August 24 coronavirus news

By Ben Westcott, Adam Renton, Jack Guy, Ed Upright, Mike Hayes and Meg Wagner, CNN

Updated 12:00 a.m. ET, August 25, 2020
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9:49 a.m. ET, August 24, 2020

There's a Zoom outage on the first day of school in Atlanta, district says

Atlanta Public Schools just tweeted that there's a Zoom outage impacting parts of the eastern US, interrupting online education.

"We are working to resolve the issue," the agency said in statement.

This is the first day of school for the 2020-2021 school year, according to Atlanta Public School's calendar.

10:21 a.m. ET, August 24, 2020

White House officials raised the possibility of fast-tracking a vaccine before phase 3 trials were completed

From CNN's Phil Mattingly and Jim Acosta

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, left, and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows speak to reporters in Washington, DC, after a meeting with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer on July 30.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, left, and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows speak to reporters in Washington, DC, after a meeting with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer on July 30. Samuel Corum/Getty Images

On July 30, during broader negotiations over the coronavirus relief legislation inside Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office, Sen. Chuck Schumer asked the White House officials in the room how things were going on the vaccine effort, according to two sources familiar with the meeting. 

It was at that point Meadows and Mnuchin walked through the various pieces of vaccine development, and then suggested that the AstraZeneca effort could be ready by September. As the conversation continued, the White House officials raised the possibility of an emergency use authorization before phase three trials were completed.

At that point, Speaker Nancy Pelosi interrupted to tell Mnuchin and Meadows there should be no cutting of corners during the vaccine development process.

The Financial Times first reported the details of the July meeting. 

A senior administration official previously told CNN there have not been any discussions about fast-tracking the AstraZeneca vaccine before the November election. However, this person did not rule out the possibility of an EUA on a vaccine before full approval if there is sufficient data -- although this person said the FDA would not be pushed around on the science of a vaccine.

Michael Caputo, the assistant secretary for public affairs at the US Department of Health and Human Services, on Sunday denied that there was any effort to fast-track vaccine development for political purposes. 

"This is not true, don’t believe it. Talk of an October surprise vaccine plot is a lurid Resistance fantasy designed to undermine the President’s Coronavirus response. And nobody, but nobody, among the career FDA regulators I know will ever stand quietly for political pressure," Caputo said.  

Meadows on Monday morning also dismissed concerns that there’s political pressure to fast-track a vaccine, reiterating how Operation Warp Speed will produce vaccines in phase three trials.

“Yeah that's not happening. I can tell you we're going through a standard clinical process like any other drug would happen and then what we're speeding up is the non testing side of it," he said. 

Additional reporting from Betsy Klein, Joe Johns, Elizabeth Cohen, and Jeremy Diamond

9:31 a.m. ET, August 24, 2020

Coronavirus outbreak at Scottish school sees staff and students told to self-isolate

From CNN's Niamh Kennedy in Dublin

Staff and students have been told to self-isolate for 14 days after 22 cases of Covid-19 were detected at a school in Dundee, Scotland, according to a joint statement from the local health authority, NHS Tayside, and Dundee City Council on Sunday.

Schools in Scotland reopened on Aug. 11, with new rules stipulating that face-coverings should be worn if adults and children cannot keep a two-meter distance, crowded areas should be avoided and hands and surfaces should be cleaned on a regular basis. 

The Kingspark School, where the outbreak was detected, caters for 185 students ages 5 to 18 who all have additional support needs.

According to the statement, 22 positive cases had been linked to the school as of August 23. 

The cases are made up of 17 members of staff, two students and three community contacts. 

Staff have been asked to self-isolate for 14 days from the last day they were on site. Pupils have been told to self-isolate for 14 days from August 20. Anyone who is living or coming into close contact with a student should also self-isolate for 14 days, according to advice given by authorities. The school is currently shut to all students and staff and testing has been made available to all staff.

