The latest on the Covid-19 pandemic as Olympics approach

By Meg Wagner, Melissa Macaya, Melissa Mahtani, Mike Hayes and Veronica Rocha, CNN

Updated 8:00 p.m. ET, July 19, 2021
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2:24 p.m. ET, July 19, 2021

Team USA basketball player admits getting sick from Covid-19 and will now miss Tokyo Olympics

From CNN's David Close

(Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images/FILE)
(Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images/FILE)

Katie Lou Samuelson, a member of the US Olympic 3x3 women’s basketball team, will not be able to compete in the Tokyo Games after being diagnosed with Covid-19.

"I am devastated to share that after getting sick with COVID-19, I will not be able to go and compete in Tokyo," Samuelson stated on her Instagram account.

Samuelson says she is “heartbroken” as she was fully vaccinated.

Samuelson, who plays professionally with the WNBA's Seattle Storm, has had her roster spot filled by Jackie Young.

USA Basketball tweeted, "Our hearts are broken for Lou. We thank her for her endless commitment to building up USA Basketball 3x3 & we will miss her dearly in Tokyo."

2:14 p.m. ET, July 19, 2021

White House won't commit to reopening northern border despite announcement from Canada

From CNN's Kevin Liptak

The White House declined Monday to commit to reopening its northern border to Canadians after Canada's government said vaccinated US citizens would be able to enter on Aug. 9.

"We are continuing to review our travel restrictions and any decisions about reopening travel will by guided by our public health and medical experts," White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters. "We take this incredibly seriously but we look and are guided by our own medical experts. I wouldn’t look at it through a reciprocal intention."

The White House has been under pressure from foreign allies to resume international travel after keeping bans in place from the previous administration.

It was a topic of discussion last week between President Biden and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who questioned why the restrictions remain in place.

The US has set up working groups with allies in the UK and the EU on reopening travel, but the results of those discussions haven't been clear.

1:56 p.m. ET, July 19, 2021

UK will only offer Covid-19 vaccines to children who have underlying health conditions

From CNN's Lindsay Isaac and Rob Iddiols

The UK will only offer Covid-19 vaccines to children if they have underlying health conditions, British Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi said following the latest recommendations from the government’s vaccine advisers.

“Today’s advice does not recommend vaccinating under-18s without underlying health conditions at this point in time. But the JCVI [Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation] will continue to review new data, and consider whether to recommend vaccinating under-18s without underlying health conditions at a future date,” Zahawi said during a briefing to Parliament Monday.

Children between the ages of 12 and 15 will be offered the vaccine if they have a neurological disorder, Down syndrome, a weakened immune system or profound or multiple learning disabilities.   

Seventeen-year-olds within three months of their 18th birthday will also be eligible for a vaccine to ensure they are protected when they turn 18, Zahawi said. Likewise, children between ages 12 to15 living with immunosuppressed individuals will also be eligible.

Britain’s independent medicines regulator, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, has approved the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for people ages 12 and older as it “meets their robust standards of safety, effectiveness and quality.”

In a statement, Health Secretary Sajid Javid said he has accepted the expert recommendations and has instructed the country’s public health service (NHS) to make preparations for the expanded rollout “as soon as possible.” 

Although far rarer than in adults, children can be severely impacted, hospitalized and die from the coronavirus. 

1:48 p.m. ET, July 19, 2021

Jill Biden will still travel to Tokyo for the Olympics this week, White House says

From CNN's Kate Sullivan

First lady Jill Biden is still planning on traveling to Tokyo for the Olympics this week, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Monday, following reports of athletes testing positive for Covid-19 just days before the start of the games.  

“Nothing has changed in terms of our plans for the US delegation. Our team will be following very strict safety and health protocols, limiting engagement with the public and keeping our footprint as small as possible,” Psaki told reporters at a White House briefing. 

“We are aware, of course, of Covid-19 case among a handful of athletes. We’re monitoring the situation, wishing a speedy recovery to those who have tested positive,” Psaki said. “Public health remains a central priority for the games. The government of Japan and the IOC have very strict protocols and they're taking careful safety precautions to keep the athletes and the public safe,” she continued. 

“Our Covid team at the White House, as well as health officials at the IOC and the government of Japan, all agree that the stringent protocols and health measures in place will keep them safe,” Psaki added.

Some background: US female gymnast Kara Eaker, an alternate on the Olympic Gymnastics team, tested positive for Covid-19 Monday morning – just days before the Tokyo Olympic Games start on Friday. American tennis hopeful Cori "Coco" Gauff and South African footballers in the Olympic Village have also tested positive.

1:45 p.m. ET, July 19, 2021

Canada will finally open its borders, first to Americans, beginning August 9

From CNN’s Paula Newton

The long wait will soon be over for foreigners who have been banned from entering Canada for nearly 16 months. 

Beginning August 9, fully vaccinated citizens and permanent residents of the United States currently residing in the US will be permitted to enter Canada. Non-essential travel into Canada has been banned since March 2020, something the Canadian government said was necessary to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.

International travelers may also be allowed to enter Canada beginning September 7, provided that the "COVID-19 epidemiology remains favorable," the Canadian government said in statement released Monday. 

Entry to Canada will continue to be prohibited for all foreign travelers who are not fully vaccinated.  

