September 3 coronavirus news

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

Updated 12:07 a.m. ET, September 4, 2020
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8:52 a.m. ET, September 3, 2020

WHO Africa prepares Covid-19 vaccination allocation plan

From CNN's Bethlehem Feleke in Nairobi 

Learners go through the regular morning checks on their arrival at the Melpark Primary School in Johannesburg on Thursday, September 3.
Learners go through the regular morning checks on their arrival at the Melpark Primary School in Johannesburg on Thursday, September 3. Denis Farrell/AP

All 54 countries in Africa have expressed interest in a plan to guarantee fair and equitable access to Covid-19 vaccines, the World Health Organization’s Area Manager in Immunization and Vaccine Development, Dr. Richard Mihigo, says. 

“Once a vaccine is licensed and approved, COVAX aims to secure 220 million doses for the continent” to be distributed to all African countries proportional to population size, according to Mihigo.

The initial doses will cover 20% of Africa's population and prioritize frontline health care workers and vulnerable groups with pre-existing conditions. 

Higher and middle income countries on the continent have agreed to self-finance their doses, but the remaining countries will be eligible to receive financial support through the initiative.

South Africa remains the only country on the continent currently running clinical trials for the AstraZeneca and Novavax vaccines, but other countries including Uganda and Kenya have expressed interest in starting clinical trials, Mihigo added.

“Whenever an effective and safe vaccine is available, it will be available to all the people of Africa at the same time as the developed world,” Mihigo said. 

8:47 a.m. ET, September 3, 2020

As stimulus deadlock continues, Schumer calls GOP proposal as "emaciated"

From CNN's Phil Mattingly

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, in a letter to his Democratic colleagues, ripped into the forthcoming scaled-back Senate Republican stimulus proposal, underscoring the massive gulf that continues to exist between the parties in the negotiations for a new coronavirus relief package.

"Republicans may call their proposal 'skinny,' but it would be more appropriate to call it 'emaciated,'" Schumer wrote Thursday to his members. "Their proposal appears to be completely inadequate and, by every measure, fails to meet the needs of the American people."

The letter sets the stage for a partisan battle that will re-commence in earnest when senators return from the summer recess period next week. Talks between Schumer, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and top White House officials imploded nearly a month ago and have yet to make any headway in the weeks since. Democrats have pressed for a wide-ranging, multi-trillion dollar proposal to provide funds for schools, rental assistance for states and localities, health providers and small businesses.

Some context: Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, the top GOP negotiators, have rejected the Democratic topline repeatedly and pressed to move a smaller scale package consisting primarily of areas where at least topline bipartisan agreement exists.

Pelosi and Schumer have refused, castigating Republicans for underestimating the scale of the need created by the worst pandemic in a century.

The dynamics have led to an increasingly pessimistic view on Capitol Hill that a new relief package —following on the $2.2 trillion CARES Act — is even possible at all. Meadows, in private conversations with Senate Republicans, has repeated said he doesn't think a deal is possible with Democrats given their current posture, multiple sources have told CNN.

"It's tough to go more than a month with literally zero progress," one person involved in the negotiations told CNN. "Yet somehow that's exactly what has happened."

The divide carries with it massive ramifications for the weeks ahead, as the country continues to grapple with the economic devastation created by the pandemic and the public policy response to it. Lawmakers themselves face the threat of a government shutdown at the end of September if an agreement isn't reached on an all-encompassing funding measure.

Read more here.

8:45 a.m. ET, September 3, 2020

Fewer than 1 million Americans filed for unemployment for the first time in a month

From CNN's Anneken Tappe

First-time claims for unemployment benefits fell below a million again last week, the Labor Department reported Thursday. This happened before — in early August — before claims reversed course and bounced higher.

Another 881,000 Americans filed initial claims for benefits last week on a seasonally adjusted basis.

Continued jobless claims, which count people filing for benefits for at least two weeks in a row, stood at a seasonally adjusted 13.3 million, more than 1 million lower than last week.

A wonky aspect in the report: The Labor Department changed its methodology for seasonal adjustments starting with this report. Usually, seasonal adjustments are designed to smooth the data and make it more easily comparable. But during the pandemic's unprecedented effect on the labor market they have added some noise to the data.

On an unadjusted basis, unemployment insurance claims rose to more than 833,000, an increase of about 7,500.

Still, the trend is mostly pointing in the right direction. The US jobs market is gradually recovering from the pandemic lockdown shock. That said, millions of people continue to rely on state benefits to make ends meet while Congress is squabbling about a next round of stimulus.

These numbers don't include claims for the government's other, pandemic-specific programs, such as the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program.

The Labor Department will again review its adjustment models at the start of next year.

