Metropolitan Opera cancels 2020-2021 season due to Covid-19 concerns
From CNN’s Javi Morgado
The Metropolitan Opera announced they have canceled the entire 2020-21 season due to the “ongoing health crisis,” according to a news release issued Wednesday.
The 2021-22 season will open with the premier of Terence Blanchard’s Fire Shut Up in My Bones. Blanchard’s opera is the first by an African American composer to be performed at the Met.
According to the release the Met’s decision to cancel the season was based on the advice of health officials.
The release said “because of the many hundreds of performers who are required to rehearse and perform in close quarters and because of the company’s large audience, it was determined that it would not be safe for the Met to resume until a vaccine is widely in use, herd immunity is established, and the wearing of masks and social distancing is no longer a medical requirement. Health officials have said this will likely take at least five to six months after a vaccine is initially made available.”
11:31 a.m. ET, September 23, 2020
New York City mayor expanding furlough days to more employees across city agencies
From CNN's Sheena Jones
In addition to previously announced furlough days for the mayor and his staff, the city of New York will now mandate all managerial and underrepresented city employees to furlough for five days, NYC Mayor Bill De Blasio said Wednesday at the city’s daily Covid-19 conference.
Staff will be expected to furlough for five days starting October through March, the mayor’s office said.
“We’re hurting,” the mayor said when speaking about the city’s budget.
Over 9,000 employees in total will be furloughed and that will save the city over $21-million dollars, the mayor said.
10:05 a.m. ET, September 23, 2020
India adjourns Upper House Parliament a week early amid growing number of virus cases
From journalist Manveena Suri in New Delhi
India’s Upper House of Parliament, the Rajya Sabha, has adjourned indefinitely, a week ahead of schedule, in light of the rising number of Covid-19 cases across the country.
"I have to inform the members that the government has decided to recommend the adjournment of the House sine die today. But some important legislative business passed by the Lok Sabha must be disposed of before adjournment of the House sine die [indefinitely],” Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs V. Muraleedharan informed the Upper House.
"We have to conclude this session eight sittings ahead as the Covid pandemic continues to challenge humankind across the globe. Eighteen sittings had been planned, we have completed 10," Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu said.
"This August house had to function from six different locations, including chambers of both the houses, four galleries of the house, the first of its kind in the history of Rajya Sabha. In another first, we functioned on Saturday and Sunday of the last week, without taking the usual break," he added.
Several opposition parties are currently boycotting the house and the benches were empty as the Upper House passed the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Amendment Bill, the Bilateral Netting of Qualified Financial Contracts Bill, the three labor codes, and the Jammu and Kashmir Official Languages Bill on the last day.
The sudden conclusion of the Monsoon Session, which began on September 14 and is due to end on October 1, comes amid an uproar over the government's farm bills, which were passed on Sunday.
Eight opposition Rajya Sabha MPs were suspended for unruly behavior, which triggered the boycott by opposition parties in proceedings in both the upper and lower houses, demanding the suspension be revoked.
The Lower House, or Lok Sabha, will meet at 3 p.m. local time and is also likely to be adjourned.
10:02 a.m. ET, September 23, 2020
28-year-old doctor who died of Covid-19 was a “role model,” friends say
Adeline Fagan was a second-year OB-GYN resident living in Houston. She developed Covid-19 symptoms in July, but didn’t respond to treatments and was placed on a ventilator before she died.
“It’s not something that you think of at 27, 28, that your friend dies. And that’s kind of what’s happening during this pandemic. We’re seeing all these young adults getting infected by this virus,” Dr. Catherine De Guzman, a friend of Fagan’s since medical school, said on CNN’s “New Day.”
“I have like nightmares and...wake up thinking that maybe this isn't real. But then I remind myself that it is,” she added.
Dr. Tiffany Lin, another medical school friend, said that Fagan was a warm and caring person who went out of her way to help others.
“She always told us that it only takes a moment of kindness and a gesture to make someone feel better. She definitely proved that throughout medical school and as a person. Even when you were a stranger or her loved one, she had this really unique gift of making sure that you felt truly cared for, that you as a person mattered,” Lin said.
Fagan would set up “friend dates” to get to know everyone in her class.
“She valued happiness on par with her studies,” said Dr. Timothy Shub said.
De Guzman said she will continue to look to Fagan as an example.
“She was pretty much my role model and who I wanted to become,” De Guzman said. “…She was just like someone I wanted to be, someone I still strive to be.”
8:54 a.m. ET, September 23, 2020
Here's the latest on the second wave in Europe
After successfully tamping down the first surge of infection and death, Europe is now in the middle of a second coronavirus wave as it moves into winter.
If you're just reading in now, here's where things stand in countries across Europe:
UK: Britain recorded 4,926 cases of Covid-19 in 24 hours yesterday, according to the government tally — the highest since May 7. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson yesterday announced tighter restrictions for England, including a mask mandate and closing pubs and restaurants at 10 p.m. local time, which could last for six months, he said.
