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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4:22 p.m. ET, August 20, 2020

Mississippi governor issues limits on college football stadiums and game day events

From CNN’s Janine Mack

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves has issued social distancing measures for college and university outdoor stadiums and game day events during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

According to the order, everyone 6 years old and up must wear a mask. Everyone must practice social distancing with people not in their household, and capacity is limited to 25%. No pregame tailgating or rallies outside the stadium are permitted, concession stands are open for grab-n-go food and drink, and contactless and touchless transactions when possible. Elevators occupancy is limited to no more than five people at a time.

The governor said Southern Mississippi has a game in two weeks and that the new rules are meant to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

“I know this is no fun, but it’s better than other states with no football,” said Reeves on Thursday during a news conference.

The new order is in effect until Aug. 31 at 8 a.m., according to a press release.

Mississippi's health department has reported 75,449 positive cases of coronavirus and 2,190 deaths. 

To note: The numbers above were released by the Mississippi Department of Health and may not line up exactly in real time with CNN’s database drawn from Johns Hopkins University and the Covid Tracking Project.

4:14 p.m. ET, August 20, 2020

California reports 5th straight day of new Covid-19 cases below 14-day average

From CNN's Alexandra Meeks 

Healthcare workers facilitate tests at a drive-in coronavirus testing center on August 11 in Los Angeles, California.
Healthcare workers facilitate tests at a drive-in coronavirus testing center on August 11 in Los Angeles, California. Mario Tama/Getty Images

California reported 5,920 new cases of coronavirus Thursday, marking a fifth straight day of confirmed infections below the state’s rolling 14-day average, according to data from the state's health department.

The health department also reported 163 new deaths for a cumulative total of 11,686. Yesterday, California marked its fifth highest number of deaths reported in single-day at 181.

Hospitalization and intensive care unit rates are also slightly down. The number of positive hospital patients in the state is now 4,890 and the number of ICU positive patients is 1,557.

California's rolling 14-day average of new cases is 8,198. The seven-day positivity rate and two-week positivity rate both stand at 6.6%.

3:54 p.m. ET, August 20, 2020

North Carolina State University moves all undergrad classes online due to Covid-19 clusters

From CNN's Melissa Alonso

North Carolina State University students walk through campus on August 18 in Raleigh, North Carolina.
North Carolina State University students walk through campus on August 18 in Raleigh, North Carolina. Robert Willett/The News & Observer/AP

North Carolina State University will move all undergraduate classes online starting Monday because of Covid-19 clusters from large parties, according to an announcement on the university's website.

University officials have received "reports of large parties in off-campus apartments," and identified "three Covid-19 clusters in off-campus and greek village houses" in the last two days alone, said the announcement.

The clusters "can be traced to parties and behavior outside of our community standards and the governor’s mandates," the announcement said.

"We’re seeing significant infections in greek life, and at this time there have been another seven greek houses that have been quarantined due to a number of additional positive cases," according to the school. "Unfortunately, the actions of a few are jeopardizing the health and safety of the larger community."

"The majority of NC State’s course hours are already online, but the remaining in-person and hybrid classes will move to online-only instruction for the remainder of the fall semester," the school added.

1:51 p.m. ET, August 20, 2020

Philadelphia will allow indoor dining to resume next month

From CNN’s Rebekah Riess

Philadelphia will permit indoor dining to resume Sept. 8, under specific restrictions that are “largely consistent with indoor dining restrictions statewide,” Philadelphia Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley announced today.

As part of the City’s new indoor dining restrictions, restaurants cannot be filled to more than 25% capacity and no more than four diners are allowed per table. There will be no bar service and alcohol can only be served with a meal. Last call for all indoor dining orders will be at 11 p.m. local time, as establishments will be required to be closed for service by midnight, among other things.

“We are announcing this change now in order to give restaurant operators sufficient time to prepare,” Dr. Farley said. “However, we move forward with an abundance of caution. Between now and Sept. 8, should we witness an increase in the rate of COVID-19 case counts in Philadelphia, we will reconsider whether this change is still viable.”

The Department of Public Health also announced that bowling alleys, arcades and other indoor games will be allowed to resume effective immediately.

Indoor theaters and movie theaters will be allowed to reopen on Sept. 8, with capacities not to exceed 50% and a maximum of 25 people allowed. 

1:29 p.m. ET, August 20, 2020

People traveling from Portugal to the UK no longer have to quarantine

From CNN's Sharon Braithwaite and Lauren Kent

The UK has added Portugal to the list of "travel corridor" countries — meaning people arriving no longer have to quarantine for 14 days, said UK transport secretary Grant Shapps in a series of Thursday tweets.

Meanwhile, people coming from Croatia, Austria and Trinidad & Tobago will now be required to quarantine for 14 days. 

"Data shows we need to remove Croatia, Austria and Trinidad & Tobago from our list of #coronavirus Travel Corridors to keep infection rates DOWN," he said.

"Data also shows we can now add Portugal to those countries INCLUDED in Travel Corridors. As with all air bridge countries, please be aware that things can change quickly. Only travel if you are content to unexpectedly 14-day quarantine if required (I speak from experience!)," he added.

The new restrictions will go into effect for people arriving after 4 a.m. local on Saturday.

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.