August 26 coronavirus news

By Julia Hollingsworth, Adam Renton, Amy Woodyatt, Ed Upright, Meg Wagner and Mike Hayes, CNN

Updated 12:01 a.m. ET, August 27, 2020
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9:21 a.m. ET, August 26, 2020

New Jersey gyms can reopen at 25% capacity starting in September, governor says

From CNN's Kristina Sgueglia

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy announced Wednesday that gyms can reopen at 25% capacity on Sept. 1.

Masks will be required, the governor tweeted.

Read his tweet:

9:23 a.m. ET, August 26, 2020

Bed Bath & Beyond is laying off 2,800 employees

From CNN’s Jordan Valinsky

A customer enters a Bed Bath & Beyond store on July 9 in Larkspur, California.
A customer enters a Bed Bath & Beyond store on July 9 in Larkspur, California. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Bed Bath & Beyond is eliminating 2,800 jobs effective immediately, as the troubled retailer tries to streamline its operations and shore up its finances amid the pandemic.

The significant reduction of corporate employees and retail workers will help Bed Bath & Beyond save $150 million in annual pretax cost savings, the company said Tuesday. As of February, the retailer had 55,000 employees, so the cuts amount to 5% of its total workforce. 

Tuesday's "action forms part of a series of changes we are making to reduce the cost of our business, further simplify our operations and support our teams so we can emerge from the pandemic in an even stronger position," CEO Mark Tritton said in the statement.

Some background: Last month, Bed Bath & Beyond announced it was permanently closing 200 stores starting later this year. Brick-and-mortar stores continue to struggle as people shift their shopping online.

The company — which also operates Buybuy Baby, Christmas Tree Shops and Harmon Face Values — has about 1,500 stores. Nearly 1,000 of those are Bed Bath & Beyond locations. 

Tritton was named Bed Bath & Beyond's CEO last October, joining the retailer from Target. In addition to the layoffs and store closures, Tritton is bolstering the company's digital efforts and launching new in-house brands next year.

8:44 a.m. ET, August 26, 2020

Catch up: What you need to know about the pandemic in the US today

From CNN's AJ Willingham

It's Wednesday morning in the US, where more than 5.7 million cases of coronavirus have been reported since the pandemic began, according to the latest tally from Johns Hopkins University.

If you're just reading in this morning, here's a look at the latest updates from across the country:

8:43 a.m. ET, August 26, 2020

India approves first nationally made Covid-19 test

From CNN's Esha Mitra in New Delhi

The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has approved the country's first nationally manufactured rapid coronavirus test kit.

Delhi-based Oscar Medicare said it has developed a point-of-care rapid test kit with a sensitivity of 97.66%, higher than ICMR's requirement of 93% sensitivity, and a specificity of 99% against ICMR's requirement of 95% specificity, according to Oscar CEO Anand Sekhri.

"Oscar Corona Antibody Rapid Tests doesn’t require the use of PPE Kits or highly-trained healthcare staff, as it is very similar to a Diabetes check up ‘Glucometer’ being used by patients across India," Sekhri told CNN.

The test has been approved by the ICMR for lab and hospital use and detects coronavirus antibodies through a simple prick test. It provides results in 15 minutes, according to Sekhri.

The kits are to be launched in the first week of September. Oscar Medicare also hopes to get approval to sell the kits at pharmacies so that they can be used by people at home.

India has over 3.2 million cases of coronavirus according to the Ministry of Health, and has conducted over 37 million tests as of Wednesday according to ICMR.

9:54 a.m. ET, August 26, 2020

Spanish students announce country-wide strike over back to school conditions

From CNN's Laura Pérez Maestro in Madrid

The Education minister, Isabel Celaá, speaks during a Government control session in the Senate on July 14 in Madrid.
The Education minister, Isabel Celaá, speaks during a Government control session in the Senate on July 14 in Madrid. Jesús Hellín/Europa Press/Getty Images

The Spanish student union said Wednesday that it will call a strike over the conditions for September's return to school.

