August 18 coronavirus news

By Jessie Yeung, Adam Renton, Amy Woodyatt and Ed Upright, CNN

Updated 12:00 a.m. ET, August 19, 2020
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11:23 p.m. ET, August 18, 2020

New Zealand reports 6 new cases, as army is deployed to guard isolation facilities  

From CNN's Zehra Jafree

New Zealand recorded six new coronavirus cases in the past day, Director-General of Health Dr. Ashley Bloomfield said at a news briefing on Wednesday. 

Five cases were locally transmitted, linked to a cluster in the country's most populous city, Auckland.

The sixth case was a person who recently arrived from overseas, and is in "managed isolation," Bloomfield said. 

These new infections raise the national total to 1,299 cases.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern called the latest figures "encouraging," and said, "we are not seeing a surge in community cases."

"The perimeter of the virus is not expanding exponentially and risks like daily doubling of cases as we saw during the first outbreak has not occurred over the past week. So far the rollout of our resurgence plan is working as we intended," Ardern said. 

Army deployed: Over the next six weeks, 500 more army personnel will be deployed to manage quarantine facilities, Ardern announced. This brings the total number of military personnel supporting New Zealand's Covid-19 response to around 1,200.

The country conducted more than 23,000 coronavirus tests on Tuesday, taking the total number of tests done since the pandemic began to 639,415.

10:54 p.m. ET, August 18, 2020

Australia signs deal with AstraZeneca for potential coronavirus vaccine

From CNN's Angus Watson in Sydney

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, left, takes a tour at the AstraZeneca laboratories in Sydney's Macquarie Park on Wednesday.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, left, takes a tour at the AstraZeneca laboratories in Sydney's Macquarie Park on Wednesday. Nick Moir/Pool/Getty Images

Australia has secured a deal with the UK-based drug company AstraZeneca for access to a potential Covid-19 vaccine should trials prove successful.

AstraZeneca is currently developing a vaccine in partnership with Oxford University, and has already reached agreements with several governments -- including the US and UK -- to produce at least 2 billion doses, with the first deliveries starting as early as September.

Under the deal, Australians would receive the vaccine for free, an Australian government statement said on Tuesday.

“If this vaccine proves successful we will manufacture and supply vaccines straight away under our own steam and make it free for 25 million Australians,” wrote Prime Minister Scott Morrison in the statement.

“However there is no guarantee that this, or any other, vaccine will be successful, which is why we are continuing our discussions with many parties around the world while backing our own researchers at the same time to find a vaccine." 

Speaking Wednesday, Morrison acknowledged that there were "big hurdles" in producing a successful vaccine but said the AstraZeneca-Oxford University project is "one of the best prospects in the world today."

There is no stated cost of the Australian government’s deal with AstraZeneca; however the Australian government has indicated that it will spend billions of dollars on its vaccine strategy.

The strategy includes the purchase of 100 million needles, syringes and other consumables from US company Becton Dickinson, with an order already placed worth 24.7 million Australian dollars ( $17.9 million).

10:30 p.m. ET, August 18, 2020

Mexico reports more than 5,500 new cases, as authorities claim downward trend

From CNN's Karol Suarez in Mexico City

Mexico recorded 5,506 new cases of the novel coronavirus and 751 new virus-related deaths on Tuesday, raising the country's total to 531,239 infections and 57,774 fatalities.

The new figures were released shortly after Mexico's Health Ministry announced what it called "good news" on Tuesday morning, claiming the country is "in a decreasing phase" of the coronavirus outbreak.

"The trend is clear and proves that consistently in most of the country, the new cases are decreasing, the number of deaths, there is a decrease over the past six weeks, hospital beds are being unoccupied," the Health Ministry said in a briefing.

On Monday, Mexico recorded its lowest number of new cases since June, with 3,571 new infections.

Mexico holds the third-highest number of deaths in the world from coronavirus, following only the United States and Brazil, according to Johns Hopkins University.

In Latin America, Mexico has the third highest number of coronavirus cases, behind only Brazil and Peru. 

10:10 p.m. ET, August 18, 2020

Hawaii's state capital tightens restrictions as Covid-19 cases surge

From CNN’s Andy Rose

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell holds a media briefing on Tuesday.
Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell holds a media briefing on Tuesday.

Honolulu is dramatically tightening its restrictions on public gatherings as coronavirus cases surge in the US state of Hawaii.

“There can be no social gatherings -- indoors or outdoors -- on the island of Oahu,” Mayor Kirk Caldwell announced in a news briefing Tuesday.

Hawaii announced 134 new Covid-19 cases on Tuesday, with most in Oahu. The rate of daily new cases is seven times higher than it was a month ago, according to the Hawaii State Department of Health.

More than 200 cases in Hawaii are linked to an outbreak at the Oahu Community Correctional Center in Honolulu.

Under the new rules:

  • No more than five people can gather together at one time, except for family members
  • The county is asking more businesses to allow workers to stay home
  • Restaurants can only seat a maximum of five customers per table
  • Churches can continue to meet in person, but masks must be worn and congregations will not be allowed to sing.
  • The state’s mandatory 14-day quarantine for out-of-state arrivals will be extended through the end of September

The new restrictions in Honolulu begin Wednesday and are scheduled to last for 28 days.

9:47 p.m. ET, August 18, 2020

Coronavirus cases surpass 22 million worldwide

From CNN’s Samantha Beech in Atlanta 

More than 22 million coronavirus cases have now been recorded globally, including nearly 800,000 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

The total case count stands at 22,046,135, and the death toll at 778,557.  

