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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5:12 p.m. ET, August 18, 2020

Nearly 600 Miami-Dade school employees have tested positive for Covid-19 since March

From CNN’s Rosa Flores and Sara Weisfeldt in Miami

Coral Gables Senior High School, part of the Miami-Dade County Public School District, is seen on Friday, July 10, in Coral Gables, Florida.
Coral Gables Senior High School, part of the Miami-Dade County Public School District, is seen on Friday, July 10, in Coral Gables, Florida. Johnny Louis/Getty Images

At least 578 Miami-Dade County Public Schools employees have tested positive for Covid-19 since March, according to the district’s communications office.

The information was provided to CNN in response to a records request.

A total of 5,157 tests were conducted, including testing of employees, spouses and dependents, according to data provided to CNN. The total number of spouses and dependents who tested positive was not provided to CNN. 

Some more context: Miami-Dade County Public Schools currently employs 41,229 people and is scheduled to reopen for virtual instruction on Aug. 31.

11:37 a.m. ET, August 18, 2020

Recruiting people of color in vaccine trials is important and hard work, public health doctor says

From CNN's Aditi Sangal

A lab technician sorts blood samples inside a lab for a COVID-19 vaccine study in Hollywood, Florida, on Thursday, August 13.
A lab technician sorts blood samples inside a lab for a COVID-19 vaccine study in Hollywood, Florida, on Thursday, August 13. Chandan Khanna/AFP/Getty Images

If coronavirus vaccine trials want to recruit more people of color, teams will need to work on outreach and building trust, said Dr. Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association.

“That the means more physicians, nurses and health providers of color will have to talk to the general public. That means communicating to communities where we are which is much more difficult because of us being sequestered in our homes. It means in many ways reaching out in a very, very assertive, aggressive and proactive manner to identify people that could be part of these studies,” he told CNN’s Poppy Harlow.

Currently, researchers are saying they are struggling to recruit a sufficient number of minorities to join the clinical trials, which could delay the multi-billion-dollar effort to get a coronavirus vaccine to market in time.

Of the 350,000 people who've registered online for a coronavirus clinical trial, 10% are Black or Latino, according to Dr. Jim Kublin, executive director of operations for the Covid-19 Prevention Network.

That's not nearly enough, as study subjects in trials are supposed to reflect the population that's affected. Research shows that more than half of US coronavirus cases have been among Black and Latino people.

Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, gave the Moderna trial, the first in Phase 3 in the United States, a "C" grade for recruiting minorities.

To reach out to minorities and recruit them for clinical studies, "we have to undermine the structural foundations of racism," including housing segregation, unequal access to health care and income inequality, Benjamin said.

“It means putting people of color in leadership positions so that people in the room that are making those decisions can have the full scope of experiences that are necessary to make informed decisions,” he said.


11:02 a.m. ET, August 18, 2020

One-third of New York-area businesses wouldn't survive without government support

From CNN’s Matt Egan

Spencer Platt/Getty Images
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

About one-third of New York-area businesses would become insolvent without government support if current revenue levels persist, according to a New York Federal Reserve survey released Tuesday.

Thirty-four percent of service sector firms said their businesses would become insolvent in an average of eight months. And 32% of manufacturers said they would not be able to survive at current revenue levels without further support from government programs. Manufacturers said they would become insolvent in an average of just six months. 

The survey, which included companies based in New York, northern New Jersey and southwestern Connecticut, reflects deep concerns from companies about their finances.

About three-quarters of service-sector firms and manufacturers said they were either very or somewhat concerned about collecting payments from customers. And roughly two-thirds said they were very or somewhat concerned about maintaining adequate cash flow.

Most companies surveyed said they applied for and received Payment Protection Program loans as part of the federal government’s stimulus package. 

10:55 a.m. ET, August 18, 2020

Saliva tests are important, and the technique may work well for surveillance testing, official says 

From CNN’s Naomi Thomas

Donal Husni/NurPhoto/AP
Donal Husni/NurPhoto/AP

Saliva tests are really important and the way they work makes them more amenable to surveillance testing, said Adm. Brett Giroir, the White House coronavirus testing coordinator, on Good Morning American on Tuesday.  

“I think it’s very important,” he said. 

Giroir noted some saliva tests, like SalivaDirect, which recently received emergency use authorization from the US Food and Drug Administration, and another in the works, don’t need swabs, don’t need special transport media and don’t need some of the chemical reagents used in other tests.

“So it skips many steps up front, so it makes it much more amenable to be used as a surveillance tool like in schools or universities,” he said. “And it also preserves some of the reagents that are relatively scarce.”  

Giroir said that more saliva tests will be available soon.


10:23 a.m. ET, August 18, 2020

Trump administration official says testing alone can't take on the coronavirus

From CNN Health’s Naomi Thomas

Adm. Brett Giroir testifies in Washington, DC, on June 23.
Adm. Brett Giroir testifies in Washington, DC, on June 23. Kevin Dietsch/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

Adm. Brett Giroir, the White House coronavirus testing coordinator, said on Tuesday that he is not dismissive of testing, but that it has to be part of a comprehensive plan that focuses on other coronavirus prevention measures.

“I’m not at all dismissive of testing, testing is critically important, and it plays an important role in surveillance, particularly going back to school,” Giroir said on Good Morning America.

“The only thing I’ve been trying to say is that it’s part of a comprehensive plan,” he said. People have to wear a mask, watch their distance and wash their hands," Giroir said, “That’s the core.” 

Still, he said, there are continued investments being made in testing, and point-of-care testing will be particularly important to supporting the reopening of schools and businesses.

