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
19 Posts
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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.

6:29 a.m. ET, August 22, 2020

South Korea's fun spots shut indefinitely

From CNN’s Jake Kwon in Seoul

A health worker sprays disinfectant at a market near the Sarang Jeil Church, a new coronavirus infection cluster, in Seoul on August 18.
A health worker sprays disinfectant at a market near the Sarang Jeil Church, a new coronavirus infection cluster, in Seoul on August 18. Jung Yoen-Je/AFP via Getty Images

South Korea will close entertainment venues such as nightclubs, karaoke bars and internet cafes, and ban spectators from sporting events after new Covid-19 cases were reported across the country on Saturday.

Beaches across the country will also be closed indefinitely. 

The restrictions, which will also limit indoor gatherings to 50 and outdoor gatherings to 100, will come into effect on Sunday, Health Minister Park Neung-hoo has announced. 

South Korea detected 332 new cases Friday, Park said Saturday. Imported cases counted for 17 of the total infections. More than 75% of new local cases were found in the Seoul metropolitan area. No deaths were recorded on Friday, Park said Saturday.

The measures align the rest of the country with the capital, Seoul, which has been operating under these restrictions since August 16. Provinces with lower counts will be able to follow these restrictions as a recommendation rather than a mandate. 

South Korea has been credited for having one of the world's most rigorous and well-planned responses to the coronavirus.

5:12 a.m. ET, August 22, 2020

Brits scramble home as country's quarantine rules keep changing

By CNN's Angela Dewan, Sharon Braithwaite and Lauren Kent

Passengers arrive at Heathrow Airport after a flight from Dubrovnik, Croatia, landed on August 21.
Passengers arrive at Heathrow Airport after a flight from Dubrovnik, Croatia, landed on August 21. Kirsty O'Connor/PA Wire/AP/Getty Images

British people on summer holidays abroad are rushing home as government rules on who must quarantine on their return have again changed.

The UK on Thursday removed Croatia, Austria, and Trinidad and Tobago from its list of safe travel corridors as cases in those countries rise, obliging those returning from those countries to quarantine for 14 days. The new restrictions were scheduled to take effect after 4 a.m. on Saturday, triggering masses of holidaymakers to cut short their vacations and get on earlier, often more expensive, flights home.

Thomas Maguire, 63, a sales manager from Northern Ireland was among those on the last planes to land at London's Heathrow Airport before the quarantine rules went into effect. He was due to fly back Sunday but returned early on Friday evening.

He told the UK's PA Media the rule changes were a “complete shambles,” saying he had spent almost £400 ($523) to get on an early flight.

“Why they decided to do it the way they have done it, it’s not in support of any scientific evidence ... that I’m safer today than I would be tomorrow,” he said.

The UK on Thursday also added Portugal to its list of safe travel corridor countries.

The UK government has advised British residents to only travel if they are happy to be forced to quarantine on their return.

"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!)," UK Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps said in a Tweet on Thursday.