WORLD NEWS
07/27/2020 09:44 EDT | Updated 08/03/2020 03:07 EDT

Coronavirus Live Updates: Read The Latest About The COVID-19 Outbreak

Stay up to date as we cover the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and its effects across the world.

Since Chinese officials implemented the first coronavirus lockdown in the city of Wuhan in January, there have been more than 18 million cases of COVID-19 across the planet.

More than 688,000 people have died from the disease, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

Efforts to curb the outbreak have led to the global disruption of daily life and the economy, as schools and workplaces shuttered in hopes of slowing transmission. After months of precautions and lockdowns, governments have begun to reopen their economies.

HuffPost reporters around the world are tracking the pandemic and its effects.

Read the latest updates on the coronavirus pandemic below. (To see the latest updates, you may need to refresh the page. All times are Eastern. For earlier updates on the pandemic, go here.)

Scientists Concerned White House Will Wade Into Vaccine Development: NYT — 8/3/2020, 3 a.m. ET

A growing number of scientists are reportedly worried the Trump administration could push through a potential coronavirus vaccine in hopes of drumming up political support for the president.

According to The New York Times, many in Trump’s orbit are privately hoping for a vaccine to arrive by October ― just before Americans cast their votes in the November election. Several vaccines moved into large-scale Phase 3 trials last week and Dr. Anthony Fauci has said he was cautiously optimistic a vaccine could be available by the end of the year or early 2021. However, scientists have continued to caution that even if a vaccine was created, there were still many hurdles before it could be produced, shipped and distributed to hundreds of millions of Americans and potentially billions around the globe.

Trump has continued to tout his efforts to see America develop a vaccine as early as possible, telling supporters on Sunday that one could be available soon. 

“We expect to have a vaccine available very, very early before the end of the year, far ahead of schedule,” Trump said, per the Times. “We’re very close to having that finalized.”

Last week, Trump’s presumptive competitor, former Vice President Joe Biden, called on the White House to keep vaccine development “free from political pressure” and urged the president not to hype certain treatments without the science to back them up. 

— Nick Visser

Young People Infected At Higher Rates Over The Weekend In Louisiana — 8/2/20, 5 p.m. ET

People aged 29 and under made up 43% of all new coronavirus cases reported in Louisiana over the weekend, according to the state’s Department of Health.

Young adults between the ages of 18 to 29 made up 33%, and teenagers and children 18 years old and younger made up 10% of the new cases.

Health officials noted that the rates of infections for young people were “higher than the >70 age group.”

There were 3,477 new cases reported in the state between Friday and Sunday, bringing the state’s total number of cases to 119,747.

The health department said that 95% of the new cases “are tied to community spread.”

Louisiana has the highest rate of per capita coronavirus cases in the country, with 2,463 infections per 100,000 residents, according to USA Today.

— Carla Russo

Birx Says U.S. In ‘New Phase’ Of Pandemic — 8/2/20, 1:40 p.m. ET

Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus task force’s response coordinator, said Sunday that the U.S. has entered a “new phase” of the pandemic. She warned that recent outbreaks across the country are different than the isolated hotspots seen in New York City and Seattle in March and April.

This new wave of infections is “extraordinarily widespread” and appearing in both rural and urban areas, Birx said on CNN’s “State Of The Union.”

“To everybody who lives in a rural area, you are not immune or protected from this virus,” she added. “And that’s why we keep saying no matter where you live in America, you need to wear a mask and socially distance.”

Host Dana Bash asked Birx whether it’s time for the federal government to “reset” its response to the virus, as recommended last week by the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security.

“I think the federal government reset about five to six weeks ago when we saw this starting to happen across the South,” Birx said.

Around that time, Vice President Mike Pence, whom Trump appointed to lead the coronavirus task force in February, wrote an op-ed for The Wall Street Journal that painted a rosy portrait of the state of the spread. He accused the media of “fear-mongering” about a potential second wave of outbreaks.

“Such panic is overblown,” Pence wrote. “Thanks to the leadership of President Trump and the courage and compassion of the American people, our public health system is far stronger than it was four months ago, and we are winning the fight against the invisible enemy.”

Since Pence published his op-ed in mid-June, the death toll in the U.S. has risen from 116,000 to over 154,000.

