September 29 coronavirus news

By James Griffiths, Adam Renton, Mike Hayes, Meg Wagner, Melissa Mahtani, Zamira Rahim and Ed Upright, CNN

Updated 12:00 a.m. ET, September 30, 2020
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5:34 p.m. ET, September 29, 2020

US was unprepared for Covid-19 because its pandemic plan was based on influenza, Fauci says

From CNN’s Shelby Lin Erdman

Lawrence Wright, staff writer at the New Yorker, speaks to Dr. Anthony Fauci during the Texas Tribune Festival.
Lawrence Wright, staff writer at the New Yorker, speaks to Dr. Anthony Fauci during the Texas Tribune Festival. Source: Texas Tribune Festival

The United States was unprepared for the deadly coronavirus pandemic because its pandemic plan was based on an influenza model, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Tuesday at the Texas Tribune Festival.

“We got hit and have been hit very badly now with 200,000 deaths and about 7 million infections in the United States – certainly disproportionately,” Fauci said.

“It shows you a couple of things,” he said. “Pandemic preparedness that we have done prior to this, for which we were given accolades for as a country how well prepared we were, were really based on an influenza model,” Fauci said, adding that public health experts were ready to fight a virus that spread mostly when people already had symptoms.

“So what happened is that when this outbreak evolved, there were so many things about it that we did not fully appreciate. And there were some missteps in the beginning," he said.

Early in the pandemic, Fauci and others said that epidemics of respiratory disease were spread mostly by people who have symptoms. It’s clear now that the novel coronavirus is often spread by people who have no symptoms. That makes it harder to fight.

It’s not an excuse, Fauci added. It’s just an explanation of why the US is seeing about 40,000 infections a day and as many as 1,000 daily deaths.

5:11 p.m. ET, September 29, 2020

Disney is laying off 28,000 employees

From CNN’s Frank Pallotta

In this handout photo provided by Walt Disney World Resort, Magic Kingdom Park is seen on October 8, 2014.
In this handout photo provided by Walt Disney World Resort, Magic Kingdom Park is seen on October 8, 2014. Matt Stroshane/Walt Disney World Resort via Getty Images

Disney is laying off 28,000 US employees at its theme parks as the coronavirus pandemic hammers its theme park business.  

The layoffs will hit the company's Parks, Experiences and Products, the company said on Tuesday. 

Disney added that 67% of the employees laid off will be part-time workers. 

 

5:08 p.m. ET, September 29, 2020

Virus "escalating quickly" as Canada's daily cases reach initial peak

From CNN's Paula Newton

People wait to get tested for Covid-19 at a walk-up clinic in Montreal on Tuesday, September 29.
People wait to get tested for Covid-19 at a walk-up clinic in Montreal on Tuesday, September 29. Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press/AP

Canadian public health officials say they are increasingly concerned about the "acceleration" of Covid-19 in Canada but say it is not yet time for nationwide restrictions or lockdowns. 

“The fact that cases are now at the same level as during the initial peak is worrisome but at the same time there are clear differences in the epidemiology with younger age groups predominating among cases and we are testing and detecting more,” said Canada's Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam.

Tam said this is a crucial moment for the country, especially in Ontario and Quebec. She warned Canadians that they need to cut down on social contacts as contact tracing is becoming more difficult and community transmission grows. 

“This means the daily case count has now reached the peak of daily cases seen in April and the average daily case count has increased to 1,412 cases being reported during the most recent seven days,” Tam said.

“Things have escalated quickly and they can escalate further unless we all work together to slow the spread of the virus," Tam added.

According to Canadian government data, there are now more than 14,000 active Covid-19 cases across the country with daily, average case counts doubling in just over two weeks. 

4:56 p.m. ET, September 29, 2020

California loosens Covid-19 restrictions in several metro areas

From CNN's Cheri Mossburg

Smoke from wildfires fills the air over the San Francisco and Oakland skylines as seen from Berkeley, California, on Monday, September 28.
Smoke from wildfires fills the air over the San Francisco and Oakland skylines as seen from Berkeley, California, on Monday, September 28. Sam Hall/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Several populous counties in California are being allowed to reopen further as they move into less restrictive tiers, Health Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly announced Tuesday.

