Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT) arrive with a patient while a funeral car begins to depart at North Shore Medical Center where the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) patients are treated, in Miami, Florida, July 14, 2020.
Maria Alejandra Cardona | Reuters
Florida reported 276 new deaths caused by the coronavirus on Tuesday, marking the highest number of deaths reported in a single day by the state since the pandemic began.
That brings the total number of Covid-19 deaths in Florida to 8,553, according to the state’s department of health. Florida also reported 5,886 new cases of the virus, bringing the cumulative total to 542,792 confirmed cases across the state since the outbreak began.
The Florida Department of Health didn’t immediately provide a comment for this article.
The state previously reported a single-day high of 257 Covid-19 deaths on July 31, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. The seven-day average of new Covid-19 deaths in Florida hit a high of 185 average deaths per day on Aug. 5, according to a CNBC analysis of Hopkins data.
The percentage of tests that came back positive on Monday also increased to 10.3%, up from about 8.6% on Sunday. That statistic is a closely watched data point that could indicate whether the outbreak is expanding and whether the state is conducting enough testing.
Florida is one of the hardest-hit states in the country by the coronavirus, but daily new cases have appeared to decline in recent days. Epidemiologists, however, warn that it’s too soon to establish any kind of strong trend and say that testing has fallen even faster.
The seven-day average of daily new cases has dropped by 38% compared with two weeks ago, according to CNBC’s analysis of data compiled by Hopkins, but testing has declined as well. The state was running roughly 54,000 tests per day two weeks ago, but that has dropped by about 46% to just over 37,000 as of Aug. 10, based on data compiled by the Covid Tracking Project, a volunteer project founded by journalists at The Atlantic magazine.
“I’m always cautious. It does seem like we’re on a downward trend maybe,” Cindy Prins, an epidemiologist at the University of Florida, told CNBC on Tuesday, saying the state’s positivity rate, or percent of positive Covid-19 tests, has fallen from its recent peak at 12.3%, according to the state’s health department. She added that the state ought to conduct more testing to better understand the outbreak.
“You want to hit that point where you’ve got enough testing going on that you’re really identifying the majority of the people who are positive, because that allows for the disease control effort,” she said. “Then you’ll see not only the percent positivity get lower, but your cases as well will start to decrease, and I think that’s the spot we want to be in.”
She added that Hurricane Isaias, which hit Florida and other states on the East Coast earlier this month, may have disrupted some of the state’s Covid-19 response efforts. For example, she said, testing declined due to the storm, which may have made it seem as though cases were decreasing as well.
Deaths — which lag behind daily new cases as people get infected, become sick and eventually die — are seen as a more stable indicator of an outbreak, because they are less dependent on available testing capacity.
U.S. coronavirus deaths top 1,000 for four straight days as California, Florida and Texas report record averages
Medical personnel move a deceased patient to a refrigerated truck serving as make shift morgues at Brooklyn Hospital Center on April 09, 2020 in New York City.
Angela Weiss | AFP | Getty Images
The U.S. reported more than 1,100 coronavirus deaths on Friday, marking the first time since May the morbid daily death toll rose above 1,000 for four consecutive days, according to Johns Hopkins University data.
There were 10 states across the U.S. that reported record daily coronavirus deaths based on a seven-day moving average, according to a CNBC analysis of data compiled by Johns Hopkins. CNBC uses a seven-day trailing average to smooth out spikes in data reporting to identify where cases and deaths are rising and falling.
Covid-19 cases across the country remained steady, however, with the nation’s seven-day average growing by less than 1% compared with a week ago, according to Hopkins data. Deaths and hospitalizations typically lag behind an increase in cases because it can take a while after someone is diagnosed to become seriously ill and potentially die, epidemiologists say.
Some states that have reported climbing cases for weeks, including California, Texas and Florida, are now seeing record daily coronavirus deaths based on a seven-day moving average.