Czech Republic: There were 2,394 new coronavirus infections on Tuesday, the second-highest daily rise since the outbreak began, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Health, confirmed to CNN. As of Thursday, bars, restaurants, cafes and other hospitality places will no longer be able to serve until midnight local time and will close at 10 p.m. instead.
France: The country reported 10,008 new Covid-19 cases on Tuesday, an amount consistent with the numbers recorded last week, but less that Saturday's high of 13,498. In one major French city, CNN reported this week that hospitals were close to running out of ICU beds.
Spain: New restrictions were also announced last week in Madrid, which accounts for about a third of all new cases in Spain, according to the Spanish Health Ministry.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this post incorrectly reported Czech Republic bars and restaurants will begin closing at 10 p.m. on Wednesday. The new restrictions go into effect on Thursday.
8:16 a.m. ET, September 23, 2020
The US Covid-19 death toll is equivalent to 109 Hurricane Katrinas
From CNN's Eliza Mackintosh
The death toll in the United States from the coronavirus pandemic has surpassed 200,000 -- the most fatalities of any country in the world.
The staggering scale of that loss is hard to fathom. It's equivalent to suffering the effects of 109 Hurricane Katrinas. Or enduring the 9/11 attacks every day for 66 days.
Johnson & Johnson's single-dose vaccine enters phase 3 trials
From CNN's Lauren Mascarenhas
Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine candidate begins phase 3 trials in the United States on Wednesday. Trials for the single-dose vaccine, which uses a human adenovirus, will include up to 60,000 adult participants at nearly 215 sites in the US and internationally.
The vaccine candidate was developed by Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson. Phase 3 trials will begin immediately, with the first participants receiving doses Wednesday, Johnson & Johnson Chief Scientific Officer Dr. Paul Stoffels said on a call with reporters Tuesday.
Initial findings from the vaccine’s phase 1/2 trials in the US and Belgium suggest the vaccine provokes an immune response and is safe enough to move into large-scale trials.
Phase 3 trials will examine the safety and effectiveness of a single dose against a placebo to prevent symptomatic Covid-19. The fact that the trial will examine the efficacy of a single dose of the vaccine, instead of two doses, should expedite results, said Stoffels.
Trials will run in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Peru, South Africa and the United States. Johnson & Johnson intends to run a separate phase 3 trial in collaboration with the UK government to examine the effectiveness of two doses
If the vaccine is proven safe and effective, Johnson & Johnson said it expects the first doses to be available for emergency use authorization from the US Food and Drug Administration by early 2021.
Where things stand: Moderna, Pfizer/BioNTech and AstraZeneca also have Covid-19 vaccine candidates in Phase 3 trials in the United States, although AstraZeneca’s trial is currently paused.
Johnson & Johnson’s phase 3 trial is being conducted in collaboration with Operation Warp Speed, the federal government’s coronavirus vaccine effort.
Dr. Gupta discusses Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine:
8:09 a.m. ET, September 23, 2020
Indoor winter gatherings could be "extremely dangerous," doctor and writer says
From CNN's Adrienne Vogt
Dr. James Hamblin, a staff writer at The Atlantic, says he’s concerned about the upcoming winter during the coronavirus pandemic.
“When the cold and flu and the coronavirus all hit at the same time, it's a potential for a really potent mix,” he said on CNN’s “New Day.”
Hamblin’s suggestions for winter include accepting reality, planning for more shutdowns and living like you are already contagious.
“The worst mistake we can make is to assume that because things are going well or because a neighborhood or city where you are is opening, that's going to continue apace. It might level off, it might have to go back and shelter in place a little while,” he said.
Hamblin said that families should consider not gathering indoors for long periods of time during the holiday season, which could create as “extremely dangerous situation.”
“I would plan ahead to just try to create some new traditions this year,” he said.
Even if a vaccine is available, Hamblin said that should be taken along with “bundling” treatment and prevention of the virus — which includes wearing masks, social distancing and testing protocols.
7:33 a.m. ET, September 23, 2020
China to loosen visa rules for select foreigners
From CNN's Steven Jiang in Beijing
China announced Wednesday that it would relax visa policies for some foreigners, in the latest sign of the government’s confidence in its containment of Covid-19.
Starting September 28, foreign nationals holding three types of long-term visas -- called residence permits -- are allowed to enter China without having to apply for a new visa, said the Chinese Foreign Ministry and National Immigration Administration in a notice posted online.
The new rule covers people who hold visas for work, personal matters and family reunions.
The latest policy, however, doesn’t apply to China-based foreign journalists, according to a Foreign Ministry official.
China effectively closed its borders to most foreign nationals in late March as part of its effort to fight the spread of coronavirus. That month it suspended all previously issued visas for foreigners not already in the country.
Eligible foreigners who enter China under the new rule “shall strictly abide by the Chinese regulations on epidemic prevention and control,” the notice added. “While ensuring effective epidemic control, the Chinese government will continue resuming people-to-people exchanges in a step-by-step and orderly manner.”