August 25 coronavirus news

By Jessie Yeung, Adam Renton, Amy Woodyatt, Ed Upright, Mike Hayes and Meg Wagner, CNN

Updated 12:01 a.m. ET, August 26, 2020
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6:32 p.m. ET, August 25, 2020

Updated CDC guidance removes advice to stay home for 14 days after travel

From CNN’s Jamie Gumbrecht

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently updated its quarantine guidance for travelers, removing direct advice to stay home for 14 days after returning from international travel or areas with a high levels of coronavirus cases.

“This updated guidance is based on risk of exposure during travel, asking travelers to think about what they did, where they were, and who they came into contact with to evaluate their risk of exposure to Covid-19,” Jasmine Reed, a CDC spokesperson, told CNN.

“Travelers who have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 before or during their trip should postpone travel until 14 days after their last exposure," Reed added.

The agency’s updated guidance for after travel reminds people they may have been exposed to Covid-19 while traveling domestically or internationally, and that they can be contagious even if they aren’t experiencing symptoms.

“You and your travel companions (including children) pose a risk to your family, friends, and community for 14 days after you were exposed to the virus,” the CDC says on its After You Travel page, recommending that people follow state, territorial, tribal and local recommendations or requirements after travel.

Some of these require a quarantine period. People returning from travel should also follow the usual coronavirus safety guidelines, such as wearing a mask and washing hands and keeping 6 feet away from others.

And if a person participated in a higher risk activity – traveling to certain countries, attending a mass gathering or taking a cruise, among them – the CDC recommends extra precautions: “stay home as much as possible” for 14 days; avoid people at high risk for severe illness from Covid-19; consider getting a Covid-19 test.

The CDC also updated its travel notices to include recommendations by destination, labelling which areas are at higher and lower risk.

Hear more:

5:53 p.m. ET, August 25, 2020

Georgia among worst in nation for new coronavirus cases for second week in a row

From CNN's Nick Valencia and Maria Cartaya

Amid pressure to decrease the number of coronavirus infections in Georgia, which are among the worst in the nation over the last two weeks, the director of communications for Gov. Brian Kemp pushed back on questions about a lack of progress made in combating Covid-19 in the state.

As first reported by the Atlanta Journal Constitution and WABE, the latest report from the White House coronavirus task force shows Georgia is in a "fragile" state and could suffer more without further aggressive actions to control the virus, including a statewide mandate on masks and closing bars in areas with high transmission rates, according to the report.  

CNN reached out to the White House and the task force for comment, but in the past, they have repeatedly declined to make these reports public.

Responding to questions about the task force report, Kemp's director of communications Candice Broce said in an email, "Since the last Coronavirus Task Force report was leaked to the AJC, our new cases per 100,000 people has dropped by 22.68%."  

However, for a second week in a row, Georgia is among the worst in the nation for new coronavirus cases.  

Georgia is currently third in the country for the seven-day average of new cases per 100,000, with 23.40 cases per 100,000. The state is currently averaging at least 2,485 new cases over seven-days, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.  

Broce said the state has made improvements in notable metrics, including in its seven-day average of new cases, which has been steadily dropping since Georgia was at its highest levels in late July.   

In the last seven days, cases across Georgia have declined by 12%. Over the last 14 days the state has seen a 26.26% decrease in cases, according to an analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University.  

Broce further defended the governor’s efforts by underscoring recent improvements made in hospitalizations and positivity rates. She added that the White House task force report, which CNN has not independently verified, shows "Georgia is making progress and has seen a decrease in new cases and a decrease in test positivity over the last week."  

Across the state: The demand for testing is declining despite substantial capacity, including in long-term facilities, which have been the source of outbreak clusters throughout the pandemic. Kemp is currently considering renewed deployment of mobile strike teams to specific areas of need using the Georgia National Guard, if needed, Broce said.  

Still, more than five months into the pandemic Georgia's governor remains unwilling to mandate masks statewide, something public health officials say would help improve the state's abysmal standing among the worst in the nation for new cases.   

Responding to questions about the possibility of a statewide mask mandate, Kemp continued to defer to local governments whom Broce said Kemp has "empowered to implement mandates through his current executive order." 