Texas had an average of 138 new deaths on Friday, which is more than 29% higher compared with a week ago, according to a CNBC analysis of Johns Hopkins data. California had an average of 104 new deaths, which is more than 13% higher compared with a week ago. Florida reported an average of 121 daily deaths, a near 21% increase compared with a week ago.
On Thursday, Adm. Brett Giroir, an assistant secretary for health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, said that the rate of deaths from the coronavirus in the United States should begin to fall in the “next couple of weeks.”
The seven-day rolling average of coronavirus infections is beginning to drop, and U.S. health officials predict hospitalizations will go down next week and mortality rates will follow in about two weeks, he said during a press briefing with reporters.
Giroir’s prediction differs from forecasts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National and state-level forecasts suggest that the number of new deaths in the U.S. over the next four weeks will likely exceed the number reported over the previous four weeks, according to the CDC.
“Nobody’s letting up their foot from the gas,” he added. “If we throw caution to the wind, go back to the bars, this will all go into reverse.”
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott told CNBC Friday that the state has not yet “conquered” the coronavirus and it’s “going to take a little while” to eliminate, although the state has made some strides. State officials and funeral home directors are ordering extra body bags and refrigerated trucks as they prepare for an increase in deaths from Covid-19, which has already killed at least 4,717 people in the state.
“I feel like we have reached a plateau where we’ve contained the exponential growth of Covid at this particular time, but we have a lot more work to do in the coming weeks,” Abbott said. “We don’t have Covid conquered right now.”
Zoe looks for a little handout from diners on Grant Street in a makeshift outdoor dining area bounded by steel barricades in San Francisco, Calif., on Tuesday, June 16, 2020.
Carlos Avila Gonzalez | The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images
San Francisco Mayor London Breed announced Friday that the city will pause its reopening plan “indefinitely” and will close indoor malls and non-essential offices as the coronavirus continues to spread throughout the state.
Breed said that San Francisco County has been added to California’s “monitoring list,” which may add additional state-mandated restrictions and closures if the county stays on the list for three consecutive days.
On Monday, Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered counties on the list, which represented 80% of the state’s population, to close indoor operations for fitness centers, worship services, personal care services, malls, offices, hair salons and barbershops.
“If the state adds more restrictions, we will of course follow them. And if conditions in our city don’t improve, we can also choose to close additional businesses and activities as well,” Breed said.
The city had a low of 26 people hospitalized with Covid-19 in mid-June, down from a high of more than 90 people in April, Breed said. There are now 80 people in the city hospitalized with the coronavirus, she said.
“What I’m afraid of is the complacency,” Breed said during a press conference. “People are tired of the virus, but the virus is not tired of us.”
This is a developing story. Please check back later for updates.
Johnson & Johnson products on a shelf in a store in New York.
Lucas Jackson | Reuters
Johnson & Johnson’s second-quarter profit slid 35% from the same time last year as the coronavirus pandemic forced hospitals to postpone elective surgeries, hitting the company’s medical device business hard.
J&J earned $3.63 billion, or $1.36 per share, during the three months ended June 30, a 34.6% drop from $5.6 billion a year earlier as sales in its medical device unit fell, the company said Thursday. The decline in its medical device unit was partially offset by higher sales for its over-the-counter products such as Tylenol and its Listerine mouthwash.
Shares of J&J were less than 1% higher in premarket trading.
Overall, the company beat earnings expectations, reporting adjusted earnings of $1.67 per share, higher than the $1.49 per share expected. Revenue came in at $1.83 billion, higher than the $17.6 billion expected.
“Our second quarter results reflect the impact of COVID-19 and the enduring strength of our Pharmaceutical business, where we saw continued growth even in this environment,” J&J CEO Alex Gorsky said in a press release. “Thanks to the tireless work of our colleagues around the world and our broad range of capabilities, we continue to successfully navigate the external landscape, and we remain focused on advancing the development of a vaccine to help address this pandemic and save lives.”
This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.
Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT) lift a patient that was identified to have coronavirus disease (COVID-19) into an ambulance while wearing protective gear, as the outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, in New York City, New York, U.S., March 26, 2020.