In a Twitter post, the Sindicato de Estudiantes demanded smaller classes and for more teachers to be hired. The students are scheduled to strike on September 16, 17 and 18.

The Spanish education ministry has yet to issue its final recommendations for the start of classes. The education minister, Isabel Celaá, will meet representatives from the regional governments on Thursday to agree the final safety measures and procedures to be put in place. 

In an interview with a Spanish radio on Wednesday, Celaá suggested that children from 6 years of age will have to wear masks while at school, that a "bubble system" will be put in place and that classes will have to be ventilated and disinfected regularly. 

11:33 a.m. ET, August 26, 2020

Here's the latest on Covid-19 in Europe

From CNN's Sarah Dean

A worker at a Covid-19 testing station at Cologne Bonn Airport in Germany on August 8.
A worker at a Covid-19 testing station at Cologne Bonn Airport in Germany on August 8. Sascha Schuermann/Getty Images

European authorities are battling against further waves of the coronavirus pandemic. These are the latest developments from the continent:

Germany: More than 40% of people who recently tested positive for coronavirus in Germany were very likely infected abroad, data from the country's infectious disease agency, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), indicated Tuesday night.

According to the latest figures, the proportion of new cases with links to international travel has risen dramatically since borders began to reopen and now sits at 42%. At the same time, the RKI pointed out the limited validity of the data given that people who have been abroad will be tested more frequently than the rest of the population.

On Wednesday, Germany reported 1,576 new cases of Covid-19 infections according to the RKI, bringing the total tally to 236,429 cases and 9,280 deaths. 

As numbers in Germany continue to rise, the city of Munich warned it will limit alcohol sales if coronavirus cases reach a certain threshold, authorities announced Tuesday night.

France: French health authorities reported a "strong rise" in virus transmission on Tuesday, adding that the situation in the country "remains worrying."

A further 3,304 new cases were reported on Tuesday. By comparison, last Tuesday saw a rise of 2,238 cases, while the Tuesday before saw 1,397 new cases reported.

Face masks will be mandatory in the southern French city of Marseille, and bars and restaurants must close at 11 p.m. local time in the wider Bouches-du-Rhône region, local authorities announced Tuesday.

These measures, which will come into effect on Wednesday night, were decided following a sharp acceleration of coronavirus cases in Marseille, which has an incidence rate of 177 per 100,000 compared to about 33 per 100,000 at the end of July, according to figures given by the regional prefecture Tuesday.

Spain: Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez announced new measures on Tuesday to stop the spread of Covid-19, as he admitted "the situation is worrying". 

Spain will deploy 2,000 military personnel to aid with contact tracing in Spanish regions where it is needed. Sánchez also called on the different regional governments to use the Radar contact tracing app as "if just 20% of people download the application, we can bring down thee contagion levels by 30%." Only seven of the 17 Spanish regions are now using the app.

Meanwhile, the President of the Madrid region, Isabel Díaz Ayuso, announced the circumstances under which the education centers will open in the capital. 

Díaz Ayuso said on Tuesday masks will be mandatory for children aged six and above at all times while in education centers. Catalonia's President, Quim Torra, announced similar measures on Monday, saying children in Catalonia will have to wear masks at school from 12 years of age, and from the age of six in territories with "higher risk of contagion."

In Spain, where regional governments retain responsibility and decision power on education and health, each of the regions will have to decide on measures for schools and other educational centers to reopen. 

People visit a beach in Porto Cervo, Italy, on August 18.
People visit a beach in Porto Cervo, Italy, on August 18. Emanuele Perrone/Getty Images

Italy: Italy has seen a steady increase in coronavirus cases in the past week, according to the country's health ministry. Authorities said approximately 50% of new infections have been contracted during summer vacations, around the country and abroad, primarily among young adults who have not been cautious with social distancing and mask-wearing guidelines.

Italy registered 519 new cases in the past day, bringing the total number of active cases to 19,714, according to Italian Ministry of Health data released Tuesday. Four people have died in the past 24 hours, bringing Italy's death toll to 35,445, according to the ministry. 

