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September 16 coronavirus news

Redfield: Most in US won't get vaccine until mid-2021
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What you need to know

  • The novel coronavirus may have circulated in the US as early as December, about a month earlier than believed by the CDC, according to researchers with UCLA.
  • India has topped 5 million Covid-19 cases after reporting 1 million new infections in just 11 days. Only the US has recorded more cases.
  • It might not be until 2022 when the world can begin thinking about returning to “pre-Covid” life, WHO’s chief scientist said.

Our live coverage of the coronavirus pandemic has moved here.

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Hawaii will allow Covid-negative travellers to avoid quarantine from next month

Hawaii Gov. David Ige speaks during a news conference on September 16.

The state of Hawaii will allow people arriving from out of state to skip the mandatory 14-day quarantine if they test negative for Covid-19, Gov. David Ige announced Wednesday.

The new program begins October 15.

The mandatory quarantine has been in effect since March, crippling the state’s critical tourism industry. “I worry about the long-term impacts of economic stress,” said Lt. Gov. Josh Green, who joined the news conference by videoconference because he is recovering from Covid-19.

The test must be taken within 72 hours of travel. If the test results are not in by the time a traveler arrives in Hawaii, they must begin their quarantine until a negative result is returned.

The state will only accept a nucleic acid amplification test processed by a certified lab, which Green says typically costs more than $100 if it is not covered by insurance.

Los Angeles has lowest number of Covid-19 hospitalizations since pandemic began, mayor says

Los Angeles has the lowest number of patients hospitalized from coronavirus since the outbreak started, Mayor Eric Garcetti announced in a news conference on Wednesday.

There are currently 804 patients hospitalized with coronavirus in the county, according to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. Garcetti said this number has been cut by nearly half in the past five weeks.

Five of six critical indicators tracked by the county are headed in the right direction, according to the mayor. “Our hospital inventory remains stable and lower than we’ve seen,” he said. 

The seven-day average of new coronavirus cases has fallen below 1,000 for the first time since May 21, Garcetti said. Los Angeles County estimates the rate of coronavirus transmission, or R0, is now .95, indicating a reduced spread of the virus.

While the case rate and positivity rate continue to improve in Los Angeles, the county still remains in the first of the state’s four-tier, color-coded reopening system. 

Garcetti also urged residents to get a flu shot, warning, “this could be the worst phase of this pandemic just in the next couple months.”

“We need to make sure everyone is vaccinated to avoid the double hit of both Covid and the flu at the same time,” Garcetti said. 

If too few Americans get a potential Covid-19 vaccine, it won’t be enough for protection, Fauci says

If too few Americans receive a Covid-19 vaccine when one becomes available, it won’t help reduce the spread of the deadly virus, said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Asked in an interview with the Wall Street Journal Wednesday whether it would be enough if only a third of Americans got vaccinated, Fauci responded: “No, I don’t think it would be at all.”

Fauci says the public needs to understand that, too.

“It’s a combination of how effective a vaccine is and how many people use it,” he said.
“If you have a vaccine that is highly effective and not enough people get vaccinated, you’re not going to realize the full, important effect of having a vaccine.”

The less protective a vaccine is, the more people need to get it to provide population-wide immunity, Fauci said.

“If a vaccine is not particularly effective, not like ineffective, but it’s not like measles, which is 97 to 98% effective, if the vaccine is moderately effective enough that you definitely want to use it, then you’re going to have to get a lot more people to get vaccinated to get that veil of protection in the community.”

Fauci said, otherwise, public health measures in addition to a vaccine would be crucial in controlling the spread of the virus.

The fundamental goal is to get the level of infection so low that when there are little outbreaks, they’re easy to control, he said.

Governor says he wants Trump to come for campaign event "in a manner that doesn't put people at risk"

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz speaks with CNN's Erin Burnett on Wednesday, September 16.

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz wants President Donald Trump to come to his state for a campaign event – but do it in a way that doesn’t put people at risk.

“The President has said that governors need to be in charge. Our policies are working; they’re making a difference. And I would just ask them, ‘you certainly, we want you to come, we want you to try and get your message out, but do so in a manner that doesn’t put people at risk,’” he said. “Be our partner in keeping Minnesotans safe.”

When asked about Trump’s comments that the United States would be doing much better with coronavirus if it didn’t include the numbers from Democrat states, Walz responded: “I think their families would think differently.”

