August 23 coronavirus news

By Julia Hollingsworth, Jenni Marsh, Angela Dewan, Fernando Alfonso III and Amir Vera, CNN

Updated 12:10 a.m. ET, August 24, 2020
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1:50 p.m. ET, August 23, 2020

White House expected to announce emergency authorization of convalescent plasma to treat Covid-19

From CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta

Tonight’s White House press conference is expected to be about an emergency use authorization (EUA) for a convalescent plasma to treat Covid-19, according to two sources with knowledge of the situation.

Last week, President Trump accused some health officials of playing politics regarding the EUA for convalescent plasma. When asked about the US Food and Drug Administration not having granted a EUA, Trump said it was political.

Today, one of the sources who is close to the White House Coronavirus Task Force, said the FDA has reviewed additional data to inform its impending EUA decision. This official has not personally reviewed the data. The source said the FDA is under no obligation to consult anyone outside the agency about its decision. 

The science: Convalescent plasma is created from the blood of people who have recovered from Covid-19, and it has shown success in two other deadly coronaviruses: MERS and SARS. It has also been used to treat the flu and Ebola. 

Emergency use authorization from the FDA does not require the same level of evidence as full FDA approval.

At the end of March, the FDA created a pathway for scientists to try convalescent plasma with patients and study its impact. Physicians have been using the treatment since. So far, more than 60,000 people in the United States have been treated with convalescent plasma.

1:31 p.m. ET, August 23, 2020

A tweet Trump sent on voting receives a "misleading health claims" label

From CNN's Donie O’Sullivan, Naomi Thomas and Ali Zaslav

Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images
Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

Twitter appended a label to a tweet from President Trump for “making misleading health claims that could potentially dissuade people from participation in voting.”

Trump claimed in posts on Twitter and Facebook early Sunday morning that mail drop boxes for voting “are not Covid sanitized” as well as claiming they are a “voter security disaster."

Five hours after Trump sent the tweet, Twitter took action, saying, “We placed a public interest notice on this Tweet for violating our Civic Integrity Policy for making misleading health claims that could potentially dissuade people from participation in voting.” 

Now accompanying the Tweet is the full security notice: “This Tweet violated the Twitter Rules about civic and election integrity. However, Twitter has determined that it may be in the public’s interest for the Tweet to remain accessible.”

Trump’s tweet puzzled at least one scientist who noted that people are unlikely to catch the virus from touching such a box. People can just wash their hands or use hand sanitizer after touching any objects, including mail drop boxes, noted Erin Bromage, an associate professor of biology at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth, and a CNN contributor.

“You can completely minimize the risk of infection by sanitizing your hands after you drop in your ballot,” Bromage told CNN.

What the science says: The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said that the main way Covid-19 spreads is from person to person and that while there is a possibility of infection from someone touching a surface and then their mouth, nose or potentially their eyes, this is not the main way the virus spreads.

The larger risk of transmission comes when people are crowded into indoor spaces together.

“So while there is a theoretical possibility for viral transfer from a voting drop box, in reality the chances of this occurring and it leads to an infection are low,” Bromage said. 

Although the exact same message was posted to the President’s Facebook account, the company has not taken specific action on the post by Sunday afternoon. 

Facebook says it affixes links to voter information to posts from politicians about the election — a policy which could cause more confusion, as CNN has previously reported. Unlike Twitter, Facebook does not fact-check politicians. 

CNN has reached out to Facebook for comment.

Read the tweet:

4:09 p.m. ET, August 23, 2020

Former Ukrainian prime minister is in serious condition with Covid-19, spokesperson says

From Katharina Krebs

Yulia Tymoshenko attends a news conference in Kiev, Ukraine, on August 3.
Yulia Tymoshenko attends a news conference in Kiev, Ukraine, on August 3. Evgen Kotenko/Ukrinform/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko has tested positive for Covid-19 and is in a serious condition, her press secretary said in a Facebook post Sunday.

The leader of Ukrainian political party "Batkivshchyna," or "Fatherland" in English, has a temperature up to 39 degrees Celsius (102 degrees Fahrenheit), according to her spokeswoman, Marina Soroka.

"She is struggling," Soroka wrote.

Some background: Tymoshenko is one of Ukraine's most prominent politicians and supports integration with the European Union.

She was the first woman appointed as prime minister in Ukraine and served from January to September 2005, and again from December 2007 to March 2010. She also co-led the Orange Revolution in 2004-2005.

12:40 p.m. ET, August 23, 2020

NFL to investigate Covid-19 testing results from New Jersey lab

From CNN's Wayne Sterling

Chris Delmas/AFP via Getty Images
Chris Delmas/AFP via Getty Images

The National Football League is investigating Covid-19 testing results after several teams that use the same laboratory received positive tests on Saturday. 

"Saturday's daily Covid testing returned several positives tests from each of the clubs serviced by the same laboratory in New Jersey," the league said in a statement Sunday. "We are working with our testing partner, BioReference, to investigate these results, while the clubs work to confirm or rule out the positive tests." 