— Hayley Miller

Cruise Ship In Norway Reports Outbreak Among Staff — 8/2/20, 1:20 p.m. ET

At least 36 crew members have tested positive for the coronavirus on a Hurtigruten cruise ship in Norway, the company reported Saturday. The outbreak comes roughly a month after Hurtigruten led the first international passenger cruise voyage since the pandemic shut down the entire industry for several months.

The infected crew members work on the MS Roald Amundsen. All of the ship’s 158 crew members were tested for the virus, and the majority tested negative, according to Hurtigruten. Of those who have tested positive, none have shown symptoms of the virus.

The ship is docked in Tromsø, Norway, which is located about 1,000 miles northeast of Oslo. 

Hurtigruten said it has contacted the nearly 400 total guests who were aboard the ship during two voyages last month. Those passengers have been instructed to self-quarantine in accordance with Norwegian health guidelines.

MS Roald Amundsen was scheduled to depart for another voyage next week, but that trip has now been canceled.

 Hayley Miller

Assistant Health Secretary: Time To ‘Move On’ From Hydroxychloroquine Efficacy Claims — 8/2/20, 12:15 p.m. ET

Assistant health secretary Adm. Brett Giroir on Sunday rejected claims that the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine is effective in treating COVID-19, pointing out that there’s no evidence so far to show that it is.

“At this point in time, there’s been five randomized-control placebo-controlled trials that do not show any benefit to hydroxychloroquine,” Giroir said during an appearance on NBC’s “Meet The Press.” “We don’t recommend that as a treatment. There’s no evidence to show that it is.”

President Donald Trump has repeatedly pushed hydroxychloroquine as a treatment, despite a lack of evidence to back up his claims and warnings from public health officials.

Asked if the president’s messaging might cause confusion, Giroir said he believes doctors won’t be influenced by “whatever’s on Twitter” when deciding how to treat coronavirus patients.

“There may be circumstances ― I don’t know what they are ― where a physician may prescribe it for an individual,” Giroir said. “But I think most physicians and prescribers are evidence-based, and they’re not influenced by whatever’s on Twitter. ... And the evidence just doesn’t show that hydroxychloroquine is effective right now.”

Hayley Miller

Pelosi Says She Has No Confidence In Birx — 8/2/20, 10:50 a.m. ET

House Speaker Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Sunday said she does not have confidence in White House coronavirus task force member Dr. Deborah Birx, after reportedly bashing her during a closed-door meeting earlier this week.

On ABC News’ “This Week,” host Martha Raddatz asked Pelosi about a Politico article from Friday, which reported that Pelosi had accused Birx of spreading disinformation about the pandemic

.“Do you have confidence in her?” Raddatz asked.“I think [President Donald Trump] is spreading disinformation about the virus and she is his appointee,” Pelosi said. “So I don’t have confidence there, no.”

Pelosi’s criticism followed a New York Times report that Birx had been telling Trump in recent months that the coronavirus threat in the U.S. was fading. Democrats have condemned Trump for repeatedly downplaying the threat of the virus and not taking swift, forceful action to contain it.

 Hayley Miller

Indiana Student Who Attended Classes Tests Positive For COVID-19 On 1st Day Of School — 8/1/20, 3:51 p.m.

A student in Indiana tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday — mere hours after the middle school reopened for the fall semester.

The Hancock County health department alerted Greenfield Central Junior High School of the student’s diagnosis on Thursday afternoon, CNN reported. The student had attended classes at the school earlier in the day.

School administrators said everyone who came into contact with the student was promptly ordered to quarantine for 14 days. It’s unknown whether anyone else was infected.

“We knew it was a when, not if,” Harold E. Olin, superintendent of the Greenfield-Central Community School Corporation, told The New York Times of the positive COVID-19 case.

Olin said, however, that he was “very shocked it was on Day 1.”

Still, the superintendent said the district would go ahead with its plan to reopen schools.

Indiana’s public schools are among the first in the country to reopen amid the pandemic.

— Dominique Mosbergen

Arizona Rep. Raúl Grijalva Tests Positive For Coronavirus — 8/1/20, 3:50 p.m. ET

Arizona Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D) announced Saturday that he has tested positive for the coronavirus.

“I currently have no symptoms, feel fine, and hope to make a quick and speedy recovery,” Grijalva said in a statement.

“While I cannot blame anyone directly for this, this week has shown that there are some members of Congress who fail to take this crisis seriously. Numerous Republican members routinely strut around the Capitol without a mask to selfishly make a political statement at the expense of their colleagues, staff, and their families.”

