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September 21 coronavirus news

CDC takes down guidance on Covid-19 spread, blames error
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What you need to know

  • The US is nearing the grim milestone of 200,000 coronavirus deaths.
  • The CDC abruptly reverted to its previous guidance about how coronavirus is transmitted, after saying on Friday that coronavirus can spread through the air.
  • The World Health Organization warned that coronavirus cases are surging alarmingly in Europe, with infections spiking to new highs.

Our live coverage of the coronavirus pandemic has moved here.

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Cuba says America's "irresponsible behavior" is the biggest threat to international peace and security

Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla addresses the UN Human Rights Council's main annual session in Geneva, Switzerland, on February 25.

Cuba’s Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla has said that “irresponsible behavior” conducted by the United States is the biggest threat to international peace and security.

The minister’s comments were in a pre-recorded speech addressing a high-level meeting to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the United Nations. 

“While refusing to cooperate to confront the multiple crises generated by the devastating Covid-19 pandemic, the United States ignores important agreements in the areas of environmental protection, disarmament and arms control,” Parrilla said.
“And it withdraws from international forums such as the World Health Organization, UNESCO or the Human Rights Council. It would seem that it is at war with the entire planet, its vital resources, and its inhabitants.”

Parrilla also accused the US of attacking Cuba’s international medical cooperation and said the country was “inhibiting the rights of other nations health, well-being.”

He said the US was the “epicenter of the Covid-19 pandemic that has already taken a toll on the lives of some 200,000 US citizens as a result of its irresponsibility and electoral opportunities present.”

Taiwan led the world in closing down for Covid-19, now it wants to do the same with opening back up 

A municipal worker sprays sanitizer into a woman's hands at the entrance to the Ningxia Night Market in Taipei, Taiwan, on July 30.

New arrivals to Taiwan might be forgiven for thinking they’ve stepped back in time. 

On the streets of the island’s capital, Taipei, pedestrians appear more concerned with staying out of the hot midday sun than maintaining any semblance of social distancing. Large lines stretch along the sidewalks, as people cram into popular lunchtime eateries. And in nearby parks, large groups of young people exercise and practice dance routines. 

In fact, there are few if any visible signs that this is 2020 and the world is in the grip of a raging pandemic.

As the global number of confirmed Covid-19 cases surpasses 30 million, residents of Taipei seem relaxed in the knowledge there has been only one suspected case linked to local transmission in the city since mid-April. 

One of the main reasons for Taiwan’s success in containing the virus is speed. 

The island’s leaders were quick to act as rumors spread online of an unidentified virus in the Chinese city of Wuhan and unconfirmed reports of patients having to isolate.

Taiwan’s early response means everyday life on the island is now very different from a lot of places worldwide where leaders weren’t quick to act.

Read the full story:

People wearing protective masks walk past food stalls at the Ningxia Night Market in Taipei, Taiwan, on Thursday, July 30, 2020. As the world braces for the worst economic contraction since since World War II, Taiwan appears poised to get away lightly. Economists expect the export-dependent island to show a second-quarter performance that is merely stagnant, as opposed to the deep recessions seen elsewhere, and a brighter outlook for the rest of the year. Photographer: I-Hwa Cheng/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Taiwan offers a glimpse into a post Covid world

Madrid opera canceled after audience revolts over social distancing concerns

A general view of the Teatro Real, in Madrid, Spain, on March 13.

A live audience is always difficult to impress, perhaps even more so in the age of social distancing.

An opera in Madrid was halted on Sunday night after audience members protested over concerns that seating was too crowded in the venue.

The Teatro Real in Spain’s capital city was forced to cancel the performance of Giuseppe Verdi’s “Un ballo in maschera” after a group of spectators staged a protest during the performance, eventually ending the show and closing the venue for the night.

Police officers were called to the site on Sunday.

The venue said Monday that it “greatly regrets what happened” but attributed the upset to shifts in the city’s health regulations.

In July, the theater hosted performances of another Verdi opera, “La Traviata,” and spaced out audience members by sealing off some chairs and placing empty chairs between each pair of occupied seats, it said.

But it relaxed its seating policy after the city eased coronavirus restrictions, allowing some venues to host bigger audiences. On Sunday, the Teatro Real was at 65% capacity, still below city guidelines that allow such venues to fill up to 75% of normal capacity, it said. Audience members were allowed to freely choose their seats, though they wore masks during the performance.

Read the full story:

The Teatro Real said it had complied with Madrid's health regulations.