"Since the identification of positive cases at Kingspark, a detailed contact tracing program has been under way" Dr Ellie Hothersall, Consultant in Public Health Medicine with NHS Tayside said. 

9:18 a.m. ET, August 24, 2020

New coronavirus cases are decreasing in half of US states

The US has reported more than 5.7 million coronavirus cases since the start of the pandemic — but new cases appear to be declining in many states.

At least 25 states are reporting fewer cases in the past week compared to the previous week. Another 14 states have a steady amount of new cases.

At least 11 states are reporting an increase in new cases, but no state is seeing a more than 50% jump. Here's a look at the latest numbers:

9:15 a.m. ET, August 24, 2020

Dow futures soar 300 points after Trump pushes plasma treatments

From CNN’s Anneken Tappe

President Donald Trump holds a press conference at the White House on August 23, to announce that the Food and Drug Administration is issuing an emergency authorization for blood plasma as a potential treatment for Covid-19.
President Donald Trump holds a press conference at the White House on August 23, to announce that the Food and Drug Administration is issuing an emergency authorization for blood plasma as a potential treatment for Covid-19. Pete Marovich/Getty Images

Stocks are set for a sharp rally on Monday after the Trump administration approved a potential Covid-19 treatment. With Wall Street in the green, both the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite could reach new all-time highs.

The US Food and Drug Administration on Sunday issued an emergency use authorization for convalescent plasma — blood plasma taken from coronavirus survivors — to treat the virus, saying the "known and potential benefits of the product outweigh the known and potential risks of the product."

Also boosting stocks, the Trump administration is reportedly considering fast-tracking an AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine prior to US election, according to the Financial Times. Although far from a certainty, investors were hopeful that a vaccine could come faster than many had expected. AstraZeneca's stock rose 3.6% in premarket trading.

After months of investors saying that only a vaccine or an effective treatment solution for the virus would help the economic recovery along, it's not surprising that the news of the plasma treatment is making waves.

Futures for all three main indexes are sharply higher:

  • Dow futures were up 1%, or about 280 points
  • Futures for the S&P 500 rose 0.9%
  • Nasdaq futures jumped 1.1% higher 

Both the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq finished Friday at record levels, so any incremental increase during this session will push them to new all-time highs. The Dow, meanwhile, remains more than 5% below its February record level as of Friday's close.

8:59 a.m. ET, August 24, 2020

How one French city is enforcing Covid-19 rules

From CNN's Melissa Bell

Marseille, a popular tourist city on France's southern coast, has seen a spike in positive coronavirus cases. French authorities have dispatched police to enforce coronavirus regulations. CNN's Melissa Bell reports.


8:48 a.m. ET, August 24, 2020

Here's the latest on Covid-19 cases rising in Europe

From CNN's Niamh Kennedy

A health care worker in Madrid collects a swab sample at a Covid-19 testing center on August 17.
A health care worker in Madrid collects a swab sample at a Covid-19 testing center on August 17. Oscar Del Pozo/AFP/Getty Images

As governments in Europe battle to control further waves of the coronavirus pandemic, Covid-19 cases are increasing across the continent, as students are returning to school. Here are the latest developments:

Germany continues to grapple with a steady rise in infections, with 711 new cases reported on Monday, according to the Robert-Koch-Institute. This comes after a dramatic increase of 2,034 cases on Saturday, the highest number of infections in the country since April 26. Germany had its infection peak in early April when cases hovered around 6,000 every day. The return of schools and holidaymakers from European travels has played a role in the recent resurgence of cases. 

The UK recorded a further 1,041 new cases on Sunday as its schools prepare to reopen. However, the chief medical officers and deputy chief medical officers of its four nations said they are "confident that there is clear evidence of a very low rate of severe disease in children of primary and secondary school ages compared to adults" in a Sunday statement. It added that teachers are not at an increased risk of dying from Covid-19 compared to the general working-age population, but did recognize that it "is likely opening schools will put some upward pressure on transmission more widely and therefore increase [the] R [reproduction rate]."

