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September 3 coronavirus news

Fauci: Vaccine in October 'unlikely, not impossible'
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What you need to know

  • The CDC has told public health officials around the US to prepare to distribute a potential coronavirus vaccine as soon as late October.
  • Dr. Anthony Fauci is urging people to stay safe during the upcoming Labor Day holiday to avoid another spike.
  • In Europe, coronavirus cases are “almost back” to March levels, the director of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control said.
  • India reported more than 83,000 cases in the country’s highest daily spike in new Covid-19 infections.

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Brazil's Bolsonaro challenges validity of coronavirus vaccines

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has said he won’t approve a Covid-19 vaccine for the public until after the country’s health surveillance agency (ANVISA) gives a second opinion. 

Speaking in his weekly Facebook live video on Thursday – just hours after Brazil’s health ministry announced the country had surpassed 4 million Covid-19 cases – Bolsonaro said vaccines developed in the United States, the European Union, Japan and China, while “scientifically proven in these other countries,” would require further examination to be used for immunizations in Brazil. 

On Monday, Bolsonaro was recorded on cell phone video telling a supporter he wouldn’t make a Covid-19 vaccine mandatory in Brazil.

Brazil’s health ministry followed up Wednesday, confirming that no one would be forced to receive the vaccine. Bolsonaro repeated that pledge in Thursday’s broadcast, drawing support from the country’s anti-vaxxer community. 

 “We cannot be irresponsible when putting a vaccine into people’s bodies,” Bolsonaro said. “Nobody can force anyone to get a vaccine.” 

Here's why it's unlikely the US will have a coronavirus vaccine by Election Day

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is asking states to get ready to distribute a coronavirus vaccine by as early as next month. The CEO of Pfizer says he thinks it’s possible his company will have enough data to ask the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for authorization by October.

And officials inside the FDA have told CNN that US President Donald Trump has consistently pressed agencies to speed up their timeline for developing a vaccine so he can have a vaccine victory by Election Day.

But is it really possible we could have a coronavirus vaccine by November?

The doctors running clinical trials would know best … and they don’t think so.
“Do the simple math,” said Dr. Larry Corey of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, who is leading the team coordinating clinical trials for federally backed coronavirus vaccines in the US.
“We designed the trial to get to 130, 140 endpoints seven months from starting the trial,” Corey told CNN. “The first one started in mid-July.”

 If you add seven months to July, you get February.

That doesn’t mean it’s impossible to have an answer before then: If one of the vaccines being tested is highly effective, and there is a high rate of infection among trial volunteers, it’s possible many people who got placebo shots would get infected quickly.

“If you had a highly effective vaccine, maybe you’d find that five months from designing the trial,” Corey said.

But if you add five months to July, you get December.

Read the full story:

A nurse shows a COVID-19 vaccine produced by Chinese company Sinovac Biotech at the Sao Lucas Hospital, in Porto Alegre, southern Brazil on August 08, 2020. - The vaccine trial is being carried out in Brazil in partnership with Brazilian Research Institute Butanta. (Photo by SILVIO AVILA/AFP via Getty Images)

A coronavirus vaccine by Election Day? Probably not. Here's why

Trump puts pressure on US FDA for coronavirus silver bullet ahead of Election Day

President Donald Trump looks on as FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn addresses the media during a press conference at the White House in Washington, DC, on August 23.

Facing a persistent polling deficit and a struggling economy, US President Donald Trump has cranked up pressure on administration health officials to expedite work both on a coronavirus vaccine and on treatments that might signal to voters there is an end in sight to the life-altering pandemic that has imperiled his reelection prospects. 

In his public remarks and through private prodding, Trump has pushed for more good news on the pandemic, insisting that even developments considered minor by health experts be expanded into major announcements for which he can claim credit.

And he’s looking to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the biggest one.

Facing one of the most critical moments in its tenure since it was founded over 100 years ago, officials inside the FDA say the tension is palpable.

A number of sources familiar with the internal workings told CNN the responsibility feels immense and the environment is akin to that of a pressure cooker. In the last week alone, FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn was forced to apologize for an overhyped plasma announcement, subsequently removed a newly installed communications aide, and found himself on the receiving end of criticism from the West Wing.

Read the full story:

U.S. President Donald Trump listens to FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn (R) speak on the latest developments of the coronavirus outbreak, in the James Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House March 19, 2020 in Washington, DC.

Trump puts pressure on FDA for coronavirus silver bullet ahead of Election Day

Australian state of Victoria reports 59 more Covid-19 deaths after two-month backlog

The Australian state of Victoria reported 81 fresh coronavirus cases and 59 related deaths on Friday, according to its health department. 

