September 16 coronavirus news

By Nectar Gan, Adam Renton, Meg Wagner, Melissa Macaya, Ed Upright and Jack Guy, CNN

Updated 12:51 a.m. ET, September 17, 2020
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3:22 p.m. ET, September 16, 2020

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

From CNN's Lauren Mascarenhas

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.
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. Kevin Dietsch/Pool/AP

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.

2:38 p.m. ET, September 16, 2020

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

From CNN's Amanda Watts

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.

2:28 p.m. ET, September 16, 2020

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

From CNN's Allie Malloy

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 holds a news conference at the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House on Wednesday in Washington. Alex Wong/Getty Images

 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.

2:29 p.m. ET, September 16, 2020

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

From CNN's Naomi Thomas

Dr. Robert Redfield attends at a hearing of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee reviewing coronavirus response efforts on Wednesday in Washington.
Dr. Robert Redfield attends at a hearing of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee reviewing coronavirus response efforts on Wednesday in Washington. Andrew Harnik/Pool/Getty Images

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.

1:51 p.m. ET, September 16, 2020

US health official denies he has been asked to test less 

From CNN's Naomi Thomas

Adm. Brett Giroir listens during a hearing of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee reviewing coronavirus response efforts on Wednesday in Washington.
Adm. Brett Giroir listens during a hearing of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee reviewing coronavirus response efforts on Wednesday in Washington. Anna Moneymaker/Pool/Getty Images

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.”  

1:50 p.m. ET, September 16, 2020

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.
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. Charlie Neibergall/AP

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.

“We are not going to permit fans in general, sales of tickets," Barbour said while appearing on the Big Ten Network on Wednesday. 

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.

1:49 p.m. ET, September 16, 2020

Florida reports 195 new Covid-19 cases among children

From CNN's Melissa Alonso  

Florida health officials reported 195 new pediatric Covid-19 cases on Wednesday, according to the Florida Department of Health (DOH).  

DOH reported one new pediatric hospitalization related to coronavirus, bringing the total number of children that have been hospitalized due to the virus to 688. 

To date there have been 54,849 cases of coronavirus among children in Florida, DOH data shows.

The positivity rate among children in Florida is currently 14%, DOH data shows. 

The age group for pediatric cases is 0-17 years old.

1:31 p.m. ET, September 16, 2020

HHS spokesperson Michael Caputo to take a leave of absence

From CNN's Sam Fossum

Michael Caputo arrives at the Hart Senate Office building to be interviewed by Senate Intelligence Committee staffers on May 1, 2018 in Washington.
Michael Caputo arrives at the Hart Senate Office building to be interviewed by Senate Intelligence Committee staffers on May 1, 2018 in Washington. Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Health and Human Services' assistant secretary for public affairs Michael Caputo will take a 60-day leave of absence, according to a news release from the department. 

"Today, the Department of Health and Human Services is announcing that HHS Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs Michael Caputo has decided to take a leave of absence to focus on his health and the well-being of his family. Mr. Caputo will be on leave for the next 60 days," the HHS statement reads. 

The announcement comes after Caputo apologized to staffers on Tuesday for a conspiracy-laden rant in which he accused government scientists of "sedition" and of working to undermine the President.

As CNN has also previously reported, Caputo is dealing with potential health issues. 

1:30 p.m. ET, September 16, 2020

CDC to update its confusing guidance about testing people without Covid-19 symptoms, Redfield says

From CNN's Maggie Fox

 

Director Dr. Robert Redfield holds up a CDC document while he speaks at a hearing of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee reviewing coronavirus response efforts on Wednesday in Washington.
Director Dr. Robert Redfield holds up a CDC document while he speaks at a hearing of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee reviewing coronavirus response efforts on Wednesday in Washington. Andrew Harnik/Pool/Getty Images

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is set to “clarify” confusing and controversial changes made to its guidance about testing people who do not have symptoms of coronavirus, CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield said Wednesday.

“We are working on a clarification document related to the diagnostic and public health use of testing,” Redfield told a hearing of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

“We have never recommended against asymptomatic testing. You’ll see in the clarification we are making it very clear asymptomatic and presymptomatic transmission is important, and making it very clear if you have been exposed to somebody, you need to be tested and contact traced,” Redfield added.

Testing guidelines were changed on CDC’s site quietly, without public notice, on Aug. 24. 

Here’s what the CDC website said previously: “Testing is recommended for all close contacts of persons with SARS-CoV-2 infection. Because of the potential for asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic transmission, it is important that contacts of individuals with SARS-CoV-2 infection be quickly identified and tested.” 

The site was changed on Aug. 24 to say: “If you have been in close contact (within 6 feet) of a person with a COVID-19 infection for at least 15 minutes but do not have symptoms, you do not necessarily need a test unless you are a vulnerable individual or your health care provider or State or local public health officials recommend you take one.” 

Redfield said the agency would post new guidance updating those changes, which were broadly denounced by public health experts. “We are going to come out with that hopefully, I hope before the end of the week,” Redfield told the hearing.

He said testing is important not only for diagnosing cases, but for screening groups to find cases that are not obvious. “Screening can be very powerful,” he said. It can help schools reopen and help people get back to more normal lives, he added.

Now that more tests are available, Redfield said, the CDC will also encourage surveillance testing, which can help find cases that might otherwise go unnoticed until an outbreak has started.