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 25.2 million cases of COVID-19 across the planet.

More than 846,000 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.)

COVID-19 Cases Soar At The University Of Alabama — 8/31/20, 3 a.m. ET

More than 1,000 students and employees have tested positive for the coronavirus at the University of Alabama since the school resumed in-person classes two weeks ago.

According to a tracking dashboard that monitors positive cases on campus, the school recorded 481 cases from last Tuesday to last Thursday alone. The climbing figures come amid ongoing concerns about schools that have already started or are set to begin their fall semesters while the pandemic continues to ravage the U.S.

In response, the university formally admonished students and issued a two-week ban of off-campus parties and Greek housing meetings.

“The rise we’ve seen in recent days is unacceptable, and if unchecked, threatens our ability to complete the rest of the semester on campus,” UA President Stuart Bell said during a press conference. “Now is the time for action.” 

— Nick Visser

Global Coronavirus Cases Top 25 Million As India Becomes New Epicenter — 8/31/20, 3 a.m. ET

The global tally of confirmed coronavirus cases topped 25 million for the first time this weekend, according to data released by Johns Hopkins University.

At least 846,000 people have died during the pandemic.

The U.S. still leads the world in terms of confirmed COVID-19 cases and has now passed 6 million positive tests. At least 183,000 people have died in the states due to the virus. 

However, India, a nation of 1.3 billion people, has quickly become a new epicenter of the pandemic. The country reported more than 78,000 new cases on Saturday alone. The rate of growth there now outpaces both the U.S. and Brazil.

To date, India has tallied more than 3.5 million cases and 63,000 deaths.

— Nick Visser

4 Kansas State University Sororities Test Positive For Coronavirus — 8/29/20, 12:25 p.m. ET

Outbreaks of the coronavirus have been identified at four different sororities at Kansas State University, the Riley County Health Department said Friday.

Greek houses Alpha Delta Pi and Alpha Xi Delta have six cases each, while Kappa Delta and Chi Omega have five cases each.

The new infections come less than two weeks after a fraternity at the university, Phi Delta Theta, was found to have 13 cases of the virus.

More than 350 students at the university are in quarantine less than a month after classes began.

Statewide, Kansas has recorded more than 40,000 cases of the virus and 445 deaths. 

—Sebastian Murdock

Gayle Benson, Owner Of New Orleans Saints And New Orleans Pelicans, Tests Positive For COVID-19 — 8/28/20, 3:15 p.m. ET

Gayle Benson, the 73-year-old owner of both the New Orleans Saints and the New Orleans Pelicans, tested positive for COVID-19.

Benson tested positive at some point in the last few weeks, Saints senior vice president of communications Greg Bensel told The Times-Picayune in New Orleans Friday.

Bensel declined to disclose the extent of Benson’s symptoms.

Arizona Cardinals owner Michael Bidwell tested positive in July, the first NFL owner to do so, Yahoo Sports reported.

Saints head coach Sean Payton tested positive in mid-March.

— Ryan Grenoble

4 People Who Attended RNC In Charlotte Test Positive For COVID-19 — 8/28/20, 1:30 p.m. ET

Four people who attended the portion of the Republican National Convention that was held in Charlotte, North Carolina, earlier this week have tested positive for COVID-19.

Mecklenburg County officials said Friday that two convention attendees and two people supporting the event have tested positive so far. The individuals have been told to quarantine, and their known contacts have been issued isolation instructions as well.

RNC attendees and support staff took nearly 800 coronavirus tests during the Charlotte event, including prior to and immediately after delegates’ arrival.

But photos and video from the event itself, where more than 300 delegates gathered at the Charlotte Convention Center for an in-person roll call on Monday, show that attendees largely ignored Mecklenburg County’s public health guidelines.

— Ryan Grenoble

First Clinical Vaccine Trials To Begin In Spain — 8/28/20 7 a.m. ET

Spain has announced its first clinical trials of a COVID-19 vaccine will begin next week as part of tests carried out across three countries, HuffPost Spain reports (in Spanish).

In addition to Spain, U.S. drugmaker Johnson & Johnson will expand phase II testing for its experimental vaccine to Germany and the Netherlands.

The trials will last two months and include 590 participants across the three countries, including 190 people in Spain, Spanish health minister Salvador Illa announced on Friday.

More than 150 potential vaccines are being developed and tested globally, with 30 in human trials. There is so far no approved COVID-19 vaccine, except one authorized in Russia before large-scale trials.

