September 2 coronavirus news

By Jessie Yeung, Adam Renton, Amy Woodyatt, Meg Wagner and Melissa Macaya, CNN

Updated 12:01 a.m. ET, September 3, 2020
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1:49 p.m. ET, September 2, 2020

Reopening schools safely is a "national emergency," Biden says

From CNN’s Sarah Mucha

Carolyn Kaster/AP
Carolyn Kaster/AP

Following a virtual briefing with experts on school reopenings Wednesday afternoon, Joe Biden called the issue of students being able to go back to school safely during the pandemic a “national emergency.” 

“I think going back to school for millions of children and the impacts on their families and the community is a national emergency, I believe that's what it is,” he said. “Protecting our students, our educators, our communities. Getting our schools open safely and effectively. This is a national emergency.”  

He called for emergency funding for schools: “Mr. President, where are you? Where are you? Why aren't you working on this? We need emergency support funding for our schools and we need it now. Mr. President, that's your job, that's your job," he said.  

"Get off Twitter, and talk to congressional leaders from both parties, invite them to the Oval Office," he added.  

He accused the President and the education secretary of not stepping up: "Donald Trump and Betsy DeVos, Secretary DeVos, haven't stepped up, and we're all seeing the results. Millions of students are now starting the new school year in the same way they finished the last one: at home. At home," he said.

1:58 p.m. ET, September 2, 2020

Biden on reopening schools: "We need straightforward, common sense solutions"

Carolyn Kaster/AP
Carolyn Kaster/AP

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden said President Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos "haven't stepped up" when it comes to safely reopening schools, and he called for "straightforward, common sense solutions."

"We all want our schools to reopen safely with a plan that prioritizes the health of our students and educators and staff alike," Biden said in remarks delivered from Wilmington, Delaware.

Biden laid out some of his school reopening plans which he said were posted on his campaign website. The former vice president said the Trump administration is "starving schools of the needed funding."

"If I were president today, I would direct FEMA to make sure our kids K-12 get full access to disaster relief and emergency assistance under the Stafford Act. I'd make sure that PPE and sanitation supplies for schools qualify as emergency protective measures," Biden said. "On top of that, I would be working with leaders of Congress now, today to pass emergency packages for schools so they would have resources they need in order to be able to open safely."

Biden also said that if elected president, he would also support additional funding for mental health in schools and funds to hire additional teachers as smaller classes mean "more educators are needed."


1:40 p.m. ET, September 2, 2020

Biden: If Trump had done his job, "American schools would be open"


Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden criticized President Trump's response to the coronavirus crisis, saying the administration "hasn't shown much grit at all."

"If President Trump and his administration had done their jobs early on in this crisis, American schools would be open and they'd be open safely. Instead, American families all across this county are paying the price for his failures and his administration's failures," Biden said while speaking in Delaware today.

Biden said Trump has "no real plan" for how to reopen schools safely this fall.

"He's offering nothing but failure and delusions from the start to finish to American families and our children. They are paying the price for his failures," Biden said.


1:23 p.m. ET, September 2, 2020

Colorado governor announces partnership to provide free internet for students in the state

From CNN’s Nakia McNabb

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis Colorado Governor's office

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis held a news conference today at Fort Logan Northgate School in Denver to provide further updates on a major challenge many students in the state have encountered during the Covid-19 crisis.

Polis says an estimated 65,000 Colorado students lack access to the internet. In an effort to help families with remote learning, the governor announced an agreement with T-Mobile that will provide free Wi-Fi hotspots, up to 100 gigabytes of annual data and access to internet ready devices for 34,000 low income households.

“The estimate from the education initiative in the department were about 65,000, Colorado families don't have high speed access at home for their kids. This number served out of the T-Mobile program is about half that, so it's in the 30 thousand’s. Now that doesn't mean that it meets half the need because some of the people that the T-Mobile service will benefit might already have access but it'll save those families, you know, $10, $20 $30 a month, which is also a big deal," Polis said.

The criteria for free service is based on free and reduced school lunch eligibility. Gov. Polis discussed the racial and economic factors effecting families access to the internet across the state including homelessness, credit history and immigration status.

“Even worse, this access divide often falls along racial lines. Recent research from Colorado future center found that two thirds of students that lack internet access in Colorado, are Latino. In addition, we know that families experiencing homelessness, including many families and districts like Sheridan and DPS have an even more difficult time with access to the internet and being able to maintain that continuity of study for their kids without broadband without access. Students are unable to participate in remote learning. They're often unable to do their homework, if they're in school or in person. And they're more likely to disengage, and more likely to fall behind” Polis said.

1:19 p.m. ET, September 2, 2020

Covid-19 cases in Europe "almost back" to March levels, EU health body says

From CNN's Sharon Braithwaite

A member of the public walks past a shop selling face masks Glasgow on September 2.
A member of the public walks past a shop selling face masks Glasgow on September 2. Andy Buchanan/AFP/Getty Images

Novel coronavirus cases in Europe are "almost back" to March levels, the director of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), Andrea Ammon, said on Wednesday during a debate held by EU Committee for Environment, Public Health and Food Safety.

“The virus hasn't been sleeping over the summer so it didn't take vacation and that is something that we see now. We have seen now this week that the notification rate in the EU and EEA (European Economic Area) countries and the UK is now 46 per 100,000. You may remember that at one point we have been already below 15 so there is an increase and this increase we have been seeing now for more than five weeks. It has been a slower increase (than) we had in March. However, we are almost back to the numbers that we have seen in March,” Ammon said.

“In August, now, we are seeing more that also (an) older population is affected, indicating that it's really a true increase in transmission.”

