CORONAVIRUS

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 23.4 million cases of COVID-19 across the planet.

More than 808,000 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.)

Boris Johnson Says Students Face Greater Harm By Staying At Home  — 8/24/20, 6:45 a.m. ET

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has made a personal plea to parents to send their children back to school in September as classrooms in Europe prepare to reopen.

Johnson said pupils face greater damage by continuing to stay at home, while chief medical officers in the UK issued a joint statement reassuring parents it was safe to send their children back to school.

They said “very few, if any” children would come to long-term harm from catching COVID-19 by attending school. An analysis published on Sunday showed there were 67 single confirmed cases, four “co-primary cases” (two or more linked cases diagnosed at the same time) and 30 coronavirus outbreaks in schools in England during June.

Elsewhere in Europe, countries are facing a race against time to reopen schools, with Spain’s minister of education forced to deny it was planning to postpone September’s post-summer reopening.

France’s Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer has also ruled out delays to starting the school year on Sept. 1, but left the door open to “local exceptions,” on a case-by-case basis. Schools in Italy are also due to begin a phased reopening on Sept. 1.

In Germany, however, at least 41 schools in Berlin have reported that students or teachers have become infected after classes resumed two weeks ago. Berlin was one of the first places in Germany to reopen schools after the summer holidays, but despite rising infection rates the government has said keeping classrooms open is a top priority.

— James Martin

Australia’s Victoria State Records Lowest Daily Rise In Cases For 7 Weeks — 8/24/20, 4:30 a.m. ET

Victoria, the state of Australia that accounts for 80% of the country’s COVID-19 deaths, has reported its lowest daily rise in new infections in seven weeks.

The state, which is almost halfway through a six-week lockdown, recorded 15 deaths from coronavirus in the last 24 hours and 116 cases.

As the spread of the disease slows, state and federal governments have been discussing easing the cap on returning Australians of 4,000 per week to help repatriate those stranded overseas.

In neighboring New Zealand, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has extended a coronavirus lockdown in the country’s largest city until the end of the week and introduced mandatory mask-wearing on public transport across the nation.

Ardern said the four-day extension in the city of Auckland was critical to enable the country to step down its scale of emergency restrictions — and remain at less restrictive levels.

The Auckland lockdown, imposed on Aug. 11 after officials detected the country’s first locally acquired cases of COVID-19 in more than three months, had been scheduled to end Wednesday.

New Zealand, which has a population of 5 million, has so far recorded just over 1,300 COVID-19 cases, including 22 deaths.

Australia has recorded nearly 25,000 COVID-19 infections, including 517 deaths.

— James Martin

Trump Announces Emergency Approval For COVID-19 Plasma Treatment  8/23/20, 6:50 p.m. ET

President Donald Trump said Sunday that U.S. regulators gave an emergency use authorization for a coronavirus treatment involving blood plasma donated by people who recovered from the disease.

The authorization by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration allows for the distribution of COVID-19 convalescent plasma in the U.S. and for health care providers to administer it as appropriate to treat patients hospitalized with suspected or confirmed COVID-19.

The authorization comes after the FDA put the plasma approval on hold earlier this month in response to concerns from top federal health officials. Though donated plasma is considered safe, scientists said clinical trials have not yet proved whether it is effective enough for treating the disease caused by the virus.

“In the independent judgment of experts and expert scientists at the FDA who have reviewed the totality of data  not just the data from this expanded access program, but more than a dozen published studies, as well as historical experience associated with this  those scientists have concluded that COVID-19 convalescent plasma is safe, ensures promising efficacy, thereby meeting the criteria for emergency use authorization,” FDA commissioner Stephen Hahn said at Sunday’s briefing.

The authorization came one day after Trump accused FDA employees of intentionally delaying progress on a COVID-19 vaccine and treatment because they were out to hurt the president’s chances in the upcoming election, without any evidence to substantiate the claim.

Hahn declined to say Sunday whether he was pressured into giving the emergency use authorization for convalescent plasma treatment before it was ready.

— Sanjana Karanth

More Than 215,000 ‘Excess’ U.S. Deaths Point To Much Higher Actual Death Toll — 8/22/20, 5:25 p.m. ET

Around 215,000 more people died in the U.S. in the first seven months of 2020 than would normally be expected, and half of them were people of color, according to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The figure suggested that the true coronavirus death toll is much higher than the official count of about 175,000 and that the virus may have had an outsized effect on communities of color.

Public health experts use so-called “excess deaths” as a measure of the pandemic’s effect. The Lancet said this metric “may be the most objective and comparable way of assessing the scale of the pandemic and formulating lessons to be learned.”

People of color make up less than 40% of the U.S. population but accounted for about 52% of all “excess deaths” through July, The Associated Press reported. Since April, Black Americans were more likely to die of the illness, a fact attributable in large part to social inequities, experts said. 