The Chicago Bears and Cleveland Browns canceled practice Sunday.

The Bears announced that nine players and staff members tested positive for the coronavirus. However, after following the league and union protocol, the team said the nine results turned out to be false positives. As a result, the Bears postponed Sunday's morning practice.

The Browns said testing conducted Saturday initially indicated multiple presumptive positive cases from players, coaches and support staff. The team said since returning to its facility last month it has received "encouraging results from daily testing."  

Cleveland will contact trace and self-isolate those who tested positive and others even though all are asymptomatic. The Browns will pause all activities in its facility, including practice, Sunday and will conduct virtual meetings instead.  

Around the league: New York Jets head coach Adam Gase told reporters that he canceled Saturday's walkthrough practice after 10 false positives, but the team was able to practice Sunday after receiving negative test results this morning.

Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer said that 12 people, including eight players, have presumptive positive coronavirus tests. Those players will not practice Sunday. 

Pittsburgh Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert said in a statement Sunday, "On Saturday, we had six players absent from practice due to our adherence to NFL Covid-19 protocol. None of those players were required to be placed on Reserve/Covid-19 and will be returning to meeting today and practice on Monday."

NFL hasn't responded to CNN's request on how many teams use the New Jersey lab. However, Buffalo Bills general manager Brandon Beane said his team was one of at least 10 impacted. Beane said a few Bills players would miss Sunday's practice.

12:13 p.m. ET, August 23, 2020

East Carolina University moves to online instruction after "multiple" clusters on campus 

From CNN’s Lori Daniel

East Carolina University Interim Chancellor Ron Mitchelson announced in a letter today that they are moving to online classes, just two weeks after welcoming students back on campus.

"Throughout the summer, we planned and prepared our campus for the Return of Pirate Nation, and more than two weeks ago, we welcomed Pirates back to campus. We’ve completed two weeks of classes in our first eight-week block for the fall semester. However, during the last week we have experienced a rapid acceleration of Covid-19 cases, including multiple clusters,” Mitchelson wrote. 

The letter went on to say that undergraduate classes have been suspended Monday and Tuesday of this week. Online classes begin on Aug. 26. 

11:55 a.m. ET, August 23, 2020

Florida surpasses 600,000 Covid-19 cases

From CNN's Melissa Alonso  

Florida health officials reported 2,974 new Covid-19 cases and 51 additional resident deaths on Sunday, the lowest single day figures since June, according to the state's health department.

The state has reported 594,287 coronavirus cases among Florida residents and 600,651 total cases across the state, according to the data.

The total Covid-19 death toll in the state stands at 10,325, the state said. 

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 .

11:16 a.m. ET, August 23, 2020

New York state reports its lowest rate of Covid-19 hospitalizations

From CNN's Elizabeth Joseph

New York state is experiencing its lowest rates of Covid-19 hospitalizations, intensive care unit patients and intubations since mid-March, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a statement Sunday morning.

“Hospitalizations dropped to 472, the lowest number since March 16, and the number of patients in ICUs dropped to 110, the lowest number since March 15. Intubations dropped to 50, the lowest number since mid-March. New York state's rate of positive tests has been less than 1% for 16 straight days. No Covid-19 deaths were reported in New York City yesterday,” the statement said.

Of the 74,043 coronavirus test results reported to the state Saturday, 0.77% of them were positive.

There were five coronavirus-related deaths in the state Saturday – none of those deaths were in New York City.

11:17 a.m. ET, August 23, 2020

French Covid-19 cases triple in a month 

From CNN's Fanny Bobille

The number of people who have tested positive for Covid-19 in France recently tripled in one month, according to data from France’s national health agency (Santé Publique France).

In its weekly epidemiological report dated July 23, the agency reported 4,397 people tested positive for the virus in the week July 13-19.

The agency said 15,706 people tested positive between August 10-16, according to its report issued on Thursday.

"The test positivity rate itself tripled in August," French Health Minister Olivier Véran tweeted on Sunday, while explaining that the increasing numbers of confirmed cases in France is not only linked to an increase in the country’s testing capacity. 

More details: On Thursday, France reported 4,711 new Covid-19 cases, the highest daily increase post-lockdown.

On the same day, President Emmanuel Macron said France didn’t plan to lockdown the country again, “but we're going to have to live with the virus and make sure it doesn't spread, especially not faster, and that it doesn't affect older people, who we know are the most vulnerable."

12:05 p.m. ET, August 23, 2020

Italy records more than 1,200 new Covid-19 cases 

From CNN’s Livia Borghese in Rome

A total of 1,210 Covid-19 cases have been recorded across Italy as of Sunday, the highest figure since May 12, according to new government data.  

Sunday's official figures recorded seven new Covid-19 deaths.

There were 1,071 Covid-19 cases reported on Saturday.