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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2:32 p.m. ET, August 18, 2020

Pennsylvania will roll out coronavirus tracking app in September

From CNN’s Anna Sturla

Pennsylvania will roll out a Covid-19 contact tracing app for residents in September, Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine announced Tuesday. 

The app, COVID Alert PA, will use Bluetooth technology and notify Pennsylvanians if they spent 15 minutes or more in close proximity to another person who later tested positive for the virus. The app is voluntary, and will protect user's identities and locations, Levine said. It will alert someone to exposure without comprising the identity of the person with the virus.

The state has worked with researchers at MIT on the product, but it does not replace contact tracers.

Some more context: More than 125,570 Pennsylvanians have contracted Covid-19 and almost 7,500 people have died from the virus, according to Levine.

Note: These numbers were released by the state 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.

1:44 p.m. ET, August 18, 2020

Labor unions call for "right to return" to work after pandemic layoffs

From CNN’s Hira Humayun

A coalition of labor unions in Nevada, the “Save Our Jobs” Coalition, launched a campaign on Tuesday to save jobs lost due to the pandemic and secure the “right to return” for workers in hospitality, convention and trade shows, airport, entertainment, and hospitals in Nevada’s Clark County. 

The coalition called on the Clark County Board of Commissioners to consider the “Right to Return” ordinance which would require employers to allow workers to return to their jobs in several industries throughout the county if the employee had been laid off or furloughed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“When those jobs come back, we are asking for you to consider an ordinance to allow them to go back and fill those jobs – the same jobs that they had before they left, before they were terminated through no fault of their own,” said Rusty McAllister, Nevada state AFL-CIO’s executive secretary-treasurer at a Clark County Commission meeting on Monday. 

“We realize that not all of [the jobs] are going to open right now, or right away, but when they do, we’re asking that you consider an ordinance to allow them to go back to the work they had before this pandemic hit,” he said.

Some more context: The coalition comprises of about 87,000 workers in Nevada, according to a statement from the Culinary Workers Union.

According to the Culinary Union, more than 98% of its members were laid off due to the pandemic.

1:54 p.m. ET, August 18, 2020

Duke's Coach K says the NCAA must not cancel another March Madness

From CNN's David Close

Head coach Mike Krzyzewski of the Duke Blue Devils watches on before a game at Cameron Indoor Stadium on February 15 in Durham, North Carolina.
Head coach Mike Krzyzewski of the Duke Blue Devils watches on before a game at Cameron Indoor Stadium on February 15 in Durham, North Carolina. Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Famed college basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski said the NCAA cannot afford to cancel another March Madness.

While appearing on ESPN Radio on Tuesday, Coach K acknowledged the huge financial strain that needs to be mitigated by hosting a postseason tournament, no matter when it takes place. 

Krzyzewski, the all-time winningest coach in college basketball explained, "We're the thing that the NCAA is most concerned about because men's college basketball and the tournament pays for something like 98% of the, it produces 98% or more of the money for the NCAA." 

"We need to have the tournament. We can't have it where two years in a row you do not have the NCAA tournament," he continued.

Some context: In March, the NCAA canceled the annual postseason tournament due to concerns about the spread of coronavirus. The men's Division I championship had been played every year since its inception in 1939.

Krzyzewski believes the NCAA should look to model the example set by the so-far successful, isolated Disney campus the NBA is utilizing this season.

"Make sure you have the tournament. It doesn't make any difference when it is. Because we don't even know when the NBA season is going to be next year. And we should look at them to see how they navigate the waters going forward. They've navigated them really well with the bubble," Krzyzewski said.

The upcoming season will be Krzyzewski's 41st at Duke. The Hall of Fame coach has won five national championships leading the Blue Devils.

1:51 p.m. ET, August 18, 2020

US part of intense global collaboration on Covid-19, Fauci says

From CNN's Naomi Thomas

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, testifies before a House Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis hearing on July 31 in Washington, DC.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, testifies before a House Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis hearing on July 31 in Washington, DC. Kevin Dietsch/Pool/Getty Images

The US is collaborating with health authorities and scientists from across the world to try to manage the coronavirus pandemic, Dr. Anthony Fauci said Tuesday.

Fauci said that he and his colleagues from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention join a weekly call sponsored by the World Health Organization to share insights.

“Essentially, the health authorities and scientists from every country in the world, practically, that gets involved with Covid-19,” Fauci said during a town hall with Healthline.com.

There are scientific collaborations with colleagues in Europe, the European Union, Australia, Canada and Mexico, he said. Plus drugs and vaccines are being tested in South Africa, Brazil, Chile and Peru.

“So there’s an awful lot of international activity going on,” he said. “You don’t hear about that very much in the lay press, but it really is going on rather intensively.”

 

1:39 p.m. ET, August 18, 2020

Massachusetts reports more than 200 new cases

From CNN’s Nakia McNabb

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker speaks during a press briefing in Boston on August 18.
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker speaks during a press briefing in Boston on August 18. Pool/WCVB

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker announced Tuesday 213 new positive Covid-19 cases, bringing the state total to 114,611.

The seven-day average for the positive case rate is about 1.4% and has been hovering between this and 2% for the past several weeks.

At a news conference, Baker detailed the status of hospitals in Massachusetts pointing out that 367 patients are currently hospitalized for Covid-19 statewide and 59 of those are in intensive care. As of yesterday, four hospitals were using surge capacity. 

“Over the past week, there have been around 15,000 or more new individuals being reported each day. This is up compared to a seven-day average of new individuals tested per day of around 9,000 in mid-June, around 12,000 in mid-July. This is obviously good project progress,” said Baker.