— Sara Boboltz

Confirmed Coronavirus Deaths Hit 800,000 Worldwide — 8/22/20, 12:20 p.m. ET

More than 800,000 people around the world are known to have died of COVID-19, according to Johns Hopkins University. There have been some 23 million reported cases since the start of the pandemic. 

But experts believe the true number of coronavirus cases — and deaths — is far higher because of problems with testing. 

The U.S. still has the highest death toll of any country by far, passing 175,000 fatalities as schools grapple with reopening plans for the fall semester.

— Sara Boboltz

Coronavirus Risks Pushing 100 Million Into Extreme Poverty — 8/21/20, 6:30 a.m. ET

COVID-19 could push 100 million people around the world into extreme poverty, an increase of 40 million on previous estimates, World Bank President David Malpass has said.

Malpass estimated that 70 to 100 million people could fall into extreme poverty — that is, living on less than $1.90 a day — but warned “that number could increase” if the pandemic worsens or drags out, HuffPost France reported.

This makes it “imperative” for creditors to reduce the debt of poor countries, Malpass said, going beyond calls to extend a moratorium on the debt of the poorest countries.

“Debt vulnerabilities are high, and it is imperative [for indebted countries] to see the light at the end of the tunnel so that new investors can come,” Malpass added.

G20 countries decided in April to suspend the debt repayments of the poorest countries until the end of 2020. NGOs and the World Bank are calling for the moratorium, which concerns 76 countries, to be extended until 2021.

In 2015, the most recent estimate given on the World Bank website, some 734 million people were already living in extreme poverty, or about 10% of the world’s population.

— James Martin

GOP Sen. Bill Cassidy Tests Positive — 8/20/20, 2:45 p.m. ET

Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) has tested positive COVID-19, his office announced Thursday.

Cassidy, who is also a medical doctor, took the test on Thursday after being notified the night before that he’d been exposed to a person with coronavirus, his office said.

“I am strictly following the direction of our medical experts and strongly encourage others to do the same,” Cassidy said in a statement. His office said he would be “strictly adhering to all CDC recommendations.”

— Hayley Miller

Trump Administration Guidance Could Allow Teachers To Stay In Classroom If Exposed — 8/20/20, 2:00 p.m. ET

New guidance from President Donald Trump’s administration that declares teachers to be “critical infrastructure workers” could give the green light to exempting teachers from quarantine requirements after being exposed to COVID-19 and instead send them back into the classroom, The Associated Press reports.

Read more here.

 Paige Lavender

Cases Surge In France, Spain And Germany As Europe Takes Vacation — 8/20/20, 6:30 a.m. ET

Fears of a second wave in Europe have heightened after a series of leading countries recorded new spikes in infections.

Spain yesterday marked another record since the end of its lockdown, with 3,715 new infections in 24 hours. Neighboring France registered 3,776 new cases, again marking a record number of infections since the end of the lockdown; there were also 17 new deaths, bringing the total number of victims to 30,468.

In Germany, where so far there are fewer than 10,000 deaths (9,243), 1,510 new cases were recorded, the highest increase in three months, according to the Robert Koch Institute.

Meanwhile, Italy recorded 642 cases, the highest since May 23.

The spike in Europe comes as global coronavirus cases pass 22 million since the beginning of the pandemic.

— James Martin

FDA Pauses Plan For Emergency Use Authorization Of Plasma Treatment: Report — 8/19/20, 9:45 a.m. ET

At the request of top U.S. public health experts, the Food and Drug Administration has put on hold its plan to authorize blood plasma as a COVID-19 treatment, The New York Times reported Wednesday.

Though plasma donated from recovered COVID-19 patients is considered safe, clinical trials have not proven whether it is effective for treating the disease. The FDA was preparing to issue an emergency use authorization for the potential treatment last week, but several federal health officials cautioned against doing so, citing insufficient data, the Times reported.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious diseases expert, was one of the public health officials who argued against the authorization, along with Dr. Francis S. Collins, the director of the National Institutes of Health, and Dr. H. Clifford Lane, the clinical director at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, according to the Times.

An emergency approval for plasma as a treatment could still happen in the future after more data has been reviewed, Lane told the Times.

— Hayley Miller

Australian P.M. Forced To Row Back On Mandatory Vaccination Comments — 8/19/20, 7 a.m. ET

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has been forced to U-turn on comments that vaccinations for COVID-19 would be made compulsory.

Amid rising infection rates in Australia, Morrison told a Melbourne radio station on Wednesday that he “would expect [a vaccine] to be as mandatory as you could possibly make it.”

Morrison had earlier announced that Australia had signed a deal with British drugmaker AstraZeneca to produce and distribute enough doses of a potential coronavirus vaccine for its population of 25 million.