Stefan Jeremiah | Reuters
The United States reported 67,417 new cases of the coronavirus on Tuesday, setting yet another fresh record for new cases reported in a single day, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University.
Cases in the U.S. keep climbing, averaging about 62,210 new cases per day over the past seven days — more than triple the number just a month ago and up more than 21% compared with the seven-day average a week ago, according to a CNBC analysis of the data from Hopkins.
Texas, California and Florida accounted for 31,847 new cases on Tuesday, nearly half of all new cases reported across the country.
President Donald Trump on Tuesday again attributed the increase in cases to ramped up testing.
The country processed 760,282 tests on Tuesday, the second-highest number of tests conducted in a single day, according to data compiled by the Covid Tracking Project, an independent volunteer organization launched by journalists at The Atlantic. The U.S. has processed an average of more than 665,000 tests per day between July 1 and July 12, according to a CNBC analysis the Covid Tracking Project’s data. That’s up from a daily average of just over 174,000 diagnostic tests processed nationally per day through April, according to CNBC’s analysis.
“Think of this, if we didn’t do testing, instead of testing over 40 million people, if we did half the testing we would have half the cases,” the president said Tuesday evening. “If we did another, you cut that in half, we would have, yet again, half of that. But the headlines are always testing.”
Trump’s medical advisors, including Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci, have said the recent surge in cases is a sign of an expanding outbreak, not the increased testing.
With new cases surging, especially in so-called hot-spot states across the South and West, the country’s testing infrastructure, however, is struggling to keep up. Quest Diagnostics and LabCorp, two of the largest diagnostic labs in the country, said earlier this week that the increased demand for testing is slowing their turnaround time. Quest said results for patients who are not “priority 1” now take more than seven days, which public health specialists say makes the tests almost useless to trace cases and isolate people who’ve been exposed.
Quest said in a statement Monday it won’t be able to “reduce our turnaround times as long as cases of COVID-19 continue to increase dramatically across much of the United States. This is not just a Quest issue. The surge in COVID-19 cases affects the laboratory industry as a whole.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday called on Americans to wear masks to help contain the spread of the virus. Director Dr. Robert Redfield told Dr. Howard Bauchner of the Journal of the American Medical Association in an interview Tuesday the U.S. could get its outbreak under control in one to two months if every American wore a mask.
“The time is now,” Redfield said. “I think if we could get everybody to wear a mask right now I think in four, six, eight weeks we could bring this epidemic under control.”
As public health officials urge the public to take action to bring the virus under control, the race toward a vaccine is progressing. Moderna said Tuesday that its potential vaccine to prevent Covid-19 produced a “robust” immune response in all 45 patients in its early stage human trial, according to data published Tuesday evening in the peer-reviewed New England Journal of Medicine.
All 45 patients produced neutralizing antibodies, which scientists believe is important for building immunity and provided more promising data that the vaccine may give some protection against the coronavirus. Moderna’s stock rose more than 16% in after-hours trading on the news.
The company is due to start its phase three trial on July 27, according to a posting published Tuesday on ClinicalTrials.gov. The trial, which will be the most comprehensive test of the potential vaccine yet, will enroll 30,000 participants across 87 locations, according to the website.
US President Donald Trump delivers a press conference in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC, on July 14, 2020.
Jim Watson | AFP | Getty Images
President Donald Trump insisted again Tuesday that the U.S. would have fewer coronavirus cases if it conducted less testing — even as outbreaks continue to surge across the nation and deaths begin to pick up pace.
“Think of this, if we didn’t do testing, instead of testing over 40 million people, if we did half the testing we would have half the cases,” Trump said at a press conference at the White House. “If we did another, you cut that in half, we would have, yet again, half of that. But the headlines are always testing.”
Trump said that while coronavirus testing “is a good thing,” it has also served as “fodder for the fake news to report cases.” He said that if the U.S. didn’t test people for Covid-19, then you wouldn’t have “all the headlines” because the nation has one of the lowest mortality rate.
“When I turn on the news I see cases, cases, cases,” Trump said.