Madrid opera canceled after audience revolts over social distancing concerns

Abrupt change to CDC guidance feeds into concern "no one is really in charge," former CDC acting director says

Dr. Richard Besser, then Acting Director, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, briefs the media at the White House in Washington, DC, on April 26, 2009.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s abrupt reversal on Monday to previous guidance about how the coronavirus is transmitted – saying the updated advice was posted in error – reinforces Americans’ concerns that no one is in charge at the leading health agency, former CDC Acting Director Dr. Richard Besser said.

“This was an example of an error, but it feeds into the issue of trust,” Besser told CNN’s Erin Burnett. “And once you have trust that’s been broken, it’s extremely hard to get that back.

The former CDC acting director said the quick changes to transmission guidance raise concern about virus control efforts and what aerosol transmission means for ventilation in schools and office buildings.

Without a daily media briefing, there’s no way to get answers from the agency to important questions, he said.

“It just feeds into this issue of, of distrust and concern that that no one’s really in charge.”

Covid-19 cases spike in Canada with authorities stepping up powers to police large gatherings 

People wait in line for a Covid-19 test center in Brampton, Ontario, Canada, on September 21.

Canadian health officials across the country have pleaded with the public to stay home, stick to your bubble and mask up, as daily positive cases continue to climb to levels not seen since May. 

Officials in the province of Quebec and in the country’s capital, Ottawa, have declared that a second wave has already taken hold in their cities and communities. 

Canada’s seven-day average is now just under 1,000 cases per day according to Johns Hopkins University and the Public Health Agency of Canada. 

“I’m telling you that right now the curve is not the way it was in the spring but it’s still pretty bad and I think that this is the beginning of a second wave. If we don’t do something it’s going to go up even more and I’m telling you that will not be fun,” said Dr. Horacio Arruda, Quebec director of public health, during a news conference in Quebec City Monday. 

What’s behind the spike? Public health experts say Canadians are having too many close, social contacts between family and friends and young people are gathering in groups that are too large to contain the spread. The spike in cases comes two weeks after the Labor Day holiday and as a majority of Canadian children return to in-person learning in schools. 

Young are getting sick: Canadian government statistics show that about two thirds of new, positive cases of Covid-19 are detected in people under the age of 40. 

Restrictions to be enforced: In cities like Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa, city officials, bylaw officers and police say they are stepping up enforcement of strict protocols that limit indoor, private gatherings to six or 10. In Ontario the minimum fine for breaking the rules is $7,500. 

In British Columbia, the spike in cases is being described as a resurgence and public health officials say they would not yet depict the spike in cases as a second wave. 

Officials say hospitalizations have crept up but are stable and add they will wait for more data before deciding if or when to bring in more closures or restrictions. 

Fighting the coronavirus needs global cooperation, German chancellor says

German Chancellor Angela Merkel called for global cooperation to fight the coronavirus pandemic, saying, “The Covid-19 pandemic is just one example which shows that global problems call for understanding and cooperation beyond national borders and at all levels.”

Her comments came in a pre-recorded speech as she addressed the high-level meeting to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the United Nations.

Merkel also said that those who believe they can go it alone are mistaken, warning that the United Nations is only as effective as its member are united.

The chancellor also repeated her push to add Germany to an expanded Security Council, saying reform is needed to solve the global challenges of the 21st century.

UK expected to announce new measures to curb coronavirus surge

People gather outside a pub in Soho, London on September 10.

Pubs, bars, restaurants and other hospitality venues in England will have to close by 10 p.m. local time each night to tackle the surge in coronavirus cases in the country.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to make that announcement on Tuesday. The measures would go into effect on Thursday.

During an address to the nation, Johnson is also expected to say the hospitality sector will be restricted by law to table service only, according to a Downing Street statement ahead of the speech. 

Johnson is also expected to sign off on Monday’s recommendation to raise the Covid Alert Level from 3 back to 4 during a Covid strategy meeting on Tuesday. 

Level 4 means the virus is “in general circulation, transmission is high or rising exponentially.” 

“No-one underestimates the challenges the new measures will pose to many individuals and businesses. We know this won’t be easy, but we must take further action to control the resurgence in cases of the virus and protect the NHS,” a No 10 spokesperson said in the statement. 

Johnson is expected to address the nation with a pre-recorded speech at 3 p.m. ET Tuesday.

