Florida governor to allow visitation at nursing homes — more than 5 months into pandemic
From CNN’s Rosa Flores and Sara Weisfeldt
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced a limited reopening of visitations at nursing homes in his state. The announcement was made during a roundtable event in Jacksonville.
DeSantis said all visitations will be by appointment only, with residents designating up to 5 visitors each. Only 2 visitors will be allowed at one time. No minors will be allowed.
All visitors will have to wear personal protective equipment and pass a screening test, per DeSantis. And no facility can allow visitors unless 14 days have passed without the onset of a new positive Covid-19 case, in either a resident or a staff member.
Visitations at nursing homes and long-term care facilities were shut down in March by DeSantis.
12:56 p.m. ET, September 1, 2020
New York launches online portal for voters to request absentee ballots
From CNN's Kristina Sgueglia
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the launch of an online “absentee ballot portal” where voters can directly request an absentee ballot for the November election.
New York is allowing any voter concerned about Covid-19 risk exposure to request an absentee ballot, per executive order, the governor said.
The move follows a swath of election reforms signed into law last month aimed at easing the mail in voting process
All registered NY voters can request a ballot here
12:51 p.m. ET, September 1, 2020
Giroir on new testing guidance for facilities: We have executed actions to assure "extreme clarity"
From CNN's Jen Christensen
Admiral Brett Giroir, who’s leading US Covid-19 testing efforts, said Tuesday that while some nursing homes and states have raised concerns about point of care tests not being specifically authorized by the US Food and Drug Administration to test asymptomatic individuals, they should go ahead and use them to test for Covid-19 in congregate settings.
Giroir, the assistant secretary for health at the US Department of Health and Human Services, said he has heard from nursing care facilities that have been concerned that if they did not perform the more sensitive PCR tests, it be an issue with government regulating authorities.
“These concerns were beginning to translate into actions that could have (increased) risk (for) our seniors, and we just could not accept that,” Giroir said at a briefing.
“We have executed several actions to assure that there is extreme clarity and no room for misunderstanding or misinterpretation.”
Giroir said the US Food and Drug Administration has tried to bring some clarity to the issue by putting out a frequently asked questions lists, on Aug. 24, that emphasized that if the more sensitive tests are not feasible to use, health care providers can use these less accurate tests in settings where people live together like nursing homes, even if the tests are not specifically labeled for this purpose.
Giroir said the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services will not cite facilities for doing this.
Giroir also issued guidance Monday to extend coverage to licensed health care practitioners who prescribe or administer these tests in facilities like nursing homes, long-term care facilities and other group settings like schools and workplaces.
The guidance, he said, pre-empts state and local laws that may prohibit licensed health care practitioners from administering FDA-authorized Covid-19 tests to symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals in these settings.
“So, I don’t think it could be clearer on and everything has been now wrapped up with a bow on it,” Giroir said. “We’re not going to risk seniors because of paperwork issues or misunderstanding.”
12:59 p.m. ET, September 1, 2020
It’s a “utopian” idea to get a Covid-19 test every day, Giroir says, and “I don’t live in a utopian world”
From CNN Health’s Jen Christensen
Admiral Brett Giroir, a member of the White House coronavirus task force, said Tuesday he doesn’t want to answer any more questions about when every American can quickly and cheaply get a Covid-19 test.
“It’s great to talk about this utopian kind of idea where everybody has a test every day and we can do that,” Giroir said. “I don’t live in a utopian world. I live in the real world and the real world had no tests for this new disease when this first started.”
The assistant secretary for health at the US Department of Health and Human Services, who is leading Covid-19 testing efforts, said that the country now has a “huge diversity” of tests, including a $5 point of care test that provides results within 15 minutes.
“There is no stone unturned, there is no technology that we’re not looking at, or investing in if it’s promising,” Giroir said. “We can return to society without having everyone have a test every single day. We can do that. We’re showing we can do that.
“There may be a time where everybody can wake up in the morning, pass through a tricorder and tell whether they’re infected or not, we are not there yet,” Giroir said, referring to a fictional handheld device from the “Star Trek” universe that can scan and record data by waving the instrument over someone.
Giroir said the administration has been “trawling the world” for technology that will advance testing.
“So, I don’t want to answer any more ‘when is that day going to happen,’ because I can’t tell you,” Giroir said. “It may never happen.
“But until it does, if it ever does, we have a plan, the plan’s working, and we're embellishing that plan every single day.”
12:38 p.m. ET, September 1, 2020
James Madison University is reporting over 130 new cases of Covid-19 since Monday
From CNN’s Gregory Lemos
James Madison University is reporting 138 new Covid-19 positive cases among its students and employees since Monday, according the JMU Covid-19 Dashboard.
