France sets new daily record with more than 13,000 Covid-19 cases
From Eva Tapiero
France has recorded 13,215 new Covid-19 cases in the past 24 hours, according to data released by the country's National Health Agency.
The latest numbers also show an increasing trend in hospital admissions, with 3,626 new patients over the past seven days.
The new infections bring the total number of confirmed cases in France to 428,696.
Read the latest news on the pandemic in Europe here.
1:35 p.m. ET, September 18, 2020
CDC again updates its guidelines on testing people without coronavirus symptoms
From CNN's Jacqueline Howard, Maggie Fox and Jamie Gumbrecht
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website has updated, yet again, guidelines for testing people who do not have symptoms of coronavirus.
The new language rolls back controversial changes made to the site last month. It once again stresses that anyone who has been in contact with an infected person should be tested for coronavirus.
“Due to the significance of asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic transmission, this guidance further reinforces the need to test asymptomatic persons, including close contacts of a person with documented SARS-CoV-2 infection,” it says.
"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 now reads.
"Viral tests are recommended to diagnose acute infection of both symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals, to guide contact tracing, treatment options, and isolation requirements," the site now says.
The guidance notes that even if people do not have symptoms, they still need a test if they have been in close contact — such as within 6 feet — of a person with coronavirus infection for at least 15 minutes.
"In areas where there are a small number of new cases and limited spread, your public health department may request a small number of asymptomatic 'healthy people' to be tested," the guidance says. "If there is significant spread of the virus in your community, your public health department may request significant numbers of asymptomatic “healthy people” to be tested in order to help stop the spread of the virus."
On Aug. 24, the CDC site was changed 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.
The move was heavily criticized by doctors and health agencies.
Two sources told CNN the August change was sent to the CDC by the US Department of Health and Human Services and was supposed to go through a vetting process that includesa director of science, fact-checking, cross-checking and several back-and-forths for scientific review — a process that can take several days. As the document was going through the process, one of the sources told CNN they woke up one morning and saw that the unaltered document had been posted on the CDC's website in its original form and including some errors.
In a statement Thursday night, CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield told CNN, "The guidelines, coordinated in conjunction with the White House Coronavirus Task Force, received appropriate attention, consultation and input from task force experts."
11:25 a.m. ET, September 18, 2020
US extends travel restrictions with Canada and Mexico through Oct. 21
From CNN's Priscilla Alvarez
Travel restrictions on the United States’ shared borders with Canada and Mexico have been extended through Oct. 21, acting US Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Mark Morgan announced on Twitter Friday.
The announcement marks the latest extension of restrictions on nonessential travel after limits were initially put in place in late March.
Remember: Thousands of people cross the US-Mexico border daily for work, school and other activities. Essential travel includes individuals traveling for medical purposes, attending school or engaged in trade, like truck drivers, among others, according to a regulation notice published in late July.
11:45 a.m. ET, September 18, 2020
Politics makes Covid-19 data hard to trust for reopening schools, Florida's Broward county teachers union says
From CNN's Aditi Sangal
As the positivity rates in Florida's Broward County fall between 2 and 4%, the schools face pressure to reopen. But the president of the Broward Teachers Union says they are not able to trust that the numbers are accurate because of the politics involved in the situation.
“Unfortunately, our state governor has aligned with our President of the United States, and they have basically had the control of the CDC. So we're not, you know, in true faith that the numbers are accurate,” the union’s president Anna Fusco told CNN's Jim Sciutto. “We're not sure how many are still getting tested.”
Other than the numbers, the threat to hold back funding if schools don't reopen for in-person classes also looms large, Fusco says. But to return to school, she says hiring more staff, sanitization plans and facilities as well as ample personal protective equipment and hygiene products are basic requirements.
“We have 206 schools. We have some schools that have been around over 40 years, so things like that that need to be put in place, [like] air quality and sanitizing and cleanliness and just enough staff to be out there and about and taking care of that intermittent cleaning. It shouldn't be put on the teachers to take care of that. It all boils down to finding.”
“If it wasn't, you know, for the politics, we'd have the funding.”
Some background: Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, described in August how communities could approach reopening schools for in-person learning, saying that schools in communities with less than a 5% positivity rate — designated as a green zone — can explore allowing for schools to reopen but with with adequate precautions. These measures include wearing masks, opening windows and having susceptible children work remotely.
Watch the interview:
10:53 a.m. ET, September 18, 2020
Testing guidance outside normal review process undermines medical community, doctor says
Dr. Syra Madad, senior director of special pathogens program at NYC Health + Hospitals said the new report "means that the political interference is ongoing,” adding that science is “taking a back seat and that political interference is what we're dealing with.”
"That recommendation is absolutely not based on science. It's not based on epidemiology," she added.
Madad emphasized the importance of trusting health agencies at this point during the pandemic to maintain public trust. Issuing testing guidance outside normal review process undermines the medical community, she adds.
“We know that anybody that has come in close contact with somebody that is even suspected or confirmed to have Covid-19 needs to get tested, needs to quarantine. That is how we're going to get this pandemic under control. And we know that asymptomatic spread is one of the primary drivers of this pandemic. And so to have, you know, a guidance that completely counters that is just mind-boggling,” she told CNN’s Poppy Harlow. “This is absolutely ridiculous. I mean, you can not do things like this that completely undermine the entire medical community.”
