Health and Science

Texas mandates face coverings; jobs may not fully recover in some U.S. industries

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Efforts to fully reopen the U.S. economy are faltering as 19 states pause or reverse plans to ease restrictions on business as new cases spike across the country. Despite the surge of infections, Vice President Mike Pence told CNBC the White House wants to press ahead with reopening after job numbers came in better than expected. Pence defended the administration's position on masks, saying there's no need for a national mandate. Nearly half of all states have implemented mask mandates in one form or another, including Texas.

This is CNBC's live blog covering all the latest news on the coronavirus outbreak. This blog will be updated throughout the day as the news breaks. 

  • Global cases: More than 10.88 million
  • Global deaths: At least 521,694
  • Countries with most cases: United States (more than 2.73 million), Brazil (more than 1.49 million), Russia (more than 660,000), India (more than 625,000) and Peru (more than 292,000)

The data above was compiled by Johns Hopkins University as of July 3, 11:50 a.m. London time. 

England to relax quarantine rules for Spain, Germany, France and Italy

12:15 p.m. (London time) – The U.K. government is lifting compulsory quarantine for travelers from low-risk destinations starting next week.

Spain, Germany, France and Italy are on the list of countries that will be exempted from quarantine when arriving in England starting Monday. A full list of nations deemed 'low-risk' will be unveiled on Friday.

Media reports suggest that up to 75 countries may be removed from quarantine. – Silvia Amaro

Fitch downgraded a record number of sovereign ratings and it's not done yet

4:01 p.m. (Singapore time) – Ratings agency Fitch downgraded a record 33 sovereign ratings in the first half of this year. But as the pandemic pummels government finances, more downgrades are likely.

Fitch's global head of sovereign ratings, James McCormack, told CNBC on Friday that the agency has a negative outlook for the credit ratings of 40 countries and sovereign entities – they could potentially be downgraded in the coming months.

Governments are spending more to cushion the blow to their economies due to prolonged lockdowns – necessary to slow the spread of the virus. That is expected to cause a deterioration in the financial positions of all 119 countries rated by Fitch, McCormack said.

Fitch warned in a May report that sovereign defaults could hit a record this year due to the pandemic and weakness in oil prices. –Yen Nee Lee

How Hong Kong beat coronavirus and avoided lockdown

11:38 a.m. (Singapore time) — Hong Kong has a densely packed population of 7.5 million people. It has recorded around 1,200 cases of Covid-19. In contrast, its financial rival Singapore has over 44,000 cases. 

Since having its first confirmed case in January, Hong Kong went through phased closures of government offices, schools, gyms and bars. But other services were relatively unaffected, including dine-in service at restaurants, shops, malls, and trains.

Reasons why Hong Kong escaped an uptick in cases while managing to avoid a lockdown boils down to its experience with SARS, strict quarantine measures, contact tracing, cultural habits and the role of its government. —Uptin Saiidi

Mailing every American a mask would be an 'incredibly' efficient stimulus: Former Obama advisor

11:20 a.m. (Singapore time) — Former Obama economic advisor Jason Furman told CNBC the U.S. government should consider mailing everyone a face covering to help slow the virus from spreading. "There's really not a lot monetary or fiscal policy can do in the face of an out-of-control virus," Furman said on "Closing Bell."

"A mask is one of the steps that can control that virus," the Harvard University professor said. 

Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations are on the rise across some Southern and Western states, prompting governors in places such as Texas and Arizona to pause or rollback parts of their economic reopening. —Kevin Stankiewicz

Trump administration issues air travel guidelines

Travelers wearing protective masks use kiosks to check-in at the American Airlines Group Inc. counter at San Francisco International Airport (SFO) in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Wednesday, July 1, 2020.
David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images

6:20 p.m. ET — The Trump administration said airline passengers and crews should wear masks throughout their journeys but stopped short of mandating them or requiring social distancing on board, a contentious issue now between carriers.

The guidelines, issued jointly by the Department of Transportation, Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Health and Human Services, said airlines and airports should require face coverings, saying they are particularly necessary any time social distancing cannot be maintained."

The officials said airlines and airports should advise travelers "when it may not be possible to meet social distancing expectations" and stress the importance of wearing a mask and keeping hands clean during those times.

