Coronavirus USA news summary 12 August: news, cases, deaths and stimulus checks

Coronavirus USA live updates: news, cases, deaths and stimulus checks, today

Coronavirus live USA: latest Covid-19 news - Wednesday 12 August

US coronavirus latest: 11:30 PT / 14:30 ET on Wednesday 12 August (20:30 CEST)

According to the latest figures published by Johns Hopkins University, 20,423,897 cases have been detected worldwide, with 744,733 deaths and 12,631,548 people recovered.

In the US there have been 5,168,685 confirmed cases and 165,328 deaths, with 1,714,960 people recovered from the virus.

Coronavirus-related stories:

Top U.S. Democrats say Mnuchin sought meeting on coronavirus aid but showed no movement

The two top Democrats in the U.S. Congress said on Wednesday that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin sought a new meeting on coronavirus aid but showed no sign of moving from his stated position on new legislation.

"An overture was made by Secretary Mnuchin to meet ... (but) the White House is not budging from their position concerning the size and scope of a legislative package," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said in a joint statement. "We have again made clear to the administration that we are willing to resume negotiations once they start to take this process seriously," they said in the statement.

Mnuchin initiated contact with Pelosi just before 2 p.m. EDT (1800 GMT), according to a source familiar with the matter.


NBA reports another round of negative Covid-19 tests

The NBA's self-contained bubble near Orlando, Florida, continues to be effective, as no Covid-19 tests returned positive in the latest round of testing, the league announced on Wednesday.

The NBA has now reported four consecutive rounds of testing with no positives as it gets set to complete a revised finish to the regular season before starting the playoffs Monday. Since the previous round of testing was announced on 5 August with no positives, another 342 player tests had been administered, the league said.

In the event of a positive test, NBA rules require a player to isolate until all protocols are met for a return to play. Those protocols were developed in agreement with the NBA and the league's players association.

A short training camp began in early July, with scrimmages starting on July 22. The return to regular-season play began on 30 July and is set to end on Friday. The Western Conference play-in tournament - with teams still to be decided - will be held over the weekend, and playoffs will start Monday. The NBA Finals are set for 30 September-13 October.



CDC reports 5,119,711 cases in U.S.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Wednesday reported 5,119,711 cases of coronavirus, an increase of 55,540 cases from its previous count, and said that the number of deaths had risen by 1,244 to 163,651.

The CDC reported its tally of cases of the respiratory illness known as Covid-19, caused by a new coronavirus, as of 4 pm ET on Aug. 11 versus its previous report a day earlier. The CDC figures do not necessarily reflect cases reported by individual states or those compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

Masters to be played 9-15 November  with no spectators

Fred Ridley, the Chairman of Augusta National Golf Club, confirmed the 2020 Masters will be played 9-15 November, as previously indicated. There will not be any spectators, with ticket holders for this year's event being guaranteed a ticket for next year's event, which is planned to be held in its traditional April slot. 

Big 12 going ahead with full autumn schedule

Commissioner Bob Bowlsby: "Ultimately, our student-athletes have indicated their desire to compete in the sports they love this season and it is up to all of us to deliver a safe, medically sound, and structured academic and athletic environment for accomplishing that outcome."

That includes three-times-a-week testing in high contact sports.

In case you don't follow collegiate sports, the Big 12's members come from Iowa, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, and West Virginia. It's called the Big 12, but only has 10 members due to a reshuffle about 10 years ago - it kept the name for marketing purposes and the fact there is already a Big Ten Conference (which actually has 14 members). The Big Ten HAS suspended sports this fall due to Covid-19. 

Watch: Sisters reunited after 53 years due to coronavirus

Check out this heartwarming CBS This Morning report about two half sisters who had an unlikely reunion after 53 years thanks to the coronavirus...

German institute says Covid-19 vaccine could be available in autumn

Germany's leading infectious disease institute said on Wednesday a first vaccine against the coronavirus could be available as early as autumn but warned that it may take longer to control the pandemic.

"Preliminary projections make the availability of one or several vaccines seem possible by autumn 2020," the Robert Koch Institute said in a statement on its website, citing a global effort to bring immunisations to market.

"It would be dangerous at this point to trust that a vaccination from autumn 2020 can control the pandemic," it cautioned. The impact of any vaccine could be tempered by viral mutations or by the resulting immunity only lasting a short time immunity, the institute added. (Reporting by Reuters)

Florida prisons see 52% increase in coronavirus deaths cases in 15 days

Coronavirus-related deaths in Florida’s prisons have increased 52% in 15 days, according to data released by the Florida Department of Corrections (FDC), with the number jumping from 46 on 27 July to 70 on 11 August. During the same period, the numbers of cases rose 109%, from 6,217 to 12,988. 