“I do not know the political affiliation of my 1,900 neighbors who’ve died. I know it is my responsibility to do all I can do to mitigate that risk and keep them alive, and it’s just unfortunate, but I think we’ve seen this pattern that the President has said he takes no responsibility and he left it up to governors to do that, and that’s what we’re trying to do here in Minnesota, and we’ll continue to do exactly that.”

Rich nations have grabbed more than half the coronavirus vaccine supply already, report finds

A Sinovac Biotech Covid-19 vaccine candidate is displayed at the China International Fair for Trade in Services on September 6 in Beijing.

Rich nations including the United States, Britain and Japan have already bought up more than half the expected supply of coronavirus vaccine, the international anti-poverty nonprofit Oxfam said Wednesday.

These countries represent 13% of the world’s population, but have bought up future supplies of 51% of coronavirus vaccines, Oxfam said. 

The group used data collected by analytics firm Airfinity to analyze published deals between governments and vaccine makers. Oxfam calculated five organizations – AstraZeneca, Russia’s Gamaleya, Moderna, Pfizer and China’s Sinovac – have the combined production capacity to make 5.9 billion doses. That’s enough to cover nearly 3 billion people – less than half the world’s population, if everyone needs two doses, as seems likely.

Oxfam said in a statement that supply deals have already been agreed for 5.3 billion doses, of which 2.7 billion (51%) have been bought by developed countries and territories including the UK, US, Australia, Hong Kong, Macau, Japan, Switzerland and Israel, as well as the European Union. The remaining 2.6 billion doses have been bought by or promised to developing countries including India, Bangladesh, China, Brazil, Indonesia and Mexico.

Oxfam noted that AstraZeneca has pledged two-thirds of the doses it produces to developing countries.

“Access to a life-saving vaccine shouldn’t depend on where you live or how much money you have,” said Oxfam’s Robert Silverman. “The development and approval of a safe and effective vaccine is crucial, but equally important is making sure the vaccines are available and affordable to everyone. COVID-19 anywhere is COVID-19 everywhere.” 

When will we get enough vaccines? On Monday, Adar Poonawalla, chief executive of the Serum Institute of India (SII), predicted there may not be enough Covid-19 vaccine until 2024. “It’s going to take four to five years until everyone gets the vaccine on this planet,” Poonawalla told the Financial Times. 

Poonawalla estimated that if the Covid-19 shot is a two-dose vaccine, the world would need about 15 billion doses.

Trump confirms a White House staff member tested positive for coronavirus

President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference at the White House on Wednesday in Washington.

President Trump confirmed an earlier report that a White House staff member has tested positive for coronavirus.

“I heard about it this morning at a very small level yes. I heard about it this morning,” Trump said at a White House press briefing on Wednesday. “Last night I heard about it for the first time and it’s a small number of cases, maybe it’s not even cases,” he added, contradicting himself on when he was first made aware of the positive case.

Press secretary Kayleigh McEnany later said that it was just one person who tested positive.

“It did not effect the event and press was not around the individual,” McEnany said, apparently referring to the President’s town hall event last night in Philadelphia.

“And it’s not anybody that’s near me,” Trump added. “It was one person, not a person that I was associated with.”

Trump did not answer when asked if it was at the event in Philadelphia.

The information stems from today’s foreign print pool reporter, Raquel Krähenbühl, who wrote on Twitter earlier today that she was told the press pool was tested late today because: “It was a very busy morning. We had a couple of positives today.”

It’s unclear who told this to the foreign print pool reporter and the information has not been included in any pool reports seen by CNN. The White House declined to comment to CNN. 

Earlier White House chief of staff Mark Meadows told reporters, “I don’t comment on any health-related issues as it relates to the White House ever.”

The suspected positive coronavirus case inside the White House come a day after visits from Trump allies and foreign delegations from Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain for the signing of peace agreements. 

WATCH:

Trump claims Redfield was "confused" in earlier vaccine testimony

President Donald Trump speaks to the press during a news conference in the White House on Wednesday in Washington.

President Trump told reporters that he believes Dr, Robert Redfield, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, was “confused” when he said a Covid-19 vaccine wouldn’t be widely available in the US until the third quarter or second quarter of 2021. 