11:00 a.m. ET, September 18, 2020
Health expert: "This virus is controllable" in the US
From CNN's Mallory Simon
Coronavirus in the United States can be “overturned," Maria Van Kerkhove, technical lead for the World Health Organization's coronavirus response, told CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta on Friday.
“I think it's important that we express concern when there's concern, but I do think it's also important to express some hope, because with this particular pandemic and this virus – this virus is controllable,” Van Kerkhove said.
Her comments come as the US approaches the grim milestone of 200,000 coronavirus deaths. Meanwhile, Johns Hopkins University data shows an uptick in new cases compared to the previous week in a majority of US states.
Van Kerkhove said she knows there is frustration about how long it takes to defeat the virus, and that some places aren’t seeing case numbers go down – but that it is important to keep perspective that it can change.
“I've had people call me and say, could you please stop saying” the virus can be defeated, since it’s not under control where live, Van Kerkhove said.
“And what I say to them is, we have seen it over and over and over again, demonstrated over and over and over again, that it can be,” Van Kerkhove said. “And so that's why we keep encouraging people to do so and laying out the tools – not just saying you can do it, but laying out the tools. And in the United States, this can be overturned … you can overcome this and you will. And I know you will.”
Listen to Maria Van Kerkhove:
10:35 a.m. ET, September 18, 2020
The US is approaching 200,000 Covid-19 deaths. Here's a look at where cases are rising across the country.
From CNN's Amanda Watts and Joe Youorski
As the United States approaches the grim milestone of 200,000 coronavirus deaths, Johns Hopkins University data shows an uptick in new cases compared to the previous week in a majority of US states.
30 states, Washington, DC, and Puerto Rico are showing upward trends
16 states are showing steady trends
4 states are showing downward trends
Here's a look at those latest trends on the US map:
The US added at least 44,360 newCovid-19 cases and 870 reported deaths on Thursday, according to Johns Hopkins University.
The nation has a seven-day average of new daily cases of 39,759. This number has been creeping up over the last few days, now to 13% more than the previous week.
The US continues to lead the world in total coronavirus cases. There have been at least 6.6 million cases in the country since the first case was reported in January.
Rising Covid-19 hospitalizations could overburden health systems as countries enter flu season, WHO says
From CNN's Naomi Thomas
The worrying Covid-19 trends in Europe includes an increase in hospitalizations and people who are needing intensive care treatment, according to Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO’s technical lead for coronavirus.
The UK has doubled hospitalizations every eight days or so, Van Kerkhove said on CNN’s New Day on Friday, and there are parts of France that are reaching ICU capacity.
Given that the northern hemisphere hasn’t yet really hit autumn or winter or even started to hit the flu season, “we’re worried that these increasing numbers of hospitalizations and ICU are really going to overburden an already burdened system,” Van Kerkhove said.
“And again, this is really worrying, because as we hit the flu season, as we start to see other viruses circulating, respiratory viruses circulating, it’s very difficult to distinguish Covid from flu from other respiratory pathogens that are circulating,” she said. “And if the beds are full with Covid patients, it will be very challenging for the health care system to deal with other respiratory diseases.”
Flu vaccines will be key this year, she said.
“So we really need to see flu vaccination uptake increased across the northern hemisphere this year, especially this year,” she said. “Because we have a tool against flu, we don’t yet have that for Covid, but we have it for flu. And that will help, and it will particularly help vulnerable populations.”
8:55 a.m. ET, September 18, 2020
Weekly Covid-19 cases in Europe are spiking. Here's the latest on the pandemic from the continent.
Weekly cases are now more than those reported at the peak of the pandemic in Europe, WHO said.
With cases spiking around Europe, some areas are implementing new restrictions to fight the pandemic. Here's what you need to know about this morning about in coronavirus in Europe:
New restrictions in parts of the UK: The British government has announced further restrictions for certain parts of England, including the North West, West Yorkshire and Midlands to tackle rising Covid-19 infection rates. Residents from these areas will be banned from socialising with people outside of their household and support bubble.
French city limits gatherings: Local authorities in Nice have banned public gatherings of more than 10 people on beaches and in parks, as part of new measures to fight the spread of coronavirus. All bars and restaurants will have to close their doors at 12.30 a.m. local time and all visits in Nice’s public care homes have been suspended.
Record numbers in the Netherlands: For the fourth-straight day in a row, the Netherlands has reported record new coronavirus infections. New reported infections in the past 24 hours total at least 1,977, according to the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM). The "first wave" record for single-day reported infections was 1,335, set on April 10.
The situation in Spain: Authorities in the Spanish capital of Madrid are to announce new coronavirus restrictions on Friday as the country also responds to an uptick in the number of cases. Spain has now recorded more than 30,000 deaths since the start of the outbreak, with more than 600,000 total cases.
Vaccine deal: The European Union has signed a contract to purchase 300 million doses of the potential Covid-19 vaccine being developed by Sanofi-GSK, the European Commission announced in a statement on Friday.