October 6 coronavirus news

Healthcare workers collect a test sample from a motorist at a drive-through coronavirus (Covid-19) testing center at M.T.O. Shahmaghsoudi School of Islamic Sufism on September 29, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images)
22 states reporting uptick in Covid-19 cases this week
03:08 - Source: CNN

What you need to know

  • President Trump has ordered his negotiators to halt talks with Democrats over a new Covid-19 stimulus package, after the two sides struggled for months to reach a deal.
  • Trump meanwhile continues to recover at the White House from Covid-19. 
  • As Europe contends with resurgent outbreaks, the World Health Organization has warned that coronavirus fatigue is setting in across the continent.

Our live coverage of the coronavirus pandemic has moved here.

56 Posts

Ex-pandemic preparedness chief resigns from federal government 

The ousted director of the office involved in developing a coronavirus vaccine has now resigned from his post at the National Institutes of Health, charging that the Trump administration “ignores scientific expertise, overrules public health guidance and disrespects career scientists.”

Rick Bright filed an extensive whistleblower complaint this spring, alleging that his early warnings about the coronavirus were ignored and that his caution at hydroxychloroquine led to his removal.

He is now exiting the federal government altogether after being “sidelined” at NIH, his attorneys said in a pointed statement released on Tuesday.

“Although not allowed at NIH to utilize his expertise in vaccines or therapeutics, Dr. Bright developed a plan to implement a robust national testing infrastructure, which emphasized the critical need to provide screening tests for asymptomatic individuals and to provide services to underserved populations disproportionately impacted by COVID-19,” Bright’s attorneys, Debra Katz and Lisa Banks, said in a statement.

Bright’s exit caps a tumultuous few months since he was ousted from his role leading the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority and reassigned to a narrower role at NIH.

Read the full story:

01 Rick Bright FILE

Ex-pandemic preparedness chief resigns from federal government

White House email says "all contact tracing" is complete

The White House told staff in an email on Tuesday that it had completed “all contact tracing” for positive Covid-19 cases identified at the White House.

The email also urged anyone who hasn’t been contacted and suspects they have had contact with someone infected to reach out to the White House Medical Office.

The email, reviewed by CNN, was sent to staff working across the White House complex, following revelations of new infections that include President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump, as well as many top White House advisers.

The West Wing had been reluctant to enforce any such regulations among staff, particularly with regard to masks, for fear of undermining the President’s efforts to show that his administration has the pandemic under control.

But after several of the President’s top aides, including Hope Hickspress secretary Kayleigh McEnany and senior adviser Stephen Miller, tested positive in recent days, as well as other midlevel staffers, the White House has been forced to take rushed steps to prevent the spread from getting even worse.

Read more here:

The White House is seen in Washington, early Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020, the morning after President Donald Trump returned from the hospital where he was treated for COVID-19.

White House email says 'all contact tracing' is complete

The US could see as many as 400,000 Covid-19 deaths by this winter, Fauci predicts

The United States could see as many as 400,000 deaths from the coronavirus this winter if Americans don’t follow public health mitigation guidelines, Dr. Anthony Fauci warned on Tuesday.

Fauci had warned in the spring that if the US did not follow the guidance, 200,000 Americans could die from the deadly virus. “And sadly, we have 210,000 deaths now,” he said during a discussion with American University students.

“The models tell us that if we do not do the kinds of things that we’re talking about in the cold of the fall and the winter, we could have from 300,000 to 400,000 deaths. That would be just so tragic, if that happens.”

Fauci encouraged everyone to take simple steps such as wearing masks, social distancing, frequent hand washing and doing as much outside instead of inside as possible. 

Fauci warns of more coronavirus infections and deaths as fall turns to winter

The United States’ failure to achieve a low baseline level of coronavirus infections over the summer is going to lead to more infections and deaths this fall and winter, said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, on Tuesday.

“We’re stuck at around 40,000 cases a day,” Fauci told students at American University.

He added that there are parts of the country that are doing well in terms of test positivity rates – but there are also certain areas where “you have the uptick in test positivity, which is a very good predictor of a surge of cases,” he said.

“So instead of going into the fall and the winter on a sharp decline down to a low baseline, we’re actually going into the fall and the winter with some parts of the country ticking up, which will ultimately lead to not only more infections, but more hospitalizations and then community spread, which will ultimately lead to morbidity and mortality,” Fauci said.

We can’t relax precautions: “We really need to double down with the fundamental public health practices that we know work: universal use of masks, distancing, avoiding crowds, doing things outdoors as much as we possibly can, as opposed to indoors, including restaurants and things like that, but also washing hands,” he said.

