August 22 coronavirus news

By Nectar Gan, Brett McKeehan, Angela Dewan, Fernando Alfonso III and Amir Vera, CNN

Updated 0435 GMT (1235 HKT) August 23, 2020
21 Posts
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12:32 p.m. ET, August 22, 2020

Covid-19 hospitalizations in Mississippi dropped below 1,000 for first time in 2 months

From CNN's Chandler Thornton

The number of Covid-19 hospitalizations in Mississippi dropped below 1,000 for the first time in two months on Friday, according to the state's Gov. Tate Reeves.

"We're down almost 25% from the peak," Reeves said in a press briefing Saturday, responding to a question of whether he had concerns about the tropical storms affecting hospitals since Covid-19 hospitalizations are still high.

The number of patients in intensive care unit beds was at 339 two weeks ago and has dropped to 260, Reeves added.

"They are at levels higher than we want them to be, and they are at levels higher than they were through March and April, but I have full confidence in our health care system that we can handle any damage and major catastrophe that come before us," the governor said.

12:04 p.m. ET, August 22, 2020

UK reports more than 1,200 new Covid-19 cases

From CNN’s Luke Henderson

The United Kingdom recorded 1,288 new Covid-19 cases and 18 new deaths on Saturday, government figures show.

This is compared to 1,033 recorded cases and two deaths on Friday, according to the UK government’s official dashboard.

The latest figures were released after tighter coronavirus restrictions came into force in the northern England regions of Oldham, Blackburn and Pendle following a "rising tide of Covid-19 cases," the government said. 

Professor Sir Mark Walport, from the UK government’s scientific advisory board, SAGE, cautioned on Saturday that the percentage of new cases in the UK is rising in some parts of the country, warning that “much more draconian measures” may need to be enforced if there is a significant rise in the infection rate.   

“Is there a situation where it could get out of control? Well, obviously, that is possible and that is why it is so important that we all work together,” Walport told BBC Radio 4.

More data: There are currently 21.5 cases per 100,000 people across the United Kingdom, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.  

11:53 a.m. ET, August 22, 2020

Maryland's Covid-19 test positive rate remains around 3%

From CNN's Sheena Jones

The Covid-19 testing positive rate in Maryland remains at 3.09%, according to data posted on the website for the state's health department.

There was only a 0.01% change in the rate in the last 24-hours, the website said.

The state announced 624 additional cases of Covid-19 and 10 deaths from the virus.

Maryland has a statewide total of 103,523 cases of the virus and 3,546 deaths.

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

11:21 a.m. ET, August 22, 2020

The number of Covid-19 cases in Florida nears 600,000

From CNN's Melissa Alonso  

Florida health officials have reported 4,311 new Covid-19 cases and 106 additional resident deaths on Friday, according to the state's health department.  

Florida has reported at least 4,000 cases for four consecutive days, according to CNN's tally.

The state has 591,283 coronavirus cases among Florida residents and 597,597 total cases across the state, according to data from the department.

The total Covid-19 death toll in the state stands at 10,274, according to the department.

To note: These numbers were released by Florida’s public health agency, and may not line up exactly in real time with CNN’s database drawn from Johns Hopkins University and the Covid Tracking Project .

10:19 a.m. ET, August 22, 2020

Coronavirus death toll reaches 800,000 globally

From CNN's Hilary McGann

The global coronavirus death toll has reached 800,000, according to the latest data released by John Hopkins University on Saturday. 

The US remains the country with the highest death toll, with a total of 175,429 coronavirus-related deaths recorded so far.  

The US, Brazil, Mexico, India and the United Kingdom have the five highest death tolls recorded globally.  

 

4:26 p.m. ET, August 22, 2020

A Slovakian soccer team forced to quarantine on the Faroe Islands

From CNN's Ben Church

Catherine Ivill/Getty Images
Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

The Slovan Bratislava football team from Slovakia is under quarantine in the Faroe Islands after two of its players tested positive for coronavirus, Europe's soccer governing body UEFA said in a statement Saturday.

The entire team had tested negative before arriving at the North Atlantic archipelago, where it was scheduled to play a Champions League qualifier against the Faroe Islands' team KI Klaksvik on Wednesday, UEFA said. But all players were tested again after arriving, with one testing positive.

"Following a member of the delegation of ŠK Slovan Bratislava having returned a positive test for COVID-19, the local authorities decided to quarantine the entire ŠK Slovan Bratislava team," UEFA said.

Slovan Bratislava came up with a second group of players to represent the club in a rescheduled match on Friday, but one among them also tested positive. That match was cancelled and the entire second group, which also included officials, has also been quarantined.