Regarding school reopenings and the risk of coronavirus spikes, Ammon said: “there are very few significant outbreaks in schools that have been documented and the evidence is really at the moment conflicting, meaning it's very inconclusive to say whether it's useful or not from a transmission point of view to close schools.”

1:09 p.m. ET, September 2, 2020

James Madison University will have online learning for at least a month following Covid-19 uptick 

From CNN's Elizabeth Hartfield

James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia, will transition to online learning for the month of September, following a notable uptick in coronavirus cases at the school, the university president announced in a letter.

JMU did not commit to a return date in the announcement. Instead, university officials will “carefully monitor health trends” and will provide an update on a possible return by Sept. 25 about a possible return “on or after October 5th,” the letter stated.

CNN reported on Tuesday that the university was reporting a 21.14% seven-day moving average of daily positivity rates among students and employees.

1:21 p.m. ET, September 2, 2020

Soon: Biden will deliver remarks on schools reopening and Trump's coronavirus response

From CNN's Sarah Mucha

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden will deliver remarks at 1:15 p.m. ET from Wilmington, Delaware, about Trump's coronavirus response and its impact on schools. He is expected to lay out his plan for reopening schools.

Meanwhile, President Trump is in Wilmington, North Carolina, today where he will deliver remarks on the USS Battleship on designating Wilmington as an "American World War II Heritage City." Today marks the 75th anniversary of the end of WWII.

Ahead of Trump's visit to the state, Biden slammed the President for his handling of the pandemic, arguing, "North Carolinians deserve a president who understands what it takes to manage a crisis, unite our nation, and build our economy back better." 

"If I am elected President, North Carolinians will have a partner in the White House — one who will immediately begin implementing a plan to tackle this pandemic and help us build back better," he said in a new statement. 

While Biden made a few stops to North Carolina during the primary, he has yet to return during the general election season. 

12:40 p.m. ET, September 2, 2020

Nearly 570,000 health care workers across the Americas have had Covid-19, PAHO says

From CNN’s Tim Lister

Medics prepares to transfer a patient on a stretcher from an ambulance outside of Emergency at Coral Gables Hospital where Coronavirus patients are treated in Coral Gables near Miami, on July 30.
Medics prepares to transfer a patient on a stretcher from an ambulance outside of Emergency at Coral Gables Hospital where Coronavirus patients are treated in Coral Gables near Miami, on July 30. Chanda Khanna/AFP/Getty Images

The Pan American Health Organization says that almost 570,000 health care workers in the Americas have contracted coronavirus since the beginning of the pandemic, with health care workers in the US and Mexico making up one-in-seven of all cases reported in those countries.

The majority of those infected were in the 30 to 49 age group.

At PAHO's weekly briefing, Director Dr. Carissa Etienne said that more than 140,000 workers in the healthcare sector in the US had become sick with Covid-19 — of whom 660 had died.

In Brazil almost 270,000 workers in health care had tested positive for Covid-19. She said that health workers were "becoming infected at an alarming rate."

Etienne added that when the pandemic broke out many health workers were redirected to help without sufficient training to protect themselves. In many hospitals Covid-19 patients were exposed to others who had different conditions, leaving health workers more vulnerable. This was especially the case, she said, when supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE) were running low and workers had to re-use masks and gowns.

Etienne said the Americas region now have 13.5 million Covid-19 cases and almost 469,000 deaths from the virus. She noted that after months of unrelenting spread, cases were stabilizing in the United States and Brazil — but the two countries continued to report more new cases than any other nation.

Etienne said that Caribbean states were seeing a surge in the virus, with nearly half of all reported cases in the Bahamas being reported in the last two weeks. But she said most countries in Latin America had seen the number of new cases drop over the last week. In particular, Chile and Uruguay had managed to "flatten their curve" of infection.

At its briefing PAHO also asked the United States to reconsider its decision not to take part in the COVAX initiative, which is designed to enable poorer and smaller countries to gain access to a vaccine. COVAX is co-led by Gavi, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and the World Health Organization. Its aim is to "accelerate the development and manufacture of COVID-19 vaccines, and to guarantee fair and equitable access," according to the WHO.

PAHO said more than 170 countries had signed up to the program. In June, the US government announced it was cutting funding to the WHO.


12:28 p.m. ET, September 2, 2020

Miami University in Ohio reports a more than 100% increase in Covid-19 cases compared to previous week

From CNN's Elizabeth Hartfield

Miami University in Ohio reported at least 249 cases of Covid-19 among students at the start of this week, an increase of more than 100% from the previous week.

The school is now reporting a total of 529 cases among students and employees, according to the university dashboard.

As has been a trend with numerous colleges, many of the cases reported are among students living off campus. Miami University has begun classes remotely — but in person classes won’t start until the end of the month.

“During the past few days, we and many other universities are seeing an increase in COVID-19 cases, particularly for students living off-campus, which must be reduced,” university President Gregory Crawford wrote in a statement.

The school also announced it would require all students to be tested before they move into residence halls later this month.

Read a portion of the letter from the university president:

Dear Miami University Community:
Late in July, we announced that we would begin classes remotely on August 17 but delay in-person and hybrid delivery of classes until September 21. To support this date, we plan to begin a phased move into residence halls on September 14 in a manner which limits the number of people moving in at any one time.
During the past few days, we and many other universities are seeing an increase in COVID-19 cases, particularly for students living off-campus, which must be reduced.
This is a very critical week. It is vital for us in Oxford to achieve a downward trend in positive cases in our off-campus community before our planned in-person start.
We must all follow the Healthy Together strategies. We continue to work collaboratively with our partners in the City of Oxford, Butler County General Health District, Ohio Department of Health, TriHealth, and community members to understand our local situation related to COVID-19 and its spread and impact on our community.