“FDC is closely monitoring developments associated with the spread of this disease. FDC's Office of Health Services, institutional medical staff and institutional operations staff work hand-in-hand with the Department of Health to quickly engage and resolve infectious disease outbreaks as soon as they occur,” said FDC to CNN in a statement.

US consumer prices accelerate in July

US consumer prices increased more than expected in July, but high unemployment is likely to keep inflation under control, allowing the Federal Reserve to continue pumping money into the economy to aid the recovery from the Covid-19 recession.

The Labor Department said on Wednesday its consumer price index rose 0.6% last month after rebounding 0.6% in June. In the 12 months through July, the CPI accelerated 1.0% after climbing 0.6% in June. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast the CPI rising 0.3% in July and gaining 0.8% year-on-year. (Reporting by Reuters)

The spread of misinformation on coronavirus

CNN has cited several celebrities, including Madonna, Rihanna and John Voight, for dangerously spreading misinformation or playing down the severity of coronavirus through their social media channels. 

The same report highlights the a study by the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, which identified "2,311 reports of rumours, stigma, and conspirancy theories in 25 languages from 87 countries."


In pictures: U.S. couple Adria and Ayman Arafat, who were stranded for months in the Gaza Strip by coronavirus-related restrictions, wait to leave the Palestinian Rafah border crossing in the southern Gaza strip before heading home to Florida, August 11, 2020. Picture taken August 11, 2020. (REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa)

Coronavirus sparks surge in armchair investors

It seems that the coronavirus has prompted the sharp rise in the number of armchair investors in the US. A report by NPR cites app, Robinhood, which witnessed its user base grow from from 10 million to 13 million during the first four months of 2020. But critics have warned that such apps make "investing feel like a video game". 

China denounces US health chief's criticism over virus as 'political show'

(Reuters) China said on Wednesday that US Health Secretary Alex Azar has performed the "worst in the world" in controlling the novel coronavirus, rejecting criticism of China made by Azar during a three-day trip to Taiwan this week.

Azar attacked China's response to the coronavirus pandemic on Tuesday saying that if such an outbreak had emerged in Taiwan or the United States it could have been "snuffed out easily".

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told a regular briefing the epidemic in the United States was "out of control" and the blame lay with Azar.

"He ignored millions of Americans suffering from the virus and went to Taiwan to put on a political show," Zhao said. "His behaviour proves once again that in the eyes of US politicians, American lives mean nothing when compared with their selfish political gains," he said.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte says he will volunteer for Russian vaccine trials

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has expressed his confidence in Russia's controversially approved vaccine and says he is willing to volunteer in trials.  

“I will volunteer to receive it in public. I will be the first to be experimented on,” Duterte said in a state address broadcast by state-run RTVM (via CNN).

"I believe that the vaccine that (Russia has) produced is really good for humanity. By December... we will hopefully have a Covid-free December." 


Renters moving away from big city life

According to a report from CNBC, Manhattan has seen a marked decline in the number of people looking to rent in the heart of the Big Apple as part of a shift from the cities to the suburbs as a reult of the Covid-19 pandemic

S.Korea, US to hold smaller military drills due to coronavirus 

(Reuters) South Korea and the United States will kick off their annual joint military drills this week but without mobilising US-based troops after scaling back the programme due to coronavirus concerns, South Korean media reported on Wednesday.

The allies have been discussing how to adjust the exercises, which usually begin in August, with the coronavirus threatening to disrupt the travel of US personnel.

The programme involves tens of thousands of soldiers from both sides, though largely focused on computerised simulations rather than live field training.

U.S. insurers' coronavirus costs are less than feared so far

The coronavirus pandemic dealt a relatively modest $2.5 billion blow to five insurers with large U.S. operations in the second quarter - a cost that was far less than feared and which the industry has absorbed without touching capital, analysts said.

American Airlines extends window for employees to seek voluntary exit

American Airlines (AAL.O) told employees on Tuesday the company is extending the window to apply for voluntary exit packages or long-term voluntary leave of absences through Aug. 17.

The announcement comes as it is uncertain if Congress will approve another $25 billion in payroll assistance for passenger airlines to keep tens of thousands of workers employed for another six months after Sept. 30.

The iconic summer job for high school and college students has been on the wane for nearly 20 years. But the pandemic is squeezing even more young people out of the workforce.

Quarantine in Georgia

Remember masks are not mandated at state level with that decision being left to district superintendents. 

Anger over plan to block US citizens from entering the country

A Southern California-area hospital system, immigrant advocacy groups and Americans living in Mexico have criticized a US government draft proposal that could block US citizens and permanent residents from entering the country if they are suspected of being infected with the novel coronavirus.

The pushback comes a day after news outlets reported the administration of US President Donald Trump was considering a regulation that would give the government authorization to keep out Americans believed to have contracted Covid-19 or other diseases.

