August 17 coronavirus news

By Joshua Berlinger, Adam Renton, Amy Woodyatt, Ed Upright, Veronica Rocha, Mike Hayes and Melissa Macaya, CNN

Updated 12:01 a.m. ET, August 18, 2020
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4:14 a.m. ET, August 17, 2020

Los Angeles Unified School District announces new Covid-19 testing and contact tracing program

From CNN's Alta Spells and Cheri Mossburg

The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) is launching a new program "that will provide regular Covid-19 testing and contact tracing to school staff, students and their families," Superintendent Austin Beutner announced in a news release Sunday. 

Beutner called the effort "unprecedented" but necessary.

"Extraordinary circumstances call for extraordinary actions, and while this testing and contact tracing effort is unprecedented, it is necessary and appropriate," he said.

Los Angeles has been one of the cities hardest hit by the virus in the United States. As of the end of Sunday, nearly 222,000 people had contracted the virus and at least 5,254 had died.

The new program will begin testing on Monday. Staff members working at schools along with their children who participate in childcare provided by the district will be among the first group to be tested in the phased roll out of the program.

Eventually, all staff and students will be tested, which will be followed by periodic testing, the district said. LAUSD is also planning to provide testing to household members of staff and students who test positive or show symptoms. 

“This will provide a public health benefit to the school community, as well as the greater Los Angeles area. This program will also provide significant education benefits for students by getting them back to school sooner and safer and keeping them there. We hope this effort also will provide learnings which can benefit other school systems and communities across the nation as we all combat this pandemic,” Beutner said.
“Since schools were closed, science has been our guide and science creates the foundation for this effort,” Beutner said in the release. “This collaboration is the result of months of around-the-clock work by many, and I’m grateful for their efforts to get us to this point.”

Johns Hopkins University, Stanford University and UCLA agreed to provide pro bono services of strategic interpretation of the testing evidence and epidemiological modeling. 

The data collected from the research will be available to the general public, the school system said in the announcement. 

3:42 a.m. ET, August 17, 2020

Bolivia tops 100,000 Covid-19 cases amid protests over election postponement

From CNN’s Stefano Pozzebon in Bogota, Colombia, and Sharif Paget in Atlanta

Protesters take to the streets in Bolivia, on August 14.
Protesters take to the streets in Bolivia, on August 14. Luis Gandarillas/AFP/Getty Images

Bolivia became the latest country to top 100,000 total Covid-19 infections Sunday after authorities reported another 1,198 cases of novel coronavirus and 55 new virus-related deaths.

To date, 100,344 cases of Covid-19 have been identified in Bolivia, including 4,058 fatalities..

Despite the increase in cases, protesters are still taking to the streets in opposition to the government's decision to delay presidential elections.

Bolivia is currently being run by an interim government that formed after longtime President Evo Morales stepped down late last year. Elections have been postponed twice this year due to Covid-19.

Morales, who was in power for nearly 14 years, resigned last year following allegations of "serious irregularities" during presidential elections. He denied the allegations and declared himself the winner, but was forced to step down and leave the country.

He claimed the accusations against him are part of a coup by right-wing politicians and the armed forces, but his opposition maintains they are fighting for democracy and peace.

3:24 a.m. ET, August 17, 2020

US reports more than 42,000 new Covid-19 cases

Another 42,048 Covid-19 cases and 571 virus-related deaths were reported on Sunday in the United States, according to Johns Hopkins University's tally of cases.

At least 5,403,361 coronavirus cases have been identified in the US since the pandemic began. At least 170,052 people have died.

Those figures include cases from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and other US territories, as well as repatriated cases. 

Track cases here:

3:07 a.m. ET, August 17, 2020

Japan reports more than 1,000 coronavirus cases for a fourth day in a row

From CNN's Junko Ogura in Tokyo

Japan identified 1,020 new coronavirus cases and reported 11 deaths from Covid-19 Sunday, the country's Ministry of Health said. 

The new cases mark the fourth consecutive day Japan identified more than 1,000 cases. Since the pandemic began, Japanese authorities have identified 56,379 cases of Covid-19, including 1,112 virus-related deaths.

The capital Tokyo reported 260 new cases on Sunday, 142 of which could not be traced, according to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government. It was the fifth day in a row that Tokyo has recorded more than 200 cases.

2:32 a.m. ET, August 17, 2020

Indian cricketer-turned-politician dies after testing positive for coronavirus

From journalist Rishabh Pratap in New Delhi

Chetan Chauhan, a former India international cricketer who became a politician, died on Sunday shortly after testing positive for Covid-19, authorities said.

Chauhan, 73, was Minister for Youth and Sports in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh. He tested positive for Covid-19 at a hospital in Lucknow on July 12 and was later transferred in critical condition to a hospital in Delhi.

"Deeply pained at the demise of UP Minister and former Cricketer Chetan Chauhan Ji. My condolences to his family and well-wishers," tweeted Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, India’s Minister of Minority Affairs.

Chauhan, an opening batsman, played for India in 40 test matches and seven one-day internationals between 1969 and 1981, scoring a total of 2,237 runs, according to the International Cricket Council.

He is the second minister from Uttar Pradesh to die following complications from Covid-19. Former Uttar Pradesh Minister for Technical Education Kamla Rani Varun died of coronavirus at a hospital in Lucknow on August 2.

