August 27 coronavirus news

By Jessie Yeung, Adam Renton, Ed Upright and Amy Woodyatt, CNN

Updated 12:01 a.m. ET, August 28, 2020
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2:46 p.m. ET, August 27, 2020

More than 100 USC students test positive for coronavirus in 3 days

From CNN's Stella Chan

Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images
Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

The University of Southern California is reporting 104 positive cases of coronavirus in the last three days, according to University Student Health.

At least 73 students tested positive from symptomatic and exposure testing, while another 31 were part of population testing. For the latter, anyone who is asymptomatic can be tested. The positivity rate is now 2.7% which is considered high, according to Chief Health Officer Dr. Sarah Van Orman. She notes spread is generally through small gatherings.

In a memo to students Monday, USC Student Health said “it has received an alarming increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in students in the University Park Campus Community as the first week of the fall semester has concluded.” At that time, 43 students tested positive – 29 through symptomatic and exposure testing, plus 14 through population testing. 

University Health wants students to work together to protect the community.

“Even simple board games involving touching shared objects can become a super-spreader event,” advised University Health, adding that eating and drinking in a group is a particularly high-risk activity.

USC started the fall semester on August 17.

2:13 p.m. ET, August 27, 2020

WHO recommends testing even more people for coronavirus

From CNN's Naomi Thomas

Coronavirus testing should be expanded to not only find people with no symptoms, but also to cover those who have come into contact with someone positive for the virus, Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO’s technical lead for Covid-19, said Thursday.

The US federal government is fighting criticism for having revised back guidelines for who should be tested. New Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance says people who have been in contact with a coronavirus case might not need to be tested if they don’t have symptoms.

But the new guidance from WHO says just the opposite. 

“What we’ve outlined are strategies to actively find cases,” Van Kerkhove said. “So we have recommendations to test suspect cases, and in situations where it is feasible and is possible, to expand testing where necessary to really look for the cases so that they could be isolated and contact tracing can ensue.”

When investigating clusters, Van Kerkhove said, “testing may need to be expanded to look for individuals who are on the more mild end of the spectrum or who may indeed be asymptomatic.” 

“What’s really important is that testing is used as an opportunity to find active cases so that they can be isolated and so that contact tracing can also take place where you identify all of the contacts of a known case and that they can be quarantined,” she said. “And this is really fundamental to breaking down chains of transmission.” 

Most important is to test people likely to be infected, she said.

“Our recommendations are to test suspect cases,” said Van Kerkhove, “and make recommendations that contacts, if feasible, should be tested regardless of the development of symptoms.” 

Dr. Mike Ryan, director of WHO’s Health Emergencies Program, said that the primary purpose of testing, and what many countries are focused on, is to confirm whether a suspected case has Covid-19. This is what allows for contact tracing to begin.

This means that testing turnaround time is also important. 

“The most important part of a testing strategy is to decide who you’re going to test, focusing on those suspect cases and then getting those people tested and getting those results back as quickly as possible and initiating the public health actions, either in terms of isolation or quarantining contacts, carrying out cluster investigations,” Ryan said during the briefing.

He agreed with Van Kerkhove that in situations where there has been a cluster of cases, there is a rationale for broader testing of other people who may have been exposed and could be carrying the virus, even if they are asymptomatic or presymptomatic. 

“We need to focus on testing the right individuals, we need to focus on maximizing the testing within clusters and we need to focus on the quality of that testing and the speed of turnaround of that testing, and then what happens next,” he said. 
1:39 p.m. ET, August 27, 2020

More than 180,000 people have died from coronavirus in the US

From CNN's Amanda Watts

The total number of deaths related to coronavirus in the United States have now topped 180,000, according to data provided by Johns Hopkins University

According to Johns Hopkins, there are at least 5,838,695 cases of coronavirus in the US and at least 180,020 people have died from the virus.

So far on Thursday, Johns Hopkins reported 16,876 new cases and 312 reported deaths. 

Here are the dates of some notable Covid-19 US death totals from the JHU data:

  • April 23: 50,000
  • May 23: 100,000
  • July 28: 150,000
  • August 16: 170,000
  • August 27: 180,000
1:18 p.m. ET, August 27, 2020

Alabama extends mandatory mask requirement for another 5 weeks

From CNN’s Nakia McNabb

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey issued her seventeenth supplemental emergency proclamation containing an amended Safer at Home Order that includes extending the statewide mask requirement an additional 5 weeks. 

The amended order extends until Oct. 2, 2020 at 5:00 p.m. It states that individuals in Alabama will be required to wear a mask or other facial covering when in public and in close contact with other people.

“I wish we didn't have to wear masks but we are seeing significant drops in our hospitalizations and daily positive COVID-19 numbers, and I have no doubt that this is a result of a mask or not wearing a mask. It is simply the right thing to do” said Ivey.

Alabama State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris reported improvements in daily numbers of new cases and a decline in the number of deaths and hospitalizations.