Chris Van Gorder, CEO of Scripps Health, which operates five hospitals in San Diego County, told Reuters the hospital system "would never endorse American citizens not being able to get the care they need."

Scripps and Sharp HealthCare, which operate hospitals that serve many Covid patients in the San Diego-area, sent a joint letter to Trump officials in April that called for medical checks at the border and mandatory quarantine for individuals suspected to be infected with coronavirus. But Van Gorder said they never supported blocking Americans.

Phil Canete, co-director of the Refugee Health Alliance, a San Diego-based organization that provides medical care to migrants, called the reports "extremely troubling." 

"The irony of this regulation is that it presents a barrier for medical workers and (organizations) like ours to mitigate Covid spread across the border," he said.

Americans living in Mexico were also upset by the news. Bruce Newby, who practiced law for two decades in California before retiring in 2003 to Guadalajara, Mexico, called it "ridiculous" and said a 14-day quarantine for US citizens would make more sense. 

"They cannot keep you out," he said. "You have a right to be there." (Reuters)

Hospitalisations fall 25% in San Francisco

There are currently 88 people in hospital with Covid-19 in the city. 

Another vaccine deal

The US government has agreed a $1.525 billion deal with Moderna to manufacture and deliver $100 million doses of the company's Covid-19 vaccine, if and once it gets regulatory approval.

Moderna's vaccine, mRNA-1273, has been developed in collaboration with the US Government. It is currently in government funded Phase 3 clinical trials as part of Operation Warp Speed the US government's programme to get a coronavirus vaccine to market as soon as possible. 

The government also has deals with Pfizer, Janssen, Johnson&Johnson, GlaxoSmithKline, Sanofi Pasteur, Novavax and AstraZeneca.

“In creating a vaccine portfolio for Operation Warp Speed, the Trump Administration is increasing the likelihood that the United States will have at least one safe, effective vaccine by 2021,” the US Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said. 

Did they have to die

Lost on the frontline

What feels like an important journalistic project from the Guardian, documenting every single healthcare worker who has died of Covid-19. "Did they have to die?" reads the text above a slow scrolling banner of the faces of those who have perished. 

Stimulus check update

After Trump's executive orders over the weekend, what's the situation with a second of stimulus checks...

Former FDA commissioner speaks about Russian vaccine

In an interview on CNBC, former FDA commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb said he would not take the Russian-approved vaccine (see details in post below). 

"In a lot of these situations, you might only get one shot at taking a vaccine within a season. So if you put a vaccine on the market that's not efficacious, it's going to be hard to re-vaccinate the population," he said. 

More than 66 NFL players won't partake in upcoming season due to pandemic - CNN

CNN reporting that at least 66 NFL players have chosen not to play in the upcoming 2020 season because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The most affected team is the New England Patriots, with eight of its players opting out of the 2020 season, including starters like linebacker Dont'a Hightower and safety Patrick Chun. 

Russia's vaccine claims

In case you missed it from earlier, as expected, Russia are claiming they have the first vaccine authorised. There is a problem though, Sputnik V, as the vaccine has been dubbed, has not been through a phase III trial involving thousands of volunteers, a step that is seen as vital in proving the safety of any vaccine. 

There are several vaccines at the same stage as Sputnik V, but they have not received regulatory approval because in the US and Europe a vaccine at phase II would not be granted approval. 

Of course Sputnik V might have no safety issues and turn out to be one of the winners of all the vaccine candidates. But if it given widely, without completing full trials there is the risk of something going badly wrong, which would be terrible both for those harmed and for the public's confidence in vaccines.


Herd immunity - not a solution

NPR's Geoff Brumfiel reports that according to scientists the idea of so-called "herd immunity" comes with potentially devastating risks: "We're certainly talking north of a million [deaths], probably much more."

The other very real problem with the concept of herd immunity is that it has never been witnessed occurring naturally (although it can occur with small sub-groups of a population, say a group of children in a village or a group of medics who have all been exposed). It only happens with vaccines. The idea the coronavirus could infect the 70% of the population experts reckon is needed to create herd immunity was probably always misguided, even ignoring the terrible havoc that would be wrought by actually letting that happen. 

Cases in children

The number of new Covid-19 cases among children in the United States rose 40% in the last two weeks of July.

There's not long to go before tens of millions of American students are scheduled to begin the new school year. 

Coronavirus live U.S. updates: welcome

Hello and welcome to our live, U.S.-focused coverage of the coronavirus pandemic, which as of 19:00 ET on Tuesday had registered over 20 million cases and nearly 740,000 deaths worldwide.

In the U.S., the globe's worst-affected country, the case count has now passed the 5.1 million mark and more than 164,000 people have lost their lives.