The recommendations come as U.S. airlines' policies on leaving some seats unsold to space passengers out on flights have diverged in recent weeks. The Trump administration also said airlines should collect passenger contact data to assist with disease-tracing efforts. —Leslie Josephs 

Dr. Fauci warns that coronavirus is mutating and may be transmitting more easily

Director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci wears a face mask while he waits to testify before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce on the Trump Administration's Response to the Covid-19 Pandemic, on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.
Kevin Dietsch | Pool via Reuters

5:48 p.m. ET — The coronavirus appears to have mutated in a way that might help it spread more easily, White House health advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci said.

All viruses mutate, but most mutations will not meaningfully change the behavior of the pathogen, its ability to spread or the disease it causes in humans.

"The data is showing there's a single mutation that makes the virus be able to replicate better and maybe have high viral loads," Fauci said in an interview with The Journal of the American Medical Association's Dr. Howard Bauchner. "We don't have a connection to whether an individual does worse with this or not; it just seems that the virus replicates better and may be more transmissible." —Will Feuer 

Texas Gov. Abbott mandates face coverings

5:04 p.m. ET — Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order requiring all residents to wear a face-covering in public spaces in counties with 20 or more positive coronavirus cases.

The decision was made because the percent of total tests coming back positive and the hospitalization rate both increased too much, Abbott said.

"Wearing a face covering in public is proven to be one of the most effective ways we have to slow the spread of COVID-19," Abbott said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization both recommend that people wear them as a way to slow the spread of the virus. —Berkeley Lovelace Jr. 

U.S. military coronavirus cases surge as Pentagon lifts travel restrictions

4:49 p.m. ET — The number of U.S. active-duty military personnel infected with the coronavirus has spiked in the past three weeks, a revelation that comes as the Pentagon lifts travel restrictions in 48 states.

As of Thursday, the Pentagon has reported a total of 18,071 cases. Of those 12,521 are active-duty military, 2,644 are civilians, 1,740 are dependents and 1,166 are contractors. These figures include 8,683 recoveries and 38 deaths across the entire department. —Amanda Macias

Cash-strapped bar owners reckon with closing their doors a second time

An employee sweeps inside a closed bar in Austin, Texas, June 26, 2020.
Sergio Flores | AFP | Getty Images

3:54 p.m. ET — Six states are closing thousands of bars again ahead of the Fourth of July weekend. But bar owners aren't happy with the rollbacks.

"The stop and start costs thousands of dollars for every business," said David Kaplan, co-owner of Death & Co, a cocktail lounge with locations in Los Angeles, Denver and New York.

The Texas Bar and Nightclub Association is suing the state over Gov. Greg Abbott's decision to close bars for the second time in three months. Others, like Todd Quigley, owner of Craft and Growler, a Dallas-based craft beer bar, take issue with how states are treating bars and restaurants differently. —Amelia Lucas

Dr. Anthony Fauci warns against balancing lives with the economy

3:46 p.m. ET — White House health advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci said in an interview with the Journal of the American Medical Association that "we're in an unprecedented pandemic" and officials can't "balance lives against the economy."

"You have people who think in one direction and those who think in the other" when it comes to the decision to reopen the economy amid the coronavirus pandemic safely", Fauci said.

Every state in the U.S. has reopened parts of their economies in recent weeks. Some, including Texas and Florida, have had to walk back those plans as cases spiked and outbreaks flared up across America.

"You don't want to balance lives against the economy," he said. "So let's get public health to help us to get the economy open as opposed to two opposing forces." —Noah Higgins-Dunn

Disney World suspends fall college program

With Minnie, Mickey and friends, Walt Disney World President Josh D'Amaro waves to guests gathered on Main Street USA, in the Magic Kingdom in the final minutes before the park closed, Sunday night, March 15, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
Joe Burbank | Orlando Sentinel | Getty Images

3:38 p.m. ET — Walt Disney World has suspended its fall college program, according to an email to prospective participants obtained by WDW News Today.

The program has been suspended until further notice, WDW News reports, because the park is still in the early stages of reopening and many of the Disney housing complex buildings remain closed. Eligibility requirements for the program will be amended so those who applied after having recently graduated can still apply when the program re-starts, according to the report. 

