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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3:49 p.m. ET, August 27, 2020

United Airlines could furlough 20% of its pilots this fall

From CNN's Pete Muntean

Workers load cargo onto a United Airlines plane at San Francisco International Airport on July 8.
Workers load cargo onto a United Airlines plane at San Francisco International Airport on July 8. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

United Airlines says roughly 20% of its pilots could be furloughed after restrictions attached to a federal bailout expire this fall.

In a new memo to pilots, United's head of flight operations said new furlough WARN notices will be sent to an additional 600 pilots, meaning a total 2,850 United pilots could be furloughed as a result of the pandemic. 

"With travel demand dramatically reduced, our airline will need to become much smaller," United senior vice president of flight operations Bryan Quigley said.

Some context: Major airlines have been barred from shedding any jobs until the CARES Act expires Oct. 1. In the memo, United said while it remains “hopeful that Congress will make head-way on an extension of the Payroll Support Program, we need to prepare and plan for the future should an extension not be granted.”

3:20 p.m. ET, August 27, 2020

Iowa governor closes bars in 6 counties due to uptick in Covid-19 cases

From CNN's Melissa Alonso

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds announced Thursday that she is closing all bars, taverns, breweries and nightclubs in six counties because of an uptick in Covid-19 cases.

Starting Thursday afternoon, bars in six counties will close until further notice; the counties include Blackhawk, Dallas Johnson, Linn, Polk, and Story, Reynolds said.  

Restaurants in those counties can stay open, but must stop serving alcohol at 10 p.m., she said.   

"I am again calling on all police officers in the state to assist in the enforcement of these measures," Reynolds said.

The latest numbers: The state reported 921 new Covid-19 cases and 59,688 total cases. Iowa currently has a 9.7% positivity rate, according to the state health website.  

4:43 p.m. ET, August 27, 2020

North Carolina State orders majority of students living on campus to move out following Covid-19 spike

From CNN's Elizabeth Hartfield

Students and parents begin to move belongings out of Bragaw Hall at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, North Carolina, on August 27.
Students and parents begin to move belongings out of Bragaw Hall at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, North Carolina, on August 27. Gerry Broome/AP

North Carolina State University is asking students who live on campus to move out of their housing by Sept. 6, following what the University Chancellor referred to as a “rapid spread” of coronavirus cases.

“Over the past few days, our campus community has experienced a quickly rising number of positive cases of COVID-19 in both on- and off-campus housing,” NC State Chancellor Randy Woodson wrote in a letter. “We hoped and strived to keep residence halls open and safe to best serve our students. However, the rapid spread and increasing rate of positive cases have made our current situation untenable.”

The university reported 325 positive cases of Covid-19 during the period between August 20 and Aug. 26 out of a total of 3,105 tests performed — a positivity rate of a little over 10% — according to their coronavirus dashboard.

Students can apply for waivers to stay in their housing if circumstances require, but the school says their “goal is to reduce the on-campus population significantly.” 

“Students will receive prorated refunds for unused portions of housing and dining for the fall semester,” the letter adds.

3:17 p.m. ET, August 27, 2020

Biden to Trump on Covid-19: "Get us out of this mess, Mr. President"

From CNN's Josiah Ryan

Getty Images
Getty Images

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden hammered President Trump's handling of Covid-19 in an interview with CNN's Anderson Cooper this afternoon, saying that if the President truly cared about the safety of Americans he'd work harder to solve the pandemic still roiling much of the nation. 

"You want to talk about safety?" asked Biden, responding to Trump's rhetoric about protests and violence on the streets of some American cities.

 "Look at the biggest safety issue in the nation, Covid," said Biden, before citing the latest death tolls.

"[Trump] has been incompetent in the way in which he has dealt with this," Biden continued. "...Get us out of this mess, Mr. President."

3:34 p.m. ET, August 27, 2020

France reports highest number of new Covid-19 cases since March 31

From CNN's Pierre Buet

French Health authorities have reported 6,111 new Covid-19 cases in the past 24 hours, the highest since March 31, at the height of the pandemic.

Prime Minister Jean Castex warned, however, that "these figures must be interpreted with caution since compared to this period, the month of May, we are testing many, many more people."

Yet the percentage of positive tests is increasing slightly as well, from 3.7% to 3.8% in a floating seven-day period. It was around 1% at the end of the lockdown in May according to Castex.

Currently, 4,535 patients are in hospital for coronavirus symptoms in France including 381 in intensive care units.

There have been 30,576 deaths in France since beginning of the pandemic.

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.