal service bill 

From CNN's Sarah Westwood

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows told CNN that he would be open to the idea of a standalone bill that contains only funding for the US Postal Service (USPS), despite President Trump’s calls in the last  week for more USPS funding to arrive only as part of a broader stimulus package. 

“I'm all about piecemeal. If we can agree on postal, less let's do it,” Meadows said on CNN. "Speaker Pelosi said she won't do anything unless it is a big deal. We offered $10 billion.”

Congressional Democrats rejected efforts by White House negotiators and Republicans to separately pass just individual parts of the stimulus proposal, like an enhanced unemployment benefit, as standalone bills during two weeks of negotiations that ended in a deadlock. 

Meadows argued Pelosi would potentially support a bill just focused on the Postal Service now because “her whole political dynamic has changed.” A spokesperson for Pelosi did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

Meadows said members of Congress should return from their recess to take action on postal issues. 

Democrats proposed $25 billion in USPS funding in their version of the stimulus. Republicans floated $10 billion.

10:34 a.m. ET, August 16, 2020

New York state's Covid-19 positivity rate is under 1% for the ninth straight day, governor says

For the ninth straight day, New York state was under 1% positive for Covid-19 testing, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. 

There were 607 people who tested positive for Covid-19, and the state reported six deaths, including three in the New York City area.

The governor said that 7 million Covid-19 tests have been conducted to date in the state. 

10:03 a.m. ET, August 16, 2020

Iraq records highest daily increase in Covid-19 cases

From CNN’s Aqeel Najim in Baghdad

Iraq recorded its highest ever daily record of new Covid-19 cases on Sunday, according to the country’s health ministry.

The Iraqi Ministry of Health reported 4,348 new coronavirus cases, bringing the total to 176,931.

The health ministry also reported 75 coronavirus-related deaths on Sunday, bringing the total to 5,860 across the country.

12:17 p.m. ET, August 16, 2020

Trump's chief of staff says no mail sorting machines will be dismantled between now and Election Day

From CNN's Kevin Bohn and Sarah Westwood

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows told CNN on Sunday that the US Postal Service will not dismantle any mail sorting machines between now and Election Day.

The Service has come under criticism lately for dismantling some and planning on more.

“Sorting machines between now and Election Day will not be taken off line,” Meadows told CNN.

Chris Bentley, president of the National Postal Mail Handlers Union Local 297, which covers Kansas and part of Missouri, previously told CNN that postal management had already taken out four machines in Kansas City, two machines in Springfield, Missouri, and one machine in Wichita, Kansas.

Meadows told CNN that was not part of a new initiative but was part of a pre-planned re-allocation.

Documents obtained by CNN last week indicated 671 machines used to organize letters or other pieces of mail are slated for "reduction" in dozens of cities this year. 

The Postal Service's own document called the move a "reduction" of equipment.

A letter sent Wednesday from the National Postal Mail Handlers Union to the Postal Service headquarters asked, "Why are these machines being removed?"  

CNN’s Marshall Cohen, Curt Devine, Bob Ortega and Paul Murphy contributed to this story.


8:28 a.m. ET, August 16, 2020

The US has reported more than 1,000 coronavirus deaths nearly every day this month  

From CNN's Carma Hassan

The United States has reported more than 1,000 new deaths from coronavirus 16 out of the past 20 days, according to Johns Hopkins University and the Covid Tracking Project.

On Saturday, Johns Hopkins University reported 1,029 new deaths.

As of 8 a.m. ET, there are 5,361,613 cases of coronavirus and 169,489 deaths in the US.

8:25 a.m. ET, August 16, 2020

Few signs of collective mourning as the US nears 170,000 coronavirus deaths

From CNN's Ray Sanchez

The nature of the contagion is much to blame
The nature of the contagion is much to blame

Days after thousands of lives perished on 9/11, the United States marked a national day of prayer and remembrance for the victims of the worst terrorist attack in the nation's history.

President George W. Bush delivered words of comfort and encouragement at the packed National Cathedral in Washington, where four former US presidents as well as political and religious leaders gathered on a gray cloudy morning that gave way to bright sunshine.

"Grief and tragedy and hatred are only for a time," Bush said. "But goodness, remembrance and love have no end. The Lord of life holds all who die, and all who mourn."

For days mourners poured into houses of worship. Church bells tolled. The dead were remembered at candlelight vigils across the country.

Nearly two decades later, in the midst of another national tragedy that has the US approaching 170,000 deaths from Covid-19, there have been few signs of collective mourning among Americans.

In fact, it wasn't until late May, with the death toll nearing 100,000, that flags on federal buildings would be lowered to half-staff to honor coronavirus victims and members of the military.

The nature of the contagion is much to blame. Stay-at-home orders forced millions of Americans to isolate to keep the disease from spreading. The dying mostly died alone.

Hospitals and nursing homes shut its doors and placed Covid-19 patients in isolation. Priests administered last rites over the phone. Helpless families said farewells the same way. Funerals were canceled, postponed or held online. Mass gatherings were prohibited.

"Without a way to gather with others to mark a loss, to acknowledge the loss, we are left with an intensified sense of isolation and also, often, a heightened sense of self reproach, anxiety, and what used to be called melancholy," says Judith Butler, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, and author of "Precarious Life: The Powers of Mourning and Violence."

Read the rest of the piece here

7:46 a.m. ET, August 16, 2020

Depression stalks Canada's indigenous youth under lockdown

From CNN's Paula Newton

For Farrah Dixon, the words come slowly and reluctantly, a measure of both how she's been feeling during this pandemic, and how she'd prefer to never talk about it again.

"Sometimes I feel like mostly I'm on my own. I learned to be independent at a young age. And I'm not typically the kind of person who is going to reach for help, for that, perseverance, I try to do it myself first. I've always been an introverted girl so oftentimes it's difficult for me to open up and find the motivation," she told CNN from her home in Norway House Cree Nation, Manitoba.

Canadian teenagers on reserves were already at higher risk of suicide and depression before the unprecedented shutdown for Covid-19 in March. But then came the isolation, fear and -- for many teenagers like Farrah -- a feeling that life was tough enough before the pandemic.

"I was really confused, I didn't know how to handle it at first. It was my last year of high school, so I was upset I didn't get to spend it with my friends and have the senior year we all wanted," says Farrah.

"What really affected me was losing my grandmother a few months ago and I couldn't attend her funeral. I was 8 hours away, the roads were all blocked off, I was heavy-hearted and guilty because I hadn't been able to see her in months," she adds.

Canada has already been dealing with an epidemic among its indigenous youth. First Nations' children and teenagers have a depression and suicide rate more than 3 times the average for non-indigenous people according to government statistics

But the pandemic is adding a layer of risk to young indigenous lives and government officials tell CNN the impact on mental health may linger for years.

How to get help: In the US, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. The International Association for Suicide Prevention and Befrienders Worldwide also can provide contact information for crisis centers around the world.

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