“I think he made a mistake when he said that. It’s just incorrect information,” Trump said when asked about Redfield’s comments to the Senate earlier today. 

Redfield told Congress earlier Wednesday on a vaccine: “If you’re asking me when is it going to be generally available to the American public so we can begin to take advantage of vaccine to get back to our regular life, I think we’re probably looking at late 2nd quarter/3rd quarter 2021.”

Trump added on Redfield: “I believe he was confused” and continued to claim that a vaccine will be distributed “very soon” despite his public health officials testimony.

Trump also said the release of a coronavirus vaccine could happen by mid-October which is quicker than the vaccine distribution materials released today by the CDC outlined.

Trump said distribution of a vaccine will begin as soon as a vaccine is approved, which he said could be “sometime in October.”

“We think we can start sometime in October. So as soon as it is announced, we’ll be able to start. That will be from mid-October on. It may be a little later than that,” Trump said at a news conference at the White House on Wednesday. “We will be all set. As soon as it’s given the go ahead and they are doing trials as you know and as soon as it’s given the go ahead we will get it out, defeat the virus.”

The CDC’s vaccine distribution playbook says that for planning purposes, state and local health agencies should assume “limited COVID-19 vaccine doses may be available by early November 2020” if a vaccine is authorized or licensed by the FDA, but the supply may increase substantially in 2021.

Later in his briefing, Trump said a vaccine could be announced “fairly soon, regardless this month, next month, in a level of time nobody thought was possible.”

Today, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, said he still anticipates a vaccine would take until November or December before it’s proven safe and effective. 

‘‘I would still put my money on November/December,” Fauci said, during a Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute panel on global pandemics.

On Tuesday, Trump said he thinks a vaccine could be ready in three to four weeks.

Chief of staff Mark Meadows echoed that claim on Wednesday.

“I have been on phone calls with individuals who have said that personally to me,” Meadows said in response to a question from CNN, but said he would not give specific names because “it would affect markets and I’m not going to do that.”

WATCH:

Brazil reports more than 900 new Covid-19 deaths

Brazil’s health ministry reported 987 new coronavirus-related deaths and 36,820 new Covid-19 infections on Wednesday.

The country has so far reported a total of 4,419,083 coronavirus cases, and the death toll stands at 134,106.

With over 4.4 million cases, Brazil is currently the third-worst hit country in the world in terms of cases, behind only India and the United States, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

Brazil is second-worst in terms of deaths, with only the US having suffered more coronavirus fatalities so far.

University of Georgia reports a 70% drop in Covid-19 cases

The University of Georgia released its weekly Covid-19 report today showing that cases have declined “more than 70% over the course of a week.”

The university reported a total of 421 positive tests between Sept. 7 to 13.

“Of those, 404 were students, 16 were staff, and one was a faculty member,” according to the report.  

On Wednesday, the school also announced that there will be no on-campus voting in the fall.   

“These data give us some cautious optimism that cases might have plateaued on our campus,” said Dr. Garth Russo, executive director of the University Health Center and chair of UGA’s Medical Oversight Task Force. “However, we are by no means out of the woods yet. We know that we had a short week due to the Labor Day holiday, and we hope that we will not see a spike in positive cases from activities that weekend. Each member of our campus community must remain diligent in our individual efforts to curb the spread of the virus if we want to keep these numbers on a downward trend.”

The University of Georgia in Athens, Georgia, has “nearly 50,000 students, faculty and staff,” according to the university.  

Dr. Tom Frieden: US nearing 200,000 Covid-19 deaths is a "reflection of a failing national response"

Former Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Dr. Tom Frieden testifies during a hearing on Covid-19 Response before the Subcommittee on the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies of the House Appropriations Committee May 6 on Capitol Hill in Washington.

As the United States approaches 200,000 coronavirus deaths, Dr. Tom Frieden, a former US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director, said Wednesday that the number of reported deaths are a “reflection of a failing national response.”

“The actual number is higher because not all deaths have been identified and this is just a horrifying number,” Frieden told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer. “It’s more people than die from suicide or overdose or homicide or HIV. In fact, Covid is on track to be the number three leading cause of death in all of the US for this year.”

The former CDC director said he’s concerned that Americans will get “hardened” to the number of coronavirus deaths.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the US has reported at least 196,465 coronavirus deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.