The U.S. has more coronavirus cases than any other country in the world with more than 3.4 million out of the roughly 13.3 million global cases. While the U.S. has conducted more testing than any other country, it also has the most fatalities — 136,300 of the world’s approximately 576,800 deaths. Covid-19 deaths, which had been on the decline in America for almost two months, recently began rising again, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
Average daily deaths in the U.S. peaked in mid-April at more than 2,400, based on a seven-day moving average. Fatalities had been on the decline since then, bottoming out at an average of just over 500 a day on the Fourth of July, but they’ve been rising ever since to an average of 700 Covid-19 deaths on Monday, according to Hopkins data.
Across the country, more than a third of U.S. states reported record highs in daily new cases, based on a seven-day moving average as of Monday, according to a CNBC analysis of data compiled by Hopkins. Twenty states, including Florida and Georgia, broke records on Monday with an average of 10,855 and 3,358 new cases, respectively.
As cases continue to surge, labs across the nation are falling behind in processing and delivering test results, according two of the country’s biggest lab diagnostics companies.
“We attribute this demand primarily to the rapid, continuing spread of COVID-19 infections across the nation but particularly in the South, Southwest and West regions of the country,” Quest Diagnostics said in a statement.
Hospitalizations across the country, which epidemiologists say could show the most severe outbreaks since they don’t rely on testing, continue to hit new record highs indicating widespread community transmission. On Monday, 14 states broke grim records in seven-day average hospitalization numbers, including Texas, California and Arizona, according to a CNBC analysis of data from the Covid Tracking Project.
A leading group of infectious disease specialists Tuesday called efforts to discredit the nation’s top infectious disease expert “disturbing” while four former heads of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention chastised U.S. leaders for politicizing the country’s Covid-19 response.
Reports of the Trump administration’s campaign to discredit and diminish the role of White House health advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci, one of the leading voices in the country’s response to the coronavirus, “at this perilous moment are disturbing,” Thomas M. File, Jr., president of the Infectious Disease Society of America, said in a statement issued Tuesday.
“The only way out of this pandemic is by following the science, and developing evidence-based prevention practices and treatment protocols as new scientifically rigorous data become available. Knowledge changes over time. That is to be expected,” File said in his statement in support of Fauci on Tuesday.
The rift between Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and President Donald Trump widened last week after Fauci told the Financial Times in an interview that he hasn’t seen Trump at the White House since early June and hasn’t briefed him on the pandemic in at least two months.
His comments came as Trump told Fox News Thursday that “Dr. Fauci’s a nice man, but he’s made a lot of mistakes.”
“They’ve been wrong about a lot of things, including face masks,” Trump said in the interview. “Maybe they’re wrong, maybe not. A lot of them said don’t wear a mask, don’t wear a mask. Now they’re saying wear a mask. A lot of mistakes were made, a lot of mistakes.”
The Trump administration has increasingly disregarded advice from its top scientific advisors on Covid-19 with Trump himself calling the CDC’s guidelines on school reopenings too cumbersome and expensive.
The White House further tried to distance itself from and discredit Fauci over the weekend, saying “several White House officials are concerned about the number of times Dr. Fauci has been wrong on things,” according to a statement first reported by The Washington Post. The White House pointed to comments and positions taken by Fauci early in the outbreak that have since changed.
File, of the Infectious Disease Society, said “all of America must support public health experts, including Dr. Fauci, and stand with science” if there’s any hope to ending the pandemic.
Past directors of the CDC also criticized the Trump administration of dismissing advice from public health officials in a separate op-ed published in The Washington Post on Tuesday. Four former CDC directors wrote that the U.S. faces “two opponents” in its efforts to reopen the country: Covid-19 and politicians and others attempting to undermine the CDC.
“It is not unusual for CDC guidelines to be changed or amended during a clearance process that moves through multiple agencies and the White House. But it is extraordinary for guidelines to be undermined after their release,” wrote the former CDC directors: Tom Frieden, who served under former President Barack Obama; Jeffrey Koplan, who served under former presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush; David Satcher, who served under Clinton and Richard Besser, who served under Obama.