Fauci called the circumstances a “challenge,” but said if people adhere to public health guidelines, he’s hopeful the tide may turn. He also said he’s hopeful that a new vaccine or therapies may be able to help, too. 

White House Covid-19 outbreak "could have been prevented," Fauci says 

The White House coronavirus outbreak could have been prevented and is proof the pandemic is not a hoax, said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, on Tuesday.

“Take a look at what happened this week at the White House. That is a reality right there. And every day that goes by more people are popping up that are infected,” Fauci said in a conversation with students and families at American University.

When asked by a student how to handle family members and others who do not believe the pandemic is real, Fauci suggested appealing to rationality and statistics.

“Right now we have 210,000 people who have died and 7.3 million people (who) have been infected. Globally, there are over 1 million people who have died. That is not a hoax,” Fauci said.

“You can’t say that people all over the world and American allies are all lying and calling it a hoax.”

“It’s reality.”

All US hospitals must now report flu numbers to federal government, HHS says

A medical worker pushes a stretcher through a hallway at Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan on September 22, in New York.

US hospitals must start reporting flu data to the federal government or face losing federal funding, Health and Human Services Department officials said Tuesday.

Hospitals currently report positive and suspected cases of Covid-19, fatalities and admissions on a daily and weekly basis and will now be required to report the same numbers for influenza, HHS said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention currently tracks flu hospitalizations in just 14 states and uses modeling methodology to estimate how many people are infected, hospitalized and killed by influenza across the country every flu season.

But now the US is facing the threat of two deadly respiratory viruses – flu and coronavirus – circulating at the same time. 

Collecting more in depth information on flu from hospitals will help officials track it better, CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield said. “(The) new data will give us a fuller picture of what is happening hospital-to-hospital regarding influenza in the hospital, in the hospital regardless, and may help us produce more accurate estimates of the burden of influenza each season,” Redfield told reporters.

The CDC is not sure what’s going to happen this flu season, Redfield said. “However, CDC is preparing for there to be a COVID-19 and seasonal influenza at the same time,” he said.

More on this: If hospitals don’t provide complete and accurate information on Covid-19 and flu, they will face “termination” of their Medicare and Medicaid services, according to Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma. 

Verma said the 6,000 hospitals in the system will have “ample opportunity to come into compliance,” beginning Wednesday, when all facilities will receive an initial notice as to whether they’re meeting current reporting requirements.

Hospitals will be required to report daily and weekly Covid-19 and influenza admissions, confirmed and suspected cases, fatalities and data on personal protective equipment.

Daily and weekly reporting on Covid-19 cases has improved, said White House coronavirus task force coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx. “We’ve gone from 86% to 98% of all hospitals reporting at least weekly, and we’ve gone from 61% to 86% of hospitals reporting daily,” Birx said.

“We track test positivity cases, but also daily hospital admission data, as well as fatalities from around the United States down to the level of communities and counties to really ensure that we’re triangulating all data to understand where this epidemic is, how it’s moving through different populations and ensuring that we’re meeting the needs of specific hospitals and communities as well as working from the same data and information,” she said.

Now we want to collect flu information from hospitals “to have a comprehensive understanding of influenza in the community,” Birx said.

Receiving timely and complete information is really crucial in battling the coronavirus epidemic, she said.

Restaurants warn of more closures without stimulus

Jocelyn Campos, 28, manager of Big Berthas Pizza, makes pizza at her family's restaurant near Disneyland on Wednesday, September 30, in Anaheim, California.

The restaurant industry warns that delaying stimulus – even by several weeks— will cause even more independent restaurants to fail.

“If Congress and the President walk away from negotiations, even more of our neighborhood restaurants will go out of business,” the Independent Restaurant Coalition said in a statement Tuesday in response to President Trump’s decision to halt stimulus talks.

“We cannot afford five or six more weeks of decreased revenue, more debt, and uncertainty about colder weather,” wrote the group, noting that earlier on Tuesday Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell had underscored the pandemic’s disproportionate impact on industries with high in-person contact, like restaurants and bars.

The Independent Restaurant Coalition represents 500,000 independent restaurants in the United States, employing more than 11 million restaurant workers.

US Chamber of Commerce calls delay of stimulus talks "disappointing"

The US Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday called President Trump’s decision to stop negotiating with congressional leaders on a new stimulus package until after the November election “disappointing.”

