Coronavirus USA news summary: Saturday 15 August

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

Coronavirus USA live: latest news - Saturday 15 August

US coronavirus latest: 17:00 PT  / 20:00 ET on Saturday 15 August (02:00 CEST)

Latest figures published by Johns Hopkins University.

Worldwide

Cases: 21,359,166
Deaths: 768,864
Recoveries: 13,362,300

US

Cases:  5,356,244
Deaths: 169,423
Recoveries: 1,815,527

New York City’s iconic 9/11 Tribute in Light back on

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Saturday that the tribute, involving dozens of spotlights pointed into the air to create the image of two large beams, will be happening this year after the 9/11 Memorial and Museum said it would be canceled over coronavirus concerns.

Yale's Covid-19 saliva test used in NBA gets FDA OK for emergencies

As we mentioned before, the US Food and Drug Administration on Saturday granted emergency use authorization to Yale School of Public Health's saliva test to detect Covid-19, after a trial on National Basketball Association players and staff.

SalivaDirect, the fifth saliva test approved by the FDA for the disease, requires no swab or collection device and uses spit from people suspected of having the coronavirus, the agency said. FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn called the test 'groundbreaking' in its efficiency and in being unaffected by crucial component shortages. SalivaDirect is seen as a cheap, simpler and less invasive testing method that requires no extraction of nucleic acid and can use several readily available reagents.

The NBA has used the test in a program involving asymptomatic players, coaches and staff from various teams, after partnering with Yale in June, the school said in a separate statement. 'We simplified the test so that it only costs a couple of dollars for reagents, and we expect that labs will only charge about $10 per sample,' Nathan Grubaugh, assistant professor at Yale School of Public Health said. The FDA said the test could lower the risk to healthcare workers from collecting samples as it is self-collected under the observation of a healthcare professional.

Alabama breakdown

The 25-49 age group has the highest number of coronavirus cases in Alabama, according to this data, shared by the CNN White House Correspondent. That age group accounts for a little over 40% of all the cases in the state.

The pandemic's personal stories

'Think of the one-of-a-kind, old-time stores and restaurants you would mourn if they suddenly disappeared — the waiters and waitresses who have served up your treasured taste memories for years, the shopkeepers you drive across town to see because they stock wonders you can find nowhere else.

'How are they doing now? Are they managing to make ends meet in the pandemic? Have you dropped by? Have you called and asked? Is there something you could do to help?

'Consider the story I’m about to tell you a plea to check in — before it’s too late, before you learn that what is irreplaceable is gone.'

Full story:

SalivaDirect testing approval sparks optimism

Ex-Obama health care head, Andt Slavitt, shares a thread on what could be a big step forward on Covid-19 testing.

Texas testing drops as schools reopen

With hundreds of deaths reported each day, students returning to class and football teams charging ahead with plans to play, Texas leaders who grappled with testing shortages for much of the pandemic are now facing the opposite problem: not enough takers. 

“We’re not having enough people step forward,” Republican Gov. Greg Abbott said.

The number of coronavirus tests being done each day in Texas has dropped by the thousands in August, mirroring nationwide trends that has seen daily testing averages in the US fall nearly 9% since the end of July, according to The Covid Tracking Project. The problem is dwindling demand, as testing centers like CentroMed are no longer inundated by long lines that stretch for blocks, or closing hours early because tests run out.

US CDC reports 5,285,546 cases

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Saturday reported 5,285,546 cases of new coronavirus, an increase of 56,729 cases from its previous count, and said that the number of deaths had risen by 1,229 to 167,546.

The CDC reported its tally of cases of the respiratory illness known as Covid-19 as of 16:00 ET on 14 August versus its previous report a day earlier.

The CDC figures do not necessarily reflect cases reported by individual states.

MLB: Reds vs Pirates games postponed after Covid-19 positive

Major League Baseball postponed a Saturday and a Sunday game between the Cincinnati Reds and Pittsburgh Pirates after a Reds player tested positive for Covid-19.