The University, located in Harrisonburg, Virginia, is reporting a 21.14% seven day moving average of daily positivity rates among students and employees and a 28.6% seven day moving average of positivity rates among students who were tested at the University Health Center.
A little more than half — 79 out of 143 — of the universities isolation beds remain available.
12:39 p.m. ET, September 1, 2020
Personal responsibility is key going into Labor Day, coronavirus task force member says
From CNN's Jen Christensen
Admiral Brett Giroir, a member of the White House coronavirus task force and assistant secretary for health at the US Department of Health and Human Services, said Tuesday that if Americans do what they are supposed to during the Labor Day weekend, the US should be in “really good shape going into the fall.”
“Labor Day is coming up and we need to stress personal responsibility,” said Giroir, who is leading the Trump administration’s Covid-19 diagnostic testing efforts. “So avoiding crowds, outdoors for family gathers are much — much better than indoors —wearing the mask and protecting the vulnerable.”
Giroir said the US has conducted more than 85 million tests for Covid-19, and there has been a 5.35% positivity rate in the past seven days.
For the past seven days, turnaround time for the tests has decreased, Giroir said; 91.9% of results from major referral labs (which do about half the tests in the US) were completed in three days. The mean turnaround time in August for large referral labs was 2.27 days.
Deaths are down 10% from their recent peak seven-day average, he said.
“Why are we seeing the success? Because the national strategy is working,” Giroir, who is leading for Covid-19 diagnostic testing efforts. “We cannot let up. Seven states still have greater than 10% positivity.”
11:49 a.m. ET, September 1, 2020
Covid-hit Spain had 75% fewer tourists in July compared to a year ago
From CNN's Laura Pérez Maestro in Madrid
Spain received 2.5 million international tourists in July, 75% less than in the same month of 2019, according to the country's National Institute of Statistics.
Spending was also down 17.8% per tourist to €994 (or about$1,188).
The Secretary of State for Tourism, Fernando Valdés, explained that this "data reflects how COVID-19 is negatively affecting the tourism sector due to restrictions on international mobility and the lack of confidence in international travel, an impact that is being felt worldwide".
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) said there was a "sluggish improvement" in passenger demand in Europe in July compared to June, but still toppled 87.1% compared to last year.
IATA called on governments to work together to re-establish global connectivity and re-open borders while continuing "with relief measures to sustain airlines during the COVID-19 crisis."
"This uncertainty destroys demand," said IATA CEO Alexandre de Juniac in a statement on Tuesday. "Ten percent of the global economy is sustained by travel and tourism; governments need to do better to re-start it."
11:44 a.m. ET, September 1, 2020
Louisville, Kentucky, announces 195 new Covid-19 cases
From CNN's Ganesh Setty
Louisville, Kentucky, Mayor Greg Fischer announced 195 new Covid-19 cases and three more virus-related deaths during a news briefing Tuesday, bringing the city’s total to 12,612 confirmed cases and at least 282 deaths.
There are currently 111 residents hospitalized, of whom 52 are in the ICU, said Fischer.
The city’s positivity rate currently stands at 9.42%, he said.
“Our wildfire is still burning and it’s burning strong in the red,” said chief health strategist Dr. Sarah Moyer.
Cases are starting to trend downward but are still “way too high,” she continued, adding that the positivity rate is still increasing.
In terms of testing, Louisville’s capacity is “quite robust,” said Bill Altman, Chief Strategy Officer for Kindred Health and former Chair of the Board of Health, who is leading the city’s work on testing as a consultant.
Altman also noted that testing turnaround times are back to 48 hours or less after the city started to rely more on local and regional labs.
10:56 a.m. ET, September 1, 2020
New York City delays in-person school until Sept. 21
From CNN's Melanie Schuman
New York City students will not return for in-person learning until Sept. 21, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced at a press conference this morning. The first day of school in NYC was previously scheduled for next Thursday, Sept. 10.
After discussions with unions, this resolution was done “in a constructive spirit,” the mayor said.
More preparation days for teachers will now be built in to the schedule. The mayor said all of the changes are taking place in “absolutely unprecedented conditions” and the city is setting the “global gold standard.”
Here are details on NYC's new plan for school reopening:
Sept. 8: Teachers and staff return Tuesday as planned, but instead of bringing students back on Sept. 10, that will be an instruction day teachers and staff.
Sept. 10, 11, 14 and 15 will be devoted to preparation for teachers and staff.
Sept. 16: Remote instruction will begin for all students.
Sept. 21: Students can return to school buildings for blended learning – a model previously outlined by the city. Some students come to buildings some days and learn remotely other days.