The announcement comes after Disney canceled internships and June-start college program members in April, according to WDW News Today. —Alex Harring

Amazon delays Prime Day until October due to coronavirus

3:35 p.m. ET — Amazon is pushing back its annual Prime Day sale event until at least early October. The company gave third-party sellers a placeholder date of the week of October 5, according to an email obtained by CNBC and first reported by Business Insider.The email cautions that "exact Prime Day dates have not been announced."

An Amazon spokesperson told CNBC in a statement: "We have not made any announcements regarding Prime Day."

Amazon has delayed its annual shopping event several times in recent months due to coronavirus-related constraints. The company previously targeted September as the potential timing for Prime Day, but the company now faces new coronavirus outbreaks across the country, which could threaten to upend its logistics operations again. —Annie Palmer

Employment may never fully recover in some industries

3:02 p.m. — Despite June's better-than-expected payrolls numbers, employment may never return to pre-Covid levels in a handful of sub-industries.

The long-term, nationwide pivot toward e-commerce had already put pressure on apparel retail employment, and economists say the coronavirus could act as a catalyst for employers to cut labor costs permanently.

Other sectors, such as leisure and hospitality, are posting more robust rebound in payrolls numbers. Bars and restaurants employed 12.3 million Americans in February 2020, only to see that figure collapse to 6.2 million in April. It's since rebounded 47% off that low and for June rose to 9.2 million jobs.

Couriers and message carriers are among a rare group that have actually seen a net gain in employment since January. —Thomas Franck

Researchers find neurological damage in four children with coronavirus inflammatory syndrome

2:48 p.m. — Children diagnosed with Covid-19 pediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome, or PMIS, may develop new neurological symptoms without any of the respiratory issues commonly associated with the virus, according to a study published Wednesday in JAMA Neurology.

After examining 27 pediatric patients with coronavirus PMIS between March 1 and May 8, researchers found that four experienced new neurological symptoms. They included impaired brain function, headaches, brainstem and cerebellar issues, muscle weakness and reduced reflexes.

All four patients required admission to the intensive care unit for treatment.

Although the study is small, researchers say the results show that Covid-19 can also cause neurological damage in children - not just adults - without any of the respiratory symptoms that have become a clear indicator of the virus. Scientists emphasized that since respiratory symptoms were uncommon among PMIS patients, clinicians should suspect Covid-19 in children who show new neurological problems without any other symptoms. —Jasmine Kim

Former GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain hospitalized

Herman Cain
Justin Sullivan | Getty Images

2:41 p.m. ET — Former presidential candidate and onetime possible Fed board nominee Herman Cain was hospitalized after being diagnosed with the coronavirus. 

Cain, 74, was told Monday that he had tested positive for the disease, according to a statement posted to his official Twitter account.

By Wednesday, he "had developed symptoms serious enough that he required hospitalization," the statement said.

Cain was at President Donald Trump's rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma last month, and was photographed sitting in close proximity with other attendees, none of whom appeared to be wearing masks.

The Trump campaign said Cain did not meet with the president. —Kevin Breuninger

Facebook will tell users to wear a mask

People wearing masks walk past a "Real New Yorkers Can Handle It" sign near Union Square amid the coronavirus pandemic on May 16, 2020 in New York City.
Alexi Rosenfeld | Getty Images

2:22 p.m. ET — Facebook and Instagram users will start seeing alerts at the top of their feeds that encourage masks or face coverings when in public.

It's the latest move on Facebook's end to use its platform to try and slow the spread of Covid-19.

After the WHO declared Covid-19 a global health emergency in January, Facebook started removing misinformation about the outbreak from its platforms.

The company in April began warning users if they have liked, reacted or commented on harmful coronavirus posts that the company has found to be misinformation and removed. —Jessica Bursztynsky 

Moderna vaccine trial reportedly delayed

1:52 p.m. ET — Shares of Moderna fell as much as 9.4% on a report the company's late-stage trial for a potential coronavirus vaccine will be delayed.

Moderna, which is working with the National Institutes of Health, was expected to begin a phase 3 trial with 30,000 participants for its vaccine candidate later this month, pending the results from its mid-stage trial.

However, the company is pushing back the expected start date, according to health-care publication STAT News.

Moderna's experimental vaccine contains genetic material called messenger RNA, or mRNA. It became the first candidate to enter a phase 1 human trial in March. —Berkeley Lovelace Jr.

These states are requiring people to wear masks

Pence: No need for national mandate on masks
VIDEO3:1903:19
Pence: No need for national mandate on masks

12:45 p.m. ET — Twenty-one states and Washington, D.C. are mandating people wear masks in order to prevent the spread of coronavirus. The regulations vary from state to state, with some governments requiring people to wear masks in all public spaces while other states require masks only in certain circumstances. 

Here's a list: 

  • California
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Hawaii (essential businesses)
  • Illinois
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky (employees in essential businesses)
  • Maine
  • Maryland (indoor stores, public transit)
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan (grocery stores, pharmacies)
  • Nevada
  • New Jersey (indoor businesses, public transit, construction)
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • Oregon (indoor spaces)
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • Virginia (indoor businesses)
  • Washington D.C.
  • Washington state

Vice President Mike Pence, in an interview with CNBC, reiterated the Trump administration's position that a national mandate for people to wear masks is not necessary, even though coronavirus cases are surging. —Spencer Kimball 

NIH says it's possible Americans will be able to attend sports events this fall

12:23 p.m. ET — National Institutes of Health Director Dr. Francis Collins said it's possible Americans will be allowed to attend sporting events in time for the fall football season.

Sports fans and players across the world have been frustrated by canceled games as public health officials urge event-based businesses to temporarily close as the coronavirus continues to rapidly spread across the globe. Collins, speaking with a Senate committee, said rapid coronavirus testing, which can produce results in under an hour, will make sporting events feasible.

"We want to see Americans have a chance to have some normal experiences of enjoying life," he told lawmakers. "I do believe this should be possible. —Berkeley Lovelace, Jr.

In-person classes safer than virtual, school to spend millions on testing, Cornell president says

Cornell University president makes the case for reopening in the fall
VIDEO4:2004:20
Cornell University president makes the case for reopening in the fall

12:20 p.m. ET — Holding in-person classes this fall is safer for Cornell University students than conducting an all-virtual semester, President Martha Pollack told CNBC.

Pollack, appearing on CNBC's "Squawk Box," cited university research that found almost 50% of Cornell students intend to return to Ithaca, New York, where its campus is located, no matter how classes are held.

"If we are having residential instruction, we can mandate testing, and tracing and isolation, on a very aggressive regular basis," Pollack said. "We will be much less able to do that with students who are online and just happen to be living in Ithaca, as opposed to Chicago or Atlanta or wherever."

Cornell's plan — which includes robust testing that will cost between $3 to 5 million — may not work for every college, Pollack stressed. "I want to be clear, it's safer for our students at Cornell. We did the study with regard to the conditions in Ithaca." —Kevin Stankiewicz

Amazon Air contractors face safety risks as new coronavirus outbreaks emerge

12:08 p.m. ET — Employees at Worldwide Flight Services (WFS), an Amazon Air subcontractor, say they continue to face an unsafe work environment during the pandemic.

WFS workers say managers aren't enforcing mask requirements, and say hand sanitizer and soap are in short supply at facilities. At one WFS facility in Phoenix, safety concerns became so severe that a worker filed a complaint with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) last month.

WFS is one of several companies that maintains lucrative contracts with Amazon Air. Workers load and unload cargo from Amazon planes at airports across the country, but they're not considered Amazon employees. As a result, some WFS workers say it feels like Amazon turns "a blind eye" to working conditions there, especially amid the coronavirus crisis.

As Amazon was hit with a surge of coronavirus-related demand in March, WFS workers were on the frontlines, handling the Prime packages ordered by millions of Americans who were cloistered inside their homes. Demand has stabilized but the workers now face a new round of coronavirus outbreaks around the country. WFS workers say they feel just as vulnerable as the beginning of the pandemic, since they still lack the basic protections to be able to do their job safely. —Annie Palmer

Nashville reverts to a modified Phase Two reopening on Friday as cases soar

An employee wearing rubber gloves and a mask greets patrons at Puckett's Grocery & Restaurant on April 27, 2020 in Franklin, Tennessee.
Jason Kempin | Getty Images

11:49 a.m. ET — Nashville will move back to phase two of its reopening process, with restaurants and bars reverting to phase one, beginning Friday, NewsChannel 5 Nashville reported.

Restaurants will go back to half capacity, down from 75%, while bars must now close for the next two weeks. Retail and commercial businesses can