Prior to Johnson’s planned address to the nation, a meeting with his Cabinet and the First Ministers of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will take place Tuesday morning “to discuss the surge in cases.”

There have been more than 4,500 Covid-19 cases in Texas public schools

Kindergarteners line up to begin the first day of school at Goodwin Frazier Elementary School in New Braunfels, Texas on Tuesday, August 25.

There have been more than 4,500 positive cases of Covid-19 among students and staff at Texas public schools since the 2020-21 school year began, according to new data from the Texas Education Agency (TEA).

At least 2,352 of those cases are students – out of more than 1.1 million Texas public school students who have been on campus since the first week of school. The number of cases has been rising steadily since the beginning of August, with at least 995 new cases reported last week alone.

Among staff, there are more than 2,100 cases, with nearly 800 new cases reported last week. There are more than 800,000 teachers and staff members who work in Texas public school facilities. The overall positivity rate is 0.2% among students and staff combined.

Some background: Public schools, which resumed in Texas anywhere between the end of July and mid-September, are required to report new cases of Covid-19, according to the TEA’s public dashboard, which will be updated weekly. The dashboard says its data is self-reported by schools and does not include cases from private schools.

Some of the state’s largest school districts, including Dallas and Houston, have not yet returned for in-person learning.

CDC transmission guideline change was not the result of political pressure, federal official says

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guideline change Monday about aerosolized transmission of coronavirus was not the result of political pressure, according to a federal official familiar with the situation. 

The official said the guideline change was published without first being thoroughly reviewed by CDC experts.  

“Somebody hit the button and shouldn’t have,” the official said. 

The official added that the guidance is “getting revised,” but didn’t say when the revision would be posted to the CDC’s website. 

What the guidance says: The guidance pertains to the way the novel coronavirus is spread. While it’s known it can spread by droplets directly between people standing less than 6 feet apart, there’s been some debate about whether the virus can suspend in aerosolized particles in the air and transmit to people further than 6 feet away.

The agency tried to further clarity what it meant by aerosol transmission, the official said.

“It can occur, but it’s not the way the virus is primarily being transmitted,” the official said.

But in the effort to say that, it was written in such a way “that it’s being understood to mean it’s more transmissible than we thought, which is not the case.” 

The source said the guidance that was posted by mistake on Friday wasn’t noticed over the weekend, and CDC became aware of it Monday through reporters’ calls.

North Carolina couple dies minutes apart of Covid-19 while holding hands

Johnny Lee Peoples and his wife, Cathy "Darlene" Peoples, had been together for 50 years.

A couple married for 48 years, and together for over 50, died of coronavirus only minutes apart holding hands.

Johnny Lee Peoples, 67, and his wife Cathy “Darlene” Peoples, 65, started feeling symptoms at the beginning of August, but would not make it to see more than two days of September.

“Mom and Dad lived hand to hand for 50 years, they died hand to hand, now they’re walking in heaven hand to hand,” their son, Shane Peoples, told CNN.

“The message our family would like to convey is that Covid is real. It’s not a hoax or a joke. Our parents took the proper precautions but tragically still contracted the virus.”

Watch here:

British chief medical officers recommend upgrade of Covid-19 alert level due to rising cases

England Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty, second from left, leaves 11 Downing Street in London on Monday.

Britain should upgrade its Covid-19 alert level to the second highest, level four, meaning the virus is “in general circulation, transmission is high or rising exponentially,” the chief medical officers of all four nations recommended on Monday.

“The CMOs for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have reviewed the evidence and recommend all four nations of the UK should move to Level 4,” they said in a statement from the department of Health.

“After a period of lower COVID cases and deaths, the number of cases are now rising rapidly and probably exponentially in significant parts of all four nations. If we are to avoid significant excess deaths and exceptional pressure in the NHS and other health services over the autumn and winter everyone has to follow the social distancing guidance, wear face coverings correctly and wash their hands regularly. We know this will be a concerning news for many people; please follow the rules, look after each other and together we will get through this.”

New restrictions are expected to be imposed with the move to a stage four alert. A stage five alert calls for a full lockdown. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to make a statement on the next steps on Tuesday.

British Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the rise “reflects the significant shift in the current threat posed by coronavirus.”  

CDC reverts to previous language about how coronavirus is transmitted, saying it was "was posted in error"

Signage stands outside the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention headquarters in Atlanta on March 14.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday abruptly reverted to its previous guidance about how coronavirus is transmitted, removing references to airborne transmission it had posted just days earlier.