8:20 a.m. ET, September 3, 2020

Coronavirus cases in Europe are "almost back" to March levels, health group says

From CNN's Sharon Braithwaite in London

Health workers draw blood from teachers at a temporary testing point in Diego Velazquez secondary school during the coronavirus pandemic on September 2, in Torrelodones, near Madrid, Spain.
Health workers draw blood from teachers at a temporary testing point in Diego Velazquez secondary school during the coronavirus pandemic on September 2, in Torrelodones, near Madrid, Spain. Blazquez Dominguez/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," Ammon said.

She continued:

"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," she added.

Regarding schools 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.”

8:23 a.m. ET, September 3, 2020

Thailand marked 100 days without a local virus transmission — now they have one case 

From CNN's Kocha Olarn in Bangkok

An officer enforces social distancing at the entrance of the Grand Palace in Bangkok on June 7, as it reopened for visitors following restrictions to halt the spread of Covid-19.
An officer enforces social distancing at the entrance of the Grand Palace in Bangkok on June 7, as it reopened for visitors following restrictions to halt the spread of Covid-19. Mladen Antonov/AFP/Getty Images

Thailand has detected its first locally transmitted case in the country in 101 days, according to the director of Thailand's disease department.

“This case is a local transmission case after over 100 days were passed with no report of locally transmitted infection,” Dr. Suwannachai Wattanayincharoen, director of disease control department, said a news conference on Thursday.

A 37-year-old man who was arrested in Bangkok on drug charges was tested after arriving at a Bangkok correctional center, his results came back positive. Health officials say that he had no recent travel history.

The infected man arrived in prison on Aug. 26 and was tested on Wednesday. His results came back positive on Thursday.

The arrived in a jail cell and shared a quarantine cell with 34 people who have now been tested and those results have returned negative. 

8:04 a.m. ET, September 3, 2020

Lawyer for Pelosi’s stylist says salon owner made "vitriolic and incendiary comments" about House Speaker

From CNN’s Dan Simon and Joe Sutton

In this screengrab from security footage obtained by Fox News, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is seen inside a San Francisco hair salon.
In this screengrab from security footage obtained by Fox News, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is seen inside a San Francisco hair salon. From Fox News

The lawyer representing cosmetologist Jonathan DeNardo, who provided hair services to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, released a statement saying he received advanced approval from Erica Kious, the salon owner, the day before the appointment. 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi got her hair styled Monday inside a San Francisco hair salon, her office said in a statement Tuesday, an apparent violation of the city's Covid-19 safety regulations that enraged the salon's owner.

Fox News reported that the owner of the salon, Erica Kious, was angry that Pelosi had broken the rules requiring such hair treatments to be done outdoors because of the pandemic.

Pelosi said Wednesday that she takes "responsibility for falling for a setup."

"I take responsibility for trusting the word of a neighborhood salon that I've been to over the years, many times, and that when they said we're able to accommodate people, one person at a time, and that we can set up that time, I trusted that. As it turns out, it was a setup. So I take responsibility for falling for a setup," the California Democrat said during a question and answer portion of an event in San Francisco.

The statement from the lawyer representing DeNardo said in part:

“…Mr. DeNardo advised Ms. Kious that he would not proceed with Speaker Pelosi’s appointment without Ms. Kious’ authorization.
"Ms. Kious took special interest in the appointment during this telephone call, wherein she made several vitriolic and incendiary comments about Speaker Pelosi and her purported responsibility for temporarily suspending operations of Ms. Kious’ business, despite such orders actually being put into place not by Speaker Pelosi, but by Governor Gavin Newsome and San Francisco Mayor London Breed.
"Ultimately, Ms. Kious authorized Mr. DeNardo to proceed with Speaker Pelosi’s appointment…”
8:04 a.m. ET, September 3, 2020

Schumer rips GOP stimulus proposal as "emaciated" with Congress set to return for crucial month 

From CNN's Phil Mattingly, with additional reporting from Ali Zaslav, Manu Raju, and Ted Barrett 

Senate Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer participates in a news conference August 7 on Capitol Hill in Washington.
Senate Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer participates in a news conference August 7 on Capitol Hill in Washington. Alex Wong/Getty Images

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, in a letter to his Democratic colleagues, ripped into the forthcoming scaled-back Senate Republican stimulus proposal, underscoring the massive gulf that continues to exist between the parties in the negotiations for a new coronavirus relief package.

“Republicans may call their proposal ‘skinny,’ but it would be more appropriate to call it “emaciated,’” Schumer wrote on Thursday to his members. “Their proposal appears to be completely inadequate and, by every measure, fails to meet the needs of the American people.”

Here's some background: The letter sets the stage for a partisan battle that will re-commence in earnest when senators return from the summer recess period next week. Talks between Schumer, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and top White House officials imploded nearly a month ago and have yet to make any headway in the weeks since. Democrats have pressed for a wide-ranging, multi-trillion proposal to provide funds for schools, rental assistance states and localities, health providers and small businesses.