However, speaking later to a Sydney radio station, Morrison backtracked on the remarks: “It is not going to be compulsory to have the vaccine, OK? It’s not compulsory. There are no compulsory vaccines in Australia,” he said.

A flare-up in infections in Australia’s second-most populous state of Victoria forced authorities two weeks ago to impose a nightly curfew and shut large parts of the state’s economy.

The state has seen a slowdown in new cases in recent days, allaying fears of a nationwide second wave.

Despite the surge in the past month, Australia has avoided the high casualties of other nations with just under 24,000 infections and 450 deaths from the virus.

— James Martin

Notre Dame Becomes Latest University To Halt In-Person Classes — 8/19/20, 6:20 a.m.

Notre Dame has become the latest university to halt in-person classes just as the new school year kicks off, as 146 students and a staff member tested positive for COVID-19, NBC News reported.

The university will switch to remote learning only for two weeks, it said Tuesday — eight days after the start of the school year. Its announcement follows a similar one made by University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill and Michigan State University’s announcement that undergraduates would stay home for the rest of the fall semester.

Most of the students who tested positive for the virus are seniors who live off-campus and attended gatherings where people weren’t wearing masks or social distancing, the school said, citing a contract tracing analysis.

The nation’s universities have attempted to reopen in a piecemeal fashion, with a mix of remote learning and in-person classes around the country.

The World Health Organization has warned that people in their 20s-40s are emerging as primary spreaders of the coronavirus. University students in particular live in tight quarters and mix with each other socially.

The United States leads the world in deaths from COVID-19, with over 171,000.

— Liza Hearon

USPS To Suspend Changes That Could Have Derailed Mail-In Voting — 8/18/20, 1:18 p.m. ET

The U.S. Postmaster General announced Tuesday that he is suspending some recent operational changes until after the presidential election so that people may confidently vote by mail during the coronavirus pandemic.

“To avoid even the appearance of any impact on election mail, I am suspending these initiatives until after the election is concluded,” U.S. Postal Service head Louis DeJoy said of the changes, which included removing mail processing equipment and collection boxes, refusing overtime requests, cutting back USPS retail hours and shutting down processing facilities. 

DeJoy, a President Donald Trump appointee and a major donor to his campaign, has faced major scrutiny in recent weeks for removing mailboxes, even though people are expected to vote by mail in unusually high numbers because of the pandemic. Trump, who has been baselessly attacking mail-in voting as “fraudulent” for the last few months, has suggested he opposes additional funding for the department.

— Lydia O’Connor

Report: Nursing Home Cases Up Nearly 80% In COVID-19 Rebound — 8/18/20, 7:20 a.m. ET

Coronavirus cases in nursing homes jumped nearly 80% earlier this summer, driven by cases in the South and West, according to a study by the American Health Care Association released Monday.

According to the COVID Tracking Project, long-term homes account for 1% of the U.S. population but 40% of COVID-19 deaths.

“The case numbers suggest the problem is far from solved,” said Tamara Konetzka, a research professor at the University of Chicago who wasn’t involved with the study.

Read more here.

— Liza Hearon

UK High School Grades In Chaos As Results Algorithm Axed — 8/18/20, 4:45 a.m. ET

A computer algorithm designed to grade the results of high school students in the U.K. has been scrapped, after almost 40% of students had their marks downgraded — with poorer students disproportionately hit.

Computer modeling was introduced after COVID-19 shut down schools across Britain before students could take their final exams, which can dictate university placements for pupils in their final year of classes. The U.K. government faced a furious backlash from students, teachers and parents over the downgraded results, with the opposition Labour leader Keir Starmer accusing Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s administration of incompetence.

Starmer tweeted: “The government has had months to sort out exams and has now been forced into a screeching U-turn after days of confusion. This is a victory for the thousands of young people who have powerfully made their voices heard this past week.”

The computer algorithm will now be replaced with teachers’ predicted grades with students whose results were higher under the algorithm calculation allowed to keep the higher grade. Read more

— Rachel Wearmouth and Arj Singh

Kristin Urquiza Rebukes Trump Over Dad’s COVID-19 Death In Somber DNC Speech — 8/17/20, 10:53 p.m. ET

Kristin Urquiza’s speech about her late father, a 65-year-old Trump supporter who died of the coronavirus in June, was a striking and emotional moment during the first night of the Democratic National Convention.

“My dad was a healthy 65-year-old. His only preexisting condition was trusting Donald Trump, and for that, he paid with his life,” Urquiza said in a pre-recorded video played at the virtual event Monday night.

Urquiza blamed President Donald Trump and his administration’s willingness to relax social distancing guidelines as the reason for the death of her father, Mark Anthony Urquiza, and others who have died during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In early July, Urquiza wrote an obituary for her father that pinned his death on “the carelessness of the politicians” and their “refusal to acknowledge the severity” of the virus.