Further, the statement says all fully vaccinated American citizens and permanent residents must have received the full series of a vaccine — or combination of vaccines — accepted by the Government of Canada at least 14 days prior to entering Canada. Currently, those vaccines are manufactured by Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD, and Janssen (Johnson & Johnson). 

Other vaccines, including those from China or Russia will not be recognized by Canada and officials say they are continuing to "look into it" and will announce policy changes accordingly. 

Travelers must provide evidence proving they have been vaccinated.

In a significant concession, unvaccinated minors under the age of 12 entering Canada with vaccinated parents or guardians will not have quarantine for 14 days. 

In another change to policy, fully vaccinated travelers will not need a post-arrival test unless they have been randomly selected at the port of entry to complete a Covid-19 molecular test. All travelers coming into Canada, regardless of vaccine status, will need a negative PCR or molecular test within 72 hours of requesting entry.

1:55 p.m. ET, July 19, 2021

Australian Olympic swimmer posts picture of Covid-19 test athletes have to take daily

Australian Olympic swimmer Emily Seebohm has been documenting the daily life of athletes in the Tokyo's Olympic Village in vlogs posted to her Instagram account.

In her latest post, she shows the daily Covid-19 tests the athletes in the Olympic Village have to take daily.

"We just have to fill to that black line of spit which is um, not very nice," she says.

The five-time Olympic medalist also gave viewers a glimpse of the meals teams are eating and a look inside where all the snacks are kept in the Australian team room.

Teams from more than 200 countries are due to arrive in the city in the coming days. As of Friday, more than 15,000 Olympic individuals had entered Japan, according to Thomas Bach, president of the IOC.

The Olympic Village, containing 21 residential buildings, will house about 11,000 athletes. The number of Covid-19 cases linked to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in Japan has risen to at least 61, according to Tokyo 2020 organizers.

1:41 p.m. ET, July 19, 2021

Florida governor urges people to get vaccinated as cases rise

From CNN's Tina Burnside 


Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is stressing the importance of getting the Covid-19 vaccine as cases in the state continue to rise. 

During a news conference on Monday, DeSantis said the case spike in July was expected as the virus is following a seasonal pattern. 

"If you are vaccinated though, the number of people that end up hospitalized is almost zero, it's incredibly, incredibly low, so I think there's some misinformation out there where someone will say 'oh these people were vaccinated, then they tested positive,'" DeSantis said. 

The governor said the ultimate goal is to keep people out of the hospital.

"We have three vaccines available to anyone, any adult can get it at pharmacies, health departments, you name it," he said. 

DeSantis said although he doesn't support vaccine mandates, it is very important to have the right messaging for people who may be skeptical of receiving the vaccine. 

1:42 p.m. ET, July 19, 2021

White House in a "battle with the virus" not Facebook, press secretary says 

From CNN's Allie Malloy

Susan Walsh/AP
Susan Walsh/AP

The White House is "not in a war or battle with Facebook" but in a "battle with the virus," press secretary Jen Psaki said, adding that the administration is still not taking "any options off the table" in their response to Covid-19 vaccine misinformation.  

Earlier Monday, Biden put pressure on Facebook over the online dissemination of Covid-19 vaccine information but backed off his recent accusation that the company was directly responsible for "killing people."

Asked whether Biden's comments mean there will be no regulatory actions on the matter, Psaki said: "I don't think we've taken any options off the table. That's up to Congress to determine how they want to proceed moving forward." 

"Let me just note that we are not in a war or a battle with Facebook. We're in a battle with the virus and the problem we're seeing that our surgeon general elevated just last week, is that disinformation, traveling through a range of mediums- some of them are a range of social media platforms- some of them are media, some of them are through the mouths of public official," Psaki said.

"That bad information, inaccurate information about vaccines is killing people. That's where our concern is and that's what the president is working to express."

Earlier Monday, Biden told CNN's Kaitlan Collins that "Facebook isn't killing people."

"Facebook isn't killing people — these 12 people are out there giving misinformation. Anyone listening to it is getting hurt by it. It's killing people. It's bad information," Biden said, appearing to cite data from the nonprofit Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH). A report published by the organization in March indicated that about a dozen people were super-spreaders of anti-vaccine misinformation.


1:30 p.m. ET, July 19, 2021

US sending vaccines to Gambia, Senegal, Zambia, Niger and Guatemala

From CNN's Kate Sullivan

The United States is sending more than one million Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccines to Gambia, Senegal, Zambia and Niger, White House press secretary Jen Psaki announced Monday. 

The US is also sending three million vaccines to Guatemala on Tuesday, Psaki told reporters at a White House briefing, noting the Biden administration’s prioritization of Latin American countries. The US sent 1.5 million Moderna doses to Guatemala earlier this month. 

“The United States continues its tremendous effort to donate Covid-19 vaccines from the US global supply,” Psaki said. 

“The shipments demonstrate the United States is fulfilling our promise to be an arsenal of vaccines for the world, and we're proud to be donating these doses to save lives and help those in need,” she added.

The move is part of the President's effort to reassert US leadership on the world stage and have America be an "arsenal of vaccines" in the fight against Covid-19. 

Biden has allocated 80 million vaccines to countries around the world and has also pledged to donate an additional 500 million Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine doses globally.