“A draft version of proposed changes to these recommendations was posted in error to the agency’s official website. CDC is currently updating its recommendations regarding airborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19). Once this process has been completed, the update language will be posted,” Jason McDonald, a CDC spokesperson, said in a response emailed to CNN. 

The guidance had been quietly updated on Friday, according to the CDC’s website. On Sunday, CNN was the first to report the change. The CDC responded to CNN just before noon on Monday to say it was reverting to the previous guidance.

Despite several studies that have shown the novel coronavirus can spread through small particles in the air, the CDC page now says that Covid-19 is thought to spread mainly between people in close contact – about six feet – and “through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks” – the same language it posted months ago.

About the Friday change: In language posted Friday and now removed, CDC said Covid-19 most commonly spread between people who are in close contact with one another, and went on to say it’s known to spread “through respiratory droplets or small particles, such as those in aerosols, produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, sings, talks or breathes.”

These particles can cause infection when “inhaled into the nose, mouth, airways, and lungs,” the agency said. “This is thought to be the main way the virus spreads.”

“There is growing evidence that droplets and airborne particles can remain suspended in the air and be breathed in by others, and travel distances beyond 6 feet (for example, during choir practice, in restaurants, or in fitness classes),” the page said in the Friday update, which has since been removed. “In general, indoor environments without good ventilation increase this risk. 

In the Friday update, the CDC had added new measures to protect yourself in others, including recommendations to use air purifiers to reduce airborne germs in indoors spaces and clear guidance to “stay at least 6 feet away from others, whenever possible.”

The updated CDC page had also changed language around asymptomatic transmission, shifting from saying “some people without symptoms may be able to spread the virus” to saying “people who are infected but do not show symptoms can spread the virus to others.

Also on Friday, CDC updated its coronavirus testing guidance to stress that anyone who has been in contact with an infected person should be tested for coronavirus. A controversial earlier update was not written by CDC scientists and posted online before it had undergone the normal scientific review process, two sources confirmed to CNN last week.

CNN reported last week that US Health and Human Services communications officials appointed by President Trump had recently pushed to change language of weekly science reports released by the CDC so as not to undermine Trump’s political message, according to a federal health official. Officials within HHS had defended the demand, saying the CDC fell under the agency’s umbrella and that all communications and public documents needed to be cleared at the top, and CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield has said “at no time has the scientific integrity” of these reports been compromised.

Watch:

Trump's vaccine chief: We'll know about vaccine efficacy between October and January

Moncef Slaoui listens as President Donald Trump delivers remarks about coronavirus vaccine development in the Rose Garden on May 15, in Washington.

Moncef Slaoui, head of the US government’s effort to develop a vaccine against Covid-19, said that “we are pretty close” to having a vaccine for Covid-19.

In the United States, there are three vaccines in phase three trials, and a fourth one is scheduled to start imminently, Slaoui said. Two of the phase three trials in the US have almost fully recruited the numbers laid out in their original plans. 

“Really, the readout of these phase three trials is 50% of the answer to the question. When we read out efficacy, that is going to happen somewhere between October and December, January. The longer we wait, the more likely,” he said.

The reason it isn’t known and can’t be predicted is because it depends on the number of cases in the study, he said.

The other 50% of what is really important to define when the vaccine will be available is manufacturing and availability of vaccine doses, he said – something which Slaoui said is also progressing well.

The US is investing in up to 25 different manufacturing facilities in the United States to help manufacture the six vaccines that are being supported by Operation Warp Speed. Small numbers of the vaccine doses are already being stockpiled that will be readily available in November and December.

“If approval is granted around that time – or authorization – we may be able, for instance, to immunize the most susceptible populations in the US by December of 2020,” he said. “Most of the elderly population and first line workers in January of 2021, and the rest of the US population progressively in the month of February, March and April.” 

How countries across Europe are handling surging coronavirus cases

People stand outside a metro station in Madrid early on September 21.

Last week, The World Health Organization warned that coronavirus cases are surging alarmingly in Europe, with infections spiking to new highs. Many European governments imposted strict local measures in response and began weighing further lockdowns in a bid to halt a second wave of the pandemic.