The United States has the highest figures, with more than 5.47 million cases and 171,687 deaths. Brazil follows next with 3.4 million cases and 109,888 deaths. 

Earlier Tuesday, the Pan American Health Organization said the Americas account for 64% of the world's Covid-19 deaths.

CNN is tracking worldwide coronavirus cases here:

8:58 p.m. ET, August 18, 2020

Brazil reports nearly 50,000 new coronavirus cases in one day

From journalist Rodrigo Pedroso in São Paulo

Brazilian soldiers disinfect the area around the Christ the Redeemer statue Thursday in Rio de Janeiro.
Brazilian soldiers disinfect the area around the Christ the Redeemer statue Thursday in Rio de Janeiro. Mauro Pimentel/AFP/Getty Images

Brazil has reported 47,784 new Covid-19 cases and 1,352 deaths in the past 24 hours, the country’s Health Ministry reported Tuesday. 

At least 109,888 people have died from coronavirus in the country, according to the Ministry’s data. The total number of confirmed Covid-19 cases now stands at least 3,407,354.

Brazil continues to trail only the United States in terms of the highest number of coronavirus infections and deaths in the world.

8:24 p.m. ET, August 18, 2020

More than 300,000 New York City students opting for all remote learning

From CNN's Elizabeth Stuart

Children in New York do their schoolwork from home in April.
Children in New York do their schoolwork from home in April. Peter Titmuss/Education Images/Universal Images Group/Getty Images

New York City's public schools plan to open their doors to students for some in-person learning when the school year starts in just a few weeks, but more than 300,000 students are opting to stay home for all online learning instead.

According to new data from New York City's Department of Education, at least 304,880 students have requested remote learning, a jump of 40,000 from just last week, when approximately 264,000 students planned to start the year remotely.

"School buildings will open only if the city’s rate of positive coronavirus tests is less than 3% using a seven-day rolling average, and our latest positive test rate is 1%," according to the DOE's latest release.

New York City is preparing for 697,008 students to start the year with blended learning, meaning they will attend at least some school in-person. All students will receive five days of instruction a week, whether through the blended or remote options.

"We’re able to offer a fully-remote learning model for families who are able and wish to keep their children at home. Families can opt in to full-time remote learning at any point," the DOE's release said.

According to the DOE, 37% of the students requesting remote learning are Hispanic, 28% are Asian, 20% are Black, and 12% are White.

"We know that nothing can replace in-person instruction and the many supports, including social emotion and health benefits, that students get in the classroom," the release said.

Some background: Among the top ten largest school districts in the country, New York City, the largest, with more than 1.1 million students, is the only one not planning to start the year with full online learning.

New York City schools are scheduled to return in early September and these numbers are expected to change, as families can opt into remote learning at any time, and can will have certain points to opt into blended learning during the school year.

7:39 p.m. ET, August 18, 2020

More than 170 Iowa State University students test positive for Covid-19 in move-in testing 

From CNN's Raja Razek

Iowa State University said in a news release Tuesday that 175 students living in residence halls and campus apartments have tested positive for Covid-19.

 "The final days of move-in testing at Lied Recreation Center wrapped up on Sunday," read the release. "For the two weeks of COVID-19 testing, 8,094 students living in the residence halls and campus apartments were tested and 175, or 2.2%, tested positive, and 7,919, or 97.8%, tested negative." 

Director of Thielen Student Health Center Erin Baldwin said that the goal of move-in testing was to identify positive cases and intervene to mitigate the spread of the infection.

"Students who tested positive are required to isolate for 10 days. About half of the students are isolating in isolation rooms provided by the department of residence," added the release. "Quarantine rooms are also available for students notified through contact tracing that they were exposed to a positive case." 

Students moving into the residence halls after Aug. 16 will complete the required testing at TSHC's mobile lab, according to the release. 

"Now that move-in testing is complete, TSHC will provide testing for students, faculty and staff with symptoms of COVID-19," read the release. "Additional surveillance testing may be used in targeted areas throughout the fall."

7:02 p.m. ET, August 18, 2020

British study shows immune overreaction in children with rare Covid-19 syndrome

From CNN's Maggie Fox

Patients with a rare, coronavirus-linked condition called multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children, or MIS-C, suffer sudden, severe inflammation and changes in the blood that promote clotting, British researchers reported Tuesday.

In the most acute phase, the children had raised levels of inflammatory immune system molecules called cytokines, and reduced levels of white blood cells known as lymphocytes. But with treatment, these symptoms returned to normal, the researchers reported in the journal Nature Medicine.

"Clinically, these children respond to treatments that calm the immune system such as corticosteroids and immunoglobulins,” lead researcher Dr. Manu Shankar-Hari, a specialist in intensive care medicine at Guy's and St Thomas' Hospital in London, said in a statement.

Shankar-Hari’s team studied 25 children with MIS-C. Most, but not all, tested positive for coronavirus. Those who did not, likely had contact with coronavirus patients and may have cleared all signs of the virus by the time they developed the syndrome, the team reported.

MIS-C appears different from symptoms seen in adults with coronavirus, the researchers said. Different types of immune cells are activated or suppressed in each case, which suggests they are distinct syndromes.

In addition, children who tested positive for the virus had more severe illness than the children who tested negative.

Some background: MIS-C remains rare but the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports 570 confirmed cases of MIS-C and 10 deaths in 40 states and Washington, DC.

More than 70% of reported cases have been in Latino or Black children.

“Most children developed MIS-C 2-4 weeks after infection with SARS-CoV-2,” the CDC says.