The congressman’s announcement comes days after Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) said he had the virus, which he bizarrely blamed on wearing a mask. Gohmert’s diagnosis sent a shudder around Washington since he has been actively participating in hearings and votes. Staffers on both sides of the aisle have reportedly been increasingly concerned about the lax safety standards.

— Sara Boboltz

Thousands Protest Coronavirus Restrictions In Berlin — 8/1/20, 3:40 p.m. ET

Thousands of Germans took to the streets of Berlin on Saturday to protest coronavirus safety restrictions — and most appeared to have left their masks at home.

Some held signs with messages including, “We are being forced to wear a muzzle,” “Natural defense instead of vaccination,” and, “We are the second wave,” according to The Associated Press.

Germany has been praised for keeping coronavirus cases to a minimum by enacting lockdown measures early on in the crisis. Restrictions have been slowly easing up, although masks are still required in public spaces. The country has had just over 9,000 COVID-19 deaths in total.

— Sara Boboltz

North Carolina Preps COVID Safety Plan Ahead Of Hurricane Isaias — 7/31/2020, 4:35 p.m. ET

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said Friday that anyone needing shelter from Hurricane Isaias will be screened for COVID-19 symptoms and given personal protective equipment to keep them safe. Anyone with symptoms will be sent to a separate shelter.

“A hurricane during a pandemic is double trouble,” he tweeted. “But the state has been carefully preparing for this scenario.”

Isaias may hit North Carolina as a Category 1 storm on Monday or Tuesday, models show. The state ranks 16th among states with the highest seven-day average of new cases.

— Lydia O’Connor

Fauci ‘Cautiously Optimistic’ Vaccine Will Be Available By ‘Late Fall Or Early Winter’ — 7/31/20, 9:54 a.m. ET

Testifying at a House hearing on the COVID-19 crisis, Dr. Anthony Fauci said he is “cautiously optimistic” that a vaccine will be available in the United States by “late fall or early winter.” Phase 3 of the clinical trial began on Monday with about 30,000 participants, the largest group thus far.

About 250,000 people have expressed interest in participating in these clinical trials, Fauci said. He encouraged more people to sign up “to make sure we have a diverse representation” of participants. More information about the trials can be found here.

— Marina Fang

500 State Department Workers Make Plea Against Going Back To Offices — 7/31/20, 8:45 a.m. ET

More than 500 State Department employees signed on to a letter asking that they not be forced back to their offices too soon, NBC News first reported on Friday. 

The department announced this week that it would be moving to Phase 2 of its reopening plan, which would include sending around 80% of workers back to the office in person. But at least 540 career employees said in their letter that the State Department was not even following its own guidelines on safely returning to the offices.

The letter reads: “We write today with a request for your continued advocacy for maximizing workplace flexibilities and to sensitize you to the ways in which moving too quickly to Phase II, both domestically and overseas, could lead to reduced productivity, negative consequences for manager-employee relations, detrimental effects to the health and safety of employees, and disparate consequences that would counteract the Department’s objectives for diversity and inclusion.”

It was addressed and sent Thursday to Under Secretary of State Brian Bulatao, per NBC News.

Staffers across Washington have been voicing their anger and concern over a lack of office safety precautions since anti-mask crusader Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) tested positive for the virus this week.

— Sara Boboltz

Herman Cain Dies Of COVID-19 After A Month In The Hospital — 7/30/20, 2:00 p.m. ET

Tea Party activist and 2012 GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain died Thursday of complications from the coronavirus at the age of 74. 

The Trump booster tested positive for COVID-19 on June 29, less than two weeks after he attended the president’s reelection campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, without a mask. 

In a tweet sent just before he was admitted to the hospital earlier this month, Cain praised Trump’s decision not to mandate mask-wearing at a July 4 outdoor rally at Mount Rushmore.

Former Cain spokesperson Ellen Carmichael mourned his passing on Twitter, recalling the man as “a giant of a person in ways that people who would choose to see him merely as a caricature could never understand.”

“His American Dream story is one for the history books,” she wrote. “Overcame absolute destitution, genuine discrimination, stage IV cancer and so much hardship in between.”

— Ryan Grenoble

Attorney General Barr Tests Negative For Coronavirus After Close Contact With Lawmaker — 7/29/20, 8:30 p.m. ET

The Justice Department said Wednesday that Attorney General William Barr had tested negative for the coronavirus after participating in a Tuesday hearing with a lawmaker who has tested positive for COVID-19. 