Sacramento, Fresno and Santa Barbara are among seven counties moving from the most restrictive purple tier into the next level, red. In the red tier, which indicates a substantial spread of infection, churches, museums, and movie theaters are allowed to reopen.

San Francisco moves from the red to orange tier, which shows a moderate infection rate, along with Amador and Calaveras counties. Bars, wineries, bowling alleys, and offices will now be allowed to reopen in those areas.

California has four tiers based on metrics including case rate and tests positivity over a number of consecutive weeks. Ghaly said that the state will be soon adding a health equity metric as well.

On the heels of a letter signed by 19 California legislators urging the reopening of theme parks, Ghaly echoed Gov. Gavin Newsom’s promise that new guidelines are coming soon.

“We’re working hard to get that out in a responsible way as soon as possible,” Ghaly said. “We are working with those industries to put out something that’s thoughtful, allows us to follow our framework in strong way, and really following those principals of slow and stringent to ensure those large activities are done responsibly. So, not quite yet, but we’re getting close.”

4:54 p.m. ET, September 29, 2020

NFL commissioner urges league to remain diligent after expected Covid-19 cases

From CNN's David Close

Following the temporary closures of the Tennessee Titans and Minnesota Vikings team facilities due to Covid-19 precautions, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell issued a league-wide memo calling for all personnel to “remain diligent in implementing all of our health and safety protocols to the fully extent.” 

In the memo, obtained by CNN from a source within the league office, Goodell acknowledged that he had expected coronavirus cases to arise during the season.

Now that two teams have had to halt in-person activities, Goodell reemphasized that all players and staff must wear personal protective equipment and to carefully regulate “behavior and contacts outside of the club facility.”  

Some background: Earlier on Tuesday, the Titans revealed three players and five staff members tested positive for Covid-19. The Vikings, who played the Titans this past Sunday, have not announced any positive cases but closed their facilities as a precaution. The Titans are scheduled to host the Pittsburgh Steelers this Sunday.  

Goodell said the league has reviewed contact tracing data for anyone who has come in close contact with the eight members of the Titans, including game officials, and has isolated the individuals. 

"Each of us has a special responsibility to keep others safe and healthy. What each of us does affects not only ourselves and our immediate families, but many others on our own club and on other clubs," Goodell said.

4:44 p.m. ET, September 29, 2020

Indoor dining capacity in Philadelphia will increase to 50% starting Friday

From CNN’s Kay Jones

A restaurant serves take-out meals through their window in Philadelphia, on Wednesday, April 15.
A restaurant serves take-out meals through their window in Philadelphia, on Wednesday, April 15. Hannah Yoon/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Indoor dining capacity in Philadelphia will increase to 50% on Friday, according to a news release by the Philadelphia Department of Public Health.

Current capacity is at 25% and the new limits are in line with current restrictions in Pennsylvania, the release said. 

Restaurants choosing to expand their capacity must self-certify to follow state guidelines set by Gov. Tom Wolf, as well as the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines and rules set by the city of Philadelphia.

The city rules include:

  • Spacing tables six feet apart
  • Having tables with four or fewer seats for household members only
  • No seating at bar areas
  • No alcohol service except during meals
  • Improved ventilation in the restaurant
  • Servers must wear masks and face shields

“The falling case counts we’re seeing show the success of our strategy,” Philadelphia Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley said in the release. “If folks continue to follow our guidance, I believe that we will be able to relax more restrictions.”

The total number of coronavirus cases in Philadelphia stands at 36,887.

4:52 p.m. ET, September 29, 2020

Tampa International Airport says it will offer two types of Covid-19 tests to passengers

From CNN’s Rebekah Riess

A passenger carries her luggage through a nearly deserted terminal at the Tampa International Airport on Friday, April 24.
A passenger carries her luggage through a nearly deserted terminal at the Tampa International Airport on Friday, April 24. Chris O'Meara/AP

Florida's Tampa International Airport today announced a new pilot program, which makes it the first airport in the country to offer two different types of Covid-19 testing, PCR tests and rapid antigen tests, for any arriving or departing passenger, John Tiliacos, executive vice president of operations and customer service for the airport said.