According to Johns Hopkins, 1,293 deaths were reported Tuesday, which is the highest one-day total since Aug. 19.

“If you look at Germany, one fifth are death rate,” Frieden said. “If you look at South Korea, 80 times fewer deaths than we’ve had. These are lives that have been lost and jobs that have been lost because we haven’t had an organized, consistent, coherent federal response.”

Mistrust in government is hindering Covid-19 surveillance efforts, expert says

Mistrust in government agencies is hindering Covid-19 surveillance efforts, Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, said Wednesday.

“It is very challenging in many areas today, where we’re seeing people who do not want to participate in any kind of follow up with regard to surveillance, because of their distrust of government and the public health system,” Osterholm said during an American Public Health Association webinar.

Osterholm said that challenges in agencies, like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and US Food and Drug Administration, have eroded trust in the whole public health system. 

“There has been more than enough public discussion of challenges about the validity of the information coming from those areas, that then often will translate into the public’s trust of even state and local health departments and the compliance with contact tracers,” Osterholm said.

Acute food insecurity is "doubling" due to Covid-19, says World Food Program expert

New Yorkers in need receive free produce, dry goods, and meat at a Food Bank For New York City distribution event at Lincoln Center on July 29 in New York.

Public health experts have long warned that the Covid-19 pandemic could worsen the world’s hunger crises. Now it appears that the number of people who face acute food insecurity has doubled, said Valerie Guarnieri, the World Food Program’s assistant executive director. 

“Last year, we had anticipated — based on all of the assessments and all of the projections — that the number of people in a state of severe food insecurity this year would be 135 million,” Guarnieri told reporters during a virtual meeting hosted by the United Nations Foundation on Wednesday. “As a result of Covid, we are now anticipating that that number will be 270 million — so basically a doubling of acute food insecurity as a result of Covid and the Covid compounding impact on pre-existing crises.”

She said the World Food Program is looking to scale up its efforts to reach 138 million people who are food insecure this year. 

The Global Network Against Food Crises — launched by the European Union, the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Food Program — released a report on Tuesday detailing how the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic are driving up acute hunger in vulnerable countries that were already facing food crises.

More details: The report notes that while currently the Democratic Republic of the Congo has the largest food crisis in absolute numbers, there has been a nearly 300% increase in acute food insecurity in Burkina Faso, a 73% increase in northern Nigeria, a 67% increase in Somalia and a 64% increase in Sudan.

Illinois governor extends eviction moratorium due to the pandemic

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker.

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker spoke about the financial impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic and impacts on housing in the state, saying he would extend the state’s eviction moratorium for an additional 30 days.

Pritzker said at a news conference on Wednesday that he would continue to work with leaders in the general assembly and Congress to advocate for more federal assistance to keep people in their homes.

“Over 100,000 Illinois tenants and homeowners applied for our assistance program. But we only have enough funds to support approximately 40,000 of them. And ours is the largest pandemic housing stability program in the nation. It is for that reason that I will be extending out eviction moratorium for an additional 30 days,” he said.

The governor also said there have been outbreaks of Covid-19 over the summer, tied to youth sports across the state and across the world.

“Over the summer we saw outbreaks across Illinois and around the world, tied to a variety of youth sports leagues. Those continue today even among the lowest risk youth sports,” Pritzker said.

Over the past two weeks, the governor said, nearly every region in the state has seen a stable or declining positivity rate. 

He said the Illinois Department of Public Health will continue to monitor the positivity over the next few says and that if the trend holds for three days, “we will remove the resurgence mitigations and return the entire region to phase four of the Restore Illinois Plan.” 

The wide spectrum of Covid-19 disease still puzzles Fauci

Of all the viral diseases and emerging infections that he’s encountered throughout his career, Dr. Anthony Fauci said he has “never seen anything with a range” like the novel coronavirus, which he said suggests factors other than underlying medical conditions affect disease severity. 

At least 40% of patients have no symptoms, while some stay ill for months on end, Fauci said. 

“It’s just completely unique to see that degree of variability of a single microbe, which means there are things that are determining that, that we still at this point don’t understand,” Fauci said.

“It isn’t just whether you have an underlying disease or not – it’s just not the case. It’s something more than that,” he added during a virtual panel on the global pandemic sponsored by the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute. 