The obituary, which went viral, didn’t name any political leaders, but an op-ed Urquiza published for The Washington Post later that month specifically called out Trump and Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R).

— Carla Russo

U.S. Colleges Face Coronavirus Outbreaks As Students Return To Campus — 8/17/20 4:15 pm ET

Some U.S. college campuses that have welcomed students back in person during the pandemic have already experienced spikes in coronavirus cases. Students have been gathering in large groups, at times at off-campus parties, without masks and without social distancing, sparking concerns about the spread of the virus.

Only one week into its fall semester, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill announced that its undergraduate classes will be going fully online starting Wednesday. The state university had initially reopened earlier in the month, welcoming students back on campus for in-person instruction. But after a significant uptick in coronavirus cases on campus — with 177 students now in isolation and 349 in quarantine — the school made this dramatic reversal.

At the University of North Georgia, hundreds of students were shown partying maskless around off-campus housing in a viral video posted on Twitter. At Oklahoma State University, officials linked 23 COVID-19 cases to just one off-campus sorority house. And dozens of University of Alabama students were photographed lining up outside restaurants without face masks, to which the mayor of Tuscaloosa tweeted: “Why? We are desperately trying to protect” the city.

The coronavirus response at colleges and universities has been piecemeal nationwide, with some campuses going fully online for the fall while others attempt to reopen in person.

The United States continues to lead the world in coronavirus cases and deaths, with more than 5.4 million cases confirmed and more than 170,000 dead so far. 

— Sarah Ruiz-Grossman

Italy Imposes First New Restrictions Since Reopening — 8/17/20, 6 a.m. ET

Italy will shut discos and clubs and make it compulsory to wear a mask outdoors in some areas during the night in the first reimposition of restrictions as cases of coronavirus pick up across the country, especially among younger people.

New cases in the past week in Italy, the first European country to be hit hard by the coronavirus, were more than double those registered three weeks ago and the median age of people contracting the virus has dropped below 40, data showed.

The new rules will start on Monday — two days after an Italian holiday when many young Italians go out dancing — and will run until early September.

Masks will be required between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. in areas close to bars and pubs and where gatherings are more likely.

HuffPost Italy reports (in Italian) that the twin factors of the continuous increase in new positives (3,351 in the last week, with daily peaks not recorded since May) and increases in neighboring European countries forced the government to act.

“We cannot nullify the sacrifices made in past months. Our priority must be that of opening schools in September, in full safety,” Health Minister Roberto Speranza said on Facebook.

Since its outbreak came to light on Feb. 21, Italy has recorded more than 35,000 deaths.

— James Martin

New Zealand Postpones General Election — 8/17/20, 5:30 a.m. ET

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced a four-week delay to the general election in New Zealand as the country tackles a new coronavirus outbreak.

“Ultimately, the 17th of October ... provides sufficient time for parties to plan around the range of circumstances we will be campaigning under,” Ardern said in a news conference. The election had been scheduled to be held Sept. 19.

Pressure had been mounting on Ardern to postpone the vote amid the resurgence of COVID-19 infections in New Zealand’s biggest city, Auckland, after the country had been free of coronavirus cases for 102 days.

The main opposition National Party had called for a delay after it was forced to cancel campaign events due to restrictions on movement and crowds. It has accused Ardern of using the crisis to shore up support.

New Zealand law requires the election to be held before Nov. 21, however Ardern added she did not intend to change the election date again. 

Read more

— Carly Williams

FDA Approves Yale’s Saliva Test For Emergency Use — 8/16/20, 8:55 a.m. ET

The Food and Drug Administration has granted emergency use authorization to Yale School of Public Health’s saliva test to detect COVID-19, after a trial on NBA 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 in a statement Saturday.

FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn called the test “groundbreaking” in its efficiency and in being unaffected by crucial component shortages.

Read more from Reuters.

― Hayley Miller

CDC Clarifies Guidance On The Protections Recovered COVID-19 Patients Have — 8/15/20, 6:25 p.m. ET

People who have recovered from COVID-19 do not need to quarantine or get tested for the virus for up to three months after recovery so long as they do not develop symptoms again, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said earlier this month.

The guidance suggested that recovered patients are likely protected to some degree from the virus in that time span.

But the agency was forced to issue a clarification Friday to point out explicitly that does not mean recovered COVID-19 patients are immune from the virus in the months after their illness. “This science does not imply a person is immune to reinfection with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, in the three months following infection,” the CDC said in a statement.

“The latest data simply suggests that retesting someone in the three months following initial infection is not necessary unless that person is exhibiting the symptoms of COVID-19 and the symptoms cannot be associated with another illness.”

Recovered patients who are not infectious to others can nevertheless continue to test positive for months, the CDC said.

— Sara Boboltz

For more on the pandemic, go here. 


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