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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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. 

11:03 a.m. ET, August 23, 2020

Pelosi says Democrats are united on stimulus stance despite push for stand-alone unemployment bill

From CNN's Alison Main

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told CNN Sunday that her caucus is standing together in its approach to negotiating another round of coronavirus relief legislation with the Trump administration.

This follows after almost half of House Democrats signed a letter last week calling on Pelosi to pass a stand-alone unemployment insurance bill and restart talks with the White House to find bipartisan solutions to pass another coronavirus stimulus bill. 

"I invite any ideas that they have," Pelosi said on CNN, referring to her fellow House Democrats, later adding "of course, we all want the negotiations to continue but not just what the administration wants, but what the country needs."

Pelosi criticized the Trump administration's stance against providing additional funds for state and local government. The White House has firmly opposed including $1 trillion in state and local aid which Democrats said must be part of a new stimulus bill.

"What they say to us is why should one state help another state that may have needs? Well, we welcome them to the United States of America," the speaker said.

10:46 a.m. ET, August 23, 2020

Iraq reports more than 3,200 new coronavirus cases

From CNN's Aqeel Najm

Iraq on Sunday reported 3,291 new coronavirus cases and 75 new deaths, according to the country's health ministry.

The daily new cases count for Sunday is down from Saturday's figure of 3,965 coronavirus cases, which took the country past the 200,000 mark for the first time.  

The latest numbers are also notably down from last Tuesday's record of 4,576.

Iraq's total number of confirmed cases now stands at 204,341. There is a total of 6,428 confirmed coronavirus deaths nationwide.

10:24 a.m. ET, August 23, 2020

White House chief of staff says Trump would offer USPS support if Dems would vote on broader relief

From CNN's Sarah Westwood and Nicholas Neville


President Trump would be willing to sign a bill that included Postal Service funding and reform – but only if Democrats agreed to include other economic relief measures along with it, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said Sunday. 

“My challenge to the speaker [Pelosi] this morning would be this – if we agree on five, six things — let’s go ahead and pass those,” Meadows said on ABC. “I spoke to the President early this morning. He’s willing to sign that, including Postal Service reform, that making sure that the money is there to make sure that deliveries of first class mail are handled quickly, efficiently, on time.”

Meadows said he planned to call Pelosi later on Sunday and noted he met with a number of congressional Democrats on Capitol Hill on Saturday. Meadows told reporters he had tried to see the speaker, but she was in a meeting and so he left a note. There was no meeting on the books, CNN reported, so there was no expectation of them seeing each other. 

More context: Lawmakers had returned to the Hill for a rare Saturday vote on a bill that provided $25 billion for the US Postal Service, as well as a pause on cost-cutting measures by the USPS Democrats charged would hamper delivery of mailed ballots in the fall.

Meadows called the legislation, which passed the House 257-150 yesterday, a “largely messaging bill” that Pelosi knew had no chance of becoming law.

“It has everything to do with a political statement,” Meadows said on Fox News. “Here's how I know. Because in the privacy of the negotiating room, I offered $10 billion plus reforms for the Postal Service that actually they've been asking for for a long time, to Speaker Pelosi and Chuck Schumer.”

Trump’s chief of staff also criticized Pelosi for previously rejecting the idea of passing individual bills to deal with aspects of economic relief that the two sides could potentially agree on – such as enhanced unemployment benefits and support for small businesses – but then embracing a standalone bill for the Postal Service. He criticized her for bringing the House back on a Saturday to vote on a mail bill, but not for relief funds.

“Why didn’t she come in and do enhanced unemployment?” Meadows said on Fox. “Why didn’t she come in and do money for education and daycare?”

CNN has reached out to Pelosi’s office for comment.

8:32 a.m. ET, August 23, 2020

Czech Republic records highest daily Covid-19 case increase since March

From Tomas Etzler

The Czech Republic on Friday recorded its highest single-day increase in Covid-19 cases since March, according to figures from the country's health ministry.

The country recorded 506 new Covid-19 cases on Friday. The previous daily record was 373 cases on March 27.

The health ministry noted in a tweet that Friday's record number corresponds with an increased number of tests carried out that day, targeting areas where infections have already been detected.

On Friday, 8,532 tests were carried out. This compares to 5,695 on Thursday and 7,312 on Wednesday.

A total of 411 Covid-19 deaths have been recorded in the Czech Republic, according to the health ministry.

9:08 a.m. ET, August 23, 2020

13 dead in Peru stampede as police raid nightclub breaking coronavirus restrictions

From CNN's Jimena de la Quintana and Daniel Silva in Lima, Peru and Amy Woodyatt in London


At least 13 people have been killed and three others injured in a stampede at a nightclub in Lima, Peru, as partygoers attempted to escape a police raid on the venue, according to Orlando Velasco Mujica, general of the Peruvian National Police.

Police were called to the Thomas Restobar in the Los Olivos district of Peru's capital city on Saturday evening to shut down an illegal party that more than 120 people were attending.

Social distancing measures are mandated in Peru, large social gatherings are banned and there is a nationwide 10 p.m. curfew in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Peru was one of the first nations in the Americas to take strict preventative coronavirus measures, but is now one of the worst affected countries in Latin America, with more than 576,000 cases, according to figures from Johns Hopkins University. More than 27,000 have died of the virus so far, JHU reports.

Read the full story here.

6:40 a.m. ET, August 23, 2020

More UK children "likely to be harmed" by school closures than Covid-19, chief medical adviser says

From CNN's Hilary McGann in London

Keeping UK schools shut would likely be more harmful for children than the coronavirus, said the country's chief medical adviser, Professor Chris Whitty, amid a debate over the safety of reopening schools. 

Whitty said the evidence was "overwhelmingly clear" that children dying from the virus was low risk.

"The chances of many children being damaged by not going to school are incredibly clear, and therefore the balance of risk is very strongly in favour of children actually going to school, because many more are likely to be harmed by not going than harmed by going, even during this pandemic," Whitty said in an on-camera interview with British media broadcast on Sunday. 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson previously said there was a "moral duty" to reopen schools in the autumn.

Whitty acknowledged that students returning to the classroom was "likely to put some pressure" on the reproduction rate — or the R rate — which measures how much the virus is being transmitted in the community. An R rate of 1, for example, means every one person with the virus infects one other person, on average. Many countries are trying to keep their R rates below 1 to prevent the virus from snowballing.

On Friday, the UK government updated its guidance to say the country's R rate was somewhere between 0.9 and 1.1.

The government's main scientific advisory body on the pandemic, SAGE, also said Friday it "does not have confidence that R is currently below 1 in England." 

During the interview, Whitty went on to say they were always going to have to balance keeping transmission rates low while doing "the least social economic damage to achieve that."