Here’s what we know about where the pandemic and new restrictions stand this week:

  • A new lockdown in Spain’s capital: Parts of Madrid are under new lockdown measures, which will affect about 850,000 people in the city for the next two weeks. During a news conference today, Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said: “We are ready to look into other scenarios if needed.”
  • Spikes in France: French coronavirus cases are rising starkly, according to the French health authority website.  A total of 453,763 cases so far have been reported in France, with 10,569 new cases in the last 24 hours as of Sunday evening. The test positivity stands at 5.7%, according to the Sante Publique France, the French health authority.
  • Weekly doubling in the UK: The number of UK coronavirus cases is doubling about every seven days, chief scientific advisor Patrick Vallance said, emphasizing that the measure was approximate. That would result in about 50,000 new cases per day by the end of October and more than 200 deaths per day by November, he said.
  • What Germany is doing to prepare for fall: The German Health Minister is aiming to introduce additional measures to fight Covid this fall. Jens Spahn, in an interview with the newspaper Rheinische Post, described those measures as introducing so-called “temperature ambulances,” locations where those with Covid symptoms can get on-the-spot Covid tests. 

This is the formula to reduce deaths and cases, according to Trump's testing czar

Adm. Brett Giroir, a member of the White House's coronavirus task force, speaks during an interview on September 20.

Maryland reported a record low positivity rate on Sunday of 1.89%, and state officials encouraged the public to continue to be tested to keep cases under control. Many health experts say widespread testing is key to finding asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic carriers, so those people can isolate and prevent the virus’ spread.

Smart testing as well as measures like distancing, avoiding crowds, wearing masks and washing hands are key to flattening the virus’ curve, Adm. Brett Giroir, a member of the White House’s coronavirus task force, told CNN’s Jake Tapper Sunday.

“We are working every day. We do have a formula to reduce the deaths, reduce the cases, but we all have to be disciplined and diligent to make sure we obey that every single day,” he said.

In response to the impending harrowing milestone of 200,000 coronavirus deaths, Giroir said “every death is a tragedy” and the task force is working every day to bring them down.

Meanwhile, an updated CDC guidance from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the coronavirus can be commonly spread through viral particles in the air.

The guidance previously said Covid-19 was mainly thought to spread between people within 6 feet of one another and through respiratory droplets “produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks.”

Watch:

Here's where coronavirus cases are rising in the US

As the US approaches the grim milestone of 200,000 coronavirus deaths, more than half of states are reporting a rise in cases — and only six are seeing a decline in cases.

Wisconsin, Idaho, South Dakota, Iowa and Kansas are among the states reporting more new cases in the last seven days, along with a coronavirus positivity rate above 15%. 

The test positivity rate is the percentage of all tests given that come back positive for coronavirus.

Here’s a look at where states stand:

Watch:

As the US nears 200,000 coronavirus deaths, Trump says he gives himself an A+ on pandemic response

President Donald Trump speaks to the press at the White House on September 19 in Washington, DC.

President Trump once again gave himself an A+ in his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, despite the death toll in the United States expected to hit 200,000 Monday. 

“We’re rounding the corner. With or without a vaccine. They hate when I say that but that’s the way it is,” Trump said. “We’ve done a phenomenal job. Not just a good job a phenomenal job. Other that public relations but that’s because I have fake news. On public relations I give myself a D on the job itself we take an A+.”

This weekend CNN obtained audio recordings from a conversation Bob Woodward had with Trump in July in which Trump gave himself an A on his handling of the pandemic. 

Trump then claimed that if democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden was in charge he would have “ran this like he did the swine flu” and “2 to 2.5 million people would die.”

Meanwhile, here’s a look at the latest on the pandemic in the US:

  • Nearly 200,000 dead: The United States is closing in on the somber milestone of 200,000 deaths, according to the latest tally from Johns Hopkins University. The US has reported more than 6.8 million cases since the pandemic began.
  • Where cases are rising: More than half of US states are reporting a rise in cases. Among the states reporting more new cases in the last seven days are Wisconsin, Idaho, South Dakota, Iowa and Kansas, all of which are also reporting test positivity rates above 15%.
  • The vaccine timeline: Trump claimed there will be enough vaccines for all Americans by April. That contradicts the CDC director’s timeline. Last week, he said the American public could expect to start seeing results from widespread vaccination in the second or third quarter of 2021.

Bill Gates: "The end of the epidemic, best case, is probably 2022"

Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft and co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, delivers a speech during the conference of Global Fund to Fight HIV, Tuberculosis and Malaria on October 10, 2019, in Lyon, France.

Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft and co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, said that even though he expects vaccine approvals to come by early next year, and see the US begin to return to normal by summer 2021, he believes we will not see the end of the pandemic until 2022. 

