August 20 coronavirus news

By Helen Regan, Adam Renton, Emma Reynolds, Ed Upright and Meg Wagner, CNN

Updated 0451 GMT (1251 HKT) August 21, 2020
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2:48 p.m. ET, August 20, 2020

At least 15 states reporting Covid cases at colleges and universities

From CNN's Elizabeth Stuart and Annie Grayer

Medical personnel work at the on-campus coronavirus testing lab at Boston University on July 23 in Boston.
Medical personnel work at the on-campus coronavirus testing lab at Boston University on July 23 in Boston. Charles Krupa/AP

As students return to campuses, at least 15 states are reporting positive cases of Covid-19 at colleges and universities.

Remember: This list represents cases that CNN has reported so far. There could be many other universities and colleges with cases.

Here's where cases have been reported:

  • Colorado: Colorado College
  • Connecticut: University of Connecticut
  • Georgia: University of Georgia
  • Indiana: University of Notre Dame
  • Iowa: Iowa State University
  • Kansas: 5 clusters at unnamed colleges
  • Kentucky: University of Kentucky and Western Kentucky University
  • Massachusetts: Boston University and Emerson College
  • Mississippi Northeast Mississippi Community College and University of Mississippi
  • North Carolina: East Carolina University, North Carolina State University and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Oklahoma: Oklahoma State University and University of Oklahoma
  • Pennsylvania: Temple University
  • Tennessee: University of Tennessee
  • Virginia: Virginia Tech
  • West Virginia: West Virginia State University
11:24 a.m. ET, August 20, 2020

How New York City is preparing to reopen schools in September

From CNN's Elizabeth Hartfield

Desks are spaced apart at an elementary school in Brooklyn, New York, on August 19.
Desks are spaced apart at an elementary school in Brooklyn, New York, on August 19. Jeenah Moon/Bloomberg/Getty Images

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Thursday that the city is releasing a back-to-school pledge — a detailed list of everything that’s being done to get schools prepared to reopen safely next month.

Preparations include...

  • Disinfecting schools every day and night, including using electrostatic cleaning technology, which every school building will be equipped with
  • Providing face coverings to kids who do not have one
  • Making sure every building will have at least one certified nurse on site

Education Chancellor Richard Carranza, who joined de Blasio on Thursday, added that PPE deliveries are happening “every day” to schools across the city. 

“We are going to make sure these schools are safe and ready, and if we don’t think they’re safe and ready, they won’t open,” de Blasio said.  

De Blasio stressed that the reopening is moving ahead as scheduled. NYC schools are scheduled to reopen on Sept. 10, although various groups have called for that opening to be delayed. 

New York City’s Covid-19 indicators remain below all the thresholds, and the city again reported a positivity rate below 1% on Thursday.

9:53 a.m. ET, August 20, 2020

Brazilian Congress makes masks mandatory, despite president's veto

From Fernanda Wenzel in Porto Alegre and Rodrigo Pedroso in Sao Paulo

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro speaks with the press in Brasília on May 22.
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro speaks with the press in Brasília on May 22. Andressa Anholete/Getty Images

The Brazilian Congress has decided that the use of masks is mandatory in closed places like commercial establishments, many workplaces, religious temples and schools. In a joint session of both houses — Senate and Deputies Chamber — the legislature overturned President Jair Bolsonaro's veto on such requirements.

In votes on Wednesday, senators and deputies also upheld the right of mayors and governors to fine those who disobeyed the requirement.

The Congress also overturned Bolsonaro's vetoes of a law that sets out the federal government's duties to protect indigenous people during the pandemic. The legislators upheld aspects of the law assuring universal access to drinkable water, emergency access to beds in hospitals, the acquisition of ventilators and the delivery of free food to indigenous people and communities of slaves' descendants. 

On her Twitter account, Joenia Wapichana —  the first indigenous woman to occupy a federal deputy seat in Brazil — celebrated the Congress' action.

"With the Federal Law number 14.021 restored, the Government of Jair Bolsonaro is OBLIGED, by law and by the decision of the STF [Federal Supreme Court], to give due urgent and emergency attention to prevent a new genocide in indigenous peoples, due to the pandemic". 

Wapichana was referring to the Supreme Court's decision which required the federal government to implement safety measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

10:29 a.m. ET, August 20, 2020

Scotland’s R-number "could be above one," official says. Here's why that matters.

From CNN's Sharon Braithwaite in London


First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon visits a school on August 10 in West Calder, Scotland.
First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon visits a school on August 10 in West Calder, Scotland. Fraser Bremner/Pool/Getty Images

Scotland First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said Thursday that the R-number — or reproduction number — in the nation "could currently be above one."

A reproduction rate of one means each person with coronavirus will infect an average of one other person, so above one is the level at which each coronavirus patient infects more than one other person.

In the last 24 hours an additional 77 coronavirus cases have been confirmed with the total number of cases totaling at least 19,534. 

"This is highest number of new cases in almost three months which underlines the need for continued caution," Sturgeon told members of the Scottish Parliament.

The death toll in Scotland now stands at 2,492 and no new coronavirus deaths have been reported in the last 24 hours, Sturgeon added.

"The figures we have been reporting in recent weeks show that incidence and prevalence of the virus continue to be at low levels in Scotland as a whole. However, the range for our R-number has recently increased and our most recent estimate suggests that it could currently be above one," Sturgeon said.

9:10 a.m. ET, August 20, 2020

American initial jobless claims above 1 million again

From CNN's Anneken Tappe

Another 1.1 million Americans filed initial claims for unemployment benefits on a seasonally adjusted basis last week, dashing economists' hopes for a second-straight week with fewer than 1 million claims.

