August 19 coronavirus news

By Jessie Yeung, Adam Renton, Jack Guy, Ed Upright, Meg Wagner and Mike Hayes, CNN

Updated 12:00 a.m. ET, August 20, 2020
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7:37 p.m. ET, August 19, 2020

Operation Warp Speed chief predicts Covid-19 vaccine by next spring, early summer

From CNN's Shelby Lin Erdman

Moncef Slaoui is head of Operation Warp Speed, the White House’s accelerated vaccine program.
Moncef Slaoui is head of Operation Warp Speed, the White House’s accelerated vaccine program. CNN

Operation Warp Speed chief adviser Moncef Slaoui said he expects a coronavirus vaccine to be widely available sometime next year – perhaps between April and June, according to a new report. 

Slaoui, in an interview Wednesday with Business Insider, said he expects most of the US’s “high-risk population of around 70 or 80 million people will have been immunized” by then. Much depends on whether a majority of the six vaccines backed by Operation Warp Speed demonstrate efficacy, he said.

"I feel pretty confident we will be there," Slaoui said.

High-risk individuals include the elderly and those with underlying health conditions such as diabetes, kidney and heart disease.

Some context: Slaoui, an immunologist who formerly headed up GlaxoSmithKline’s vaccine program, told CNN late last month that there might not be enough vaccine available for all Americans until the end of next year. He said there would be enough vaccine for all Americans "ideally" by the middle of 2021, but possibly not until the end of 2021.

The head of Operation Warp Speed, the White House’s accelerated vaccine program, also told Business Insider that he expects critical information on late-stage vaccine trials currently underway by Moderna and Pfizer to be available soon and that the trials are moving along “very well.” AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson are expected to begin trials shortly, too.

"I would not be surprised if we have data before the end of the year," Slaoui said, but he was unable to give a more precise time on when the government might know if one of the vaccines works. 

7:08 p.m. ET, August 19, 2020

Brazil tops 110,000 deaths from Covid-19

From Rodrigo Pedroso, Fernanda Wenzel and Sharif Paget

This aerial photo shows the Vila Formosa Cemetery, on the outskirts of São Paulo, Brazil, on August 6.
This aerial photo shows the Vila Formosa Cemetery, on the outskirts of São Paulo, Brazil, on August 6. Nelson Almeida/AFP/Getty Images

Brazil has confirmed 49,298 new Covid-19 cases and 1,212 deaths in the past 24 hours, the country’s health ministry reported Wednesday. 

At least 111,100 people have died in Brazil from coronavirus, according to the ministry’s data. The total number of confirmed Covid-19 cases now stands at 3,456,652.

A top Brazilian health official said at today’s news conference that Covid-19-related deaths in the country have been on the decline.

“Since the epidemiological week 30 [mid-July], it has been falling progressively. We need to follow the disease's behavior in the next two or three weeks to see if we are truly having a significant fall,” Brazil’s Secretary of Health Surveillance Arnaldo Correia de Medeiros said.

Some context: As of last week, Covid-19-related deaths fell by 2% compared to the previous week, according to data released on Wednesday by the health ministry.

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

6:27 p.m. ET, August 19, 2020

Washington state health officials credit mask use for decline in Covid-19 case rate

From CNN’s Andy Rose

Health officials in Washington state – where the first US coronavirus outbreak was reported – say the rate of new cases is slowing down for a second time.

“I do honestly think that the face coverings have made a difference,” Secretary of Health Dr. John Weisman said Wednesday during a news conference.

Earlier in the week, the department issued a status report saying new cases are “plateauing” in Washington.

“Clearly we have two peaks that we've seen,” Weisman said, attributing the drop in new cases recently to people now willing to wear a mask. “Frankly, this is now becoming widely accepted,” he said.

The statewide seven-day rolling average peaked nearly a month ago, but Weisman said case counts are only just now getting back down to where they were during the state’s first peak at the beginning of April.

“We're both encouraged, and also still really cautious,” he said.

6:16 p.m. ET, August 19, 2020

2 additional Covid-19 clusters identified in sorority houses at North Carolina State University

From CNN’s Jamiel Lynch and Giovanna Van Leeuwen

North Carolina State University has identified two additional Covid-19 clusters at two sorority houses on campus, according to a release on the school’s website.

The Alpha Delta Pi Sorority House has reported seven positive cases and the Kappa Delta Sorority House has six positive cases. 

All students who have tested positive will be isolated and residents of both houses are being quarantined, the release said.

On Tuesday: The school reported two other clusters, one among the Greek life system and another in off-campus housing. 

According to tracking data on the school’s website, the school reported 28 news cases of Covid-19 today, 27 among students and one employee.

5:57 p.m. ET, August 19, 2020

San Diego has been taken off California's Covid-19 watch list, governor says

From CNN's Sarah Moon

Gov. Gavin Newsom
Gov. Gavin Newsom Pool

San Diego, Santa Cruz, and Placer counties are no longer on California’s Covid-19 monitoring list after meeting requirements for slowing the spread of the coronavirus, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced during a news conference on Wednesday.