The relatively high number of new fatalities comes after a backlog of deaths were reported from July and August.

“There were 81 new cases and sadly 59 deaths,” a tweet from the health department read. “This includes 50 people in aged care who passed away in July - August.” 

Victoria had a significant rise in cases over August, with many new infections in aged-care homes and among health care workers. Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announced a state of emergency on August 3.

Nevada loosens coronavirus restrictions in Las Vegas

Gov. Steve Sisolak

Nevada’s coronavirus task force voted Thursday to allow some restaurants in the Las Vegas area to reopen next week as Covid-19 numbers decline.

Beginning next Wednesday, Clark County restaurants with countertop services, including diners and sushi restaurants, will be able to reopen with social distancing. Bars and taverns that don’t serve food must remain closed.

Despite a substantial drop in new daily cases statewide over the last month, “We have a long way to go considering the fact that we started out so high,” Gov. Steve Sisolak said in a Thursday briefing.

Clark County has a test positivity rate above 10%, as does neighboring Nye County. 

Sisolak warned Nevadans not to be complacent over the Labor Day holiday weekend. 

“Please, celebrate with your immediate family,” the governor said. “Have a cookout in your backyard, watch some TV, whatever it might be. But please do not have large gatherings.”

Attorney charged with receiving $9 million in federal loan funds from fake applications

A New Jersey attorney was arrested Thursday for scamming $9 million in federal loans meant to help small businesses survive the economic climate caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Jae Choi, 48, is facing three counts of bank fraud and one count of money laundering in federal court for allegedly applying to three different lenders for Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans, according to a news release from the Department of Justice.

The banks ultimately gave Choi $3 million to cover the monthly payroll for each educational services company that Choi claimed had hundreds of employees, the release said.

Choi allegedly used the money to buy a nearly one million-dollar home, a $30,000 home remodel and invested millions more in the stock market through an account held in the name of his spouse, the release added.

Michigan governor extends Covid-19 state of emergency to October

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer addresses the state during a speech in Lansing, Michigan on Wednesday, September 2.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has extended Michigan’s State of Emergency until Oct. 1 at 11:59 p.m. due to the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a release from her office.

In early August, every region in Michigan saw an uptick in new cases which recently put Michigan past the 100,000 Covid-19 cases mark, though the state’s percent positivity rate remains below the national average at 3.3%, the release said. 

“With over 6,500 deaths, the virus continues to threaten the lives of Michiganders every day. Covid-19 is a novel virus with many unknowns, but we do know that it is widespread, it is easily transmitted, and its effects can be fatal. We must continue to take this seriously and do everything we can to protect ourselves and all Michiganders from Covid-19,” Whitmer said. “By extending the state of emergency, we can continue the crucial work needed to save lives.” 

To 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.

Brazil surpasses 4 million Covid-19 cases

Brazil surpassed 4 million cases of coronavirus on Thursday as a growing number of infections continue to be recorded throughout the country.

The health ministry reported 43,773 new cases of Covid-19 and 834 deaths on Thursday evening, bringing total confirmed cases in Brazil to 4,041,638 and its death toll to 124,614. 

After the United States, Brazil has the second-highest number of coronavirus infections and deaths globally, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Brazil also joins the US as only the second country in the world to have passed the grim milestone of 4 million infections. 

A silver lining: While cases and deaths continue to rise, both Brazil’s infection rate and virus-related mortality rate appeared to decline last month; CNN analysis showed.

An average of 869 deaths were recorded daily in the final week of August, the country’s lowest daily average since May 20.

Some more context: This news follows the health ministry’s announcement on Wednesday that the Covid-19 vaccination will not be mandatory when it becomes available in Brazil – although the ministry’s executive secretary, Elcio Franco, said the vaccine “will be a great tool for us to return to normal.”

The Brazilian economy has also taken a significant hit from the pandemic.

According to data from the country’s Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE), Brazil officially entered a recession on Tuesday after marking a historic 9.7% fall in GDP in the second quarter of 2020.

Thousands of young adults in Missouri tested positive for Covid-19 in August

Gov. Mike Parson

In the month of August alone, nearly 7,000 people in Missouri in the 18-24 age group tested positive for coronavirus, according to Missouri Gov. Mike Parson.

“In some Missouri college communities, positivity rates have soared as high as 45% in one day” among that age group, Parson said.

The governor said that approximately 30% of the new cases in the state of Missouri are among the 18 to 24-year-old population.

