September 25 coronavirus news

By James Griffiths, Adam Renton, Joshua Berlinger, Melissa Macaya and Veronica Rocha, CNN

Updated 12:58 AM ET, Sat September 26, 2020
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7:55 p.m. ET, September 25, 2020

IHME director warns of coming "surge" in Covid-19 cases

From CNN’s Shelby Lin Erdman

There’s concern about an explosion in coronavirus cases in the next few months as fall and winter set in, Dr. Christopher Murray, the director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, told CNN Friday.

The IHME model released new numbers Thursday that projected 371,509 deaths by Jan. 1 — a dip of 7,000 from the model’s projection last week. However, that’s 168,000 more deaths than the current US total of more than 203,000. The decrease in the projection from last week is attributed to an uptick in mask use in some states.

There are two things driving the expected winter surge, Murray told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer.

“First, as case counts have come down in some states, we tend to see that people become less careful, they tend to have more contact,” he said.

“But then the most important effect is the seasonality of the virus, that people go indoors, transmission happens more.”

“That seasonality is going to be driving the big winter surge that we expect to see,” Murray predicted. 

“That's why our model shows the huge surge that we really expect to take off in October and accelerate in November in December.”

“There's a real risk that winter surge has already started in Europe, you know cases are exploding there. So we know it's coming and we expect it to hit the US pretty soon. 

The IHME model also projected that if 95% of Americans wore masks in public, 100,000 lives could be saved by Jan. 1.

Watch:

7:23 p.m. ET, September 25, 2020

Here's the latest on Johnson & Johnson's Covid-19 vaccine

From CNN’s Andrea Kane

This September 2020 photo provided by Johnson & Johnson shows a single-dose COVID-19 vaccine being developed by the company. 
This September 2020 photo provided by Johnson & Johnson shows a single-dose COVID-19 vaccine being developed by the company.  Cheryl Gerber/Courtesy of Johnson & Johnson/AP

Early results from a Phase 1/2a clinical trial of Johnson & Johnson’s coronavirus vaccine shows that it was well tolerated and even one dose appeared to produce a strong immune response in almost all of the participants for whom data is available.

The study was posted Friday on MedRxiv, a preprint server, which means that it has not yet been peer-reviewed or published in a medical journal.

This interim analysis of the Phase 1/2a trial looked at the safety and side effects of two different doses of the vaccine in almost 800 participants, including about 400 18- to 55-year-olds and about 400 people 65 and older.  

The analysis also looked at the vaccine’s ability to produce an immune response in the 18- to 55-year-olds, plus a small subset of those in the 65 and older group, who are at much higher risk of getting very sick and dying from the virus. 

The researchers found that 99% of the participants age 18 to 55 in both dose groups had developed antibodies against the virus 29 days after getting vaccinated. Among the participants 65 and older, only 15 had antibody data available and 100% were seropositive. 

The analysis also found that most of the side effects were mild and resolved after a couple of days. The most common were fever, headache, fatigue, body aches and injection-site pain. The study authors note that the rate of side effects was lower in the older participants than in the younger ones — 36% compared to 64% — and this may mean that older people may not be having as strong an immune response.

Some of the participants from each age group and from both dose groups will receive a second shot of the vaccine as part of the trial, but the results published Friday are based on data after the first shot.

The vaccine – called Ad26.COV2.S – uses a non-replicating adenovirus to deliver the SARVS-CoV-2 spike protein; it’s the same technology used in J&J-developed vaccines for Ebola, Zika, HIV and RSV.

Based on the results of this study, Johnson & Johnson on Wednesday became the fourth company to begin large Phase 3 trials; the company says it plans to enroll 60,000 adult volunteers at more than 200 sites in the US and internationally. 

So far it’s the only Phase 3 Covid-19 vaccine trial in the United States that is testing a single-dose of the vaccine.

7:09 p.m. ET, September 25, 2020

Fauci: Covid-19 vaccinations may start by end of year, but it could be a while until we're back to normal

From CNN's Lauren Mascarenhas

Covid-19 vaccinations could very likely start in November or December, but it could be a while until we’re back to normal, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Friday. 

“The availability and starting vaccination could very likely start in November or December,” Fauci told JAMA Editor in Chief Dr. Howard Bauchner in an online conversation. 

“By the time you get enough people vaccinated so that you can feel you've had an impact enough on the outbreak, so that you can start thinking about maybe getting a little bit more towards normality, that very likely, as I and others have said, will be maybe the third quarter or so of 2021. Maybe even into the fourth quarter.”