United Kingdom: The UK Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has said secondary school children in local lockdown regions in England will now be required to wear face masks, after the government revised its previous guidance.

In other areas of England -- not covered by local lockdown restrictions -- it will be at the headteacher’s discretion whether face masks should be worn.

The Scottish government has already announced that students over the age of 12 should wear masks in communal areas and while moving around schools. The Welsh government is considering its advice to students.

Ukraine: Yulia Tymoshenko, Ukraine's former Prime Minister, remains in serious condition, two days after contracting Covid-19, according to her party’s regional spokesperson. Speaking to CNN on Tuesday, Natalia Kovalenko said several members of Tymoshenko’s close family are also ill with the virus. 

This post has been corrected to reflect that Marseille -- not the Bouches-du-Rhône region -- has an incidence rate of 177 cases per 100,000 residents.

7:16 a.m. ET, August 26, 2020

The Pope will resume public audiences from next week

From CNN's Hada Messia in Rome

Pope Francis waves from the window of the Apostolic Palace overlooking St. Peter's Square on August 15 at the Vatican.
Pope Francis waves from the window of the Apostolic Palace overlooking St. Peter's Square on August 15 at the Vatican. Tiziana Fabi/AFP/Getty Images

Pope Francis will resume his regular Wednesday public appearances next week (from September 2), the Vatican has announced -- the first since coronavirus lockdown started there in March.

The audiences will not be held at St Peter’s Square, but rather in the San Damaso courtyard inside the Apostolic Palace.

It is unclear how many people will be allowed to attend the audience.

6:45 a.m. ET, August 26, 2020

Berlin bans planned coronavirus protests

From CNN's Nadine Schmidt in Berlin

Authorities in Berlin have banned this weekend’s planned protests against the German government’s coronavirus restrictions, citing concerns about violations of hygiene regulations.

In a statement, Berlin's Senate announced: “Today, the assembly authority banned several demonstrations that were to take place next weekend in Berlin,” adding that “the expected circle of participants will be in violation of the current infection protection ordinance.”

The Senate said that protests on August 1 had shown “that the participants had deliberately ignored existing hygiene rules and corresponding requirements.”

Andreas Geisel, a senior official in the state of Berlin said: “This is not a decision against freedom of assembly, but a decision for infection protection. We are still in the middle of a pandemic with increasing numbers of infections. This cannot be denied. We must therefore weigh up the fundamental right to freedom of assembly against the right to the integrity of life. We have chosen life.”

Organizers of the protest had planned to march through the center of the German capital on Saturday. Police told CNN as many as 17,000 participants were expected to march, with thousands more expected at a rally afterwards.

“I am not prepared to accept a second time that Berlin is misused as a stage for Corona [virus] deniers ... and right-wing extremists,” Geisel went on to say, adding that: “The state will not be fooled.”

Here's some background: Thousands of protesters rallied in Berlin on August 1 to demonstrate against measures imposed in Germany to stem the coronavirus pandemic. Police broke up the demonstration, which was attended by some 20,000 people, on the basis that organizers failed to ensure health and safety regulations were followed. Most protesters did not wear face masks or adhere to physical distancing rules, police said. 

German chancellor Angela Merkel is set to meet with the country’s 16 state premiers on Thursday to discuss the country's coronavirus response amid rising numbers of infections.

6:24 a.m. ET, August 26, 2020

Overall crime dropped sharply in England and Wales during lockdown, new figures show

From CNN's Simon Cullen in London

Overall crime levels in England and Wales fell during the coronavirus lockdown, driven by a significant reduction in burglary and theft offences, according to new figures from the UK’s Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Crime levels were 25% lower in April and 20% lower in May than their respective months in 2019, the ONS said.

Theft offences were about half what they were for the same time last year, it added.

By contrast, there was a jump in drug offences during these two months, compared with the same time last year. The ONS said this was because of “proactive police activity in pursuing these crimes during lockdown.”

The UK’s National Police Chiefs Council has previously reported an increase in domestic abuse incidents during the lockdown. However, the ONS says this was not included in the latest report because some police forces only return such data on a quarterly basis.