He said one of those factors may be “the rate of expression of ACE2 receptors.”  These are molecular doorways into cells that the novel coronavirus appears to favor. Some cells have more of these receptors than others do.

Fauci said this variability has created confusion. It’s helped fuel misunderstandings about who can spread the virus and when. 

“One of the things we’re dealing with in this country is a real lack of understanding of the importance of everybody trying to prevent getting infected rather than inadvertently… propagating the outbreak,” he said.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this post incorrectly described the number of patients who lack coronavirus symptoms. It is at least 40%.

New Jersey governor says Seaside Heights party was "egregious display of knucklehead behavior"

Dozens of people leave a New Jersey boardwalk in Seaside Heights, New Jersey, while surrounded by a large police presence on Monday, September 14.

During a Covid-19 briefing Wednesday, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy addressed the party organized by YouTubers that authorities broke up Monday evening, calling it an “egregious display of knucklehead behavior” and “irresponsible from top to bottom in every respect.”

Murphy said that it took a “substantial” amount of law enforcement resources from neighboring towns to break up the party and urged attendees to get tested. 

“We are continuing to see case numbers climb among young people. Many of these cases and clusters are a result of parties and social gatherings,” state health commissioner Judy Persichilli added. 

Since mid-August, the percent positivity rate among 14-18 year-olds has grown from 3% to 7%, while for 19-24 year olds it’s risen from 2.7% to 7.1%, she said. 

Murphy said that “the system is working inside the walls” of schools, while the state’s greater concern is what is happening outside of them. He went on to clarify that the state does not have any clear evidence of in-school transmission of the virus, and that proper protocol has been followed thus far if a case does arise. 

What the latest numbers are: Murphy reported 447 new positive Covid-19 cases, bringing the state’s total to 197,792.

As of Sept. 12, New Jersey’s daily positivity rate is 2.06%, said Murphy, while the statewide rate of transmission remains at 1.06. 

There were nine new fatalities reported, bringing state’s total to 14,263 virus-related deaths.

One thing to note: These numbers released by the New Jersey Department of Health may not line up exactly in real time with CNN’s database drawn from Johns Hopkins University and the Covid Tracking Project.

Bowling alleys, movie theaters and arcades can reopen in Miami-Dade at 50% capacity, mayor says

Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez wears a facemask during a press conference to address the rise of coronavirus cases in the state, at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, on July 13.

Miami Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez announced Wednesday that he will be signing an order to allow “certain indoor spaces” to opening on Friday.  

The order will apply to movie theaters, bowling alleys, concert halls, convention spaces, banquet halls and certain indoor amusement venues, said Gimenez.  

These businesses “can open at 50% capacity, but they must follow the guidelines in place, including obviously wearing masks, distancing of six feet and special HVAC systems to bring more fresh air into those spaces,” Gimenez said. 

Gimenez said businesses must also follow food consumption rules established for casinos. 

“No food or beverages will be allowed while watching movies or bowling, there must be designated areas for food and drink where people can take off their masks and practice social distancing”, said Gimenez.

As for bars and other entertainment venues, Gimenez said he plans to meet with medical experts and business owners next week “to discuss what’s doable in the future.” 

The mayor said the county’s infection rate has steadily remained “under 5% daily.”  

Dr. Fauci says “I would still put my money on November/December” for a Covid-19 vaccine

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, listens during a House Subcommittee on the Coronavirus crisis hearing, on Friday, July 31, in Washington.

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci said Wednesday that he believes a coronavirus vaccine may be proven safe and effective by November or December of this year.

‘‘I would still put my money on November/December,” Fauci said, during a Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute panel on global pandemics.

Fauci said that current modeling indicates that about 150 infections need to occur in a vaccine trial to be able to make a determination of efficacy. 

“Right now, the trials are over two thirds enrolled – really close to full enrollment on one, and over full enrollment on the other,” he said.

He pointed out that some people, like himself, think it’s likely that an answer about efficacy will be ready by November or December, while others have said it could be as early as October.

“It really depends on where the sites are and how many infections there are in a site,” Fauci said. “So you could get your answer sooner, or you can get your answer a bit later.”

Fauci said his projection of November or December is informed by calculations based on where the clinical trial sites are in their studies.

Johns Hopkins University corrects its Tuesday Covid-19 numbers for the US

The final Covid-19 case count on Tuesday for the US has been corrected by Johns Hopkins University to 39,617 cases and 1,293 deaths. Earlier numbers should not be used.

