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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4:15 a.m. ET, September 16, 2020

Trump mental health official accuses media of overblowing dangers of Covid-19

From CNN's Shelby Lin Erdman

Elinore McCance-Katz, the assistant secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use, speaks while President Donald Trump, left, listens in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, DC, on September 4, 2019.
Elinore McCance-Katz, the assistant secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use, speaks while President Donald Trump, left, listens in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, DC, on September 4, 2019. Pete Marovich/Abaca/Bloomberg/Getty Images

A Trump administration mental health official has accused the media of being dishonest about the coronavirus pandemic.

The assistant secretary of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Dr. Elinore McCance-Katz, also reiterated talking points about coronavirus that President Donald Trump has pushed for months, including complaints that schools should reopen for in-person learning and that very few children are affected by Covid-19.

"I just wish that the media would get honest about its coverage of Covid," McCance-Katz told embattled Department of Health and Human Services spokesman Michael Caputo in the HHS "Learning Curve" podcast Friday. "For children this is not a life-threatening illness."

McCance-Katz, who was appointed to SAMHSA by Trump in 2017, acknowledged that children do get severe symptoms from the virus "in rare cases," but said "with a great, great majority of children this is not a serious illness," something Trump has also repeated for months.

"And when we put them in school with safety measures in place, why can't they go to school?" she said at one point in the interview.

Many studies have shown children do get Covid-19 and do die from it. They also can spread the virus to others. The American Academy of Pediatrics says more than 500,000 children have been diagnosed with the infection.

"So, lost in all of this response to Covid and nonstop 24/7 horrors of Covid and if you can't find something to talk about, it appears to me they make things up. It just does," McCance-Katz said at another point in the interview, referring to media coverage of the pandemic.

Read the full story:

2:39 a.m. ET, September 16, 2020

China locks down border city following discovery of imported Covid-19 cases

China has locked down a city on its border with Myanmar and rolled out mass testing for hundreds of thousands of residents, after two Myanmar nationals who entered the country illegally were diagnosed with Covid-19.

The two imported cases were identified among a group of six people who crossed the border illegally into the city of Ruili in China's southwestern Yunnan province on September 3. The two patients were diagnosed with Covid-19 on Sunday, according to the Ruili government.

Authorities ordered a citywide lockdown, told all residents to quarantine at home and announced a three-day mass testing program for its 200,000 residents.

As of Tuesday, the city had collected nucleic acid samples from 60,000 residents, according to Ruili's Communist Party secretary Gong Yunzhun.

Ruili authorities also vowed to step up border controls and crack down on illegal entries.

Myanmar has faced a surge in coronavirus infections since late August. The country has reported a total of 3,636 cases and 39 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University's tally.

2:15 a.m. ET, September 16, 2020

US reports nearly 37,000 new Covid-19 cases

From CNN's Carma Hassan

The United States reported 36,985 new Covid-19 infections and 1,077 virus-related deaths on Tuesday, according to Johns Hopkins University.

At least 6,606,293 cases, including 195,937 fatalities, have now been recorded in the US.

The totals include cases from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and other US territories, as well as repatriated cases. 

CNN is tracking US cases here:

2:08 a.m. ET, September 16, 2020

Pakistan reports highest daily jump in Covid-19 cases for 30 days

From CNN's Sophia Saifi in Islamabad

A health official collects a swab sample from a woman to test for Covid-19 in Karachi, Pakistan on September 14.
A health official collects a swab sample from a woman to test for Covid-19 in Karachi, Pakistan on September 14. Asif Hassan/AFP/Getty Images

Pakistan recorded 665 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, the country's highest daily increase since August 16, when it reported 670 new cases.

The country has reported 303,089 total cases, according to its Ministry of Health.

The ministry also reported four new virus-related fatalities in the past 24 hours, bringing Pakistan's death toll from Covid-19 to 6,393.

Schools reopen: Pakistan reopened its educational institutions Monday, according to Minister of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination Faisal Sultan.

"Let us welcome our children and students on the first day of opening of educational institutions. Please don't forget basic protective steps. Masks, reduced density in classes, hand hygiene. Parents, school administrators, teachers, students - all together," Sultan said in a tweet Monday.

CNN is tracking worldwide Covid-19 cases here:

1:06 a.m. ET, September 16, 2020

White House largely disregards coronavirus precautions during Abraham Accords signing

From CNN's Maegan Vazquez

(Left to Right) Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu, US President Donald Trump, Foreign Affairs Minister of Bahrain Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani, and Foreign Affairs Minister of the United Arab Emirates Abdullah bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan wave from the Truman Balcony of the White House on September 15 .
(Left to Right) Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu, US President Donald Trump, Foreign Affairs Minister of Bahrain Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani, and Foreign Affairs Minister of the United Arab Emirates Abdullah bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan wave from the Truman Balcony of the White House on September 15 . Alex Wong/Getty Images

Footage showing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's arrival to the White House on Tuesday looked like it could have been shot any other year.

Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, were greeted by President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump, who were flanked by soldiers outside the doors of the West Wing. Netanyahu briefly waved to cameras, posing alongside the group for pictures before heading inside.

But unlike past White House trips by Netanyahu, the 2020 visit was taking place in a year headlined by a pandemic. And remarkably absent during the White House arrival was any sort of facial mask or any clear attempt at social distancing.

Outside the bubble of the White House and Trump's events attempting to evoke a sense of normalcy, the United States continues to grapple with the effects of the pandemic. On Tuesday alone, Johns Hopkins reported more than 39,500 new cases and more than 921 reported deaths.