The two games - which were set to take place in Cincinnati - were put on hold while MLB conducts additional tests and contact tracing. The identity of the player who tested positive was not disclosed. The postponement is the latest disruption to MLB's shortened season, which started last month after weeks of delay due to the coronavirus outbreak, as positive tests on teams including the Miami Marlins and St. Louis Cardinals forced last-minute schedule changes.

Last week the league introduced stricter health and safety protocols in order to mitigate the risks posed to players amid the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.

Questions asked of journalists

Focusing solely on the numbers of cases and deaths is not enough. The full picture needs to be reported to give the public a true understanding of what is happening.

Gender pay and opportunities

We are seeing a lot of interesting trends and challenges emerge as we trudge through the Covid-19 pandemic, and one involves the impact on the gender pay gap, and the potential opportunities that arise from it.

Mixed feelings on private schools' structures during pandemic

At the private Harvard-Westlake School in Los Angeles, new videoconferencing cameras will let faculty simultaneously teach students tuning in from home along with those learning on campus.

So far, its officials estimate the school has spent well into six figures on steps to operate safely during the pandemic, once California authorities give the green light for campuses to reopen.

With Congress unable to reach an agreement before heading off on recess, millions of Americans are wondering when, if ever, a payment will be made.

Full story:

Up to 2 million Californians were plunged into darkness over a four-hour span late Friday in the state’s first rolling blackouts since the 2001 energy crisis.  

The United States Postal Service has warned several states there is a "significant risk" of mail-in ballots not being delivered on time during the November election.

Full story: 

Romney: "No way to spin that" 

The Republican senator and 2012 presidential nominee has laid into the Trump administration's handling of the coronavirus pandemic.  "We have five percent of the world’s population but 25 percent of the world’s deaths due to Covid-19.”

The IRS recently confirmed that it has fixed an error that has seen a $500 credit per child dependent accidentally left off some stimulus checks.

Full story: 

US President Donald Trump let fly on social media amid stalled talks on a fresh stimulus package, accusing Democrats of delaying the relief bill.

Full story: 

NYC

The skyline of downtown Manhattan is seen after it was announced that the Tribute in Light will not be illuminated this year on the anniversary of the September 11 attacks due to restrictions in place to fight the spread of coronavirus in Manhattan, New York City. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

CDC says updated isolation guidance does not imply immunity to Covid-19

(Reuters) The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said late on Friday its updated isolation guidance does not imply that a person is immune to re-infection with the novel coronavirus.

"Contrary to media reporting today, this science does not imply a person is immune to reinfection with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, in the 3 months following infection", the CDC said in statement.

The agency said the latest data simply suggests that re-testing a person in the three months after initial infection is not necessary unless that person is showing symptoms of Covid-19 and the symptoms cannot be associated with another illness.

On August 3, the CDC had updated its isolation guidance based on the latest science about Covid-19 showing that people can continue to test positive for up to three months after diagnosis and not be infectious to others.

"People with Covid-19 should be isolated for at least 10 days after symptom onset and until 24 hours after their fever subsides without the use of fever-reducing medications", the CDC said.

manhattan

People walk by restaurant's outdoor patios after New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced 21 more locations for outdoor dining options as part of a city initiative that combines the Open Streets and Open Restaurants programs in place to fight the spread of Covid-19 in Manhattan. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

California encouraged by trends even as it passes 600,000 coronavirus cases

(Reuters) California became the first US state to surpass 600,000 cases of Covid-19 on Friday and the Midwest saw several record one-day rises as some states struggled to contain the pandemic even as a few welcomed students back to school campuses.

California went over 603,000 novel coronavirus cases on Friday, according to a Reuters tally, although Governor Gavin Newsom said he was encouraged to see that hospitalizations have declined 20% over the past two weeks and admissions to ICU wards were down 14% in the same period.

"The number that really matters to us is that positivity rate," he said when asked about the 600,000 case-milestone at a news conference on Friday. The positivity rate - the number of confirmed infections as a percentage of tests done - has declined from 7% to 6% statewide over the past 14 days, Newsom said.

"I'm not going to back off on more tests because I fear (more cases)," Newsom said.

More testing may be one reason the US Midwest saw some record one-day increases in cases on Friday, including Michigan, Ohio, Illinois and Indiana, according to the Reuters tally.