“The end of the epidemic, best case, is probably 2022. But during 2021, the numbers, we should be able to drive them down, if we take the global approach, ” Gates said on Fox News Sunday. “So, you know, thank goodness vaccine technology was there, that the funding came up, that the companies put their best people on it. That’s why I’m optimistic this won’t last indefinitely.”

Gates also expressed his frustration with how the US has handled its approach to the pandemic.

“Unfortunately, we did a very poor job, and you could of see that in the numbers if you compare the Asian countries like South Korea and Australia,” Gates said.

Additionally, Gates noted the way testing was handled at the beginning of the pandemic, and the way is still being handled today, played a big role in the spread of the virus in the US.

“You know what happened was that 40,000 people came out of China, because we didn’t ban the residents and citizens from coming in. We created this rush. And we didn’t have the ability to test or quarantine those people, so that seeded the disease here,” Gates said. “Even today, people don’t get their results in 24 hours, which is outrageous that we still have that.”   

"There's an unmistakable spike in new infections," former FDA commissioner says

Dr. Scott Gottlieb, former commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration, testifies during a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing on April 5, 2017, on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.

There is an unmistakable spike in new Covid-19 infections in the US, which is concerning as the country heads into fall and winter, Dr. Scott Gottlieb, former commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration, said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday.

“Well, I think we have at least one more cycle with this virus heading into the fall and winter,” Gottlieb said. “If you look what’s happening around the country right now, there’s an unmistakable spike in new infections.”

Gottlieb also said the declines in hospitalizations that have been seen over the summer are starting to level off – and that he would expect them to start going up again.

There are about 15 states, he said, that have a positivity rate of 10% or higher, “which is deeply concerning,” and about 30 states where the R rate, or rate of transfer, is above one, “meaning they have an expanding epidemic.”

It is unclear whether this resurgence of infection is a post Labor Day bump that will start to level off, or the beginning of a resurgence heading into fall and winter, he said, “but I’m deeply concerned that, as we head into the fall and the winter, this is the season when a respiratory pathogen like coronavirus wants to spread, and so there’s a lot of risk heading into this season.”

Complacency “a real setup for risk”: Gottlieb said another concern is that as people start to get a little bit more complacent, due to exhaustion from what the population has been going through, and start going back to school, college and work against the backdrop of fall and winter when people start going inside more due to the weather, “that’s a real setup for risk,” he said.

The UK's doubling coronavirus cases mean Boris Johnson can't wake up from his Covid-19 nightmare

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves Downing Street in London to attend the weekly Prime Ministers Questions session on September 16.

The number of coronavirus cases in the UK is doubling roughly every seven days, according to the country’s chief scientific advisor, Patrick Vallance. If that rate continues to grow unabated, “by mid-October you would end up with something like 50,000 per day,” which “could lead to 200 deaths a day” by November, Vallance warned at a Monday press briefing.

“If we don’t act, the virus will take off,” Vallance’s colleague Chris Whitty, the UK’s chief medical officer, told the same briefing in Downing Street. “That is the path we are on and if we do not change course, we will find ourselves in a difficult problem.”

The advisors’ comments have fueled speculation that the government is preparing the ground for a second national lockdown, or other hard measures, in order to get cases back to a sustainable level.

“In … the next six months, I think we have to realize that we have to take this collectively very seriously,” Whitty said, adding that the country had turned a corner “in a bad sense.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to make a statement to the country later this week.

Read the full analysis here.

It's just after 1 p.m. in London and 8 a.m. in New York. Here's the latest on the pandemic in Europe

People are silhouetted against the late summer sun in Liverpool, England on September 18, after the British government imposed fresh restrictions on the city following a rise in coronavirus cases.

Globally, there have been more than 31 million confirmed cases of coronavirus, and more than 961,000 people have died, according to figures from Johns Hopkins University.

After successfully tamping down the first surge of infections and deaths from the virus, Europe is now in the middle of a second Covid-19 wave.

Austria: Several new restrictions aimed at events and socializing have come into force in Austria, as Covid-19 cases there rise, the country’s health ministry announced.

As of Monday, a 1 a.m. curfew will be in place for all events and eating establishments. Indoor events without assigned seating are to be limited to 10 people, and outdoor events to 100.

Mask wearing is to be made mandatory in more public areas such as public transport, indoor and outdoor markets, as well as for staff and visitors to indoor restaurants (except when sitting at a table to eat), says the ministry’s website.