The seven-day average for the number of total tests conducted has been above 20,000 tests for the past few weeks. Baker believes that the success in testing numbers is largely due to the “Stop the Spread Initiative,” which provides free testing in 17 communities statewide that have seen a higher prevalence of Covid-19. The initiative began on July 10 and will continue through Sept. 12.

1:26 p.m. ET, August 18, 2020

Fauci does not foresee a Covid-19 vaccine mandate in the United States 

From CNN’s Amanda Watts

An injection is prepared as a part of a vaccine trial at the Research Centers of America in Hollywood, Florida, on August 13.
An injection is prepared as a part of a vaccine trial at the Research Centers of America in Hollywood, Florida, on August 13. Chandan Khanna/AFP/Getty Images

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's leading infectious disease expert, says he does not foresee a Covid-19 vaccine mandate in the United States. 

“I don't think you'll ever see a mandating of vaccine, particularly for the general public,” Fauci said on Tuesday during a Healthline.com town hall.

Fauci said everyone has the right to refuse a vaccine. “If someone refuses the vaccine in the general public, then there's nothing you can do about that. You cannot force someone to take a vaccine," he said.

America’s top infectious diseases doctor did say in some areas, like the medical sector, many health care workers are asked to vaccinate in order to have contact with patients.  

“When you're in the medical sector, depending on the policy of a hospital, the hospital may say — if you refuse to take a given vaccine, whether that's a hepatitis vaccine, or a flu vaccine or perhaps even the Covid vaccine, that you might not be able to have person-to-person contact with patients,” he explained.

1:48 p.m. ET, August 18, 2020

Fauci says Covid testing is "still not completely fixed"

From CNN's Amanda Watts

A COVID-19 nasal test swab is prepared at a testing site locate at the Miami Lakes Youth Center on July 22 in Miami Lakes, Florida.
A COVID-19 nasal test swab is prepared at a testing site locate at the Miami Lakes Youth Center on July 22 in Miami Lakes, Florida. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Testing is “still not completely fixed” across the entire nation, Dr. Anthony Fauci said Tuesday.

“The other thing that's a problem — still not completely fixed, but fixed in many areas of the country, but not all — is the delay between the time you do the test and you get the result back,” he said during a Tuesday town hall with Healthline.com.

If tests results take “five to seven days, it almost obviates the purpose of contact tracing, because that means somebody was out there for five to seven days potentially spreading the infection,” he said.

“We are correcting that — we're trying hard and we are correcting it in many areas," Fauci said.

But clear and fast results are needed to calculate an important metric: percent positivity.

“You look at New York City right now it's less than 1%. That's what you want the whole country to be,” he said.

“There are parts of the country where it's 15, 18, 20% — that's really high,” he said. “The percent of your tests that you do that are actually positive it's got to be a very low number,” he said. 

1:13 p.m. ET, August 18, 2020

Lebanon will impose a countrywide lockdown following surge in Covid-19 cases

From CNN's Ghazi Balkiz in Beirut

The Lebanese caretaker government announced Tuesday a countrywide lockdown starting 6 a.m. local time Friday following a surge in Covid-19 cases.

The lockdown will be extended until 6 a.m. local time on Sept. 7.

The Lebanese caretaker interior and municipalities minister issued a decree ordering the lockdown, which includes the closure of all private institutions, open markets, commercial companies, the seaside corniche, tourist facilities, indoor and outdoor sports facilities, stadiums, clubs, public and private swimming pools, restaurants, cafes, clubs, nightclubs, and others. All public and social gatherings are prohibited under the decree. 

Restoration work, removal of rubble, and aid distribution in the neighborhoods affected by the Beirut port blast are exempt from the lockdown. 

Employees of the security, medical, civil defense services, the press, ports and the airport, as well as medicine manufacturing sector are also exempt from the lockdown. The airport remains open.

The latest cases: Lebanon registered 421 new Covid-19 cases in the last 24 hours, bringing its total number of cases to 9,758, according to the Lebanese Ministry of Public Health.

Lebanon has recently witnessed a surge of Covid-19 cases. This comes as the country is suffering from an economic collapse and dealing with the aftermath of the port blast that ripped through the capital, killing about 170 people, wounding around 6,000 people and displacing about 300,000 people.

12:38 p.m. ET, August 18, 2020

Hundreds of Covid-19 cases already reported as students return to college campuses

From CNN's Annie Grayer and Elizabeth Stuart

Students nationwide are returning to college campuses, and some schools are reporting pockets of positive Covid-19 cases.

Here's a look at what some schools are reporting:

  • University of Notre Dame: As of Tuesday morning, 58 students have tested positive, according to the school's online health dashboard. Students returned to the university's Indiana campus on Aug. 3.
  • University of Kentucky: At least 160 people have tested positive at the university since school began on Aug. 3, according to the university's Covid-19 dashboard that tracks positive cases.
  • University of Western Kentucky: The University of Western Kentucky reported 19 positive cases of Covid-19 among students and staff between Aug. 7 and 13, out of the 132 tests conducted during that period.
  • East Carolina University: East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina, reported 29 positive Covid-19 cases last week, a 7.8% positivity rate. Since students started returning to campus on Aug. 5, the university has averaged about 30 new cases per week, according to the school's Covid-19 dashboard.
  • Colorado College: At least 155 students in one dorm at Colorado College in Colorado Springs have been forced to quarantine after the college learned of a student who tested positive and did not practice proper social distancing guidelines.
  • Northeast Mississippi Community College: The college in Booneville, Mississippi, shared that “around 300” students are currently in quarantine, the school's president Dr. Ricky G. Ford said on the school's official podcast.
  • Oklahoma State University: An Oklahoma State University sorority house is under quarantine after 23 members tested positive for Covid-19, according to the university.