Fauci noted that with the different vaccines being developed, the US could potentially have 700 million doses by April of 2021, but the availability of vaccines is not the only factor at play.

“In our society, it likely will be that many people will not want to get the vaccine right away and want to wait to see what happens with the first 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 million people,” he said. 

6:38 p.m. ET, September 25, 2020

Fewer than 10% in the US have antibodies to the novel coronavirus, study finds

From CNN’s Andrea Kane

A nationwide study of the blood of more than 28,000 people found that, as of July, approximately 9.3% in the United States had antibodies to the novel coronavirus. The numbers ranged from an average of 3.5% in the West to an average of 27% in the Northeast. 

“This research clearly confirms that despite high rates of COVID-19 in the United States, the number of people with antibodies is still low and we haven’t come close to achieving herd immunity. Until an effective vaccine is approved, we need to make sure our more vulnerable populations are reached with prevention measures,” one of the study authors, Dr. Julie Parsonnet, a professor of medicine at Stanford University, said in a statement.

For the study, which was published Friday in The Lancet, researchers led by Stanford University’s Dr. Shuchi Anand, analyzed samples of plasma — a component of blood — from more than 28,500 patients receiving dialysis in July at approximately 1,300 facilities in 46 states run by one lab.  

Why dialysis patients? “Patients receiving dialysis in the USA undergo routine monthly laboratory studies,” the researchers wrote, so there was no need for “considerable infrastructure and expense” to gather samples, nor were there other pandemic-related challenges. 

Additionally, the risk factors for getting infected with coronavirus and for developing severe disease — including advanced age, non-White race, poverty and diabetes — “are the rule rather than the exception in the US dialysis population.”

The overall percent of people who were positive for antibodies among those sampled was 8%. Because dialysis patients aren’t representative of the US population, the researchers standardized the results with respect to age, sex, race and ethnicity, and region, to get an estimate of 9.3% seropositivity for the US adult population.

They found that there was a wide variation by state: seven states had 0% seropositivity, while New York, an early pandemic hotspot, topped the list with 33%.  

The researchers were also able to see who was more likely to have antibodies. They found that, compared to the White population, residents of predominantly Black and Hispanic neighborhoods were two to three times more likely to be seropositive; people living in poorer areas were two times more likely; and those living in the most densely populated areas were 10 times more likely.

They also compared rates from their study with population case counts from Johns Hopkins University. From that, they estimated that only 9.2% of the patients with antibodies had been officially diagnosed by a test with Covid-19. 

But, as the authors of an accompanying commentary point out, questions still remain about how long the antibodies last and how protective they are. Still, they wrote, studies like this one can help find answers if they can be repeated over time.

The study authors indicated the same. “A surveillance strategy relying on monthly testing of remainder plasma of patients receiving dialysis can produce unbiased estimates of SARS-CoV-2 spread inclusive of hard-to-reach, disadvantaged populations in the USA. Such surveillance can inform disease trends, resource allocation, and effectiveness of community interventions during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

 

6:15 p.m. ET, September 25, 2020

All conferences in top tier of college football now planning to play this fall

From CNN's Kevin Dotson

Miami RedHawks running back Tyre Shelton runs with the ball during the Mid-American Conference championship game between the Miami RedHawks and the Central Michigan Chippewas on December 7, 2019 in Detroit, Michigan.
Miami RedHawks running back Tyre Shelton runs with the ball during the Mid-American Conference championship game between the Miami RedHawks and the Central Michigan Chippewas on December 7, 2019 in Detroit, Michigan. Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire/Getty Images/FILE

The Mid-American Conference (MAC) announced on Friday its plans to start a six-game, conference-only football season on Nov. 6. 

The MAC’s announcement comes a day after the Mountain West Conference (MWC) announced plans to begin an eight-game football season on Oct. 24.

With the planned return to football for the MAC and MWC, each of the 10 conferences in the NCAA’s Football Bowl Subdivision – the top tier of college football – now plans to play football this fall.

The MAC, which suspended fall sports on Aug. 8, says that it is not planning to allow general public attendance or tailgating at football games this season. The MWC, which indefinitely postponed fall sports on Aug. 10, plans to allow each member institution to make its own decision on fan attendance in accordance with state, county, and local guidelines.