“We’re going to build confidence on the part of the traveling public, by giving them an opportunity to have a test done right here at the airport before they get on a flight,” TPA airport CEO Joe Lopano said during a press conference Tuesday. “This is the only airport in the whole country that is doing these tests for anybody, going to any destination, on any airline, only TPA is doing this and we hope others will follow. Testing is the key to getting people back to travel.”

According to Tiliacos, testing will be available seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. ET. Tests will be administered by BayCare nurses and medical professionals, and passengers have the option of receiving the PCR test with results within 48 hours or the rapid antigen test that gives passengers results within 15 minutes, Tiliacos said.

“This is about taking a bold step to restarting air travel. This is about instilling even greater confidence in the flying public, and frankly it's about breathing life back into our industry that is very badly needed right now,” Tiliacos added.

4:18 p.m. ET, September 29, 2020

These NYC neighborhoods account for 25% of all Covid-19 cases, but only 7% of the population

From CNN's Melanie Schuman

Medical workers attend to an ambulance gurney outside of Maimonides Medical Center in Borough Park on September 28, 2020 in New York City. 
Medical workers attend to an ambulance gurney outside of Maimonides Medical Center in Borough Park on September 28, 2020 in New York City.  Spencer Platt/Getty Images

New York City is reporting a spike of Covid-19 cases in nine neighborhoods in the city. The Department of Health released the zip codes where the 14-day average is higher than the citywide average.

The clusters across Brooklyn and Queens account for 25% of the overall city cases despite accounting for 7% of the city’s population according to Dr. Dave Chokshi, the Commissioner of the Department of Health.

Citywide, Health Department is reporting a 1.38% positivity rate over the last seven days.

Here are the neighborhoods identified by the Department of Health:

  • Gravesend/Homecrest [11223] (6.92%)
  • Midwood [11230] (5.64%)
  • Kew Gardens [11415] (3.31%)
  • Edgemere/Far Rockaway [11691] (4.91%)
  • Borough Park [11219] (6.23%)
  • Bensonhurst/Mapleton [11204] (6.05%)
  • Gerritsen Beach/Homecrest/Sheepshead Bay [11229] (4.05%)
  • Flatlands/Midwood [11210] (4.73%)
  • Kew Gardens Hills/Pomonok [11367] (3.60%)

The city is also noting three more zip codes which are “showing increased growth of cases and test positivity between 2% and 3%.” 

  • Rego Park [11374] (2.64%)
  • Kensington/Windsor Terrace [11218] (2.72%)
  • Brighton Beach/Manhattan Beach/Sheepshead Bay [11235] (2.85%)

The city said to combat these rising positivity rates it is reaching out to non-public schools about implementing new guidelines, canvassing streets and "using soundtrucks to reinforce COVID-19 guidance an precautions," the Health Department said in a statement.

The city also said it has sent more mobile testing units to these neighborhoods.

3:22 p.m. ET, September 29, 2020

Netherlands introduces stricter coronavirus measures as infections climb

From CNN’s Mick Krever

People sit at terraces with plastic screens in Groningen, The Netherlands, on September 25, 2020.
People sit at terraces with plastic screens in Groningen, The Netherlands, on September 25, 2020. Remko de Waal/ANP/AFP/Getty Images

The Dutch government announced Tuesday that it is introducing stricter measures in an attempt to clamp down on the rising rate of coronavirus infections in the country. The daily rate of reported infections is now more than double the ‘first wave’ record.

The measures include:

  • Restaurants and bars must prevent new customers from entering at 9 p.m. and close at 10 p.m.
  • Working from home should remain the norm, and if someone at a workplace tests positive, the office can be closed for 14 days.
  • Visits to homes should be limited to three guests from outside the household, whether inside or outside. Children up to 12 are exempt.
  • In buildings other than homes, the maximum gathering is four people. That means for example that a maximum of four people in one group can make a reservation at a cinema or restaurant.
  • A maximum of 30 people total can be in any one room.
  • No spectators for amateur and professional sports.

Coronavirus infections in the Netherlands are rising at a significant rate. There were 43% more reported coronavirus infections over the seven-day period ending Tuesday compared to the previous week-long period, according to the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment.

The R-number is 1.27, according to the RIVM, and a further 3,025 infections were reported on Tuesday. (The ‘first wave’ record for single-day reported infections was 1,335, set on April 10.) 

There are a number of exceptions to the rules, including for funerals, some businesses, and education.