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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5:19 p.m. ET, August 20, 2020

Florida county announces that about 300 students need to quarantine

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

Just over one week into the school year, more than 300 students and teachers have had to quarantine in Martin County, Florida, over concerns of possible coronavirus cases.

Laurie Gaylord, superintendent of the county school district, told CNN’s Jake Tapper that schools decided to open on time following the emergency order from the state education commissioner to reopen all brick-and-mortar schools.

Gaylord said “it’s a possibility” that she would’ve kept school closed to in-person learning if there wasn’t an emergency order. There is a digital option for students, and Gaylord said they’ve shipped out at least 12,000 laptops. 

She said it’s important for kids to be back in school, citing not just teacher-student interaction but mental and physical wellness for students. 

“It’s the safest place sometimes for some of our students to be,” she added. 

Gaylord said there are safety guidelines like social distancing, masks, outdoor lunches, one-way hallways and more. 


5:15 p.m. ET, August 20, 2020

New York governor extends moratorium on Covid-19-related commercial evictions

From CNN's Kristina Sgueglia

Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks during a press conference on August 20.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks during a press conference on August 20. Pool

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order Thursday extending the moratorium on Covid-19-related commercial evictions and foreclosures until Sept. 20.

“This measure extends protections already in place for commercial tenants and mortgagors in recognition of the financial toll the pandemic has taken on business owners, including retail establishments and restaurants," the governor said.

Essentially the extension “gives commercial tenants and mortgagors additional time to get back on their feet and catch up on rent or renegotiate their leasing terms to avoid eviction proceedings and foreclosures moving forward,” a release from Cuomo's office said.

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.