“While young, healthy people are likely to have mild symptoms and quick recoveries … they may unknowingly carry Covid-19 to someone older or with underlying conditions, who is unable to fight off the virus. This is why it is so important for young people to take precautions and understand the responsibility,” Parson said.

Parson said while more young people continue to test positive, the vast majority of those young people have not required hospitalization. 

“I know there is a lot of concern right now regarding college students. But I want to assure you that our colleges, and our universities, have plans in place, and are taking all steps necessary to keep their students and communities as safe as possible,” Parson said.

Connecticut governor announces rapid response Covid-19 testing team to help schools

Gov. Ned Lamont

Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont announced that the state has formed a rapid response team to do testing in schools and childcare facilities in case of potential Covid-19 infections or outbreaks.

This rapid testing team will act as “one more level of security,” Lamont said during a news briefing today, and it will be deployed in partnership with health centers and hospital systems across the state. 

“They’re going to be able to get to a school really fast in case of a potential infection if the school’s not quite sure how to handle that,” Lamont said. 

Connecticut has reported a total of 53,209 Covid-19 cases and 4,468 total deaths. 

To note: These numbers were released by the governor’s office and may not line up exactly in real time with CNN’s database drawn from Johns Hopkins University and the Covid Tracking Project.

Fauci discusses how college campuses can safely open during the pandemic 

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious diseases, laid out how colleges and universities should successfully open, and the conditions that he feels would be necessary for sending his own children onto a college campus, in a phone interview with CNN.

As the fall semester begins at colleges across the country with mixed results, Fauci said that colleges and universities should only consider reopening if they can test all of their students at the start of the semester, conduct surveillance testing at various intervals, and have spaces dedicated for students who inevitably contract Covid-19 to quarantine. 

“They got to have the capability of doing the testing to begin with. They got to have the capability of doing surveillance testing, as you get into the school year, and they have to have a plan of how they handle the inevitability of some students who are going to wind up getting affected” Fauci said.

Fauci specifically highlighted the planning around designating specific spaces for students who contract the virus as key to the whole equation.

“The whole thing could fall apart if you don’t handle that well” Fauci said. “In other words you could intend to bring people back to person to person learning on a college campus and then if you don’t have a good preparation, or a plan of what to do with them if and when they do get infected and likely it’s very likely that some students will get infected.”

Fauci said the schools that have followed this game plan “are the ones that have succeeded thus far.” 

More details: Without revealing who, Fauci said that he has consulted with presidents of schools that ultimately decided not to open for in-person instruction this fall, largely because they could not carry out the protocol he deemed as necessary. 

For campuses that have opened, Fauci said that large student parties and social gatherings that violate an institution’s social distancing guidelines are a driving factor in increasing the case counts of their universities.

“I think that’s pretty clear. I mean they haven’t done the official study to prove that, but the circumstantial evidence is pretty compelling, that when you get students that then congregate without masks in a party setting, particularly if the party is indoors in a sorority or a fraternity, you know that’s a recipe for having an outbreak” Fauci said.

A total of 6 Paris Saint-Germain soccer players have tested positive for Covid-19

 Neymar of PSG looks on during the PSG Training Session ahead of the UEFA Champions League Quarter Final match on August 11, 2020 in Lisbon, Portugal.

French professional football club Paris Saint-Germain has announced that an additional three players have tested positive for Covid-19.

On Wednesday, Neymar was one of three PSG players to have tested positive for the virus, according to multiple reports.

On Thursday, PSG said test results revealed the additional players but the team did not disclose names.

“The latest tests for PCR SarsCoV2 carried out on the Paris Saint-Germain first team confirmed three new positive cases. The players are following the appropriate health measures,” the statement said.

Lawmakers urge CDC to encourage tobacco bans, including e-cigarettes, on college campuses

In a letter to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, some lawmakers are urging the agency to update its Covid-19 guidance for college and university campuses in order to encourage them to become tobacco free – which would include e-cigarettes – for the fall semester.

This request to the CDC is based on “new evidence demonstrating the link between adolescent tobacco use and COVID-19,” Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform’s Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy, and Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin wrote in the letter, sent to CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield on Thursday.

The letter references a study, led by researchers at Stanford University and published in the Journal of Adolescent Health in August, that suggests young people who have used e-cigarettes can be five times more likely to be diagnosed with Covid-19.

“Following the Stanford study, the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) announced that it was banning tobacco use on campus in the fall, including smoking, vaping, and chewing tobacco. In making that decision, UNLV took into account that if someone is smoking, vaping, or chewing tobacco, they cannot be complying with requirements to wear a mask,” Krishanmoorthi and Durbin wrote in the letter. 