5:50 p.m. ET, August 25, 2020

Covid-19 transmission in California "continues to show stabilization"

From CNN's Cheri Mossburg

Mend Urgent Care workers perform drive-up Covid-19 testing at Woodbury University on August 24 in Burbank, California.
Mend Urgent Care workers perform drive-up Covid-19 testing at Woodbury University on August 24 in Burbank, California. Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Coronavirus in California continues to spread, but the numbers show stabilization of transmission, Health Secretary Mark Ghaly said in a briefing.

The positivity rates are 5.7% over the past week, and 6.3% over 14 days. Both numbers are down from two weeks ago, a month ago, and two months ago, Ghaly noted. 

Hospitalizations and those in intensive care units are down close to 20%. California reported at least 673,095 cases and approximately 12,257 Covid-related deaths, according to the state's Department of Public Health.

While sharing the promising data, Ghaly warned, “This sneaky virus that we call Covid-19 doesn’t take a rest. It will find every opportunity to transmit from person-to-person because that’s what germs do. It’s no surprise.”

New guidelines for different business sectors are expected to be announced later this week in an effort to safely reopen more businesses in areas that have a handle on the virus.

One wildcard in the effort to quell the virus are the massive wildfires tormenting the state. “It’s hard to tell,” Ghaly said, “whether the actions or mixing of people due to wildfires have had an impact on Covid transmission.”

About 136,000 people have been evacuated due to the threat of wildfire and more than 3,600 are being housed at evacuation shelters. Safeguards are in place and have largely been followed, Ghaly said. But he added that he would not be surprised to see increased transmission in those areas.

NOTE: These numbers were released by California Department of Public Health and the Los Angeles Department of Public Health, and may not line up exactly in real time with CNN’s database drawn from Johns Hopkins University and the Covid Tracking Project.

5:19 p.m. ET, August 25, 2020

Indoor dining can resume next week at 50% capacity in Miami-Dade county, mayor says

From CNN’s Lindsay Benson

People eat outside of a restaurant on Ocean Drive in Miami Beach, Florida, on June 26.
People eat outside of a restaurant on Ocean Drive in Miami Beach, Florida, on June 26. Chandan Khanna/AFP/Getty Images

Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Giménez announced during a virtual news conference on Tuesday that restaurants can resume indoor dining at 50% capacity starting Monday. 

Giménez said that this announcement comes "after consultation with our medical advisors and also from the White House Task Force." 

Some of the requirements will include a maximum of six people per sitting area and six feet of space between tables, Giménez said. 

Earlier on Tuesday, Carlos Hernández, the mayor of the city of Hialeah, Florida, told CNN over the phone that he directed his departments not to enforce the county's previous order.

In a video shared on his Facebook page Tuesday, Mayor Hernández said "I am asking my city employees, my departments, that we will not be enforcing in the City of Hialeah the regulations of restaurants being closed. The county can come and do that. Now I'm not going to ask these businesses or tell any business to do it, to open or not. But what I'm saying is, Hialeah cannot be part of this any longer."

Mayor Giménez responded to Mayor Hernández's comments.

"These are county rules, and if the Hialeah Mayor decides that his police force is not going to be enforcing the county rules, the county will be enforcing the county rules, because the county has jurisdiction everywhere," Giménez said.  

He went on to say "the opening is not allowed until Monday. So if restaurants in Hialeah open up before Monday, they may well find a Miami-Dade County police officer there to give them a fine for violating the county rules."

4:53 p.m. ET, August 25, 2020

Kentucky moved from red state to yellow one in terms of overall Covid-19 infection rates

From CNN's Pierre Meilhan

Kentucky has been moved from a red state to a yellow one by the White House in terms of overall Covid-19 infection rates, Gov. Andy Beshear said Monday.

Beshear told reporters in Frankfort that the masks are working and have helped lower the infection rate in the state, but he doesn’t believe it’s safe to reopen schools for in-person classes before Sept. 28

The total number of Covid-19 cases in Kentucky schools has grown to 147 students and 35 faculty or staff. In colleges and universities, a total of 479 students and 44 faculty or staff have been infected by the virus, Beshear said.

In an effort to reduce the spread of Covid-19, the governor also said he commuted the sentences of 646 inmates in light of the crime they were convicted of.

Beshear announced that 688 new Covid-19 cases were reported Tuesday, including 96 kids who are 18 and younger. There were also 10 new Covid-19 related deaths from the virus, most of them above 80 years old.

The positivity rate is now back above five percent, at 5.07%, the governor said as he emphasized that the state is aiming for a rate below 5%.

