September 16 coronavirus news

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11:33 p.m. ET, September 16, 2020

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

From CNN’s Andy Rose

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

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.

“Keeping the window as tight as we can is best for Hawaii to reduce the risk,” Green said.

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.

10:53 p.m. ET, September 16, 2020

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

From CNN's Sarah Moon

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.

“Your actions have saved the lives of thousands of your family members and neighbors,” Garcetti said. “That’s something to be proud of for the rest of your life.”

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. 

10:20 p.m. ET, September 16, 2020

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

From CNN Health’s Shelby Lin Erdman

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.

9:52 p.m. ET, September 16, 2020

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

From CNN’s Raja Razek

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

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.

Walz told CNN's Erin Burnett on Wednesday: "If you want to do this, then do it the right way.

"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."
9:32 p.m. ET, September 16, 2020

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

From CNN Health’s Maggie Fox

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

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.

7:33 p.m. ET, September 16, 2020

Trump confirms a White House staff member tested positive for coronavirus

From CNN's Jason Hoffman and Sam Fossum 

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

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:

6:45 p.m. ET, September 16, 2020

Trump claims Redfield was "confused" in earlier vaccine testimony

From CNN's Allie Malloy and Jason Hoffman 

President Donald Trump speaks to the press during a news conference in the White House on Wednesday in Washington.
President Donald Trump speaks to the press during a news conference in the White House on Wednesday in Washington. Alex Wong/Getty Images

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:

6:18 p.m. ET, September 16, 2020

Brazil reports more than 900 new Covid-19 deaths

From CNN's Sugam Pokharel

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.

6:26 p.m. ET, September 16, 2020

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

From CNN’s Maria Cartaya

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.