In the letter, the lawmakers ask for Redfield to confirm by Sept. 9 whether the CDC will make this update to its guidance.

Dow and Nasdaq plummet in the worst day since June

The Nasdaq Composite tumbled nearly 5% and the Dow fell more than 800 points, as investors made a dash for the exits following a streak of record-setting days over the past several weeks.

It was the worst day for stocks since June.

Stocks erased all their gains after a huge bout of exuberance Wednesday, when the S&P 500 — the broadest measure of Wall Street — and the Nasdaq hit yet another record high. The Nasdaq had also climbed above 12,000 points for the first time in history Wednesday.

But it didn’t stick. Thursday was the Nasdaq’s largest one-day decline from a record high in its history, according to Bespoke Investment Group.

All three major indexes finished the day sharply lower. The Nasdaq closed down nearly 5%, and the S&P fell 3.5%, while the Dow finished 2.8%, or 808 points, lower. 

So, what happened? For one, the Nasdaq has been outperforming the other two major stock indexes — the Dow and the S&P 500 — for months. The rally has been going on for long enough that investors are now taking profit.

Even so, the Nasdaq remains up nearly 28% in 2020, still far outpacing its counterparts. The Dow, which only recently turned positive for the year, is back in the red.

But there are also technical reasons for Thursday’s decline: As US-China relations sour, investors are moving money out of tech, which could get hit the hardest from a potential increase in tariffs.

The Big Tech companies such as Amazon, Google and Microsoft, all of which are part of the Nasdaq, have become the safe-haven investment of the summer. But investors have beginning to wonder when the rally will run out of steam, either because of increased regulation or because the economy as a whole picks up enough to void the need for safety picks altogether. Tech stocks were among Thursday’s worst performers.

But even investors who are still faithful to their safe tech holdings have reason to be a little concerned: Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious diseases, told CNN Thursday that a Covid-19 vaccine by October remained “unlikely,” though it was possible.

Making matters worse, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said late Wednesday that “the cooperative spirit we had in March and April” on Capitol Hill has “dissipated as we move closer and closer to the election.”

This doesn’t bode well for Congress agreeing on another stimulus bill, which the market has been hoping for.

Iraq records highest daily Covid-19 case increase

A health worker conducts a COVID-19 test with a sample of blood at a health center in Baghdad, Iraq, on August 27.

Iraq reported 4,755 new cases of Covid-19 in the past 24 hours, which is the highest daily number of infections recorded since the beginning of the pandemic, the country’s health ministry said.

The latest recorded cases bring the country’s total case count to at least 247,039. There were also 74 new deaths recorded in the last 24 hours, raising the national death toll to 7,275, the ministry said.

Some context: The Iraqi Health Ministry earlier this month warned of “disastrous consequences” if people don’t follow the ministry’s guidance to contain the spread of the virus.

The guidance included recommendations to stay home, social distance, wear masks and wash hands regularly.

There have been more than 6,125,000 coronavirus cases in US

Faculty members from Washington State University Health Sciences Spokane administer COVID-19 tests to students at a mobile testing site on campus, Wednesday, September 2, in Pullman, Washington.

According to Johns Hopkins University’s tally of cases in the United States, there have been at least 6,125,916 cases of coronavirus reported in the US. At least 186,185 people have died in the US since the pandemic began. 

So far on Thursday, Johns Hopkins has reported 12,406 new cases and 465 reported deaths.

You can track the number of cases in the US here.

People obeyed stay-at-home orders, CDC cellphone data shows

Close-up of hand of a man holding a smartphone displaying an emergency public safety alert text message ordering residents of Contra Costa County, in San Ramon, California into a lockdown and shelter in place during an outbreak of the COVID-19 coronavirus, March 16.

Stay-at-home orders issued across the United States in the spring appeared to work at keeping people home, new cellphone data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows.

“Based on location data from mobile devices, in 97.6% of counties with mandatory stay-at-home orders issued by states or territories, these orders were associated with decreased median population movement after the order start date,” the researchers wrote in the study.

The researchers also found that in areas where orders were lifted or expired, movement “significantly increased” immediately afterward.

“Reduced population movement helps prevent close contact among persons outside the household, potentially limiting exposure to persons infected with SARS-CoV-2,” the researchers from the CDC and the Georgia Tech Research Institute wrote in the CDC’s weekly report.

