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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6:47 p.m. ET, August 27, 2020

Schools in Maryland can begin to safely reopen for in-person learning, governor says

From CNN's Gisela Crespo

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announces that all of the state's school systems meet safety standards to reopen for some in-person instruction during a news conference on August 27 in Annapolis, Maryland.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announces that all of the state's school systems meet safety standards to reopen for some in-person instruction during a news conference on August 27 in Annapolis, Maryland. Brian Witte/AP

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan on Thursday announced he will authorize all counties in the state to safely begin reopening schools for in-person learning.

"It is essential that we all work together on flexible, hybrid plans to safely get some of our kids back into classrooms and into health and supportive learning environments. Today, I am announcing that as a result of our improved health metrics, every single county school system in the state of Maryland is now fully authorized to begin safely reopening," Hogan said during a news briefing. 

Hogan said the majority of Maryland's school counties have developed plans that include returning children to the schools for "some form of in-person instruction" in the fall, including for children with special needs. 

Hogan said that "of course, the authority and decision making on those safe reopenings continues to rest with those county boards of education" but their decisions need to be based on statewide metrics.

Under the new guidelines, jurisdictions that are both at or below 5% positivity rate and five new cases per 100,000 population over a seven-day average should be able to hold in-person instruction, said Dr. Jinlene Chan, acting deputy secretary at the Maryland Department of Health.

The latest numbers: Hogan said Maryland's Covid-19 positivity rate has been under 5% for 63 consecutive days since June 25, and below 4% for since Aug. 8. 

"We have seen dramatic improvements in the positivity rates of every single one of our most populous jurisdictions in the state. And last week for the first time, the Covid-19 positivity rate for all 24 jurisdictions in Maryland fell below the 5% milestone. Seventeen of our 24 jurisdictions now have positivity rates below 3.5%," Hogan said.

6:20 p.m. ET, August 27, 2020

South Africa reports more than 2,500 new Covid-19 cases

From CNN’s Hande Atay Alam

South Africa's health department reported 2,585 new coronavirus cases Thursday, bringing its total to 618,286. 

South Africa ranks fifth in the world for confirmed coronavirus cases following the United States, Brazil, India, and Russia, according to data held by the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center.

The country's health department also reported 126 new Covid-19-related fatalities which brings the total number of deaths to 13,628.  

5:54 p.m. ET, August 27, 2020

At least 87 Covid-19 cases in Maine traced back to a wedding

From CNN’s Ganesh Setty

There are now 87 Covid-19 cases associated with an outbreak from an Aug. 7 wedding in Millinocket, Maine, Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the state's Center for Disease Control and Prevention, announced Thursday.

The outbreak has since spread to the Maplecrest Rehabilitation Center and York County jail, Shah said.

Of the 87 cases, 30 are primary cases, meaning those individuals directly attended the wedding and reception, Shah said. That’s almost half of the approximately 65 guests who attended the event.

There are 35 secondary cases, or people who are close contacts of the primary cases, and 22 tertiary cases, or those who are close contacts of the secondary cases, he continued. 

At the Maplecrest Rehabilitation Center in Madison, Shah reported nine cases, five of whom are residents and four are staff.

Meanwhile, at the York County jail in Alfred, Shah said a total of 18 individuals have tested positive — nine staff members, two “other staff” in the building, and seven inmates. 

Exponential growth: Shah said the situation is concerning because of how many people were affected from that initial setting.

“It suggests that there was already transmission happening in Penobscot County by the attendees, and when they came together it was sort of like a powder keg that was giving off sparks and generated a higher than expected number of cases,” Shah said. “There are some positive signs on the horizon, but when you start with such a high number of cases there is the potential for exponential growth, which is of principal concern right now.”

5:44 p.m. ET, August 27, 2020

California Senate Republicans barred from Capitol after member tests positive for Covid-19 

From CNN's Sarah Moon

California State Sen. Brian Jones speaks during a press conference in 2019. Jones said on Wednesday that he had tested positive for Covid-19.
California State Sen. Brian Jones speaks during a press conference in 2019. Jones said on Wednesday that he had tested positive for Covid-19. Rich Pedroncelli/AP

California Senate Republicans have been barred from entering the state Capitol after a member tested positive for coronavirus, Senate President pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins said in a statement on Thursday, forcing the lawmakers to vote remotely.

The announcement came after State Sen. Brian Jones said on Wednesday that he had tested positive for the virus, prompting the Senate to cancel its daily session as state lawmakers rush to pass legislation ahead of an Aug. 31 legislative deadline.

“Senator Brian Jones today, upon his return to Sacramento this week for the end of Session, received news that he has tested positive for COVID-19,” his office tweeted. “He will be taking additional tests to recheck the results and to rule out possibility of a false-positive result.”

A complete cleaning of Senate facilities was ordered following the announcement and members were banned from entering the state Capitol building, according to Atkins.  

“Unfortunately, the nature of the gathering that resulted in the exposures was such that virtually every member of the Republican Caucus is now unable to enter the Capitol without violating public health orders,” Atkins said. 