“Washington’s failure to enact additional COVID relief will be felt on Main Streets and at kitchen tables across the United States,” said Neil Bradley, executive vice president and chief policy officer, in a statement. “It is especially disappointing given that less than a month ago a bipartisan group of Members of Congress outlined a reasonable compromise that would have provided the economy with the support it needs while helping our nation recover from this pandemic. Republican and Democratic leaders should follow their example.”

NIH director says he is "optimistic" a coronavirus vaccine will be proven safe and effective by 2021

Dr. Francis Collins, Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), holds up a model of the coronavirus during a US Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing on Operation Warp Speed on July 2 on Capitol Hill in Washington.

Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, said he’s optimistic that the US will have a vaccine by the end of this year or the beginning of 2021.

“I’m one of those who’s optimistic we will have one or more vaccines that turn out to be safe and effective by sometime around the end of this year, maybe a little bit into January,” he said.

The politicization of the vaccine development process has been a distraction, one that has polarized many people, Collins noted during a Johns Hopkins University and University of Washington virtual symposium on vaccine development.

“Putting all that aside and dealing with the fact that we have this huge problem of vaccine hesitancy that needs to be dealt with, I am still guardedly optimistic that come 2021, we’re going to be on a path – over many months, let’s not talk about this being a quick solution, but on a path – where we can eventually put Covid-19 in the rear view mirror, although we will be changed by it, and I think he will be around us globally for quite a long time to come,” said Collins.

New York governor says local governments must enforce new Covid-19 cluster restrictions

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said local governments will be responsible for enforcing the new Covid-19 cluster restrictions announced today.

Cuomo said that the lack of enforcement has contributed to the current problems being seen in Covid clusters in New York state.

All local governments will be required to assign people to a state enforcement task force, he said. 

New York City will be required to assign 400 personnel to the enforcement task force.

“The state does not have the resources to do enforcement, it must be done by the local level. I have no problem doing it. I just don’t have the resources to do it,” Cuomo said.

Updated FDA guidelines close door on vaccine manufacturers getting an EUA before Election Day

Sandra Rodriguez, 63, receives a Covid-19 vaccination from Yaquelin De La Cruz at the Research Centers of America (RCA) in Hollywood, Florida, on August 13.

The US Food and Drug Administration posted guidance Tuesday for companies hoping to get emergency use authorization (EUA) for coronavirus vaccines, and said they will have to include at least two months of follow-up after volunteers get their second dose of vaccine.

That would mean no company could seek an EUA before mid-November, because the vaccines furthest along in clinical trials – those made by Pfizer and Moderna – both require waiting either 21 or 28 days between doses.

“Data from Phase 3 studies should include a median follow-up duration of at least two months after completion of the full vaccination regimen to help provide adequate information to assess a vaccine’s benefit-risk profile, including: adverse events; cases of severe COVID-19 disease among study subjects; and cases of COVID-19 occurring during the timeframe when adaptive (rather than innate) and memory immune responses to the vaccine would be responsible for a protective effect,” the FDA said in the guidance.

“Being open and clear about the circumstances under which the issuance of an emergency use authorization for a COVID-19 vaccine would be appropriate is critical to building public confidence and ensuring the use of COVID-19 vaccines once available,” said Dr. Peter Marks, who directs the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research. 

“The FDA’s new guidance on emergency use authorization of COVID-19 vaccines underscores that commitment by further outlining the process and recommended scientific data and information that would support an emergency use authorization decision. In addition to outlining our expectations for vaccine sponsors, we also hope the agency’s guidance on COVID-19 vaccines helps the public understand our science-based decision-making process that assures vaccine quality, safety and efficacy for any vaccine that is authorized or approved.”

The FDA earlier Tuesday posted discussion documents for vaccine advisers with similar language.

A Vermont apple orchard reported an outbreak of 27 Covid-19 cases

Vermont is battling a Covid-19 outbreak among migrant workers at an apple orchard, state officials announced Monday. 

Champlain Orchards in Addison County had 27 workers test positive over the weekend, Vermont Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine said Tuesday. The commissioner had previously announced 26; one more test result came in after the initial announcement.  

The first positive case was discovered last week. The case came toward the end of the migrant workers’ quarantine period after arriving in the state in mid-September, and the person is believed to have become ill outside of Vermont, according to Dr. Levine.

State officials said that the orchard owner was complying with guidance and that apples were disinfected before being sold.

Vermont has had the fewest Covid-19 cases of any state, with only 1,821 cases, according to Johns Hopkins University.

The state saw no Covid-related deaths or ICU admissions in September, according to state Department of Financial Regulation Commissioner Michael Pieciak.