San Francisco may come off the watch list as early as Thursday, Newsom added.

While 40 of California’s 58 counties are currently on the state’s watch list, Newsom said “we want this list to go down to zero.”

More details: Counties are required to have fewer than 100 coronavirus cases per 100,000 residents for two weeks and a 7-day positivity rate below 8% to stay off the state watch list, according to guidelines from the California Department of Public Health. Counties off the watch list for 14 consecutive days are eligible to apply for a waiver to open in-person classes for elementary schools.

In Los Angeles County, which has the most coronavirus cases and deaths in the state, the county’s public health director Dr. Barbara Ferrer, said during a briefing Wednesday that the county is “doing better,” but “not doing well enough.”

While Los Angeles County has made “decent progress” with a test positivity rate below 8%, the county is still reporting about 245 cases per 100,000 residents, Ferrer said.


5:12 p.m. ET, August 19, 2020

More than half of Kentucky counties are in the White House “danger zone,” governor said

From CNN's Maggie Fox

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear speaks during a press conference on Wednesday, August 19.
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear speaks during a press conference on Wednesday, August 19. Pool

More than half of Kentucky counties are in the White House “danger zone” designations when it comes to Covid-19 infections, Gov. Andy Beshear announced Wednesday.

“According to White House data, 20 Kentucky counties are in the red zone with a positivity rate of 10 percent or higher, and dozens more are in the 5-10 percent positivity rate yellow zone,” Beshear said via Twitter.

Kentucky recorded 655 new Covid-19 cases in the past 24 hours as well as 12 new deaths, Beshear told reporters during a news conference in Frankfort.

The governor also emphasized that among the new cases, 91 or 14% are children age 18 years-old or younger.

Kentucky now counts a total of 40,926 cases, including a total of 842 deaths, Beshear said. 

4:32 p.m. ET, August 19, 2020

Massachusetts will require flu vaccines for public school students

From CNN’s Health’s Maggie Fox

Massachusetts said Wednesday it would require all schoolchildren to get influenza vaccines to stay enrolled in public schools and daycares, making it the first state to require flu shots for children over the age of 5.

“The new vaccine requirement is an important step to reduce flu-related illness and ​the overall impact of respiratory illness during the COVID-19 pandemic,” the Massachusetts Department of Public Health said in a statement.

Most states require that children get the 16 recommended childhood vaccines to attend public schools, but the influenza vaccine, which must be given freshly every year, has been an exception.

Public health officials including US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Robert Redfield have been urging all Americans to get vaccinated against flu this year so the virus doesn’t further complicate the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

“Students will be expected to have received a flu vaccine by December 31, 2020 for the 2020-2021 influenza season, unless either a medical or religious exemption is provided,” the Massachusetts health department said.

“Also exempted are K-12 students who are homeschooled and higher education students who are completely off-campus and engaged in remote learning only," the department added.

The CDC estimates that 600 children died of flu during the 2017-2018 flu season.

“Every year, thousands of people of all ages are affected by influenza, leading to many hospitalizations and deaths,” Dr. Larry Madoff, medical director of the state’s Bureau of Infectious Disease, said in a statement.

“It is more important now than ever to get a flu vaccine because flu symptoms are very similar to those of COVID-19 and preventing the flu will save lives and preserve healthcare resources.”  

5:15 p.m. ET, August 19, 2020

NBA reports another week of coronavirus-free players

From CNN's David Close

The Denver Nuggets and Utah Jazz kneel before a first round playoff game on August 19 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.
The Denver Nuggets and Utah Jazz kneel before a first round playoff game on August 19 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. Ashley Landis/Pool/Getty Images

Once again, no NBA players within the Disney World based campus have tested positive for Covid-19, the league reports. 

The NBA and the players union jointly announced zero positive Covid-19 test results from the 341 players tested this past week. 

The last time the NBA reported positive test results was on July 13, when 322 players were tested with two confirmed positives. 

The first round of the 2020 NBA playoffs are ongoing in Orlando, Florida. 

5:17 p.m. ET, August 19, 2020

US stocks end the day down following report on Covid-19 economic recovery

From CNN’s Anneken Tappe

People walk past the New York Stock Exchange on August 3 in New York.
People walk past the New York Stock Exchange on August 3 in New York. Angela Weiss/AFP/Getty Images

US stocks ended the day in the red and neither the S&P 500 nor the Nasdaq Composite reached new record highs.

The Federal Reserve's July meeting minutes reminded the market that the recovery remains fragile and that its path will depend on how well we deal with the virus in the future. That put a damper on things.

  • The Dow finished 0.3%, or 85 points, lower
  •  The S&P 500 slipped 0.4%
  •  The Nasdaq Composite ended down 0.6%