Treasury Sec. Steven Mnuchin and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, the top GOP negotiators, have rejected the Democratic topline repeatedly and pressed to move a smaller scale package consisting primarily of areas where at least topline bipartisan agreement exists. Pelosi and Schumer have refused, castigating Republicans for underestimating the scale of the need created by the worst pandemic in a century.

The dynamics have led to an increasingly pessimistic view on Capitol Hill that a new relief package – following on the $2.2 trillion CARES Act – is even possible at all. Meadows, in private conversations with Senate Republicans, has repeated said he doesn’t think a deal is possible with Democrats given their current posture, multiple sources told CNN.

“It’s tough to go more than a month with literally zero progress,” one person involved in the negotiations told CNN. “Yet somehow that’s exactly what has happened.”

A split with serious consequences: The divide carries with it massive ramifications for the weeks ahead, as the country continues to grapple with the economic devastation created by the pandemic and the public policy response to it and lawmakers themselves face the threat of a government shutdown at the end of September if agreement isn’t reached on an all-encompassing funding measure.

And it all comes as control of the Senate – and the White House itself – hangs in the balance in an increasingly heated election season.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has remained outside of the direct negotiations between Democratic leaders and the White House, made clear that the divide between the two sides remains significant, saying on Wednesday the talks remain at a “stalemate.”

“I can tell you I do think we do need to reach agreement and it’s harder to do now because we’re so much closer to the election,” McConnell said. “The cooperative spirit we had in March and April has dissipated as we move closer and closer to the election.”

The Senate GOP leadership, for weeks, has been working behind the scenes toward building internal consensus on a scaled-back, or “skinny” proposal, that would give the party an opportunity to show a unified front in a floor vote, aides said. That proposal, which would include funds for education, small business, a scaled back enhanced federal unemployment benefit and liability protections, has been circulated between members but not released publicly.

The proposal has been discussed at length in regular conference calls between Senate Republicans and the top White House negotiators.

Republican leadership is moving toward a procedural vote to take up the GOP proposal next week should he lock in more than 50 GOP supporters – something aides say Republicans are on track to achieving, particularly as front-line Republican senators face difficult re-election battles in November.

“We’re close,” a senior GOP aide told CNN. “I think everyone recognizes we have members in our conference that need to show we’re working toward addressing the problems people are facing right now.”

Schumer’s letter, however, makes clear that effort would be blocked from advancing by Democrats, bringing the two sides back to a baseline that has consisted of hours of negotiations and talks, yet little if any signal that a topline difference of nearly a trillion dollars – and significant hurdles that exist in the policy details themselves – will be resolved in the near term.

“It is clear Republicans are trying to ‘check the box’ and give the appearance of action rather than actually meet the truly profound needs of the American people,” Schumer wrote to his colleagues.

Read the full story here.

7:30 a.m. ET, September 3, 2020

Close the bars and mandate masks, coronavirus task force tells Missouri officials

From CNN's Betsy Klein

Bartender Greg Anderson pours drinks for customers in May, on the first day Tuner's Bar and Grill reopened in St. Charles, Missouri.
Bartender Greg Anderson pours drinks for customers in May, on the first day Tuner's Bar and Grill reopened in St. Charles, Missouri. Jeff Roberson/AP

The White House coronavirus task force has recommended officials in the state of Missouri close bars and mandate masks as the pandemic spreads. An August 30 report for the state, obtained by CNN, shows the state is in the task force’s defined “red zone” for cases, meaning more than 100 new cases per 100,000 population, with the 10th highest rate in the country.

The August 30 report says community transmission “continues to be high in rural and urban counties,” and notes concerns with “increasing transmission in the major university towns,” which has been problematic for other states.

“Bars must be closed,” the report reads.

And, per the report, the task force recommends a mask mandate, saying, “Mask mandates across the state must be in place to decrease transmission.” The state is one of 15 in the US that does not require people to wear masks in public. 

7:13 a.m. ET, September 3, 2020

Russia allows resumption of travel to Egypt, UAE and Maldives

From CNN's Simon Cullen

Passengers walk outside the terminal building of the Sheremetyevo Airport outside Moscow on May 5, 2019.
Passengers walk outside the terminal building of the Sheremetyevo Airport outside Moscow on May 5, 2019. Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP/Getty Images

Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin has announced the resumption of international air travel to Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, and the Maldives on a mutual basis, according to state-run media TASS.

Mishustin has signed a directive to allow for the change, according to TASS.

“Egypt (Cairo), three flights a week; the United Arab Emirates (Dubai), two flights a week; the Republic of Maldives (Velana airport), two flights a week," a government statement said, according to TASS.

Regular flights between Russia and other countries around the world were interrupted at the end of March due to the pandemic, TASS said.