France reported its highest increase in case numbers since exiting lockdown, with 4,897 new cases reported Sunday by national health agency Santé Publique France. This takes the total number of cases to 242,899. There are currently 59.8 cases per 100,000 residents, according to the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC). Despite the impact on the country's health system being "very limited," the numbers of patients in hospital, particularly in intensive care, is beginning to rise, tweeted Health Minister Olivier Véran on Sunday. Véran urged French citizens to "break this dynamic" as French schools gear up for students to return. 

Belgium was one of the first countries to be hit by a new wave in cases and it drastically tightened social distancing measures on July 27. Belgians will have to continue restricting their social bubble to five people for a further month so that schools can return safely, according to a Thursday press release from the country's National Security Council. The measures appear to be paying off with the average number of daily cases lower than the previous week. Last week there were an average of 493 daily cases compared to a daily average of 581 the previous week, according to figures from the country's epidemiological institute Sciensano published Monday.

Ireland continues to deal with the fallout from a political scandal which saw the EU Commissioner for Trade, a Supreme Court judge and a government minister attend a golf event in violation of the country’s coronavirus social distancing rules, which restrict gatherings of more than 50 people. The country recorded 156 new cases on Saturday and 61 more on Sunday, according to the Department of Health, after significantly tightening up social distancing. Under new measures Irish citizens cannot gather in groups larger than six people indoors and 15 people outdoors. 

Italy recorded another 1,210 cases Sunday, the highest number of new cases since May 12, in addition to 1,071 cases on Saturday. Health officials say the increase in cases is due to large numbers of Italians returning from overseas. The Lazio region, which is home to the country's capital Rome, recorded 215 new cases Saturday, 61% of which were found to be linked to the tourism hotspot of Sardinia. Regional health assessor Alessio D'Amato said Saturday that while “hospitals and intensive care units are under control,” young people in Italy must not assume they are "invincible" to the virus. 

Croatia's case numbers continue to increase after the country was removed from the UK's quarantine exemption list Thursday. There were 171 new cases reported Monday morning, according to the ECDC, which said the country has a rate of 57.8 cases per 100,000 persons.

Spain saw 8,148 new cases recorded in the 24 hours leading up to Friday, according to the country's Ministry of Health, one of the highest daily increases since lockdown measures were eased at the end of June. Spain currently has the highest infection rate of any country in Europe, according to the ECDC, with a 14-day cumulative number of cases of 152.7 per 100,000 people. The government will release the latest data on Monday.

8:11 a.m. ET, August 24, 2020

China has been giving homegrown vaccine to "high risk" professionals since July

From CNN's Amy Woodyatt

China has been using an experimental coronavirus vaccine on people who work in "high risk" professions since July, including front line medical professionals and border inspectors, a senior official from the national health commission revealed over the weekend.

Zheng Zhongwei, director of the Science and Technology Development Center of the National Health Commission, said the vaccine had been approved for use on July 22 during an interview with a Chinese state media broadcaster on Saturday.

Zheng told the CCTV-2 program "Dialogue" that the people who were at high risk of exposure to the virus -- including frontline medical personnel, epidemic prevention personnel, medical staff at fever clinics, and customs and border personnel -- were eligible to receive the vaccine.

The vaccine was developed by Sinopharm's China National Biotec Group Company (CNBG). Phase 3 clinical trials of this vaccine have been conducted in the UAE, Peru, Morocco, and Argentina.

Read the full story here.

7:56 a.m. ET, August 24, 2020

Mexico goes back to (virtual) school

From CNN's Matt Rivers

More than 30 million students return to school in Mexico today. They will not be returning to the classroom, however, after the Mexican government announced earlier this month that all classes will be virtual. Nearly half of the country's homes don't have internet connection but about 93% have televisions, so the government has launched an ambitious plan to record lessons for every single grade level and broadcast educational content 24/7.