Spain, which has the highest prevalence of the virus in Western Europe, yesterday diagnosed 3,781 new coronavirus infections over a 24-hour period, with the Madrid region most affected by the resurgence of the epidemic. Spain’s health ministry also reported eight new deaths, bringing the total death toll to 28,996.

— James Martin

Confusion In Paris As Masks Become Mandatory In French Capital  — 8/28/20 6 a.m. ET

Wearing a mask “in all of Paris” became mandatory Friday as France battles a steep rise in COVID-19 infections.

HuffPost France reports (in French) that those who fail to comply with the law, which came into force at 8 a.m. local time, face a 135 euro ($160) fine for a first offense or a 3,750 euro ($4,400) penalty for repeat offenses.

However, shortly after the laws became active, authorities were forced to issue exceptions for joggers and cyclists. This was followed by a further statement clarifying that smoking and eating in the streets would also be allowed.

More than 6,000 new cases of COVID-19 were recorded yesterday in France in a 24-hour period, a new record since May, but the number of hospitalized patients, including in intensive care, remains stable.

— James Martin

‘Global Education Emergency’ As Children Can’t Access Remote Learning — 8/27/20, 10:15 a.m. ET

When the coronavirus pandemic closed schools across the globe, it meant that a third of the world’s children couldn’t access education, creating a “global education emergency,” the U.N. children’s agency warned.

“For at least 463 million children whose schools closed due to COVID-19, there was no such a thing as remote learning,” UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore said.

In a report released Wednesday, UNICEF highlighted inequality across global regions, with South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa significantly affected. The youngest children in rural areas are most likely to feel the effects of this going forward, as early education is particularly crucial. 

“The repercussions could be felt in economies and societies for decades to come,” warned Fore.

— Liza Hearon

California Will Not Adhere To New CDC Guidance On Testing — 8/26/20, 5:10 p.m. ET

Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) said California would not be following new federal guidance stating that people with no symptoms do not need to be tested for COVID-19, even if they’ve been exposed to people who have been infected.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced the new guidelines on Wednesday, despite the general consensus from public health experts that people are most contagious before showing symptoms of the virus.

Responding to news of the new federal guidelines, Newsom tweeted: “This will not be the policy of the state of CA.”

“I don’t agree with the CDC guidance period, full stop, and it’s not the policy in the state of California,” Newsom also said, according to a Politico report.

The California governor said the state had its own new testing initiative, announcing a contract he had signed with a Massachusetts-based diagnostics company to process thousands of COVID-19 tests daily by November.

The new testing effort would bring test results within 24 to 48 hours, bringing more “stability” to California and providing “reliability” for people who are at-risk, Newsom said.

“You get in within 48 hours, certainly 24 hours, then we have the ability to make decisions in real time that will advance our efforts to reopen our schools for in-person education, reopen our businesses in a more effective and efficient manner, a more sustainable manner,” Newsom said.

― Carla Russo

CDC Quietly Changes Testing Recommendations To Exclude People Without Symptoms — 8/26/20, 8:55 a.m. ET

The CDC’s new testing guidelines now say that people without COVID-19 symptoms do not need to be tested, even if they have been in close contact with someone who tested positive, quietly reversing previous guidelines that recommended testing “for all close contacts of confirmed or probable COVID-19 patients.” 

The agency’s revised guidelines go against public health experts’ consensus that people with COVID-19 tend to be most contagious before they begin to show symptoms, as well as the fact that some people will never show symptoms at all, but can still spread the virus. (That is why experts have recommended widespread testing as a crucial element in containing the pandemic.)

The new guidelines state that pre-symptomatic or asymptomatic people “do not necessarily need a test unless you are a vulnerable individual or your health care provider or State or local public health officials recommend you take one.” This applies even to people not showing symptoms who have been in close contact with someone infected with COVID-19, which the agency defines as within 6 feet for at least 15 minutes, or those “in a high COVID-19 transmission area and have attended a public or private gathering of more than 10 people (without widespread mask wearing or physical distancing).”

Yet further down in the guidelines, the agency still stresses that “it is important to realize that you can be infected and spread the virus but feel well and have no symptoms.”

It’s unclear what prompted the revision. In many states, officials have reported testing delays and backlogs. But a Department of Health and Human Services spokesperson told The New York Times that the altered guidelines were not due to testing shortages, but “to reflect current evidence and the best public health interventions.” 

— Marina Fang

Warren And Markey Demand Transparency Over FDA Decision To Authorize Plasma Treatment — 8/25/20, 2:10 p.m. ET

Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey are demanding the Food and Drug Administration provide all communications between the agency and the White House to determine whether the recent emergency use authorization of convalescent plasma treatment for coronavirus patients was politically motivated.