A department spokeswoman told media outlets that Barr had received a precautionary test following his testimony before the House Judiciary Committee.  

Rep. Louis Gohmert (R-Texas), a member of the Judiciary panel, tested positive for the virus on Wednesday as part of a pre-screening at the White House. He has been a fierce opponent to mask-wearing and has often been seen walking around the Capitol without a mask.

Gohmert and Barr had a brief interaction following the hearing on Tuesday. Both men were seen without masks.

— Nick Visser

Florida Reports Largest Single-Day Coronavirus Death Toll For 2nd Consecutive Day — 7/29/20, 7:05 p.m. ET

For the second day in a row, Florida has reported a record-breaking coronavirus death toll. The state’s Department of Health said Wednesday that 216 people had died of the virus — marking the highest number of COVID-19 deaths to be recorded in Florida in a single day

On Tuesday, health officials said 191 people had died of the virus overnight, which at the time had been the daily record. 

More than 6,400 people have died in Florida of COVID-19 to date. 

— Dominique Mosbergen

U.S. Officially Passes 150,000 Coronavirus Deaths ― 7/29/20, 4:28 p.m. ET

More than 150,000 people in the United States have now died from the coronavirus, according to Johns Hopkins University. The United States leads the world in both coronavirus deaths and total infections.

Months after President Donald Trump claimed Democrats were starting a false panic over COVID-19, and predicted that the number of cases in the U.S. would “go down close to zero,” the pandemic continues to ravage Americans and stifle the U.S. economy.

― Ja’han Jones

Fauci: Hydroxychloroquine Is Not Effective In Treating COVID-19 — 7/29/20, 1:45 p.m. ET

Dr. Anthony Fauci doubled down on health officials’ determination that drugs like hydroxychloroquine are ineffective in combatting the coronavirus after President Donald Trump continued to endorse its use this week.

“Hydroxychloroquine is not effective in the treatment of coronavirus disease or COVID-19,” Fauci, a member of the president’s coronavirus task force, said Wednesday on MSNBC. He cited the results of numerous clinical trials that he said were randomized and controlled.

Trump has repeatedly insisted that the anti-malaria drug is a safe treatment for the virus, despite evidence showing otherwise.

“I happen to believe in it. I would take it. As you know, I took it for a 14-day period. And as you know, I’m here. I happen to think it works in the early stages,” Trump said Tuesday.

― Nina Golgowski 

Federal Report Adds 3 More States To Coronavirus ‘Red Zone’ — 7/29/20, 9:45 a.m. ET

A new report from the White House’s coronavirus task force lists 21 states in the “red zone,” which means in the past week they recorded more than 100 new cases per 100,000 people as well as a diagnostic test positivity rate of at least 10%, The New York Times reported Tuesday.

Meanwhile, President Donald Trump is undermining his own administration’s public health officials by urging more states to reopen.

The report, which was dated July 26 and sent to state officials, adds three states — Missouri, North Dakota and Wisconsin — to the “red zone,” according to the Times. A similar report was released roughly two weeks earlier.

Most states fall into the “yellow zone.” That means they have reported 10 to 100 new cases per 100,000 people last week and a diagnostic testing positivity rate of 5% to 10%, or that they reported one of those conditions and one of the “red zone” qualifying conditions.

Vermont is the only state currently in the “green zone,” according to the report, which was obtained by the Times.

Policy recommendations outlined in the report for “red zone” areas include closing bars and gyms and limiting social gatherings to 10 people or fewer. Individuals in affected areas should wear a mask at all times outside the home, the report states.

Despite the warnings and recommendations put forth by his own administration, Trump has repeatedly downplayed the severity of the virus in the United States.

He falsely claimed during a White House briefing on Monday that much of the country is “corona-free.” Later that day, the president shared misinformation about the virus to his more than 80 million Twitter followers, including a video in which a group of fringe doctors claimed hydroxychloroquine cures COVID-19 and that people don’t need to wear masks to prevent the virus’s spread.

No legitimate medical organizations have recognized any “cure” for COVID-19, and multiple clinical trials have shown hydroxychloroquine is not beneficial in treating the virus.

― Hayley Miller

6 States In South, West Break Records For Coronavirus Deaths - 7/29/20, 4:38 a.m. ET

More than 1,300 lives were lost in the U.S. on Tuesday to the coronavirus, making it the biggest one-day increase since May.

