The latest on the coronavirus pandemic

By Ben Westcott, Adam Renton, Amy Woodyatt, Ed Upright, Meg Wagner, Melissa Macaya and Veronica Rocha, CNN

Updated 2:18 a.m. ET, August 22, 2020
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7:15 p.m. ET, August 21, 2020

More than 2 dozen cases of coronavirus in 3 states linked to Sturgis Motorcycle Rally 

From CNN’s Jennifer Henderson, Jamiel Lynch and Janine Mack

Bone Thugs-n-Harmony performs at the Iron Horse Saloon during the 80th annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally on Saturday, August 15, in Sturgis, South Dakota.
Bone Thugs-n-Harmony performs at the Iron Horse Saloon during the 80th annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally on Saturday, August 15, in Sturgis, South Dakota. Amy Harris/Invision/AP

At least 26 cases of coronavirus in three states are being linked to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.

Minnesota reporteds 15 confirmed cases of Covid-19 among people that attended the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota earlier this month, Kris Ehresmann, Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) Infectious Disease director, said in a media briefing call Friday.

Of those 15 confirmed cases, one person was hospitalized and health officials say they expect to see additional cases in the next few days, Ehresmann added.

MDH is urging Minnesotans that attended Sturgis to self-quarantine for 14 days, and if they are feeling ill after returning from Sturgis, to please get tested and self-isolate until results are received, Ehresmann said.

At least seven Covid-19 cases in Nebraska's Panhandle region have been tied to the rally, Kim Engel, director of the Panhandle Public Health District, confirmed in an email to CNN.  

South Dakota state health officials announced Thursday that a person who worked at a tattoo shop in Sturgis had tested positive for the virus, and could have possibly exposed people during the event last week.

The person was an employee of Asylum Tattoo Sturgis, officials said.

6:15 p.m. ET, August 21, 2020

Brazil reports more than 30,000 new Covid-19 cases

From Fernanda Wenzel and Taylor Barnes

Soldiers spray disinfectant at a market in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, on August 18.
Soldiers spray disinfectant at a market in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, on August 18. Douglas Magno/AFP/Getty Images

On Friday, Brazil’s health ministry reported 30,355 new Covid-19 cases over the past 24 hours, bringing the total number to 3,532,330.

The ministry also reported 1,054 new Covid-19 deaths, raising the country’s death toll to 113,358.

Some context: Brazil is second only to the United States in total number of Covid-19 cases and deaths.

5:50 p.m. ET, August 21, 2020

US surpasses 175,000 coronavirus deaths

From CNN's Haley Brink

More than 175,000 people have died in the United States from the coronavirus, according to the latest data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

There are at least 175,204 total deaths and 5,615,998 total cases across the country so far.  

US death toll timeline:

  • Feb. 29 – First death reported
  • April 23 – 50,000 deaths
  • May 23 – 100,000 deaths
  • July 28 – 150,000 deaths
6:19 p.m. ET, August 21, 2020

Vanderbilt University reports Covid-19 cases on football team

From CNN's David Close

The Vanderbilt University athletics program has revealed that members of the football team have tested positive for Covid-19.

A prescheduled media availability with head football coach Derek Mason was canceled on Friday.

"As part of our ongoing testing procedures, we have been made aware of positive Covid-19 test results in our football program," the university said in a statement. "We are following the university’s protocols and we are working closely with our Public Health Command Center and other health officials who are assessing potential close contacts and advising on additional steps. Because of applicable federal student privacy law, we are unable to publicly disclose personally identifiable information about any student who has tested positive for Covid-19.”

A prescheduled media availability with head football coach Derek Mason was canceled on Friday.

The university is set to open its SEC-only schedule away at Texas A&M on Sept. 26.

6:09 p.m. ET, August 21, 2020

Seattle health official warns that the pandemic is expected to get worse in the fall

From CNN’s Andy Rose

A nurse administers care to a patient in the acute care Covid-19 unit at Harborview Medical Center on May 7 in Seattle, Washington.
A nurse administers care to a patient in the acute care Covid-19 unit at Harborview Medical Center on May 7 in Seattle, Washington. Karen Ducey/Getty Images

The top health official for Seattle and King County, Washington, has warned that the drop in new coronavirus cases in their community seems to be leveling off again.

“We’ve experienced an increasing number of cases and investigations associated with social activities,” said health officer Dr. Jeffrey Duchin during a Friday afternoon briefing.

Duchin said people should not become cavalier about public gatherings because the virus can still be spread easily.

“In the last two weeks, we've had almost 200 business identified as having one or more people with Covid-19 working while contagious,” he said

Although the daily count of new Covid-19 cases in King County has fallen since peaking a month ago, the seven-day rolling average of new cases has remained in triple-digits since June 27. And Duchin said they are not expecting better news in the next few months.

“We expect Covid-19 to get worse in the fall and winter and people to spend more time indoors," he said. 