Conflicts in New York over the mandatory 14-day quarantine

California remains on high alert for coronavirus infections

 

Some tips to return to work safely despite coronavirus

The coronavirus stimulus bill: what happens now?

Empty apartments in Manhattan at an all-time high

There are now 13,000 empty apartments in Manhattan as the the coronavirus crisis continues to spark record declines in the real estate market...

Mexico's registers 511,369 coronavirus cases, 55,908 deaths

Mexico's health ministry on Friday reported 5,618 new confirmed cases of coronavirus and 615 additional fatalities, bringing the total in the country to 511,369 cases and 55,908 deaths. The government has said the real number of infected people is likely significantly higher than the confirmed cases. 

McKesson to distribute vaccine in US

Drug wholesaler McKennson will be tasked with distributing a vaccine once a product is approved and ready for distribution. 

East College Prep High School senior Jocelyn Hernandez follows a remote Advanced Placement (AP) Calculus class as her cousin plays with his phone while sitting in a community garden near her home in the Boyle Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles, California.  Due to the continuing coronavirus pandemic all Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) schools will be closed and students will return to class via remote learning when the 2020-21 school year starts on August 18, 2020. (Photo by Robyn Beck / AFP)

In pictures: Home-schooling

East College Prep High School senior Jocelyn Hernandez follows a remote Advanced Placement (AP) Calculus class as her cousin plays with his phone while sitting in a community garden near her home in the Boyle Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles, California.

Due to the continuing coronavirus pandemic all Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) schools will be closed and students will return to class via remote learning when the 2020-21 school year starts on August 18, 2020. (Photo by Robyn Beck / AFP)

Mike Pence tweets after coronavirus task force meeting

"The WhiteHouse Coronavirus Task Force remains committed to protecting our most vulnerable and finding ways to safely reopen schools this fall," said Pence.

"We had a good meeting today to discuss the surge in testing to nursing homes & providing PPE to protect teachers across America."

Sitaution in hospitals is slowing trials of experimental coronavirus drugs

This New York Times reports gives reasons why Clinical trials of experimental coronavirus drugs are taking longer than drugmakers expected: "hospitals are overwhelmed, understaffed and some of their patients are reluctant."

Argentine firm behind AstraZeneca COVID vaccine Latam production sees April/May launch

The Argentine biotech firm working on the production of 400 million doses of an AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine for Latin America said on Friday it could begin shipping the active substance of the product to Mexico for completion. Esteban Corley, director of mAbxience, the biotech firm, said he foresaw the finished product could be distributed in Latin America between April and May.

"Sometime in late February these materials will be exported to Mexico and in Mexico they will be formulated, filled and released" through Mexican Laboratory Biomont, Corley told journalists in a digital press conference.

On Wednesday, the Argentine government said it had agreed to co-produce with Mexico and Britain's second-largest drugmaker, AstraZeneca Plc, the potential vaccine against the virus at present under development at the University of Oxford.

On Thursday, the general director of AstraZeneca in Mexico told a press conference that the trials in phase III of the product would end between the end of November or December, after which the company would seek government approvals.

The news of the development of a potential vaccine in Argentina and Mexico has raised hopes in Latin America, which has seen just under a third of global deaths and cases and continues to be one of the worst hotspots. Corley said the finished product was likely to cost between three and four dollars.

"Our understanding will be the same in all territories and is based on cost," the director of mAbxience, part of the larger Insud Group, said. He added that he was confident the initial goal of producing 250 million doses in 2021 could be met. (Reporting by Reuters)

Donald Trump

Trump dumps Fauci and enlists new coronavirus task force advisor

Donald Trump has appointed a new coronavirus task force advisor advisor to replace Dr Anthony Fauci, with whom the President has had an increasingly tense relationship in recent weeks.

Scott Atlas, a healthcare policy expert at the conservative Hoover Institution at Stanford University, will take Fauci's place on the task force. 

“Scott is a very famous man who’s also very highly respected,” Mr Trump said in a press conference on Monday.

“He’s working with us and will be working with us on the coronavirus. And he has many great ideas. And he thinks what we’ve done is really good, and now we’ll take it to a new level.”

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