The country has seen a rising number of cases this month. Austria has recorded a total of 38,794 coronavirus cases so far, according to its health ministry. The capital Vienna is worst affected, with 13,301 cases. 

Several parts of Austria have been classified as “orange” areas under the country’s pandemic traffic light system, indicating a “high risk.” According to the country’s health ministry “orange” areas have a high 7-day incidence of the virus, relative to the size of the population.

Germany: Germany is aiming to introduce additional measures to fight Covid-19 this fall.

In an interview with the Rheinische Post newspaper, Health Minister Jens Spahn highlighted the introduction of so-called “temperature ambulances,” locations where those with coronavirus symptoms can get on-the-spot tests.

Spahn also spoke about the need to get more fast testing underway.

So far, 272,337 people in Germany have been infected with the virus – 922 new cases were reported on Sunday, according to the Robert-Koch institute (RKI), Germany’s federal agency for disease control and prevention. According to the RKI, a total of 9,386 people have died of the disease; there have been no new fatalities in the last 24 hours.

Meanwhile, the German city of Munich is to make mask wearing mandatory in busy areas, its mayor said Monday.

Mayor Dieter Reiter said masks would become mandatory from Thursday, unless the incidence-rate – which stood at 55.59 per 100,000 inhabitants on Saturday – drops by then.

Meanwhile, the number of people who can meet in the city – either privately at home, or in a pub or restaurant – will be restricted to five, or two households.

Czech Republic: The Czech Health Minister Adam Vojtěch has resigned, a spokeswoman for the ministry has confirmed.

“Minister Vojtěch resigned. He wants to create space for a new solution to the coronavirus epidemic,” Gabriela Štěpanyová told CNN by text. “He came to the ministry to push for systemic conceptual changes, but the coronavirus epidemic does not allow him to complete the task.”

Coronavirus case numbers have risen starkly in the Czech Republic in recent weeks, to levels several times higher than during the Spring peak.

As a result of the increase, rules on the use of masks were tightened last week. Starting Friday, face coverings are mandatory for all students and staff everywhere in schools, with only the youngest children exempt from the rules. Previously, masks were compulsory in corridors and common areas, but not in classrooms.

France: Coronavirus cases are rising starkly in France, according to Sante Publique France, the French public health authority, with a total of 453,763 cases so far, and 10,569 new cases in the 24 hours to Sunday evening.

Twelve new deaths were recorded in the 24 hours to Sunday night, bringing the total number of Covid-19 fatalities in France up to 31,285.

Test positivity stands at 5.7%, according to the health authority, which said 3,894 people with the virus had been admitted to hospital in the last seven days; 593 of those are in ICU.

As many as 1,045 clusters – in Paris, Lyon, Marseille, Bordeaux and Lille, among other locations – are currently being investigated, the health authority said.

United Kingdom: The UK has “in a bad sense, recently turned a corner” in the coronavirus pandemic, UK chief medical adviser Chris Whitty said Monday, at a special briefing alongside chief scientific adviser Patrick Vallance.

Coronavirus cases are on the increase across the UK, and Vallance and Whitty – the country’s leading medical experts – warned that, as the weather turns colder, the situation is likely to worsen.

Vallance said infections were increasing across all age groups, with the highest rise among 20- to 29-year-olds. Whitty said the virus was likely to be a serious concern for the next six months, during the annual winter flu season.

Covid-19 Prevention Network to encourage Black people to participate in vaccine trials

The Covid-19 Prevention Network, a group formed by the US’ National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases to respond to the global pandemic, will host its first event Thursday to encourage Black people to participate in vaccine trials.

The network has already taken out a series of advertisements to encourage minority participation in the trial. Thursday’s event, called “COVID in Black,” is an interactive discussion where participants can communicate via Zoom and Facebook with Black doctors and experts. 

The online events are expected to be held monthly, according to Stephaun Wallace, director of external relations at the Covid-19 Prevention Network.

Vaccine trials struggled to recruit minorities, including Black people.

Minority participation in vaccine trials has improved in the past month, but it is still not as high as public health leaders would like. 

On Thursday the experts will share information about the current and planned clinical trials, not just to encourage Black enrolment, but also to encourage Black people to take the vaccine once it’s on the market. 

“Having conversations in communities about black folks’ engagement in medicine and medical establishments is really a part of this as well,” Wallace told CNN. 