5:31 p.m. ET, September 25, 2020

It will be a real challenge if the US enters fall and winter at current coronavirus levels, Fauci says

From CNN's Lauren Mascarenhas

Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Anthony Fauci, testifies during a US Senate Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing in Washington, DC, on September 23.
Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Anthony Fauci, testifies during a US Senate Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing in Washington, DC, on September 23. Graeme Jennings/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Friday he is concerned about the United States entering the fall and winter months with the current level of coronavirus spread.  

“Yesterday I just looked at the numbers. It was like 43,000 new cases yesterday,” Fauci told JAMA Editor in Chief Dr. Howard Bauchner in an online conversation. “You don't want to enter into the fall and winter with a community spread at that level, because if you do, you got a difficult situation that's going to be really challenging.”

Fauci noted that many activities will have to take place indoors during the fall and winter months.

“If you look at some of the super spreading type things that have occurred, almost all of them occurred in indoor situations,” he said. 

“You're going to have to do a lot of things indoors out of necessity of the temperature, and I'm afraid, with that being the case, if we don't carefully follow the guidelines … the masking, the distance, the crowds, that we may see another surge,” he added. 

5:27 p.m. ET, September 25, 2020

Michigan movie theaters can reopen next month

From CNN’s Jennifer Henderson

A closed United Artists Regal theater is shown on March 26,  in Commerce Township, Michigan.
A closed United Artists Regal theater is shown on March 26, in Commerce Township, Michigan. Aaron J. Thornton/Getty Images

Movie theaters, arcades and bowling alleys in Michigan will be allowed to reopen starting Oct. 9, according to a statement from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's office.

Whitmer signed executive orders today reopening some previously closed businesses, including performance venues, and requiring K-5 students to wear face coverings in classrooms, according to the statement.

The governor also signed an order increasing the limit of non-residential indoor and outdoor gatherings.

“Michigan took some of the most aggressive action against COVID-19 in the country, and as a result, the health of our families and our economy are faring better than our neighbors in other states. As a result, we are now able to reopen movie theaters and performance venues with strict safety measures in place. I know these business owners have made incredible sacrifices during this crisis to protect our families and frontline workers, and my administration will continue working to help them get back on their feet,” Whitmer said in the statement.

2:59 p.m. ET, September 25, 2020

US surpasses 7 million coronavirus cases

From CNN’s Haley Brink

A medical worker pushes a stretcher through a hallway at Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan on September 22 in New York City.
A medical worker pushes a stretcher through a hallway at Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan on September 22 in New York City. Spencer Platt/Getty Images

There have been at least 7,005,746 cases of coronavirus in the United States and at least 203,240 people have died in the United States, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

JHU recorded the first case of coronavirus in the United States on Jan. 21. 

  • 98 days later, on April 28, the US hit 1 million cases.
  • 44 days later, on June 11, the US hit 2 million cases.
  • 27 days later, on July 8, the US hit 3 million cases.
  • 15 days later, on July 23, the US hit 4 million cases.
  • 17 days later, on Aug. 9, the US hit 5 million cases.
  • 22 days later, on Aug. 31, the US hit 6 million cases.
  • 25 days later, on Sept. 25, the US hit 7 million cases.

Only three other countries in the world have reported more than 1 million total Covid-19 cases:

  • India with 5.8 million total cases.
  • Brazil with 4.6 million total cases.
  • Russia with 1.1 million total cases.
1:55 p.m. ET, September 25, 2020

Florida's governor clears restaurants and bars to fully open

From CNN's Konstantin Toropin

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks during a press conference in St. Petersburg, Florida, on September 25.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks during a press conference in St. Petersburg, Florida, on September 25. WFTS

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced that he has signed an order moving the state into phase three of reopening at a news conference today. 

DeSantis emphasized the impact the move will have on restaurants and bars, which can now operate at 100% capacity.

"There will not be limitations, from the state of Florida," DeSantis said.

However, the order treats restaurants and bars differently in terms of what local municipalities can do to restrict operations.

"If a local restricts between 50 and 100, they've got to provide the justification and they've got to identify what the costs are involved with doing that are," the governor added.

Conversely, bars, which were operating at 50% capacity, must be authorized to scale up to 100% by local governments.

"If you want to go beyond the 50, you can authorize it and do it," DeSantis said.

"We're not telling you [that] you have to, but we're not going to stand in the way of that," he added.

DeSantis, in "an act of executive grace," also suspended "all outstanding fines and penalties that have been applied against individuals" associated with pandemic-related mandates, such as mask requirements.

"I think we need to get away from trying to penalize people for social distancing," DeSantis said.

"All these fines we're going to hold in abeyance and hope that we can move forward in a way that's more collaborative," he added.