Republican lawmakers who may have been exposed to the virus are subject to a quarantine order and will be remotely voting from home.

“The Senate Rules Committee has arranged for our Republican colleagues to debate and vote from their residences as we work to conclude the people’s business by the August 31 constitutional deadline,” Atkins said.

5:12 p.m. ET, August 27, 2020

White House announces purchase of 150 million rapid Covid-19 tests

From CNN's Matthew Hoye

Abbott Laboratories' BinaxNOW rapid Covid-19 test.
Abbott Laboratories' BinaxNOW rapid Covid-19 test.  Abbott Laboratories via AP

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany announced the purchase of 150 million rapid Covid-19 tests on Twitter Thursday afternoon.

“This is a major development that will help our country to remain open, get Americans back to work, and kids back to school!” McEnany tweeted.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the deal with Abbott Laboratories is worth $750 million.

Some background: Abbott Labs got emergency approval yesterday from the US Food and Drug Administration for its rapid antigen test, which can detect a Covid-19 infection in 15 minutes.

The FDA's emergency use authorization is for Abbott's BinaxNOW Covid-19 Ag Card. The size of a credit card, BinaxNOW will cost $5 and will come with a free mobile app that will let people who test negative display a temporary, date-stamped health pass that is renewed each time a new test is taken.

The antigen test, which involves a nasal swab, uses the same type of technology as a flu test. Abbott says it anticipates producing 50 million BinaxNOW tests a month by October.

"The massive scale of this test and app will allow tens of millions of people to have access to rapid and reliable testing," said Joseph Petrosino, a professor of virology at Baylor College of Medicine, in a statement released by Abbott.

With reporting from CNN's David Goldman, Andrea Kane and Nadia Kounang.

5:00 p.m. ET, August 27, 2020

Ohio governor says state is seeing highest increases of Covid-19 cases in rural counties

From CNN's Gisela Crespo 

New cases of Covid-19 in Ohio are continuing to move to rural counties, Gov. Mike DeWine said Thursday. 

Speaking during a news briefing, DeWine said the counties with the highest increases of Covid-19 cases in the last two weeks all have a population of under 60,000. 

"We're seeing a real movement toward our rural counties," DeWine said. 

DeWine explained the state has seen a slight increase in new cases compared to last week. "This is not surprising as more students are going back to school and people are moving around more," he added. 

How the numbers look: In the last 24 hours, Ohio reported 1,244 new cases and 32 new deaths. The state has now reported a total of 118,828 cases and 4,076 total deaths. 

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

4:58 p.m. ET, August 27, 2020

Minnesota recorded its first back-to-back days of double-digit deaths since the third week of June

From CNN’s Jennifer Henderson

Minnesota recorded its first back-to-back days of double-digit coronavirus deaths since the third week of June, according to the state's health department.

The department is also reporting 1,158 new cases of Covid-19 and 13 new deaths from the virus. 

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

4:49 p.m. ET, August 27, 2020

Germany expects to have Covid-19 vaccine ready by early 2021

From CNN's Fred Pleitgen

German health authorities expect one or more vaccines against the novel coronavirus will be ready by early 2021, said the German center for disease prevention on Thursday. 

“Current data suggests that one or several COVID-19 vaccines are expected to be certified, first production quantities started and doses delivered by the beginning or 2021,” said the Robert-Koch-Institute (RKI) in its latest epidemiological bulletin. 

However, the institute also warns that there could be shortages of new Covid-19 vaccines. 

“It is expected that at the beginning there will not be enough vaccine available for the entire population so that prioritizing will be necessary," the RKI added. 

Germany currently has several Covid-19 vaccine candidates in various phases of testing. Among the most advanced are efforts by Biontech/Pfizer and CureVac, both of which have received special grants from the German government to speed up testing and expand production capacities.

5:16 p.m. ET, August 27, 2020

Lebanon records highest daily Covid-19 case increase since pandemic began

From CNN's Mohammed Tawfeeq

Health workers handle a coronavirus test at Rafik Hariri University Hospital in Beirut, Lebanon, on August 11.
Health workers handle a coronavirus test at Rafik Hariri University Hospital in Beirut, Lebanon, on August 11. Stringer/NurPhoto/Getty Images

Lebanon reported 689 new cases of Covid-19 in the past 24 hours, which is the highest daily number of infections recorded since the beginning of the pandemic, the country's Ministry of Public Health said.

The latest recorded cases bring the country's total case count to 14,935. There were also seven new fatalities recorded in the last 24 hours, raising the national death toll to 146, the ministry said.

This comes as the country decided on Thursday to reduce lockdown hours starting Friday, according to a statement released by the country Interior Ministery.

Lebanon is currently under a curfew that went into effect last Friday. It takes place from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. (local time). All but essential businesses must remain closed during this curfew.

On Friday, the daily lockdown hours will be reduced by four hours. It will be from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. (local time).

Lebanon's new Covid-19 cases have been more than doubled since the Beirut port blast on Aug. 4, which killed at least 180 people, wounded around 6,000 people and displaced about 300,000 people.