Economists were optimistic that the US jobs market would be on a steady trajectory toward recovery. But last week's claims returned above 1 million after the previous week's report was the first below 1 million since March, the Department of Labor reported Thursday 

Continued jobless claims, counting people who have filed claims for at least two weeks in a row, remain very high at 14.8 million.

Some context: After months of shocking economic data, these eyewatering big numbers might not seem as shocking anymore as they really are. But the road to recovery remains long and arduous. The Federal Reserve said in its July meeting minutes Wednesday that any rebound of the jobs market depends on a reopening and businesses, which in turn depends on the path of the virus and what we do to contain it.


9:58 a.m. ET, August 20, 2020

American Airlines plans to suspend service to 15 cities because of "low demand"

From CNN's Gregory Wallace

An American Airlines flight lands at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Arlington, Virginia, on June 5.
An American Airlines flight lands at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Arlington, Virginia, on June 5. Michael Brochstein/SOPA Images/Shutterstock

American Airlines announced Thursday it plans to suspend service to 15 cities in October citing “low demand.”  

Airlines have thus far been mostly blocked from stopping service to a destination as a condition of accepting CARES Act payroll funding. But those restrictions expire on Oct. 1. Despite pressure from aviation worker unions, Congress has not extended the funding.  

American said the cuts are not permeant and are “only in place for the October schedule.”  The suspensions will be effective on Oct. 7.

Here are the 15 cities, according to the airline:

  1. Del Rio, Texas
  2. Dubuque, Iowa
  3. Florence, South Carolina
  4. Greenville, North Caroilina
  5. Huntington, West Virginia
  6. Joplin, Missouri
  7. Kalamazoo/Battle Creek, Michigan
  8. Lake Charles, Louisiana
  9. New Haven, Connecticut.
  10. New Windsor, New York
  11. Roswell, New Mexico
  12. Sioux City, Iowa
  13. Springfield, Illinois
  14. Stillwater, Oklahoma
  15. Williamsport, Pennsylvania
8:23 a.m. ET, August 20, 2020

Where countries around the world stand in the coronavirus fight

The US has reported more than 5.5 million coronavirus cases since the pandemic began, and more than 22 million cases have been recorded worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University's latest tally.

If you're just reading in this morning, here's the news you need to know from around the globe:

  • Hopeful signs — and a warning — in the US: President Trump's Covid-19 testing czar said cases are declining across the United States. But despite the hopeful signs, now isn't a time to let up or ease measures, Adm. Brett Giroir said, warning that the progress could "turn around very quickly if we’re not careful."
  • Increasing daily cases in parts of Europe: France and Spain have reported new daily record increases in cases since coming out of lockdown. Germany recorded more than 1,700 new cases in 24 hours, marking the country's highest number of daily infections since April.
  • A new cluster in New Zealand: In New Zealand, where the disease was thought to be all but eradicated, officials are still searching for the cause of a new cluster of outbreaks.
  • Where some Asian countries stand: South Korea has seen a week of triple-digit daily case counts, and Japan learned that one-third of its total cases overall were reported just in August. Meanwhile, in the Chinese city of Wuhan, which was ground zero in the coronavirus pandemic, thousands of revelers gathered in an open air water park for an electronic music festival — without any masks or social distancing measures in sight.
8:13 a.m. ET, August 20, 2020

Kentucky Attorney General says state can't close religious schools complying with Covid-19 rules

From CNN’s Rebekah Riess

Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron said Wednesday that officials cannot order the closure of religious schools that are following the rules around Covid-19.

It came after Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear recommended that school districts delay in-person instruction until September 28, saying that he would issue an executive order to close schools where there was “a severe proven threat to the health of the people in the school, and a failure to take any action to address it."

Religiously affiliated schools and concerned parents wondered whether the Governor, or other state and local officials, “may lawfully co-opt their informed decisions to reopen for in-person instruction,” and asked the Attorney General’s office to issue an opinion on the matter.

Cameron said officials could not close schools that were “in compliance with reasonable social distancing and hygiene guidelines set forth by recognized national or international health agencies and organizations."

His opinion states that the Governor, the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, and other officials are prohibited from closing religiously affiliated schools because of the First and 14th Amendment of the US Constitution and state law.

“The law prohibits the state from mandating the closure of religiously affiliated schools that are complying with recommended health guidelines,” Cameron said. “Our courts have consistently held, throughout this pandemic, that religious entities are protected by our Constitution. Religiously affiliated schools are an important extension of faith for many Kentucky families, and the state cannot prevent them from operating so long as necessary health precautions are observed.”
10:52 a.m. ET, August 20, 2020

Movie theaters are reopening in the US. But will anyone show up?

From CNN's Frank Pallotta

A temporarily closed AMC movie theater in Tucson, Arizona, is seen on June 30.
A temporarily closed AMC movie theater in Tucson, Arizona, is seen on June 30. Cheney Orr/Bloomberg/Getty Images

For the first time in roughly five months, AMC Theatres will pop the popcorn, dim the lights, and start the show. 

But will anyone buy a ticket? 

AMC, the world's largest movie theater chain, is reopening more than 100 US locations on Thursday after closing their doors in March. Other major chains like Regal Cinemas and Alamo Drafthouse will also return this weekend, while Cinemark started its phased reopening last weekend. Roughly 1,400 of the 6,000 venues in North America are currently open, according to Comscore. (Track how box-office sales have been hit on our recovery dashboard.)

It's a monumental moment for theaters and the film industry at large. The next few weeks and months will give Hollywood an idea of whether the movie theater industry can bounce back after being ravaged by coronavirus. 

It's not going to be easy.

Read the full story here: