August 31 coronavirus news

By Joshua Berlinger, Adam Renton, Mike Hayes, Meg Wagner and Melissa Macaya, CNN

Updated 12:00 a.m. ET, September 1, 2020
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10:32 p.m. ET, August 31, 2020

A third coronavirus vaccine enters Phase 3 trials in the US

From CNN’s Andrea Kane

Manuel Romano/NurPhoto/Getty Images
Manuel Romano/NurPhoto/Getty Images

British drugmaker AstraZeneca announced Monday it has started Phase 3 trials of its coronavirus vaccine candidate in the United States.

AZD 1222 becomes the third vaccine to enter large-scale trials in the United States, after vaccines made by Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech.

For the US trial, AstraZeneca said in a statement that it is “recruiting up to 30,000 adults aged 18 years or over from diverse racial, ethnic and geographic groups who are healthy or have stable underlying medical conditions, including those living with HIV, and who are at increased risk of infection from the SARS-CoV-2 virus.”

Participants will receive two active or placebo doses, spaced two weeks apart.

The trial will assess safety and efficacy in all participants – a subset of 3,000 participants will be assessed for local and systemic reactions and immune responses.

Currently, Phase 3 trials of AZD1222 are going on in the UK, Brazil and South Africa. Trials are also planned for Japan and Russia.  

In total, Phase 3 clinical trial for AZD 1222 will enroll up to 50,000 participants globally. Results from the late-stage trials are anticipated later this year.

The trial is funded by the Biomedical Advanced Development Authority, which is run by the US Department of Health and Human Services and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. 

5:19 p.m. ET, August 31, 2020

WHO official praises Sweden's response to coronavirus pandemic

From CNN’s Naomi Thomas

A woman stops to look at fabric face masks on sale in a shop in Stockholm, Sweden, on Monday, August 31.
A woman stops to look at fabric face masks on sale in a shop in Stockholm, Sweden, on Monday, August 31. Tom Little/AFP/Getty Images

A top World Health Organization official praised Sweden’s response to the coronavirus pandemic Monday, saying its approach has been mischaracterized.

Sweden’s government has been widely criticized for seeking herd immunity by allowing the virus to burn through the population. But Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of the World Health Organization’s Health Emergencies Program, said it was not true that Sweden has not implemented control measures.

“It tried to rely on individuals and communities to comply with the advice of government and it has tried to avoid imposing mandatory lockdowns, mandatory separation of individuals,” Ryan said.

This is based on historically very high levels of trust between the Swedish government and its people, Ryan said.

“That is the way in which Swedish people, the Swedish government interact,” he said. “That is the social contract in Sweden.” 

He said that it is wrong to suggest that Sweden had an altogether different approach to Covid-19 than the rest of Europe and that it had an “approach of light touch regulation of the process.”

Ryan singled out Anders Tegnell, an epidemiologist at Sweden’s Public Health Agency, which advises the country’s government on health matters.

“I think even in Sweden, Anders Tegnell and the team there have done a good job,” Ryan said. 

“Each government has to find its way, with its population to control the disease and there are lessons to learn from every country and its approach,” he added. “No country has done perfectly. All countries have made mistakes, but all countries have done some things correctly," he added.

4:48 p.m. ET, August 31, 2020

Collegiate football in Iowa on separate paths with regards to Covid-19 response 

From CNN's David Close

Jack Trice Stadium in Ames, Iowa.
Jack Trice Stadium in Ames, Iowa. Alamy

On the same day Iowa State University’s director of athletics Jamie Pollard declared Cyclones fans are welcome to attend the football home opener on Sept. 12, the University of Iowa announced it was halting all sports programs until after Labor Day.

The Iowa Hawkeyes of the University of Iowa reported 93 positive Covid-19 tests within the athletics community in the last week. When asked about the numbers within the football program, a spokesperson for the Hawkeyes would not provide specific breakdown of positive tests by sport.

In an open letter to fans released Monday, Iowa State’s Pollard says the school expects 25,000 fans when the Cyclones host Louisiana in less than two weeks’ time and acknowledges the decision to allow spectators won’t appease everyone. 

"Every person has a unique perspective of the COVID-19 pandemic. Some are fearless, others are cautious. Our measures will be too restrictive for some and too lenient for others. All we ask is that you respect others, follow our guidelines and support the Cyclones,”  Pollard wrote.

Iowa’s football season was postponed when the Big Ten Council of Presidents and Chancellors voted to postpone all of the conference’s fall sports due to health and safety concerns.

4:27 p.m. ET, August 31, 2020

Milwaukee sports facilities will open as early voting sites

From CNN's Kevin Dotson

The Fiserv Forum, home of the Milwaukee Bucks, on April 30, in Milwaukee.
The Fiserv Forum, home of the Milwaukee Bucks, on April 30, in Milwaukee. Stacy Revere/Getty Images

The Milwaukee Bucks of the NBA and Milwaukee Brewers of MLB announced today that each team will open their facilities as early voting sites ahead of the 2020 general election.

Milwaukee’s NBA and MLB teams opening their facilities to the public will help meet the increased demand for early voting due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Bucks said in a team press release.

The Bucks’ Fiserv Forum will serve as an early voting site, and the Brewers’ Miller Park will be used as an early drive-thru voting location.

The announcements were made at a press conference today will Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett as well as leadership from both the Bucks and the Brewers.

“We are now fortunate to announce that not only have we found one, but we have found two locations that are absolutely fabulous for allowing more people to exercise their right to vote,” said Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. “Nationally, Milwaukee has become the leader by providing both Fiserv Forum and Miller Park for early voting. I don’t know of another city in this nation that is using a major league ballpark and an NBA arena for early voting— that’s how committed we are to making sure that people’s voices are heard.”

“We are excited that Fiserv Forum will be designated an early vote site,” said Milwaukee Bucks Senior Vice President Alex Lasry.

“The pandemic has added another barrier to voting for vulnerable communities, so this will help us make sure that everyone in Milwaukee has a safe and convenient way to exercise their right to vote. By converting Fiserv Forum into a voting location, we can make sure everyone’s voice can be heard in a safe and responsible way," he added.
4:25 p.m. ET, August 31, 2020

Connecticut extends Covid-19 emergency declaration until February 2021

From CNN's Mirna Alsharif

Socially distanced desks, due to the coronavirus pandemic await the first day of school at the Newfield Elementary School on August 31, in Stamford, Connecticut.
Socially distanced desks, due to the coronavirus pandemic await the first day of school at the Newfield Elementary School on August 31, in Stamford, Connecticut. John Moore/Getty Images

Connecticut will extend its Covid-19 emergency declaration until February 9, 2021, Gov. Ned Lamont announced Monday afternoon.

Why this matters: The five-month extension ensures that the state can use emergency powers to quickly respond to outbreaks, safely reopen the economy, protect and recover jobs and rapidly procure personal protective equipment, Lamont said. 

What the state's numbers look like: The state also reported 384 new cases of Covid-19 and no new deaths, according to Lamont. Connecticut continues to have a positivity rate of less than 1% — around 0.8%, Lamont said.

Note: These numbers were released by the state’s public health agency, and may not line up exactly in real time with CNN’s database drawn from Johns Hopkins University and the Covid Tracking Project.

4:23 p.m. ET, August 31, 2020

White House Task Force member calls report about herd immunity “irresponsible”

From CNN's Pamela Kirkland and Jeremy Diamond

Dr. Scott Atlas listens as President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference in the Brady Briefing Room of the White House in Washington on August 13.
Dr. Scott Atlas listens as President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference in the Brady Briefing Room of the White House in Washington on August 13. Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

White House Coronavirus Task Force member, Dr. Scott Atlas, responded to a report by the Washington Post on Monday claiming he is a proponent of a controversial herd immunity strategy to combat Covid-19. The strategy would allow for the virus to spread through the US population in order to develop a resistance to it.  

“That was never a strategy that was advocated by me and the administration. The president does not have a strategy like that. I’ve never advocated that strategy. That whole discussion in the Washington Post was just really, sort of irresponsible,” Atlas said, speaking at a press conference with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Monday. 

Some background: Herd immunity is reached when 70% to 90% of a population becomes immune to a disease either through infection and recovery or vaccination. When that happens, the disease is less likely to spread to people who aren't immune because there just aren't enough infectious carriers to reach them. The Washington Post article claimed Atlas was the chief proponent of the herd immunity strategy. 

Atlas has explicitly denied that he is pushing a herd immunity strategy, but an administration official said all of the policies Atlas has pushed for are in the vein of a herd immunity strategy.

Atlas has rejected the need for widespread community testing, arguing that the administration should focus almost exclusively on protecting and testing elderly populations while pushing for the rest of the economy to return to normal, this official said. 

"Everything he says and does points toward herd immunity," the senior administration official said.

CNN has reported that several of the health professionals on the White House Coronavirus Task Force raised questions about Atlas, asking each other who he was and what his role would be. Atlas joined the task force earlier this month as an adviser. 

10:32 p.m. ET, August 31, 2020

Coronavirus vaccine shortcuts could be a slippery slope, emergency room doctor warns

From CNN’s Lauren Mascarenhas

Emergency physician Dr. Leana Wen says authorizing a vaccine before phase 3 clinical trials are complete is a "slippery slope."

“We all want for a safe and effective vaccine to be approved as soon as possible, but I am concerned about shortcuts being taken here and a slippery slope,” Wen told CNN on Monday.

This comes in response to US Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn’s comments that that very scenario could be possible.

“We initially heard Dr. Hahn saying we need to wait until all the trials are in,” Wen said. “Then we heard him say, well maybe we can do emergency use authorization right after Phase 3, and now we're hearing that we don't even need to wait until Phase 3 trials are complete.”

Wen expressed concerns that this could undermine the public’s confidence in a vaccine, or result in a vaccine that is ineffective.

“The last thing that we want to do is to give a false reassurance to the American people – giving them a vaccine that doesn't actually protect them against coronavirus," she said.

3:59 p.m. ET, August 31, 2020

MLB forced to postpone more games due to Covid-19 concerns

From CNN's Kevin Dotson

The Oakland Athletics and the Arizona Diamondbacks play during the second inning of the MLB game at Chase Field on August 17, in Phoenix.
The Oakland Athletics and the Arizona Diamondbacks play during the second inning of the MLB game at Chase Field on August 17, in Phoenix. Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Major League Baseball has postponed the first two games of the Oakland Athletics’ upcoming three-game series with the Seattle Mariners that was set to begin Tuesday night in Seattle.

The MLB said the decision was made out of an abundance of caution to allow for additional testing and contact tracing within the Oakland organization.

Oakland’s scheduled game against the Houston Astros on Sunday was postponed after a positive Covid-19 test from within the Athletics’ organization.

"Major League Baseball will continue to provide updates as necessary," the MLB said in a statement.

3:49 p.m. ET, August 31, 2020

This California university is telling students to vacate dorms just 1 week after starting classes

From CNN's Sarah Moon

Just one week after the start of the fall semester, California State University (CSU), Chico is canceling all in-person classes and telling students to vacate on-campus housing over a “rapid and alarming” coronavirus outbreak on campus.

Three days into the fall semester, which began last Monday with limited in-person classes, the university reported “a troubling number of positive COVID-19 cases on campus.”

As of Sunday, CSU Chico confirmed nearly 30 confirmed cases of the virus, which “impacts both classrooms and a majority of on-campus residence halls—with an even greater number of reported exposures that could have an exponential and devastating effect on campus,” according to the letter. 

The university is also asking all students who live on campus to move out by Sept. 6, CSU Chico President Gayle Hutchinson announced in a letter to its campus community on Monday.

“We understand the inconvenience of vacating campus housing so quickly, but Chico State’s residence halls have experienced rapid and alarming rates of COVID-19 cases and the well-being of students makes quick action imperative,” CSU Chico said.

Located in Northern California’s Butte County, CSU Chico is one of the California State University system’s 23 campuses.