Black enrolment remains low: Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of NIAID, has urged that at least 27% of volunteers in vaccine clinical trials be Black, but enrolments aren’t reaching that level.

Black participants made up 13% of Moderna’s new enrolments for the week of September 14, according to the company. In Pfizer’s US trial, 8% of the volunteers are Black, according to the company. 

People can volunteer for coronavirus vaccine trials on the Covid-19 Prevention Network’s website. Currently, 3% of the 407,000 people who have registered on the site have been Black, according to a spokesperson for the network. 

Assisted living facilities and nursing homes with higher numbers of minority residents are more likely to have more Covid-19 cases, research finds

Two studies published Monday found that nursing homes and assisted living facilities with higher proportions of minority residents are more likely to have more Covid-19 cases.

Nursing homes and assisted living facilities with higher proportions of minority residents are more likely to have more Covid-19 cases, according to two new studies published Monday in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

The first, from the University of Rochester Medical Center, looked at 12,576 nursing homes that passed the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ quality assurance check for submitted data and reported to CMS’ Nursing Home Covid-19 Public File for the week ending May 31.

“Nursing homes caring for disproportionately more racial/ethnic minority residents tended to have more new Covid-19 confirmed cases among their residents and staff, and more new Covid-19 related deaths among residents,” Yu Lie and colleagues at the Department of Public Health Sciences, Division of Health Policy and Outcomes Research said.

Predicted counts of cases and deaths per facility were two to four times as high in nursing homes that had the highest proportions of racial/ethnic minority residents, compared to those with low proportions.

The second study, from the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, looked at data on confirmed Covid-19 cases and deaths through May 29, from 3,994 assisted living facilities, with 2,542 cases and 675 deaths in seven states.

“As in nursing homes, AL [assisted living] communities with a higher proportion of minority residents tend to have a higher count of Covid-19 cases,” Helena Temkin-Greener and colleagues from the Department of Public Health Sciences wrote.

They found that assisted living facilities with higher proportions of Black/Hispanic residents had more Covid-19 cases, as did communities with higher proportions of residents with dementia, COPD and obesity, and a higher proportions of men.

Assisted living facilities had a case fatality rate that was four times higher than the average across the seven states included in the study, even though fewer than 10% of them reported being affected by the pandemic.

They also found that larger assisted living facilities appeared to be more likely to experience at least one Covid-19 case, but they are not necessarily more likely to experience a greater number of cases.

Jacinda Ardern apologizes for taking selfies, not wearing a mask and flouting social distancing rules

New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has apologized for taking selfies, flouting social distancing rules, and not wearing a mask while on the campaign trail. 

Ardern took a selfie with a large group of students who were huddled closely together, not wearing masks, last Thursday. 

She took another selfie with construction workers; again, no one was wearing a mask.

The second instance drew criticism, since it came as Ardern announced that lockdown restrictions would remain in place for Auckland.

“All the way through on the campaign trail and even before during alert level settings, I work really hard not to shake people’s hands. I sanitize, I wear my mask in Auckland. And I work hard to try and keep my social distance,” Ardern said on Monday.
“In that particular photo I did make a mistake, I should have stepped further forward. I should have asked him to step apart from each other, and I acknowledge that,” she said. 
“It is hard,” she added, pledging to “keep up … those awkward moments where I refuse to shake hands.”

National leader Judith Collins, who is also on the campaign trail, said in a press conference that she was “staggered” to see photos of the Labour leader taken last week.

An opposition politician tweeted on September 19 criticizing Ardern for posing closely with students on the campaign trail. David Seymour, MP for Epsom, posted: “Hospitality businesses can’t make money at Level 2 because of single server and social distancing rules. Meanwhile, the person responsible for the rules is self-serving and not social distancing.”

In the same press conference, Ardern said that “our actions collectively have managed to get the virus under control. With no new cases in the country today and no new cases for seven days linked to the Auckland cluster we are in a strong position to make our next move, down our alert settings.”

Mandatory mask wearing introduced in parts of Munich

The German city of Munich is to make mask wearing mandatory in busy areas, its mayor said Monday.

Munich is the capital of Bavaria, Germany’s most Southern state, and has been hard-hit by coronavirus because of its location, and its status a transit point for travelers heading north.

Dieter Reiter said masks would become mandatory from Thursday, unless the incidence-rate – which stood at 55.59 per 100,000 inhabitants on Saturday – drops by then.

In addition, the number of people who can meet – either privately at home, or in a pub or restaurant – will be