4:20 p.m. ET, August 25, 2020

Georgia reports more than 2,200 new Covid-19 cases

From CNN's Maria Cartaya

The Georgia Department of Public Health reported at least 2,236 new cases of Covid-19 on Tuesday.  

That brings the statewide Covid-19 case total to approximately 258,354. 

The health department also reported at least 107 new deaths. The total number of deaths attributed to Covid-19 in Georgia is now approximately 5,262.    

The state reported at least 292 new Covid-19-related hospitalizations on Tuesday.  

Note: These numbers were released by the Georgia Department of Public Health and may not line up exactly in real time with CNN’s database drawn from Johns Hopkins University and the Covid Tracking Project.

4:22 p.m. ET, August 25, 2020

Illinois announces new Covid-19 restrictions for restaurants and bars

From CNN’s Nakia McNabb

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced a new expanded statewide policy focused on slowing the spread of Covid-19 in restaurants and bars and combating rising coronavirus numbers in some parts of the state.

Beginning tomorrow, all restaurant and bar patrons must wear face coverings over their noses and their mouth when interacting with wait staff and other employees. Customers must follow this rule when food and beverages are brought to the table, when orders are placed and when picking up carry out orders, Pritzker said at a news conference Tuesday.

“My hope is that imposing stronger mitigations now will result in faster public health progress that will allow us to reopen again, sooner. To open businesses, and to keep them open, we must slow the rate of the infection across the state” Pritzker said.

Hot spots: The governor also addressed the rising number of positive Covid-19 cases in Will and Kankakee counties. The average positivity rate for both counties exceeds 8% with the numbers of cases getting worse, not better. Pritzker said that the positivity level is a “danger signal that triggers new and stricter mitigations” and is based upon the resurgence plan he announced last month.

In order to mitigate the rising number of cases in Will and Kankakee counties, the governor announced new policies for that region also beginning tomorrow.

“All indoor bar service and indoor dining service will be closed. Outdoor bars and dining may stay open for table service if they follow the required mitigations, including that all patrons should remain seated, and that reservations will be required for any size groups," he said.

Other policies include removing all barstools to help ensure that no ordering, seating or congregating takes place at bars. Additionally, all bars, restaurants, gaming facilities and casinos must close at 11 p.m. local time. Party buses will be closed and gathering limits will be the lesser of 25 individuals or 25% of overall room capacity, Pritzker said.

The latest numbers: Illinois reports there are at least 1,549 individuals currently hospitalized across the state with Covid-19. Of those, at least 345 are in the ICU and at least 135 are on ventilators. The state also reports at least 1,680 new cases over the last 24 hours and 29 additional deaths.

3:47 p.m. ET, August 25, 2020

Pennsylvania debuts state's first mobile Covid-19 testing facility

From CNN’s Alec Snyder

Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine announced the state’s first moving Covid-19 testing facility Tuesday.

The unit – which is officially referred to as Community-Accessible Testing and Education (CATE) – is an RV that made its first official stop in Littlestown, Pennsylvania on Monday. It has the capacity to test between 220 and 250 individuals for Covid-19 and also provides education on how people can care for themselves and others if they or their loved ones get sick.

Tests will be sent to the state’s Exton-based lab where results will be available within 24 to 48 hours, Levine said.

CATE is scheduled to make 30 stops by the end of September and will be focused in south-central and southeastern Pennsylvania, Levine said. The unit will also make stops in Erie and Allegheny Counties.

Anyone is able to get a test without an appointment and regardless of insurance or immigration status, Levine said. CATE will be stopping at local community centers, YMCA’s and churches.

3:11 p.m. ET, August 25, 2020

Texas shelters will have PPE and have Covid-19 testing as state braces for hurricane

From CNN’s Jamiel Lynch

Shelters in Texas will be stocked with PEE, use social distancing to separate people and have testing available, Gov. Greg Abbott said in a press conference as the state prepares for Hurricane Laura.

Abbott said that he made a disaster declaration for 23 counties yesterday and will be adding 36 more to that list. 

The governor, who noted today is the third anniversary of when Hurricane Harvey hit Texas, said that there are more evacuations in the state than they had with Harvey. 

Abbott recommended that residents evacuate to hotels or motels if possible, but said that shelters will be ready and available if needed. 

The state is expecting high winds and up to a possible 10 foot water surge when the eye of the hurricane comes a shore, he said.