According to Reuters, Arkansas, California, Florida, Montana, Oregon and Texas each reported record spikes in fatalities.

At the time of this writing, nearly 150,000 Americans have lost their lives due to the pandemic.

Jade Walker

Trump’s National Security Adviser Tests Positive — 7/27/20, 9:20 a.m. ET

Robert O’Brien, national security adviser to President Trump, has tested positive for COVID-19, the White House confirmed Monday. He is the highest-ranking official in the Trump administration known to have contracted the coronavirus.

“He has mild symptoms and has been self-isolating and working from a secure location off site,” the White House said in a statement. “There is no risk of exposure to the President or the Vice President. The work of the National Security Council continues.”

O’Brien came down with the virus after attending a family event, Bloomberg reported, citing a person familiar with the matter. Earlier this month, he returned from a three-day trip to Paris, where he met with his counterparts from the U.K., France, Germany and Italy, according to Politico.

Several people close to Trump, including his reelection campaign’s top fundraising official and Vice President Mike Pence’s press secretary, have tested positive for the virus in recent months.

— Hayley Miller

Birx Urges Several States To Close Bars, Limit Social Gatherings — 7/27/20, 9 a.m. ET

Dr. Deborah Birx, the coronavirus response coordinator for the Trump administration, urged states with rising infections to impose new restrictions that include closing bars, reducing indoor restaurant capacity and limiting social gatherings to 10 people.

“We can see what is happening in the South is moving north,” Birx told reporters in Kentucky on Sunday, suggesting that new hot spots outside of Florida, Texas and other Southern states are beginning to emerge.

Birx said she is specifically focused on controlling the pandemic “before it gets worse” in Kentucky, Tennessee, Ohio, Indiana and Virginia, and she recommended that “100%” of individuals in these states wear masks when they’re in public or around others.

Kentucky allowed bars to reopen on June 29, but Gov. Andy Beshear (D) said Sunday that he planned to announce new restrictions early this week amid a surge in new cases. As of Monday, the state has recorded more than 27,000 cases and at least 718 deaths. Meanwhile, Florida and California have surpassed New York, once the epicenter of the virus in the U.S., in known infections.

— Hayley Miller

World’s Biggest Vaccine Study Begins In U.S. — 7/27/20, 8:05 a.m. ET

The biggest COVID-19 vaccine study to date is now underway in the United States.

Beginning Monday, the first 30,000 volunteers will help test shots created by the National Institutes of Health and biotechnology company Moderna, the Associated Press reported. Researchers will inject volunteers with either the experimental vaccine or a placebo and track which people contract the virus as they go about their lives. The researchers will also track any potential negative side effects of the vaccine.

Several other vaccines made by China and Britain’s Oxford University are in the final stages of testing.

Read more from AP here.

— Hayley Miller

Florida Records More Coronavirus Infections Than New York — 7/27/20, 3 a.m. ET

According to figures released on Sunday, Florida has now recorded more coronavirus cases than New York, which was once the U.S. epicenter of the outbreak. 

Johns Hopkins University reported that Florida had reached a total of more than 423,00 cases, nearly 77,000 of which were reported in the last seven days. That figure exceeds New York’s 416,000, which has seen just under 5,000 cases in the last week.

California currently has the most cases of any state in the country.

Despite the official figures, it’s hard to know just how many people have been infected in epicenters of the pandemic as both New York and California had surges earlier this year when testing was limited, The New York Times reported. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said this month’s true figures may be more than 10 times higher than the reported figures in some areas.

— Nick Visser

North Korea Declares Emergency Over Suspected Coronavirus Case — 7/26/20, 12:10 p.m. ET

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un declared a state of emergency on Saturday after the country for the first time acknowledged a suspected coronavirus case within its borders.

In response to the apparent case, Kim locked down the city of Kaesong, located near the country’s border with South Korea. North Korea has previously denied having any cases of the virus, though outside experts have questioned that claim, according to The Associated Press.

North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency said the suspected virus patient had illegally entered the country last week after fleeing to South Korea three years ago. The patient, anyone who had contact with them, and those who were in Kaesong recently have been placed under quarantine, according to KCNA.

During an emergency meeting of top North Korean officials, Kim was quoted as saying there was a “critical situation in which the vicious virus could be said to have entered the country.”

Read more from the AP here.

— Hayley Miller

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