“The percentage of tests we've seen that are positive has also declined from almost 17% in mid-July, down to around 8% now so all those are indicating that we have less transmission going on in the community. We believe the mask mandate is a reason for that” said Harris.
12:30 p.m. ET, August 27, 2020

UK records highest daily virus cases since mid-June, and extends travel restrictions

From CNN's Lauren Kent

The United Kingdom reported its highest number of new daily Covid-19 cases since June 12, with 1,522 new infections on Thursday, according to government data. 

The number of new confirmed cases on Thursday is an increase from 1,048 new cases reported Wednesday and 1,184 new cases reported Tuesday. 

The cumulative total of coronavirus cases has risen to 330,368, according to government data. A further 12 deaths have been recorded, bringing the UK's official death toll to 41,477.

Meanwhile, the country removed the Czech Republic, Jamaica and Switzerland from its list of "travel corridor" countries, meaning people arriving from those nations will now be required to quarantine for 14 days, transport secretary Grant Shapps said in a series of Thursday tweets.

The UK has also added Cuba to the list of countries exempt from the 14-day quarantine.

The new restrictions will go into effect for people arriving after 4 a.m. local time on Saturday (11 p.m. ET Friday).

12:01 p.m. ET, August 27, 2020

New York has kept virus positivity rates below 1% for almost three weeks

From CNN's Elizabeth Joseph

New York State has kept coronavirus test positivity rates under 1% for the past 20 days, Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a briefing with the press Thursday morning, calling the statistic "really good news."

Just 0.9% of the 83,000 individuals tested across the state Wednesday were positive for the virus, he said.

There were four Covid-19-affiliated deaths, 490 coronavirus-related hospitalizations and 52 intubations Wednesday, he said, congratulating New Yorkers for the declining numbers.

Congratulations to New Yorkers. Stay with it, stay with it, stay with it," Cuomo said.

These numbers were released by the state, and may not line up exactly in real time with CNN’s database drawn from Johns Hopkins University and the Covid Tracking Project.  

11:49 a.m. ET, August 27, 2020

Florida Covid-19 deaths decline for third day in a row

From CNN’s Dan Shepherd

Florida reported 3,269 new Covid-19 cases and 135 additional resident deaths on Thursday, according to the Florida Department of Health (FL DOH). This is at least the third day in a row that the number of deaths related to the virus have declined.  

Health officials are reporting 605,342 positive cases among Florida residents and 611,991 total cases across the state.    

The Florida Department of Health also shows the total Covid-19 death toll in the state standing at 10,868 Florida residents. 

Currently, there are 4,294 Covid-19 patients hospitalized in the state, with two south Florida counties continuing to report the highest numbers. Miami-Dade County leads with 785 hospitalizations, while Broward County is right behind them at 546. Duval and Palm Beach counties follow with 261 and 247 hospitalizations, respectively.  

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     


11:42 a.m. ET, August 27, 2020

83% of employers will choose more flexible work policies after the pandemic, says survey 

From CNN's Jeanne Sahadi

The pandemic has taught employers a lot about the value of having flexible work arrangements for employees.

So much so that 83% now say that, even after today's crisis has passed, they plan to put more flexible work policies in place, such as allowing more people to work from home or letting them adjust their schedules.

That's according to a recent survey of nearly 800 employers by Mercer, an HR and workplace benefits consulting firm.

Working from home has often been viewed skeptically by managers and executives who assumed it would result in less work getting done if they weren't there to oversee it. But a full 94% of employers surveyed said their company productivity was actually the same (67%) or higher (27%) than it was before the pandemic, even though so many of their employees have been working remotely this year.


11:23 a.m. ET, August 27, 2020

Masks will be mandatory for Spanish school children over the age of six

From CNN's Laura Pérez Maestro and Isa Tejera in Madrid

Spain has announced that face coverings will be mandatory in schools for children over the age of six, as part of measures that schools must adopt when they return in September.

Health Minister Salvador Illa and Education Minister Isabel Celaá said Thursday that "in person" education is their priority and showed a document containing 29 measures and five recommendations agreed with the Spain's regional governments.

Among those measures, Illa highlighted:

  • The compulsory use of masks for all children from 6 years of age 
  • A "bubble system" minimizing one classes' contact with the others
  • A safety distance of 1.5 meters (5 feet)
  • Frequent ventilation and disinfection of the classrooms
  • The use of disinfectant gel "at least 5 times a day"
  • Temperature checks done every morning either at home or at school

Illa explained that this were the "minimum mandatory measures" for all centers, but that regional governments could adapt or add other measures in their territory. A decrease in the number of pupils per class wasn't included in the document although some regions have already announced they will reduce them to 20.

The closure of a school would be "a last resort and only temporary, when there is uncontrolled and generalized transmission," said Illa. Otherwise, a positive case in a school will only quarantine that pupil's bubble.