Berlin issues nighttime restrictions as Covid-19 cases rise in Germany

Dr. Wiebke Bergner takes a throat swab sample from a woman seeking a test for possible Covid-19 infection during the novel coronavirus pandemic on August 7, in Berlin, Germany. 

Bars, restaurants and stores in the German capital Berlin will have to shut down between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. starting Saturday, the city’s senate decided on Tuesday. 

The move comes as coronavirus infections in several districts have been soaring. 

Pharmacies and service stations are exempt from the new rules which the senate says will be in place until at least Oct. 31, according to Berlin’s official website. 

The number of people allowed to gather in a group in the night hours between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. will be limited to five and no more than ten people at a time will be allowed to attend gatherings indoors. 

The move comes as coronavirus infections in Germany remain on the rise. 

The country recorded more than 2,600 new cases on Tuesday according to Germany’s center for disease control. 

The number of patients requiring intensive medical care is also steadily rising, official data shows.

Pelosi on Trump halting stimulus negotiations: "Clearly, the White House is in complete disarray"

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued a statement reacting to a series of tweets from President Trump announcing he was pulling the plug on stimulus negotiations. 

“Clearly, the White House is in complete disarray,” she said.

“Today, once again, President Trump showed his true colors: putting himself first at the expense of the country, with the full complicity of the GOP Members of Congress,” Pelosi said in the statement.

“Walking away from coronavirus talks demonstrates that President Trump is unwilling to crush the virus, as is required by the Heroes Act. He shows his contempt for science, his disdain for our heroes — in health care, first responders, sanitation, transportation, food workers, teachers, teachers, teachers and others — and he refuses to put money in workers’ pockets, unless his name is printed on the check,” she continued.

Some background: The decision to pull the plug on the talks is a major blow to Americans still struggling with the fallout from the once-in-a century pandemic and endangers an economic recovery that for months was driven by the initial $2.2 trillion stimulus passed by Congress in the spring.

With that money largely spent and gone, economists have warned more support is imperative in the months ahead.

While Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Pelosi were still far apart on a final agreement, according to multiple people involved, they were still very much in negotiations — with the two scheduled to talk by phone Tuesday afternoon and having continued to trade paper and legislative text over the last several days.

First indications of vaccine candidates' safety not expected until at least November, official says

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

The first indications of whether early coronavirus vaccine candidates are safe and effective won’t be ready until November or December, Dr. Moncef Slaoui, chief adviser to the federal government’s Operation Warp Speed, said Tuesday.

“First wave with the RNA vaccines imminently November/December, a second wave with the non-replicating vectors vaccine In January or February,” he said, adding that the third wave with a protein platform is expected in March or April. 

Slaoui said that the expectation is that companies will file for emergency use authorization or full approval of their vaccines following the readouts.

Trump says he is ending stimulus talks

President Trump has ordered his negotiators to halt negotiations over a new stimulus package. 

“I have instructed my representatives to stop negotiating until after the election when, immediately after I win, we will pass a major Stimulus Bill that focuses on hardworking Americans and Small Business,” he tweeted.

Trump tweeted shortly after a private conference call with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, the administration’s top negotiator.

The decision to pull the plug on the talks is a major blow to Americans still struggling with the fallout from the once-in-a century pandemic and endangers an economic recovery that for months was driven by the initial $2.2 trillion stimulus passed by Congress in the spring. With that money largely spent and gone, economists have warned more support is imperative in the months ahead. 

While Mnuchin and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi were still far apart on a final agreement, according to multiple people involved, they were still very much in negotiations – with the two scheduled to talk by phone on Tuesday afternoon and having continued to trade paper and legislative text over the last several days. 


02:43 - Source: CNN

Orange County, NY closes all schools in two areas after three-day Covid-19 positivity rate of 27.6%

All public, private, charter, and religious schools and educational facilities in two areas in Orange County, New York, will be immediately closed for at least two weeks, according to a Monday order from the Orange County Commissioner of Health.

The order states that the village of Kiryas Joel and the town of Palm Tree reported a three-day average Covid-19 positivity rate of 27.6% and that all schools will not be allowed to resume without clearance from the county health department. 

County officials said that the schools will continue to be closed until the the area’s seven-day rolling average positivity rate is below 9% and no transportation would be provided to students residing in those locations to schools or services in other communities. 

Schools that provide in-person group special education or pre-school will also be closed for the same amount of time, the order states.

Orange County currently has 12,493 Covid-19 cases, with an overall county positivity rate of 7.4%, according to New York state data