9:49 a.m. ET, August 22, 2020

Trump takes aim at FDA commissioner he nominated

From CNN's Sarah Westwood

Dr. Stephen Hahn at hearing on Capitol Hill on June 30.
Dr. Stephen Hahn at hearing on Capitol Hill on June 30. Al Drago/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump took aim Saturday at the Food and Drug Administration commissioner he nominated, Dr. Stephen Hahn, and accused some in the agency of being part of the “deep state.”

Trump called on Hahn to speed up testing for a coronavirus vaccine.

The President claimed some in FDA are deliberately delaying vaccine trials so one would not be available until after the election.

Critics have expressed concerns the administration will rush to prepare a vaccine at the expense of safety.

CNN has reached out to the FDA for comment.

Some background: Hahn addressed some of those concerns in an op-ed on Aug. 5, in which he wrote: “While speed is essential in this global emergency, we at the FDA are committed to maintaining strict scientific principles and protection of those who volunteer as vaccine test subjects.”

6:58 a.m. ET, August 22, 2020

UK government scientific adviser warns coronavirus could remain active indefinitely 

From CNN's Nada Bashir

Passengers wearing protective masks exit the arrivals terminal at Birmingham Airport on July 27, 2020 in England.
Passengers wearing protective masks exit the arrivals terminal at Birmingham Airport on July 27, 2020 in England. Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

An expert adviser to the UK government on the pandemic has warned that the coronavirus could remain active on a global scale indefinitely, adding that the world may need to undergo several rounds of vaccinations.

“This is not going to be a disease like Smallpox, which could be eradicated by vaccination. This is a virus that is going to be with us forever in some form or another,” Professor Mark Walport, who sits on the government’s scientific advisory board, SAGE, told BBC Radio 4 on Saturday. 

“[It] almost certainly will require repeated vaccinations so, a bit like flu, people will need re-vaccination at regular intervals.”

Pressed on whether he agrees with projections from WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who said Friday that he hoped the pandemic would be over in under two years, Walport told the BBC that tackling the virus will depend on a successful vaccine. 

“I am reasonably optimistic that it will be possible to make such a vaccine -- there are a large number in development, including two that are in advanced stages from the UK,” Walport said. 

The government adviser also cautioned that the percentage of new cases in the UK is rising in some parts of the country, warning that “much more draconian measures” may need to be enforced if there is a significant rise in the infection rate. 

“Is there a situation where it could get out of control? Well, obviously, that is possible and that is why it is so important that we all work together,” Walport said. 

“This infection is with us. We know that less than one in five people around the country have been infected, so 80% of the population are still susceptible to the virus." 

6:37 a.m. ET, August 22, 2020

Senior Irish politicians under fire in #Golfgate coronavirus scandal

From CNN's Angela Dewan, Martin Goillandeau and Hilary McGann in London, Peter Taggart in Belfast and Niamh Kennedy in Dublin

Irish politics has been plunged into chaos after dozens of current and former politicians attended a parliamentary golf society dinner, allegedly in breach of the country's coronavirus social distancing rules.

Ireland's national police force confirmed in a statement Friday that it was "investigating an event" held in the city of Galway on Wednesday evening that may have breached coronavirus-related health laws. Minister for Agriculture Dara Calleary has resigned, as has the vice chair of Ireland's upper house, Jerry Buttimer. 

Irish Twitter users expressed their furor Saturday over the dinner using the hashtag #golfgate. The dinner was held by the parliamentary Oireachtas Golf Society at a hotel in Galway with more than 80 people listed as in attendance and with seating plans showing 10 people per table, according to the Irish Examiner.

One Twitter user vented his anger over the dinner, saying the dinner made a mockery of everyday people's sacrifices.

The day before the dinner, the government tightened restrictions on indoor gatherings to just six people. Weddings and some cultural events, including plays and concerts, could be attended by up to 50 people, although there was confusion over whether those rules had come into effect. Older restrictions also capped the number of people sitting at one table indoors to six from no more than three households.

Irish media reports said that the event space originally included a partition to separate the group and keep numbers in each section to below 50. Some quoted sources saying the partition was removed for speeches.

Several Twitter users pointed out the hypocrisy of having one rule for politicians and another for everyone else.

Calleary, who resigned Friday, apologized in a series of tweets on Thursday, expressing “sincere regret” to his government colleagues. “In light of the updated public health guidance this week I should not have attended the event. I wish to apologise unreservedly to everyone,” he wrote. 

Buttimer shared on Twitter a letter sent to the chief of parliament's upper house saying his attendance “had compromised the government at a time when people, across every sector of Irish society are doing their best to keep all safe during this global pandemic.” Calling it an “unintended but serious lapse in judgement,” Buttimer said he “should not have attended the dinner” and consequently would tender his resignation.