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

Mexican health ministry says the country is "in a decreasing phase" of Covid-19

From Karol Suarez in Mexico City

Face masks are laid out for sale in Mexico City, on Monday, August 17.
Face masks are laid out for sale in Mexico City, on Monday, August 17. Rebecca Blackwell/AP

Mexico's health ministry announced what it called "good news" Tuesday morning, saying 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 government briefing Tuesday morning.

On Monday, Mexico recorded its lowest number of new cases since June, adding 3,571 new Covid-19 cases. The rolling average of new daily cases, measured over the week since Aug. 10, stood at 5,700. The average has fallen steadily from an all-time peak of 7,022 on Aug. 1. However, the daily average of deaths (measured across one week) from coronavirus peaked only on Aug. 11 at 702, and has fallen only slightly since then. 

Mexico has 525,733 total confirmed coronavirus cases and 57,203 deaths from the virus.

11:02 a.m. ET, August 18, 2020

UNC-Chapel Hill campus newspaper blasts leadership's response to Covid-19 in editorial

People walk at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on August 10.
People walk at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on August 10. Ted Richardson for The Washington Post/Getty Images

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's campus newspaper, The Daily Tar Heel, criticized the administration's handling of the coronavirus pandemic in an editorial after about 130 students tested positive for Covid-19.

"We all saw this coming. In his fall semester welcome message, Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz wrote, 'As always, remember that it is our shared responsibility to keep each other safe. Every person you walk by on campus will be counting on you to diligently work to prevent the spread of the virus,'" the editorial said.

But University leadership should have expected students, many of whom are now living on their own for the first time, to be reckless. Reports of parties throughout the weekend come as no surprise. Though these students are not faultless, it was the University’s responsibility to disincentivize such gatherings by reconsidering its plans to operate in-person earlier on."

"The administration continues to prove they have no shame, and the bar for basic decency keeps getting lower."

The university on Monday abruptly decided it will no longer hold in-person classes on campus. The university will shift to remote learning starting Wednesday.

The Covid-19 positivity rate among students rose to 13.6% of the 954 students tested in the past week, and five employees also tested positive, according to the university's Covid-19 dashboard. As of Monday morning, 177 students were in isolation and 349 were in quarantine, both on and off campus.

"We’re angry — and we’re scared. We’re tired of the gaslighting, tired of the secrecy, tired of being treated like cash cows by a University with such blatant disregard for our lives," the editorial said. 

With reporting from CNN's Eric Levenson


9:35 a.m. ET, August 18, 2020

Here's where things stand on coronavirus around the world

A medical staff member takes samples from someone at a Covid-19 testing station in Seoul on August 18.
A medical staff member takes samples from someone at a Covid-19 testing station in Seoul on August 18.  Jung Yeon-je/AFP/Getty Images

It's 9:30 a.m. in New York and 2:30 p.m. in London, here is the latest on coronavirus cases and testing across the world:

  • Expert blasts US coronavirus response: The United States' response to the virus isn't just lacking, it's the "worst response of any major country," director of the Harvard Global Institute of Health Dr. Ashish Jha said Monday. "We didn't get here overnight. This has really been one mishap after another," Jha said. "The single factor that really differentiates us from everybody else is denialism that has pervaded our entire approach."
  • New Covid-19 test could bring fast results: SalivaDirect, a test that does not require specialized supplies and can deliver results in less than three hours, could be available to the public in a matter of weeks, according to Anne Wyllie, an epidemiologist at Yale School of Public Health who was part of the team responsible for the protocol.
  • Seoul monitors new cluster: Seoul is now experiencing the "early stages of massive recurrence" of the virus, South Korea's Vice Health Minister Kim Ganglip said Tuesday. Seoul's government reported a cluster of cases related to a church, with more than 450 people linked to the Sarang-jeil church testing positive for the virus. This week could be the "critical turning point" of whether the city's cluster becomes a nationwide epidemic, Kim added.
  • Cases increase in Paris: The number of daily new Covid-19 cases in the Paris region has increased to six times what it was at the beginning of the month, the French health authority told CNN.
  • Wuhan hosts massive water park party: Wuhan was ground zero in the coronavirus pandemic with the world's first — and arguably strictest — lockdown. Now, the central Chinese city appears to have moved on from the virus, as thousands of revelers gathered in an open air water park over the weekend for an electronic music festival — without any masks or social distancing measures in sight.
  • New Zealand's prime minister hits back at Trump: New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Tuesday responded to President Trump's comments calling the country's surge in Covid-19 cases "terrible." "I don't think there's any comparison between New Zealand's current cluster and the tens of thousands of cases that are being seen daily in the United States," Ardern told reporters. "Obviously, every country is experiencing its own fight with Covid-19; it is a tricky virus, but not one where I would compare New Zealand's current status to the United States."

With reporting from CNN's Madeline Holcombe

9:30 a.m. ET, August 18, 2020

Notre Dame reports 58 Covid-19 cases since students returned to campus

From CNN's Annie Grayer

Notre Dame University is seeing a spike in Covid-19 cases since students returned to campus on Aug. 3. 

As of Tuesday morning, 58 students have tested positive, according to the school's online health dashboard.

On Sunday alone, 15 of the 30 tests were positive. Sunday had the highest number of positive cases in a single day to date for the university.

The spike started on Aug. 10, when four out of 197 people tested positive. Between Aug. 3 and 10, there were no new positive cases. The university updates its numbers at noon every day.

The university began testing students before they arrived on campus. In that batch of 11,836 tests, just 33 tests came back positive, which amounts to 0.28%.