And in Israel, citizens are bracing for a second nationwide lockdown caused by the pandemic after observing a daily high of 4,217 new cases in 24 hours last Thursday.

Trump, Netanyahu and delegations from Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates spent Tuesday at the White House largely ignoring the ongoing pandemic, focusing primarily, if not almost entirely, on the signing the peace agreements.

Read the full story:

12:41 a.m. ET, September 16, 2020

India surpasses 5 million coronavirus cases

From CNN's Esha Mitra in New Delhi

India topped 5 million coronavirus cases on Wednesday after reporting 90,123 new infections in the past 24 hours, according to its Health Ministry.

The country has identified 1 million cases in just 11 days since crossing the 4 million mark on September 5.

The Health Ministry also reported 1,290 new coronavirus fatalities in the past 24 hours, bringing the total death toll to 82,066.

The country of 1.35 billion has seen a rapid increase of new cases in recent weeks. While it took India nearly six months to report 1 million cases, it added another 4 million in just under two months, according to a CNN tally of figures from the Indian Ministry of Health.

Experts believe that some of the measures taken by India in the early days have contributed to the rise in cases. According to renowned virologist T. Jacob John, India's nationwide lockdown imposed in late March was ineffective in interrupting transmission and led to crowding when it was implemented without sufficient warning, he told CNN earlier this month.

However, the country's health minister maintains India has "successfully" hindered the spread of the virus.

"India has collectively stood up to manage Covid-19 and successfully blunted the aggressive progression of covid," Dr Harsh Vardhan, India's health minister, said, adding that up to 2.9 million cases and 38,000 fatalities were prevented by the measure. 

Increased testing: India has been focusing on ramping up testing as part of its "chase the virus" strategy and an average of 950,000 tests are being conducted daily, according to the Indian Ministry of Health. 

More than 59 million tests have already been conducted as of Tuesday, the Indian Council of Medical Research said.

"Our scientists are engaged day and night in developing a vaccine, but until there is one we cannot be careless," Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Tuesday, reminding citizens to wear masks and maintain social distance.

12:03 a.m. ET, September 16, 2020

Trump told Woodward that he didn't see coronavirus as the leadership test of a lifetime

From CNN's Caroline Kelly

US President Donald Trump said in March that he didn't consider the coronavirus pandemic a once-in-a-lifetime leadership challenge, even as the country was going through historic shutdowns to fight the spread, according to a new interview shared by veteran journalist Bob Woodward.

"Was there a moment in all of this, last two months, where you said to yourself -- you know, you're waking up or whatever you're doing and you say, 'Ah, this is the leadership test of a lifetime?' " Woodward asked Trump on March 19, in a new clip aired on CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360" on Tuesday night.

"No," Trump replied

Woodward asked, "No?"

"I think it might be, but I don't think that," Trump said. "All I want to do is get it solved. There are many people that said that to me. They said, you're now a wartime President."

The comments came more than seven weeks after Trump had been warned by his national security adviser that the virus would be the "biggest national security threat" of his presidency and after multiple interviews in which Trump had told Woodward about his concerns over Covid-19.

By the March 19 interview, there had been 265 reported deaths in the United States from the virus. To date, more than 195,000 Americans have died and more than 6.6 million have contracted Covid-19, and the disease has become the biggest public health catastrophe in more than 100 years.

Read the full story:

10:55 p.m. ET, September 15, 2020

Study says Covid-19 may have arrived in US in December -- earlier than thought

From CNN's Madeline Holcombe and Ray Sanchez

The deadly coronavirus may have circulated in the United States as early as December, about a month earlier than believed by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, according to researchers with UCLA.

Their study, published last Thursday in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, found a statistically significant increase in clinic and hospital visits by patients who reported respiratory illnesses as early as the week of December 22.

The first known case of Covid-19 in the US was thought to be a patient in Washington who had visited Wuhan, China, according to the CDC. The case was reported in January.

Dr. Joann Elmore and colleagues looked through nearly 10 million medical records from the UCLA Health system, including three hospitals and 180 clinics.

Elmore said she started the search after receiving a number of emails from anxious patients in March through her clinic's patient portal at UCLA. Patients kept asking if the cough they had in January could have been Covid-19.

"With the outpatients, I found a 50% increase in the percentage of patients coming in complaining of a cough. It came out to over 1,000 extra patients above the average of what we would typically see," Elmore told CNN.

Read the full story here.

10:41 p.m. ET, September 15, 2020

Australian Defence Force member breaks hotel quarantine restrictions by "entertaining" a guest

From CNN's Hilary Whiteman

An Australian Defence Force (ADF) member broke his quarantine restrictions in Sydney Tuesday by allowing a female guest in his hotel room, according to New South Wales police.

"Two Penalty Infringement Notices (PINs) have been issued after a serving member of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) entertained a guest while undertaking mandatory quarantine in a Sydney hotel overnight," a news release from NSW police read.

The ADF member was under mandatory hotel quarantine after returning from an overseas deployment, police said.

ADF officers were "conducting security" at the Sydney hotel around 12:45 a.m. "when they heard a female voice in the room."

The 26-year-old ADF member and 53-year-old woman, who was a guest staying at the hotel, were each fined 1,000 Australian dollars ($730) for failing to comply with coronavirus restrictions, NSW police said.

ADF officers later escorted the woman from the quarantine area and asked her to check out immediately and get a coroanvirus test before self-isolating at her home. The ADF member remains in hotel quarantine.