With this fix, Tuesday’s death count is still the highest one-day total since Aug. 19.

Yesterday’s new case numbers are now in line with recent averages. The US is currently averaging 38,037 new Covid-19 cases a day, which is up 5% from the previous week. 

The university explained that the discrepancy was the result of both a data dump in Alabama’s numbers and a misreading on its part, which led to a double count on a single day.

States often have data dumps when they change how to report cases/deaths, and the university normally redistributes those cases to the proper days.

The data dump and the dashboard error have both been fixed, the university told CNN.

White House says Trump wants direct payments and more money than Senate GOP "skinny" stimulus

White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany holds a news conference at the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House on Wednesday in Washington.

 White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters that President Trump is calling for direct payments and more than $500 billion in a coronavirus stimulus bill. 

Trump earlier Wednesday tweeted on the stimulus bill and told Republicans to “Go for the much higher numbers.” McEnany told reporters the President was referring to the Senate GOP “skinny” proposal in his comments.

“What the President was referring to was the 500 billion dollar bill… that got 50 votes in the Senate,” McEnany said in a briefing Wednesday.

“But it didn’t include direct payments. So he wants more than the 500 billion dollars and he is very keen to see these direct stimulus payments. And we hope that Nancy Pelosi will work with us in good faith. There are many nonpartisan proposals out there that have merit.”

McEnany then hammered Pelosi saying everyone in Washington wants a plan except the speaker. She did not answer whether the White House has spoken to Pelosi or Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

It will take 6 to 9 months to get the American public vaccinated, CDC director says

Dr. Robert Redfield attends at a hearing of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee reviewing coronavirus response efforts on Wednesday in Washington.

Even if a vaccine for Covid-19 was released today, it would take six to nine months for enough people to get it to create immunity, Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Wednesday.

“I think we have to assume that if we had a vaccine, say, released today, that it’s going to take us probably in the order of nine months, six to nine months to get the American public vaccinated,” Redfield said during the Senate Appropriations Hearing on coronavirus response efforts.

“In order to have enough of us immunized so we have immunity, I think it’s going to take us six to nine months,” he said.

In this time, it’s important to for people embrace mitigation steps such as physically distancing, mask use and avoiding crowds, he said.

US health official denies he has been asked to test less 

Adm. Brett Giroir listens during a hearing of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee reviewing coronavirus response efforts on Wednesday in Washington.

Admiral Brett Giroir, assistant secretary for health at the Health and Human Services Department, denied Wednesday he had ever been asked to test fewer Americans to make the pandemic look less serious than it really is.

Sen Dick Durbin, a Democrat from Illinois, asked Giroir, who heads testing efforts for the White House Coronavirus Task Force, about comments President Trump has made repeatedly saying the reason the US has so many cases of Covid-19 is because the US does more testing. 

When Durbin asked during Wednesday’s Senate Appropriations Hearing if ending testing would end the spread of Covid-19, Giroir answered, “No, sir.” 

“Let me just clarify, that the number of cases are going to be the number of cases,” Giroir said. “We do more testing so we can detect more and more cases, that’s a good thing.” 

Detecting as many cases as possible means that they can be appropriately isolated and contact tracing can happen, he said.

“It is true that the more testing you do, the more cases you will discover,” Giroir said. “But the cases are there no matter what.” 

Giroir said that he has “never been asked, told, hinted, suggested that we should decrease testing.” He said every time the task force meets, they work to expand testing. 

“My job is to expand testing as much as feasibly, even infeasibly, possible and get the right test to the right people at the right time,” he said. “That’s been my mission. No one’s told me to alter that.”  

Big Ten conference won't allow fans in the stands for football games this fall

In this August 31, 2019 file photo, the Big Ten logo is displayed on the field before an NCAA college football game between Iowa and Miami of Ohio in Iowa City.

Penn State vice president for intercollegiate athletics Sandy Barbour said the Big Ten Conference will not have fans in the stands during football games this fall.

Barbour noted there is still a chance for families of football players to attend games, but plans are still ongoing. 

“We are looking to see what we can do on a campus-by-campus basis to accommodate the families of our student-athletes, both home and away as well as the families of staff but as a conference we’ve made a decision – no public sale of tickets,” she added.