India has recorded at least 2.6 million Covid-19 cases, including more than 50,000 deaths, according to the Health Ministry.

1:57 a.m. ET, August 17, 2020

India’s coronavirus death toll surpasses 50,000

From CNN's Manveena Suri in New Delhi

The number of people who have died from Covid-19 in India topped 50,000 on Monday, according to the country’s Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. 

The latest figures released by the ministry show the number of deaths rose by 941 over the past 24 hours, bringing the total to 50,921.

Only the United States, Brazil and Mexico have identified more Covid-19-related fatalities, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Since the pandemic began, India has recorded at least 2.6 million cases. Of those, 676,900 are considered active. About 1.9 million people have recovered.

In India, not all patients require a test to be considered recovered. Patients with mild and moderate symptoms are considered no longer active after 10 days of symptom onset if they meet certain conditions, and a test to confirm that they no longer have the virus is not required. However, severe cases can only be discharged after one negative coronavirus test.

1:33 a.m. ET, August 17, 2020

New Zealand only has 58 active cases in the community. So why has it delayed the election?

Analysis from CNN's Julia Hollingsworth

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern speaks to media during a press conference at Parliament in Wellington, New Zealand on August 17.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern speaks to media during a press conference at Parliament in Wellington, New Zealand on August 17. Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images

New Zealand has postponed its general election for four weeks over coronavirus concerns -- despite only having 58 active cases in the community.

The country of 5 million people -- which has been praised for its handling of the virus -- went 102 days without any locally-transmitted cases, only to see a fresh outbreak last week.

The election had been scheduled for September 19, but on Monday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced she was delaying it until October 17. This year, New Zealand will also be holding two referendums alongside its election: on legalizing euthanasia, and on legalizing cannabis for recreational use. 

Several developed countries have gone ahead with their elections during the pandemic, including South Korea, which even saw its highest turn out in almost 30 years during its parliamentary election in April.

Why has the election been delayed? Ardern said she wanted to postpone voting to give the Electoral Commission time to prepare -- and give parties time to campaign.

New Zealand’s most populous city, Auckland, is currently under lockdown, meaning any candidates based there would be unable to campaign as usual.

Most people within New Zealand must vote at specific locations, although they can apply to vote by mail. Voting opens two weeks before Election Day, so not everyone needs to vote on the same day.

Ardern said Monday that she wouldn't change the election date again.

Will this help Ardern’s chance? According to polling, Ardern's Labour Party is on track to win the election -- and is well ahead of the main opposition National Party.

The delay will give her opponents more time to attempt to win support. But, if the polls are anything to go by, they have a lot of ground to make up.

Has there been any pushback? Not really. Other parties pushed for the election to be delayed, and following Ardern's announcement, several parties welcomed the decision.

"The main thing is, we can't have a fair election with no public meetings, two referenda being voted on, people not able to actually put their views on that without actually being able to have those public meetings," said Judith Collins, leader of the National Party, in an interview with national broadcaster Radio New Zealand.
1:05 a.m. ET, August 17, 2020

More than 300 people connected to a church in Seoul have tested positive for Covid-19

From CNN's Jake Kwon in Seoul, South Korea

Authorities in South Korea are pursuing legal action against the pastor of the Sarang Jeil Church in Seoul after 315 people connected to the parish tested positive for Covid-19.

A criminal complaint was filed Sunday against the church's leader, Rev. Jun Kwang-hoon, accusing him of holding gatherings in violation of the city's infectious disease prevention law.

Of 4,066 people who authorities have identified that visited the church recently, 1,045 could not be contacted -- 550 did not have listed addresses and 495 did not pick up their phones, the city government said. Of those that have been traced, 1,207 have been tested for the virus. The rest are awaiting testing.

Authorities in Seoul said that all 7,560 churches in the South Korean capital are barred from holding any gatherings due to the pandemic except for the usual weekly services, during which worshippers must abide by social distancing regulations.

Church's denial: At a news conference Monday, Sarang Jeil Church's legal team denied the allegations of wrongdoing levied against the church and Rev. Jun. The church's representatives claimed that they had fully cooperated with the authorities and said they would be suing the government for defamation.

12:39 a.m. ET, August 17, 2020

Australia's New South Wales government apologizes after allowing passengers to disembark from cruise ship

From CNN's Isaac Yee in Hong Kong and Angus Watson in Sydney

The government of the Australian state of New South Wales apologized on Monday for allowing thousands of passengers to disembark from the Ruby Princess cruise ship in March, despite Covid-19 fears.

The Ruby Princess was given permission in March to dock and offload its passengers in Sydney despite widespread concerns over the spread of coronavirus after some passengers displayed flu-like symptoms.

On Monday, the government said in a statement that it has taken steps to ensure the errors are not repeated.

“The NSW Government extends its heartfelt apology to anyone who experienced any additional hurt, stress and trauma due to the mistakes made by NSW Health,” it said.

A special commission of inquiry found that 663 passengers from the ship subsequently tested positive for the novel coronavirus, while 28 Covid-19 deaths were associated with its passengers.

New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian also apologized, saying: “I recognize the hurt and suffering these mistakes caused, and I apologize for that.”

“These issues occurred during an extraordinary time of great uncertainty, and as we navigate this pandemic we will continue to learn from mistakes and where we could have done better,” she added.