The study included data on stay-at-home orders issued by states, the District of Columbia and five US territories between March 1 and May 31.

The researchers, from the CDC and the Georgia Tech Research Institute, examined those orders and analyzed anonymous location data from mobile devices. They used the location data to estimate movements by county, based on the percentage of devices that moved each day beyond 150 meters of its most common nighttime location, which the researchers assumed was the home.

Some people could have more than one mobile device, the researchers noted. Plus media attention around Covid-19 and the cancellation of events could also have influenced people to stay home.

“These findings can inform future public policies to reduce community spread of COVID-19,” the researchers wrote.

New prescriptions for hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine surged in March and April, research shows

A Salvadoran Health Ministry worker shows a package of bottles of HydroxyChloroquine pills to be distributed in hospitals in San Salvador on April 21 amid the coronavirus outbreak.

The number of US prescriptions for hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine were significantly higher in March and April than in the same period in 2019, and the providers prescribing them were different, according to new research published in the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report on Thursday. 

The drugs are typically used to treat autoimmune diseases and to prevent malaria, but early in the pandemic, were touted by President Trump and others as a possible Covid-19 treatment. On March 20, the US Food and Drug Administration issued an emergency use authorization for the drugs to treat Covid-19. The EUA was rescinded on June 15.

To identify differences in prescriptions for these drugs, researchers looked at prescriptions dispensed through US outpatient retail pharmacies from January to June 2019 and 2020. “The overall estimated number of hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine prescriptions dispensed in March and April 2020 increased from 819,906 in 2019 to 1,312,859 in 2020,” said the authors. 

New prescriptions — defined as those dispensed to a patient without a history of prescription for the medications in the last 12 months — went from 30,737 in March 2019 to 222,382 in March 2020, and from 31,748 in April 2019 to 106,184 in April 2020.

The prescribers of the drugs also changed. New prescriptions by specialists who didn’t typically prescribe these medications increased from 1,143 in February 2020 to 75,569 in March 2020 — an 80-fold increase from March 2019. In March and April 2020, 54% of new prescriptions were written by primary care prescribers.

There was a 16-fold increase in new hydroxychloroquine prescriptions for adult men, which the authors said was notable because historically, women are more likely to be receive those prescriptions.

By May and June of 2020, the numbers of new prescriptions and those from non-routine prescribers were declining and approaching 2019 numbers, the authors wrote.

“These declines might have been influenced by publication of additional studies indicating that the medications were not found to be effective for treatment of COVID-19 and by FDA safety warning,” the researchers wrote.

“If prescribing or prescribed these drugs, providers and patients should be familiar with the potential for drug interactions and adverse events associated with hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine use,” the authors wrote.

Delaware extends state of emergency due to Covid-19

Delaware Gov. John Carney announced the extension of the state of emergency declaration in the state to combat the spread of Covid-19 and urged residents to “stay vigilant” during Labor Day weekend.

“Delawareans have made real sacrifices to flatten the COVID-19 curve, and keep their families, friends and neighbors healthy. But if we hope to get more children in school, and more Delawareans back to work, we need to stay vigilant, especially this Labor Day weekend. Wear a face covering and avoid large gatherings. Wash or sanitize your hands frequently. Keep your distance from others outside your household. We’re beating COVID-19, but this fight isn’t over,” Carney said in a statement

New York state casinos and NYC malls can reopen next week

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo wearing a protective mask attends during the daily media briefing at the Office of the Governor of the State of New York on July 23 in New York City.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that casinos can reopen on Wednesday, on the condition they have enhanced air filtration systems installed.

They are allowed to have a 25% max capacity, and the capacity will be monitored at the door with the New York State gaming commission taking the lead as the enforcement agency.

Table games won’t be allowed on the casino floors unless they can figure out how to put physical barriers between players and dealers, until barriers are approved by the gaming commission, table games are not allowed, according to the governor. There will no beverage service allowed on the gaming floor. 

Shopping malls in New York City are also permitted to reopen on Wednesday with a 50% capacity, as long as they too have enhanced air filtration devices installed. Masks and social distancing will be required as well. 

Cuomo announced the state conducted 88,000 tests on Wednesday with 898 positive tests recorded, bringing the positivity rate to .99%. There were at least seven Covid-19 deaths reported on Wednesday. 

Cuomo said the Covid-19 news out of Western New York is, “not good news,” with positivity rate reaching 1.9%. 

Stocks tumble one day after hitting record high

The Nasdaq Composite tumbled nearly 5% and the Dow fell 700 points — or 2.6% — on Thursday