In a letter obtained by HuffPost on Tuesday, the Massachusetts Democrats called the FDA’s authorization decision “troubling,” given limited evidence of the treatment’s effectiveness on COVID-19 patients.

President Donald Trump and FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn announced on Sunday the emergency use authorization for convalescent plasma, the liquid component of blood from a recovered virus patient that’s rich in antibodies and can be used to treat the same virus in certain cases.

But although blood plasma donated from recovered COVID-19 patients is considered safe, top health officials expressed concern that the data have not yet proved whether it’s effective enough to defeat the virus. Medical experts decried Hahn’s comments on Sunday that overstated the treatment’s life-saving benefits.

The authorization raised questions about whether Hahn was pressured into the decision, given negative comments Trump has made about the agency’s response to the coronavirus pandemic and the fact that the announcement occurred on the eve of the Republican National Convention.

Hahn walked back his comments on Monday, apologizing for the overstatement and assuring the EUA decision as based on science and not politically motivated. He maintained that there is enough data to qualify convalescent plasma for an EUA, but that well-controlled randomized clinical trials “remain necessary” to properly determine if the treatment is effective.

Read more here

— Sanjana Karanth

Florida Judge Rules Against State Order Requiring Schools To Reopen — 8/25/20, 8:30 a.m. ET

A Florida judge on Monday temporarily blocked a state order requiring all brick-and-mortar schools to reopen for in-person instruction by the end of August, ruling that the mandate “arbitrarily disregards safety.”

The state’s education commissioner, Richard Corcoran, issued the order last month, which conditions state funding for schools on reopening five days a week for families who do not want their children to have virtual-only instruction. The Florida Education Association — the state’s largest teachers union — quickly sued the state, contending that local school districts should have the power to decide when it’s safe to reopen.

In his 16-page ruling, Leon County Judge Charles Dodson called the order “unconstitutional” and said it unlawfully denies local school boards the ability to decide for themselves when to reopen.

“If an individual school district chooses safety — that is, delaying the start of schools until it individually determines it is safe to do so for its county — it risks losing state funding, even though every student is being taught,” Dodson wrote.

Florida has appealed Dodson’s ruling.

— Hayley Miller

Spanish Capital To Install 6,100 Cameras For Online Learning — 8/25/20, 7:30 a.m. ET

Classrooms across Spain’s capital Madrid are to be fitted with cameras and the city will buy 70,000 computers as part of wide-ranging plans to keep schools open during the new school year.

HuffPost Spain reports (in Spanish) that Madrid’s regional government plans to install 6,100 cameras in classrooms to teach online classes, and hire up to 8,500 more teachers if the health crisis worsens.

The plans, released just over a week before classes are due to start, come as countries across Europe grapple with getting students back to school after the summer holidays.

Infections have risen sharply since Spain lifted a three-month lockdown in late June, but deaths have been much lower than during the epidemic’s late-March peak.

Spain diagnosed 2,060 coronavirus infections in the past 24 hours, the health ministry said on Monday, bringing the total to 405,436, with the cumulative death toll reaching 28,872.

— James Martin

First Reported Case Of Reinfection ‘Needs To Be Taken Into Context’ — 8/25/20, 7 a.m. ET

British experts have said it is too early to say what a reported case of coronavirus reinfection could mean on a global scale.

Researchers at the University of Hong Kong’s (HKU) department of microbiology have reported that an “apparently young and healthy patient had a second episode of COVID-19 infection which was diagnosed 4.5 months after the first episode.”

They added that the case shows reinfection can occur a few months after recovery from the first infection – potentially casting doubt over theories about immunity, HuffPost UK reports.

However, researchers in the U.K. have said that seeing one case of reinfection is not that surprising.

Dr. Jeffrey Barrett, senior scientific consultant for COVID-19 Genome Project, Wellcome Sanger Institute, said that it is “very hard” to make any strong inference from a single observation. “This may be very rare, and it may be that second infections, when they do occur, are not serious,” he said.

Brendan Wren, professor of microbial pathogenesis, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said: “With over three million cases of COVID-19 worldwide, the first reported case of a potential reinfection with SARS-CoV-2 needs to be taken into context.

“It appears that the young and healthy adult has been reinfected with a slight SARS-CoV-2 variant from the initial infection three months previously.

“It is to be expected that the virus will naturally mutate over time. This is a very rare example of reinfection and it should not negate the global drive to develop COVID-19 vaccines.”

— Sarah Turnnidge and James Martin

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

U.K. 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 U.K. 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 he 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 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

For more on the pandemic, go here.


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