5:16 p.m. ET, August 21, 2020

Kentucky Derby will now run without fans in the stands

From CNN's Dan Kamal

Empty stands are seen at Churchill Downs on May 2 in Louisville, Kentucky.
Empty stands are seen at Churchill Downs on May 2 in Louisville, Kentucky. Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Just over a week after announcing the famed Kentucky Derby would allow fans in the stands to witness the 146th edition, organizers have changed their minds. The rescheduled Run for the Roses will now be held without spectators.

Churchill Downs originally said it would allow 14% capacity at the racetrack (some 23,000 fans) for the Sept. 5 Triple Crown race.

“The Kentucky Derby is a time-honored American tradition which has always been about bringing people together. However, the health and safety of our team, fans and participants is our highest concern," the Churchill Downs Friday announcement said.

“Churchill Downs has worked diligently over the last several months to plan a safe Derby with a limited number of spectators in attendance. We were confident in the plan, but dedicated to remaining flexible using the best and most reliable information available. With the current significant increases in Covid-19 cases in Louisville as well as across the region, we needed to again revisit our planning.

“We deeply regret the disappointment this will bring to our loyal fans.”

Kentucky’s governor Andy Beshear supported the decision saying, “The virus is still aggressively spreading in Kentucky, and the White House has announced that Jefferson County and the City of Louisville are in a ‘red zone’ based on increases in cases … I applaud Churchill Downs for continuing to monitor the virus and for making the right and responsible decision.”

5:06 p.m. ET, August 21, 2020

CDC updates school guidelines during the Covid-19 pandemic

From CNN's Jen Christensen

A student wears a face mask during a lesson at an elementary school on August 20 in Surprise, Arizona.
A student wears a face mask during a lesson at an elementary school on August 20 in Surprise, Arizona. Cheney Orr/Bloomberg/Getty Images

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its school guidance Friday. The update adds more details to inform administrators’ decisions about opening schools and limit risk, according to CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield. 

Redfield said the updated guidance comes out of discussions the CDC has been having with districts about how to best operate during a pandemic.

The updated guidelines encourage schools to work closely with local and public health leaders if there is an infected person on campus. Rather than shut everything down immediately for a long period of time, the guidelines said one option is an initial short-term class suspension and cancelation of events and after school activities, so that public health leaders can get the time they need to determine how widespread the infections are.

When schools are using a pod system, keeping certain students together, administrators may only need to close certain parts of the building where an infected person had been. If local health officials recommend against closing the building, school leaders should thoroughly clean that area.

The decision to suspend school altogether should be made on a case-by-case basis using the most up-to-date information about the pandemic, according to the guidelines, taking into account local case counts and the degree of ongoing transmission in the community.

More details: Schools are encouraged to “regularly” and “transparently” communicate with staff, teachers, students and families, including about mental health support services available at the school, the CDC said. Sharing facts will “counter the spread of misinformation and mitigate fear,” the guidelines said.

Schools should offer remote counseling and ensure the continuity of mental health services. Schools should also encourage students that feel overwhelmed and want to harm themselves or others to call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

5:02 p.m. ET, August 21, 2020

New York City shares latest data on confirmed and probable Covid-19 deaths

From CNN's Laura Ly

New York City has 19,007 confirmed coronavirus deaths and 4,634 probable coronavirus deaths as of Aug. 19, according to the most recent data on the city website.

The New York City Health Department defines probable deaths as people who did not have a positive Covid-19 laboratory test, but their death certificate lists as the cause of death “Covid-19” or an equivalent.

The total number of confirmed coronavirus deaths and probable coronavirus deaths in New York City is 23,641.

More data: There have been 227,927 coronavirus cases in the city and 56,862 people have been hospitalized, according to the city.

The data is from the New York City Health Department and was updated on Aug. 21 at 1 p.m., according to the website.

To note: The numbers may not line up exactly in real time with CNN’s database drawn from Johns Hopkins University and the Covid Tracking Project.

4:59 p.m. ET, August 21, 2020

University of Iowa discontinues sports programs due to Covid-19

From CNN's Cesar Marin

The University of Iowa is discontinuing four sports programs at the conclusion of the 2020-21 academic year.

The school cited the financial toll of the coronavirus pandemic as the reason for shutting down men’s gymnastics, men’s and women’s swimming and diving, and men’s tennis.

“The Covid-19 pandemic resulted in a financial exigency which threatens our continued ability to adequately support 24 intercollegiate athletics programs at the desired championship level. With the Big Ten Conference’s postponement of fall competition on August 11, UI Athletics now projects lost revenue of approximately $100M and an overall deficit between $60-75M this fiscal year. A loss of this magnitude will take years to overcome. We have a plan to recover, but the journey will be challenging," school president Bruce Harreld and athletics director Gary Barta said in an open letter.

Existing scholarships will be honored through graduation as long as the student-athlete decides to remain at Iowa. Athletes in those sports will have the opportunity to compete in their upcoming 2020-21 seasons, but only if the circumstances surrounding Covid-19 permit before the sports are discontinued. 

Some context: Iowa is the latest high-profile university to cancel sports programs due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Last month, Stanford University cut 11 varsity sports programs including field hockey, synchronized swimming, men's volleyball and wrestling.