“Through last week, and into Monday, the administration continued to cast public doubt on the agency’s recommendations and role in informing and guiding the nation’s pandemic response,” they said.
The former CDC directors, while not naming Fauci, noted that that there are “thousands of experts” at the CDC who are “best positioned to help our country emerge from this crisis.” However, their advice has been challenged with “partisan potshots” that have caused confusion. The CDC and NIH are both divisions under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
The rebuke from the former directors come after Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos spent days pressuring schools to reopen amid a surge in Covid-19 cases nationwide. Trump threatened to withhold federal funding from states that don’t reopen their schools.
Vice President Mike Pence confirmed on Wednesday that the Trump administration is looking to the upcoming phase four coronavirus relief bill as a potential way to exert leverage over schools.
“As the debate last week around reopening schools more safely showed, these repeated efforts to subvert sound public health guidelines introduce chaos and uncertainty while unnecessarily putting lives at risk,” the directors wrote.
A sign marks the headquarters of Moderna Therapeutics, which is developing a vaccine against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Cambridge, Massachusetts, May 18, 2020.
Brian Snyder | Reuters
Moderna will begin its late-stage trial testing a potential vaccine to prevent Covid-19 on July 27, according to a posting published Tuesday on ClinicalTrials.gov.
The trial will enroll 30,000 participants, according to the website. Participants in the experimental arm will receive a 100 microgram dose of the potential vaccine on the first day and another 29 days later. Some patients will also receive a placebo.
Moderna’s experimental vaccine contains genetic material called messenger RNA, or mRNA. The mRNA is a genetic code that tells cells what to build — in this case, an antigen that may induce an immune response to the virus. It became the first candidate to enter a phase one human trial in March.
In May, the company released data from its early-stage trial, which showed the vaccine produced neutralizing antibodies against Covid-19 in at least eight participants. The vaccine also produced binding antibodies in all participants.
The effort by Moderna is one of several working on a potential vaccine for Covid-19, which has infected more than 13 million people and killed at least 573,200 as of Tuesday, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. More than 100 vaccines are under development globally, according to the World Health Organization.
Earlier this month, pharmaceutical giant Pfizer released positive results from its closely watched early-stage human trial of a coronavirus vaccine.
This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.
File photo of a squirrel looks out from a tree.
Matt Jonas | MediaNews Group | Boulder Daily Camera | Getty Images
A squirrel in Colorado has tested positive for the bubonic plague, also known as “Black Death,” according to local health authorities.
The squirrel was found in a town in Jefferson County, which is west of Denver, and is the first case in the region, health authorities said in a statement released Sunday.
The case comes about a week after authorities in a city in the Chinese region of Inner Mongolia issued a warning after a hospital reported a case of suspected bubonic plague in a human. There were at least four reported cases of plague in people from Inner Mongolia late last year, according to the New York Times. Two of them were pneumonic plague, a deadlier variant of plague.
The bubonic plague, infamous for killing millions of people in Europe during the Middle Ages, is an often fatal disease caused by bacteria. Humans usually get plague after being bitten by a rodent flea that is carrying the plague bacterium or by handling an animal infected with plague, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Symptoms may high fever, chills, headache, nausea and extreme pain and swelling of lymph nodes. The disease can cause serious illness or death without proper treatment, according to the CDC. Antibiotics are effective in treating it.
Plague is found on most continents but most human cases since the 1990s have occurred in Africa, according to the World Health Organization.
Local authorities in Colorado are asking residents to take precautions, including avoiding contact with sick or dead wild animals and rodents and keeping pets from roaming freely outside. Cats are highly susceptible to plague and may die if not treated promptly with antibiotics, they said.
The new case comes as the world continues to fight Covid-19, another serious disease that emerged six months ago. As of Tuesday, the virus has infected more than 13 million people worldwide and killed at least 573,200, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, has compared it to the 1918 pandemic flu, which killed around 50 million people, according to the CDC.